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Saturday, 31 July 2010

kitten cafes? Feline good?

I've just read a piece in a magazine about Japan (where else?) and the Japanese phenomenon of Kitten Cafes where you can have your food and beverage whilst having the added bonus of stroking a pussy or two. Apparently pets are generally frowned upon or even forbidden in the apartments of the Japanese and this cat lovers style cafe is very popular. However you can't just march in and start cuddling kitties, oh no. You have to be disinfected first and your belongings stored away in a locker. Then and only then can you begin to have feline fun with moggy-san.

The cats help the visitors to chill whilst in their company but not one of them has yet to pay the bill. There has been a rumour going around that a mother cat and her kitten dined there and  had an arguement about the bill paying which turned into a furious spat and fur flying. They haven't miaowed to each other for several days now.

Meanwhile I'll continue to cuddle my neighbours' cats for free.

Me and Mr Harris -san.

Friday, 30 July 2010

French nights at Broadway.

Over the month of July the Broadway cinema on Broad Street, Nottingham, have had a season of French films showing such as: Heartbreaker, White Material, J’ai Pas Sommeil, Partir, Le Concert, MicMacs, Nenette et Boni, and Gainsbourg. To compliment the films they have created French Food nights throughout the month as well as some wine tasting nights. All of their dishes are £6.95 and the events are very popular and create a real buzz in the cinema. The Broadway cinema is one of my favourite places to hang out and I often pop in for a filter coffee for a mere £1.40. A refill is free. Just lately I have become addicted to the almond croissants they offer. Yum!
Broadway Cinema

Here are some of their latest dishes in relation to the French food evenings.

Chicken salad – strips of chicken fillet in smoked paprika and Tabasco, mixed peppers and salad with a blue cheese dressing.

Chicken Cacciatoré – diced chicken, peppers and mushrooms cooked with tomatoes, white wine and oregano. S/W bread and salad leaves.

Normandy pork – diced pork, smoky bacon and apricots cooked with white wine, grainy mustard and thyme.

Sesamé peanut noodle salad. Noodles with strips of pepper, courgette, carrots and baby corn in a coconut, peanut and sweet chilli dressing served cold with mixed leaves.

Nut loaf with vegetable burritos.

For the North African (French speaking) night to celebrate the showing of White Material.

Salata Meshwiya – Tunisian speciality – fresh vegetable and flaked tuna fish salad topped with boiled egg, capers and a lemon dressing.

Tagine de Poulet aux Pruneaux et Miel – A dish typical of the ancient North African tradition made with chicken slow cooked with prunes and honey finished with almonds and saffron served with fruit and nut couscous.

Sausage Tagine – Spicy sausage served with dates, apricots, onions, courgette, squash, peppers and tomato with a blend of herbs and spices served with fruit and nut couscous.

Vegetable and Chickpea Tagine – Aubergine, chickpeas, carrots, squash and dates slow cooked with tomatoes and aromatic herbs and spices served with fruit and nut couscous.

Tunisian Meatballs – A trio of beef, saffron, nutmeg and fresh parsley meatballs in a Tunisian style tomato and herb sauce served with rice and salad garnish.

Loubia B’Dersa – A north African version of chilli with tomatoes, fresh chillies, cumin and navy beans served on rice with salad garnish (vegan)

South West of France French Food Night . Partir.

Prawn Ragoût – Black tiger prawns, fennel and red peppers cooked with tomato, tarragon, parsley and orange served with bread and salad.

Cassoulet – Toulouse sausage, smoked bacon, carrots, courgettes and cannellini beans slow cooked with fresh thyme, rosemary and basil served with bread and salad.

Cassoulet dish

Corsican Pork – Diced pork, smoky bacon, chorizo sausage and mushrooms in a rich herby red wine sauce served with salad and bread.

Beef Bourguignon – Diced beef, smoky bacon, mushrooms, carrots and celery slow cooked in red wine with fresh tarragon, oregano, thyme and parsley served with bread and salad.

Vegetable Provençal – Aubergines, peppers, courgettes, celery and olives slow cooked with read wine and fresh herbs served with bread and salad.

Chevre Salade – A fresh rocket, basil, caper, roasted pepper and sun dried tomato salad in a light pesto dressing topped with grilled goats cheese and fresh baguette bread (vegan)

There was a Parisian French Food night matched with Le Concert which I missed so I am unable to list any of the delicious foods on offer that night. Thanks to Dave at Broadway for allowing me to copy the menus.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Not so Hot!

I went to the Red Hot Buffet on Goose Gate in Nottingham today (one of five UK branches). It was about 3.30pm and the other two Chinese buffets in Nottingham were closed due to refurbishment. I have been to this establishment before when I used to work at Capital One and we would go on a team night out. I recall that we used to enjoy going there. Today it was just me. The news is not good. At this time of day they were not busy so as a priniciple of good customer service you would expect to be treated well.

This is a copy of what I wrote online in complaint tonight. The longer version is a sad reflection on what happened whilst I was there.

'I came as a single guest to your restaurant around 3.30pm this afternoon and was very disapointed with the service that started as lacklustre and ended as very bad. There was no attempt to make sure that I was welcomed and made aware of how the buffet works by the waiter. I was just shown to a table and left to my own devices. The same waiter just made a hand drinking gesture to assertain if I wanted a drink and after I had eaten my curry and some quite poor pakora and bhajiis I went to pay my bill. Another gentleman dealt with the bill. He seemed unsure of the total initially and then qouted £9.88. Then he disapeared around the corner for five minutes with no explanation and when he finally returned with my change there was no 'thankyou' or 'come again' or reciept. Terrible customer service and the the establishment wasn't even busy.'

The array of curries were very watery and the pakoras and bhajiis were all batter and very little inner substance. I didn't go near the pizzas or the Italian dishes or sample the Chinese or Thai buffet. The beer was ok but the chavvy clientelle opposite me put me off staying any longer than it took me to scoff the chicken curry I chose from the buffet. I think that I was most disapointed with the staff attitude than anything overly poor about the food. They really gave the impression they didn't care. Worst of all was that I got the impression that the fellow I paid the bill to was the manager. No manners at all and just blanked me when I had paid. He never even asked if I had enjoyed the food. Shocking!!!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Flying ants and peas

I have just being going back to my childhood when I helped me granny shell fresh peas and noticed the air outside my kitchen window suddenly filled with flying ants!!! Kill! I always enjoyed helping me granny take the peas from their cases and yesterday evening I indulged myself in this practice whilst making my tea and tried to ignore the grey winged beasties fluttering eractically in the summer air and tapping against my kitchen window and falling dramatically to the ground.

Did you know that the leaf cutter ant is considered a delicacy particularly in Brazil's Amazon basin? Apparently they are at their best at the beginning of the rainy season when the females leave the nest in huge numbers moving sluggishly enough to be easy prey. They are caught by the basket load and eaten either raw or roasted with salt. Their taste is nutty and highly appreciated by their culinary devotees. It is customary to eat the ants between the months of September and November when the ants grow wings to leave the nest. Only the females are eaten. How can they tell which is which? Who ever thought... "hmm yummy squirming wingless ants for tea"?

I think I will stick to my peas and new potatoes with fresh mint and English lamb chops. Call me old fashioned.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

design and comment moderation

Hi guys. I have changed the design on the blog because I felt the foodie design was too busy. Also I have changed the comments moderation so that I choose the comments that are to appear. I have done this for one reason only. I am rather bored with having to delete constant spam from a Chinese porn site every time I put up a new posting. Sorry if you nice folks have to wait for your comment too appear but enough is enough. Cheers, Phil xx

The curse of the mushy peas!

If you were going on a traditional British seaside holiday what foods would you expect to eat nowadays?

When I was a child going to places like Bridlington or Skeggy with my parents we would have a full English Breakfast at the B&B and take sandwiches out for lunch or as a treat get fish and chips from some greasy parlour on the sandy way to the seafront. We used to wolf these down as the vicious seagulls were constantly hovering over our heads and were pitiless in their dive bombing tactics.

We may have had whelks or cockles and mussels but I don’t think we ever got tempted by jellied eels and if we could be prised from the penny arcades we were treated to some seaside rock, a garish pink and sticky candy floss or quickly melting ice cream.

Never did we go to a restaurant as you just didn’t as a working class family of six. Such a thing wasn’t even considered. The Bed and Breakfast or Guest House accommodation we ‘enjoyed’ would have the option of adding an evening meal to your stay and each night we would troop back from the beach, trailing sand all through the Guest House and after a tense hour of our parents making us presentable for ‘those downstairs’ we would shyly return to the dining room for our evening meal. The strict table manners of home had no let up whilst on holiday!!

It probably cost my Mum and Dad a fair amount of money to take the whole family on a week’s holiday in the 1960s and I continued to holiday with them until I was about seventeen and going on holiday with one’s parents and younger siblings was no longer cool. No more end of pier shows starring Jimmy Tarbuck, Ken Dodd or Bruce Forsyth. Now it was going to be dodgy mid 1970s Belgian discos and smoochy dancing with a sweet Scottish lass from Falkirk to ‘Feelings’ by Morris Albert .

‘Feelings, nothing more than feelings,
Trying to forget my feelings of love.
Teardrops rolling down on my face,
Trying to forget my feelings of love.

Feelings, for all my life I'll feel it.
I wish I've never met you, girl;
You'll never come again.

Feelings, wo-o-o feelings,
Wo-o-o, feel you again in my arms.

That’s enough of that soppy nonsense!!! Bring on the Belgian beers!!!


Oostende in Belgium was über cool and the drinking age limit was sixteen! Belgian beer and waffles and cones of frites took the place of the food charms of the English seaside scene and as a young man I could shyly admire the pretty beach babes with my holiday mates and smother my skinny frame in oily gallons of Ambre Solaire. In fact my body was probably more greasy than the greasiest of cod and chips from Greasley’s Fish and Chip Emporium of Grimsby Town. Aaah, those holidays in Grimsby, dead fish on the harbour and terribly bad wind on the headland. Curse those mushy peas!!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Elbows off the table!!!

I went over to Derby yesterday and met up with the daughter of my former headmaster at Darwin Secondary Modern School. This was a very pleasant follow up from her recognising my recent writing about my schooldays in the Bygones section of the Derby Evening Telegraph. She kindly brought along some old school documents, photos and clippings from the history of the now demolished school and her father's working life as the head.
Darwin Secondary Modern school in the 1960s.

We had a lovely chat talking about the same subjects and people from totally different perspectives and I was delighted to hear that some of the now elderly teachers have been following my articles in the newspaper albeit that the journal has heavily edited my original 21 page document and added in some cheesy headlines. 

I also learnt a lot about the man who was my strict headmaster and how outside the school he was a lovely, caring man who had led an adventourous and  fascinating life and had a genuine passion for the education and moral upbringing of the pupils in his care. When you are a teenager at school in the 1960s you don't have the maturity or hindsight to recognise those qualities.
One of the documents I got shown yesterday was a short 'rules of conduct' guide for the staff at the school during the 1950s and 1960s. The pupils would never had an opportunity to see this kind of strict staff ruling. I was very amused by the advice given regarding table manners to be followed during the school dinner period and have tried to reproduce it here. My intention was to write something amusing myself based on the guide but I think it stands on its own slightly arcane merit. I've not be able to reproduce the original emphatic underlining in this blog editing system.

Table manners at school dinner

The following points are being taught in the Social Training Scheme throughout the school.
It would be appreciated if all members of Staff would do their best to see that they are put into practice every day.

1.Sitting at table
(a) Sit up to table. Feet under.
(b) No elbows on table.
(c) Keep head up when eating.

2. Serving
(a)No fingers on part of plate where food should be.
(b)No messy spots either on table or plates.
Use a spoon or fork to prevent spots dropping from gravy/custard jug.
(c)Arrange food neatly on plate.
(d) Serve food the proper way up without breaking e.g. pastry, pudding.
(e)Use fork to help food from serving spoon.

3. Use of cutlery
(a)Handle of knife and fork inside palm.
(b)Spoon held as pen.
(c)When fork is in left hand, keep prongs facing the plate.
(d)When fork is in right hand it may be turned over and used like a spoon.
(e)Keep fingers off the knife blade.
(f)Put food on fork at plate level, not while fork is up in the air.
(g)When not in use, keep the cutlery near plate, not up in the air.
(h)When finished put cutlery neatly together. (Blade of knife inwards.)

(a) All scraps to be put on one plate.
(b)Put cutlery with handles together.

Each pupil to be served with what he intends to eat.
A “saucy” first plate may mean no pudding.

Request to Staff.
It is most helpful if members of Staff are present for the Grace.