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Saturday, 24 July 2010

News update from Up North

Nothing notable or hugely interesting has happened this week,apart from being hideously and constantly busy.
Chefs latest pearl of wisdom this afternoon was:I know now what it must have been like to be on the slave ships;intense heat and sleep deprivation.Nice.

I think he was feeling the aftermath of yesterday,we hosted three events back to back.
A wedding(which went swimmingly and without a hitch),see cake below,I think it turned out quite well but I'm not sure if I'm a bit of a traditionalist.What do you think?




A "golfers" do which turned out to be actually a rugby tour of young 20 something jocks,Scots.Best quip from one of their party:Oh so glad you're OK,I know Rothbury's only a short distance away.Mildly amusing the first time we heard it but wore thin after a time.
We suspected the booking wasn't as it purported when one of the party arrived dressed in a sequin frock and Dolly Parton inspired wig.Together with the vuvuzela they brought along you could say it wasn't the usual clientèle you would expect in a genteel country pub.Especially when the rendition of Queen hits kicked off..

The booking had been made quite some time ago but earlier in the week we had been called and informed that all 25 of them would be having steak and chips.Hmmm said chef I wouldn't have taken the booking if Id known they were only having a main course.(We are usually fully booked on a Friday and most people don't just come in and have one course)
Self:Yes but we've never excluded anyone just because they're not spending enough. (I'm far too kind)
So the booking went ahead.

The room was devastated.Grilled tomatoes and sticky drinks spillages all over my lovely wooden floor.Hey ho, no permanent damage though.

The room was quickly reset for the last function of the day.The footballers presentation.Just a local team but they meet at the pub every Friday night.
Surprise, surprise yours truly was unexpectedly presented with an award:
The Zaira nara top WAG award.I would like to claim Zaira and me share an uncanny likeness, but sadly that's not the case.Not the type of award I would normally covet but gratefully accepted anyway.Its nice to be appreciated.I'm still basking in the glory today....



and admiring the lovely bouquet I was presented with.

And all this on top of our normal daily business!

Finally,I had to share with you this lovely picture of the two pigeon chicks which have just hatched outside our kitchen window..don't they look like ducks??



Time permitting, I'll be posting my planned item tomorrow which includes some goss on the Sol Campbell/Barrett wedding and also a review!

Friday, 16 July 2010

The day Kate Moss dropped by...

Last Friday night,as one of our regulars chatted to Chef at the bar, he casually bemoaned the fact that his usual and much anticipated leisurely Saturday afternoon pint and browse of the papers must be forgone this week. Annoyingly,his presence was required elsewhere,namely helping out (in his capacity as husband of one of the leading lights of the PTA) at our local village primary school fete.

Come Saturday lunchtime, the weather was glorious,perfect for enjoying a relaxing cool beer in the garden,a fact which Chef duly noted and which prompted the cheeky little message which he subsequently sent to said regular:

Kate Moss is drinking Mojitos in the garden.

To which said regular replied:

Really????

There then followed a quite lengthy delay prior to Chefs next message response.This was due to the high volume of orders which rapidly backed up in the kitchen.At times such as this,there is no opportunity to check ones phone for messages,let alone respond.

This delay proved crucial in the unforeseen events which unfolded.

It was two further hours before Chefs next response:

Covent Garden....


Come early evening,said regular arrived at the pub in good spirits(tasks satisfactorily completed),ready for a well earned beer and some craic.Light heartedly,he informed Chef that by the time he'd received the message "Covent Garden" he had already spread the word amongst most of the parents at the school Fete regarding our surprise celebrity visitor.The story had gained momentum throughout the course of the afternoon. (So much so that one of our staff arriving at work the following Monday,informed us that two of her friends had actually spoken to Kate Moss in the garden last Saturday....)

At this point,Chef related the story to me.
Self:OMG what if it makes the local paper??
Don't be stupid-if it does we'll just deny all knowledge...haven't you heard of "no comment"...

As a food led pub,our bar takings are always reasonably predictable.Obviously, there's a bit of variation depending on outside influences such as the weather,but the food till is undoubtedly the "cash cow".

Later that night as Fagin Chef totted up the days takings his eyes gleamed mischievously..

Mmmm the bar was busy today.

Self:Ah yes, it was a really lovely afternoon.

Nothing to do with the fact Kate Moss was in the garden then??


Reality leaves a lot to the imagination. ~John Lennon

I couldn't help but think that sometimes the line between reality and hype is really fuzzy....

These events highlighted some important issues:

a.The impact of social media as an immediate and powerful marketing tool(Ah- but you knew that anyway,didn't you?)

b.Were takings at the annual school fundraising event inexplicably and disappointingly low????(Note to self:make more generous donation next year)

lastly and most importantly:

c.WTF was Kate Moss doing drinking cocktails in a provincial pub garden????


As its some years now since I graduated from Cocktail school,I thought Id better brush up on my technique.After all,you never know who might drop by next weekend...


The perfect Mojito

You will need:
Fresh mint(plenty of it)
White rum
Sugar syrup
Fresh limes
Sparkling water or soda

The original Cuban recipe called for spearmint but any mint is fine as long as its fresh.We used apple mint as we have a humongous plant growing in the garden.
First, make some sugar syrup using 2 parts sugar to one part water,heat to dissolve then allow to cool.You can store this in the fridge and use as needed.
Bruise some mint leaves in the bottom of a sturdy glass and add some sugar syrup.Add the white rum,some fresh lime juice and top up with sparkling water and plenty of ice.Stir vigorously.Garnish with mint sprigs and a wedge of lime.
I haven't specified exact quantities as that defies the point,its best thrown together spontaneously(in the Cuban manner) and to your own taste!



Chin,chin!

PS Whilst drinking these I strongly recommend you listen to anything Alex Cuba.I particularly like this tune.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Ordering "off menu"

The majority of customers eat from the menu.They book a table,turn up on time and order from the list of options presented to them.

However,if one intends to run a successful food business,then some degree of flexibility is required.For example;diners with food allergies or medical conditions which I wrote about here.Or, as we don't provide a children's menu,offering smaller portions or improvising using the ingredients available to us as necessary,is appropriate.

First a little background information.Cooking in a professional kitchen involves each menu item being broken down into its basic constituents,ingredients prepped,some par cooked,ready to be put together as required to form the finished dish.An organised prep fridge will reveal a myriad of little containers all lined up like soldiers,ready for the onslaught.Mise en Place.A good chef runs his kitchen with military precision.Service is the battle, any deviation from the plan can result in devastation and chaos.

Then,there are those who wish to make that foray into the unknown and "order off menu" for reasons best known to themselves.

There are certain rules to observe if you wish to pursue this route and avoid incurring the wrath of the kitchen.


Firstly,choose from the selection of ingredients which are available on the menu i.e. if you don't see it on the menu its unlikely we will have said item lurking in the back of the fridge.And, if we did, you probably wouldn't want to eat it.Quelle surprise!if its not on the menu we surely ain't going to buy it in...Would you??
Its called making a profit.

Secondly,choose your time.Its polite to avoid a complicated list of special requirements on a busy Saturday night service.Whilst chopping fresh tarragon and whisking egg yolks to make a Bearnaise sauce, for example, isn't difficult, it may well be infeasible whilst other orders are piling on and the actual items on menu are being cooked.In the kitchen we like things"close to the wire",it makes it more interesting,but we don't want the wire to snap.
Its called having consideration.

Thirdly, don't take the proverbial.If you ring ahead and reserve a table the assumption is that you will be having a meal.Diners who reserve tables are given preferential treatment in the table pecking order and on some occasions,if their luck is in, may well hit the prime table jackpot.So,if all you fancy is a couple of bowls of chips,just chance your luck on the day.
You know it makes sense.


Lastly,don't turn up late then expect to order a menu which bears no resemblance to the one provided,thus resulting in diners booked in afterwards who have had the decency to arrive on time,suffering delays.As Chef says:If they want to write the menu themselves why don't they stay at home and cook it themselves.
Its called manners.

Today we welcomed the mothers of all "order off menu" diners,during a very busy Saturday lunchtime service.
They booked a table in advance(for four).
They perused the menu.
There was "nothing they liked"
Here is the order:



I kid you not.
Note the smiley face symbol.This is kitchen code,it means:Please don't shout at me and/or send me back to tell them they cant have it.

An order such as this solicits either or all of the following responses usually in this order:

Who are they?(So we can make note for future reference)
What do they look like?(Any obvious outward signs of Merrick style abnormality that set them apart from the mass)
Where are they sitting?(So that we might glimpse the abomination ourselves)

But no,they look quite normal.

On this occasion there was a split second of hesitation as Chef took in the order.Self:We don't have to do it...Chef:Lets just do it and get rid of them....


Later, when things weren't quite so hectic, Chef peered through the prison like glass slit in the regulation fire retardant door which delineates Front of House from kitchen territory.
Look at them..munching on their fried egg sarnies,sitting in the prime spot....The bleepers.

Beam me up Scottie..

Thursday, 1 July 2010

What I ate yesterday.

7am
Mug of Earl Grey Tea
(Don't bother speaking to me until I've had this)


8.30am
Glass of Cranberry and soda

10am
Bacon and grilled tomato sarnie made with 2 slices gluten free bread
Cappucino
Total Calories:500

Midday
Roast beef and Horseradish sarnie/2 slices gluten free bread
Mrs Crimbles gluten free chocolate brownie
Black coffee
Total calories:550

4.00pm
Half a bag of Mature Cheddar and red onion kettle chips(Family size)
Shared in the car with Chef en route to collecting Wheels from detention an appointment at school.Hmm, these taste fatty, says Chef.Yes, but fat is flavour.Agreed.
Total calories:500 (crikey)




5.30pm
Bowl of gluten free pasta with roasted celeriac and spring greens,
in a creamy sauce with wine and Parmesan
Bowl of mixed leaves with tomatoes,olives,red onion,French dressing.
Total calories:600



8.30pm
Three scoops of Panacotta and fudge ice cream,with double cream.
Black coffee
Total calories:350



11pm
Large glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
Regular pkt of McCoys.
Small pot of mixed olives marinated in chilli,red peppers,Herbs de Provence,garlic and olive oil.(Couldn't resist,made them this afternoon)
Total calories:300




In addition,grazing throughout the day,chips(probably a portion in total,tasting sauces and various other dishes).
Total calories:400

Also-3 bottles fizzy water:0 calories(toot toot!)


Note:I have approximated the calorific value after seeking advice on the internet.I haven't included drinks in the estimate,other than the Capuccino.

Do you think that's too much??
I wonder what you ate yesterday..

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