Pumpkin Publog

Oct 04


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freaky trigans w.better publogistical memories than mine will recall the name of the pub where we were canvassed by ‘kippers (= they shyly passed across to our table some rubbish leaflets, quickly leaving the pub before we cd begin our gleeful mockery of same): anyway the only excuse i have for dredging up this snippet of ancient taproom legend is it allows me to pass on this account of more recent events in that hapless political quarter – i’m not sure that the LRB’s haut-en-bas scorn here is that much more edifying (or fair) than our kneejerk geezaesthesis was back then, but still you can’t help enjoying the founder’s horrified summary of the current make-up of the party he left long ago: “aged xenophobes” and “meaningless fuddy-duddies with very little intelligence”

Oct 04

Top of my Christmas list this year:

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Top of my Christmas list this year: Cat Poo Coffee. It’s a snip at ’31 for 250g from www.hasbean.co.uk. Santa, are you reading this?

Oct 04

Pub Justice

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Pub Justice

Last night I went again to the pop quiz at the Rosemary Branch. It was a bit of a sentimental night because B, the one member one of our regular team who lives near there, is moving to Australia at the end of the week.

On his way to the pub, in the scratty park by the New North Road, B was mugged. They took ’20 off him, plus AU$100 and his bank cards. The AU$100 was a leaving gift he’d just received from his Uncle.

B was very shaken up but stayed and played the quiz anyway (he arrived first at the pub and the marvellous bar people gave him a free pint because he had no cash, bless them). Company, he said, was good and anyway it was our team’s last time.

We won the ’20 beer voucher for winning the main quiz. This was scant consolation for B, mind: by the time we redeem the voucher he’ll be on the other side of the world.

Then we won the Jackpot, which amounted to ’100. We told B to take what he’d lost (about ’60 he reckoned) then we split the rest between all four of us.

This seemed like a poetic sort of pub justice and was a small good thing to come out of an evening which had looked like turning very bad indeed. Of course, having won the quiz, when we won the jackpot our competitors were not very impressed at all. B thought he heard some actual hissing. I wanted to explain to everyone what had happened, to show them that it was a good thing that we’d won, but I knew that that would make me the King of Berks. And I couldn’t face that, not again.

The ’10 winnings I came away with gets added to the Grecian Earn, obviously. Look! The totaliser’s getting very close to ’100 now…

Carrot and orange soup is a good way of clearing up a glut

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Carrot and orange soup is a good way of clearing up a glut of (flatmates) carrots. It is a quick one too, you briskly boil your carrots for only ten minutes before pureeing, it is better if the carrots still have a bit of bite. Warming, yet tangy, it was also recommended cold. So I ate some and chilled the rest.

Its success cold however it all depends how you serve it. In a bowl it is a pretty good chilled soup, pretty with a sliced orange round on top. In a glass, it is almost identical to Wagamama?s Raw Juice. Num!

Oct 04

Are Tomatoes Too Wet?

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Are Tomatoes Too Wet? Obviously this question is nonsense as it stands (a philosopher writes) since a tomato is as wet as a tomato is wet. I suppose what I really mean is, are tomatoes too wet to put in sandwiches? Admittedly, this had never struck me as an issue, until a certain person pointed it out to me, and went on to prove it by making sandwiches with sundried tomato paste instead. Miraculously, three hours into our train journey, our sandwiches were not soggy!

Oct 04

I <3 Street Food

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There’s a lot of interesting street food to be found in here in NYC, what I’ve had that I remember I tend to love. Three vendors:

1) The Dosa Guy (Thiru is his name) on Washington Square Park

Come noon everyday, Thiru, the “dosa guy” is swarmed by hungry NYU students, itching for a quick meal. Lots of them probably don’t realize that they’re getting totally top quality food, because most of them order the same things, samosas, masala dosas, or uttapams. Which is fine, he makes those well; but what really makes him special is all of the little other things. The iddly (steamed rice/lentil patties) he makes are outstanding, if you ask for the “iddly lunch” he’ll put a few in a plastic container and soak them in sambar, coconut chutney, same with the medhu vada. He makes this thing which people call “roti curry”, of which I don’t know the origin (maybe it’s west indian?), lots of chopped up paratha with fresh veggies, potatoes, and soy gluten (everything he cooks is 100% vegan). I usually head out to lunch like 15 minutes early to avoid the lines; in the summers it’s nice that he isn’t so busy, but after labor day, if you come around 12:30, you’ll wait like a good 15-20 mins, which can be not so fun when it’s cold.

For those that care, Thiru used to be the chef at Dosa Hut, the South Indian place next to the Mandir in Flushing. That ought be enough to substantiate his cooking chops.

2) The Tamale Cart on 61st and Roosevelt Ave. in Woodside, Queens.

Just as it says. As far as I can tell they serve cheese and chicken tamales, along with Arroz con Leche. I think they serve other things, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out what they are. Often, I pull the, “I’ll have what he’s having” maneuever, which has once ended in something different (a chicken tamale in a piece of bread, not too exciting.)

3) The taco truck on 65th St. and Roosevelt Ave.

The taco truck pulls up to the triangle around 65th. st (where Sripraphai is) sometime about 10-11pm and stays till late, late at night. To be truthful, the other tacquerias around Roos are just as good, if not better, but man, this food hits the spot, and it’s cheap too; $2 for a taco, $3.50 for a torta. I’m usually (pretty wasted) and the only person there that doesn’t speak spanish, but I’m always successful in getting something tasty. I’ve yet to manage the get the toungue tacos, but the chorizo and bistec ones are always tasty.

Oct 04

An open letter to

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An open letter to Fancy A Pint.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for FINALLY starting to link to Streetmap for your maps of where pubs are. This is a lot easier than copying the postcode from the pub description, opening streetmap, putting the postcode in and then searching for it, and infinately better than the crappy old maps which were of very little use. Who knows, your directions from the nearest tube might start to make sense soon ;)

Oct 04

When ‘Mexican’ means atmosphere more than food

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When ‘Mexican’ means atmosphere more than food — the thing about the seventy-year-old-plus El Coyote Cafe in Los Angeles is not that the food’s great. It isn’t. Not necessarily HORRIBLE, mind you, but you are not going there for the food, in that it’s LA and the amount of uncountable and thoroughly fantastic great Mexican places, in all their variety and regional differences, can’t be imagined. Instead it’s generic food, the kind of step up from the unfortunate Taco Belling of the nation’s tastes which means you look down rather than up at the menu you are ordering from and there’s full waiter or waitress service and all that, but still, it’s mostly grease with lard elements. On a rainy night like last night, that was actually very lovely, but otherwise it all just tends to sit in your stomach poorly.

So why go? Those of us in LA ILX world and related parts like it for a couple of reasons, and it wasn’t just convenience to the New Beverly Cinema last night that we suggested it for the visiting Lady Ms. Lurex, from New Zealand and here on a two month or so vacation. First is the fact that the margaritas are really pretty damned good, in a number of varieties but all in all very tasty. Ms. Lurex had never had one before so it was a fine introduction to that most joyous of drinks, and she approved heartily. I was one of the few people who asked for salt with mine, maybe no-salt is the new trend, I never pay attention to these things.

But frankly it just also looks good. Somewhere between affection and camp and vague knowledge of what ‘Mexico’ is like. That’s why the inside looks like this:

It’s a very LA thing, I think, to interpret the experience this way, and though I’ve seen similar restaurants try for it many other (non-Spanish-speaking) places, El Coyote is top of the line. The photos actually don’t get the best measure of the place, in that the flashes are too bright — take the lights lower, turn up those smaller light strands a bit, have everything not too dark but not too bright either, the seats are comfortable and the fresh chips keep coming along with your margaritas. It’s a pity we only had a little bit of time there that night, since the movie schedule demanded an early departure, but it’s a great place to socialize, and that’s often all that matters.


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Finally Team Albatross, made up of some people from this parish (me and Ben plus others) finally won a pub quiz. The downside: it was not in our normal pub.

The Harringey Arms is a nice pub. It has a really good pub quiz. But after six months of doing no better than second (and only once) we decided to go on tour. Truth be told the indiosyncracies of the Harringey Quiz had started to get to us. In particular the excessively long time in which each round was allowed to be completed. The more cyncical amongst us, noting excessive newspaper and occsional more than occasional mobile phone use started to get miffed by this factor, part of a quizzes appeal is in the instant(ish) recall. The nice atmosphere in the pub was being soured for us by the same teams winning every week, and the winning scores being only two or three points off of perfect.

So we decided to try the Quiz in The Old Dairy , Stroud Green instead. A big pub, a lot of teams and an indeterminate start time (it said 8:30 on the sign, but once the footie had finished and quiz lady had fannied around we did not start the fifty questions until gone 10pm). The questions were an okay mix of pretty bog-standard quiz questions, toughish but lacking the idiosyncracy of the best Harringey questions. Still there was a picture round (name that author, which our plucking out of the air of Francis Bacon was most cheery). And best of all, a music round which was “Name That Kylie” which certain members of the team excelled at.

But fifty questions take a long time to mark with well over fifteen minutes, and with team members falling asleep (teachers!) it was left to just myself and Ben to see how well we had done. We held out few hopes, after the previous six months. Well, we won. And at a comfortable margin too. Despite the sheet being added up wrong (we got full marks in the Kylie round despite not filling in one answer). The prize giving turned into a bit of a farce as the quiz mistress (a bit too jokey, but clear and fun) was taken to task over the dodgy arithmetic. But we won our gallon of beer and I guess we’ll be back.

But we will scratch that Harringey Itch. Publog Quiz Commando’s may be called in.

Oct 04

I had famous pork on Sunday

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I had famous pork on Sunday. It came from Stinky Jim, you know, of Jimmy’s Farm fame. Jamie Oliver’s mate. That’s the one. Anyway, it had been brought from his piggery in Essex to Durham by my friend Pippa, who was there visiting her parents and invited me to join her for the weekend. She hadn’t been able to get a roasting joint, so she bought some huge ribs instead and her mum stuck them in the Aga while we went off to pick apples, damsons and the three remaining blackberries in the garden for a crumble pud.

Mrs D. was worried they wouldn’t come out right, not having been marinaded, barbecued or any of the other things you’d normally expect to be done with ribs, but they came out lovely. She’d salted the skin well and the crackling was so crunchy I had trouble biting through it, the fattiness (they were pretty fatty, but that’s bellies for you) kept the meat from drying out and becoming chewy and they tasted pretty good too. In fact, they more than made up for the five hour train journey I’d endured to get to Durham, what with the East Coast line being closed all weekend.