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

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Home Delivery

I am not one to complain without good cause but the restaurant business tends to take a plunge during the cold months. All eleven of them up here!
Prospective diners prefer to huddle up in a warm house, hire a video, open a bottle of wine and order a takeaway.
Is it any wonder that so many of us are piling on the weight?

It only takes a quick phonecall.

Plates out. "Turn on the oven to keep the food warm when it arrives."
Cutlery out. "Don't forget the napkins!"
Trays out.

Crack open a bottle of wine.
30 minutes. Not a morsel of food in sight!

45 minutes. Irate phonecall.
"Feed me!"
"On its way right now, sir. The driver got lost."

Crack open another bottle of wine. Cheaper than the first one. One must always drink the better wine first. Allegedly, after the first bottle even vinegar tastes ok.
Can't resist a thin sliver of Camembert.

60 minutes. Knock on the door.
"That'll be £25, sir."
"Here's a tip for you: get yourself a GPS, mate!"


Tear. Tear. Tear.
"Why do they have to wrap everything so bloody tightly?"
"Hmmm. Do you remember what we ordered?"
"Er... Chinese, I think."

Two minutes later...
Back in front of the telly.
Munch, munch...
"Did you put the rest in the oven?"
"I think so."

The alarm goes off.
"Bloody Hell! Monday already!"
"No, you silly thing! It's the smoke alarm. Burnt leftovers. We must've dozed off."
Missed half the film.

Some guys are born lucky!

Algerian artist Souad Massi sings Mesk Ellil (Honeysuckle)

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Foodie Marrakech...

You'll never go hungry in Marrakech...

You can eat for £1 or £100 and that within a couple of square miles.

Breakfast at Le Grand Café de La Poste. I had one of the best plain omelettes ever there one morning. Earl Grey and fresh juice squeezed on the spot.

Squid cooked three ways and Thai sticky rice at Café 16.

Followed by the most flavoursome macaroons I have ever tasted.
The lilac one was flavoured with violets and lavender.
Other flavours included Mint, Lemon, Coffee, Rose, etc... washed down with freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice....
No wonder Maryam likes desserts at Café 16!

A glass of refreshing mint tea at the Menara Café after a long walk...

A drive up the Atlas Mountains and Ourika Valley where tiny shacks serve delicious tagines and salads by the side of a gentle stream.

In the evening you have a choice between the Jemaa el Fna Square in the Médina where revellers gather around the numerous food stalls and dine on wooden benches and tables...

...Or make your way along the Médina's quiet alleyways...

...to slum it at one of the most amazing places in Marrakech, Ziwana where Kate Moss launched her Dior fragrance last December...

A cross between Dali, Picasso and Gaudi...

Give me strength to get over this cold winter without losing my mind...


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Thursday, November 22, 2007

My boyfriend is What???

Where else but in Magical Marrakech can one enjoy a spot of peaceful reading?

I volunteered to interview Zoe's boyfriend for her new book My Boyfriend is a Twat.

This Twat comes from Ambleside in the English Lakes. (A few years ago, I lost an expensive camera in one of them!)
He was in mountain rescue. A few of them were in danger of crumbling.

Most of these gentle Lakemen hate the city. I know a couple who've never set foot outside Cumbria!
But, the Twat must have been really brave! He left the Lakes and headed for bloody Tanzania among other obscure places. Well, at least he must have felt at home surrounded by lakes, mountains and greenery.
A village chief christened him Quarsan but we all know him as The Twat.
Well, can you blame Zoe for calling him just that? The first time they met, he presented her with a bouquet of sausages!! What a guy!

I read the book and found a lot in common with the Twat. My Mediterranean-North-African-Macho alter-ego blushes in shame.
He left the North of England to go to Africa. I did the opposite.
Zoe says he loves Edinburgh. It is my favourite British city!
He knows the unknown Greek island of Evia and so do I.
He met a girl with three kids and so did I.
He's the boss in the kitchen... And guess what!

So here we go... My questions were BOLD.

1- Reading between the lines, I feel that Zoe does love you a lot really. Would you worry if she stopped calling you The Twat?
It's not what she calls me that bothers me, it's the volume.
There are indeed three sides to every argument. Yours, hers and hers...

2- Zoe says you hog the kitchen. Don't you trust her cooking?
Pissed women shouldn't cook.
It's dangerous. She refuses to do any cooking, so I do it. It's painful at times thinking of what to cook people and working out how many to feed. On top of that the kids like to eat 7:30 - 8:00 and Zoe at 9:00 but we must all eat together.
Have ever thought about running a restaurant?

3- I received two free copies of Zoe's book. Who do you think I should give the second one to?
Oxfam. Or security at Eurostar so they can stop her entering the country and bothering innocent people.
Which country? England or Belgium?

4- I didn't know Evia existed until a Greek friend of mine invited me to visit his home on that island. What took you there? And do you know what Zoe means in Greek?
I went to visit my brother in law's parents. Zoe in Greek means trouble.
You know that Zoe means life. But as they say Life means life... Good luck, my friend!

5- Who would you like to play you and Zoe in the film version of the book?
If it was a musical I'd be tempted to cast Amy Whitehouse and Meatloaf, but for a film, why not go for it: Kylie and Jason.
I knew you couldn't help mentioning Kylie! I just hope Zoe's not too jealous...

Buy My Boyfriend is a Twat '>here!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Green and Colourful Marrakesh...

For a city that often melts in the Saharan heat, Marrakech is a green oasis of serenity and beauty.
The Majorelle Garden boasts some of the most complete collections of cacti and exotic plants.

Throughout the city, buildings are surrounded with palms, orange and lemon trees.

Water flows abundantly from the Atlas Mountains after the Winter snows have melted.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

More Marrakech...

What can I say about magical Marrakech that I didn't say back in July?
The temperature was a little cooler... 29 to 33 degrees Centigrade!!!

We left home at midnight to drive to Luton Airport and were in Marrakech at 9.15am.
After dropping our cases at my cousin's we walked in glorious sunshine to Jemaa El Fna, the most famous square in Morocco.

We then made our way to the Ryad (Moroccan house turned into a hotel) which my cousin J. will be managing once the alterations are finished by the end of December.
His boss, a London fashion photographer is very impressed with J's contribution. After all he speaks all three languages needed to get things done in Morocco, Arabic, French and English. His haggling ways have saved thousands of Dirhams.

We then had a light lunch at a restaurant called Kechmara, which is Marrakech spelt an odd way. (Photo)

After a short siesta we headed for Le Comptoir, a spellbinding restaurant-cum-night club.
In an outdoor seating area, with scattered leather cushions and low tables and chairs we sipped on delicious Mojitos while perusing a French-Moroccan menu.
The food was very good and so were the Moroccan wines.
As we ate, the lights were dimmed and the music changed from Buddha Bar to gently thumping. A group of suited gentlemen seated one either side of a sumptuous staircase played a mix of old Andalusian-Moorish favourites as we climbed to the first floor where a thousand candles lit up a most beautiful lounge.

In danced a woman balancing a huge tray of candles on her head, followed by a few more belly dancers. Young, beautiful and slim they wriggled their lower bodies frenetically at times then very sensually. The audience was enthralled and spellbound.

More next time...

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