Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Product Review: Beer52


How much is your integrity worth? I had cause to find out the value of my own recently when I received a nice email from from a company called Beer52. Eight bottles of beer, that's my price. In my defence I should say that since I started flinging these gobbets of screed into the electro-ether I have not exactly been inundated with offers of free stuff, and those that have arrived have been easy to turn down on account of falling into either the "weird" or "crap" categories. The offer of 8 actual bottles of booze in exchange for a few words seemed more than fair, although I did wonder how I'd live with myself if the beer wasn't up to snuff. What a relief all round then, as I can in fact report that Beer52 are doing a cracking job, both in terms of the service they provide and the beers they dish up. Plus, I've got a money-off code for you to have a bash at, of which more later.

Monday, 15 September 2014

The last harvest?


September has provided some us some serious gluts as well a couple of useful lessons, all set to a soundtrack of ominous, if not outright grim, undertones. More on that last bit later, but first here's some of what we've hauled in and been otherwise up to as the days shorten and cool.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Restaurant Review: Fat Hippo Underground, Newcastle upon Tyne. Revisited.


According to no less an authority than Beardy McPirate, we have reached "peak burger". Burgers are on less menus in the UK than they were a year ago, although you'd be hard pressed to tell that from a quick mooch round recently opened restaurants in these parts; that down n' dirty menu vibe just keeps on trucking. If however at some point in the not-too-distant we see a move away from Americana to whatever's trendy in London three years prior (something that looks like the Clove Club please), some of our less brilliant burgeries may be in trouble.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Restaurant Review: The Butterfly Cabinet, Heaton


In these times of ferment and flux, it's comforting to find something that hasn't really changed in years. Not in the interests of nostalgia, but actually to negate the need for it; when you find something, years later, just as you left it then there's no need to pine for the past. Which brings us to a seriously decent brunch in Heaton.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Restaurant Review: Hooked, Alnmouth


With friends visiting from darn sarf, we spent an excellent day and night at Kasia's folks caravan in Northumberland recently. Being right on the beach it's perfect for strolls along the sand which can often be beautifully and eerily lonesome affairs, as tourists eschew this particular stretch in favour of the better known destinations such as Bamburgh and Seahouses. Fine by us. A hard day's paddling demands the cadence of a decent feed, one which we hoped to find at Hooked in the ever-pretty village of Alnmouth.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Bank Holiday Beanfest


A couple of hours were wrested from a busy bank holiday on Sunday morning and spent among the crops and weeds. After a storming July, August has been decidedly nippy, with wild talk of frosts in those sheltered rural areas that seem so inclined to it. It was therefore very nice to feel the the heat of the sun chase away the last of the dew as we worked.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The Gits Strike Again


There was a story on the news tonight about how homo sapiens are now thought to have spent a good few thousand years alongside our neanderthal cousins before the latter bit the dust, trading, exchanging and even mating with them. Well, we saw some powerful evidence for the existence of unevolved barbarian DNA in the gene pool when we went down to the allotments last night. After a period of relative and very enjoyable calm, the marauding turds that have taken it upon themselves to vandalise the water supply in the past have had another go.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Alas Poor Polytunnel...


...I knew him, Horatio. Although thinking about it, people usually give inanimate things the female gender, don't they? And you're almost certainly not called Horatio, so what the hell am I on about? Oh well, at least I didn't get the quote wrong like everyone always does. Never mind Shakey Bill, the big news I'm trying to communicate here is that our polytunnel is shafted. Again.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Restaurant Review: Fatoush, Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne


About halfway through our meal at Fatoush I realised, in a rare moment of clarity, why it is that I like Lebanese food so much. It's basically a big old barbecue! There's a whole bunch of salads, dips and breads to get things going before the main event - great wodges of meat grilled over flames of varying intensity - demands everyone's attention. It's a convivial way of eating which lends itself to sharing. Civility and deliciousness all at once, what else could a person want? Saying that, it's still perfectly possible to mess up this kind of stuff, resulting in neither of those fine outcomes. Thankfully that was not the case at Fatoush, a newish joint up the top of Westgate road where we recently enjoyed a cracking rendition of Lebanese favourites.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Food out, Rye Grass in


Just in case you think it's not actually us that does the work on our plot - I noticed the other day that all the pics on here are of veg, without any evidence of who's toil produced it - here's me digging up some onions. In a couple of hours at the plot we managed to get on with some harvesting and weeding, and sowed some green manure which will be a first for us if it germinates.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Restaurant Review: Osaka, Newcastle upon Tyne


I might as well say it straight off the bat: if I know anything about any food, then Japanese is not it. In the unlikely event that you're here in search of some sort of, I don't know, expertise, then sorry, but the next few hundred words are set to disappoint. Is the food they're serving up in Osaka - that most contentious of words - authentic? No idea. Does it conform to the conventions of any particular region of that place? Not a clue. I've had my fair share of chicken katsu and half-arsed sushi in my time but that's about it. As blind a guide as I may be, what I can tell you is that the food we had in Osaka went down a treat and I reckon it's well worth your consideration.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Hot Hectic Harvest


You'll no doubt be relieved to hear that the lack of recent allotment-based noise coming from these parts does not result from a total failure of the harvest, but slightly the opposite. Trips to the plot currently resemble a vegetal version of supermarket sweep as we career around, trying to keep on top of harvesting/watering/weeding. We've got more food resulting from our toil than we've ever had before, resulting in straightforward meals of salads and roast veg, enlivened with a sprinkle of za'atar here and a splash of sriracha there. The weather has been great in this corner, verging on heatwave conditions. I stole a few hours at the plot Saturday gone, managing to give our parched plants a rare morning drink before it got too damn hot to dig.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Restaurant Review: Sunday Lunch at House of Tides, Newcastle


Since we had a mostly stellar dinner at House of Tides, I had wondered if they were going to open for lunch at any stage.  The cheapest midweek menu still clocks in at £45 per head, not including service etc which takes dinner here into what for us is very much the "treat zone". When I heard they were indeed opening for Sunday lunches I got us booked up and then wondered what we'd exactly we'd be eating. A full-on roast presumably, but how would this most traditional of meals look once refracted through the "casual fine dining" lense? And what would the pre and post-roast options look like? Read on.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Cafe Review: Cabosse, Warkworth


There are a few things I should tell you about Cabosse, although only one thing I really want to, such is the singular, opulent brilliance of the item in question. But, in the interests of utility and context, let's set the scene a little first.

Allium Overdrive


We must be either mad dogs or Englishmen, because it was sweltering in the midday sun on Saturday. Having been frolicking up in Northumberland (of which more in due course) during the first of two weeks off work, the weeds required tackling. As did the autumn-planted onions and garlic, as the first really substantial harvest of the season was undertaken in earnest.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Restaurant Review: Beaches, Alnmouth


What's the value of objectivity when trying to write a bit about food? Very little I hope, as the ensuing screed may or may not demonstrate. The idea of trying to wrench something as fleetingly ephemeral as a meal eaten, with friends, in someone else's room into the semi-permanence of words that live on the internet, the better that others might elect to have a similar experience seems daft enough to make it worthwhile. That's my excuse in any case. And so here I am, about to tell you of just such an occasion.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Plot 65: A Tour


Yesterday was spent pottering and picking. Weeds were trimmed and everything that needed it watered - we've had a really dry spell lately - before the fun bit of liberating food from the ground. Broad beans, peas, beetroot, kale, strawberries, radishes, chard, spinach, tarragon, borage and lovage all came home with us in varying quantities

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Fruition Ignition!


And so finally the harvest begins. It feels like this point has taken longer to get to than in previous years, but looking here and here shows that we're about level par; some things are further ahead and others behind where we were in each of our first two years. The headline news is that a whole bunch of food is just about to come on-stream which is pretty damn exciting.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Restaurant Review: Jeremy's, Scarborough


Scarborough is my kind of English seaside town. Just a little bit down at heel, it evokes a nostalgia for childhood holidays you either had yourself, or sense that, coming from these islands, you should have. Either way, it's hard to look now at endless rows of B&Bs, retro ice-cream parlours and two-penny falls palaces through eyes unadjusted by a lense of mild ironic detachment. But I love all this stuff. I don't think there's a more melancholy sight than a beach-side pleasure park on a drizzly November afternoon, and melancholy is one of my very favourite things. Happily enough, the pleasures in the meal we had at Jeremy's on the Saturday evening of a visit to friends on the North Yorkshire coast were neither ironic or nostalgic ones. The (excellent) choice of our hosts, Jeremy's specialises in good cooking of fine ingredients, in very sensible combinations.

Monday, 16 June 2014

A Tale of Two Potato Patches

Spuds in flower
No allotmenteering for us this weekend gone as we were away in Scarborough (of which more in due course), but I did manage to sneak in a few post-work hours down there on Wednesday of last week.
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