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le singe qui rit

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  1. Quote from Fox News Speaking on US TV, Ramsay said he had been hit hard by the global recession as diners stayed away from his many restaurants and added that the threat to his business had taught him not to take customers for granted. "Heading out of global economic downturn has been tough but for me it has also been a breath of fresh air,” Ramsay said on Fox News. "The industry was getting far too arrogant, they weren’t respecting customers enough and they forgot the customers were king. "Customers just disappeared. Those that were in the restaurants weren’t drinking wine. All were on tap water.” Ramsay added that he it had been a learning curve for him that had taught him a lot about running a business. "I’m not a businessman, but I certainly don’t walk around with my head tucked up my backside. For me, it was a learning curve,” he said. Notice how he carefully deflects criticism from his own operations on to an industry-wide problem, it's 'the industry' that got too arrogant....
  2. Hi there egulleters, Very exciting, I've just bought a whole fruit juicer - it's the Prima 700w job - not exactly top of the line (£32 on ebay) but it works really well and my flatmates and I are loving it, especially combo orange/mango/apple/Ugli fruit juices. I've been buying oranges from the North End Rd. market, think they were quoting me about £8 for a box... (10Kgs? didn't check) but that's saturday only, and I'm wondering whether there's anywhere else I could pick up some fruit at trade (or similarly reasonable) prices mon-fri... even though I'm non-trade? Could I just turn up to New Convent Garden Market (where & when?) and ask nicely? any idea on prices? ideas? Any advice much appreciated!
  3. I can confirm that you can be that lucky - I bought a similar 2kg shank for £5 in Waitrose (in the UK) yesterday and frequently do buy ends that cheaply. Obviously it helps if you chat them up a bit... Think the beans idea is a good one. Maybe just cover it, simmer it for a bit and create some good stock, and then go from there. Pea & ham soup is also good, chuck in a handful of mint too.
  4. I really don't know if that counts as bolognese, some italian mamma probably turns in her grave every time I make it, but thought I'd share my own interpretation... It's an easy two part recipe I've concocted over time.... Firstly, the sauce: I use a home blender for ease, couple of cloves of garlic, medium onion, carrot, tinned/fresh (or combo) tomatoes, couple of large teaspoons tom puree, glug of red wine, whizz it up a bit so it's still rough, check seasoning. NB it's probably cheating doing it this way but it works and saves time. Secondly, the meat: I use about a kg of coarse/fine minced beef, about 300grs of pork mince (or for the royale version, wild boar), brown the beef, add the pork, and (if you can get them) a rack of smoked pork ribs - do them in the oven for a bit so the meat comes off, or string them before, or do it afterwards. Just brown all the meat and then pour over the sauce you made in the blender... Simmer for about 2hrs, stir in some basil at the end, lots of red wine, remember to check the seasoning. I make this on sunday nights so it can simmer during Top Gear and then freeze it or eat it all week long, it's really good - give it a go!
  5. It's sad but true - borough just isn't technically very, very good value... or at least not across the board. Sadly I think it puts many people off - that's what friends say when I enthuse about my weekly visit. That said there is value to be had if you hunt for it - I suppose I shouldn't give away all my personal tips, but I'm a generous, sharing sort of chap so here goes: Ginger Pig - smoked ribs (£2/3) are great for any sort of meat sauce, I make a mean bolognaise with them and I wholeheartedly second matthew on the ginger pig sausage rolls - they're outstanding. What's-the-name fishmonger Burness? Burgess? (main one in the covered market) - sell off all their fish (and there's loads left) half-price or less at about 4:15pm. Just wait for the 'half-price fish' shout when eager eyed cognoscenti (i.e. bunch of students and me) pounce... Nice lady who does the beef... farm in devon I think? she's in the uncovered bit on the left-hand side as you walk through main thoroughfare to main hall, opposite the brownie people. Beautiful beef £8/k. Worth it! get the coarse ground. Brindisa will sell you a bag of iberico bones for about £3/4 - although i've struggled previously to make the stock work for much apart from risotto - any ideas? Fruit & Veg guys - remember to haggle! they'll always do you a deal, guv'nor. I'm actually now buying most of my fruit&veg at the saturday north end rd (SW6) market - it's less pictoresque and the quality is variable but you can't really beat the 2 pineapples for £1.50, 5 mangoes for a pound type action down there. So come on, share-and-share-a-like - trade me a few of your own tips please!
  6. Hi there Egulleters, Just thought I'd share something fairly curious I discovered last night with you... My flatmate managed to consume pine nuts in a couple of restaurant meals at the weekend (salads, pesto etc.) and is now suffering from some terrible affliction where everything she eats (and I do mean everything) tastes of nothing but soapy water or metal! it's a recognised taste disturbance and apparently it can last 1-3 weeks! she's miserable because everything she tries to eat makes her feel sick. Here's the wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pine_nuts It's a problem called 'triglycerides', and seems to be confined primarily to pine nuts from china (hey - maybe they're fake pine nuts... but what would you make fake pine nuts out of?!) Anyone have any insight to share on this? I need my palate for a living so I'm not going to chance it. Too risky. Each pine nut you eat could be your last...
  7. Check out http://www.ireland-guide.com/. it's the website of Georgina Campbell who runs (probably) the best irish restaurant guide. It's very trustworthy.
  8. Just had a call from a charming F&B manager.... She apologised profusely, has had the product tested by a microbiology lab to check for all known bugs as reassurance (wasn't too worried... but that's very thorough), and has also had the product pulled until staff can be retrained and labelling corrected. She's also putting some vouchers in the post for me as recompense. Well, can't say fairer than that, can you? an exemplary response.
  9. UPDATE I'm still alive, so it's all good, however with the well-documented dangers of eating uncooked pork it's not an experience I'd want to repeat. Thanks Abra - to clarify I had another look at the pack and it does say (in very small text) 'a cuire', but if you either didn't speak french or didn't spot it... I've got the name of the selfridges F&B director so I'm going to email him and let him know regardless. And I refused to be beaten so I took the rest home last night and grilled it, and it was spectacular - I'm fantasising about using it to stuff chicken maybe? spread it under the skin on the breast? mmmmmmmmmmmmmm.....
  10. I just ate some morteau sausage for lunch - it was lightly-smoked and I got if from the cooked meat counter of selfridges, but it seemed pretty raw... are you supposed to cook it? If so I might be in trouble.. would someone please clarify (quickly! i might not have long left...)
  11. Damask at the Athenaeum (sp? god, who knows!). La Duree afternoon tea with champagne £30 I think? it's got a very, very kitsch 60/70's interior, but it actually works. It's unusual but if you fancied a change...
  12. I've just seen a '10% optional discretionary service charge' in carluccios...
  13. OK, so where are we at? more transparency? - so if you see on the menu: 'A £1.50 cover charge has been added to your bill, this is to cover fixed costs such as linen, flowers, cleaning and is added to ensure that prices charged for dishes reflect their true cost and fair mark-up' Alright, well maybe not something as wordy as that, but you get the gist... otherwise it's just - 'pay £1.50 more, you don't know what it's for and neither really do we, and we know you're unlikely to complain about a few quid in front of this girl you're trying to impress so you'll just pay it' God, I hope this doesn't sound like restaurateur-hating. I love restaurants and the people that make them, that's why I'm doing this job... striving for a fair deal, that's all.
  14. I agree it's not massive - pound or two maybe, but it's more an issue of transparency.. you're paying for something and you don't know why or what it's for, and sometimes even the restaurant/waiters don't know, & it's forced on you when you don't want it & don't ask for it. For me it just smacks of rip-off and makes me feel negatively. Doubtless a restaurateur somewhere will counter that they could equally just absorb the cost into the prices, but if you don't know what costs you're paying for with the charge in the first place...
  15. Just noticed the very new Corrigan's of Mayfair has one for example - £1.50...
  16. Hello Egulleters, Doing some restaurant reviews, central london, and keep on running into a 'cover charge' ranging from about £1.50 to £1.95. I've asked and rung to see what this covers, and responses range from bread & olives (i thought they were free, and was never asked whether I wanted them - I didn't) to 'oh, it's standard.. it covers linen and all that sort of stuff' (so does this mean if I stain a tablecloth it's double? or don't use a napkin I get a 10% discount?). I think I've paid this abroad but it always had something to do live entertainment, or sitting somewhere scenic & outdoors. Why am I paying it at a crap indoor italian restaurant in mayfair? From a sheer economics point of view, let's consider the following example: I go for lunch with a friend and I'm not that hungry so I have a salad for lunch & a glass of water, I'm paying: £11 for the dish, plus 12% service, so that's £12.32 and then plus £1.60 service charge! that's almost £14, so 27% more than I thought i was going to pay. What's the justification? is this just a nice little earner for a few sharp restaurateurs? would love to hear some feedback. Thanks! LSQR
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