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

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Something to share...

We went to the Sage last night to watch the African Rebels tour. I couldn't help taking a video of one of Africa's most influential singers, Mali's Salif Keita. Sorry about the camera shaking, after all I am 55 tomorrow...

His song, Folon (In the past...) sends shivers in people's back even if, like me they don't understand the lyrics. His voice is so penetrating and his music is a mix of traditional African and Western folk.
I thought you'd like to listen to it.

In the meantime, sorry for deserting this blog. I tend to post in my restaurants blog more often nowadays.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

New blog...

Sorry about the absence. I have been working on a new project.

Two and a half years after getting into blogging I have come up with the idea of starting a blog for my restaurants.

Before I started blogging, I had a "News" page in our restaurant's website where I posted anecdotes about restaurant life. It provided light entertainment for our customers and helped create a bond with them. And it gave me an outlet to my busy head, a way to relax after a busy shift.

will remain my personal blog although posts may become scarce.

The new one however will be useful to our customers as it will keep them informed of what is going on with the restaurants, staff, etc...
I am also hoping to develop a decent recipe section.

Here is the link to Cloud Cookeryland.

I will leave it open for a little while for those Blogfriends who want to check the new blog out.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

What kind of wine are you?

I took this test a couple of days before Christmas and I was really disappointed to be a Chardonnay.
I took it again a few minutes ago and I am now a Pinot Noir, which I much prefer to the lemony taste of Chardonnay. Yes, of course, Pinot is red and yes, I love red.

You Are Pinot Noir

Sophisticated and worldly, you probably know more about wine than most drinkers. Ish...

You have great taste, and you approach all aspects of life with a gourmet attitude. Taste in food and wine, yep!

You believe that the little things in life should be cherished and enjoyed... and of the best quality possible. Definitely. Life is too short to drink bad wine.

And while you may take more time to eat a meal or tour a city, it's always time well spent. Absolument!

Deep down you are: A seductive charmer Bull!
Your partying style: Refined. And you would never call it "partying" Yes, I bloody would!

Your company is enjoyed best with: Stinky expensive cheese. Yep, a slab of Camembert anyday

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Carpet burns...

About five years ago, we went on a two-week tour of France starting from Dieppe, where we visited a cousin of mine. She settled there in the early sixties after she'd met and married a French soldier who was serving in Algeria. At the time it was a very delicate case of sleeping with the enemy. I was too young to understand the repercussions.
She and her husband welcome us with open arms and we spent a couple of days with them before heading South.

My carefully planned itinerary included Bayeux as it happened to be on the way to Saint Malo, our next stop.
After a leisurely late lunch we decided to visit the world-famous Tapestry.

We made our way to a large darkened room wearing earphones to learn about Harold, William and the battle of Hastings. The commentary was in 14 languages so I picked the French version to see if the facts had been embellished.

The tapestry hung in a huge glass cabinet that stretched 70 m along a slow moving walkway allowing visitors time to admire the 58 panels.

I looked at my watch and realised that time was not on our side.
Ahead of us lay a two-hour drive to Saint Malo. We needed to arrive in good time to get a decent hotel room. I hadn't bothered booking any in advance in case we changed our route.

Have you ever seen desperate people running for a train, a bus or a plane?
You've got the idea!

We started taking longer steps, just catching sight of a colourful blur as we flew past the ancient Tapestry and many puzzled tourists.

If anybody asks whether I've seen the Tapestry, I just nod vaguely.

Now from the comfort of my armchair, thanks to the marvel of Youtube and technological advances, I am able to enjoy what I missed a few years ago. Check it out.

One of PI's posts jogged my memory...

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Another one bites the dust...

I cenosfss I tinhk I danrk a fiar bit of blbuby on New Yaer's Eve.

Wehn I got up on Jnarauy 1st I cdunlot rmbeemer werhe I had prkaed my car.
My wfie took me dwon to the Yahct Marnia. We lkeood and sacehred otuisde our rstrarutnes but cudnolt fnid it.

So I sootd in fornt of our pzizirea and filkcied my ifrnraed key a cupole of tmies and "Hey persto!" smoe lgiths satrted falhisnig jsut osutide the Tpaas bar a hnudned yrdas aawy. Vrey rileleevd, I was.

"Now I rmebemer!"

I had rturenerd hree jsut atefr mdigihnt to fnisih off the clebearionts in Sniasph sytle with Slsaa and Snargia!


The second service at the pizzeria went very well. We ended up serving 169 customers in the end. The Tapas bar and our Mediterranean restaurant, the original one did very well too.
I celebrated midnight at the latter. A glass of bubbly and a slice of cake which a customer had prepared for us.
Then some of our staff went with us to the Tapas bar for a dance.

I realised I hadn't had anything to each since midday when I had a light omelet and a salad. So I grabbed a slab of Brie and a slice of bread to shut my noisy stomach up.

Anyone for turkey?

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Monday, December 31, 2007

The Power of Wishes...

I think I have become an optimistic pessimist...
If I had a choice I'd opt for my head in the mist.

I am not a pessimist really but what is actually happening around the Globe doesn't give room for optimism.

My country of birth, Algeria has not seen much peace for the last half century and it seems that there are those who promise many more deadly waves of suicide-bombers to this beautiful corner of the Mediterranean.

Benazir Bhutto, whatever her agenda, hidden or otherwise, is another victim of terrorism, state-sponsore or otherwise.

Kenya's rigged elections have sparked deadly riots in this hitherto most peaceful corner of Africa.

In numerous other parts of this world of ours countless ordinary people are born and die without have tasted a peaceful day. Afghanistan, Irak, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Chechnia, Nepal, the Middle East, etc...

I am writing this on New Year's Eve between the early service and the late one.

We have just fed, watered and entertained over 80 people. The staff are resetting the tables for just as many customers again.
The only thought on the minds of these diners is to have a great time surrounded by their family and friends to the sound of children's laughter.

I just wish that each and everyone around the world could be freed from strife to enjoy their life with their nearest and dearest in total peace and security.

Am I asking for too much?
Couldn't the power of wishes make a real difference?


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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Tasty leftovers...

Ah, Christmas, bloody Merry Christmas....

I always promise myself that the next one will be perfect.
This one was perfect...
Well, nearly... That is until one of our head-chefs was diagnosed with severe angina! The poor guy, a loyal employee of over 12 years, is now awaiting a triple-heart bypass operation.

As a result, the run-up to the Christmas was a very busy and stressful period for the rest of his team who had to work twice as hard to make up for his absence. I tried to help a little in the middle of dashing between three restaurants tweaking, smiling, shaking hands, kissing, troubleshooting, shooting troublemakers...

And you know, when chefs get stressed out and tired they suddenly turn into Prima Donnas in need of love, reassurance and motivation!
Motivation in the form of a bloody kick up the arse and a pat on the back.
Every Christmas I could write a tragicomedy!
In actual fact I could commit a tragedy.
Such as shooting half a dozen chefs, two or three customers before riding away into the sunset!

But Christmas being the season to be merry, I have decided to bite on a few chocolates and my tongue while letting the New Year begin in bloodless harmony.

Ahhhh... That was therapeutic. Thanks for listening.

Happy New Year to you all great listeners.

I took this photo in a Brussels Square after that famous November wedding.
For this contented dog, "Happiness is a bowl of tasty leftovers."


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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Whatever we believe in...
Whatever our convictions...
I am sure that all our wishes are for Happiness for All and Peace on Earth
May these wishes come true...
Happy Holidays to all my blogfriends.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Lighting up...

Christmas at one of the restaurants.

Waiting for the rest of the party...

Christmas at home...

Two years ago I wrote this post.
I think I have mellowed...

Dare I mention Global Warming on Christmas Day?


Saturday, December 15, 2007

My first car...

At the tender age of 28!!!! A white Ford Cortina. An ex-taxi.

I was working at an Italian restaurant at the time and got to know many of the customers. One of them owned a local taxi firm and I regularly used it for our diners.
Cliff offered to let me have one of the taxis he was replacing, a ten-year old Cortina for a bargain £175! The valeting alone must have cost £30! When I went to pick it up, my beautiful white chariot was gleaming inside and out.
I sat for a few minutes while Cliff explained the controls.
It was a Concorde compared to the tinny tiny Micra in which I had learnt to drive and passed my test.
He then waved me goodbye as I chugged to a shy start.

My first exploratory trip was that same afternoon to a town ten miles away.

My wife sat in the passenger seat. In the back, next to our two-year old son, Adam, sat her aunt who had been invited to go shopping with us.

I set off with a Cheshire cat's smile on my face, looking out for a familiar face to blow the horn at.

A couple of miles down the road we came upon a traffic accident. A policeman was surveying the scene and, as it happened, so was I.

Suddenly my wife let out a chilling scream.

Startled, I looked ahead.
An oncoming car swerved out of the way onto the pavement to avoid me. I had been so captivated by the sight of the two inept drivers who had collided, that I had veered onto the wrong side of the road. I quickly slipped back in the right lane. The aunt's face was as white as a sheet. Adam was screaming. My wife gave me a killer stare that forecast many frosty days ahead.
A few seconds later a flashing blue light appeared in the mirror. I stopped the car and began shaking like a leaf.

The policeman who had been attending to the accident was fuming. So was one of the drivers who had just missed a head-on collision with my Cortina. He had followed the police car to add further oil to the fire and ensure the admonishment was severe.

"Are you here on holiday?" The policeman asked. After all, I had briefly driven on the wrong side of the road.

After sheepishly apologizing and confessing that it was my first sortie in my brand new Cortina he let me go not without a reprimand and a caution to be more careful in future.

A year and a £10-water pump later I sold the Cortina for £225! A net profit of £40!

Come on then, what was your first car?

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