Florence Cornish Cooks

A Food Blog

Deep Fried Cheeseburger. Memphis, TN.

I adore deep frying. I just think it’s the best thing in the world. Ever. Not even the best way of cooking, but the best thing. I’ve never in my life had something deep fried and thought ‘Hmm, you know what, I think I would like this better if it was poached. Or boiled’. Nah, thanks. Gimme dat oil.

Memphis has some of the best food to offer in the whole of the U S of A, and that’s saying something as I would HAPPILY eat my way through all 50 glorious states. But Elvis’s hometown has some seriously good eating – and this burger bunned delight was just one of them.

Dyer’s on Beale Street is a guide book favourite. They’ve been using the same oil to deliciously dunk all their food in for the past, wait for it, 100 years! Apparently it’s filtered so it’s not as gross as your retching sounds might initially indicate but for a selling point, it’s not the, ummm, most hygienic one that comes to mind.

BUT, it has to be said, if that’s what 100 year old oil tastes like, then move over new can and bring me a Victorian fryer. It was darn divine. The burger was actually a classic diner double cheese, with super thin patties sweetly hugging two slices of Simpsons-toned American cheese in between. All covered in a soft bun duvet and served with a large fries and gallons of ice cold pink lemonade. What could be better!?

The burger itself was the most tender piece of beef I’ve had in a long, LONG time, and I like my meat. It just fell apart when you took a bite and all this for $6.95? GOD BLESS AMERICA. And God bless Memphis. 

Deep Fried Cheeseburger. Memphis, TN.

White Chocolate and Raspberry Bread Pudding. San Francisco, CA.

What I love most about bread is that everywhere in the whole world (almost) has it, but it is never, ever the same. Indians have naan, Americans have good old white sliced, Germans have rye or, one of my contenders for most favourite word in the world, pumpernickel – everybody’s got their own. I ALSO can’t get enough of how many ways you can use our fine floured friend; toasted, sandwiched, French toasted, in sauce, as stuffing, to put over your eyes during a facemask instead of cucumber (just me?). The possibilities are endless.

But it has to be said, without a doubt, that taking bread, the most glorious of carbohydrates, covering it in sugar, smooth, loving custard, adding chocolate and spices and baking till puffy and golden brown – just how I like my men – is something of a gift from above. Move over Manna from Heaven, all we want is pudding divine.

This shop in San Francisco was something of a ‘stumbled-upon’ moment, and not in the internet search engine way. Walking down by the Mission Dolores part of San Fran, a window cracked open, with Pinterest level cutesy décor and a selection of toppings ranging from nuts to jimmies to marshmallows and everything in between, all separated in childhood memory-inducing little metal tubs, was too much to resist. At first we thought this was a super edgy ice cream parlour, with hand written scrawls telling us the flavour of the week, but it was actually bread pudding. BREAD. PUDDING. All different flavours, scooped up into balls and topped with all the sprinkles and sauce you could possibly think of that would taste nice together. Which, turns out, is almost EVERY flavour together. It is really a challenge to not make a Chocolate Chip bread pudding with raspberry, caramel and chocolate fudge sauce, tip topped off with hazelnuts, minimallows and Butterfingers not taste bloody fantastic. Believe me.

Much oohing and aaahing came next as well as a slightly bemused and, frankly, confused shop assistant wondering why we were so enthralled by the idea of pudding…TO GO. Grace, though, was still convinced it was ice cream, (and to be fair, the scooping action would lead you to think this) but it was BRRREEEADDD PUDDINGGG! It was also, delicious. It took me more than a good few minutes to choose my flavour, mind, given that Maple Pecan, Chocolate Chip, Rum & Raisin and Tutti Frutti were all on offer, but I settled decisively and delectably on White Chocolate and Raspberry, with raspberry sauce, sprinkles and marshmallows – what else?

The pudding was softer than a kitten’s ear (to paraphrase the latest episode of ‘Girls’) and clung to your teeth after each teasing mouthful. Tangy, super sweet, soft, chewy, crunchy – I’m really struggling to be coherent here, it was just that good. And eating it with a plastic spoon, wandering around in the glorious sunshine? What could be better?! Bread pudding, you are a hero among desserts. We salute you. 

White Chocolate and Raspberry Bread Pudding. San Francisco, CA. 

White Chocolate and Raspberry Bread Pudding. San Francisco, CA. 

Bloody Mary and Mimosa. San Francisco, CA.

My friend Amy, from Chicago, has recently started to watch ‘Made in Chelsea’ (as everybody SHOULD, in my view), as a way to stem the boredom of our final weeks of teaching in Thailand. As most people know, I love that show. LOVE it. Unashamedly. And so does she, so, you know, transatlantic relations being forged over how annoying Rosie is or the unanswered mystery – how many foreign languages does Mark Francis ACTUALLY speak?

Anyway, the reason I thought of this is that after a couple of seasons, chowed through in maybe an afternoon, she texted me asking ‘Does everyone in London drink Bloody Marys,  (correct plural?! Grammar Nazis back off) all the time?!’. I had to shatter her dream. As I do with most of my friends and men. No,  no we don’t. And frankly, I DO NOT. I know it’s classy and I know everyone loves them, blah blah blah but to me, it’s basically just a pizza in a glass. A big old slug of Margherita sans dough and cheese. Plus, I had a distrust of tomatoes for the majority of my early childhood and teenage years so the thought of drinking them pulverised is a pushing it just a little bit, even at the stage of recovery I’m in now where I can embrace an overpriced ‘heirloom’ (the MOST pretentious name of veg I’ve heard in yonks, I have to say) salad as much as the next person.

But, as you may or may not have noticed, Grace and I bloody love a guidebook and will follow it TO. THE. LETTER. Lonely Planet sluts. Gagging for tourist advice. SO, when Grace’s Mum’s friend had actually lived in San Francisco, and wrote us the BEST guide ever, called ‘San Fran: My Way’, well, there was no way we weren’t ticking the hell out of the boxes on that bitch. And Number 1 on his list was to drink Bloody Mary’s in the Castro. And for fans of Sean Penn aka Harvey Milk, and the gay community in general, we were there.

This little chi-chi bistro / café thing with hefty drift-wood tables and tarnished steel lamps served us up a treat. A Popeye-worthy, jar-full of tomato, Tabasco, vodka and pepper for Grace, and a fishbowl of mimosa for me, all orangey and fizzy – like a grownup Tango with a kick. Nothing will ever stop me from eating or drinking what I want, when I want and that includes highly inappropriate breakfast and dinner dining options (pancakes with whipped cream for dinner IS OK past 8pm), but I love it when booze masquerades behind a fruit juice for pre-noon consumption. Sneaky, sneaky cocktails. 

Bloody Mary and Mimosa. San Francisco, CA.

Bloody Mary and Mimosa. San Francisco, CA.

Chilli in a Bread Bowl. San Francisco, CA.

NEWSFLASH, sinusitis stinks. Really, it sucks. I’ve been confined to my bed with unstraightened hair and ZERO make up for nigh on two weeks and I’m getting more than a little sick of it. Hence my absence in blogging for a few days. When you’re left ear is blocked and you sound like the exhaust pipe of an old VW beetle everytime you cough, typing becomes a little bit more of a challenge.

BUT, hey ho, what better to come back to foodie cyberspace with than a post about chilli?! That great comfort food that, at one time or another, has held us in its warm and kidney bean filled arms and said ‘It’s OK, I’ve got you. We’ll make it through together’.

It has to be said, though, that there is a FUNDAMENTAL difference between chilli in the States and some of the poorer, school canteen style chillis many of us have suffered through back in the UK. Firstly, this is, and should be seen, as a soup. A thick, wholesome, chunky, feisty soup, but a soup dish nonetheless. It really saddens me to see it served up far too thick and mince heavy, over chlorine-tasting rice and perhaps garnished with a small pinch of limp parsley. NO.

This chilli, courtesy of Boudin’s Bakery (once again, clearly couldn’t get away from that place), does all the things a good one should. It was loose but still unctuous in texture with just the right amount of smoky, paprika spice – not raw heat from fresh chillis by the way. It was topped off with cheese (should be mandated by law in my opinion) and served, the San Fran way, in an edible bread bowl. If there’s one thing to say ‘HA!’ to sinusitis with, its this bad boy. 

Chilli in a Bread Bowl. San Francisco, CA. 

Chilli in a Bread Bowl. San Francisco, CA. 

Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel. San Francisco, CA.

I have often said that all I want in life is a soft pretzel and a glass of lemonade and I tell you, I have very rarely longed for much more. Pretzels to me are the doughy, salty, twisty food representation of the US immigration melting pot at its best. The epitome of German baking, they have been embraced not just in their heartland of New York City, but everywhere, and I mean EVERYWHERE in the States.

What I love most about pretzels is the same with what I love most about sandwiches, or pizza. It’s always basically the same but the sheer variety of flavours you can have is really the finger-liking joyous part. For any fans of the American version of The Office, consider me a younger, whiter, femaler version of Stanley on Free Pretzel Day at Dunder Mifflin, Scranton. Seriously, that guy had it right. All the toppings and don’t piss me about with your “We’re out of maple galze and mini mallows”.

I had this tasty fellow right on the edge of the pier in San Fran, smooshed up against a hundred other tourists all staring at the sea lions flubbering and falling about in their over-indulgent piece of prime real estate. When you think that the value of the land those fat little Sea World icons are hogging, you really start to question a whole hell of a lot of stuff.

As per ushe, I was bloody STARVING and was originally on a hunter-gatherer-esque quest for a churro. I mean, WHO ISN’T?! But his twisted, chewy, German ancestor friend caught my eye and it was him that, in the end, I decided would be mine.

Gritty sugar, warming, musky cinammon and the comforting embrace of melted butter – this is the best of America is a dough form. 

Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel. San Francisco, CA. 

Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel. San Francisco, CA.