D4D

An example of the unreasonable man who makes all the progress

Archive for the category “Food”

Weekend Travel – Sunday

Having done Manchester on Saturday, I then went down to London on Sunday – I’d made plans and reservations for the early evening, but went down early because, frankly, I’m a bad, bad man.

The main objective was the next Michelin-starred place on my list-of-sorts, the two-starred Hélène Darroze at the Connaught Hotel. That had been booked for a while, and I’ve been looking forward to it for ages.

But then another of my favourite places, Blues Kitchen, announced their latest burger special, the Piskey Whickle, which was introduced on Sunday.

2016-05-01 14.27.21So that just had to be done…

It ended up that I went in earlier than expected, then walked to Blues Kitchen (3 miles, from Euston) for the special, and then across London (another 4 miles) to vegetate around Berkeley Square for a while until it was time for the evening meal.  Frankly, it was the only way I could justify doing both on the same day, but as I had the time and the inclination, why not?

The meal at Darroze was spectacular – I would say it’s now the best place I’ve been to on this project, and I massively enjoyed the entire experience. The only exception was my first instance of being a messy sod in a Michelin-starred place – a piece of food fell off my fork, straight into a sauce that can only be described as “hyper-green” – splat. Jackson Pollock all over the pristine white tablecloth. ‘If you’re going to do it, do it with style‘, that’s my motto.

Because of the time, I wussed out of walking back to Euston, so got the tube from Green Park back to Euston, and then a train home – again, all remarkably smooth, and a contented end to a fantastic weekend…

Crawling

Today I’m off down to London with a couple of friends, doing another Burger Crawl.

It’s been organised by one of the others, so I’ve no idea what the full plan/route is yet, but it should be fun.

Blistered

This week, I went to a restaurant that insisted on a certain level of dress-code. Nothing too epic, thankfully, but it turned out my standard footwear (Cat boots) wouldn’t have been allowed in, so I needed to buy some new dress shoes, or at least thin-soled ‘smart’ shoes.

It was semi-short notice, so I didn’t have the chance to wear them in properly – and I knew it would cause issues.

I managed to plan most of it so I didn’t have to walk as far as I normally would’ve done (had I been allowed to wear my normal, comfortable shoes) and I’m glad I did, because I still ended up with a sod-load of blisters along the way.

Weirdly, both my little toes ended up blistered, and I’m really not sure how that happened. The worst one is on one heel, about the size of a 50p piece.  On that one, thank God for Compeed – their blister plasters are creepy as chuff, but bloody hell, do they work.

I know they’ll all heal up this week – it’s just a massive pain in the tits while they’re around. Such is life.

(And no, the meal wasn’t really worth the hassle of new shoes and blistered feet. Sad, but true – it was good, but not brilliant, which is galling when it’s a place that’s so highly rated all round)

Stars

Last year, I started a project to get used to going out for restaurant meals on my own – something that had always been a bit of a “thing” in my mind. Some people don’t like going to the cinema alone, or to pubs.

Part of it became a plan to do more “high-end” eating – if I’m going to eat solo, I might as well make it decent stuff – as well as the usual things, and as a result I ended up eating in a few Michelin-starred places which I really enjoyed. (Far more than I did my previous experience with Michelin-starred places)

I’m keeping up that aim this year, with a vague plan of trying a wide range over the year, and aiming to ‘collect’ a star a month. (Not necessarily at a place each month, but at least averaging it out to one star per month)

So far this year I’ve eaten in a one-star place and a three – with a two lined up for the coming month. From there, I’ve got a couple of others booked up already, and we’ll see how things go from there.

I don’t only eat in Michelin places, by any stretch of the imagination. My tastes are varied – I’m still amused by the Scotland trip I did last year, where I ate in a Michelin-starred place on the Saturday, and a daggy little hole-in-the-wall Mexican place on the Sunday – and I never want to end up the kind of up-myself twerd who’ll only eat at high-end places.  This is just a silly side-project that’s also a lot of fun, and is eminently doable. I get to experience a lot of new stuff, seeing what’s good and what isn’t.

I can’t deny, I’m fascinated by the whole thing – the levels of food, the differences (or lack thereof) between places with one, two and three stars, the differences between places with stars and those that haven’t, and the whole experience of the thing. But mainly, it’s fun – and if I’m going to have a ‘sin’, a money-drain or whatever, it’s going to be this one.

Slowing Down – Allegedly

Last week, I wrote about how things were slowing down a bit at last from the madness of January. And that’s true – well, kind-of.

As it is, before the end of February I’ve got scheduled (in no particular order)…

  • A very fancy meal in London, which I’m looking forward to (and for the faffing about I’ve had to do, had bloody better be worth it)
  • A birthday event in Oxford  (it’s hard to call them birthday parties when the person isn’t a child!)
  • A gig in Manchester (another mid-weeker, I must be fucking mental)
  • A gig in Oxford
  • The final bit of work on the car for this session (I hope)
  • New glasses to collect
  • A full weekend break on the South Coast

So yes, not really all that quiet after all…

Barbican, Rollins and Mileage

Yesterday was another Rollins gig, this time at the Barbican in London.

It was a bit more complicated than last week’s gig in Bristol, as it involved collecting another friend of mine from over by Oxford, then getting a train to London, across to Barbican, getting food, going to the gig, and then a similar journey for the return.

All told though, it went really smoothly.  I’d booked pretty much everything in advance, including the train tickets and reserving a table at the restaurant of choice, so it was as organised as humanly possible.

The restaurant in particular was a real success – the Jugged Hare, just round the corner from the Barbican itself. I’d seen it before, but never eaten there, so went for it when the chance came up, and booked for their pre-theatre menu. I am truly glad I did.  They specialise in game of all sorts – it’s definitely not a great place for vegetarians! – but there’s enough variety in the menu, if game isn’t your thing.

To be fair, there is a vegetarian option on the menu – well, it says “Vegetarian – £14”, so it could be a fillet of vegetarian, for all I know.

The three-course meal was great – particularly the venison haunch, and their sticky toffee pudding was amazing. (as was the accompanying mince-pie ice cream, which has to be tasted to be believed)  Knowing how easy it is for me to drive to Barbican in general, I will be returning. Several times.

The gig itself was great – Rollins spoke for three full hours, with no breaks. The show was about 50% the same as the one I saw last week in Bath, but I can live with that – it’s better than being entirely the same!

The journey home was OK – getting the trains back went smoothly, and then a drive through snow to drop off friend, and then another hour and a bit on motorways in heavy snow (though thankfully not settling) to get home, which happened just after 2am.

So a long day, but an entirely worthwhile one…

Leaving 2015

It’s the end of 2015, and for the first time in a long time, it’s been a good year. It’s had its ups and downs for sure, but the general direction has definitely been upwards and positive.

On the ‘ups’ side, we have…

  • worked all year on the same contract, which has made things a lot easier
  • built up some savings, for the first time in at least a decade
  • started up my own company and business, plus laying the groundwork for next year’s developments
  • been out to a good range of restaurants, and had a long weekend in Edinburgh
  • done some writing, and developed some ideas for working on in 2016

On the ‘downs’…

  • When I say ‘worked all year’, I mean it. Holidays and breaks have pretty much not happened. Certainly nothing more than that long weekend in Edinburgh
  • I’ve not built up the savings as much as I could/should have – but that’s been down to stuff with the car, the restaurants, and actually having a decent year of non-monastic living
  • having my own company again means I also have to deal with HMRC, Companies House, and bastard accountants
  • I haven’t actually finished any of the writing things

So it’s all swings and roundabouts, but all told it’s been a good year with a lot of stuff I’m really pleased about and/or proud of.

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