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alex james

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  1. Methinks that fine of a bottle of Chablis needs to be payable somewhere. Me please. Just to get back to the topic, this home cook drinks the last of the beer I was drinking when fixing dinner (can't cook without inputting beer.) Otherwise wine but not too often.
  2. It is surely the availability of home refrigeration plus the existence of semi-edible pre-cooked "food" in the supermarkets. Thus those (married or thereabouts) ladies who thought that they had to cook (because of maternal/cultural influences) but were no use at it could revert to "convenience" foods. A century ago,that was impossible. So now cooking is for the hobbyist - me for example. And there continues to be the problem (in the UK at least which is where I am posting from) that the vast majority of the population have no, or limited perception, of decent food. Such people eat garbage from birth and do not appreciate or are unaware of the good stuff. I speak as a victim - I was well into my twenties before I realised that food was anything more tham fuel. Most folk never get beyond that point. So they eat garbage with no awareness of any alternative. Most regrettable but not all bad. Do I want more folk competing for my supply of Dexter beef? Do I f##k!
  3. OP needs to be aware that there is a tube strike on 26 December. Some sort of service might be run but the usual cheap route to Heathrow via the Piccadilly line is going to be difficult or non-existent. Heathrow Express off Paddington is a more expensive alternative. A cab would be ruinous.
  4. alex james

    Stock bomb

    I've had the same problem with chicken stock. Not to the extent of it ending up all over the shop but violent bubbling which is mildly annoying. It only seems to occur with me when reducing filtered, defatted and otherwise finished stock. What I do not understand is why I've never had the same problem with beef stock. Might it be a difference in particle size?
  5. Just a word of warning about the SVS - it makes a right mess if the thermostat fails as mine did a few months ago. Customer service thereafter was very poor. The facts (we are dealing with a machine that had been used a dozen or so times before - not a brand new piece of kit)..... The payload was chuck steak, home made beef stock and similar confit onion. About 2lb in total. It had been set up on a Saturday at about 50C. All was well when I left the house on Sunday morning and similarly when my wife left at about 7.50pm. When we returned at 9.30pm the thermostat had failed and the temperature gauge was showing 100.5C. The bag had broken and steam filled the kitchen. An unwholesome meat solution was congealing all over the romm - a vile mess. And very smelly. A gallon or so of liquid had escaped, still some left in the machine so it had not boiled dry. I emailed SVS and a representative phoned to apologise. A major concern of mine was that the machine would have boiled dry if left for another hour and would presunably have caught fire. The SVS representative gave me a line about not having had the problem before and sought to reassure me that a further thermostat would have disabled the machine thus preventing a fire. Quite why this clown came out with such a line is beyond me - if thermostat 1 fails I'm supposed to believe that thermostat 2 would have saved the day. That stretches my credulity a tad too far. Anyway, the UK agents for SVS sent a new machine by courier in exchange for the old. More useless customer service here. If I was running SVS customer services and such an unusual and potentially dangerous problem developed (first time ever according to them but I do not believe that either)I would organise a member of staff to deliver a replacement at my customer's preferred time rather than leaving that customer to wait on some useless courier service who can predict their arrival no more accurately than am or pm. So I waste a morning on that. I'm pleased to say that the replacement machine is working OK so my downside is no more than a loss of ingredients, half a day waiting for a replacement to arrive plus some tedious kitchen clean up time. So we have a poor reliability/bad component problem combined with bad customer service (no offer of compensation for cash, time & aggravation etc.) If I had any foreknowledge of that I would not have purchased the machine.
  6. Lambs brains. The shape and particularly the texture. Ugh. I'm still traumatised and it was nearly 30 years ago.
  7. I love breakfast. My problem is the calories consumed as has been mentioned above. I now feed my cravings at weekends only. Weekday intake is a traditional English breakfast ie a mug of tea, a read of the paper and a smoke. Not to be confused with a full English breakfast which is of course bacon, eggs etc. The peculiar thing about it is that I seem to have trained my metabolism into being aware of what day of the week it is. I rarely wake up hungry on weekdays; I quite often wake up hungry at weekends.
  8. alex james

    The Egg Sandwich

    Brown sauce in a UK context is a bottled sweetish, vinegary condiment. The best known brand is HP but there are many others. Filthy stuff in my opinion. But its popular. Greasy spoon cafes will have it on the table. Better quality places will not.
  9. The extractor fan above my gas range scores highly on any skankiness index. Airborne grease gets sucked in whilst cooking and congeals within. Next time a gas burner is lit, it uncongeals and drips out around the edge of a light fitting. Big brown blobs of gooey horror. I think I intercept most of them but I'm sure that some will drop into the food cooking below. Cleaning the contraption has no effect. The stuff is probably not dangerous in any way but aesthetically....
  10. Main reason why you might wish to reward staff directly via cash rather than undirectly via a credit card is the proportion of the credit card payment that disappears as tax etc before it can reach those that are to be rewarded. The numbers for £10 of tip with the maximum possible going through the payroll run like this. £1.49 VAT £0.20 Credit card commission (might well be higher) £1.06 Employer National Insurance (based on £8.31 left after the deductions above) £0.91 Employee NI £1.66 Income tax at 20% ----- £4.68 Net to employee ===== I think I know which way I'd prefer it to be done if I was working in a restaurant and I reckon I would take the same view if I was the proprietor. And the cash on the table method is completely legal for the restaurant as long as management have no control over who gets what in the way of tips. The recipients do of course have a responsibility to report such receipts to the taxman but in practice very few will do so.
  11. AoE is by far the best food magazine that I have ever read. And the most expensive - bad enough for you Americans but a lot worse for us overseas subscribers. I read just about every word although I sometimes flag when the subject matter delves into the utterly obscure. Congratulations to EB on keeping it going without having to resort to taking adverts.
  12. My dislike of Leeds is both long standing and deeply held. It started with a foul by Jack Charlton on the Arsenal goalkeeper during the 1970 League Cup Final. Events since that date have largely exacerbated matters. Thus I was delighted when Peter Ridsdale and others ruined the football club and it was twice relegated . No more tedious treks to Elland Road for me - hooray. But circumstances change and I find myself spending regular weekends in Leeds. Having read glowing reviews of Anthonys here and elsewhere, and curious as to why Michelin consistently fail to award a *, I take myself there to see what the fuss is all about. I agree with the vast majority who think the place to be excellent. I am now amongst the many who are mystified by Michelin's stance. My limited criticisms are that the bar area is a bit of a mess and some of the "art" on the dining room walls would best be utilised as the lining for a skip. Neither of those points are, of course, anywhere near a reason to withhold a *. So it must be something else: it cannot be the food or service. Perhaps it is some residual football based prejudice such as mine. I'm mindful of the fact that Leeds supporters caused a great deal of trouble in Paris at the time of the 1975 European Cup Final. Is it possible that Michelin continue to bear a grudge because of that? And whilst I have your attention, is there anywhere else good in Leeds? I gained the impression from somewhere that 3 Yorke Place was decent but was severely disappointed by dinner there. I'm aware that Salvo's is well regarded but I'm wary of places that do not take reservations - tis a bit cold for queueing at the moment.
  13. Recent report as requested upthread. I'm not even sure that its within the normal meaning of restaurant. As most other reviewers point out, its eating in somebody's house. Quite hard to spot as well - a small sign over the door of a detached "country Georgian" house in a nondescript suburb of Grantham, a town of limited charms. Its best described as opposite the Recruiting Sergeant - the one and only pub in Great Gonerby. Great place. But probably best suited to folk who hate large and noisy places. Harry's is the antithesis of that. Just tables for six and four last Saturday evening. There is another table but I think it is not in use for diners. Mrs J and I were on the table for four. Caroline Hallam is a one woman FOH operation and she is very good at it. We started with a glass of kir and moved on to an amuse of little goats cheese tarts. Extremely good. Thereafter there is a choice of two for each of three courses. Sounds excessively restrictive but its not. To start was an onion soup (£9) which was described as "good but a bit sweet" by Mrs J. I neglected to steal some because I was busy with an excellent crab terrine (on the menu as a ceviche) with horseradish mayo and a few leaves. Stiffly priced at £16 tho'. Next up was a choice between halibut or Gascon pork with duck foie gras and apple. Both of us took the porcine option at £35. I think it was a slice of loin but I'm unsure of the point. I've no idea what Harry does to it because the texture was a complete novelty to me. Tasted good and came with a neutralish jus and some excellent saute potatoes. A secondary garnish of raw carrots/broad beans/peas with herbs and a little mayo struck me as slightly discordant. I think I prefer cooked vegetables with a warm pork dish. Mrs J and I again departed from reviewing best practice by having the same dessert - a caramel foam with raspberries and strawberries on the side. Light sweet and very moreish. The wine list is about a dozen or so each of reds and whites. My only area of (very limited) expertise is Burgundy which I generally refuse to drink in restaurants because paying thrice retail for anything half decent is too injurious to the wallet. Thus I was doing it by guesswork and hit on a good Sicilian white and a serviceable red Rioja. Bill was £192 to include two coffees and a large Armagnac. The place is expensive for Michelin 1* or 1.5* food but the ambience is unlike any other restaurant I've ever been in. Particularly so on the evening concerned. The six top no showed and Caroline advised that there was no reply on the contact cellphone number provided. Its depressing that people smart enough to know about the place should behave so disgracefully. Harry did not quite agree with my assertion that searching out the culprits and killing them amounts to justifiable homicide. Given that the place is reservation only and the probability of a replacement by way of a speculative walk up is nil, methinks the deliberate deprivation of 75% of an independent's evening turnover is or should be a capital offence. Or deserving of a good kicking at least. Harry's is well worth a visit. But if you aim to stay overnight in the area, avoid the Angel and Royal in Grantham. Its a dump and there is no other alternative other than the usual cheapo chain places. Caroline advises that there are a few good B & B's in the area so her advice should be sought when booking.
  14. It seems to me that rather a lot of spin is being put on this tale of his financial woes. Some of the problem results from an ill timed expansion of his top end restaurant empire. But an awful lot of it appears to result from him having been turned over by the taxman. The media reports that the company has a large debt to the taxman and that GR is simultaneously guaranteeing company debt whilst personally owing money to the company. This is a situation that will almost never occur in a properly run concern. But it is commonplace in a company where the taxman has demonstrated that company income has been diverted into the directors' pockets and/or that personal expenses of the directors have been paid by the company. Looks like a good few million went down one or both of those routes. It takes ages for the statutory accounts to be signed off by auditors in these circumstances which may well be why they were filed so very late. So GR's PR people are presenting it as a botched expansion plan ie something that is likely to elicit some sympathy. It does not work for me.
  15. Thanks chaps. Would like to try Sat Bains' place but whilst its easily driveable, there is too much potential for me to disagree with the constabulary on appropriate blood/alcohol ratios. Last train from Nottingham is far too early. Other suggestions seem to be outside my idea of reasonable cab range. Bapi - I'm merely a contributor to that ordinary bassist's wealth from buying a few records when his band were good. My nom de bandwidth is in homage to a brilliant footballer of yesteryear. Probably the best inside left ever - the bassist would have to improve to reach the cube root of his eponym's talent.
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