Posts from 5th July 2004

Jul 04

Ah, how I enjoyed it

TMFDPost a comment • 1,184 views

Ah, how I enjoyed it, what a beautiful game of football. I enjoyed it all the more for watching it with a couple of “this is how football should be played” merchants, defenders of the dangle, who didn’t understand how football could be exciting without someone stepping over the ball.

While Greece may not be one of “The Great Teams” (i.e. they’re not filled with outstanding individuals) it’s pretty much undeniable that they are a great team: that their teamwork, delightfully, has made them champions. What’s more it appears that Otto Rehhagel has been presented with a trophy of his own: the head of Eusebio. How appropriate.

YES BUT, the Head of Steam

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 482 views

YES BUT, the Head of Steam on request will do you POUTINE! I.e; they will do you chips with CHEESE AND GRAVY! The barstaff seemed somewhat perplexed by our Canadian themed request on Friday night (whot, didn’t they KNOW it was Canada day that week??) and spent rather a long time downstairs consulting with the chef before telling us it was alright. Whilst we loved to think that the combination of cheese and gravy on our chips was offending some Escoffier-like sensibilites on behalf of the cook in the Head of Steam, they were in all likelihood no doubt having a good laugh at our expense. Mmmmmm. Chips and cheese and gravy = grebt, chips and cheese and gravy plus REAL ACTUAL BEER (Old Bob for me) = even GREBTER++!

Ethiopian food can quite frankly take second place to the might of the QUEBECOIS!


Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 356 views


Much is said about how waiting stuff are put upon. Much is said about the terrible pay, conditions and hours with which they suffer. Yet I note below nothing has been said about the lack of basic ability of our initial waitress we had in Addis. I enter and ask for a table for eight. She looks confused. Waiter sorts us out. She comes to take our drink order. Returns five minutes later to tell us that of the extensive eight types beer list they have only Stella and Becks. She then returns five minutes later and proceeds to open the bottles of beer at our table before distributing them wrongly.

There is a cheery if not quite best practice compact between customer and staff in a restaurant whose cuisine you are not altogether au fait with. You try to say the name, they repeat it back properly perhaps with some resort to either the number of the dish on the menu or pointing. We jumped straight to the number method with this girl as it was quite clear that not only was English not her first language, but it was not numbered in any of her languages whatsoever. Again there is a slight compact between staff and customer in this kind of restaurant that this might happen, however she was plainly not Ethiopian either so the reason behind this compact, and hence this ineptitude was never made clear (one only assumes that she is tremendously cheap to hire). Not undestanding even the numbers we offered, we had to resort to pointing which always makes me feel uncomfortable and patronising. After slowly making her way around the table, she missed out two orders and scurried back to the kitchen. After five minutes her male compadre had to come back and double check everything (which again annoyed us and still did not work).

Why does Tom miss her out in apportioning blame below? True a restaurant is a team effort, but as said the food wasn’t bad. Service is the key, and for all the extra work she caused the place probably could have run with just the one waiter. But since ten munutes away there are three other Ethiopian restaurants which all have good service, it is unlikely I will get to see this happen.

Science, you’ve gone too far this time.

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 320 views

Science, you’ve gone too far this time.

Addis, Kings Cross

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 759 views

Addis, Kings Cross: “Laid back service” but “great food” at this Ethopian place, according to web reports – OK, sounds fair enough, we have the whole evening after all. And the decor is just right – long couches, single seats with hide covering that look more like drums, light African pop playing. What a tempting menu, too – fir firs and wots and tibs, all mouthwatering and reassuringly authentic looking (not that I’d actually know, but…). We place our orders. The Ethiopia beer and the Casablanca are off so we drink Becks and Stella while we wait.

The starters do their job – lightly spiced sardine with a gloopily, tangily dressed salad; superior houmos – and we settle pleasantly into anticipation for the mains. Anticipation which stretches out for rather longer than planned. But, still, “laid back”. After more beers, maybe two hours after we sat down, six main courses arrive. The only problem is – there are eight of us, and eight mains is what we ordered. My meal, and Tim’s, are distinctly absent. I mention this to the waiter, who looks worried – he assures Tim his food will be along soon (it never arrives) and denies all knowledge of mine. Now to be fair I had changed my order, but to be fairer I had changed it on the recommendation of that very waiter, who said the number 15 would probably be too hot.

At some point laid-back crosses a line into incompetence. The nature of Ethiopian food – everyone’s dish dumped onto giant plates of injera bread – means the situation could be salvaged, and I didn’t go home starving, but it was a deflating end to the evening after such a long wait. And a shame, too – the food that did arrive was very tasty indeed, but I can’t see myself going back.

Enuff already with the Daleks.

Do You SeePost a comment • 391 views

Enuff already with the Daleks. How about talking about a more contemporary kids show. One which is altogether more bonkers that even Doctor Who was in its turning Tom Baker into a cactus days. Saturday morning kids TV has become a playground of halfhearted madness. I am not even referring to the Ministry Of Mayhem, the ho-hum SM:TV replacement which is 20% No.73, 20% Tiswas and 60% bad. I am talking about the Other Side which has moved to another Other Side. The BBC1, now BBC2 offering : The Mysti Show.

After perennial tweeking and ripping off of its competitors format, The Saturday Show finally vanquished SM:TV, admittedly due to the latter’s loss of Ant & Dec. However after retruning from Dick’n’Dom hiatus, the Saturday Show was shunted back to 8am, to finish at 10am. Top Of The Pops Saturday remains to battle CD:UK at 11am, so what do they fill this hour with. Yet again I say the stranbge words: The Mysti Show.

What is this MYSTerIous show? Well it is an hour long drama/comedy/fantasy/talk show/wish fulfillment programme. Still none the wiser? Well the website doesn’t help (but you do get to see who Mysti is: she is the the one with the permanent yet slightly lackluster smile). Okay, from what I have gathered: Mysti is a half human/half fairy godmother to a stroppy earth girl who gets into scraped. There is a boy who Mysti also fancies, but no-one is supposed to know she is a fairy. She lives in fairy land, which looks like a cheap TV studio with a giant plush mushroom in it. Fairy land also seems to have regular pop stars visiting who Mysti interviews, and Mysti also grants wishes for viewers and humiliates viewers parents who can’t cook. NONE OF IT MAKES ANY SENSE!

This is probably proof that I am finally grown up. The narrative elements which weave inbetween the celebrity interviews are so poor that they are not worth following. At the same time the fairyland conceit stymies the conversations with many of the pop stars who do not understand the concept of the show. There may be some sort of basis in girls comics here (Alan suggests there was a Mysti comic a long time ago with a different premise) where there would be strips about the heroine who would also present the mag. But this kind of format blend seems to sit uneasily on television. Perhaps this is why Misti, and her chums, have been booted to BBC2 for the summer. To make way for Saturday Brunch and the awful In The Know (news/sports horror). But more on those two later.

“Dalek-like behaviour”

Do You SeePost a comment • 286 views

“Dalek-like behaviour”: no sign of this on the Times website, so this is quoted without comment from a (koff) prominent Dr Who news website: ‘According to an article in the June 26 The Times, Sylvester McCoy, with the help of Camden council, forced a pub to exterminate part of its beer garden. “McCoy… complained to council planning officials,” says the article, “after drunken customers in the garden of The Hill, in Chalk Farm, North London, indulged in Dalek-like behaviour, jeering and abusing him as he visited friends nearby.”‘

At the risk of turning DYS into the Dalek Blog…

Do You SeePost a comment • 234 views

This “owning” of the characters appears to be unique to British TV and I’d love to know exactly how far it goes in copyright law. Terry Nation’s copyright claim is based on him typing the work “Dalek” and attributing various traits to such named creatures in a script. But let’s hear it for the designer โ€“ Raymond Cusick! The success of the Daleks, the original 60s Dalekmania that spawned two films, and the resulting size of Nation’s wallet, must surely be owing to the startling design. Can the BBC not at least negotiate the separate rights to the look and design of these creatures? Something Nation had no hand in at all.

So to really wind up the continuity-obsessed fans (and TN) the new series may well include malevolent be-plungered pepperpots called the BALEKS featured in stories that parallel Stalinist attrocities.

Also. Michael Grade where are you? You’ve cancelled it before. ACT NOW WHILE THERE’S STILL TIME!

Well, that was fun

TMFDPost a comment • 171 views

Well, that was fun.

Headline watch: many variations on “Acropolis Now”, and both the big tabloids went for “Grecian 2004”. The winner though is surely The Sun’s “YOU’RE ATHEN A LAUGH”.

Isabel has fallen for the greyer-by-the-game ‘silver fox’ goalkeeper Nikopolidis. Any posters? Or swapsies? I prefer Charisteas, he has a cheeky face.

Those complaining of a lack of Greek flair should look more closely: last night we counted at least three daring bicycle kicks from the Greek midfield. Okay, ‘bicycle clearances’, whatever.

My turn. I’m Bill, whom some people know as Tep

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 386 views

My turn.

I’m Bill, whom some people know as Tep from abbreviating my last name, and I’ve been thinking all weekend about what on Earth to post about, while being engrossed by cooking: it’s Independence Day, and a holiday for me is pretty much an excuse to play around with food according to some thematic guideline.

Eventually, we were full, and the fridge was full of leftovers, and I had a chicken I’d roasted for no reason except wanting to, and I had time to think less specifically, so I sat down to return to pleasure reading: I’m making my way through Steingarten’s It Must’ve Been Something I Ate, which is sometimes wonderful and sometimes frustrating. He mentions a sandwich in the essay I’m reading now, of butter and sliced black truffles on bread that’s left to sit in the fridge for two days to let it all infuse together, before it’s grilled.

Well, I thought. Now that’s something.

Because ultimately, that’s what I love: not recipes, but models, templates, implications. Think of never having heard of soup before, and then being given a bowl of chicken noodle soup. Nevermind the specifics of that bowl — it could be terrible, but if you’re paying attention, you’d still infer soup, and maybe you’d recognize the possibility of tomato soup as a fusion of this new-fangled soup thing and your favorite red sauce. Maybe you’d go the other direction, viewing soup as a sub-class of sauce, and try to sauce your steak with a reduction of chicken noodle. Who knows. Either way: you’d be inspired beyond recipe.

I grew up in rural/suburban New England, with its long and tired tradition of not seasoning anything, at a time when there were no ethnic restaurants and frankly few restaurants at all. When my mother moved out of our house of fifteen years, a friend of hers came to help me pack up the kitchen so my mother could focus on trickier stuff: and the spices we threw out, many of them barely touched, were the same ones we’d had when we moved in. They weren’t large containers. The exceptions were the warm brown spices used in apple pie: there are two times you use seasonings in old-fashioned New England cooking, apple pie (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove) and poultry stuffing (rosemary, sage, thyme). Everything else is a salt and pepper world. It wasn’t my mother’s fault — her family’s been in New England for as long as there’s been a New England, and she did a good job (great baked chicken, excellent sweet potatoes, perfect sourdough bread) with what was available.

But pretty much everything since my early teens — when I discovered Tabasco sauce, Thai food, Vietnamese spring rolls, and the Philadelphia cheese steak — has been a constant process of inferring soup.

So I thought, hey, you know what I don’t have? Black truffles. You know what I do have? Some reasonable bread and some homemade butter that’s a little tangy from the buttermilk I used to culture it. And a huge bag of basil so fresh I smell a cloud of it every time I open the fridge, bought insanely cheaply at the Farmer’s Market.

And that’s what I’ve got in there now: two short rolls of bread that’re the closest local analogue to baguettes, spread with butter, coarse salt, and a handful of basil leaves, infusing for two days before I grill them enough to melt the butter without cooking the basil. Total cost, about thirty cents.

So that’s me, introduced.