Pumpkin Publog

31
Dec 04

The London Pub

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The London Pub

I have made no secret of the fact that I’ve wanted to go to the London Pub (on Southampton Row I think, though I’m not totally sure) for AGES. Anything that brazenly named has to be worth a look.

It’s as strange and awful a place as I suspected. Another pub that feels like a hotel lobby, which in fairness it might actually be, the London Pub is festooned with pure honest London Tat – badly drawn beefeaters, red phone boxes, bobbies on the beat, et al. The decor is 1980s to the extent that you feel the place should almost be given listed status, so total is the ambience of bygone naffness. Someone called it a ‘generic pub’ but in truth no pub looks remotely like the London Pub. The beer on the other hand is exactly what you’d expect.

(No, that’s not quite true – English pubs in minor European cities look like it.)

The pub was busier than you might have thought, but the clientele were a strange lot. Orphans of the London storm, they were mostly harried-looking forty- and fiftysomethings, quiet, well-heeled and thoroughly despondent looking. They were drinking in singles and pairs – this was not a pub used to large groups. This was not a pub at all, except in name. What was it? A theme park restaurant, a bad TV set, a corridoor – take your pick.

30
Dec 04

The White Hart, Drury Lane

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The White Hart, Drury Lane

The initial stop on yesterday’s pub crawl claims to be the oldest licenced premises in London. But evidence for its antiquity is in short supply – it’s been refitted three times in the last decade and while the latest version is an improvement on its previous ‘It’s A Scream’ status, The White Hart is still a difficult pub to love.

The interior seems to have been put together without much thought as to practicality. It’s possible to block off the back end of the pub almost entirely just by filling a couple of tables; odd steps and banister-like barriers can restrict the drinker’s movement; and the touchscreen quiz machine has been placed right in front of a pillar so that only the lankiest of punters can properly use it. There’s a slightly pompous notice on the wall explaining that the refurb is designed to help customers “rediscover the art of conversation”, how the slightly bilious colour scheme and oddly non-specific decor fit into this I don’t know. There’s a weird atmosphere to the White Hart, a feeling of impermanence – it was only towards the end of my drink that I hit on what the place reminded me of. “It’s like a lobby in search of a Harvester”.

23
Dec 04

Ice Cream for Dogs!!!

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Ice Cream for Dogs!!! – unfortunately so far only boring old vanilla but “a special meat flavour” is promised.

21
Dec 04

The Black Friar has gone smoke-free.

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The Black Friar has gone smoke-free.

Wandering past the Black Friar on my way home yesterday, I saw a sign saying “A Smoke-Free Pub” – it seems they’ve banned smoking from the place.

It’s an interesting choice: the Black Friar (New Bridge Street) is a classic, traditional City boozer, with a pleasant exterior and fabulous interior. It has a great big paved area outside where people could smoke unmolested by buses and unsplashed by inconsiderate motorists. It’s also very badly ventilated, especially in its jewel-like back room which often felt and smelled like its marble and mirrors had been built immediately on top of the Devil’s own bonfire.

This is exactly the sort of destination boozer which needs to become non-smoking voluntarily if there’s any chance at all of averting the swingeing, unnecessary smoking ban which seems to be on the cards. If the free market can demonstrate that it can provide customers and staff with a genuine choice of smoky or non-smoky then that seems a sound way forward. And, let’s face it, if the polls are right and there really is an overwhelming public demand for smoke-free drinking environments, the market should be able to provide them. It’s not often I say this, but well done Nicholson’s.

how INADVERTENT experiment created ALL SCIENCE

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how INADVERTENT experiment created ALL SCIENCE
(a “pumpkin publog” co-production)

how inadvertent experiment powers culinary science

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how inadvertent experiment powers culinary science
(a “proven by science” co-production obv)

ok so the way we learn the history of science or the fine details of cookery it’s always presented like clever ppl sat and theorised, then worked out a way to PROVE the theory —> i have decided this is nonsense however, and that the sequence is instead this:

assumption i: cookery is the mother of all science obv
assumption ii: the primary driving force in cookery is the EXACT REPRODUCTION of things you have tasted and liked before
however: it is a party and everyone arrives in 20 mins and you are just jugglin the dishes and you GET SOMETHING SLIGHTLY WRONG and it is TOO LATE TOO LATE to go back and get it right
result: either CATASTROPHE! or AMAZING NEW TASTE SENSATION!

proof i: gingerbread
ok i never really got this WRONG yet but my two (by choice) to-taste variants totally fuck w.the volume and cookin time viz i use tate&lyle golden syrup instead of treacle PLUS chopped up ginger (from sainsbury ginger in syrup) instead of raisins… well maybe when you use raisins they distribute themselves equally down through the dough (which is totally liquid), but the ginger bits fall ALL THE WAY to the bottom, hence form an insulating sedimentary layer at the base… anyway this time it bubbled up way over the sides and ran not only down into the base of the oven but OUT THROUGH THE DOOR (i think i may have overwhisked after i added the baking soda): conclusion next year i wd like to get the cake i got this time w/o the liquid mix seething out onto the floor (= use slightly less of all ingredients = recipe for chemico-culinary non-happening)

proof ii: cheesy blobs
the basic recipe i am working from here is rubbishly non-cheesy, so i spent the first four times varying the type(s) of cheese and doubling the amount of cheese: this led two years ago to a THERMONUCLEAR CHEESE MELTDOWN event, which wz v.tastable but a bit like charred alien’s vomit. Anyway I cranked back the amount of cheese (with some regret) and this time upped the amount of water (bcz it is meant to be a SOFT dough but w. one tablespoon of hot water is just NOT). This time i got a kind of glue w/o any firmness at all. The time pressure of guests soon to arrive (if not ALREADY ARRIVED hem hem) means you can’t redo the dough SO onwards fingers x-ed. Well at these level the baking of the blobs in fact involves an element of FRIED CHEESE ACTION: which worked perfectly on the metal baking tray (cheese puffs on a caramelised cheese base numnum) but poorly in the ceramic dish, where the brushed-egg-yolk for shininess turned into a kind of omelette surround and the blobs stayed doughy and w/o definition). Panic solution: scrape tops off blobs leaving bases stuck in omelette surround. Hide ceramic dish at bottom of sink full of water. Flash-bake tops of blobs on the baking tray which just successfully delivered the first batch of blobs. Result: “success”, though these “blobs” are in truth an array of random shapes

counterexample i: boil-in-bag book

guest arrival imminent (see above), exchange dirty towels in bathroom for clean ones, thrust dirty towels hurriedly into washing machine, fail to notice COLLECTED GHOST STORIES OF M.R. JAMES – which wz reading in bath earlier in day – tangled up in towel: result FAT SOGGY AND INEDIBLE RIPPED PULP de COLLECTED GHOST STORIES OF M.R. JAMES

eskimo pie

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eskimo pie!!

!!!!!!!!!!

20
Dec 04

the grebt pie debate (additional notes)

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once again it is the outlier position producing the cherishable facts: a stout defence by the unpeeled-hard-boiled-egg=a-pie faction impelled sistrah becky to argue that, in that case, a PYRAMID must be a pie (providingof course the tomb remained unbroached) —> this may or may not be the case but it dimly stirred a memory i couldn’t access till this morning, which is that suet-wrapped meat pudding we used to have WAY TOO OFTEN at my second school was known as BOILED MUMMY!!

If you sing Blue Moon it’ll all be over soon

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If you sing Blue Moon it’ll all be over soon

A starting discovery after an ill-advised trip to the dodgy late-serving Irish bar on Caledonian Road near Kings Cross (is the dodgy necessary or already contained within the words ‘near Kings Cross?).

There’s a particualrly pissed pre-Christmas karaoke. There’s a comedy bouncer; imagine Richard Fairbass with a serious steroid addiction. The office parties have turfed out and there’s a good deal of inappropriate frotting going on. In the midst of a usual karoake set, we notice a table of punters who sing very well. They’re head and shoulders above the rest.

But after the last one has sung their song, they get up and leave as one, and get in a van, and then they’re off*. Are they a roving troupe of karaoke stars, dedicated to raising the standards of London’s karaoke, like some League of Less-Appalling Vocalists.

* – I can’t actually remember this part. I remember seeing themj leave as one. I can remember someone saying ‘they just got in a van!’ There is a chance that the above incident is a karaoke dream.

17
Dec 04

The Annual Between Christmas And New Year Pub Crawl 2004: The Holborn Star

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After the delights of the Euston Hexagon we’re delighted to announce that this year’s pub crawl is the Holborn Star.

It will kick off at 3.30 PM on December 29th at the White Hart on Drury Lane, and will meander to a conclusion in the well-loved Princess Louise.

Good cheer is on the agenda. Last year’s event spawned the notorious Top 100 Films list, and The Method will be employed this year for a similar scientific ranking of a mystery topic.

More details to follow when we get the new server up and running.