Blogathon 05/17: Favourite snackage

Continuing the weekend of postings of the less-seriousnesses

Shall we start at the beginning?

Sandwich?

Sandwich

Or bap?

Bap

And if bap, soft or crusty?

And if sandwich, brown, white, or wholemeal?

Inside it, butter or spread?

And then the filling.

Bacon?

Or BLT?

Sausage?

Fried egg?

Ham and tomato?

Cheese?

Sliced or grated?

And pickle?

And maybe tomato again?

And then…

If sandwich, plain, or toasted?

Ketchup or brown sauce?

So very many questions.

Most motorbikers seem to live for the semi-traditional bacon sandwich on white bread with brown sauce (HP, of course).

Bacon sandwich

Just writing that got me excited.

I may need a moment or two to calm down.

[later]

When I was Eventing, my favourite post-competition snack (because what lunatic would eat before competing?) would be a fried egg sandwich on white with brown sauce.

Fried egg sandwich

Oh, God, I need to have a couple of minutes again.

[time passes]

So those magnificent foods sit high on my list of top snackages, but there are other excellent choices.

At home, grated cheese and pickle (preferably toasted, and with optional sliced tomato) is the king of snackage.

And, away from the heat and fire of the kitchen, there is little wrong with the humble crisp sandwich (cheese & onion flavoured, obviously).

Crisp sandwich

So.

If you haven’t strayed in to the kitchen whilst reading this, what’s your favourite bread-related tipple?

The Gods Of Food Are Conspiring Against Me

Cooking shit ain’t what it used to be

 

I’ve never had a really large repertoire in the kitchen.

Cooking for me is a hassle, but a necessary one.

Obv.

I dislike those cookery programmes with a deeply-held and profound sense of loathing.

They are all a load of pretentiousness, served up on a bed of rocket with some strawberry coolis, on a slate.

A fucking slate.

I ask you.

When did roofing materials start to become something we ate our food off?

What’s next?

Restaurants will be serving your prawn spritzer from the tailpipe of a 1973 Ford Cortina?

Anyway.

I digress.

Back to my repertoire in the kitchen.

And I mean cooking, not swearing or doing the washing up.

Though I am hella good at the last two in that sentence.

There’s a cottage pie. Made with minced Quorn.

And a pretty mean spag bol. Made with minced Quorn.

And a pasta dish (which isn’t the main feature ‘cos that’s the sauce which changes massively every time I make it).

And a sweet and sour stir fry (easy on the ginger, heavy on the pineapple, medium on peppers but chuck in some mange tout and don’t forget to fold in the rice for a flash-fry before serving). Made with chicken. Or chicken Quorn. It’s up to you.

And there’s a chicken (or Quorn) stir fry (lots of teriyaki sauce, a touch of soy, and about half the quantity of teriyaki of Worcester sauce, and frozen peas added straight from the freezer for the flash-fry when you fold in the rice).

I suppose those are my main runners and riders.

Anything else is an also-ran.

So I’ve been dicking around (to use a well-known cookery expression) with the chicken stir fry for the last three Tuesdays.

There’s a reason for the Tuesday thing which I’m not going to reveal here, but it involves my double-life as a secret agent for the CIA.

The dicking around has, to a point, been successful.

Except last week, when the chicken tasted like the sole of a well-used Wellington boot.

I mean it was rough, tough, and rubbery (insert racist Chinese joke here and I’ll kick your arse out of town, OK?).

So this week I didn’t cook with Ocado’s worst finest chicken (because it isn’t fine, obv).

I cooked with Morrison’s average chicken.

Which was absofuckinglutely lovely.

But the rice (Ocado’s own-brand long grain) let the side down very badly.

Very very badly.

In fact, Ocado’s own-brand long grain rice let the side down like Wayne Rooney at a grab the granny competition, in a Scunthorpe nightclub on a Monday night.

If that’s even possible.

Over half an hour to cook (despite the ‘simmer for 10-11 minutes’ instructions on the packet).

And it still had more bite that Theresa May at PMQs.

Mind you, that’s not a lot of bite, going by last week’s piss-poor performance.

But enough of politics, and back to the kitchen.

I want to give up on the Tuesday night chickenarama.

The Food Gods have had their laugh.

Chicken with the consistency of a Goodyear that’s done 25,000 miles.

Rice that won’t fucking cook.

Nah. I’m done with it.

Next Tuesday I’m going to flip over to one of my other tried and tested.

The trouble is, I’m likely to be the only one who will eat it.

Because the Cottage Pie has peas, mushrooms and onion in it.

Blogathon 22/13 Decisions!

DSC_0345

 

 

photo editor, can you change this picture please!

 

 

 

 

 

Tonight is, apparently, a ‘boys night out’.

There will be three of us. Two are due to arrive at my house at 7pm; we shall go out and eat and drink and be merry.

The two will stay the night at my house.

We could confine our activities to an evening in town, or we could get ourselves in to Oxford.

I’m thinking of an evening in town: Blue Boar, Company of Weavers, Hollybush, Eagle Tavern, and maybe The Fleece?

I need to make up the beds for my guests.

Or I could cancel – because of a crippling but temporary illness – and have a quiet night in with a mug of hot chocolate,  a plate of pasta and a DVD?

Hmm.

Decisions, decisions.

Battered but not unbowed

It’s 08.15 local, or 15.15 BST.

I’ve just crawled out of bed after 10 hours sleep; my body aches with with the kind of pain that only comes from being unconscious for a long period of time.

Or maybe a cryogenically-induced state of suspended animation.

The flight over was excellent; the United Airlines cabin-crew were brilliant, the 777-200 did what it was supposed to do and the inflight entertainment was a bizarre, but erm entertaining mix.

We started to record this week’s show in the departure lounge at LHR, we added a little more from 30,000′ and +500 miles an hour. We’ll finish it off today and publish it later.

There will be, obv, very little chat, but we will still carry four tracks.

En-route I watched ‘Sleeper’ which, despite it’s age, still made me laugh out loud several times.

‘Monsters Inc’ got itself watched again.

Also seen was the woefully pedestrian ‘The Tourist’, in which Depp and Jolie did nothing much whilst a pastiche of brilliantly scored orchestral music set the scene for the next turgid piece of dialogue, delivered against yet another internationally renown backdrop, for no really good reason.

However that pile of garbage was the perfect set up for the brilliant ‘Wild Target’, a funny, sharp action/comedy pic that cost less than 8% of ‘The Tourist’ and yet ‘Wild Target’ is a better film by slightly more than 150%. Bill Nighy delivers a perfect foil to the kooky character played by Emily Blunt.

Arrival at LAX produced no surprises and reinforced the bond between the UK and the US even further.

If you think that only the British customs and border patrol would have just three officers on duty to deal with a 777 full of sleepy, bewildered passengers, I need to tell you that’s how they swing in LAX too.

We picked up the car and got sold an upgrade, but we did talk the guy out of giving us an SUV.

Driving from LAX to E 7th Street was made difficult due to a couple of closed roads. We understand this was entirely due to Obama being in town. We’re seeing him for dinner tomorrow.

Soph had one brain explosion, three full-on heart attacks and two minor myocardial infarctions en route. I failed to hit anything even though a lot of other traffic was on the wrong side of the road. Cyclists and pedestrians don’t count, right?

On the way to the hotel we drove past Nakatomi Plaza/Century City. I was very disappointed that Alan Rickman wasn’t in residence; the police were most insistent that we leave as we were on private property.

The room is brilliant, as is the rest of the club. We’re on our own when we leave LA; picking up overnight accommodation as we go, but I wanted us to start off from a solid base. This place is it.

We ate in last night, the restaurant is pleasant and the kitchen gave me the perfect pasta-based dish; the cellar offered me some nice Rioja to accompany it.

And Soph got told ‘Gee, I love your accent’, but the chatting-up waiter dude.

Today, breakfast will be followed by us being camera-toting, microphone-wielding tourists, as we hit Hollywood.

And that’s it, really.

I hear that, back in the UK, there are still people who ‘don’t get’ the need to switch the voting system from First Past The Post to AV.

Presumably these are the same people who vote on X-Factor, Big Brother and Britain’s Got Talent – which are all, obv, AV methods of selecting the best candidate.

Because if Britain’s Got Talent used First Past The Post we would have elected a tap-dancing dog. And if that’s not a metaphor for ‘Vote Cameron’, I don’t know what is.

A weekend of tired

Another in the ‘this post was written some time ago, but has only just been posted because we don’t have broadband’ series.

Tired.

On Saturday morning I went to the library for half an hour, and then moved to Hackett’s restaurant.

In the afternoon I met Alex James, off of Blur. And cheese.

Nice bloke. He was in the local cinema with his wife and kids. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to have a brief chat and shake his hand.

I was buying tickets for The Adjustment Bureau. Alex and his family were going to see something more child-friendly.

A couple of hours before I met Alex, I put this weekend’s show out; the reason I went to Hackett’s.

Re-reading the shownotes, we seem to have covered a huge amount of conversational ground that included subjects as diverse as an email from Russell Brand (about his genitalia), to the unfortunately cancelled interviews with both Charlie Sheen and Ian (aka the Omaha poet).

Anyway.

The Adjustment Bureau was a good film. Anticlimactic, in the last reel, but a well-made version of a Philip K. Dick novel; ‘Inception-Lite’ is how I have heard it descrbed, a little unfairly, I feel. The Adjustment Bureau and Inception are completely different stories, they operate on distinct levels.

Sunday was a less frenetic affair.

Breakfast in bed followed by a snooze followed by a trip in to town and an All Day Breakfast (which was, in the most Hobbit-like of ways, a Second Breakfast); then back home to gather our thoughts.

I was going to wash my car while Sophie did the ironing (for which I love her just a little more), but I got distracted; Sophie put a Harry Potter film on and it was one I hadn’t seen before.

So that was that.

Two hours later and I hadn’t moved off the couch.

Not because I had become transfixed by the exploits of a fictional 14-year old boy; because I was desperately tired.

I’ve had a bunch of very bad nights in the last few weeks; nights when my ‘being asleep’ hours have been heavily outnumbered by my ‘being awake’ hours. And that is clearly not good.

Let’s face it; I enjoy spending a day at work in a tired state as much as I enjoy undertaking the long daily commute there and back in a state of tiredness.

Not at all.

So I have these periods of time when all I want to do is just sit and zone out. And sometimes doze. It’s all part of recharging; of catching up on sleep, getting rest.

Away from work I am trying to spend as much time as possible in ‘thinking’ and ‘planning’ modes.

I have so many projects stacked up on my ‘to do’ list that I seem to re-prioritise them at least twice a week; almost all of them are writing projects, though two are video-related, and one of those is to complete an video-editing job for an engineering company.

But the continued lack of broadband is a solid obstruction to finishing that.

I’d like to take a couple of weeks holiday, lock myself in the studio, fuel myself on Latte and just get on and do things.

But work – the day job – takes precedence, obv; being self-employed means that taking time off is an unpaid pursuit, even taking time off to complete various pieces of work and a commission or two.

Which is why we’re planning a trip to the US, to coincide with a lump of bank holidays and the Royal wedding.

Probably not bad for you

I love the way the cautionary words of the government’s Chief Scientist are either being translated in, or ignored by, the media.

What Andrew Wadge actually said was (my emphasis):

‘The committee (Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes) has confirmed that meat from cloned cattle (and the offspring of cloned cattle) shows no substantial difference to conventionally produced meat and milk and therefore it is unlikely to present a food safety risk.’

Is it possible to squeeze more caveats in to one sentence?

But the scary thing is that this sentence effectively opens the way for cloned meat to be sold, unlabelled as cloned meat, in the UK.

After what length of testing?

  • 1 year?
  • 2 years?
  • 5 years?
  • 10 years?
  • 25 years?

No.

Six months.

That’s comforting, isn’t it? That’s less testing than Thalidomide had.

Guilty guilty guilty secret

That little critter is my new addiction. It is *gorgeous*.

But that’s not the problem.

When bought in a ‘value’ pack of eight bars, they cost £0.15p each. I know! How unbelievable is that for a ‘Topic’-sized bar of goodness?

£0.15p?

Excellent!

And having 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 no bars of chocolate kicking around the house can be a problem.

But my guilty secret is they come from…

Lidl.

I know.

Shoot me now.

Don’t judge me

My tummy feels as though it’s approximately the size of a Spacehopper. That’s one of these:

Why?

Because the Lovely Soph has treated me to an Epic Tea, The Food Of Kings And Emperors.

Macaroni cheese, chips and baked beans. Followed by a mug of tea and lots of Cadbury’s Caramel.

I feel replete.

Good word, that. Replete.

Anyway, a bit of nerdy web-stuff because I am, occasionally, a teensy bit nerdy.

Web-developers have a constant battle making sure that their applications are rendered correctly by the many web-browsers – and the different versions of the many web-browsers that are out there.

Some web-developers use browser-emulators and I found a nifty little browser-emulator for the worst known web-browser in the history of worst web-browsers ever.

So if you’re in the business, here’s the ultimate IE6 emulator.

Meanwhile.

I have been watching Watchdog!, the BBC’s consumer television show. And as a result I am suffering from a severe case of motorbike envy.

The Kawasaki Ninja ZZR1400 they use is absolutely beautiful.

Isn’t it gorgeous?

*drool*

In other news.

I need to do some urgent audio editing; the interviews from the Sam Manicom Tortillas to Totems book-launch need to be segmented, backed and scheduled for inclusion in to the show, the audio is overdue.

And tomorrow is podcast night.

And I need to get a show for UKHDRadio recorded and over to the studio.

So that’s top food and motorbike envy done, audio editing and three hours of music to be done.

Sometimes my life is so good!

Stuffed, eventually

Restaurant review: The Rose Revived, Newbridge, Witney, OX29 7QD

The in-laws came down from Worcestershire today, so we toddled down to the Rose Revived for lunch.

The Rose Revived is a country pub/restaurant with accommodation. Part of the Old English Inns chain, the pub is located about halfway between Witney and Abingdon, on the banks of the river Thames.

The location is an idyllic spot for a visit; surrounded by rural countryside on the northern bank of the gently-flowing river, this must be a lovely place to sit and sip and take in the scenery on a warm evening.

But we were there, on Bank Holiday Monday, for lunch.

Our table was booked for 1.15pm and we walked in at… 1.15pm.

There were long queues at the left- and right-hand bar, but we chose wisely and were served drinks quicker than the folk in the other line.

Unfortunately, as we ordered our drinks, we were told that there was a waiting time of one hour for main-course meals.

Gulp!

I’m not sure we really considered walking out. We had, after all, booked to eat at the Rose Revived; it wasn’t as if we were opportunist drop-in punters, we wanted to be there.

By 1.25pm we had ordered (2x Lamb Shank, 1x well done Sirloin Steak, 1x Cumberland Sausage and Mash and 1x Peppered Mushroom suet pudding and mashed potato) and sat back to sip our drinks and while away an hour with conversation.

Sadly, 2.25pm came and went.

So did 3pm.

One hour and 40 minutes after ordering, our meal arrived.

At this point it’s worth noting a couple of points

  • Many customers around us were loudly complaining about the amount of time it was taking to have food delivered
  • Some customers negotiated a refund of their meal costs, and walked out
  • The serving staff were doing their best to deal with people who become increasingly unhappy, and they were managing very well in the face of adversity

When it eventually arrived, four out of the five diners were more than happy with their food. Unfortunately, the ‘well done’ Sirloin Steak was far from being ‘well done’, as you can plainly see:

The diner who had ordered the steak declined to return the dish, in view of the hour and 40 minutes it had taken to have his meal delivered in the first place. Begrudgingly and grumblingly he put up with it.

The other four diners in our party had no such problems; plates were quickly cleared of main courses and side-orders.

There were no issues with our desserts; they were ordered, very quickly delivered and, almost as quickly dispatched.

It has to be said that the quality of all desserts and four out of five of the main courses was exemplary.

But one main course was clearly unsatisfactory, and it was not returned because of the extraordinary length of time it took to be delivered in the first place.

There is something fundamentally wrong with a kitchen when the waiting time for a main course is almost an hour and three-quarters from the time of ordering.

The Rose Revived is in a lovely spot, it’s a pleasing, well-tended, clean and comfortable venue; the serving-staff are pleasant and work hard under difficult circumstances.

But the management of the Inn need to ask themselves this one, simple question: at what point does it become acceptable to keep customers waiting over 1-1/2 hours for their main course?

Based on today’s experience, despite the gorgeous location and despite the cheerful, helpful serving staff, I am unable to advise anyone to visit the Rose Revived for a meal. In fact, based on one hour and forty minutes waiting time and a steak that was distinctly under-cooked, I can only advise people to give the Rose Revived a miss.

A weekend planned – and unplanned

Yesterday, while I was driving back to the yard from Highclere Horse Trials, I had one of those ‘I’m going to fall asleep any minute now’ moments. I think it was the combination of not enough sleep last week and being out all day at Highclere. So I took a breather and tried to snap out of it but the tiredness only receded, it didn’t vanish. I diverted home, deciding that I was too tired to ride. I haven’t seen enough of the horses this week, it wasn’t an easy choice, but it was the sensible one.

Neighbours can be weird things. Last night ours were setting off fireworks – very loud ‘whooshing’ rockets. They sounded like teenagers – the neighbours, not the rockets. I’m beginning to wonder if the house is occupied by a bunch of students. I’ve tried to work out what they could be up to, setting off rockets, but can’t come up with any sensible answers. Apart from the fact that they’re selfish twats who don’t care about disturbing the peace and quiet that other people might be enjoying.

Daughter sent me an email yesterday afternoon; she asked if any schools near where I live specialise in drama and acting. She’s always been keen on following acting as a career. Evidently the schools in Spain don’t tick the right boxes any longer and she is now setting her sights further afield. I feel sorry for the rest of the world.

Daughter

Sophie’s laptop is throwing out WiFi connectivity drops. Yesterday evening I planned that I would go to Maplin to pick up a new PCI WiFi card on Sunday afternoon, and then go up to the yard to ride. And then we went to bed and eventually slept.

Insomnia landed at 1.20am. My throat was incredibly dry and I felt dehydrated; I’d love to know what I was up to for the first five hours of sleep. I went downstairs, drank two pints of water, did a little internetting for a couple of hours and went back to bed.

Waking at 9.15am feels just a little bit… sinful. 9.15 is so late to be waking up! I made us breakfast in bed, then I showered, shaved, teethed and then… went back to bed. We read, we did stuff, we fell asleep and I woke up at 2pm. So much for my going in to Maplin and riding plans! I tottered downstairs and started on some overdue webdesign and email stuff. About an hour later those same pesky neighbours started letting off fireworks again – another clutch of loudly ‘whooshing’ rockets. I hate people, sometimes. Soph tottered downstairs and we agreed that people are generally thoughtless twunts, and if they really needed to let off rockets they should do so in the privacy of their own home. And then I realised I was hungry, so second breakfast was had.

Beans on toast x4 and a cheese & onion roll

During the early morning awakenings I had an idea for a video promo for the podcast. I’ve started jotting down the ideas in a kind of ‘shooting script’ sort of way.  There are six scenes to be filmed, here are the first five:

  1. Shot of inside of empty pub
  2. Shot of inside of empty restaurant
  3. Shot of inside of empty library
  4. Shot of inside of empty car park
  5. Shot of inside of empty church

Ideally, I wanted a shot of an empty street scene for shot 5, but I’m not sure that’s achievable.

Advertising people talk shit. There was just an advert on the television that included the words, ‘Timotei searches the world for precious natural ingredients…’ – which, presumably, extends to ‘Timotei are going to rape the planet for, rip these precious natural ingredients out of their natural environment and cram these precious natural ingredients in to their distinctly average hair products’.  Because why else would Timotei include precisely that wordage in their advert? Really, is there any other conclusion to be reached? So here’s a message: Hey people, don’t buy Timotei products, they’re environmental rapists. Or perhaps no-one actually listens to the distinctly mediocre advertising wordage that is rammed down our televisions these days. Except me, obv. But if no-one listens, why are Timotei paying their advertising agency squillions of $s?