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Sunday, 24 April 2016

Losing my passport and being ridiculously busy.

Catch up on my news on my life as a food and theatre writer and holder down of a full time job at Tesco:

It's a wonder I have time to cook these days! As well as working fulltime I am usually out three or four nights a week reviewing plays across the East Midlands for my website www.eastmidlandstheatre.com. This theatre based activity is generally done on a Monday or Tuesday (my days off) but not always. Even so the evening going to see a play or show culminates in my staying up past midnight putting down my thoughts online in the form of a review. Then I am crawling out of bed at 5am to get ready for a day's work. And I do mean crawling. In between time I will be doing research on the play and downloading any press images forwarded to me by the regional press offices. Also my Sundays are now devoted to family matters.

As I am going to Germany mid-May (lots of potential sausage and beer stories there methinks) I need a passport. Well, I had a passport until an insurance company -to whom I sent it - managed to lose it! Luckily this was in March and - long story short - after several phone calls enquiring what had happened to the original they agreed to pay for a new one for me. In the end I was pretty chuffed about that because the old one was due to run out this year and now I have a brand new ten year passport that eventually has cost me nothing.

 
 
 
I have been re-learning my German language too and putting some notes together for a future book of humour about which I cannot really indulge my readers on here. Alas.
 
Meals have been a bit ad hoc and not really worth writing about as something unique. I have been trying to use stuff up from my freezer too with various results. Today I used up some chicken that I cooked the night before in lemon juice and lavender. I let it go cold as I was too tired to eat it, and today I chopped it all up and added to a couple of jars of ready made sweet and sour sauce. For a bit of bite I added a small tin of water chestnuts. I love egg fried rice so I took a bit more time constructing the meal than if I had just added some basmati rice to the dish.
 

 

Phil x

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Belgo Nottingham. Opening night. A very favourable impression.

This is less a review and more of a very favourable impression of the brand new Belgo bar and restaurant on Weekday Cross just at the edge of Nottingham's historic Lace Market area. Belgo opened tonight and it is the first of the chain to open outside of London.

The Nottingham branch is housed in the building (No9) that was the former home of La Tasca.


The beautiful spiral iron staircase remains but the bar has improved (over 60 types of Belgian beers! Oh Lordy!) and the interior is that of a typical Belgian bar - bistro. My impression is that there is more seating than in La Tasca and the service tonight was top notch and perfectly attentive without being intrusive.

For my pre-meal Belgian beer I chose a pint (extended to a pint and a half over the evening) of Delerium Tremens. This beer was elected as the best beer in the world in 2008. It pours bright golden and is known for its sweetish palate with lots of warming alcohol.


  
For my mussels dish (and they do lots more food dishes than the moules) I chose the Belgo BBQ and French fries. Within a decent amount of time they arrived steaming hot and were juicy and plump rope grown mussels from the Shetland Isles. I got talking to one of their London staff, an impressively well versed guy called Giedrius from Lithuania - drafted up from the London branch for the launch - and he told me that get through 2500 kilos per week in London Centraal (Covent Garden). Mussels are their signature dish. We also had - within the restrictions of his time working - an interesting conversation about how the various Belgian beers are suggested to match or compliment a certain dish and even sometimes to challenge them. The guy had to work but I would have loved to have listened to his passionate knowledge for much longer.

Meanwhile the equally amiable James brought my mussels to the table.


The BBQ flavour was just enough to give a hint but not overpowering. The mussels were so much better than I had in 2015 in Bordeaux. Much better. As I mentioned - very plump and fresh tasting. Yum!

For dessert I had a crepe with blueberry sauce and ice cream. I was a bit surprised the crepe wasn't hot but the dessert was very enjoyable just the same.

I didn't fancy a coffee so I just paid the bill and spoke to a couple behind me about Belgo. The light was just perfect for a photo of them and they kindly went on to explain how they have often eaten at Belgo in London and that they like the vibe and the food is always good with some nights having special offers on the food if you eat early on. I didn't get your names but thanks guys. Phil


Just before I left (and paid the bill - oh I said that already) I took advantage of some good photo opportunities to show you readers the new bar restaurant that is Belgo. Enjoy. I would certainly go again. I saw a great mix of folk at the bar sampling the beers and families there eating. The low key background rock music was kinda cool too.








PS: It is not quite as dark as the second picture from the bottom shows! It was raining outside with sunlight streaming through the front windows causing this silhouetting effect.

Phil Lowe

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

What the Frik? Home-made German hamburgers galore!

Frikadellen is the plural for a traditional German hamburger. As a recipe the hamburger mix seems pretty variable with no strict 'must have' rules. The one I found online was equally adaptable and I used a one pound portion of lean minced beef (ground beef) as I was too late to get pork mince from my local butcher I just finely chopped up some boneless pork loin that was chillin' in my fridge. Everything else I used from my larder. I don't do strict recipes so bear with me on this one.

Ingredients: One small cooking onion finely chopped and half a garlic bulb equally chopped. Two slices of soda bread (bread type optional) de-crusted and soaked in cold water for a few minutes then wrung free of water. Salt and pepper to taste and a dessert spoon of hot paprika powder. Two fresh eggs.



Bang 'em all in a mixing bowl and enjoy slushing the mixture around until a thoroughly mixed up mush. Pre-boil some new potatoes and allow half an hour cooking time to match frying the Frikadellen.



Take handfuls of the Frikadellen mixture and make into patties. If you happen to have bread crumbs then coat the patties in the crumbs to kept the mixture solid. Cook and turn for ten to fifteen minutes in the frying pan medium heat. Should end up looking beautifully brown.



Serve as you wish. I served them with Gerkins and boiled new potatoes and a dab of chilli jam for extra heat.