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Sunday, 18 September 2016

FAIL!

Having slept for less hours than most people rightly should over the last 5 days, travelled more than most do in as many days, and spent more hours either pleasing others or hard at work, I feel fairly confident, if not deeply uncomfortable, confessing that I’m no longer operating at my prime. All this considered, I navigated my usual airport routine with precision and collectiveness from Prague this morning; I also made it home for long enough to efficiently swap suitcases, take a shower and do it all over again, this time on the Eurostar (no more ear-popping flights for me today then!). It’s here though, that things start to go slightly awry, all rather unwittingly.

I bought myself the obligatory trashy magazine and train drink (French beer instead of my go-to gin in a tin a la sophisticate), with sparkling water, a cheap sandwich, crisps (salt and vinegar, obviously…only to make a crisp sandwich with, of course!), and what I can only hope is a low calorie sweet treat. I fear that the sparkling water may be the only inoffensive thing about ensuing events:
  • Contrary to what the slightly rounded silver-haired and bespectacled older fellow opposite me may think, the reason I took all the crusts off my cardboard sandwich was not because I’m a pre-pubescent child incapable of digesting roughage, but because I have recently lost 22lbs in a very healthy way and my addled mind is telling me that if this is the only thing I can find to eat, I should at least try to remove half the guilt – crusts seem to be the most likely to get the chop in this scenario!
  • Perhaps I shouldn’t have inserted a fist full of crisps into my now crustless sandwich, but I guess if you’re going to do something wrong, you may as well do it right, no?!
  • As I sup my beer though, the bubbles made me burp. Not just any burp, but an almighty belch that I think may have started to tip my tutting train neighbour over the edge.
  • I may think that flatulence of all kinds is one of the funniest things on the planet, but it would seem that not all agree, so apologise I do and a disdainful grunt I receive from thy neighbour, who I’m pretty certain is now beginning to judge me beyond what would normally be considered reasonable from a fellow cross-channel commuter.
  • The trashy magazine I brought with me is not helping my cause here, by the way.
  • Note that one can still be intelligent, sane and/or successful while also enjoying the vacuous delights of bottom-feeding celebrity gossip from time to time, just saying!
  • I had a very engaging book in my bag, by the way (Panama Papers, if you’re wondering)
  • But wait…
  • Just about to take another satisfying gulp of my beer and it topples over, naturally in my direction, spilling all over not just me, but saturating the trash mag too *gasp*
  • During my last travel rotation, I cleared my bag out of all old tissues or napkins (indeed, anything remotely absorbent), so while I now have delightfully pristine hand luggage, I also have nothing to help mop up the spillage, except maybe my despairing neighbour…
  • When he looks up from his laptop, I thought for a moment, he was reaching for his hankie to help, but instead he calmly announces that it’s “…just not my day, is it.”
  • Off I trot then, squelching my way to the crummy train toilets with my tail in between my soggy legs.
  • Have you ever stood in a train toilet trying to wash beer off your crotch with water dribbling from a tap that’s operated by a foot pump?! I took them off…
  • Have you ever stood in your pants with your jeans and vest in a train toilet sink, trying to get beer stains out? Well, I now have…
  • Hot and bothered from drying my clothing under a microscopic and distinctly ineffective hand dryer, I drag my garments back on, trying to ignore the lingering beer smell permeating from me.
  • There’s a queue outside the toilet. I can only apologise, but now I smell like I’m drunk, so what’s a girl to do?!
  • With a relaxed, witty sense of articulated self-deprecation, I greeted my aloof train neighbour with the bashful acknowledgement that none of this had been my most dignified or fortunate of experiences.
  • Response: A big fat TUT
·         *silence*
  •  The end
So, now I smell like beer, I have trapped wind from holding in all the other burps that may well have been unexpectedly explosive; I can no longer separate the sticky pages of my beer-stained trash mag, my leftover crusts are sat in a pool of residual beer that I can’t mop up because I still don’t have anything absorbent and I can’t see a bin anywhere. I’ve probably gained an unwanted 1lb with the crustless crisp sandwich, and my grumpy train neighbour is doing everything he can to avoid eye contact.

FAIL

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Posh chips & a culinary eclipse at The Mayfair Chippy!

I defy any self-respecting Brit to say anything remotely negative about a humble portion of chip shop chips in all their sweaty goodness, enveloped by paper, smothered with sea salt and saturated in the cheapest of malt vinegars; eaten with either yer grubby fingers or a crap wooden spork! Yes, that's right folks, there's a special place in my heart for a good chippy.

Raised and nurtured by a mother who viewed the local chippy as the ultimate in culinary treats, it was always clear in our household that chips should only be eaten out of the paper whence it was sold to you, and that your chippy should be chosen carefully - the frying fat must not be old or cold, the correct potatoes must be used, batter scraps are an essential additive and the vinegar must only be malt! Having grown up in a coastal area too, I am altogether rather predisposed to appreciate the greasy goodness of a village chippy. I'm nervous then, about visiting a posh chippy in Mayfair that comes complete with proper cutlery, cheffy thrice cooking tactics, and heaven forbid, actual crockery. Whatever am I doing?!

Conveniently located in-between Oxford Street and Grosvenor Square, North Audley Street gets a thumbs up from me, albeit mostly because its sister street, South Audley is attached to Mount Street, which is coincidently one of my most favourite in London (I know, I know, it's a tenuous link that requires you to ignore the ghastly eyesore of the US Embassy in the middle of it all eh!). Lest I digress though, the restaurant itself is unassuming from the street, but chic, simple and refined in a way that Mayfair does typically do very well. Inside is super cute too, with d├ęcor that plays ample homage to the theme - I'm a particular fan of the tiled tables and chequerboard flooring choices.

Allow me to start with the epic! There is something divinely decadent about ordering fish 'n' chips with a bottle of bubbles, and I applaud the marriage of perfect opposites. The tables all boast the obligatory bottle of Sarson's, with salt and pepper shakers at the ready. The menu is exactly what you want and need it to be and I don't suppose anyone would go without here, not even the vegetarians! The house piccalilli served with Pea & Ham hock Fritters (£6.00) were supremely tantalising; the smoked cod's roe served with the Baked Sourdough Bread (£2.50) was everything and more than I hoped it would be; and adding Scraps (free) to the menu is nothing short of triumphant (batter scraps remind me of childhood in all the best ways!). Last but not least, The Mayfair Classic (£14.50) was gargantuan in size, with ample condiments, meaty and mouthwateringly fresh fish and a quirky presentation...bravo!

Maize Farm Steak & Kidney Pudding, 
with roast onions & watercress (£13.50)
I'm positive that the vast majority of you would be delighted to hear too, that the chips here were almost certainly twice or thrice cooked; they were chunky, fresh and well made. As far as I'm concerned though, this is just so tragically dull! I'm afraid to say that there is unfortunately nothing out there that can possibly even begin to replace a soggy vinegar-riddled chip that's been stuck to paper and sweated in your car for 15 minutes before you've been able to shove your greasy mitts inside the clammy portion of fatty potato-based calories! Similarly, the Maize Farm Steak & Kidney Pudding with roast onion & watercress (£13.50) was rich in sauce and jammed full of succulent meat, but a soggy Pukka pie it was not. I'm beginning to realise that this venture may have been wasted on me, despite my ordinarily refined palate. I should be ashamed of myself, I know! Oh, and by the way, the batter on the Scampi Tails (£9.75) and the Crispy Cornish Squid (£6.50 / £10.50) was a little too much too, I'm afraid, sorry.

Overall then, a wonderful establishment with a cracking menu, attentive staff, pleasant wine list and jolly good food. I think it just all boils down to the fact that for me, a chippy should be a little more grotty or greasy, and altogether a little more homegrown! There's a time and a place for fine dining, but chips are not it in my book...
Maize Farm Steak & Kidney Pudding, 
with roast onions & watercress (£13.50)

Square Meal The Great British Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Crispy Cornish Squid, with roast garlic & parsley mayonnaise (£6.50 / £10.50)


TripAdvisor

The menu!
Fish Art!
Bakes Sourdough Bread, with smoked cod's roe & butter (£2.50)
Scampi Tails & Chips (£9.75 / £12.75)
Back room, ideal for private dining
The damage for 4 people
Table tiling appreciation!