Sausage and white wine risotto, if you don’t mind!
We’ve come to the end of our second bootcamp and can’t quite believe it. For two lads whose idea of exercise was a casual Sunday wank or rolling over in bed so our sleep apnea doesn’t suffocate us, I’d say we’ve done really rather well! I’ll talk about it more in due course but honestly, if you’re out there thinking you can’t exercise, get yourself moving! I mean…I haven’t died, yet…
Just a quick recipe tonight to keep you going – but this is delicious! You may know our approach to risottos – just chuck everything in and leave it to cook itself. Might not be 100% authentic but by god, it’ll leave you satisfied. Without further delay…
Sausages, booze, and stodge. This sausage and white wine risotto is THE perfect dinner idea that you've been waiting for! Robust, meaty and just a little bit fruity - just like us. Even though it's full of rich ingredients this is just one syn and a bit each and one of the tastiest things we've ever made!
We've adapted this and made it a bit skinnier from our 'spirit daddies', The Hairy Bikers. Their original recipe is in the brilliant 'Meat Feasts' book - you can get a copy at Amazon! Don't forget to check out their website for more tasty ideas.
4-6 sausages (see notes)
1 litre chicken stock
1 large onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary
300g arborio rice
125ml white wine (5 syns)
60g parmesan, grated (2x HeA)
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
cook the sausages however you like them, and then slice and keep to one side
meanwhile, heat a large pan over a medium-high heat and spray in some oil
add the sliced onions and cook until starting to turn brown - remember to stir them about regularly
once the onions have started to lightly caramelise, reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic, herbs and rice and stir well
add the wine and give a good stir, and then pour in the stock and stir again, and then put the lid on the pan
cook for twenty minutes - no need to stir!
gently drag a wooden spoon through the rice - if it falls back in 'waves' it's at the right consistency - cook for a few minutes more if it's not
stir in the sausages slices and sprinkle over the parmesan
serve and sprinkle over the parsley
you can cook the sausages however you like - we used our Optigrill - but however you like it will do, just make sure they're cooked!
Full English breakfast risotto – not a breakfast recipe, no, but rather a delicious risotto with all the lovely bits of a full English breakfast! Yes it’s indulgent, yes it’ll probably give you blue lips, but it’s so, so good: plus as with all our risottos, it pretty much cooks itself – no clarting about with adding ladles of stock! This is a rollover recipe – you can use the leftover sausages and bacon from yesterday’s recipe of super scrambled eggs to make into this beauty! I mean, I don’t recommend you have them both on the same day, but there’s nothing stopping you cooking off all the sausages and bacon and leaving half aside to make this.
Not a fan of congealed blood and fat and oats? Please: call yourself a blubber-merchant? Feel free to leave it out. If you do, it’s syn free. Top tip for this: once you’ve finished serving it up in that effortlessly stylish way of ours, pop the yolk so it runs through the risotto, mash the tomatoes in and crumble over that black pudding. It’s so, so good!
No chitter-chat tonight as we’re off to the gym. I know: who have we become? But after yesterday’s diatribe I need to stop bumping my lips for a bit.
This serves four, by the way – normal portions. If you’re a greedy sod like me, two massive bowls.
to make full english breakfast risotto you will need:
400g arborio rice
3 chicken stock cubes (dissolved in 1 litre of boiling water)
4 low fat sausages, cooked and sliced (see top tips below)
1 onion, finely chopped
4 bacon medallions, cooked and chopped
2 slices of Morrison’s black pudding (9 syns)
2 big handfuls of mushrooms
150g cherry tomatoes
top tips to make full english breakfast risotto:
we used the sausages and bacon from Musclefood which are both syn free! If you want to check out our special deals just click here! Of course, you can use other sausages – just remember to syn them
we used Morrison’s black pudding which is 4½ syns a slice – they vary a lot across brands though so do check yours
you can cook the bacon and sausages however you like them – we used our Optigrill but you could use an airfryer, a frying pan, a George Foreman grill or a normal grill – however you want! For best results cook the sausages halfway (they’ll cook fully later)
don’t like black pudding or mushrooms? Just leave them out! You can add or remove whatever you like – make it however you like it!
Here for the fabulous layered risotto cake? Listen, we’d expect nothing less. But fair warning, it’s a savoury cake, so calm your boobs. Like us, you want something gooey, starchy and warm in your mouth, and you know that we are the guys who will give it to you without questions. No-one can pretend that this is going to be super-healthy for you as a day to day meal, but it’s low in syns, full of flavour and surprisingly easy to make. A perfect family dish. But first…oui oui! Let’s head back to France, my loves!
You may remember we’d had a rather drunken night in the hotel the night before? Well, we had booked a tour of the Paris Catacombs in a gin-soaked fit of YEAH FUCK WAITING IN LINES that would normally leave me hyperventilating with the extravagance. As we stepped out of the hotel a passing Frenchman asked if I had a light for a cigarette so I passed him my American Express card, which was smouldering like a spent match. We Ubered our way over to the catacombs entrance and were immediately glad of the fact we had booked a private tour – the queue was already out the door and away down the street.
Serious tip: if you’re planning a visit, pay the extra and get on a tour. I looked on TripAdvisor and lines of four to five hours are common, with the added bonus of the organisers shutting the catacombs without notice and making you queue all over again the next day. We paid about £140 through getyourguide (paying extra because it was last minute) but the ability to just turn up and go in was brilliant. I do think that it’s usually worth paying the extra for these things when you’re on a short break because your time is as valuable as your money.
We were met by our tour guide Ari, who I instantly recognised as the actor who played Philip Martin in Neighbours, who counted us in and explained we would see bits that others don’t get to see and that the whole thing would take about an hour and a half, capped off with the return to the summit up a tight, narrow and exceptionally steep staircase of eighty eight steps. Paul and I both gasped audibly at this point, causing the group to stare at us with utter disdain and the tour guide to radio ahead to have an ambulance on standby.
The tour involved lots of walking and staring at the neatly stacked bones of millions of dead French folk. Sounds awful, yes? It wasn’t, it was utterly fascinating. Knowing that these tunnels were build so long ago, in such cramped and awful conditions, and that there are literally hundreds of miles of them, was a sobering thought. Even I stopped cracking jokes when met with a pile of skulls and bones bigger than my house. There’s lots of hidden things too, such as a miniature hospital carved into the limestone and a facsimile of a seaport that some intrepid miner had created. Mind-boggling. You forget, and it’s really terribly sad, that all of these bones belonged to living people with families and jobs, and they’ve been interred beneath the city without a name or a memorial other than to have hundreds of thousands of tourists ignoring the no flash rule and photographing themselves pulling silly faces in front of a stack of legs. When I die I want to be stuffed and sat in a chair (in a tee-shirt covered in blood with IT WAS MAGS WITH A SHARPENED COCK-SHAPED SHAGALUF LIGHTER scrawled across it) at the local Slimming World class, a reminder to everyone that there’s bigger things to worry about than spending half a syn on a sausage.
I’m going to post a few pictures now, but do feel free to scroll on by. Spin that wheel quickly if bones creep you out.
“Wherever you go, death follows the body’s shadow”
To give you an idea of how cramped it can be – but it is far more open when you’re in the crypts. Well, you need space to stretch your legs when you’re dead.
To give you an idea of how tall this pile is, I’m 6ft 1″, and I took this on my tip-toes with my arms outstretched above my head. Think how many ‘people’ are in this photo alone.
Miles upon miles of bones stacked like this – beautiful, creepy and amazing all at once. Oh, and it was good of Paul’s mother to drop in:
“yer yer y’know Bejewelled 3 yer HOW de yer get credits yer yer WELL ‘E GOES ON ABOUT JIMMY FACKIN’ SAVILLE ALL THE TIME COUGH COUGH SPLUTTER COUGH”
We were joined briefly and awkwardly by some lovely but super-flighty woman who asked us a stream of random nonsense – were there tarantulas down here, did I think the air smelled funny, what do the bats eat? Paul made the fatal error of not looking at her blankly and gesturing to his ears to pretend he was deaf, and she was away, jolly-hockey-sticking about her holidays in Paris and her homes in Berkshire and all other such terribly interesting flimflam. I made as though I wanted to take a picture of a pile of skulls and disappeared to the back of the queue, where I was able to look at her high-heeled shoes with disdain. Who thinks that high-heels are just the ticket to wear to an underground crypt full of puddles and mud and cobbles? I could barely make the distance and I was wearing my usual Build-a-Bear shoes! I mistook the clattering of her shoes for some of the bones reanimating like the old Scotch video-tape adverts.
The tour lasted a good two hours and I have to confess, towards the end, I was beginning to wonder if it was a cruel joke and they were planning on leaving us down there. I don’t care who you are, you lose the ability to sincerely go ‘eeee never’ and ‘goodness’ at yet another pile of bones. I’m just being honest. Everyone was respectful but you could tell the mood was turning and it was with barely hidden relief that Ari told us we were at the end of the tour and freedom was that worrisome flight of stairs away. Paul and I loitered at the back so that no-one would be treated to my especially fragrant arse in their face as we ascended and fuck me, we nearly died. I know it’s not a terrific amount of stairs but it was steep and very, very tight, plus you can’t stop to admire the view / hyperventilate. Thankfully our group had spilled out onto the street and only a couple of eyebrows were raised at our beetroot faces and shaking legs. You’d think we’d escaped from Alcatraz via Ben Nevis – it was all I could do to pretend I was interested in some tatty nonsense in the gift shop whilst I desperately tried to replenish my oxygen levels. I know for next time: bring a spare tank of oxygen ‘just in case’.
We managed to get our breath back and our resting heartbeat back to its usual 166BPM after four hours and by that time we were bloody starving. Nothing sobers the mind about your health like a shocking burst of exercise and so we thought it only right to have a small side salad with our colossal pizza. Don’t worry, we’re not pigs, we left it. We had ducked into the first promising little bistro we came across and it’s only a slight exaggeration to tell you our pizza was the size of a conference room carpet. You know you’re in trouble when it takes eight waiters coming in like pallbearers to fetch your dinner. We sat and ate our quarter-tonne of dough whilst people watching, our favourite thing. Paris is so stylish, isn’t it? Even the roadsweepers looked graceful as he tried to brush a dog-shit into his little sweeper, leaving a cheery doughnut-smear on the path just by our table. I wish I could say it put us off our lunch but fuck it, you know we’re fat bastards.
We paid the bill, as ever unsure as to whether to leave a tip on the table or don’t tip at all because it’s rude to tip, so we settled on slipping the waiter a note (of money, I mean, not our phone number scrawled in lip-gloss with ‘we’ll be gentle’ underneath) as we left. We’re just so smooth. We wandered for a bit just to take in the scenery. Well, no, that’s what normal folks do, we however spent a good fifteen minutes trying to find a toilet so Paul could ‘drop the kids off’. He was, apparently, too embarrassed to ask where the lavatory was at lunch and so it was that, yet again, I found myself loitering outside an automatic toilet for longer than could ever be considered reasonable. This time, determined not to be arrested for being a sex pervert, I went off into a tiny little bakers and bought us both something gooey and delicious. Paul emerged a good while later, having deposited something gooey and absolutely not delicious, and was delighted to see I’d rewarded him for his foul behaviour by buying him a treat. I hope he’s not like a dog – I don’t want him stopping at every toilet we see thinking he’s going to get a tarte aux pomme for his trouble. Anyway, enough toilet talk (we’re just going through the motions!) (eh?).
We Ubered back across the city to visit the The Centre Pompidou, despairing as we arrived at the site of a colossal queue snaking around the building. Why? Why can’t WE be the only tourists visiting Paris? It seemed so unjust. We were about to move on when, seized by a combination of rashness and swollen ankles, I decided that we really just ought to queue. Paul was aghast, but I promised him an ice-cream when we were inside. As it happens, the queue moved quickly, not least because we were afforded the chance to snark on every single stereotype about drippy artsy-fartsy folk whilst we waited. See:
nobody wants to listen to you play two notes on a didgeridoo over and over and over whilst slapping the ground with your foot – that isn’t expressing yourself, it’s being an annoyance, and that’s why people were avoiding you;
nobody wants to see the black soles of your filthy feet whilst you walk around ‘being free’ and giving people flowers;
nobody is going to buy your bangles and trinkets, they look like fire-damaged electrical cord, you lunatic wench;
no, I don’t want to donate to your cause;
no, I don’t want to fill out a ‘survey’ where we’ll get to the end and you’ll ask me to donate anyway;
no, I don’t want to hear anything other than Paul reading the ice-cream menu aloud.
It was like this:
Anyway, after fourteen weeks of waiting, we were in the building. Paul got himself a Magnum and I had a prim bottle of water so I could sip it and look thoughtfully at the art. If only I’d grown my beard I could have stroked it in that bloody aggravating manner people have.
Now: I’m sorry. I know we’re going to sound like philistines. I know. But it was boring. There were some pieces of art that did jump out at me and I enjoyed having a gander at those, but personally, I found the mix of modern art (wank) and the more traditional pieces to be very tiring indeed. I know my faults and having very little interest in gallery art is one of them. There was an exhibition by Cy Twombly there that looked like something a troubled child might do with a box of Crayola and the threat of violence. I’m about as artistic as the stuff you bleed from a radiator but even I thought I’d do a better job with an Argos pen. People were gazing at each painting and I felt like I was going mad – that I wasn’t seeing some revelatory twist to the paintings that everyone else was experiencing. One lady looked like she was about to come and all that was in front of her was a white canvas with some blue squiggles on it. I’ve never been more perplexed in my life. In fact, I was trying so hard to work it out that I bumped into Paul sending him stumbling over the little black tape on the floor which in turn set off an alarm and caused a very gruff security man to shout at us. A French couple, clearly sharing a moustache, spat at us as we left.
The view from outside, over the streets of Paris, was lovely, mind. Oh, and it was good of Paul’s mother to drop in:
“well ofcourse ‘e don’t fackin’ listen see yer yer I mean I’ve told ‘im and ‘e still goes on a-mean it’s not right yer hockle hockle phlegm yer”
There were two exceptions to the pile of wank, though. There was an installation of contemporary art from the old USSR which was interesting – I didn’t quite have an epiphany but at least I wasn’t scratching at the walls to be let out. Lots of hammers and sickles and people saying ‘but yes of course’ and ‘how daaaah-ring’. I nodded my way through. The other piece was a giant ultramarine painting by Yves Klein and I was only struck by that because I’d love a car in the same shade.
Hmmm yes, yes I see what the artist is trying to say: every man is an island, time is fleeting, don’t oversalt your pasta and the oppressive commercialisation of the modern age is terrifying.
We did give it a good try, though – we went into every exhibition, we read all the little wee leaflets, we tried not to look like thick Geordies abroad, but I’m guessing we failed. We stepped into a tiny cinema on the second floor which was screening a tiny arthouse movie. We took our seats and promptly fell asleep, our bodies glad of the chance to sit down and digest all that dough from earlier. We woke a good twenty minutes later when the bombast of the closing credits brought us round. We left, shame-faced, although I’m sure we’ll be listed on some tosser’s Tripadvisor report in no time at all: “My children, Persephone, Hedge-Fund and Hugo Chinnery-Pissflaps, were paaasitively screaming to watch the Hungaaaarian tilt-shift documentary on corn-growing but it was simply ruined by the two rubenesque leviathans farting and snoring in the corner. Can’t recommend”. Pfft.
Seems like a good point to leave it, actually. So much more to come! Remember, I’d truly love your feedback!
Anyway, you’re lucky to get a post at all – I’ve been playing Breath of the Wild pretty much non-stop since last Friday. Can’t begin to tell you how amazing it is. If you’re on the fence about getting a Nintendo Switch and/or this game, you need to get off and take action.
This recipe then: it’ll serve eight if you have it with a side-salad or four as a hearty bowl of yum. Customise it however you want – stuff it full of asbestos for all I mind – it’s just a fun way of presenting the food and also, perfect cold night fare. It lasts well in the fridge too so champion if you want it for lunch. Let’s do this! We found this recipe in a Sicilian cookbook which a friend bought and I coveted so badly I had to Amazon Prime Now it. We’ve adapted it for Slimming World. Oh, and it’s known as a rice timbale, but I much prefer an ooey-gooey risotto cake, and, as I’m the fat bugger in charge, that’s what we’re calling it. Although this does serve eight, I’m going to err on the side of fat caution and syn it as though it makes four servings, so you can have a canny big serving.
to make an ooey-gooey risotto cake, you’ll need:
500g of arborio/risotto rice
two large onions, cut finely
two cloves of garlic (minced, using one of these bad-boys for speed)
175ml of white wine (optional, leave it out if you want – if adding, add 1.5 syns per serving)
500ml of good passata – don’t be tight, buy a decent brand – we used a passata with basil in for a bit of oomph, but you’re really looking for something made from cherry tomatoes where possible – though don’t shit the bed if you can’t find it
900ml of chicken stock (or veggie) made up
50g of fresh parmesan (10 syns)
240g of light mozzarella (4 x HEA)
600g of spinach
a jar of those big roasted red peppers (optional)
to make an ooey-gooey risotto cake, you should:
Think of this recipe as nothing more than making a risotto, taking it a wee bit further than you normally would when cooking it, then assembling it into a ‘cake’.
whack the oven onto 180 degrees and carefully line a cake tin (if you don’t have one, you could do this in a pyrex dish just as easy) – I used a square cake tin like this one but really, anything that’s deep and about 8 or 9 inches across (I’ve said that before) – we line our tins with greaseproof paper and a top tip, if you have some metal (NOT PLASTIC) bulldog clips to hand, use them to clip the paper in place once you’ve lined the tin
get a big heavy pan out (preferably non-stick) and gently fry off the onion and garlic in a few sprays of olive oil until they’re softened
chuck in the rice and allow to toast gently – couple of minutes at most until it crackles
if you’re using wine, throw it in at this point and allow to simmer off for a good three minutes (stir to make sure things don’t stick)
add the passata, pinch of black pepper, salt and two thirds of the stock
now the boring part – it’ll take about twenty to thirty minutes, but you want the mixture to bubble away on a medium heat with you stirring every now and then, topping it up with stock when the liquid gets low, until you have a nice thick risotto – remember, you want to bubble away past the point of normal risotto – you want a good ‘firm’ risotto – add in 40g of the parmesan, stir and set aside to cool
prepare your spinach by chucking it in another pan with a splash of boiling water – keep it on a medium heat but allow the steam to wilt the leaves right down – then sieve and chop it finely to remove as much liquid as you can and make sure you season with a bit of salt and pepper
assembly time: put half the risotto in the bottom of the cake tin, flatten it out the best you can, then top with the mozzarella (sliced, obviously), spinach and red peppers (they open up like a book) – don’t worry about neatness, just chuck it in any old way
put the rest of the risotto over the top, sprinkle with the rest of the parmesan, and cook in the oven for about twenty five minutes
once everything is lovely and golden and bubbling, remove and leave to stand for a good ten to fifteen minutes to firm up
dish up and fall in love!
Now, like I said earlier, customise this to your heart’s content. Change the risotto, change the filling, add more veg, add meat (cooked slice bacon would be lovely), use a different cheese. It would also look slightly prettier in a round cake tin rather than a square tin, but make do with whatever you’ve got. If it all slops apart, don’t worry, you’ve still got a delicious dinner! Keep some for lunch the next day. To sex it up, I’d add some chorizo to the risotto, but remember to syn it or your consultant will be farting through your letterbox.
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Now then: does the risotto with thyme, prosciutto, pecorino and crumbled goat cheese get you all of a-tingle ‘down below’? Are you chewing the seat with anticipation? Then by all means scroll down, but first, part six of our Swiss tales – part seven is the final entry and that’ll be coming online soon, but I’ve got such a bad habit of not finishing our travel stories that I’m determined to see this one out. Remember, this is holiday zero of twelve this year: this is a bonus one! Oops.
You last left us as we fell off the train in Bern, completing a ridiculously scenic yet slightly tiring eight hour trip around Switzerland by train. You need to understand that this was easily the most beautiful train journey we’ve ever done (though that’s not an especially high benchmark – I can’t imagine the Metro journey from South Shields to Shiremoor making many bucket lists) but even in the face of such beauty, you find yourself dozing off. My eyebrows were aching from raising in delight. The last entry dealt with our first night in Bern and a couple of day trips, but I did say I’d revisit this to tell you a little more about Bern itself. But before we begin, here’s Paul as a biscuit:
Firstly, did you know it’s the capital of Switzerland? I have to admit, I thought the capital was Geneva, but no – little Bern holds the title. On the edge of your seat yet? You ought to be: clamp down whatever pair of lips you’ve got available and hold on because here’s another riproaring fact for you: it’s also known as the City of Fountains due to the many ornate fountains dotted around. By extension, Newcastle should be called the City of Broken Teeth, or Southend the Land of the Split Hymen.
No, let’s be fair, there are an awful amount of fountains everywhere, to the point where you’re constantly needing a piss thanks to the incessant background noise of tinkling water. Hilariously, one of the fountains, the snazzily named Kindlifresserbrunnen, depicts an ogre eating little children. I assumed it must just be a metaphorical take on child cannibalism but nope, there it is, proud as punch, standing in the centre of the Kornhausplatz, with the body of a devoured child sticking out of his gob. It’s what I imagine Theresa May has in her front garden to keep the local peasants away from her gooseberries.
Like Geneva, it’s obligatory to smoke – I never left a building without feeling like I was the Phantom from Phantom of the Opera, appearing from doorways in a flourish through the whirling cloud of fag smoke. The main area of Bern is called the Old City of Bern and it is this you’ll be familiar with – the Medieval buildings, the chocolate-box shops literally selling chocolate boxes and dozens of tiny shopping arcades and cobbled streets where the buildings above actually hang over the walkways. It’s all exceptionally twee and stunning to look at – so much history and culture in one glorious settings – and thus it was inevitable that the first shop Paul and I would enter was a seedy sex shop on the main arcade.
Well: gosh. It was dark around the back of the shop and the air heady with poppers – I put my hand out to steady myself on a bannister only to hear a loud groan of pleasure. We didn’t like to loiter because it looked like the type of place that was due a raid from the vice squad and so we made to leave. On our hasty exit out of there we spotted a fondue shop just over the road and made a mental note to return to it later.
I mean, look at this astrological clock on the Zytglogge..It’s beautiful. Paul stopped to use the pissour nearby and I shouted ‘I can see Uranus!’. The crowd went mild.
We spent the rest of the morning just casually walking around Bern – it’s a pleasantly compact place and the streets lend themselves to just exploring, though you can hop on the trams if you like. There’s a tram every half second, seemingly. We crossed the River Aare (presumably so called because you’re constantly going ‘Aare, that’s reet beautiful that is‘) via the Nydeggbrücke bridge (itself an absolute beauty, not least because it gave you a perfect view of Old Bern). Paul took a photo:
I spotted signs for the Bärengraben – a bear park.
Now come on – if there’s anywhere that’s going to pique my curiosity, it’s a heavily wooded area supposedly filled with bears roaming around looking for action. I’d already lubed up and adopted the ‘airport security check’ position when Paul pointed out that it wasn’t bears in the sense of hairy, older gay men, but rather the ursine variety. The ones that kill and steal honey. I tried to hide the disappointment as it cascaded across my face and we headed over. Also, we had a brief conversation there and then about at some point having to change the name of the blog when we’re no longer classed as cubs – I’m already in the grey area – we’ll be known as two burly bears. See, always thinking ahead.
There’s many varying accounts of why Bern has live bears frolicking about, but the most widely accepted idea is that Bern’s soldiers returned home from a wee skirmish in Italy with various spoils and er, a live bear. Christ, I thought I was doing well coming home from Rome with 200 Chesterfields smuggled down my trousers. Anyway, since then, they’ve always kept a few bears in the bear-pit. Don’t worry, they’re well looked after – lots of bedding, room to scratch about it and occasionally they’ll hurl a particularly noisy tourist in there for them to maul. Oh how excited I was to see them – I love bears!
Except, no, they’d been put away for the winter, like a set of Christmas decorations. We were told we could watch them via a webcam but frankly, I get enough action watching bears in bed on the internet at home, I didn’t need to see it. We still wandered about stroking our chins at the information boards and trying out the new lift for the disabled, then we made our way down to the banks of the river and had a walk along.
A quick mention of the weather: it was my absolute favourite: freezing cold but not biting, air so fresh it’d like you’ve sucked it out of Tom Hardy’s freshly Sminted lungs, sunlight bouncing merrily off every surface and the sky a deep blue. I love winter and this was just the place to experience it. Paul somewhat broke the moment by telling me to get my fat ankles walking a little quicker as he needed the toilet and had spotted a public lavatory on the horizon. Other people visit churches and cathedrals on holiday – Paul seems to class a holiday as a failure if he hasn’t evacuated his bowels in various ways four times a day.
Paul disappeared into the gents and I stationed myself nearby, loitering in a way that I hoped didn’t make me look like a pervert hanging around the bogs but wanting to be near enough in case of any emergencies. Paul managed to snap the lock off a toilet door once and as a result I’m always on edge. Fifteen minutes – I kid you not – passed before he came hurtling out, telling me to come and have a look at something. I protested, naturally – I mean, we’re a close couple, but I do have limits, and anyway what did he want me to do, stick a first prize rosette in it? He pulled at my shoulder and dragged me in.
I have to admit, I’ve never seen one quite like this. I took a video of it to send to my work colleagues, and Paul was so excited. He loves anything unusual! I’m glad he did call me into the toilet because frankly, I didn’t want to miss this! I mean, just watch:
How fun is that? OK look, to anyone else, it’ll probably be nothing, but we love anything gadgety and this way, you’re not having to sit on someone else’s arse-sweat to do your business. A miracle! And in a public loo! In the UK you count yourself lucky if you’re not sitting on a filthy syringe. You can tell they are well off!
After we’d finished shrieking and gasping we emerged from the toilet together, and after only a forty minute interview with the police, we were free to get on with the morning. We spent the morning visiting the cathedrals (stunning) and churches dotted about, making sure we signed the visitors book with ‘Too much body of Christ this winter? Try www.twochubbycubs.com’ before we left. Oh I know, I’m a tinker, but hell, if God is going to strike me down for anything, it’ll be the rampant sodomy, not a bit of advertising.
We eventually made our way back to the tiny restaurant back in the main square to finally try out the Swiss delicacy of fondue. The place was packed full of couples having intense conversations and speaking every language but English. I could barely make my way to the table past all of the glottal stops. I love this type of restaurant – unfussy, homely and a bit ramshackle. All it needed was Paul sitting there without his shirt on spilling his dinner over his tits for me to feel completely at home.
For those that div-not-knaa, fondue is (normally) Gruyère cheese mixed with alcohol and melted slowly over a naked flame – the entire pot is then brought to the table and you’re given cubed things to dip into it. Frankly, it took all of my self-control not to push my entire face into the pot and die a happy man, but I knew easyJet wouldn’t let me through if my face looked like the top of a lasagne.
We ordered Fondue Pesto Rosso – they added sundried tomato pesto and basil, bringing me to full stiffness – with a side of Kalte Gemüsebeilage (bless you) (cold vegetables) and (Kartoffelbeilage) (no no, after you) boiled potatoes for dipping. I don’t need to tell you how delicious it was. There’s lots of etiquette around enjoying fondue – always stir clockwise, do twirl your fork to keep the table tidy, do make some noise. Pfft. They were lucky I didn’t ask for the entire thing to be delivered intravenously.
We spent a happy half hour dipping our bread and scraping every last bit of crusty brown cheese from the bottom of the dish (we weren’t being common, you’re supposed to do it – it’s called ‘la religieuse’ and is a delicacy, promise) and settled back with a loud groan and bellies full of cheese. With the sure and certain knowledge that we’d be pooing Cheesestrings for a good two weeks, we decided not to risk dessert and simply to get the bill.
Well, that sounds easy in print, doesn’t it? I can’t imagine what we had done to our waitress – we’d been unfailingly polite and ho-ho-British – but could we balls get her attention. By this point lunch hour had clearly finished and the place was nearly empty bar us and an elderly lady shaking her way through her seventh kirsch of the day, but help was nowhere to be seen.
We waited politely for almost twenty minutes – our waitress very occasionally popped her head out and stole a glance at us, only to disappear again – and then we started getting distressed. Paul had to google whether there was some unspoken way of showing we had finished and had enough but nothing came up. I did offer to pitch face-first into the pot clutching my heart but he didn’t want to make a scene.
She appeared a good ten minutes later, finally, looking terribly flushed in the face. My working theory: she was letting the chef dip more than a cornichon in her cheese pot. Her bajingo was giving off so much heat that she nearly relit the fondue candle. After paying Paul’s entire annual wage for our meal, we headed back out to explore Bern.
That was the idea, anyway: we actually, oh the shame, had to waddle back to the hotel room and have a nap. We were having the cheese-sweats and Christ we knew about it. That seems like a good point to leave it!
Speaking of cheese, shall we get to this delicious risotto with thyme, prosciutto, pecorino and crumbled goat cheese? Shall we? Then let’s not delay a moment more.
to make risotto with thyme, prosciutto, pecorino and crumbled goat cheese you will need:
2 pints chicken stock
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
½ head celery, finely chopped
400g arborio rice
2 handfuls of thyme leaves, chopped (or 3 tsp of dried thyme will do)
50g soft goat’s cheese (8 syns)
105g extra light soft cheese (this is one HEA, by the way)
25g pecorino (5 syns) (if you don’t have pecorino, parmesan, parigiano reggiano or grana padano will do just as well)
6 slices prosciutto, torn up (3 syns)
I’m not a huge fan of celery but it actually adds something to this dish, so leave it in. This comes in at 4 syns each, so it does Elizabeth.
to make risotto with thyme, prosciutto, pecorino and crumbled goat cheese you should:
in a bowl, mix together the goats cheese and soft cheese until well combined, then put in the freezer to firm up whilst you do the rest
heat a little oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat
add the onions, garlic and celery and fry slowly for about 4 minutes
add the rice to the pan, stir well and knock the heat up – keep stirring for about a minute
add the thyme
add a ladleful of stock and stir until it’s absorbed – stir the rice gently
keep adding stock, a ladle at a time, until it’s all gone
remove from the heat and stir in the pecorino
serve, then drape over the prosciutto and dollops of goaty soft cheese over the top
Doesn’t that feel like a proper cheat day dinner? And yet, still within your syns! Get it made.
Need more ideas? Well gosh, click a button below and get on with it.
I can’t begin to tell you how much I love our risottos, especially this Italian sausage and chicken risotto because it is simplicity itself! Italian sausage is usually sausage with fennel, so we’ve cheated a bit and used plain, syn free sausages and added fennel seeds. Yes, it’s that type of sassy thinking and cunning that got us where we are today. Bit of a long entry tonight but first, for the last time (well maybe tomorrow) an advert BEFORE IT RUNS OUT.
LAST CHANCE. Before we get to the recipe, just a heads-up that – for two days only – we’ve reduced the prize of our freezer filler meatbox down to £40 instead of the already cheap-as-chips £50. That’s £40 for about 24 big chicken breasts, 5 x 400g servings of syn-free beef mince, 700g of bacon medallions (and it’s good bacon, mind, not the shite that withers away to bugger all) and 800g of beef chunks – and even better, the forty quid includes delivery. I posted this on Facebook this afternoon and people have been ordering it left-right-and-centre, so don’t delay – it’ll never be cheaper than this. Click here or on the image above (it’ll open in a new window) and make sure you use the code TCCFREEZER to bring it down to £40 with standard delivery. This is the meat we use in our recipes and it has never let us down!
Don’t worry, I think the code expires tomorrow so the big advert won’t be on the next lot of posts!
Paul and I have been thinking about switching slimming world classes. Not because our current class has anything wrong with it, it’s absolutely the best one in the area, but we’ve been going off and on for almost seven years. It’s easy to fall into a rut and we’re not staying to class anymore, so perhaps a new face and a new bank of folks to look at with my eye glaze over whilst they chunter on about 1/2lb here and there is exactly what we need. As I was mulling over this decision in the car on the way home, I started thinking about my perfect Slimming World class and what I’d do if I was a consultant.
Incidentally, we get so, so many people telling us they’d come to our class if we became consultants, but we offered our services to Slimming World way back when we were just starting out and didn’t get a phone call in return. Which, frankly, was foolish – we’ve got plenty of disposable income and a very carefree approach to spending it. My house could have been more Hi-Fi bar than brick. But anyway. So here’s how my dream class would go if I was a consultant. If you’re a consultant, feel free to nick my ideas, but be sure to have a framed photo of us with a candle burning in front of it, like people do when someone’s died in a car-crash.
For a start, let’s not be tight with the venue. I’m sick of sitting on rock hard chairs in draughty church halls, getting piles and backache. Let’s have the class in the back of the local pub, so people can pay lip service to losing weight and then get straight on the beers, wine and crackling, like EVERYONE WHO GOES TO FAT-CLASS does. The heating would be on but sensible – I’ve noticed classes are either so hot that you lose two pounds in sweat just sitting in your chair shallow-breathing or so fucking cold that you can open your third box of Hi-Fi bars with your diamond-level nipple.
I’d serve proper coffee and proper tea. There’s no excuse for people to people to fork over £5 and then get hit with coffee so weak you can see the bottom of the cup through it, or tea that tastes like it was brewed up in 1957 and left to stand. Yes, it’s a bit more pricey, but let’s class the joint up. I’d ban sweetener though because I’d get tired of people mooing at me about SINZ PLZ.
It would be mandatory for everyone to have the right change or a countdown when it came to paying. Let’s be honest: we’ve all been in the queue, inwardly seething and wishing death on the poor bugger at the front of the queue fumbling around in the depths of their Michelle Cors handbag for 10p. Think of it like a bus: turn up, pay, bugger off to the seats. Weighing would be the same – it would be mandatory, punishable by death, to be ready to get on the scales. No holding up the queue whilst you take off your support knickers, bra, false-teeth, clit-ring, fanny-chandelier, built-up shoes and pleatherette belt. Get on, get weighed, ten seconds only of your fake surprise act or blustered explanations, then on your way to the naughty seats ready for class.
Now the most important bit: the chat. I have quite a booming voice when I want to so being heard wouldn’t be a problem. I’d want the class to be full of laughter, fun and chatter, but if you’re the rude arsehole who insists on chatting to your mate all the way through whilst people are shitting themselves from straining so hard to hear who is talking, Paul will nip outside and put your tyres down. We’d open with weight losses – but not the 56 minute long affair of ‘and Mary has lost ‘arf a pound how have you done that Mary’ (repeating the name a lot so it looks like you are invested in your members but haway, it’s on your little screen).
Here’s the cruel truth – this bit adds absolutely nowt unless it sparks a discussion about weight loss. The fact that Bob from Greggs has lost two pounds, his foot has turned less black and he’s lost eight pounds overall in eighteen years means very little to most people unless you know them. No, we’d beetle about the room, giving out the stickers because let’s be fair, everyone likes a sticker, congratulating people in groups (so all the 2lb losses would get named, then the 1lb losses, then the stayed the same) – much quicker and easier. Plus, you don’t have to wrap your hands in gauze afterwards to stop the bleeding from clapping so fucking much. We’re adults, not seals desperate for people to throw us a fish.
Then, 45 minutes or so of chat, decent recipe swapping and funny stories. Make it an hour where you’d actually want to contribute and make it more like conversation between friends, instead of 60 disparate chubbies all fretting and cringeing until the moment their name is called. I’d want to hear people laughing more than hearing people sigh and yawn into their hands. More focus on eating – that’s one thing I find so confusing about the groups – there’s surprisingly little focus on good things to eat and ideas. I’d bring technology into it – have a decent sized TV in the background with recipes on it, changing every now and then. Naturally, being us, we’d slip the odd slide in of a giant bouncy cock for half a second, just long enough to think you’ve seen it before onto a risotto recipe. There’d be jokes and genuine admiration. Aaah.
Slimmer of the Week wouldn’t win a basket of fruit that’s pretty much already turned into wine, no, the winner would get to take part in my game. I’d get my dad to build a massive wheel-of-fortune stand-up wheel with different segments and prizes – a free week, a box of Hi Fi bars, a tiny sliver for a free countdown, another for a big cuddle from the fattest person in the room, even the odd penalty to add a bit of risk – they have to put the chairs back at the end of the class, or come back to mine and cook us a delicious tea. Paul could mince on in a glittery dress like Debbie McGee’s morbidly obese twin, we could make a proper spectacle of it. Much better than ‘here’s a bunch of black bananas, a sweet ‘n’ sour mugshot and some unidentified fruit with half a WHOOPS sticker on it.
Raffle would be for useful things that people can use to cook with – a decent pan, a set of scales, spoons. Every now and then we’d think fuck it and put a box of chocolates on there. Guarantee we’d have far more raffle tickets being bought then! As for contact during the week, none of the mushy stuff – texts saying ‘Yeah, the chocolate might taste nice, but do you not fancy seeing your fadge again’ or ‘Try the mushy pea curry: you’ll be shitting for England but you’re sure to get that shiny star’ or even just the plain old threatening ‘Elnetta-MB has your details now. She knows where you live. DON’T EAT A PIE’. My facebook group would be full of rude jokes and recipe challenges and yeah, you’d still get stickers and certificates, but you’d also get arbitrary stickers like ‘Can open a Mars bar without getting breathless’ and ‘managed to see the end of her toes’. Make it fun, make it entirely non-serious, make it good.
Aaaah a boy can dream, eh? I know the practicalities of money, time and corporate branding would put the kibosh on all of the above, but hell, we could give it a bloody good go before SW cracked the whip.
Right, let’s get to the recipe, shall we? This makes two big bowls of delicious tasty stodge.
to make italian sausage and chicken risotto you will need: