D4D

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

Archive for the category “Food”

Repeatedly Breaking – an Update

Following on from Friday’s post about the pain I was getting in my ankle and leg, it all sorted itself out over the weekend.

From the speed of the recovery – going from walking with serious pain and limping at 9am to being able to walk fine, with just residual soreness by 2pm – I suspect that it was some kind of reaction to something I’d eaten, rather than a ‘proper’ muscle or tendon strain.

I’ve had gout attacks before – although I haven’t written about them here (or at least, not using the word ‘gout’!) – affecting the big toe on my left foot. They’re usually related to a food reaction, that I’ve either eaten or drunk something to levels that aggravate things. Some of those things are ‘standard’ – too much beef and ham, for example – and some are downright weird – such as swapping my usual Diet Coke for something like Sprite Zero. That’s what triggered my first attack, back while I was still in Norfolk.

Last week’s one, though, was different. Similar levels of pain – but on a slightly greater scale, as it was my ankle joint rather than a toe, and thus there was a lot more that hurt.  I don’t honestly know whether it was gout but in an ankle, or whether it was something gout-esque. Regardless, it bloody hurt.  It felt more like it was muscle/ligament-based than joint-based, but I simply don’t know enough.

I’m pretty sure of what triggered it this time, so I might research it a bit more, and try things out a bit. But doing so would, by definition, result in more pain, so that’s currently not striking me as a great idea.  Frankly, I’ve had enough of hurting for the moment, so I’m firstly hoping for just a few weeks where I don’t get any more shit to deal with.

It won’t happen, but hey, a boy can dream.

The Man Behind The Curtain

I mentioned in the last post that I’d done a day-trip to Leeds, and that I would write more about it.  So, here we are.

One of the Michelin-starred restaurants I’ve been wanting to try for a while is Michael O’Hare‘s “The Man Behind The Curtain” in Leeds. It’s always been booked solid, but when I looked on a whim a couple of months ago, I discovered that there was a table for four free for a late lunch on Saturday. I called the other friend who was interested in the same place , and I booked it.

That’s where the first shock came in. The entire price of the meal was paid at the time of booking, including the wine – and the service charge!  Now to me, that’s taking the piss.  The only other Michelin-starred place I’ve seen with that attitude is The Fat Duck, and even there it’s “only” the food that is paid for ahead of time, not the wine and tip. Every other place I’ve been has taken a credit card number, and said “if you don’t show up, you’ll pay the full price”, which is fine with me.  Paying up front for it all seems very dodgy.

Anyway, I did that, and last Saturday was the day.

I’d hired a car for doing it as a day-trip, as I was also driving the others there and back, and it makes life fun.

“The Man Behind The Curtain” is… highly individual.  First things first, it’s on the top floor of a department store – definitely not somewhere you’d just wander into! As it turns out, it now *was* on the top floor – our meal was the last lunch served in the top floor, and they were moving to the basement after the dinner service.

It’s a strange space, seemingly more of a gallery than a restaurant. The walls were graffitied and arty, with chicken-wire clouds above some tables. I’ve never been anywhere else like it – but that also shows in the food.  Again it’s very arty – some of the food is quite spectacular, as is the crockery it arrives in. In particular, “Emancipation”, which is cod in squid-ink, basically black food on a black “droplet” plate…

That was just one of the ten ‘courses’.  And they were all brilliant.

Honestly, I kind of wanted to not like it, to be unimpressed by the entire place. I feel really strongly about the whole ‘pay upfront’ thing, and think it gives a really bad impression of the restaurant. But the food, the atmosphere, and the service of the place all combined to leave me still impressed.

It was a really good day, and decent drives there and back (two hours door-to-door each way) helped as well.

Stratford

Over the weekend, I went to Stratford-on-Avon.  It’s somewhere I’ve only been once before, and had thought it was a long drive to get there.  Then when I got in the car on Saturday morning, I discovered it’s actually only 70 miles, and so only just over an hour.  Why had I thought it was much further? Because I’m an idiot – last time I went, I travelled via Cheltenham, for lunch at Champignon Sauvage (it was part of my Michelin Project last year)

So I got there a lot earlier than I’d originally planned/expected to, which gave me plenty of time to wander and explore the place a bit, and do some other stuff as well.  Last time I went, I got mislaid a couple of times (not majorly – it’s too small a place to get properly lost in) so I wanted to do things differently this time.

I really enjoyed wandering around – or at least until midday or so, once the coach trip people had all woken up and descended on the place, along with usual weekend shoppers and the like.  But it’s a nice place that’s easy to walk around, and my mental map of it is now a lot more comprehensive.

Then I met up with a friend, M, with whom I was having lunch, and then seeing a play later – see, there was a reason for going, it wasn’t just random!

We had lunch at Salt, a passion-project restaurant for the chef, Paul Foster, who used Kickstarter to fund getting it running. That was thoroughly enjoyable, and is definitely somewhere I’ll be returning to next year when there’s other RSC stuff on that I want to see.

Afterwards, we had some time to kill, so sorted out booking into our respective hotel rooms, then took a ride on the Stratford Ferris Wheel, and then pre-performance cocktails at the RSC.

Finally, we saw Coriolanus at the RSC (about which more another time) , and back to hotels.  I’d booked the room before realising how easy the drive home would’ve been, so that was a bit of expense I won’t need to make next time, but it still made for a decent weekend away from home.

Lightly Battered

On Thursday, I walked with friends to the National Burger Day event, and slightly broke myself along the way.

The walk (from Euston to Canada Square) should be about 5 miles. However, it’s not a location I’ve walked to before, and I hadn’t prepared properly for doing so, so I made a couple of mistakes.  We were going in generally the correct direction, just by a less-direct route than it could/should have been.

Additionally, it was a bloody warm day, I hadn’t got any water with me, and (as it turned out) my walking boots were pretty much dead, so I ended up knackered, hot, sore, and (by the end) pretty dehydrated. Which also added to the mistakes in the route-finding and map-reading.  All told, that walk ended up being just under 8 miles. So yes, definitely not my finest day, by a long chalk.

When we eventually got to the pub we’d planned to stop at, I was – not to put too fine a point on it – fucked.  I drank two and a half litres of water just while we sat there. That’s never a good sign.  (Also, it turns out that my hands swell when I’m dehydrated, which is kind of odd, but good to know for future reference)

We still did the event, and it was OK – but there wasn’t anything that massively stood out for me, to be honest.  As a result, I think there’s going to be some changes for me going forwards, but that’s going to be a post for another day, when I’ve thought about it some more. Change is afoot, to be sure.

When we were done, we decided to get the Tube back to Euston, and home. Much more sensible. And once I got home, taking off the boots and finding just how twatted my feet were was… interesting, and not entirely pleasant.

I’d say I’ll use it as a learning experience, and never do the same thing again, but we all know that’s not true, and that at some point in the future I’ll do something equally stupid. Or more so.

“Quiet” August

When this month started, I said it was going to be a quiet one, before the storm that is my September.  And of course, me being me, it hasn’t really worked out that way at all.

Instead there’s been several visits to the cinema, a bundle of social evenings with food and the like, catching up with people, three or four London days, and all of that jazz. In some ways I’ve been busier in August that I am in usual months – the difference has been that I’ve been based from home, rather than weekends away.

Looking back, it seems like this is actually pretty much standard – last year was the same, and so was 2015. (although there’s no ‘busy’ post as such, I was still doing a lot of stuff)  So that idea of a ‘quiet’ month is… pretty much bollocks, really.

And then yesterday was a late afternoon / early evening visit to the National Burger Day event down in London (which will be a post all of its own, I’m sure). Still to come this month I’ve got another big walk over the weekend, a cinema visit, and a social thingy, and then the idiocy of September, which currently includes (but is not limited to)…

  • Meatopia on the Saturday and Sunday  (although the Sunday is somewhat based on what’s going to be on, but I haven’t bailed on one yet)
  • as well as seeing the Sisters of Mercy on the same Saturday evening. (Yes, I’m a lunatic)
  • possibly a pub-crawl of sorts
  • Seeing Coriolanus in Stratford-upon-Avon
  • Walking a full marathon overnight in London at the end of the month
  • Two other concerts as well as the Sisters of Mercy.

So yeah, daftness abounds. As ever.

Reburgered

Last weekend, I went to one of my favourite food places in London, Mac and Wild. (OK, I went to a couple of my favourite places, but that’s a different story) They had a special burger on, which was only happening ’til yesterday, and I wanted to try it.

I ordered it (along with their cocktail of the month) and everything arrived and was lovely. As expected.

But then I saw other people’s photos of their Murray burgers, and mine was… different.  I had assumed that the black pudding was mixed into the patty, which gave it a really deep meaty taste without being a dollop of black pudding – but all the photos had a layer of black pudding on them.

So I mentioned this to Mac and Wild on Twitter, along with the above photo.  And within a couple of hours they’d come back to me, saying “Oops, looks like you had the Highlander instead of the Murray Mound. We’re really sorry – if you can make it in before the 15th, we’ll do you one for free“.  Note, I hadn’t asked for this, nor expected anything at all.  So already I’m pretty impressed.

As I was already planning to be back in London on Saturday, I took them up on that offer.

And bloody marvellous it was, too.

Now, I did pay for the burger – because I insisted on doing so.  Mistakes happen, and I’m fine with that. And I don’t feel like it was fair to get a freebie for a simple mistake – I love Mac and Wild anyway, so it was actually the simple offer, and the speed of it, that impressed me, rather than getting free food.

It’s that service (well, and the excellent food!) that keeps me going to places like Mac and Wild – they always give the impression that they give a damn. To have gone straight to “Oops, sorry” rather than arguing the toss, to accept and own the mistake and make amends for it, that’s impressive.

And long may that continue.

London (2)

Following on from last week’s post, I was in London a lot last week.

On Thursday and Friday I was at the always-excellent Lead Developer conference, at the QEII Conference Centre, near Westminster Abbey and Houses of Parliament.  I could have chosen to stay in London overnight on the Wednesday and Thursday nights instead of travelling each day, but honestly, I couldn’t be bothered. So instead I ended up with longer days, travelling each day down to London and then walking (because I’m a lunatic) from Euston to Westminster, and back afterwards – roughly three miles each way, and yet still preferable to taking the tube.

It made for long days – particularly as I also chose to eat in London both nights, with a friend at Iberica on Thursday, which I’d not been to before (but will be go back to) and on my own on Friday at Monica Galetti’s Mere Restaurant, which I love. (And apparently I’m the person who’s been back the most since they opened in March – an achievement of which I’m simultaneously ridiculously proud, and somewhat ashamed)

And then on Saturday, having seen a recommendation from a friend, I had been lucky enough to get the last available ticket for the matinee performance of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, at the Donmar Warehouse. I’m going to write more about that in a separate post, which’ll be done for later this week. (Just in time for the production to finish on the 17th. Helpful, eh?)

Sunday was allegedly calmer, but still busy – and involved catching rather more sun than I perhaps should have, although not to any point of danger or ill-health.

And now, I’m back for a new week of work, which is going to require some brain-power at some point early on.  Bugger…

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