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Monday, 24 February 2014

A heart warming video about dealing with food waste.



It is great to know that there is compassion out there when I witness a deal of pathetic greed daily. It is difficult to elaborate without risking my job but a big 'well done' to this guy and his supporters!

Phil Lowe

Sunday, 16 February 2014

A fine day out in Leicester, it's open market and Cafe Rouge.



Yesterday I took a trip over on the train from Nottingham to Leicester in order to take advantage of a Tesco voucher that I had upgraded from £5 to £20 to use at the chain restaurant, Cafe Rouge. There is no longer a Cafe Rouge in Nottingham otherwise I would have happily gone there.

I've been on a holiday break from work so I also thought it would be a good idea to take a fun trip on the train on a day when I would normally be working. I like Leicester's open market so I took along my video camera with the intention of filming around the fruit and veg areas and the fish and meat market there. The day was very windy so I was aware of the noise that the wind makes as it blows across the microphone on my video camera. This meant that, in the main, it was best that I kept myself under cover whilst filming.

The train journey is about half an hour on the fast London bound train and as went headed towards Leicester it was possible to see the river Trent in a state of flooding with torrents of brown swirling water and fields deep in water. Thankfully the floods aren't as bad up here than they are down South.

Like most routes from a main train station into a city centre the walk across Waterloo Way and down Granby Street towards the Leicester Market and Haymarket, it was lined with old buildings and closed shops with the Mercure Hotel as the only shining beacon. The areas I passed through were decidedly grubby and uninviting. A visitor coming into Leicester this way might well have a poor impression of the city.

I had a fun time videoing around the friendly Leicester market with my video camera held just above waist height not to attract attention and I think it worked well. What do you think of the video? At one of the stalls I bought some nutty brown mushrooms to add to my chicken stew that I made yesterday.



The Cafe Rouge branch was in a shopping centre called Highcross and when I got there I discovered the shopping centre to be a very modern mall and a complete contrast to the sadly neglected, wet and windy streets, outside. Now, I'm not a big fan of Malls as such and for all their glitz I find them to be soulless places full of fashion shops and the like. I asked for directions for the Cafe Rouge restaurant and was advised that it lay on the ground floor level in amongst a collection of other pleasant eateries. I got there about 11.30 am.

If I were a secret diner then I would give them top marks for the welcome and the service as well as the food. Getting a lunch half an hour earlier than they normally serve lunch was no problem and I went for the pâté maison (smooth chicken liver, shallot and Madeira pâté with slices of baguette) and the moules marinieres (classic mussels in a white wine, garlic and cream sauce with frites) with a glass of house white. The wine was nicely chilled and smooth, so smooth I had two glasses over lunch and felt quite mellow thank you. For dessert I chose Le Pot – a dessert housed in a recycled Bonne Maman compote jar and creamy with fruits and a hint of chocolate. According to the very good website for the Cafe Rouge business they have free wifi. I was too busy enjoying the food for that.
 

 



Like a lot of people I do enjoy people watching and was interested to see a couple of faces that if you dressed them up in appropriately different historic clothing they could have easily been from another age. The two faces were of a Russian looking woman in the far corner of the restaurant and a little girl with pigtails with quite an old fashioned face. Maybe it was the wine but I found the fanciful notion that the two of them had time travelled to this particular place and time, very interesting.

                                                              Lamps in Curve Leicester

After lunch that cost a little over the £20 voucher I made my way back through the city and had a look around Curve theatre. This modern theatre has just celebrated its fifth birthday and had placed huge pictures from previous productions around its curved walls along with enthusiastic audience comments and some headlines from major newspapers. In my other guise as theatre reviewer I had been to see two shows there in the last year, Piaf and Chicago. The lanes opposite the theatre held my photographic attention for a while.



I returned to Nottingham on the train and then by bus to home where I settled down to re-watch the new series (part one) of The Two Hairy Biker's Asian Adventure. Part one is them in Hong Kong learning about authentic Chinese food. I love the guys way of presenting a food programme, it is fun and you feel you are actually learning something about another way of life and cuisine from normal people and the enthusiastic presenters.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Valentines Dreams. Where would you like to be on St Valentine's Day?

Today I announced on Facebook a request for my friends and acquaintances to suggest what they would like to do to celebrate Valentine's Day with their loved one. It went something like this:

"Ok lovers. I want to know where you would like to have the perfect Valentines meal with your beloved. A special restaurant, a lovely French Bistro, at home, McDonalds or in a tent in the middle of nowhere! Be creative.


I'm writing a blogpost about the subject this evening so it would be great to include your answers - surnames omitted if you want. Have a loving day."


 
In a roundabout way here are the answers I've garnered so far. I have also asked outside of Facebook Face to Face if you like. I have kept the names private by just using the first names. Enjoy.



Lisa: "In our caravan in the middle of nowhere with an M&S meal for two."

Louise: "If I could be whisked off anywhere for a romantic meal today it would be the Jamaica Inn in Cornwall. A perfect secluded cosy hideaway on a chilly February evening."

Matt: "On the seafront Herne Bay force ten gale, sleet, rain, bag of chips between two in stale butties and no farting. Either that or Thailand."

Joanne: " I'm a simple gal Phil, but to be stereotypical - decent bottle of red - open fire - lots of food to nibble at - in a cottage or nook in the UK. Not so much a meal as whilst you're trying to talk to someone and gaze into their eyes a full on meal simply gets in the way. But definitely homely, wherever that might be. x"


Abi: "Le Mistral, a beautiful place with a great menu. I like the one in the city centre (Nottingham) but the one in Bakewell is good too."

Gary: " We love Loch Fyne. Every time I have the mussels and Annie eats everything seafood and fishy!!"



Natalia: "Perfect for me would be nice G&Ts in a North Indian/Nepalese takeaway with a few different dishes to share aboard our narrow boat with the wood burner roaring and old Jazz and Swing playing in the background. Crème Brulee for pudding and a nice whisky nightcap. C'est Bon!"

Katy: " A nice romantic picnic on the loving room floor with lots of candles and favourite foods - all prepared by someone else of course!"

I teased her about the 'loving room floor' and she laughed and said she had meant 'living room'.

Marie: " I agree with Katy - a picnic on the living room floor, candles the works and you never know where it might lead! Can't do that in a posh restaurant. Well you could but you might spend a romantic night in the cells hahaha!" "This year will be a romantic year with my dogs. Think they might have better table manners and be more attentive to me than the ex!!!"

Austin: " A real nice Italian restaurant for me. I just need to find someone to agree to come with me!"

Tomas: "My man is happy as long as I give him roses!"



Karen: "I'd choose a meal in the Cwtch restaurant St David's Pembrokeshire. Cwtch means hug or cuddle in Welsh and the food is wonderful and it's a cosy restaurant with a lovely atmosphere followed by, if the tide is favourable, a long walk along white sands beach nearby to walk off all the calories from dinner."

Dot: "Howard and I are going to Annie's Burger Shack for dinner tonight. Heard so many good things about it. I don't mind where we go as long as Howard is with me."

Mick: " We're going to French Living tonight. It's our favourite place to go now. So intimate and I know the owners."



Dan: "If I could go anywhere in the world I would go to a beautiful Italian restaurant in Meredith NH where Katy and I got married. As I can't I'll be cooking a three course meal of roasted veg bruschetta, spaghetti a la ragu,  (home made and no jar crap) followed by cheese cake."

Pete: "Samoa, Fiji or Tahiti on the beach with lobster."

Scott: "A few pints of Strongbow then a kebab."

Lisa: " I just ate at Cape in Hockley. It was delicious."

Nicola: " Can't remember the restaurant but it was in Portugal and we had the most amazing fish. I can't remember the name of the fish, it may have something to do with the great wine!"

Dawn: " Stuff that. I'd rather get me nails done. He's a waste of space."



Bianca: " I would definitely like to be on a beach in Barbados, the sun just setting and the warm sea and everything..."

Vicky: " Me? I would love to be in Mauritius on a beach with lots of lovely food and a nice man." 

And me? Well I suppose it would be somewhere continental where I didn't really understand the language except the universal language of love. (Big romantic softy I know!) And of course there would have to be nice food to nibble on as well as be with a beautiful charming lady, of course. In the meantime I'll cuddle Mr Harris the cat from next door!









Sunday, 9 February 2014

Talking meat and drama on hospital radio at the Queens Medical Centre with Kev Castle.

I have just returned from a very enjoyable hour long chit chat with radio presenter Kev Castle at the world renowned Queen's Medical Centre and Nottingham University medical school. Kev is an excellent presenter on the Sunday morning slot on hospital radio and I was invited along to talk about my life in the food industry and also my experiences in the world of drama and reviewing plays and shows. Kev is also a fellow reviewer so we had a lot in common and I'm sure we could have chatted much longer than the hour allowed. We covered my school days and early butchering experiences, my book Tales From The Block, my blogs, my time doing Crossroads as an extra, my love of food and cooking and equally my love of the theatre and acting and reviewing. thankfully we never had time for me to sing The Museum Song from Barnum. Kev was very well prepared with more than enough questions to get us through the interview and he made it a very relaxed event. Off air we chatted about his interviews with the likes of Leo Sayer and cast members of the Crossroads soap.

 
 
I was asked to offer him six music tracks to play and  I chose the following:

  • Title track from Jesus Christ Superstar (because it was the first musical I got to enjoy and this lead me into a life of enjoying musical theatre)

  • Paul Young's Every Time You Go Away - you take a piece of meat with you. (of course the proper lyric is 'take a piece of me with you' but it sounds like meat) Led nicely into my experience in the world of butchery and an interesting diversion of the practice of humane killing for cows and lambs.

  • Leo Sayer's Moonlighting. (because I love the story-telling element in the song and similar songs of that era.)

  • Kate Bush's The Man With The Child In His Eyes ( cos I fell in love with Kate and her beautiful weirdness and lyrics that have a good degree of poetry to them)

  • Space Oddity by David Bowie (because it reminded me of my late ten years and all my mates and myself knowing the words and percussion and singing it on the way home from the pub.)

  • Razzle Dazzle from the musical Chicago (I had recently been to see and review the show at Curve in Leicester and this led to discussion about play reviewing.)
See you again Kev for the next interview some day soon! And as for that Museum Song here it is.