At the moment, there’s an advert on TV for Just Eat, and it freaks me out a little bit.
There’s one part of it where they talk about people “ordering their usual”, and doing so at a specific time – implying that it’s the same thing every week. And that just weirds me out, that there are people out there who do the same thing every week, who eat the same meals with little to no variety.
At the same time though, it’s odd in other ways. I’m just as bad at being uninspired when it comes to meals and so on – but that’s when I’m just cooking for myself. If I’m paying for it (i.e. a takeaway, a restaurant meal or whatever) then I’m going to go for random stuff that I fancy eating.
So I think it’s the combination – that there are people who are paying for their meal and still only having the same thing at the same time – rather than *just* that it’s the same thing every time.
Anyway, it weirds me out – even though in some ways I’m also a massive hypocrite about it, as I’m semi-guilty of the same thing, but only in the privacy of my own home…
It’s become a bit of a tradition for me to make my birthday into a bit of a foodie thing, since starting off the whole “Eating on my own” thing with the Michelin-starred restaurants a couple of years back.
This year I’d taken the week off and booked a week in Northumberland, which made it even more fun.
So this year my actual birthday meal (well, the day after, but it counted) was at L’Enclume. One heck of a drive across-country – two and a half hours each way – but still better than the five hours each way it would be from home.
Then during the week was an evening at House of Tides – which I love, and rarely miss taking the opportunity to go to when I’m in the North-East.
And finally, while I was in Manchester I visited a very new place, Mana, because it sounded interesting. (And it was!)
So it’s been a foodie week, and very enjoyable. But I might need to walk a lot over the coming week or so to make up for it…
So far this week, I have been Unwell. It was very similar to the episode in February where I was also spectacularly Unwell – thankfully this time wasn’t as bad, but it’s still been no fun. Well, I say it’s been better, whereas actually it’s been just as nasty, but in different ways – and I’ve been more prepared this time to deal with the warning signs early.
In February I wasn’t sure what had caused it – I’d had a meal at a (now closed) Michelin-starred restaurant, and was pretty certain that it wasn’t food-poisoning in any way that I recognised. This weekend was the same, no real idea of causation – although I’d had another couple of spectacular meals in the preceding days.
However, there’s only been a couple of common ingredients through the various meals, and with the whole set of symptoms being so similar, they’re what I’m looking at in particular. (And this is also where it’s really useful to have taken photos of the stuff I’ve eaten, to be able to use them for reference on stuff like this)
The conclusion I’m being drawn to is that I have a *really* unpleasant reaction to either nasturtiums or marigolds. It takes about 24-36 hours to kick in, and then yeah, no fun at all. In the case of this week, the lunch I had in Manchester on Saturday was very heavy in nasturtium garnishes, and I think that’s what triggered everything. And looking at WebMD (via a Google search) I found that nasturtium can cause stomach upsets (look in the “side effects” tab) – which is one nice term for what’s affected me on both occasions.
I may at some point decide to experiment a bit, by trying another meal with nasturtium garnishes and see if the results are the same – but it’s not something I’m going to be eager to do.
In the meantime, it’s not an allergic reaction – and I’ll never be dramatic enough as to claim it as one – but at the same time I think it’s going to be something I might need to start mentioning to restaurants when I book in. Which sucks, but when all’s said and done, it could be a lot worse. And at least I’ve now got a fairly good idea of what’s going on.
In an ongoing thread, there are times where I realise I really am a silly sod. This is another of those things.
A fair while back, the Cowboy Junkies (one of my all-time favourite bands) announced they were coming to the UK. It had been a fair while since they’d been here last, and even better, it was happening the weekend after my birthday. However, that was also the end of the week I was already booked up to spend in Northumberland, which was a Friday to Friday booking. And they were playing Manchester on the Saturday, and London on the Sunday.
So I figured what the hell, it’ll be a weekend, and booked tickets for both Manchester and London. Well I was up in the area anyway, and the London one was billed as being different to the Manchester one (although that has since changed). So why not? (Other than mileage, of course) I’d drive over from Northumberland to Manchester on the Friday, stay in a hotel overnight, do the gig on the Saturday night, and then drive home afterwards. Easy.
And then the plan changed a bit. When I saw the play Queen Margaret in Manchester, I realised how painless the journey was by train. So instead I figured I could drive home from Northumberland on the Friday – allowing me to get laundry and so on done in the evening and so on. Then on the Saturday I could get the train up, have lunch somewhere new and fancy that had grabbed my attention, then walk down to the hotel, check-in, drop off bag etc., go to the gig, stay overnight on Saturday, train home on Sunday morning, then down to London for Sunday night.
Yes, I’m an idiot, and an absolute loon. But I cut my mileage by taking the train, and improved my own safety by not driving home from Manchester late on a Saturday night. So that, at least, was sensible…
Last week, Claude Bosi (one of the chefs I follow on Twitter) announced that one of his good friends, Bo Bech of Copenhagen’s Geist would be cooking at Bosi’s restaurant at Bibendum in Michelin House in London for one night only, in support of Bech’s new book, published that day. And I was lucky/early enough to get myself a table.
The event was last night, and it was epic.
Me being me, I turned up a bit early – I’m always happy to sit at the bar or whatever – which meant I also got to go into the kitchen, meet Chef Bech and his crew, and have a quick chat. Pretty impressive in and of itself!
As part of the price of the meal, all diners also got a signed copy of the new book “In My Blood” (which is beautiful, and brilliant) which added to the event as well.
And the food itself was spectacular. Things that just shouldn’t go together (Duck, Pumpkin and Coffee? Shouldn’t work. Does.)
All told, it was one of the best meals I’ve had – and that potato mash with caviar is definitely the most decadent course! – and it was just spectacular.
So now I need to organise a city break to Copenhagen and go to the place itself. And there’s a couple of other restaurants there I want to try as well. That could be a very expensive weekend…
This week I was in London during the week, attending the 2018 Lead Developer conference. I’ve been before, both in 2016 and 2017 (so I’ve only missed the first one, back in 2015) and this year was as good as the previous ones. It’s gone from size to size, and this year had 1,100 delegates – which also meant that it’s outgrown the QEII centre, so this time we were at the theatre in the Barbican centre instead.
I had decided this year that I couldn’t be arsed with frantic travelling, so instead went down to London on Tuesday afternoon, checked into a hotel in Islington (so I had plenty of opportunity to keep up with walking and so on as well) and stayed for two nights. On the Tuesday I also darkened the doors of Mac and Wild, where I had a truly ridiculous (and rather excellent) off-menu burger. Following the first day of the conference I also walked to Mere (again – and I hadn’t remembered I’d done much the same thing last year until I re-read the post from then) and back.
On the Thursday, once the conference was done, I walked up to where I’d parked the car, and had dinner in Wahaca up there before driving home. This had been planned, as it meant I left London just at the time that England started their kickyball match in the World Cup, which meant that the roads were comparatively much quieter than usual, and that the drive home was pretty easy.
Along the way, I’ve also been able to complete a full working week, allbeit crammed into three days rather than five. It’s been pretty tough, but at least it’s all done now.
After this weekend, things calm down a lot – and I honestly can’t wait.
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.