Friday, 13 November 2009


My week of sobriety came to and end – and I got struck down with bug. Boo and double boo. I did manage a sneaky beer with the old boys beforehand but that has been about it. I’m so rock n roll. On the plus side I’m now fighting fit for the weekend. Monday Night Club was cancelled and Thursday night in the boozer was also a no-no. But I’m fully fit and ready to fall back off that wagon again – get me! I’ll keep you posted!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Just say no

Nothing like a week of sobriety to make you think about food….. and the wine that would go really nice with it. With only one more night to go, I’ve actually done quite well. Well, turning into a hermit does rather help!

There really is no fun in going to a pub or restaurant and just drink coke or water. I’m not saying you need to have a drink or get paralyticly drunk to have a good time as you don’t but I like a glass of wine when I go out and I’m not ashamed to say it!

I have, however, managed to cook some pretty good meals to make up for it, like the most fantastic curry ever! Sunday was a right off with the rain anyway so I settled down to a Sky Plus film watching session with my homemade winter veg curry – no Lloyd Grossman sauces for me! A concoction of spices, good dose of freshly grated ginger and garlic, blob of yogurt, handful of freshly chopped tomatoes and teaspoon of curry power I bought in Egypt and you have the most amazing homemade curry sauce ever! Add to that a selection of root veg and some cauliflower, server with rice and a naan and Bob really is your uncle!

I’m toasting the end of my week of abstaining tomorrow with a trip to Covent Garden with SOM and the jolly bean counter. Ho ho ho!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Monday Night Club goes posh

The blonde and I were joined by frisby boy this week, as Monday Night Club (MNC) went posh. I’ve never felt I could call a restaurant a friend (unless being friends with Pizza Express on Facebook counts) but the blonde can and she had a voucher on Monday to prove it!

A couple of cocktails for us – and a mocktail for frisby boy – helped set the tone for a sophisticated evening. Well it would have been if the blonde hadn’t ordered one that was basically just a glass of pure alcohol. Oh well! At £3.50 (it was another offer but alas not one involving a voucher) a pop, you can’t really go wrong.

Anyway the venue was Browns, again the Canary Wharf, and the offer was this…… get your starter or pud for free with any main course ordered, along with a glass of wine for £3 each. Bargain! Great, sorted. Only one small flaw in the plan – the waiters acted like it was the first they’d heard of it! Four of them huddled around the till, taking very loudly before one returned and tried to palm us off with another offer, which involved ordering food of a restricted (ie. cheap) menu that didn’t have the starter or main course I wanted!!! The deal was ‘order any main course’ not ‘order any main course of a restricted menu’, humpf! Not one to be diddled, the blonde sent the waiter away with a flea in this ear and he retuned, tail between this legs, with the proper menus! Let’s raise a glass to that!

The food was lovely! Crab and avocado salad followed by an oriental-style salmon with pak choi was yum. The blonde’s roasted vegetable tart was the size of a small country and tasted lovely, and frisby boy opted for the more sophisticated chorizo and prawn linguine. He even ate it with a knife and fork - well, he is posh!

Monday, 26 October 2009

Rick Stock

A glass of Chalky’s bike and some posh crisps, followed by a two-course Eastern inspired meal – washed down with some prosecco is a perfect way to spend a Saturday evening. Rick Stock was huge success and worth the two and a half hours of preparation time I spent in the kitchen Saturday afternoon blending, chopping and pulsing away to make various aromatic pastes and concoctions. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that a trip to Waitrose was all that was needed to stock up on the exotic ingredients I needed to make it – result!

The starter was Vietnamese banh tom (otherwise known as prawn and potato fritters) and Balinese satai lilit (or seafood satay). I was really worried about the fritters, as raw spuds cut into matchsticks, smothered in a beige batter don’t really look that appetising - and they didn’t look much better when they were cooked either – ekk! But Rick, AKA God, knew what he was doing when he added it to his book. The secret of this little dish is how you eat it. You break the fritters into smaller pieces and wrap them, alongside some fresh mint and coriander, into a little gem lettuce leaf. You then dip the lettuce pancake into a ginger, lime and chilli sauce and Bob’s your yummy Uncle. The seafood satay was every bit as good as I was hoping. I used coley and prawn but you can use any white fish. Probably better it cooked on a BBQ or flame grill but my little oven-grill did them proud!

The main course was a Thai fish curry, jungle style served with fragrant yellow rice. Jungle curries are not made with coconut milk so are generally much hhhhhhhotter. The sauce looks a bit like a gravy and it’s packed full of ginger, lemon grass, along with various different types of red and green chilli and spices. The yellow rice, which is cooked in coconut milk, helped cool it down a bit and the whole meal was lovely. However, as turmeric is in most of the dishes I spent the evening with yellow hands and nails, making me took like a smoker with a 90 a day habit! Still, it was worth it! Rick and Chalky would’ve been proud!

Monday, 19 October 2009

Last week

Monday night club went down market last week, as it took to the road and ended up at the local Wetherspoon’s. Just to try and claw back some credibility here – it was a Wetherspoon’s-in-the-Whalf, not a Chavtastic-kids-and-old-men-necking-cheap-beer Wetherspoon’s, so I think that gives it brownie points as a credible place to go to. Anyway, continuing the bargain theme a bottle of rose costs just £7.49 and the place has nice comfortable sofas. Also and, probably because it was a Monday, it was actually quite quiet.

So you can imagine mine and the blonde’s surprise when two unisex looking people plonked themselves on the sofa opposite! We were even more surprised when, after polishing off some dogfood smelling nachos, they push the empty, licked bowl to our side of the table! How rude!! You don’t get that sort of behaviour at All Bar One, that’s for sure. Maybe there is no such thing as a credible Wetherspoon’s after all…….. Anyway, two plates of fried lard and another bottle of pink plonk later, the blonde and I skipped home and it seems the Monday Night Club (MNC) tradition is set to continue!

Tuesday and Wednesday were busy both work and gym wise but Thursday saw a trip to the lovely Thai place I mentioned last week. It was quiet, which I think is a sign of the times, but the food was even better than I remembered. Fish cakes decorated with purple Chaba flowers (pictured left) followed by Thai green curry with prawns and coconut rice (served in a coconut shell), washed down with a chilled bottle of white was just what the busy week needed. And I loved the brightly coloured edged prawn crackers they served in a basket on arrival – must get a picture of them next time!

Friday was a less glamorous affair - frozen pizza and a glass of red while babysitting. Well, it can’t all be glitz, can it? Next Saturday has been dubbed Rick Stock as I’ll be cooking a meal from Rick Stein’s latest cook book. Rick, or god as I sometimes refer to him, is one of my all time favourite food heroes and I’ll be spending most of Friday evening and Saturday morning shopping, chopping, blending and preparing a meal that will make the Stein-meister and his late little friend Chalky proud. Watch this space for more!!!!

Sunday, 11 October 2009

The weekend

Well, after several JD’s on Thursday it soon became clear why the Chinese was the most popular choice for the Thursday night pose – it’s closest of the three options to the pub! Well, that was easier to solve than the riddle of the Sphinx!

Anyway, Friday was a stupidly busy day work-wise. Call me old fashioned but by 3pm I expect to be winding down and getting into weekend mode, not typing with such a speed that steam is coming off my keyboard. So, when a last minute dinner invitation arrived into my inbox at about 4.30pm, I jumped at the chance as going home and cooking was the last thing I really wanted to do.

So I spent the evening at a lovely traditional place ran by the Italian mother and father I never had. Mama’s menu and decor have never changed in the seven years since I’ve lived here – and neither have her prices – and every meal somehow ends up seeing too much food being eaten, and too much red wine and black Sambuca’s being drunk!!! I think the glasses they use must be bottomless...........

Mushroom Popeye (mushrooms stuffed with spinach and baked in garlic butter) for starter and a portion of freshly-made cannelloni together cost less than a £10 – I’m telling you, the place is a total hidden gem. Even their steaks cost less than a tenner and you don’t need a magnifying glass to find them either. Mama’s has been running for almost 30 years now and its customers are all regulars who are made to feel part of the family. They even do a set meal (three courses, coffee and a bottle of wine for two for £38!!!!) but the prices are so cheap, going a la carte doesn’t usually end up costing too much more.

Anyway........ let’s just say Saturday morning’s Body Pump class was a major struggle. I’m sure it was red wine and not sweat oozing out of my pores!!!!!!

Thursday, 8 October 2009


I like Thursday. Not only is it the new Friday but it also means that the worst part of the week (ie. the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday bit is over and done with) and my thoughts start turning away from work and towards the weekend. Slight fly in the ointment this week is the fact that tomorrow is another early start for me but that won’t stop the regular Thursday night club from meeting.

This, in case you’re wondering is a few JD and cokes in the local boozer (served in my own glass, which is kept behind the bar and only used by yours truly – get me!) before dinner at one of the local restaurants that are stumbling distance from home. Not that I’m a creature of habit you understand…

So on the cards tonight is either a curry, Chinese or Thai.

The curry house was one the nicest curry house in town until the lovely owner and his scary-but-quite-nice-deep-down matriarch wife decided to sell up and go travelling about 18 months ago. The new owner is a wanna be actor (I’m an actor know, I’m in the next James Bond, Batman, Pirates of the Caribbean film and am on screen for a millionth of a nanosecond, second from the back in a crowd scene..) who doesn’t really want to be running a restaurant. Luckily the lovely team who used to work there are still on board and the food is still amazing – and really cheap, plus it’s bring your own, which is a result. Shame you have to listen to him drone on while you eat it but you can’t have everything. I have is the fish dishes, which are actually salmon. The fish bhuna, fish saag and bagan (auberguine) dishes are all lush!

You get quite the opposite welcome at the Chinese! The two people who run it are like chalk and cheese. One is really chatty and welcoming, and is happy to say open late if you’re still eating or arrive at 10pm after staying for an extra drink in the pub, the other… isn’t! She doesn’t smile, make small talk and actually gives you the impression she’s prefer to be giving you a terminal illness instead of serving you a meal! I reason I still go there is this. It is not a bad Chinese place. Not the best in the world but it’s better than the local alternatives and it does dishes like sizzling cod with ginger and spring onion, crab with asparagus, aubergine in black bean sauce and squid with chilli and salt – all of which I love!!

Which takes me to the Thai place - you always get a warm welcome there, the food is nice and the service is really good. In fact I have no idea why I don’t go there more often….. maybe I’ll put it to the Thursday night posse tonight at the local boozer (more about that another time!). I’ll let you know what they say tomorrow….