When I first heard about the Hairy Bikers, the mental image of portly, leather-clad motorbike riders with excess facial hair was not something I wanted to associate with cooking. Actually, if I’m truthful, the thought slightly turned my stomach.
But I can now cheerfully confess that Tuesday evenings in the Koeksister household have been particularly agreeable since the Hairy Bikers’ Bakeation cookery series began airing on BBC Two. Since being introduced to Dave Myers and Si King, I’ve discovered how surprisingly enjoyable they are to watch.
What makes Bakeation a gem in the plethora of cookery shows out there, I believe, is the successful combination of four elements: interesting multicultural dishes that are accessible to regular cooks like me, beautiful European scenery (with bits of historical background info thrown in), the light-hearted repartee between the two down-to-earth northerners, and the friendly chats they have with some of the best artisan bakers on the continent.
My baking skills are only just passable… in fact, pastry and I have a rather hostile relationship, so I will not be attempting all the recipes Dave and Si have demonstrated!
But being able to experience beautiful and diverse destinations while being introduced to the delectable culinary delights of these nations (and potentially recreating some of them for my own table) is immensely appealing to me. And that probably goes for most of us.
Last week I was ooh-ing and ah-ing over the glorious French sunshine under which the bikers cooked fresh, ripe apricots into a delicious tarte tatin. In another episode I drooled over a Belgian chocolate truffle cheesecake made in the heart of chocolate-laden Bruges. And after the Germany show Mr Koeksister pleaded for homemade ‘bierocks’ – meat and cabbage filling inside a dough casing, brushed with melted butter and served with Bavarian beer. Could it get much better than that?
The last episode of the Hairy Bikers’ Bakeation flights this Tuesday, 1 May 2012, and features their ride through Spain. For recipes from the shows, go to the BBC’s website here.
Do you follow any television cooks or chefs? Do they inspire you in your cooking? Who do you enjoy watching and why?