Tuesday 17 April 2012

How was your Bank Holiday weekend?

The first Bank Holiday of the year sees the re-emergence from their long winter slumber of the Day Tripper from the Toon.
Hunting in packs,and weakened by their long hibernation,they will seek out new feeding grounds,relentless in the search for their favourite sustenance.Its a dog eat dog situation with survival of only the fittest specimens,some will fall exhausted at the first hurdle,settling for the inferior 'plain pasta,no olive oil or butter, with grated cheddar cheese'.
The strongest however,will  press on, ruthlessly determined and unwavering,their overwhelming hunger spurring them ever onwards in their compelling quest for the ultimate prize....the Holy Grail...:


Mindful of the above and keen to make use of our new additional fryer,Chef proposed a new menu item.
We've never served battered fish before,mainly because Chef doesn't like to taint the fryer with anything other chips.The last thing you want is chips with a fishy after taste,besides because we cater for the gluten free market we can ill afford any cross contamination.
Keen to do something a little bit different and with our veg suppliers' favourite mantra 'give the people what they want' ringing in my ears,I convinced Chef(against his better judgement),to serve the battered fish with a 'home made chip shop style curry sauce'.
On the Monday prior to the Bank Holiday,in the interests of market research, we made a  trip to our local chippy to purchase a container of the aforementioned curry sauce.
'Make sure you ask them how they make it' I say..
Presently Chef emerged with two cartons of sauce; a standard and an extra spicy version.The extra spicy was evil smelling,tasted vile and was immediately ditched.
We peered into the pot containing the milder standard yellow looking offer.
'Its not how I remembered it' I say 'back in the day it used to have bits in it,did you ask them how they made it?'
'Yes' replied Chef 'They buy it in a packet as a powder,boil the kettle and add water to it...'

Back at the ranch Chef perfected the curry recipe over the next few days.Eventually producing a concoction which contained real lumps of food,amongst other things,curry powder,sultanas and apple.
'That's it!'I exclaimed 'it tastes exactly like the powdered version!'
Chef adopted his deadpan face.
'That's the first time in my career I've been congratulated for recreating a dish which one can produce from a packet...'
In an attempt to upgrade the option Chef decided to provide a choice of two fish for battering:
A nice chunky North Sea Coley fillet or Monkfish wrapped in Parma ham.
The Coley option,the deep fried parsley made a pleasing fizz as it went into the fryer

Come Good Friday Bank Holiday the battered fish option was flying out.
Fryers in full swing

I was giving myself the first of many virtual pats on the back when I realised the repeated ringing of the bell was invoking mine and no one else's attendance in the kitchen.
Chef glared and gestured toward the check board.
'I knew it was only a question of time before that happened...'
Chips and curry sauce-great with Fosters..

Self:'Wind your neck in please before you bust a blood vessel'

By the end of the day the large pan of curry sauce had completely sold out,unfortunately the fish had not.

On the Saturday evening,as luck would have it I was again on Front of House duties when a very pleasant fellow dining with his wife and daughter gestured me over.
'Excuse me....my daughter's just been to the loo and I'm afraid someone has messed the toilet'
Dear God.I knew immediately that  the term 'messed' implied something far more substantial than a liquid spillage,indeed 'messed' is definitely a euphemism for a solid.
I donned surgeons gloves and entered the trap with trepidation.
Someone had fouled on the actual toilet seat.
Its surprising what you can deal with when you have to..*gag*.
I reported back to the table who had alerted me to the soiling incident.
'Its clean now if you want to use the toilet'
The young girl crossed her legs and looked unconvinced 'how does someone manage to do it there???'she asked.
'No idea..perhaps they're ambidextrous..'I say.

Bank Holiday Monday we were in overdrive.I felt a bit shakey by mid afternoon when Chef helpfully pointed out that Id eaten nothing but chocolate,crisps,chips,coffee and Lucozade since the Friday morning.
On the other hand he of course had eaten an altogether healthier Cardiac sandwich consisting predominately of Red Bull,Fosters,chocolate and salted peanuts..

I could see the light at the end of the tunnel however,when this encounter ocurred.
'Excuse me... what's your soup of the day today?'
'Its Potato and Lovage' I say
'Potato and ROUGHAGE?' said the chap
'No....L-O-V-A-G-E' I say,as I dash hastily past.
Presently I see the same chap waving me over to his table.
'What's lovage?'
'Its a herb,it tastes a bit like celery,its slightly peppery,we grow it in our garden'
Home grown in the garden,that'll seal the deal..I thought..
Looking to his wife'Shall we order some?'
'I'm not sure if Ill like it'
Husband: 'Can we taste some?Can you bring us an egg cup full of it and if we like it we'll order some'
At this point the place was heaving,the idea of providing samples of each dish to every customer did not appeal at all.
'I'm afraid I cant,we don't have a big pot of it boiling away,we only put some on if someone orders it,its really nice not an overpowering flavour,the potato is the main flavour'I smiled and nodded encouragingly.
Everyone knows potatoes.
'What other soups do you have?'
'Just the one variety(not 57 I thought..),its freshly made,a new batch every day'
Husband(looking at the wife again): 'Shall we order some?'
Wife:'No you know what I'm like with things I don't know...'

Christ Almighty.Its only a bowl of farking soup.

By this point the husband also had his head in his hands.
'Can I have one bowl of soup with two spoons please?'
'yes of course'
The bowl of soup was sent in due course with a SECOND order being sent to the kitchen very soon after.
The wife called me over to congratulate us on the soup.
It sounded like she had surprised herself
'I dont usually like things I don't know..'
The question Id like to ask is; how does she know she doesn't like them if she hasn't tried them?

Dear God.Give me strength.

 How was your Bank Holiday weekend?

PS I'm not sure the curry sauce idea will be getting a second airing...


Twisted Scottish Bastard said...

Excellent, your post made me smile for the first time in 3 days.

The Monkfish wrapped in Parma Ham sounds great, I've never tried it that way before.

I too remember the old fashioned deep yellow/green curry sauce, with bits in it. It does go really well with chips for some strange reason.

If it sold out, why are you going to discontinue it? I thought you'd struck an untapped market...keep it going, but make more, and more chips.

I wonder if some people's eating habits change from the time they were kids. Do they never want to try something else?

I'm not going to comment on the toilet incident. Some people are worse than pigs.

o cozinheiro este algarve said...

I would agree with Twisted Scottish Bastard.If the customer wants chips and curry sauce and it sells out,give the customer what he wants.I love reading your posts,your wonderful observations and the situations you have to face, so many of which we have shared first hand when we were catering in the UK

Wally B said...

Aahh...chips and curry sauce, the food of inebriation.
I was challenged once to make tomato soup just like a can of Heinz.
It was quite a feat, but as it cost almost twice as much to make, I never repeated the process.

Andrew Stevenson said...

Combine the chips with curry sauce with cheesy chips and call it poutine after the Canadian errm "delicacy" ...

It'll only be a few months before the London foodies' besottedness with American slop discovers poutine and raves wildly about it. So you could beat London to it.

Northern Snippet said...

TSB-Pleased this made you smile!
Re the curry sauce, don't really want people to have the option of dining just on chips and curry sauce-not really going to do our GP any good:(

Senor Algarve-Thanks!Sadly the memorable customers arent always the very pleasant and well behaved ones:)

Wally-Kebabs next do you think??

Andrew-Good idea!-Im sure I read a blog recently about poutine,trying to think which one it was!!

TheBoyandMe said...

Love reading your tales, they always make me chuckle.

UrsulaFletcher said...

Is the curry sauce gluten free ?

Northern Snippet said...

Of course its GF!! What do you take me for?????

Young at Heart said...

never got t grips with chips and curry sauce...but in Amsterdam we used to get them with pindasaus...peanut sauce!!

Vivianne said...

LOL at the sauce tasting as good as the packet stuff :-D And no wonder you took photos of the fryers - such nice clean oil :-)


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