Monday, 16 June 2014

World Cup Food Off - Monday 16th June

Previous: Thursday 12th June

             Friday 13th June

             Saturday 14th June

             Sunday 15th June


Germany – Herman Ze German

The classic London based diner, (probably, actually no, definitely) my favourite place to eat out in the capital. Their wurst is the best and you can even have schnitzels if you are that sort of person.


Portugal – Prawns and Spinach in Peri Peri Sauce

Nando’s – home of the peri peri sauce and originally from Portugal. Rather than crack some chicken in there, went slightly left field and gone with prawns. Portugal has a coastline! Makes sense!


Verdict: Herman Ze German smashes this dish. While the prawns (I wasn’t that hungry) were ok, its not a bratwurst and some sexy fries.

Germany Win (£5 @ 10/11)


Iran – Koobideh with Cucumber Salad

Another wrap based dish, this one is a favourite on the streets of Tehran, apparently. Using minced meat and other bits and pieces, this is a potential contender to compete with the classic Greek kabab. Potential.


Nigeria – Nigerian Chicken & Tomatoes

While many Nigerian recipes are plantain happy, this African style stew is a decent change from the usual to come out of this region.


Verdict: The Koobideh is a strange one. The spices don’t add too much to the meat and so it comes off quite dry. Don’t worry Donner Kabab, you are still the king. While the Nigerian stew is probably the least exciting dish I made for the tournament, it does enough to scrape past.

Nigeria Win (£5 @ 10/11)


Ghana – Kentumere

Fish and Spinach in tomatoes. A popular dish in Ghana that needs the charcoal effect to get it properly done.


United States – Phili Cheese Steak

So much big food I could have done for this. The burger, the wings, the grease. Went with a (slightly) healthier option of the Phili Cheese Steak although packed it full of fatty goodness.

United States

Verdict: Normally, I always will pick the healthier option, however this dish from the States was so good. Power wins on this occasion.

US Win (£5 @ 2/1)

Previous Winnings

£18.72 from Sunday

£5 on Switzerland vs Ecuador Draw @ 21/10 – Lose = -£5

£5 on France @ 3/10 – WIN = £6.50

£5 on Argentina @ 1/3 – WIN = £6.67

TOTAL = £26.89

Sunday, 15 June 2014

World Cup Food Off – Sunday 15th June

Previous: Thursday 12th June

              Friday 13th June

              Saturday 14th June


Switzerland – Cheese & Beer Fondue

The Swiss classic of a fondue, with a twist of sticking a whole load of beer in. Add some baguettes to dunk/dip/dive into the cheesy mixture and I struggle to see how much more Swiss you could get.


Ecuador – Stuffed Avocados

Another country that loves its Plantain so not that much choice when coming to Ecuador. Stuffed Avocados with egg, ham and other bits and pieces was a decent, healthy option – the complete antithesis to the cheese and beer.


Verdict: Both of these were heavy going! There is only so much cheese you can eat before you feel sick and the same with avocados. Sort of suggests that they will cancel each other out.

Draw (£5 @ 21/10)


France - La salade au Saint-Marcellin (@ Les 3 Brasseurs)

Before you judge me for having a salad in France, with the range of exceptional food I could have had, I would like to point out it had been a heavy weekend! The salad also came with a lot of local products from the Lille area so was perfect.


Honduras – Baledas

Honduran flour tortillas with beans and cheese. Simple, quick and can use a range of ingredients to spice it up a wee bit.


Verdict: The Baledas were awful. Partly due to one recipe suggesting to put butter beans in which are dreadful. The class of France will see them through this.

France Win (£5 @ 3/10)


Argentina – Argentine Chicken and Rice

Steak is so 2000s for Argentina, its all chicken over there now! A simple dish with some good spices and some lemon thrown in for good measure. Probably could have done something more explosive, but it may not have ended well.


Bosnia – Ćevapi

A Bosnian kabab that combines some bizarre ingredients such as cottage cheese into it and turns it into a taste sensation.


Verdict: Such a close call. The Bosnian kabab is one to be feared, while the stylish chicken and fried lemon is also very good. While I do want to say draw, I felt better after the Argentine meal. So they just nick it.

Argentina Win (£5 @ 1/3)

Previous Winnings

£20.22 from Friday

£5 on Col vs Greece Draw @ 23/10 – Lose = -£5

£5 on Uruguay @ 4/9 – Lose =-£5

£5 on Italy @ 17/10 – WIN = £13.50

£5 on Japan @ 2/1 – Lose =-£5

TOTAL = £18.72

Saturday, 14 June 2014

World Cup Food Off – Saturday 14th June

Previous: Thursday 12th June

              Friday 13th June


Colombia - Chuzos de Res & Arepas de Queso

With two countries who love a good wrap based dish. It was the South American version up first, with home made Arepas with cheese (a cheesy type bread) and beef skewers marinated in spices and olive oil.


Greece - Grilled Pork Souvlaki & Tzatziki

The king of wraps, if such a thing exists. The Souvlaki with spicy pitta bread and home made Tzatziki – potentially the greatest dip in the World. A formidable combination.


Verdict: Such a tough, tough clash. Colombia’s beef skewer is a taste sensation. But the spicy pittas, the souvlaki and the tzatziki, see Greece take a win, but then I can’t let this Colombia dish lose either. A draw.

Draw (£5 @ 23/10)


Uruguay - The Chivito

Yes, I know its basically a sandwich. But it’s THEIR sandwich. With a lot of meat. And some other token non-meat options such as egg and pepper.


Costa Rica - Bistec Encebollado

Steak and Onions. Not much else. No ambition in Costa Rica it seems.


Verdict: Both dishes are extremely basic, but Uruguay’s sandwich with so much on it, (Easily a MANwich) actually tasted damn nice. Next time a bigger ciabatta is needed and it becomes the perfect sandwich. Comfortable victory.

Uruguay Win (£5 @ 4/9)


England – Cottage Pie

The classic pie was always going to be the dish to be used, just what one? As I couldn’t be bothered putting a pastry together, the lazy cottage pie option was taken.


Italy – Home made Pizza

What else was it going to be!?


Verdict: If I ever do make a cottage pie again, more mash was needed. Hence the confused stew/pie/splodge on that plate. A pie was never going to beat a pizza though. When has a pizza ever let you down? (One at 3am from a dodgy takeaway doesn’t count!)

Italy Win (£5 @ 17/10)

IVORY COAST vs JAPAN (2am Sunday)

Ivory Coast - Poisson Braisé

Being a country next to the see, fish was always going to be one of their main meals. This one, grills (or sticks on a charcoal grill for an authentic taste) the fish after rubbing in a spice mixture to give it a good flavour.


Japan - Japanese salmon & avocado rice

Basically a sushi dish without the pain and hassle of trying to roll all of the sushi up into neat little balls. The avocado added something a bit different to the normal type of sushi.


Verdict: Both dishes have their flaws sadly. Ivory Coast’s was too watery after the liquid in the fish came out and Japan’s was too heavy going after a while. That being said, Japanese food done well is normally exceptional and even here, Japanese food done averagely still pips the Ivorian effort.

Japan Win (£5 @ 2/1)

Previous Winnings

£6.50 from Thursday

£5 on Mexico @ 13/10 - WIN = £11.50

£5 on Spain @ 5/6 – LOSE = -£5

£5 on Chile @ 4/9 – WIN = £7.22

TOTAL = £20.22

Friday, 13 June 2014

World Cup Food Off – Friday 13th June

Previous: Thursday 12th June


Mexico - Chicken enchiladas with red mole sauce

While it could have been easy to go with a bog-standard enchilada or fajita, the red mole sauce made this slightly different the usual bog standard Mexican. The red mole sauce being mainly chocolate and tomatoes.


Cameroon - Brochettes a la Camerounaise & Sese Plantains

While the Brochettes with a Cameroon sauce is a simple skewer with beef and peppers, the plantains were an interesting for me. Is it a vegetable? Is it a banana in disguise?


Verdict: Mexico were always going to look good here with Mexican being the king of food. Despite it being a disappointing meal (in part to my poor cooking), nothing could prepare me for Cameroon. The skewers were fine. Good solid marinade. But then came the plantain. Possibly the worst thing I have ever eaten. Looks like a banana but tastes of shame. Comfortable Mexico win.

Mexico Win (£5 @ 13/10)


Spain - Chorizo, potato & cheese omelette

The omelette is a classic and with a Spanish twist of chorizo to add even more depth to the dish.


Holland – Spekpannenkoek & Appelstroop

A bacon pancake with apple sauce is a Dutch classic (apparently) with the sauce meant to be a treacle based one for maximum coverage.


Verdict: Yes, that is a pancake. Maybe I have inadvertently created a metaphor for the Dutch World Cup campaign. A shambles. Even the apple sauce was too watery. Spain, solid and did the job. Like they should do for the game in Salvador. I made that Dutch dish back in February and it looks even worse now. Terrible.

Spain Win (£5 @ 5/6)


Chile - Chancho a la chilena & Salsa de ají colorado

A sexy dish of slow cooked pork, with a salsa sauce and finished off with some veg and rice. Early contender for dish of the tournament.


Australia - Kangaroo Burgers & Bush Tomato Chutney

Aussies love their meat. And what more Australian meat is there than Kangaroo? (Maybe apart from Koala but that is hard to find in London) Make it into a burger and “stick it under the barbie” to make it proper Australian.


Verdict: If you’ve never had Kangaroo meat, there is really nothing wrong with it. Quite tender and a decent taste and it goes well with the Bush Tomato Chutney. However, when you put it against the might of that slow cooked pork and the salsa sauce, the sexyness comes through. Is Australia sexy? Are Kangaroos sexy? No to both.

Chile Win (£5 @ 4/9)

Previous Winnings:

£5 on Brazil @ 3/10 – WIN = £6.50

Thursday, 12 June 2014

World Cup Food Off – Thursday 12th June

Way back in 2013, it was a simple idea. Cook a meal from every country who are at the World Cup and then see how much money I can win (or lose) through the power of food. The idea evolved over time as some restaurant trips were also included and 32 meals later, with the opening day of the World Cup and the opening games, it’s time to begin:


Brazil - Ensopadinho de Carne

A “classic” dish that is basically stew and one that is hearty and wholesome.


Croatia - Croatian Dalmatian Red Risotto

Nicknamed “Fisherman’s Risotto”, this dish had fish, fish and more fish.


Verdict: Croatia started off really well with the shrimp, squid and mussels combining with the sauce well but, like the football team, Brazil kept it steady and the dish probably came out on top. But only just. Brazil to come from behind and win.

Brazil Win (£5 @ 3/10)

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

World Cup 2014 Predictor-Fest


World Cup 2010 Predictions (they weren’t good) HERE

So another four years has passed. And as Brazil vs Croatia kicks off the 20th World Cup, I will add my predictions to the millions that are already out there to try and guess which one of the 32 will actually go on and win the thing. Ignoring my sweepstake picks (‘Mon the Chile!) and my complete satisfaction when England throw it away, again, take a read and go and bet on the opposite. You’ll make good money.






--> Brazil on home form should see a comfortable 9 points from 9, without even breaking too much of a sweat. That leaves the small conundrum of who gets second. A team that loses to Scotland twice in qualifying shouldn’t even be at the tournament so that rules out Croatia. (You can’t rely on Luka Modric for everything!) Mexico were utterly awful in qualification, although results this year have improved slightly. So that leaves Cameroon. And before you laugh yourselves away. A team that has no expectations, have little problem with the climate and could have one last hurrah for that generation. The hurrah will be short lived however, have you seen Group B? 

Winners: Brazil, 2nd Place: Cameroon






--> Poor old Australia. Getting lumped in a group they have little chance of even taking a point from, never mind qualifying out of. With Spain not the Kings they once were, it could be a proper fight for the 2 qualifying spots from B. However, you feel they have enough in them to top the group with Torres normally finding form at tournaments and Diego Costa looking a handful, if fit. Holland for me are the ones to crash out. Despite cruising through qualification, this team lack experience at the back and may not have the temperament in a potential ‘winner takes all’ final group game vs Chile. Also, Chile have Mauricio Pinilla in their team. Job done.

Winners: Spain, 2nd Place: Chile



Ivory Coast



--> Some bizarrely weak groups at this year’s tournament, started by Group C. Colombia will miss Falcao massively, however with James Rodríguez and Jackson Martínez in their lineup, it should be enough to win this one. I cannot see Japan doing anything here, so watch them win the Group now. Greece, having had their nosebleed in 2004 are back to normal and will exit here too. That leaves Ivory Coast who I have big hopes for. Some world class players, and players that are in form too. They should finally have enough to make it out of the Group Stage.

Winners: Colombia, 2nd Place: Ivory Coast



Costa Rica



--> Not sure Uruguay will go as far as some people are making them out to be (the Final?!), but they should cruise through this group. Have enough up front to rip the other 3 defences to pieces which means it looks like Italy vs England is the decider. (Sorry Costa Rica) I can just see England scraping through that, although the firepower of Immobile and Balotelli just make me seriously consider this one.

Winners: Uruguay, 2nd Place: England






--> Having tipped France for an early exit in 2010, I can’t see them making the same mistake this time, especially with Didier Deschamps in charge which should see them top the group too. The other 3 I actually can’t split, with Switzerland likely to be steady and lacking in the goals again, that could give Ecuador and Honduras a chance. However, Switzerland are the top seeds in this group and if they can keep Josip Drmic fit and in form, then 2nd place should be achievable. What a key first game for them though!

Winners: France, 2nd Place: Switzerland






--> What Argentina needed to get them settled into the tournament was an easy group that they can’t possibly throw away. Group F is pretty much perfect then as apart from Bosnia (who don’t have any World Cup pedigree anyway), they face a woeful Nigeria and an Iran side just happy to be there. Putting a strikeforce of Messi, Aguero, Lavezzi and Di Maria is just unfair, so 100% for Argentina. Bosnia have the quality of Sejad Salihović and Vedad Ibišević (before we even consider Džeko!) to easily pick up 2nd place.

Winners: Argentina, 2nd Place: Bosnia






--> Not massively sure what point Germany coach Joachim Löw is trying to prove by only taking one striker to Brazil. 36 year old Miroslav Klose will no doubt be in the goals again, but if he gets injured, then what? They do of course have one of the most exciting midfields at the tournament and a rock solid defence so should easily make it through the group. Portugal have Ronaldo, but then scratch beneath the surface and you have the makings of an average team. Having to qualify for the play-offs after finishing below Russia in the group also just adds to the feeling they aren’t going far. Ghana have always made it out of the Group and you feel they can do the same here again. Especially if it comes down to the final game.

Winners: Germany, 2nd Place: Ghana





South Korea

--> Belgium, who are everyone’s “dark horses” have a decent draw to make the QFs, especially with an easy looking group such as this. That leaves the extremely interesting battle between Algeria and Russia for 2nd. (South Korea barely deserve to be here so will be bottom) Russia have the class and the tactical nous through Don Capello to just pip the Algerians.

Winners: Belgium, 2nd Place: Russia


- Brazil vs Chile

- Spain vs Cameroon

- Colombia vs England

- Uruguay vs Ivory Coast

- France vs Bosnia

- Argentina vs Switzerland

- Germany vs Russia

- Belgium vs Ghana

Wins for teams in italics. All but one of the Group Winners I see making it past the 2nd Round. Brazil should have enough flair and home support to see off Chile, while Spain will also have enough attacking talent to dismantle Cameroon’s aging defence. Colombia vs England will be a tight one if it happens, but the lack of experience in key areas vs the Colombians will probably see them out. Uruguay likewise, on a home continent, should beat the Ivorians. The only real shock I can see is Bosnia beating France. There is always one at this stage and the Bosnians have some quality to see off France. Belgium vs Ghana is also my tip for game of the tournament. Sexy football all round.


Brazil vs Colombia

Spain vs Uruguay

Bosnia vs Germany

Argentina vs Belgium

Potentially the best QF line up at a World Cup ever if this happens. Brazil, again have the fans behind them to just see off Colombia, who will miss Falcao too much at this point. Spain’s attacking threat should also be enough to beat Uruguay, but goals goals goals in that game. Yes, I have tipped Bosnia to beat Germany. There is something exciting about that team and with a large chunk of them playing or played in Germany, they’ll know what to expect. Argentina should easily see off Belgium. The Red Devils crashing out against the first big team they come up against.


Brazil vs Bosnia

Spain vs Argentina

While Brazil should finally end Bosnia’s dream World Cup debut, the Spain vs Argentina game is one that is likely to go all the way. However, a defence that has not looked the rock it once was, may be Spain’s undoing against that rampant Argentine defence. Also, Messi has clearly been saving himself during the last few weeks of the La Liga season, so what better chance to turn it on than against the country he plies his trade in.


- Brazil vs ARGENTINA

I tipped Brazil to win in 2010 and they crashed out at the QF stage but I see a shock with Argentina winning it in Brazil. A squad that has the games to build it up to the Final and an attack and defence that you feel is stronger than the home side. Brazil have been here before remember. 1950 – when they bottled it at home. It can happen again…

Top Scorer - Lionel Messi (Argentina) –> While the top scorer rarely comes from the team that wins it, for Argentina to get as far as I think they will, they’ll need Messi to smash them home. Aguero will help, but the magic will come from the wee man.

Surprise Team – Bosnia –> Have a relatively ok draw once they get out of the Group as they will fancy their chances against whoever comes from Group E and then anything can happen from the QFs onwards.