D4D

Slapping the Stupid with Stun-Guns

Archive for the category “Food”

Weekend Of Idiocy

The weekend just gone was the one that had been noted as being a completely daft one, even by my standards. It involved a lot of mileage, a fair amount of walking, and a piss-poor amount of sleep.

Saturday had been “planned” for a while, with a full day in London – starting off with the festive version of the Taste festival at Tobacco Dock. I’d got in early (as usual) and walked down to Tobacoo Dock, getting there in plenty of time.

Also as usual, the organisation of Festive Taste was… kinda flawed. The tickets said it started at 12-noon, the email from the ticket people said “Ooops, sorry, we meant 11.30“. Except it actually opened at 11. Genius.    And once we were in, it turned out that none of the food places were actually starting until at least 11.15, and in some cases nothing was ready ’til 12.  Not good – but standard.   The Festive version also appears to be far more focused on booze than on food, which (for me) is annoying, but there we go. It was still worth going, but I was out within 90 minutes.

In the evening I was at the theatre, seeing Stockard Channing in Apologia. It’s an interesting play, and I really enjoyed it – there may be more thoughts later, I’m not sure yet – and then headed home, getting back at around half one.  Which would’ve been OK, except that…

On the Sunday I was on the road by 7.30, heading up to Middlesbrough to see friends, and then on to Durham in the late afternoon to see the Lumiere festival, one of my favourite events. Again, I’ll probably write more about it later on – for now though, The Guardian has great pictures of a lot of it here.

A great day, but a long one – and then drove home, getting back about half two on Monday morning. It would’ve been earlier, but it turns out that the M1 was closed (and hadn’t been announced anywhere when I was driving up) for two whole junctions, and the diversion that was in place added a good forty minutes to the drive. Which was a pain, but there we go.

And even that would all have been sensible (ish. Kinda) if it weren’t for the fact I was also on-site in the other office on Monday morning, so I was in Chesham by 8am…

I really am an idiot.

New Year

Normally, I don’t celebrate New Year – I couldn’t give a shit about midnight, Auld Lang Syne, fireworks and so on. Entirely not my thing.

However, over the last few years, I’ve been going out for meals on New Year’s Eve, and being back home (or, more usually, still driving home on beautifully clear and empty roads) by midnight.

This year though, it’s all a bit underwhelming – even the offering at Helene Darroze (where I went last year) is disappointing, as there’s very little change from what I had last year. There’s nowhere else that’s massively grabbing me as a “want to try” (or at least nowhere that’s currently released their menu)  so for now, I’m really not sure what I’m going to be doing.

Mind you, right now I’m actually quite OK with that, of actually doing sod-all for New Year.

2016/17 – What Happened ?

So, a year ago I listed the following as the plans for 2016/17

  1. Continue rebuilding the finances, and keep boosting the savings
  2. Exercise, improve health, lose weight
  3. Complete September’s walking marathon – ideally in under seven hours. (My target is more ambitious than that, but I’ll be happy with 7 hours)
  4. Write more. (And ideally complete/publish some)
  5. Do more of the ideas around my own business
  6. Get out less.  Ideally, some kind of middle-ground between being ultra-quiet/sensible, and the idiocy of the last year
  7. Look more at some political ideas, and see how that goes. (This one’s the random ‘maybe’ one, I don’t know if anything will happen with it or not)

How did it go?

  1. Finances : Yeah, not bad.  Not at the totals I wanted to be at (which is a familiar theme) but I did what I wanted to, so I’m happy with that one
  2. Health : Less so. I haven’t gained any weight, but nor have I lost much. Good intentions have been undermined by an utter failure on Number 6, and life getting in the way of things
  3. Walking Marathon : Failed utterly, as I’ve wittered about at length.  But I’m already signed up for the 2018 one…
  4. Write more : Failed utterly. There are ideas, but as with Health, I’ve been abysmal at doing less, so yeah. Bugger.
  5. Own Business : Kinda. I’ve written out more of the plans, got some ideas in code, and been looking at other stuff. But actually done? Nope.
  6. Get Out Less : Also an utter failure.  I’ve been out loads, and in many ways have kept even busier than I did in 2015/16 – less Michelin-starred restaurants, but more things
  7. Politics : Looked at the ideas, but in the current political climate of Brexit and so on, getting involved on that score strikes me as…. less than wise.

So what’s on the list for 2017/18? Well, we’ll cover that tomorrow…

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.

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