Boring stuff

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Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Conversation with a potential employee.

We're recruiting staff.September sees the departure of the summer workers off to university.
One of our girls has actually found a 'proper' job having worked for us since she was 15 right through university.Chef says its the end of an era.
I suppose therein lies the problem,most British workers still view hospitality work as a stopping off point en route to a permanent job,its a shame that its still not viewed by many as a career option.Though admittedly the long and unsocial hours aren't a great selling point.
I've trawled through a weird and wonderful array of CV's.
It struck me that perhaps some of the applicants could do with a few pointers on how to successfully apply for a job.
Obviously this is just my personal opinion of course.other potential employers may have different criteria.

1.Keep it brief
One or two pages max.Any CV longer than this goes straight in the bin.Its not that I'm not interested in you,you understand,its just that I DON'T HAVE TIME TO READ IT.

2.Check your spelling and grammar.

3.Keep the information relevant to the application,giving some indication that you have actually researched what the job is and what qualities are required.
For example I'm not really interested that you are 'qualified to use the St Tropez ultimate air system and have a level 2 certificate in Jessica manicures' or that you have '6 months small animal care experience',whilst the kitchen staff(and sometimes the customers for that matter)may sometimes act like animals,we are not recruiting a zoo keeper.

4.Include contact details(surprising how many don't),keep it sensible for example:if your email address is on the lines of 'pink iced buns@' its probably time to make a change,unless you're applying to a lap dancing club of course.

5.It may be a good idea not to be overly liberal with the truth if you want to give yourself a chance of even making the interview stage.For example 'I have had many jobs but as yet have never managed to hold down a full time job' or 'I have no relevant experience but am willing to give it a go and see if it works out' or even 'mostly I like to just sit at home,watch TV and relax,much like anyone else'....... does not exactly instil me with confidence in your enthusiasm or energy levels..

Today I rang one of the applicants I'd selected for interview.

Self:Hello I'm *me* from the Inn,I'm ringing with regard to your application for work.

Applicant:Ah yes.... the BAR JOB..

Self:Would you be able to pop over for a chat one afternoon next week?

Applicant:Should be OK,when were you thinking?

Self:Would Wednesday afternoon about 2.30 be OK?

Applicant:Make it a bit earlier?

Self:No I'm sorry I'm over at the pub every lunchtime so I'm only back at the inn between 2.30 and 5pm.

Applicant:How about Monday?

Self:No I cant do Monday


Self:No I'm sorry I'm very busy on Fridays I can only do Tuesday,Wednesday or Thursday.

Applicant:It shouldn't take long, I'm a medical student,taking a year out.

Self: Oh????I'm very sorry but I just cant spare any time on Friday

Applicant: Oh that doesn't work,that just doesn't work  for me AT ALL..


Applicant:Tell you what lets just leave it till the following week,Thursday afternoon,3pm, OK with you??


And I thought there were over 2 million people unemployed in this country.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Where's my farking Brussels??

You know that thing about waiting forever for buses,then all of a sudden three arrive at once?Well,brace yourselves,we've had ANOTHER complaint.The following is an exact transcript of a letter which arrived this week.
Handwritten letter
[Yes,a great little pub.However after eating there for Sunday dinner we wont be going back,having invited friends making a party of seven and all having the Sunday Roast,we thought the order was wrong and that they gave us child portions;each plate consisted of 3 roast potatoes which could of been one cut into three,(excuse me, but you missed out the new potatoes)6 slices of carrot,2 peices of brocolli,some cabbage.Two slices of meat and one small yorkshire,the plate was not Big(its 12 inch actually)  but there was plenty of room(only were it to be piled vertiginously high) for the likes of,brussel sprouts,Turnip,parsnip,(in summer?whatever next..)cauliflour,MASHED potatoe and YES another yorkshire!!!(or maybe one of those giant stuffed ones?)for 9.50 it was a disgrace!!the food should have come in abundance(eh??) PTO

Insufficient Sunday roast displaying small Yorkshire
There was no mustard or Horse Raddish or anything for that matter,no hang on there was salt and peper(Oh you were looking for those little sachet things,the ones which you can help yourselves to and take some home for later..) we asked for some mustard.Two bowels arrived(surely not,I must apologise for that) spoon in each and with a blob of mustard stuck on the end (ouch)All for seven people,the three tables put together all AT Different levels and the creeking chairs "well" (now I know who you are, you're  Mr Winner aren't you?)no one ordered desert( I wish you had its farking freezing up here at the moment) we saw other diners with there's and for £5 so "forget it"!!
All this about localy sorced produce....
my wife cooks a better Dinner from Morisons (However the meat was nice)
Consolation nice beef.
(really??I would have thought you would have preferred your beef well done.) 
shame about the rest..."it could have been great"
PS I'm angry I didn't say anything when we were there.
PPS you will have seven people telling others the same.]

Squiggly illegible signature
(no address)

SIGH..I put it down to the weather,its dampened everyone's spirits..
Or maybe its time to bite the bullet and go all branded chain pub..

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

BEWARE:shiny tables,raw steaks and insufficient quiz sarnies.

Last week we entertained the mother of all complainers at the Inn.
News filtered back to the kitchen that  trouble was brewing long before the order was even taken.
Mr and Mrs Angry asked to be seated in the small garden room and were dismayed to see that two(the larger ones) of the three tables had already been reserved.
'Oh' said Mrs A 'I thought you couldn't reserved tables here?'
Sensing her disquiet it was suggested she might prefer an alternative table inside the pub.
'No, its too dark in there,we'll stay here'
To cut a long story short two lemonades and two steak sandwiches were ordered,then subsequently sent back to the kitchen as they were too rare.The steaks were redone(well done) sent again,eaten,then the bill was paid and they left.
Later that afternoon I received a very irate phone call from this lady remonstrating about her dining experience.
These were her main issues and my responses:

1.The table was too shiny and had obviously been polished with FURNITURE POLISH.This is a Health and Safety  issue and is very dangerous as drinks could 'slide off the table into peoples laps'.
The table is over 100 years old,an old Britannia bar table made in Sunderland and lovingly polished by a succession of landlords,resulting in the attractive deep mahogany patina.The table has supported many drinks over the years,very few of which have slid off by themselves.
Dangerously polished table exhibiting potential slip hazard.

2.The steak sandwich was raw and this is 'very bad practice as a pregnant woman might eat it'.
( Last time she came the steak sandwiches were lovely and were all cut up into little slices,about a year ago..)

All of our steaks are Eblex standard and are locally sourced from a small independent supplier, many of which come from his own farm.We could buy cheaper but prefer to support the local economy and enjoy a better quality product.We sell hundreds of these sandwiches,our standard is to serve them medium rare,unless diners specify otherwise.
As such they pose no health risk.
(we have been here 4 years and have NEVER 'cut the steaks up into small pieces' therefore it must be at least five years since she last visited)

3.The plate was cold.
The plate was cold as the sandwich is served with a salad accompaniment,were the plate hot ones salad would be limp and wilted, giving cause for complaint

4.The bread roll was cold.
The inside of the bread roll is toasted, the outside is not.That's just the standard, though if any diner were to request we toast both sides we would be happy to oblige.

5.There was no more than a teaspoon full of fried onions on the steak
The fried onions are not the main component of the sandwich and as such no valid complaint can be made over the quantity,the steak is 6oz as specified on the menu.Had more onions been requested then these would have been forthcoming.

6.There was a disabled person having difficulty negotiating the unsatisfactory access,with staff offering assistance otherwise she would have asked for a discount on the meal.
The Inn was built around 1740 and retains many original features.Being built into a hillside there are many levels and steps to negotiate which does not make access ideal for less able customers.Our staff always make this information available over the telephone for diners who check ahead,they always also offer assistance if necessary.As it happened this particular customer had been spoken to on the phone and was happy to deal with any difficulties he might experience.I was pleased the staff had been helping him.

7.She did not experience £19.40 worth of enjoyment.

This is a tricky one.How does one quantify in monetary terms enjoyment value?
To be perfectly honest we're in the business of selling steak sarnies,not enjoyment.Though admittedly, hopefully enjoyment would be a side product of the eating experience.
I've been giving this a lot of thought and am considering introducing an AA Gill type guide on our menus.
Its proving almost as complicated as the Duckworth-Lewis method,its so bloody subjective,I mean, enjoyment of a steak sandwich for a committed omnivore is on a completely different scale to that of committable vegan...
I've managed to come up with a potential rating system though:

*         (0-20 pounds sterling)  find a fiver in an old jacket pocket at the back of the wardrobe
**       (20-30 pounds sterling) drop the bandit
***     (30-50 pounds sterling)modest win on the premium bonds
****   (50-75 pounds sterling)unexpected windfall from an unknown relative
***** (100+ pounds sterling)100-1 outsider comes in on the geegees.

I spent over half an hour on the telephone apologising that Mrs A hadn't enjoyed her dining experience and attempting to placate her, at the end of which she demanded a 'written response' otherwise she would report us to Environmental Health,and also Visit Northumbria as it was 'disgraceful that visitors to the area be subjected to our food'.(I was a bit bamboozled by this,does that mean its OK to subject local people to it??)
Now normally with any genuine compliant,I would offer a refund or in some cases a gift voucher.The tone of this telephone call however was confrontational and threatening.
Chef was of the opinion that we should not be intimidated by threats therefore we mulled our response over the weekend.
On the Monday morning we received a phone call from our local Environmental Health Officer advising us that they'd been contacted by Mrs A about the 'raw' steak.Chef was informed that Mrs A had been advised that there was 'no risk'.The lady from food services told him that they were obliged to inform the  food outlet when they receive a complaint,valid or no.The EHO commented to Chef that Mrs A was incredibly irate..
Next day a letter arrived by recorded delivery headed thus:

'Supply of Goods and Services Act 1983'
'I demand a refund within 7 days due to the goods being unsatisfactory'

The seven day period has expired.I wonder what the next move will be.Lets hope it doesnt make the local press..
Chef says she hasn't  a leg to stand on as shes consumed the evidence...
Is there any other business where customers can consume the goods then express dissatisfaction??I mean imagine if she purchased the very same steaks herself from the same butcher,rustled up a tasty tea for her and the hubby,then went back the next day and asked for a refund because the 'enjoyment value' wasnt attained??
Its just not going to happen is it?

Next day the sun was shining brightly,the garden was packed and our usual number of covers increased two fold.As a consequence Chef was up the wall, with fifteen checks on the board.Further diners continued to appear.We had to advise all new orders that there would be a wait for food of around 40 mins.
At this point a certain well known sports person tipped up and was duly advised of the wait.He enquired if there would be a similar wait if he had a couple of cold starters.
Of course there wouldn't be.
Presently, the cold starters were sent,following which an exceptionally angry lady loudly mouthed off that she had ordered first and we were offering preferential treatment just because he was famous,and it was an absolute disgrace.She was sitting on the table directly next to sports person who obviously took everything in without comment.We all cringed in unison.
Now, well known sports person pays us a visit every week and on two occasions over the past couple of months has been turned away as we haven't had a table for him.On his intial first visit a couple of years ago he also went away empty handed when the particular barman working became starstruck and was momentarily superglued to the floor and unable to move.I was quite annoyed at the time.So actually Im surpised he returns at all,especially with no grudge borne.
Chef is very strong about everyone's money being the same.
It must be awful being famous.
By the way The barman is  now working in London as a photographer,I hope he's overcome his nervous disposition..

In other news, I helped out at the fortnightly quiz over at the pub last week.
We provide a few tasty treats for the quiz people,sandwiches and the ubiquitous triple cooked chips(though I'm loathe to call them so on the menu).
Anyhoo,I was approached at the bar by a brusque chap with a dozy looking Labrador(not the farting one).
'Are we getting sandwiches tonight??'
Self: 'Yes'
Chap 'Well,where are they???'
Self:'We'll be putting them out in the interval'
Chap(voice audibly raised in annoyance)'well,we're up to round five now'
At this point he raised his palms upward in Jesus type pose(but not a genuflecting one), eyebrows raised and gesturing in disgust.
I resisted the desire to sarcastically retort:
'Bless me Fadder fur oi haf sinned...'
He then approached the quiz master who compliantly called a break.
The coal man at the bar,a man of few words, smiled a knowing smile 'some of these lot don't come for the quiz,only for the sarnies...',then smirked and went back to his Southern Comfort and Lemonade.
The sarnies were duly despatched.I stepped aside and witnessed the stampede to the table with Rude Chap heading the pack.Twenty minutes later I noticed he was still grazing on a small personal buffet of sandwiches which he'd placed in the middle of his table.
As I cleared  the plates, Rude Chap anticipated my approach,picking up his plate and proferring it with arms stretched over his head in a flag like manner with his back to me..
Dear Reader,you must know that I walked away and left him sitting there with the plate in mid air..
He was first to leave, almost before the quiz was over,his parting shot a brief:
'there weren't enough sandwiches tonight'
This is fundamentally wrong.How can there not be enough sandwiches when they're bleeping free??????
Complimentary sarnies are a privilege, not a right and as such may be withdrawn by the management at any time.

Next week I plan to vary the offering by providing a small bowl of olives and a ramekin of plain crisps(preferably past their best before date)....

Its the least I can do.

PS.Our steak sarnies are the Biz.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Biff and Chef Eat Owt/L'Enclume

We've had a little break away. Effecting an even brief escape from the business requires careful planning,organisation and team work.
Having selected and ironed some suitable clothing, I delegated Chef to retrieve the travel bags and insert said items, prior to departing for Sunday lunch service at the pub.The plan was to make as early a departure as possible after lunch service was over at both pubs.
On my arrival back at the Inn Chef was itching to go,informing me that the bags were packed as promised and stored safely in the pick up.
We headed off immediately.
Forty minutes later we were joining the M6.

Self:You found the overnight bags OK then?
Chef:No I didn't bother,I didn't think it was worth trawling around the attic for the sake of one night,I just used some carrier bags.
Self:What??You mean you packed our *stuff* in flimsy Tesco carrier bags??
Chef:No of course not..
Self:Thank God for that..
Chef:I used Waitrose Bags for Life...
Well isn't that just great..
I wondered if there'd be anyone else staying at L'Enclume in a pick up and with no suitcase...

Cartmel is a quaint little village which we were quite fond of by the time we'd driven around it four times in search of our lodgings.Someone was relying on I pad/phone directions but hadn't factored *no network* into the equation.

We weren't staying at the Gift Shop BTW
Finally we noticed this unobtrusive little sign which helped us on our way.

Lets not draw attention to ourselves

I needn't have worried,Chef managed to find a discreet parking position for the pick up..
We were greeted warmly and asked if we needed help with our luggage.
(Sharp intake of breath..)
'No thanks' said Chef 'we'll just go straight to our room..'
(Audible sigh of relief..)
We made ourselves comfortable, then Chef nipped out for our *shopping* once the coast was clear..
We'd already identified this place as perfect for pre dinner snifters on our earlier extended tour of the village.

Perfect watering hole within walking distance
Notice the dark red FWD vehicle.Every 5 minutes the alarm was going off resulting in a chorus of 'ahhhs' from the outside drinkers.Amusingly, we could still hear this disturbance back at the restaurant 40 minutes later.Sounded like a TV audience in training.

I don't carry a handbag BTW

One Bombay Sapphire and  Fevertree tonic for me and Chefs requisite fizz of choice later and all earlier stresses were long forgotten.
It was a beautiful night,and more delightful pubs tempting us to seek them out, but we arrived politely on time for dinner.
We were offered white or pink Champagne.I chose pink.
We both had white.The duck scratchings and cheesey prawn crackers more than made up for it.
Chef wondered if we could ask for more.
We're not a the local Chinese, I say.
He did however enquire if he was 'allowed' to smoke in the garden.A pristine ashtray appeared forthwith.The Sommelier advised with a knowing wink that he would leave it there.
I didn't notice anyone else having a fag.
We opted for the twelve course tasting menu which they had kindly agreed to adapt to cater for our awful dietary requirements.We asked the sommelier to bring us some glasses of wine to match the meal.
By the way I forgot to mention,I loved this place before we even arrived after receiving a confirmation e mail containing the following beautiful prose:

'Monsieur shall be eating no fish nor shellfish and Madame being coeliac'

Made our conditions seem positively attractive.Well nearly..

Firstly an amuse bouche.As the plate was put down the waitress looked momentarily confused 'bear with me one moment' before another member of staff came over and carefully swivelled the plate around until the smoked eel croquette was conveniently close to myself and Chefs vegetable one now correctly positioned next to him.
Despite the shape I'm sure they were intended for oral insertion.
'I wonder if Ill get through this one alive' said Chef....
Look what's in Simon's sack tonight!
Waverex Peas with crab and calamint.Or in Chefs case no crab. Apparently the teeniest and sweetest peas.I love spider crab.I grow a lot of mints, but never calamint.Must get some.

As we chatted I noticed a couple we'd seen earlier at the pub.I drew Chefs attention,they were just out of his line of vision.I described the chaps camel suit.
'Oh the chap with the grease spot in the centre back of his  jacket' said Chef.
'Yes that's the one!'
We always make the same observations..

Pickled purple Azur,crushed flesh,sour cream and golden cups.

This picture doesn't bely the taste explosion that it actually was.Its a Kohlrabi, often grown for cattle feed.What a waste..

Chefs bread

Gluten free bread
Special mention for going to the trouble of making my bread,it contained pumpkin seeds,it was as good as the real thing. I've e mailed them to ask for the recipe*hopeful face*

Chef clocked a Frankie Valli look alike seated at a table nearby.Dressed completely in white including,suit,shirt and slip on shoes with NO SOCKS.

His companion was partially hidden by the alcove in which they were seated.We got a clear view when she got up minutes later en route to the loo.Chefs' mouth fell open.'Internet order?' 'Its good to see true love knows no boundaries..'
Mr Valli was sporting an ill fitting *toop*
'That'll be stuck to the ceiling later'quipped Chef..
As I glanced down to check out our own chosen foot attire,I warmed momentarily to Chefs' muddy(I forgot to pack my good shoes)Merrells.
Celtuce heart in beef broth,fresh cheese,mussel dust.
I thought they were trying to confuse us with this one,but it is a type of lettuce with a celery type stalk,exactly as the name implies.The beef broth was intense and satisfying.Chef asked if it would be OK to dip his bread in.

I was only buttering my bread...
Beware of large bowls and dainty cutlery.Do not,I repeat do not leave go of them at any time unless you are finished your meal...
Snow balls cooked in clay,smoked egg,lettuce, fermented apple.
One of Chefs faves.I can see why this earthy style of crockery was chosen(very 70s/80s)but I had to ask Chef not to scrape his cutlery as I was squirming, it had the effect of nails down a blackboard.

Ancient tubers,ground unicorn horn,misted with faerie breath.
This dish was beautiful,despite the presentation the flavours in the food are indeed the real attraction.
'That's how a potato should taste'said Chef.

Minidor yellow with duck sweetbread,corn cream summer savory

Hats off to the unfortunate kitchen slave tasked to harvest these little blighters.Not exactly a high yield to the duck..
Thankless task

Charcoal grilled varna leek,scallop,red orache and nasturtium butter
Though ploughing admirably through the lovely(and surprisingly reasonable priced) wine selection,b'now Chef was a tad thirsty and fancied a refreshing beer.The waitress kindly brought us the drinks menu.No lager.Only Pale ales.
'Maybe they're short of fridge space' I say..
Modest refrigeration facilities

Chef could barely conceal his disappointment at the lack of his favoured beverage.'I don't think they like that matching' I say.
'But its all about personal choice' said Chef.
Radish stew with coastal greens and summer leaves,hay cream
As we were eating this I observed a disturbance at the next table.'I just cant eat this I just don't like the flavour.I just don't like it AT ALL'
I overheard the waitress very politely offering a supplemental course.
'That's ridiculous' said chef 'its unrealistic to expect that out of twelve courses you'll  like absolutely everything.'
We did...

Salt baked hake,kale greens,bay shrimp,cherry belle
Cherry belle is the radish, don't make the mistake of trying to politely cut this up as the diner on the next table did,unless you wish to retrieve from the floor.I recommend consuming whole.
Yew tree Herdwick Hogget,turnips,cider and chenopodiums
This was the course the diner at the other table didn't like.The hogget was fantastic.The sauce was quite sharp.Chef said the flavour was verging on the taste you get when you reduce a stock too far and get that burnt bones taste.
They couldn't have burnt the bones,could they?Nah..
I liked the waiters description 'its not a lamb and its not a sheep' Hehe.
What is it then?A goat?
As we tucked in, a diner from the garden room area passed by en route to the ladies room. Applying Fake Bake in a darkened room is an ill advised decision.
'Herdwick mutton?' said Chef..
Supplemental course:CHEESE
This is where things went wrong.The cheese on the right smelled and tasted remarkably like cauliflower.Thankfully I like cauli.
Supplemental cheese led to:

Bad idea..
Supplemental port.
And a reluctance to continue with three more remaining courses.Instead we asked our very accommodating waitress to choose just one.
Untypically good quality  photo
Compressed strawberries and crispy sheet, sheeps milk and sorrel.Served on a lovely smooth plate.
Did I mention I treated myself to the promised new camera?
During our meal there was a couple sitting nearby who flashed(camera flash obvs) their way through the entire meal.I found it a bit  disturbing.I think I'm going to stick with the unflatteringly taken surreptitious phone photos.Its more me.I waited until there was no chance of upsetting anyone before snapping these.

Lavender milk and cupcakes
And coffee in view of the actual anvil.So good I drank the whole pot and was up at 5.30am.
Perhaps we did outstay our welcome
Chef was on a roll.'Are the pubs still open?' he enquired ..

This has gone on a bit hasn't it, I'm boring you.Shall I just cut to the chase?
Simon Rogan is a very clever Chef.Our two favourite dishes contained neither meat nor fish protein.
Chef said the cooking was at another level.Definitely 'exceptional cuisine,worth a special journey'

On my return to work I described to Pubchef ,in glowing detail, the wonders of our gastronomic experience.
Then this:
Knickerbocker glory with foraged beer garden viola.

Its just not happening is it....? Sigh.

PS the potato dish:Heritage potatoes in onion ashes,lovage and wood sorrel.


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