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Sunday, 24 April 2011

This is the one that nearly never was..

A couple of things happened last week (not very interesting ones so I wont bother to elaborate) which had me a tad fraught and questioning the actual wisdom in posting these ramblings. Whilst pondering the absurdity of life in general  I chanced upon this in one of those shops which sell cheap imported repro tat from China quaint little antique shops in our local town.

I've hung it on the wall at the New Pub.Its my new mantra.
So,ever onwards and upwards...

Discussions re what type of menu to put on at the New Pub have been our main thrust.Though we've a successful formula at the Inn,we were conscious that the New Pub is only 11 miles away and not wishing to dilute our audience if you get my drift,Chef came up with a novel plan.
Well,says he,we already know that people love bad food,so how about we do exactly that,but do it properly?Pub grub,homemade pies,fish and chips.Mass market stuff with broad appeal,but it'll be the best bad food they've ever tasted..
A fanfare to the common man..
So we've employed a new Chef.Following our previous form with the younger generation, we decided to go for a more *mature*applicant.
He's been around the track a couple of times, had his own place in the past,classically trained and knows how to do things properly.I think he just wanted something non too taxing with not too much pressure,a bit of a wind down..
Needless to say I don't think he bargained on the 70 odd hungry diners who tipped up unannounced on our first Friday night.
To be fair he didn't flap,just kept his head down and ploughed through it,with me plating up AND doing starters and calling the checks.I'm sure he enjoyed it though,I may even have seen a twinkle in his eye..

We've been getting along quite famously.
Though admittedly last Thursday I did have to tell him his balls weren't big enough.

Ice cream ones of course..
Apart that is,form a couple of little niggles...

Lets consider Chips.
I'd set the standard a little bit having done the kitchen on my own the previous couple of weeks. Home-made chips blanched off at low temperature then crisped off in the fryer at a high temperature once the check comes on.This produces a nicely cooked crispy chip which is pleasingly golden and easy on the eye.
On the first night with PubChef, I duly noted his chips weren't as crisp as one would have liked.

'I think you need to crank up the fryer a wee bit' says I.
'No' slowly and with deliberation  'the fryers OK as its is' says he..

That night as I related the days events,Chef advised caution.
'You want to be careful you don't piss him off upset him,otherwise you'll end up doing the whole lot on your own...'
At this point  my Violet Elizabeth tendencies came to the fore,I may even have stamped my foot.
'But I WANT crispy chips'(folding arms petulantly)
Chef grinned.
'Well' said he 'you know what you need to do don't you??'
'Already done Chef,already done..' says I (triumphantly)
'You turned the fryer up when he wasn't looking???That's m'girl..'

Desperate times call for desperate measures...

His reluctance to use the temperature probe is also a slight bone of contention.
Lets be honest there are two schools of thought with this one.There's the 'I can tell if its done by the touch of my finger' Which is true.To a certain degree.But to me its more about making sure that the food isn't overcooked than checking that its cooked(though obviously high on the agenda is not picking off ones diners with a tasty but suicidal  E-Coli casserole..)
If his pinky can tell him whether a piece of fish is at the optimum 50 degree temperature(look away now EHO Inspector) when the protein has  just set or if its gone beyond this by a couple of degrees then he's a much better Cook than me..
As Chef said he's probably too old school for a probe,even when Chef did his training(he's 40 FYI) the full extent of temperature testing involved inserting a skewer into said item,then placing the skewer on ones lip-if it burnt twas done..
I think we'll have to agree to disagree on this one.
Anyhoo,as I said to Chef later,I do like a good probing....

In other news in the spirit of embracing the local community Ems and I decided an entry to the fortnightly quiz held at the New Pub was in order.
We looked forward to the picture round and subsequent shining with our worldly knowledge of current events aided in no small part by Ems encyclopaedic knowledge of all things *sleb* due to her ongoing subscription to Grazia.
Then this.

Need I say more?

PS I don't dare publish Chefs eagerly awaited daily  missive via the text message to the landline medium on this particular subject....

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Pub landlady cleans up soot damage left by Southern Comfort drinking coalman at Jamaica Inn

I bumped briefly into our butcher this morning for the first time in a couple of weeks,due to the inordinate amount of  time I'm spending at the new pub.

Hello stranger!Hows it going up on the hill?? says he. *knowing big wink*
Self:Not bad thanks
Butcher:Interesting eh?????(Folding arms slowly,relaxing one leg and waiting for the gory details)
Self:Yes its great thanks,loving it....(lying through teeth)

To be honest I'm afraid the New Pub might be a bit more of a challenge than I had first anticipated.I haven't yet furnished you with the full story..
It was reopened a couple of years ago following a lengthy campaign by villagers to prevent it being turned into a residential home,having been closed for more than a decade.In the two years since the reopening two or three landlords have passed through...

Over the last couple of weeks I've seen things that never in a month of Sundays did  I expect to see in a pub..

On the first night a fellow strolled up to the bar, black from head to toe apart from his ginger hair which was teazled into a Gummidge inspired style and the large gold signet ring on his wedding finger.
'He must be the coalman' I whispered..
'I didn't know coalmen still existed' said Ems
Self:Well of course they still exist,where do you think we get the bleeping coal from???
Thankfully,Tesco Direct have yet to infiltrate that particular market..
He smirked and offered his hand to me.I knew it was a test.I rose to the challenge then feigned an excuse to depart to the kitchen to wash ones hands after failing to inconspicuously dislodge the damage onto the seat of ones arse jeans.. .
Surprisingly he was a double Southern Comfort and lemonade aficionado. Well blow me down with a feather, I didn't see that one coming.By the end of the evening, being well oiled and a tad unsteady on his steel toed boots,he stotted in a side to side motion down my previously buffed back passage steadying himself all the while on my newly painted Burnt Verdigris walls..Sadly a black smudge frieze on a wall doesn't do it for me.Thank gawd for Cif.

Then,last Saturday afternoon a middle aged couple approached the bar.Swarthy looking types, faint hint of a moustache.
Conversely the husband was clean shaven.Ordering themselves a couple of ales,they took a cosy seat by the fireside where the wife produced her KNITTING from a very large Tapestry bag then,proceeded to knit for the next hour and a half.Not a word was spoken.Now I wondered what the crack was with this, so I googled knitting and apparently these two are bang on trend as knitting is once again a popular pastime amongst the rich and famous.Though to be honest I cant see Gwyneth Paltrow sizing up a half finished garment to Chris Martins back in a pub..Truly not a sight one sees very often..

I don't regard myself as a city slicker,the Inn is undoubtedly in a rural location,but it is almost within spitting distance of a small market town.The New Pub locals regard *small market town*as the bright lights.We had to put the prices up(one has to make a profit) there's been a bit of opposition, feedback has been on the lines of: 'but them's *small market town* prices...'
I've been feeling like the landlady at Jamaica Inn,every time the front door opens I'm beginning to hear a howling noise as the wind blows,yesterday I swear tumbleweed followed a customer through the door.
'Its blowing a hoolie oot thar' says he.That's the other thing,its windy.All the time...
Today someone asked to order a *nosebag* and no it wasn't for his horse..
And men wear *strides* not trousers round these parts..

Anyhoo, apologies in advance that toilets/drainage seem to be a recurring theme,but yesterday we had another little incident.It appeared the water wasn't draining away from the upstairs loo.Following prolonged efforts with plunger and rubber gloves,still no joy.
I decided to leave it and  returned to the kitchen to do some lone prep for lunchtime(following last weeks sacking).Ems Mum had kindly brought some duck eggs down from the farm so I thought I'd knock up some Duck egg and smoked bacon mayonnaise for the sarnie menu.They were so bloody fresh I was having difficulty peeling them and was muttering incoherently to myself when I felt a drip of water plop on my head.
To cut a long story short we had to call out an emergency plumber as the water was seeping through the joints in the soil pipe from the loo sited conveniently directly above the kitchen.
At £80 call out plus £40 for every 15minutes thereafter I was hoping the problem would be resolved quickly.
I left Ems to deal with the plumbers(dour chaps not much crack).Presently I heard excited shouts with my name interspersed in the din.
I ran from the kitchen with the half peeled egg still in my hand.
I gingerly peered down the manhole cover and witnessed a six inch wide solid mass slowly emerging from the waste pipe.
Ems was on the periphery of the activity whimpering,silent tears rolling down her cheeks.
Plumber:I've never seen anything like it,its this long(stretches arms wide at full length)at least ten feet,compacted right up the soil pipe,at least a couple of months worth there.'
He was quite animated unlike his demeanour on his earlier arrival.
Well at least someone had some job satisfaction..

From the comfort of his provincial though close to civilisation kitchen, with wall to wall hotcupboard,tattie rumbler and hot lamps,Chef was blissfully unaware of the dramas that were unfolding far off the beaten track.

When news filtered back to the ranch, the old text message to landline chestnut was called into play once again.

'Oh dear...there was a big fat sausage in the loo pipe'

I fear the lady from Masterchef is the only thing that's keeping us going at the moment...

Hard boiled egg anyone???


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