THE BELSTAFF CULTURE CLUB
Over almost 100 years we have built a brand for those with a natural curiosity; who seek out the unfamiliar and always take the chance to explore the unconventional path. When it comes to culture that spirit holds true. Whether that’s a piece of cinema from another world and time or an obscure novel with a universal message, we’re interested in the interesting.
Welcome to the Belstaff Culture Club: a treasure trove ﬁlled with some of culture’s lesser-known, unconventional gems. Lovingly curated by Belstaffers, our friends and distinct voices from the world of culture, let us entertain and inspire you with our vibrant weekly calendar of content based on ﬁlm, music, books, food and drink.
Take Five with Russell Tovey
You might know Russell Tovey for his leading role in BBC hit Being Human, among others. But in these unusual times, the actor has turned his hand to a new medium: podcasting.
Russell stops by the Belstaff Culture Club with five favourites, and the first may not surprise you. Read on to find out more about the actor’s journey into the world of podcasting, and his picks of the bunch.
Talk Art. Obviously [Talk Art is Tovey’s own podcast]. A show I set up with fellow art geek and best friend Rob Diament at the end of 2018 that has snowballed into a fully-fledged international art chat show and bona fide second career. I am extremely proud of what we have created and the content we are producing, especially right now with our special QuarARTtine season – recording inspiring important voices across the breadth of culture, during this crazy pandemic, distilling a time capsule archive for the culture of now.
Created by my ‘The Sister’ co-star Amrita Acharia and her partner Sagar Radia, this podcast has very quickly and very quietly established itself as an important go to, full of the truthful experiences and beautifully honest views on inclusivity, visibility and diversity right across the arts. Stand out episodes are my old History Boys cast mate Sacha Dhawan and my Years and Years sister, Ruth Madely.
This is magic for an art geek. Host Helen Molesworth speaks with leading contemporary artists and art historians about what it is to be a woman and an artist, with archive recorded interviews from superstars like Alice Neel and Lee Krasner. No idea why, but I have listened to most of these while in the bath. It has been bliss.
A simple theme, with incredible effect. This show brings two artists together to discuss their work. Without a presenter, it leads into a free flowing idiosyncratic wonderment. Stand outs are Helen Cammock meets Suhayla El Bushra and Maxine Peake meets Cosey Fanni Tutti.
Just love this show. Alan Cumming and Christopher Sweeney work up some queer chat magic. With the likes of Cynthia Nixon, Hannah Gadsby and Stephen Fry, it’s a vital resource for queer voices in the arts.
LISTENER'S LOUNGEWEARClassic cotton tees, vintage-inspired sweatshirts – perfect partners when you pause and hit play on a podcast.
PREVIOUS CULTURAL DISCOVERIES
For the foodies among us, MasterChef: The Professionals judge Marcus Wareing needs no introduction. With a raft of Michelin stars, Marcus’s culinary skills are a cut above – he’s even cooked for the Queen. But for Belstaff Culture Club, he’s dishing up something different. Cooking for friends can be stressful, but this French favourite is a sure success thanks to the top tips Marcus includes. And their usefulness extends beyond the dish he delivers – brushing up on your béchamel will elevate your Italian cooking as well.
"My wife Jane and I used to eat these a lot when I worked in France", says Marcus. "They’re always pre-prepped in cafes in Paris, and probably about ten days old. A well-made Croque Monsieur is warm, it’s toasty, it’s crunchy, it’s oozing with fat. It’s the ultimate French toastie – and this one’s a knockout. It makes a great supper, with a green salad on the side. I have used prosciutto instead of cooked ham in this recipe, as I prefer the flavour".
50g Gruyère cheese, grated
2 slices of sourdough
3–4 slices of prosciutto
1 tsp thyme leaves
1 tbsp plain flour
1⁄2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
50g Cheddar cheese, grated
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Start by making the béchamel. Put the milk and thyme into a small saucepan. Gently bring to a simmer over low heat. Melt the butter in another small saucepan then add the flour, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook over low heat for about 1 minute to get rid of the floury taste, but avoid letting it brown. Gradually whisk in half of the hot milk and stir quickly to combine. Add the remaining milk and cook for a further 5 minutes over low heat, stirring continuously. Remove from the heat, add the mustards and cheese and stir until the cheese has melted.
2. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.
3. Place the grated Gruyère on one slice of the sourdough then top with the prosciutto. Finish with the béchamel then top with the other slice of sourdough. Heat a frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the butter then carefully add the sandwich and toast it for 3–5 minutes. Gently turn the sandwich over and brown the other side for another 3–5 minutes.
4. Transfer to a piece of baking parchment on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 4–5 minutes, until the cheese has melted.
If you’ve ever been to France and had a Croque Monsieur in a cafe, it was probably crap. But they can be delicious. You’ve just got to put in the effort to make the béchamel sauce. It takes some skill, and can become lumpy. Why? Well, it’s simple – you’ve not cooked out your roux (butter and flour) properly, or you’ve added the milk too quickly. Once you’ve added the flour to the melted butter you really need to beat it well and work it really hard to bring them together to make that roux base. You’re cooking the flour at the same time. Now it’s like making a risotto – if you pour in all the milk at once, the roux could just split: the butter will separate from the flour and you’ll have a disaster on your hands. You need to add a little bit at a time. It’s also important to add hot milk to a hot roux, otherwise it will cool the roux right down. I use a wooden spoon in a heavy-bottomed pan over low heat.