Pumpkin Publog

Aug 03


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DARKSTAR! Nope, I haven’t been down the Intrepid Fox for a few cider and blacks but instead have found a SUPER new ALE called Darkstar Hophead. From Darkstar Brewery (strike ONE!), located somewhere in ANSTY (sounds like angsty => strike TWO) it can supply a superb nights pleasant drinking. We’d started in Brixton and had a horrific pint of BASS in every Street Drinkers favourite pub, The Goose on Brixton High Street, and then moved across to the next cheapest pub. O no Wetherspoons O no I hear you cry but FEAR NOT!!! The Darkstar guest beer on tap was almost ridiculously fruity, imagine a pint of Pride crossed with a packet of Opal FruitsStarbursts (keep the faith).

I do have a soft spot for street drinker pubs. You can generally keep yourself to yourself, the drinks are cheap and the lack of atmosphere leads less to the horrible uncomfortable feeling of sitting around like a nonce, rather a quite nice neutrality which can only improve. Which is more than I can say for a recent trip to The York on Islington High Street before a trip to go and see PIRATES in the Warner Village. After striding into the pub and ordering a pre-emptive RHUM I found myself sitting in the hem hem WASTELAND (tseliot ref there). But not to worry, it could improve when I was joined by companions… and then at 5.45 my ears were graced with the precense of Reel 2 Reel feat. Mad Stuntman. HUrrah! I thought, Rave On Feel the… hold on this is a bit bluddy loud… OW MY EARS MY EARS!

And then they started playing it again!

We soon put in a hasty retreat to the Red Lion Theatre Bar on the opposite side of Angel station, but more to come on that later…

Weblog Response

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Weblog Response: To make up for the lack of a comments facility, if you’ve got something to say about Pumpkin Publog and want to make it public, this is the thread to do it on. (We’ll be adding this as a permanent link somewhere prominent, as it’ll be a rolling thread.)

Malic acid transforms candy from a snack into a form of commercially acceptable child masochism

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Malic acid transforms candy from a snack into a form of commercially acceptable child masochism
Great sub-head from an old (1999) and longish Wired article about Extreme Sweets and ver kids that wuv them. Yesterday I saw a new device on my newsies counter that dispenses the usual sour liquid via a roller-ball – like deodorising your tongue. On acid. Kids – they’re great aren’t they?

Aug 03

Bert’s Bar

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Bert’s Bar in Stockbridge, Edinburgh is an absolute gem. For starters, they had Deuchars IPA on, which was absolutely lovely. They also did Scotch pies (with Desperate Dan holes in the top) at a superb ‘1.50 each. With gravy. Steak and peppercorn was delightful, with really good lean steak; the mince and onion was equally good. Veggie mates report that the Spinach and Cheese and Leek and Potato versions were great too. For another ‘2, they add mash and peas to make a pie dinner. They also do a great breakfast at a reasonable ‘4.

They had a telly on for sport, but it was tucked away high up, so it didn’t dominate the pub; watchers had to struggle, so there was none of the distratcion as people’s eyes get magically drawn to it and slowly kill off the chat between drinkers. It had little snug style areas and the tables were fixed to the ground. There was also plenty of room for those who wanted to stand, with lots of space provided for resting drinks.

Think of everything you’d want from a pub, and Bert’s had it. What made it even better is that it was the first pub we stumbled into upon arrival; no recommendation, just the nearest to where we were staying. Magic.

Aug 03

You’ll always find me by the fire at Barbies

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You’ll always find me by the fire at Barbies. It is probably the control freak in me. Luckily it also functions as an eating inhibitor, being in charge of sixteen sizzling items at a time means you rarely have time to ram one of them down your throat. I am also quite good at anticipation the readiness and heat of said grill, ensuring the correct amount of burntness to the food. That said I have noticed a change in the barbeques I have been going to of late.

People are actually marinading stuff at home. Taking an interest in the flavours that come off the barbeque, which causes a problem for me. No longer can I happily stand there and lose attension on the two beefburgers turning into charcoal at the back. Now I have to keep a watchful eye on the half of pig that someone has lovingly slavered sixteen special herbs and spices over. Suddenly not everything that comes off of the grill is supposed to taste of barbeque (Walkers most misguided crisp flavour too). Now there is rosemary encrusted pork, and jerk chicken.

I’m not retiring from my pushy position, I like the flash burns. I am just warning people, it takes time to adjust, so do not throw away the ketchup yet. Sometimes it is best to add the flavours after the fact.

Etiquette of entering unfamiliar pubs you may not end up drinking in

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Etiquette of entering unfamiliar pubs you may not end up drinking in: see HE couldn’t remember the name of the pub – actually the Rose and Crown in Church Street – and gave me what seemed on paper heroically vague directions. So when I got there a bit early, I didn’t know if I WAS there. I wandered round exaggeratedly “looking” for someone, and on exaggeratedly “not finding them” left and looked round some, in case other pubs fitted his description (they didn’t: his directions were better than I first thought – “opposite a posh flowershop” = the shop is called JANET’S PLANTIQUE!!). Is this just me, caught in adolescent memories of the Hostile Local, or is it general?

Aug 03

It was a nice day and a nice meal

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It was a nice day and a nice meal (a wedding supper), but does someone teach caterers to write like this, and if so, does it affect how and what they think to cook?
To start: Basil crust chicken Caesar salad with grain mustard croutons
To follow: Seared duck breast, wild mushroom boulang’re, red wine jus and caramelised shallots
To finish: White chocolate and pistachio cr’me br’l’e with peppered strawberries

Aug 03

Moving house

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Moving house is usually a pretty hideous process. At the moment we’re pretty much restricted to moving to “any area which we can afford”. However, Simply Indian has now limited my choices to the following postcodes: SE1, SE16, SE11, SE17, EC4, SW1, EC3, as they fall within the deliery area of aforesaid curry place, where I have just eaten the BEST LAMB SAMOSAS EVER. I fear I will never be able to eat another samosa ever again for fear of disappointment. Crispy shell enclosing about a TON of spicy lamb crammed in probably using a complicated MODUS OPERANDI hem hem using surgical gloves and instruments of shiny grabbing implements. You get two samosas for ‘2.25 but you may as well get HEAVEN ON A SOAP DISH.

Next time I’m ordering ten.

I can also recommend their fish tikka. Another speciality of theirs appears to be crab dishes. I’ve not sampled yet but NEXT TIME my friends, o… next time…

Aug 03

Memorably grim nightspots #1

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Memorably grim nightspots #1: a double birthday celebration, maybe five years back, at the Troy Club in Hanway Street, and one of the birthdays – we didn’t know this till we got there – was the landlady’s. OK, you’ve read Gormenghast? So imagine a bar in Barquentine’s bedroom, peopled by ancient Soho soaks, actors you haven’t seen for years, pucely embalmed bar-phantoms that would spook Francis Bacon: this was the Troy Club. There weren’t enough chairs, though there were a few aluminium beer kegs- these have sharp rims and not much else. The landlady sang many many Irish ballads, accompanied by a man on electric piano. Even she thought he was rotten, complaining several times and asking him to be less florid. Then a man got up and began to declaim a poem on the terrors and splendors of cocaine addiction: this lasted about 25 minutes. When he finished, it was discovered that no one else in the room knew who he was – each party assumed he belonged with the others. Out of maybe 15 people in the group I was with, the evening produced two lasting relationship break-ups.

Tom talks about San Miguel below

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Tom talks about San Miguel below – I had the privilige of driving past one of its main Spanish breweries last night (a welcome adjunct to Malaga airport). I must admit however it is not a beer I favour. There is a very metallic tang to its taste, which may suggest potency but to me suggests – well metal. San Miguel may be the patron saint of Spanish beers, but I tend to prefer some of the lesser known Spanish beers such as Cruzcampo and Mahon.

There is obviously a different aim in brewing a beer to be drink in the sun. One expects this to be to point of many Spanish lagers, easy drinking, rehydrating stock. In reality they all have rather strong tastes: I expected to be able to compare them with Mexican beer but unfortunately Mexico wins hands down with bothe range and breadth. All Spanish beers seem to be punishingly strong for sun quaffing, all the beers above seem to tip 5.2% and seem to be brewed primarily for their golden colour. In my brief beer hunt (by no means exhaustive and please e-mail us to prove me wrong) there was nothing to match the dark wonder of Negro Modelo or event the easy drinking Corona. This is probably just ridicuolous language and climate typing, the Mexican beer industry has a large German heritage after all.

The one thing the Spanish do well is serving the draught stuff very cold. This casues common condensation drippage. in common with much of Europe a beer comes in a small glass as well – which is probably all for the best in the heat. But I cannot say I would naturally grant San Miguel its premium status, its more bog standard than that. But then San Miguel = St Michael = own brand Marks’n’Sparks beer. What do we expect?

(Update: the question of San Miguel’s country of origin bought into contest.)