First Impressions

It’s funny, sometimes, how a first impression – and sometimes even just a single word – can colour one’s judgement and feelings about something.

While geeking about yesterday, I did a google search for ‘Zucchini’ – a programme on TV was showing zucchini (courgettes) that were very different to the ones I recognise as courgettes, so I had a look.

And there on that results page, the second result was for Zucchini Restaurant in Batley, Yorkshire. It looks like this…

Yep – the first word of text on the site contains a spelling mistake. On an Italian word. For an Italian restaurant.

And just like that, I know I don’t want to go. If that’s their attention to detail, I’m out. Simple as that.

Recovering Time

Over the last few weeks (I really don’t want to figure out how many weeks) I’ve been unreasonably addicted to Masterchef Australia, which – thankfully – finished last week.  It’s been on five days a week, which really has made it quite a timesink, but it’s been fun.  I’ve liked the programme in previous seasons – it’s very Australian, which is a very good thing in my book – so it’s been worth the time invested. Up to a point.

As with all TV stuff, I don’t just sit and watch, I’m usually doing other stuff at the same time – including cooking and eating meals that were a lot less technical and inspiring than the stuff on the programme, which I always find somewhat ironic.  But all the same, it’s been a lot of time sunk into a TV programme,  and while I’ve enjoyed the great majority of it, I’m also somewhat relieved that it’s finished.


Missing Options

On Saturday, the Js and I went out to the Olive Branch in Marsden, which they’d been to before and highly recommended.

The place is/was lovely, and the food was really good. Well worth the visit if you’re in the area.

There was one aspect that was really disappointing, though – and that was the vegetarian options. Both of the Js are veggie, and they’d said that the Olive Branch usually had a good selection.  On this occasion though, the option was pasta. Fair enough, it’s “Ribbons of pasta, sauteed with mushrooms, garlic & sundried tomato, goats cheese & pine nuts“, but all the same, it’s pasta.

I think it’s still tremendously disappointing to go out to a restaurant and only see one or two fairly desultory veggie options. It just shows a complete lack of imagination and/or interest in the veggie market – and there’s a lot of vegetarians out there.

Even more importantly, if Herself had come along as well, she’d not have been able to eat anything, as she’s a) veggie and b) wheat-intolerant. Now sure, the Olive Branch says that you can let them know about food allergies/issues when ordering, but by then it’s a bit sodding late in some cases.

Doing good vegetarian options doesn’t take much – even a vegetarian stir-fry with some nice spices and a sauce is easily doable – and there are plenty of options out there. I just don’t know why the options aren’t more imaginative. Sure, not everyone is going to run a business like Greens in Didsbury, Manchester which is entirely vegetarian, but any decent chef could get some inspiration from the ideas there, or in any other veggie cookbook.

Catering for stupidity

Many moons ago, I used to run pubs and hotels – as I’ve mentioned once or twice before. It’s still something that I’d go back to, depending on the right circumstances and so on. In fact, it’s something we’re both talking about as an idea – although not just ‘any old’ pub/restaurant. Although I’ll leave that for now.

Anyway, as a result of that, I do find myself interested by programmes like (among others) BBC’s “The Restaurant“, where nine couples compete to win the chance to run a restaurant in partnership with Raymond Blanc. It’s kind of like “The Apprentice”, but for the restaurant business. My initial plan was to watch it as research, making sure I wouldn’t make any really stupid mistakes.

However, it also leads me to be exceptionally rude and sweary. Sadly, ‘The Restaurant’ has fallen into the same kind of Reality TV trap as The Apprentice, in that the people they’ve got on there aren’t really interested in running a business, but are more interested in being on TV- and that’s also evident in the selection process, where the competitors have quite obviously been selected for their road-crash style fuckups rather than their ideas or restaurant skills.

I’m not saying I’m surprised by this, by the way – more like vaguely despairing, but not at all surprised.

In the current series we’ve already had the couple who (on camera at least) couldn’t find a proper can opener, and thus tried opening a can (and a coconut) with a razor-sharp chef’s knife, using a rolling-pin as a hammer to knock the knife in. I had to look away at that point, because I couldn’t help but wonder whether we were about to see the first on-screen amputation.

We’ve also (somehow still) got a pair where the chef doesn’t cook – and in fact appears to be actively terrified of cooking. How – and indeed why?!? – do you select a pair for a restaurant/catering-based show when the person doing the cooking side of things is (frankly) an utter bell-end whose previous ‘cooking’ experience has been – um – making cocktails in a bar?

I just think it’s a shame – and a waste – of a good idea to have ended up with it being so obviously made-for-TV. I know, it’s a TV programme – but there could’ve been so many opportunities for having something that promoted innovative food, ideas and menus, and instead it’s just another sad Reality TV staple.

Restaurant Owner’s Rant

It’s probably done the rounds by now anyway, but I still find this rant email from the owner of the New York restaurant “Paradou” to be pretty amazing. And not in a good way.

Basically, he’s asked the waiters and bar hosts to get email addresses for their customers – one assumes so that they can be sent marketing shite – and is unhappy (to say the least) that people don’t seem to be doing what he wants. (Although I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at the owners being tosspots, looking at how fucking horrible their website is!)

And I have to say, on the face of this email, I wouldn’t want to work for the fucker either.