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

Monday, April 30, 2007

Pottering around (Episode Deux)

You may remember back in February when I ordered my tagines from our potter friend, Bill.

He rang me last Friday to tell me that a few were ready to pick up at last. He has another eight waiting to be fired. Bill works at his own pace, never hurrying in this frenetic world of ours.

I went to collect the dishes and, once again he regaled me with jokes and tales.

He told me of his wild old days when he chatted girls up by pretending his mother had passed on her gypsy powers to him.

"Beautiful girls, models! Film stars, in fact! They all believed I could read their palm and I made it all up."

"You will meet this dark eyed stranger in a nightclub, he will tell you your fortune and you will instantly fall in love with him."

"And a few of them fell for it, you know!"

Yes, Bill, I believe you...

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Had your chips?

Friday, I usually cook fish. This week: Best end of Cod.

Our fishmonger lands his catches just outside one of our restaurants. Every now and then a stray crab makes its way to our front windows under the gaze of our bemused customers.

The fish we are supplied with is very fresh. There is nothing like a piece of cod lightly fried in olive oil with a few herbs and finished off in the oven.
Most Fridays, I go to our fishmongers and choose something for tea. It can be anything, from halibut to sea bass, cod to skate, mussels to crabs...

I remember picking mussels from a rocky beach just outside Dieppe a long time ago with my cousin's husband. We took them home, cleaned and scrubbed them . Then my cousin cooked them. They were delicious! I still use her recipe for our Moules Marinières.

Ahhh! So much fish, so little time!
PS: Please support your local fishmonger. Supermarket fish is naff!

What fish do you like best? (that is if you like fish.)



Friday, April 27, 2007


Last night I was a little bit peckish when I got home from work. So I sat lotus-fashion in front of the fridge for five minutes contemplating what to have.
The fridge contained among other things:
Steaks, Pâté, Avocados, Smoked Salmon, Peppers, Eggs, Pasta, Tapenade, Cheeses, etc …
As I do not like to start cooking at 10.30pm (that is unless I have had some wine and been struck by a sudden urge to create a culinary masterpiece.) I decided to have half an avocado with a couple of slices of smoked salmon.

The plate looked empty so I chose to titivate it a little to make it more substantial and appealing. I rummaged around the garden in the dark for some chives. I grabbed a clump of grass in the process.
I sliced the avocado up to one centimetre from the end and fanned it on the plate. Then I artistically placed a few slivers of red pepper and the cleaned chives to add a bit of colour and finished the dish with a drizzle of olive oil. I usually would have squeezed some lemon juice but there were no lemons, so I later used some red wine vinegar.

I toasted a multigrain bagel and settled down with a large glass of orange juice to watch Question Time.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Lost in curls...

If I could just doodle away for the rest of my life I'd really be happy.

I doodle away all day
I get lost in curls
Lines and colours
Shapes and forms
Wild imaginings

My lines begin straight
Aiming for the horizon
Full of expectations
But they curve round
Back to another start

Chasing after dreams
Then chasing them away
Chasing my own tail
Like a rabid hound
Going round in circles

I run after passing caravans
Briefly following their dust
Aching to embark on their journey
Then I slump back in the sand
As they slowly fade away

I go down to the well
Then turn away dry
Clutching my empty urn.
I am left full of thirst
For life as it slips away


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Monday, April 23, 2007


I have been tagged by La Bella Mammina

I am not usually that interested in doing memes but lack of post inspiration on Monday morning made this one attractive.

1. What is your occupation? Restaurant owner
2. What colour are your socks right now? Black with Union Jack motif.
3. What are you listening to right now? Baile Morena by Zucchero
4. What was the last thing that you ate? Bagel with cottage cheese
5. Can you drive a stick shift? Always
6. If you were a crayon, what colour would you be? blue
7. Last person you spoke to on the phone? The friendly potter. He rang to say the tagines are ready.
8. Do you like the person who sent this to you? Bella Mammina… Of course!
9. How old are you today? 54
10. Favourite drink? Water during the day. Red wine in the evening.
11. What is your favourite sport to watch? Football, golf and snooker.
12. Have you ever dyed your hair? Nope
13. Pets? No longer.
14. Favourite food? Fish, fish and fish...
15. What was the last movie you watched? Blood Diamond.
16. What was the last book you read? Shaggy Blog Stories
17. What do you do to vent anger? Walk away
18. What was your favourite toy as a child? A trolley bus
19. What is your favourite, fall or spring? Spring
20. Hugs or kisses? Lots
21. Cherries or blueberries? Cherries
22. Do you want your friends to leave you comments? Yes, please…
23. Who is the most likely to comment? BlogFriends
24. Who is least likely to comment? ???
25. Living arrangements? Flat
26. When was the last time you cried? This morning…
27. What's on the floor of your closet? Slippers
28. Who is the friend you have had the longest? Didier.
29. What did you do last night? Had some prawns, Chinese crispy duck, drank wine and watched a film.
30. Favourite smells? Lavender
31. What inspires you? A kick up the ass
32. What are you afraid of? Time running out before I do the stuff I want to do
33. Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers? Spicy
34. Favourite dog breed? Afghan
35. Number of keys on your key ring? 4 key rings with at least 5 keys each
36. Number of years at current job? 22 years
37. Favourite day of the week? Sunday
38. How many states/countries have you lived in? Algeria, Scotland and England
39. Favourite holidays? Discovery
40. Ever driven a Motorcycle or heavy machinery? No.

I am supposed to tag 5 people but I let you decide whether you want to do this meme...

Friday, April 20, 2007

Peaceful Weekend...

Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. Victor Hugo

I love Moorish gardens... Another doodle.

Have a peaceful weekend, my dear blogfriends.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Cock a doodle doo...

The last post gave rise to many different takes on the subject.
Sorry, I did not answer your comments but here is a thought.
I still insist that the heart does rule most of our decisions.
You may not realise it but even in the most banal of cases of day to day decisions, it is invariably the heart that wins over the head...
Let's say for instance, you get up, shower and then stand in front of the wardrobe for ten minutes, (less than 10 seconds in my case) wondering what to wear...

Of course it will depend whether you are going to work, play or dance... But in each case it will be your heart that will rule the choice.

Can you think of any instances where you heart has won over your head or vice-versa?

This doodle is really a doodle...

Akelamalu tagged me for my five favourite blogs:

Hayden for her thoughts on life and the living...
Daphnée and her really amusing stories...
Lettuce for her great variety of writings and photos...
Merisi and her amazing Viennese photos...
Homoescapeons to provide a gender balance...

All the above are now tagged...

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Monday, April 16, 2007


Life is all about temptations. Green grass, dreams, ambition, aspirations, etc...
And why not? If you are not happy with your lot, is it really your fault?
The only thing that is real is what your heart tells you. No one can fight that.
Everything else is fantasy.

It is funny because in my business I see very sad people coming and going all the time, and every so often they turn up with new partners, and you will not believe how happy they look, the new sparkle in their eyes, a new kind of rebirth.

My advice to anyone who is sitting on the fence, withering away is:
Follow your Heart or Live to Regret it.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Power of Imagination...

The comments I received about the last post ranged from concern about my lack of sleep between two chairs to slightly sexy innuendos about kilts and French names...
From compliments about the Marina photo (I like it too) to cunning undercover detective work. Some of my concerned blogfriends wondered how I got bolted out of my own house.

I have always believed that imagination is a most wonderful tool.

Below is something I drew to help you unlock the mystery.

It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.
Henry David Thoreau



Saturday, April 07, 2007

Easter Weekend...

This scene out of my office window is repeated every Easter.

The quiet car park is taken over for the weekend by a giant Scottish funfair. From midday till seven pm the noise is horrendous. It puts me off work! Any excuse, you see! So,I usually spend the Easter weekend just like every other day, escaping into cyberspace.

I would love to go camping. or do something more energetic but I soon go off the idea.

Last night I went to see my friends, Didier and Phil in their new restaurant. I had a few beers with them, then Phil and I went to his new house for a small house-warming party. A couple of glasses of Chateauneuf du Pape later, I decided to get a taxi home. (2 am.)

I tried to unlock my front door but it was bolted from inside. Knocked, banged, raged then grabbed the taxi back. Luckily the driver had been counting his money while I tried to wake up the neighbourhood.

I headed back to the office and tried to go to sleep balanced between two chairs. It felt like camping except that I had an espresso machine nearby.

The Marina this evening.


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Friday, April 06, 2007

I hate cooking...

Last night you would think you were in St. Trop!
Well, some of you lot might be but up here, at the first sign of sunshine our friendly Northerners begin to strip to the waist and grab every available seat around the Marina.
At around 7pm I left the Pizzeria for the strenuous seven-minute walk to the Tapas Bar.
I snapped things as I went along, seagulls, yachts, clouds, water...
The outside seats, out for the first time this year, were all taken. I gathered that the restaurant would be busy.
After saying hello to the bar staff I went to the kitchen. A trio of headless chickens were running around as Adam, my son barked orders. Just then, I remembered that Kevin, the head chef was off for his grandmother's funeral.
When we opened the restaurant over 14 months ago, I worked in that kitchen for three weeks with Kevin until I felt he was ready to go it alone with his young team.
Last night I felt sorry for the young chefs on their first solo flight so I grabbed an apron and a T-shirt and dived in head first. Adam went back to the tables and I began unravelling the knots.
There were about nine orders on the go with at least a dozen tapas each. Gambas Pil-Pil, Chorizo al vino tinto, Patatas Bravas, etc...
I asked Philip, the young second chef to shout out the tapas. I did the hot ones, his helpers did the rest and between the four of us, we sent all the back orders within twenty minutes. And all that time the kitchen printer kept churning out more orders.
I helped for another half-hour, took off the apron and the dripping T-shirt and slumped in Adam's office for five minutes.
What I had just done was not cooking. I had hated every minute of it. Torture would have been more pleasurable.
Why? Why?
Don't get me wrong, I love cooking! I last worked full-time in my own kitchen over 11 years ago. Cooking then was a pleasure.
I got in at 9am at the latest, well before anyone else arrived. I knew exactly where everything was. My knives. My pans. My stocks. My sauces.
Last night, I felt I was lost on an alien planet.
"Where are the serving spoons?"
"Where is the f..... olive oil? The salt? The pepper?..."
"Never again!" I told Adam on my way out. "If I am ever to work in a kitchen again, it would have to be full-time. But as I have no inclination of doing that, I will never step into a working kitchen again."
I left the Tapas Bar and strolled to our third restaurant still steaming.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Tastes and Colours...

Last Christmas, as a present to the Pizzeria, I invested in an Ipod after pinching the idea from my son who runs the Tapas Bar.
I have a varied music collection ranging from Algerian Rai to Salsa, Nina Simone to Jacques Brel, Zucchero to Zulu Drums, etc... So, one evening I uploaded around 150 songs onto the Ipod and linked it to the restaurant sound system.
At the start of the shift, all the staff need to do now is to switch both on, press Shuffle and Bob's your uncle. Music all night long...

But judging from the comments on the right, you can tell that we cannot please all the people all of the time... (I love Barry White but I'd rather be doing other things to his music than stuffing myself...)
De gustibus et coloribus non est disputandum...

Top Left: Alan, one of our young porters must have bribed his sister...

What kind of music, if any do you like listening to in restaurants?

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Human bin...

I sit in my office, surfing the internet, doing bits of work, doodling, faxing, pretending to work, telephoning, paying suppliers...

And then a member of staff comes in bearing gifts...
"This was a mistake! Would you like it?"
Who am I to refuse food or drink?
The total sum of these mistakes is extra pounds.

The gym has become so boring on my own.
So I started swimming. But I stink of chlorine for the rest of the day.
Customers will ask: "Have you been bleaching tripe?"

Now, I have come up with the ideal form of exercise! Walking...

You see, my restaurants are placed in a triangle around the Marina.
So I have decided to park my car outside the Tapas Bar then walk to the other restaurants. Seven minutes one way and four the other. I started this routine three days ago and I am really enjoying it.

On occasions my walk wobbles a bit due maybe to an unplanned Mojito stop at the Tapas Bar.
I sometimes stop and snap the moored yachts.

Ah... I wish the restaurants were somewhere on the Med... Notice the imaginary palm?

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