Signs London

During a recent trip to the UK I spotted some signs in London that made me smile and so thought I’d share them with you all.

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The first one is quite boastful claiming they serve ‘’delectable’ ‘tantalizing’ (oh dear with a z) and ‘sumptuous’ food. Isn’t this rather setting themselves up for a fall? I was a little confused by their claim to serve Indian Chinese and the list of countries.

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Another food related sign, this restaurant claims to be specialists in out door caterers not outdoor, and surely if you have a hall isn’t that really indoor catering? And do you think it should have read, we have a specialised outdoor..?

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Apologies if anyone finds this one in poor taste, but there’s a show at London’s Olympia that I’m hoping no one forgets to attend.

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Finally, heaven forbid you’d need these lawyers. I can forgive them the over use of capitals but the spelling mistake means, sorry but if it was down to me I’d be saying, you’re fired.

Octopus and Oyster

I’ve always considered myself adventurous when it came to food and like most people growing up in the UK I’ve been lucky enough to sample dishes from all over the world. Whether its Indian, Chinese, Turkish or Greek. I recently tried Japanese food for the first time, because England is a great country for international restaurants. I’ve also been lucky enough to travel and in doing so I’ve eaten durian fruit in Kuala Lumpur, nasi goreng in Bali, tabouleh in Oman and a thousand year egg in Singapore. Some of these have been culinary delights and others horrors, In fact some of the worst food I’ve ever had the misfortune to be served was in the US. But there is yet one thing I have an aversion to trying, and I’ve been up close and personal with it several times and each time I tell myself I’ll give it a go, and each time I shy away from it. It, being the humble oyster. I’ve been given them fresh in the shell in France and smoked in New Zealand, but for some reason I am just unable to put the darned thing in my mouth. And believe I’ve had  number of unmentionable things between my lips over the years.

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I’ve always had a passion for Italian food, which is I suppose a good thing considering I chose to live in Italy. I’m not talking about just pasta and pizza, not that there’s anything wrong with a slice of pizza. I mean traditional Italian food. I’m knowledgeable enough to know that there’s no tomato in a ‘proper’ bolognaise sauce and that mussels are served with fettuccini and clams with spaghetti. For many people back in the UK, their first experience with Italian food comes from and encounter with a lasagne; whether pre-packed or in a restaurant, but is it authentic? probably not, in Italy a proper lasagne isn’t made with minced beef, but with  minced pork or sometimes a mix of pork and lamb. funghi-trifolati

Back in the Britain, TV chefs and celebrity restaurants have made Italian cuisine cool again, and plates are leaving kitchens with miniscule portions of ravioli served with truffle oil complete with a top draw price. At one of these restaurants, belonging to a celebrity chef who’ll remain nameless I was served a simple but costly dish of pasta con funghi trifolati. Was it authentic? Was it buggery. (Apologies for my northern roots.) In Piedmonte, funghi trifolati is served with spaghetti or polenta, this was served with pappardalle and the sautéed mushrooms should have chopped parsley in abundance, as it’s a key ingredient not just for garnish. But is this detail important? Yes, especially if you’re paying a chef to prepare it for you while you apply to the bank for a mortgage to pay for it. This said in Italy there’ll be regional variations of most of the dishes we see in restaurants and on supermarket shelves, but what we see in the UK is just a tiny portion of the Italian cuisine. As most of it is regional it would be impossible for suppliers and manufacturers to provide a concise catalogue.baby-octopus-salad-550x403

I live just eighteen minutes from the coast so as you’d imagine seafood and fish features highly in the local diet. Now I’ve always been a meat eater and not a big fish eater, I do like some seafood but am not too keen on prawns, so imagine my surprise when recently I was served up squid and octopus. I looked at the baby, purple-coloured octopus on my plate and thought I was in for another oyster moment, but no I popped it into my mouth, chewed and swallowed without any problem. In fact the only problem was I liked it so much I’ve eaten it several times since, who knows maybe one day that darned oyster will go down and stay down.

Eating Out

Monday 14 January 2013 – Last week I had three different meals out and all turned out to be an experience in themselves. Obviously I can’t name them here, and I’d be a fool to do so – law suits are not the in thing for 2013.

First meal of the week was a trip to a national ‘all you can eat’ restaurant. The chain boast over 34 metres of food counters displaying tasty and freshly prepared fare. They have everything from traditional roasts, to Italian and Chinese and even British fish and chips. Sadly this concept of serving so many cuisines meant that they failed to become the master of any. I tasted nothing there that would warrant a return visit, the food was basically, sub-standard school dinner quality.

The Italian food was unlike any Italian food I have ever seen before, paper thin dough with tomato sauce and grated cheese does not make it a pizza. The BBQ section had burgers that would be best suited to shoe soles and the salad bar was quite frankly the scene of a vegetarian massacre. Lettuce was browning as tomatoes softened and grated carrot seemed to invade every section of the serving area. Not to mention spoons lazily shared between the jugs of salad dressings.

The seating area was packed with diners stuffing food into their mouths like Armageddon was about to happen. I had an instant vision of what hell must be like. People walked over to the serving bays and piled food onto plates and returned to their tables and to begin devouring the over-laden dinner plate. It really was gluttony on a massive scale.

Two women sat at a table nearby, and during my stay I observed them eat four plates of food, and finish off with two puddings. At one point, one of the women was wrapping chicken wings and sausages in paper napkins and secreting them in her handbag.

Another table close by had two young couples sat at it, the table groaned under the weight of food the young men had brought with them and one of the girls took advantage of the free soft drinks by bringing over eight large glasses of cola. I was intrigued by the other girl as she ate a plate of food which contained a burger, a battered fish, some sliced gammon and roast potatoes and some Chinese noodles: Truly international cuisine? She followed this with chocolate sponge and custard. I thought to myself, she’s had her fill, just a dinner and a sweet, but no – she then washed it down with cola before adding a curry to the contents of her stomach.

Now I’m not a bleeding heart liberal, and I’m not going to bang on about poverty, but I did find the experience obscene. Needless to say, I shan’t be returning.

My second experience was a return trip to a well-known high street pub-cum-restaurant. You know the one, where they don’t play music and the name is made up from the two words that describe climate and cutlery. Usually I’ve had good quality grub here, okay it’s not a la carte , it’s not even remotely posh but it has always been filling and satisfying. Sadly this day it was not. I ordered an Italian chicken burger, basically a piece of chicken on a bun with pesto served with onion rings and fat chips. The problem this visit was it took an age to arrive at our table and when it did it wasn’t very hot, in fact tepid is the word I’d use to describe the meal, but the final insult was the burned toasted bun. All I can say is, it’s a good job I don’t usually eat the bread bun.

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The final experience was at a small shabby looking Chinese restaurant. I didn’t expect much, just standard commercially cooked food. What a surprise it was to eat, excellent well prepared plates of food and all for just £15 for two people. Made up for the two disappointing meals earlier in the week.

View my original blog at: http://intheflatfieldidogetbored.blogspot.co.uk