Good news, Greasy Spooners- Simon Hopkinson's presenting a new television series (Simon Hopkinson Cooks, More 4, Monday Evenings), and if the first episode is anything to go by, this one's actually rather good. You may remember that his previous series made me a trifle grumpy. That one was made by the BBC. Loud pop music, gimmicky camera angles, slow-motion offset by super-quick editing which made F for Fake look like Tess of the d'Urbervilles. Over Produced. This new series, however, is made for Commercial Television. That's a good thing.
My current theory is that the BBC is bogged down with political correctness: earnest acned producers (Oxbridge Fresh) desperately (and cynically) trying to appeal to a mythical yoof market that probably doesn't exist. Consequently, any germ of creativity is going to be found on the commercial networks. Look at the success of Downton Abbey for example. Admittedly it's trashy, but it's beautifully made, great fun and everyone loves it. I doubt very much that it would ever have passed through the hallowed pearly gates of the BBC. Too much of a risk. Not enough Kitchen Sink. Actors speaking Proper, Like. Put it this way, if Oliver Cromwell and his new Model Army crowd were still around, they would, without any doubt, be paid up supporters of The Beeb, not ITV.
Anyway. I really like the look of this series. In the first episode Mr Hopkinson explained how to make a classic Negroni (Neat Plymouth Gin, Campari and Sweet Red Vermouth, not that we need to be reminded), dropped by a few decent London restaurants (The River Café was one, where he had the most civilised exchange with Ruth Rogers; and the superb Fino in Charlotte Street where he chatted up the Spanish chef and learnt how to make an authentic paella, (along with an interesting green garlickey dressing), cooked a creme bruleé, anchovy toasties, a simple green bean salad à la Parisienne, and, to cap it all, a naked gnocchi. Next week he's going to make a Prawn Cocktail. Oh, I love it.
I gather that Simon Hopkinson was surprised when his production company agreed to 'allow' him to make Negroni cocktails. This really says it all, doesn't it?