A series of anecdotes with or without any connection to the running of a restaurant.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


What happens during a lunch meeting when you are fasting?
On Tuesday, I welcomed the new chairman of our Tourism Board and two colleagues for lunch at our Pizzeria for a lunch meeting. The guy wanted to learn about the town and how it has evolved in our tourism scheme of things.
When the date was picked I never thought it would fall during Ramadhan.
Yes, I fast. I am a hypocrite! I do it as a kind of detox. No solids or liquids during daylight hours and no wine for a month.
The three guests arrived right on the stroke of midday.
One, in charge of regeneration gave an overall history of how the town got to where it is now, from a dying hub of shipbuilding and heavy industry to a pleasant tourist destination attracting visitors from far and wide.
A waitress took the food order. A healthy choice: two vegetarian pastas and a spicy pizza. I joked that I would have ordered a juicy steak!
I am sure that you'll remember the cartoon image of a hungry character dreaming that a tiny bird is transformed into a juicy Christmas turkey with all its trimmings...
It may have been my hunger but the food, when it arrived, looked delicious and piping hot.
But the pizza, the chairman had ordered was perfect!!!
Every time he sliced a triangle from it, the sound of its crispness turned me in a Pavlovian Dog!

But I resisted and waited till 7.09 pm when I had a bowl of soup and a large glass of plain yogurt mixed with milk. They tasted heavenly!!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

What are you reading?

Her: "So, where are we going on holiday this year?"
Him: "Mars, of course!"
Her: "No way, babe! I'm going to Venus!"
Him: "Well, please yourself, I'm bloody going to Mars!"


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Island Food

If you were stranded on a desert island for a year surviving on coconuts and seaweed, what would be the first meal you would like to eat after you were rescued?

Personally I would opt for my dear mother's Lamb Tagine with Meatballs and Cumin!

During my three years at boarding school, my first meal on arriving home for a weekend or holidays was the above! I dreamed about it. I once said to her that, if I went thumbing my way around Europe, she would have to make me a large supply of spicy meatballs to take with me!

Then when I came to the UK, I scoured the shops for cumin and coriander. Fresh coriander did not exist and the only olive oil available was from Boots the Chemists... 100ml bottles!!!

I managed to make it a few times when I was a student and later when the ingredients became widly available.

I know I have mentioned this tagine many times in my posts. It is because I am in love with it. It was very well received when I stuck it on one of our menus over 6 years ago and it is still one of our bestsellers.

So, what meal would you die for after your rescue from a desert island?


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Get up...Stand up...

When I was a kid I really fancied myself as a clown whenever the circus came to town!
And nowadays, whenever I go to the Edinburgh Fringe, I start dreaming of having my own stand-up act.
After all this festival started as a sideline to the main one and anyone who thought he or she could perform was welcome! to try his or her luck and dodge the rotten tomatoes if necessary!
Over the years, I have seen a few acts that would've been booed off stage, had it not been for the lack of a brave audience. But on the main, most have been passable with the exception of people like Hugh Grant, Rowan Atkinson, Eddie Izzard, David Schwimmer, Paul Merton, Billy Connolly, etc... who have made it to the big time!
And so, I have begun taking weekly guitar lessons and might incorporate some songs in my "show... "
As I haven't yet started on a script, I am open to (tongue in cheek) suggestions...
Daphnée once hinted at "The Naked Cheb"
Cheb, is a young Algerian Rai singer like Cheb Khaled...
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Friday, September 08, 2006

Cooking on Radio...

I have done it a few times over the years for Radio Cleveland (The original one, not the one in Ohio) and our town radio.

Whenever they happen to have a gap to fill I am their last resort. The kind where “panoramic views” mean a construction site just outside your bedroom window.

The only thing the station provides is an antique 4-ring electric cooker that takes ages to heat up.
“The show starts just after the midday news, so feel free to arrive any time after 11am.”

Being anal about organisation, I choose a couple of recipes and then compile the list of ingredients days in advance. Salt, check...Pepper, check...Coriander, check...
On the morning of the show, well before the chefs arrive for work I raid one of our kitchens and head for Middlesbrough.

Like a tramp searching for a new pitch, I make my way from the underground car park, carrying three or four Asda bags full of foodstuffs and clanging pots and pans along a few back alleys and up two flights of stairs to the station’s galley.

A reporter on his tea break enquires: “Are you today’s cookery spot?”… “I’ve been to your restaurants.”
I am then left on my own to prepare the food, reserving the finishing touches till the start of the programme.

Two years ago, Kathryn Apanowicz was guest presenter. For those who have never heard of her, she was the girlfriend of the late Countdown’s Richard Whiteley.
I introduced myself and gave her a bit of info on our restaurants to use in the programme.
I'm doing it for free, so I might as well PLUG, PLUG, PLUG...
Just after the weather, she gave me a short introduction and began asking about the food I was cooking that day. One the menu I had pan fried fillets of sea bass with garlic and rosemary and our signature lamb Tagine with couscous.

Cooking on radio is about sounds just as cooking on TV is about colours and textures.
Woooshhhhh…. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh… Crackkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk…

Kathryn, a seasoned cook herself, was very impressed with the Algerian flavours of cumin, coriander, garlic, etc… She truly enjoyed tasting the dishes before other ravenous DJ’s came along to grab the last few mouthfuls.
As soon as the food was demolished, I was left to tidy up, pack my pots and pans and say my goodbyes.

Before I left, Kathryn made my day when she said she would try the dishes out on her darling Richard, whom I dearly miss…
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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Love is...

I keep checking my "Quote of the day" on the side bar and some days I could shoot myself for linking in to "Said what". The quotes are often attributed to a dull fashion model or a dead general and mean bugger all...
"Beware of the young doctor and the old barber." By Benjamin Franklin.
"You, what?"

But this Wednesday's quote is quite good.
"Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young." (Arthur Wing Pinero)

As a teenager in love, I tried with the expert assistance of my friends to understand what love was.
Some said: "Love is a rose that blossoms inside your heart." Others read: "Love is a song that only you can hear!" or "Love is the wisdom of the fool and the folly of the wise."

All this was blooming confusing when your heart was going "Thump...Thump...Thump..." at the age of 13 or 14.
And your parents became aliens and you cried at the slightest reprimand

Does one ever get to understand love and be able to say: “Yep, I know I am in love because of such and such…”

You can read love quotations for the rest of your life they will never tell you what it really is.

Two brownie points to anyone who has their own explanation of what love is...without using a quotation!

Update: Please comment and share your definition of love...


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