Saturday, January 19, 2008

bacon and mushroom sauce with grilled polenta

AT last Wren has seen my true colours - and she is still sticking by me. That must be some miracle in itself and well worth a gem encrusted ring running into, well, the hundreds. I was unable to contain myself on Shutts' leaving do night, particularly on arriving at the City Arms to see my own personal DJ in full flow.
All I needed to hear was the first few bars of XTC's Senses Working Overtime to wind my tie around my head, remove my shirt and leap around like a demented 40-something punk rocker - which I guess is what I am. Hammered, is the official word for it.
Still, there was no lasting damage, apart from the banging sensation in my head this morning, so I think I got away with it.

THERE was a terrific turnout to say goodbye to the big man and I was charged with drawing up a WoS souvenir front page for him and giving his leaving speech. I think both went down pretty well, but I have got to praise Shutts for his quick-thinking riposte to my monologue.
"When I arrived at Wales on Sunday I thought I knew everything there was to know about journalism," said the Big Man. "Rippers, quickly told me I was wrong, because HE knew everything about journalism!"
From there it was over to The Yard where the great and the good - former colleagues of the gentle giant - arrived en masse. There was also his little harem of party-girl Lyds, Sian off the Echo and others too many to mention.
Even good old Rosey and Becks got on the train from London to turn up and wish him bon voyage. Not that he is going very far, just around the corner to Llandaff Towers. He has landed a job on the Beeb website. Traitor.
Harry Hawkins, our former work experience lad who always enters to his own theme tune, turned up as well. When Harry makes an appearance the entire WoS crew sticks its thumbs behind its lapels, in the manner of Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins, and bounces around from foot to foot, knees pumping high, to bellow in Mockney voices "Arry Awkins, Arry Awkins, Arry, Arry Arry Awkins". Poor bloke, must be getting a bit sick of it by now. Mind you, serves him right for working on the Newport Argos Catalogue, I mean newspaper.
There was also a brief appearance by the grey-bearded wizard of former sports desks across south Wales, one Ray Parker. Ray, now retired, didn't realise until I informed him last night that his name prompts a hundred impression on the People and Star news desks when mentioned. Thanks to my old mate Stu, who used to take off Ray for them on a Saturday night.
You see Ray used to do a bit of radio, and covered Merthyr Tydfil for his sins.
And Stu loved the way he used to sign off: "This is Ray Parkeeeer from Penydaaaaren Paaark". A legend, our Ray, more so than he realises.

At one stage I somehow managed to forget the smoking ban, lighting up in the upstairs bar of The Yard, to which Rosey gently reminded me: "Rippers, you can't smoke in here any more".
The amount I've moaned on about it, you would think I would remember its existence.
That was probably the last coherent thought I had that night.

On Thursday night I had some ready-cooked polenta, and decided it would be a good idea to grill it with some grated parmesan sprinkled on top.
It would be a bit plain on its own so I mixed up a quick bacon, mushroom and tomato sauce.
I chopped up onions and crushed some garlic, then fried it gently in olive oil and butter so that it softened, adding bacon and turning the heat up slightly to cook it.
I then added a mixture of button mushrooms, chestnut mushrooms and oyster mushrooms and cooked them for a while before adding four tomatoes, pureed in the new mixer Wren bought me for christmas, along with a handful of ripped basil and flat-leaf parsley leaves and some salt and black pepper.
Leaving that to simmer on the stove I then turned the grill up to full and chopped the polenta into thick slices. I gave them a quick dusting of olive oil then cooked them on the one side (it took a while to get them to crisp) before turning them over and grating the parmesan over the top. When that started to brown I removed them from the grill, put them on a plate then poured the bacon and mushroom mixture over the top.

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