Wednesday, 23 September 2009

More about me

Top of a pie with 'Lola' spelled out in peas
Here's a bit more about stuff I do and don't love. Weddings took up a whole post of their own - this time, it's food.

Things I love

A really good meal in a restaurant

I like the idea that the amount somebody is prepared to spend on a good restaurant meal tells you something about that person. I think my maximum spend with Mr A has been at Le Manoir de Quatr' Saisons, which is Raymond Blanc's gaff in Oxfordshire, but unfortunately it wasn't that good a meal. I've just read the Amateur Gourmet's account of his meal at El Bulli (independently judged to be the best restaurant in the world), which sounded utterly mind-blowing. I don't think I could spend that much, even if I were really wealthy. The best 'expensive' meal I've ever had was with Mr A and Lola II at Damian Hurst's restaurant 'The Pharmacy', which no longer exists. One of the cheeses I ate there was truly unbelievable. And the company was very lovely too.


Plain dark chocolate mostly, but I don't mind tainting it with raspberries, coffee or orange now and then. I suppose I wouldn't turn down milk chocolate if it needed finishing, but I wouldn't include white chocolate under the heading 'chocolate'. On one shopping trip recently, I couldn't decide which sort to buy, so I got one of each type of dark chocolate and did a taste test. My preference was for Divine, Mr A liked Galaxy Dark best. Bournville was a bit too rich; the 'value' brand, while very cheap, was a little bit nasty, and the own brand was fine. I didn't include Green and Black because if that turned out to be the best, I'd face financial ruin.

Things I don't love

A meal that isn't very good

A mealtime is an opportunity to enjoy food; given that eating too much makes you fat, I don't like to waste a meal on food that's not very nice. In the UK we are very price-conscious; cheap food and half-price offers tempt me as much as anyone, but sometimes the price matches the quality. The trouble is that it's difficult to define 'quality' and even harder to find it. My favourite greengrocer in Leamington, Clarke's, has a huge turnover of fresh fruit and vegetables, plus the slightly older veg at knock-down prices, and always some interesting items you wouldn't find elsewhere: fresh dates, mixed wild mushrooms, I've even seen durian fruit in there. There's usually a good selection of local produce. But none of it is polished or pristine, it's all ripe and ready so it doesn't keep, and you won't find anything organic. Last time I was there with Mr A, the owner (the eponymous Clarke) came over and gave me a hug. You don't get that in Sainsbury's.


aims said...

Our produce this year has been - icky. Nearly every pepper has had wrinkly skin. The peaches were - rubbery. Often plums had wrinkled skin and soft dark interior flesh. It seemed like all fruit and vegetables had been frozen at some time during their growth. This could be the problem as we didn't get a summer this year. Frost July 3 - could that have been the culprit?
Since we have to import everything here - that would mean this happened in the growing areas as well.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you on the chocolate - white just isn't (yuk). My favourite is Green & Black's sour cherry in plain chocolate - yum. A rare indulgance to be savoured!

You are also very lucky to have aproper greengrocer near to you. Our nearest closed a few years ago afte the nearest Tesco expanded. A typical tale. Now we have none, not even a farmers market nearby. All are a good drive away.