Tag Archives: Food

Make Mine A Happy Meal

ronald mcdonaldI got into the taxi and sighed with relief. I had been almost in pain trying to keep my face from scowling over the past few hours and there was also the fact that I was absolutely starving – I had just been at ‘The Meal from Hell’. Pretentious overpriced food, combined with snooty yet inefficient wait staff AND that I was out with work colleagues I didn’t want to spend a second more than necessary with, this had all the hallmarks of uncomfortable dining before we picked out the wine.

I was in a very well known restaurant on Stephen’s Green. My boss was there to pay and the marketing witch was there to try and beat us into enjoying ourselves. It had been her idea, one that was met with rolled eyes and lots of grumbling, asking why did we have to go to dinner with people we barely put up with in work and who we most definitely didn’t want to go to dinner with. Everyone felt the same way, no one wanted to go as it was an unwritten thing that none of us liked each other and just accepted we had to work together. After one person dropped out with a pathetic excuse, the rest of us were told that no matter what we were going and that we were going to enjoy it no matter what. You can imagine how much I was looking forward to this then. Groan.

Sitting in reception, waiting for everyone to arrive set the scene for the uncomfortable silences that were to come. When at our table it started off with the horrible little annoying man, grabbing the wine list and arguing with the boss over which were the best wines and being told that he wasn’t allowed pick any bottle over £60 [this was a number of years ago]. And then the resident alcoholic slimy sales guy announced that he wasn’t hungry and didn’t want anything. The waiter that arrived merely added to the tension with his appalling attitude. Maybe our money wasn’t the same as everyone else’s eating there that night. Continue reading

Advertisements

Green Rage

Last Thursday I was on the phone to McSmile. We were just chatting, catching up, deciding what we’d do for the weekend [apart from watch the rugby], when I mentioned that I’d like to go out to Brunch on Saturday. ‘Brunch, is it? On Saturday? Ok then!’ was the response. See, I’d heard good things about this place, both in newspaper reviews and from a few people I know that had been there, so I really wanted to go!

‘I’m not queueing up! No way! I’m not bloody well waiting half an hour to eat anywhere’ – a most definite response from McSmile after I asked him if he was as excited as me about Brunch before we left [I tend to get a bit carried away eating at new places]. I just ignored him, I reckoned we’d be waiting a few minutes but sure all I had to do was get him there and it’d be fine. We arrived after a 10 minute stroll from his place, it was a nice day and we were really looking forward to the rugby. We just about got in the door as there was a group of maybe 4 or 5 people blocking the entrance.

So, we just stood there as the waiter said something to them, disappeared, arrived back, said something else and then disappeared again. ‘Well, I’m having a beer’, ‘I think I’ll just have a coffee’, ‘No way! Sure the rest of us are having a drink! God! You’d think that they make some effort to just put two tables together, seeing as I told him we’d be here for a while and there’s a crowd of us’.

Myself and McSmile started eyeballing each other. A guy was ‘busying himself’ behind McSmile and then brought a coffee over to a guy at a nearby table. Then did a return trip straight away with just a muffin in his hand. then returned to staring at the cash register. The group in front of us started to get a bit agitated. The door opened behind me but the two ladies realised that there wasn’t room for them to step inside. I stuck my hands even deeper into my pockets. I tried to assess the situation, gauge McSmile’s patience levels. Mind you, mine were wearing very thin. See, we’d been standing there for ages by now and not one single person working there had acknowledged our presence. The group in front were sitting down and flopped all over a table for two just inside the door, still waiting to be seated. The place really didn’t seem that busy. There wasn’t any big air of hustle and bustle about the place.

‘Do you want to just go over and grab that guy behind the cash register? This is getting ridiculous’. McSmile turned around and Mr Busy at the till leapt out and was at a table within 2 seconds, clearing the 2 plates that suddenly were making the place look untidy.

‘For Fu…’ I just took a deep breath. McSmile was clearly agitated and I really didn’t feel like defending the place. ‘Right’, I said, ‘I wanted to eat here cos the food is meant to be good but they’ve already lost any hope of a tip from me’.

The waiter came back and after all that, it was time for the group to be seated but he continued to faff around in front of us. A waitress came down the stairs and us shuffling from one foot to the other, clearly trying to get someone’s attention were being totally ignored. Continue reading

Table for One?

woman_eating_by_herselfI was reading an interview with the actor Bill Nighy when he remarked on what a solitary type of character he was, that he likes spending time by himself but how whenever he has lunch on his own he can only eat if he has something to read. It got me thinking about doing stuff on my own, going for lunch, going for a walk, going to the cinema, going shopping. If there’s one out of that list that some people tend to find a bit weird it’s eating alone. The easiest way in the world to get a sympathy vote is to walk into a restaurant, sit for 10 minutes on your own and look as though you’d nearly pay a waiter to stop by and chat until your now-paying-for- lunch companion arrives. And if you’re a girl, surrounding tables will be thinking you’ve been stood up before you put down the menu.

Recently, I was having lunch with a friend in a very busy restaurant. We’d been there for third-glass-of-wine ages and so we were both looking around a bit. A pretty girl walked by and sat at a table near us. She looked about 22. She sat facing the window and her table was in the middle of the floor. She declined a drink. Looked at the menu again and then put it back down on the table again. Then she decided she’d get a drink. She answered her phone but we didn’t think it was the call she was waiting for. She ordered food and left about 10 minutes after she finished eating. We [of course sounding like the nosiest so and so’s ever by now!] couldn’t figure out if she had arranged to meet someone or not. I’m going to say now that I can tell you so much about her movements because my friend was dying to know if she’d really been stood up.

Now, I am definitely of the opinion that it’s perfectly fine to dine alone. I’ve often decided to treat myself to a lazy Sunday lunch with the papers  in a nearby cafe. I’ve often arranged to meet someone in a cafe whereby they were late as well though and so I was waiting on my own for a bit. But during either of these situations, I’d bring along something to read. Now, I like to have a good look around, see who else is doing what in the restaurant – be it the Mom trying to control her kids [why bother attempt it, they’re all brats], the couple that are having a slight disagreement while trying to not raise their voices, the old lady smiling and getting all the wait staff to do bits and pieces for her, thanking them profusely but really only wanting a bit of a chat or the guy in the corner that is trying not to look as though he’d gladly fall down the waitress’ top each time she places something on his table. After that, I’ll settle down to a bit of reading, coat on back of chair, phone close by after I check I haven’t missed a call or text, maybe write a quick something in my trusty notebook. My food will arrive and I’ll put down the book. I won’t eat with my face in my food. I’ll eat at my own pace, maybe pick up a wayward red onion from the edge of my salad, push the pointless lettuce away. I’ll have another look around as I chew, see if the fighting couple have left yet, make sure the kids aren’t coming any nearer. I might put my fork down and read a text just after it arrives. I’ll finish and once my plate is out of my way, I might reply to the text I got, have another look around, ask for another glass of wine [you knew that was coming!] and then resume my reading.

Maybe I’m one of those people that look awkward eating alone, maybe I give the impression I’ve been stood up so order twice the amount of food I would’ve let my potential lunch buddy see on my plate. Maybe I give the impression that I like eating on my own and am comfortable doing just that. Maybe I don’t care cos I’m just doing my own thing, try it! It’s great!

Come Dine With Glitter

hot_and_sour_soupI have a confession to make. I’ m pretty obsessed with TV Cookery Programmes. It’s a constant mystery to my dad and my sister how I can sit down first thing on a Saturday morning and watch hours of food being prepared via Saturday Kitchen and the Masterchef that follows. And I’d have to say, there’s very few episodes of Rick Stein that I haven’t seen, yet I don’t eat fish! [Rick Stein runs a seafood restaurant in Padstow] I was impressed with Jamie Oliver’s last TV series as he seems to have finally grown up a bit, but he’s still about an 8/10 on the Twat Scale. I didn’t Cookalong with Gordan just before Christmas, I should’ve though, I felt as though I did because I even delayed getting to HQ to watch it each Friday. The thing is, though, I’m not much of a cook. Oh, I have a few things I do and over the last few years have built up quite a nice set of stir frys and pastas that I do, but I wouldn’t claim to knowhow to cook. Maybe it’s just a girl thing and I like watching food being prepared, salivating in the oohs and aaahs of the lucky devils that get to taste it!

Ok, so I’ve mentioned that I cook a few bits and pieces. And I’ve found that I like cooking. I like seeing how I can improve a supermarket bought jar of sauce with my own addition of herbs and spices. Maybe a bit of experimenting. Maybe the odd trial of something I saw on TV that looked easy enough. I cook for my parents and sister and her boyfriend quite a bit and they’re always impressed. It’s like it’s now my job to cook the odd evening there’s something to celebrate [or just for the hell of it!]. Mom still does the Sunday Roast though, that’s Sacrosanct!

Last week, for my birthday, I decided to cook for above mentioned parents, sister and her boyfriend, that way I could control the menu. I hadn’t done a 3 course meal before without any giving out that there was too long between the starter and main or that the starter was late in the first place or.. well, you get my drift and so I wanted to cook nice food that everyone liked, have the main follow the on time starter by just maybe 10 minutes and have the dessert follow at it’s own pace. I decided that I’d try some Thai food. Now, my Red Thai Curry is very famous around these parts and it’s damn near perfect! But I wanted to add to my Thai repertoire. I like spicy, garlicy food with a kick, some chili, maybe more than your average person, anything but bland. I like food that jumps around my mouth bursting with flavour.

Continue reading

Brownies How Are Ye!

‘Right! I’ve decided that I’m going to bake dessert to bring round to the dinner party later’ announced the sister. ‘BAKE? Like, BAKE?’ was the general response. ‘Yes, bake. And this is what I’m going to BAKE’ came the second announcement with a smile.
As soon as the page of the cookery book was splayed across the kitchen table we started to salivate. Oh my god, the brownies looked so good! All rich and chocolatey and gooey and dripping with melted chocolate and surrounded by raspberries, mmm mmm! Quick as a flash I had a cunning plan – ‘Sure why don’t you make two batches, kinda like rent for using Mom’s kitchen?’, ‘OK, right then, I’m off to buy the ingredients’. And off she went. The rest of us stayed put, we deffo weren’t missing any part of this most unusual event!
Within the hour, the kitchen table was heavy with bowls and a huge scales, all the ingredients lined up – ‘I need to prepare, I have to get everything ready’ was the next announcement. Which was followed up by a rather angry ‘Tch! Fuckit. I forgot the baking powder. Fuckit anyway’. I kept myself buried in the book, thinking about what other treats it had to offer. One quick trip to the shop later and the weighing out began. ‘Ye have loads of white chocolate, do ye need that much?’ ‘YEEESSSS, sure white chocolate goes into it as well as drizzled on the finished ones!’. ‘OOOhhhh’. ‘Start crushing it into small chunks, will ye?’ Continue reading

Would you Like Protein with That?

Picture the scene, I was in a Spar or Centra or somewhere and just fancied a hot chicken sambo. There was a ‘guy’ and a ‘girl’ in front of me in the queue. The guy was in a tacksuit, runners, puffa jacket, you know, the manky kind and when he turned, he even looked like he spoke with a speech impediment [or a really horrendous accent, take your pick]. I was nearly blinded by the shiny gold ring on his wedding finger that also actually seemed to have ‘diamonds’ in it.

He gestured something at the girl behind the counter.

‘Certainly Sir, what would you like in the baguette?’

‘Eeehh.. chips’

‘Chips? Just chips, Sir?’

‘Eeehh curry sauce’

‘Chips and curry sauce, sir? Is that it?’

‘Eehh cheese.. d’ye haaave grahed cheese?

‘No Sir, just sliced’

‘Righ, eehh… d’ye have onion? Here, can ye put ih ina tray?’

‘Em, yes Sir, we ha…’ WHHOOOSSSHHHH! Suddenly I was nearly knocked over with the breeze created by the girl moving her head while wearing the feckin biggest earrings I’d ever seen. Then I saw what she was ordering – a roll that had two greasy fried eggs sitting on top of some chips, cheese and tomatoes. Then I got distracted wondering if the bit of material around her arse was meant to be a skirt and how had she tied her hair up so tightly, anyway, yer man decided he was happy with his order, she grabbed her anti Atkins meal and the two of them headed off to rob some cans to wash it down with pay at the till.

I blinked to make sure I had witnessed this pair ordering food. Then I thought about how wonderful love is and how these two seem so suited. Ahem. Sure if you’re lucky you’ll see a pair just like them at the end of your Friday night out in the local kebab shop!

We All Scream for Ice Cream

It’s been a lifelong affair, me & ice cream and we just know that it’s forever! I can remember the first time I ate ice cream, it was vanilla and came between two of those lovely, crispy, yellow wafers. It was quite a feat to eat all the creamy goodness and not have a dribble from your fingers right down to your wrist! But then if that happened, well, it wasn’t such a bad thing! Nor was licking your lips to see if you’d missed any! Ice pops are still another favourite. The simple sugary, flavoured water ones were always dead cheap, remember Chilly Willys? Although, that conjures up a different scenario in my head now, ahem. Before long I licked, slurped and binged my way through many a Tangle Twister and Wibbly Wobbly Wonders and if money was no object, maybe a Brunch. Ooooh, they were very grown up!

 

I remember being sent to the shop once for Mars Ice Creams. They weren’t out long and I was amazed when handing over all the money – they were something like 60p each! Each! But nice as that one was, I haven’t had too many of them since. The odd Magnum here and there perhaps. But they don’t compare to the rich, decadent feeling of my first ice cream. Vanilla was your lot and that suited me fine. However, once in a blue moon there was some, wait for it, Neapolitan! But I didn’t really like the chocolate or strawberry as much as vanilla.

 

Nowadays that I’m all grown up, I worship at the alter of Ben & Jerry. I’m telling you, the things I wouldn’t do for a bit of ‘Vanilla As It Oughta Be’! Maybe I’d even divulge a few secrets if you added in a handful of strawberries. Haagen Daas doesn’t really grab my attention; I just want to tell it to get over itself. As for Tangle Twisters, I had one the other day, Brunches, well, I had one of those a couple of weeks ago.. and I’ve just realised there’s some Ben & Jerry’s in the fridge! Yippee! Where’s my spoon?