And Finally Artist News Awards Beef Of The Week

CMU Beef Of The Week #230: Pan Fried Beef Fillet at the Mercury Prize

By | Published on Friday 31 October 2014


Now, obviously you all read our comprehensive coverage of the 2014 Mercury Prize yesterday, so you now know pretty much everything you need to know about this year’s big album of the year bash. But – big admission of omission here – there was one thing I forgot to mention. The beef.

Bit of a background for you here. I have what is widely accepted, by one and all, as a smartly refined diet. The words “faddy and fussy eater” have no role in this whatsoever. It’s just I know what I like and that’s what I eat. What I like is well cooked meat and any variety of potato. Any potato whatsoever. Pasta, rice, noodles, these are not needed when you have the potato. Sauces aren’t required either because God gave us gravy.

And as for veg. Well, I’m not some loony Telegraph journalist. I love veg. All three of them. Carrots, Broccoli and Cauliflower. Though only when served with some well cooked dead animal, obviously.

In a bid for balance, I should note that my co-Publisher Caro Moses is a strict vegetarian, and is prone to claim there are actually more than three vegetables. She’s very much with Morrissey when it comes to meat and murder, though is slightly less irritating about it.

And as for CMU Editor Andy Malt, well, he’s just back from a week in Tokyo, supposedly to research the state of the recorded music market there, but mainly to guzzle down on plate after plate of uncooked fish bits. He claims this constitutes fun times. He’s weird.

Because, here’s the thing, I don’t approve of eating anything that swims. It’s not a religious thing. Though if someone can recommend a religion that outlaws eating anything that swims, do let me know. It would be a handy excuse. Though a religion that bans the eating of swimming things while concurrently ignoring the fact cows can swim. Contradiction and denial of science is what religion’s all about, right?

Anyway, there’s a slight chance you might be wondering what the fish bits this has to do with the Mercury Prize. Well, it had been a whole three years since I last attended the big Mercury envelope opening festivities, back when the whole shebang happened in one of those West London hotels you can never quite remember the name of.

It was a nice night, busy chat chatting to bunch of broadsheet journalists who warmed to me greatly when I told them that if they thought the music industry was fucked they should take a look at the newspaper game. We gossiped, we nodded along to the song singing, we clapped at PJ Harvey’s victory, and I managed to drop all my bank cards, requiring me to crawl around under the table to rescue them.

But here actually is the thing. The meal that night was fish. FISH. As in a formerly swimming fish-like fish that had been fished and was now expecting to be eaten. Who serves fish at an awards ceremony? FISH! For a brief moment I considered asking for the veggie option, but that had a very non-carrot-cauliflower-broccoli look about it. So I opted to push the fish around my plate instead and just wait for pudding.

Bearing in mind that one of the gimmicks at the Mercurys is to kick things off at dinner time, but then make you sit through two hours of music and video clips with just one bread stick each, so that the loudest shortlisted act of the night (Royal Blood this year) has to go on last so as not to be drowned out by the music industry’s collective rumbling stomachs. Never had a fruit tart been so gratefully received than by me at the Mercury Prize 2011.

Now, I’m not saying that I moaned about this endlessly in the weeks following that particular Mercury night, but I wasn’t invited back for three years. Not, in fact, until this year.

I won’t tell you who kindly invited me along this time, because it was a big music company, and now that Music Week is treading on our territory of calling the music industry a bunch of cunts, we’ve got to try extra hard to retain our reputation as the rebels of music business journalism. Let’s just say Bombay Bicycle Club were robbed, the new Cheryl album is going to be awesome, and I’ve just decided that we’ll never link to footage of Justin Bieber walking into a door ever again.

But as kind as the invitation to the big Mercury bash was, deep down I had an immediate response. WILL IT BE FISH!!!!!! Though – after a long meeting with the entire CMU team and our financial advisors – it was decided it would be rude to refuse to accept the invite to the party without a no-fish conditional clause. And so I decided to take a risk, and a gamble, and tread into uncertain territory. I even resisted the temptation to respond to the “any special dietary requirements” email with “YES, NO FISH”.

Which is why, as I’m sure you can all understand, while Young Fathers wowed, and Royal Blood rocked, and Kate Tempest got my feet tapping, my highest moment of elation on Wednesday night came on spotting the menu. “Pan fried beef fillet, truffled boulanger potatoes, sautéed wild mushrooms, sautéed spring greens, glazed baby carrots, Greenwich porter jus”. I mean, I don’t know what half of that meant but three out of six ain’t bad. Carrots, yes! Potatoes, result! And BEEF! Praise be to the great god Mercury himself.

And it was good beef too. I mean, the “Fleur de sel caramel chocolate fondant” stole the show overall, and the “micro celery” was the biggest talking point of the night (what the fuck?), but the beef. The beef was good. And a worthy winner of CMU’s Beef Of The Week.

PS: If you’d like to see the beef in question, Jenny Stevens off of The Guardian can help you, here. I was too excited about eating it to be taking photos.