So went to another of Johnnie’s wine-tasting workshops last night. He does them in his own kitchen, which I think is pretty brave – having a dozen punters in your kitchen as they quaff ten glasses of wine. Could easily turn into a disaster episode of Come Dine With Me.
But his workshops are hugely enjoyable and genuinely educational. And I can even say that after waking up with a head more fuzzy than a permed-up Paddington Bear whose just bungee-jumped over Tower Bridge in a woolly onesie.
Luckily, it’s not far to get back to mine from Johnnie’s. It involves a two-step stagger onto the pavement, a 90-degree turn left, a couple more paces… and voilà, I’m home. Even after ten glasses of wine, it’s still pretty negotiable – although if there’s sherry involved, anything can happen.
Anyway, in a brainwave that may have had something to do with those ten glasses, I vaguely recollect suggesting to Johnnie that we put an event on together – with him doing a workshop on pairing wine with food, and with me cooking the food.
ME COOKING THE FOOD? Hahaha… What was I thinking? Cooking for a dozen people, each say five courses – well it doesn’t need a mathematician to work out that’s.. a LOT of cooking. Practically industrial. And not only that, I’m asking people to part with their hard-earned cash for the privilege. No, I must’ve imagined it..
In a deeply secret red-and-silver kitchen,
Somewhere in London or possibly in Hitchin
( – in spite of sweeping skyscraper shots,
I’m guessing it’s filmed somewhere in Herts.)
The contestants listen with a sense of forebode
To cheeky-chappy Gregg and his mate John Torode.
“It’s The Market Challenge!” they boldly disclose,
That’s a pimped-up version of (the Hitchin) Waitrose.
The clock starts ticking, contestants are aflutter.
It’s Supermarket Sweep with organically-made butter
That’s been churned from a cow, who’s been pampered to the hilt
With a daily massage on Egyptian-cotton quilt. View Post
May I present to you the Polynesian legend of ‘The Octopus and The Rat’.. Some legends tell of intrepid heroes and dastardly villains, and their epic duels across space and time. Some tell of deceitful deities, and their tricks and schemes to bewitch humankind. Some tingle the spines of wide-eyed children, and some devour the hearts of brave but stupid men. Some make you laugh. Some make you weep. Some inspire nostalgia. And some make you glad to be alive.
But this one doesn’t.
A rat and hermit crab are stranded at sea after a devastating shipwreck. They go their separate ways. The rat then comes across an octopus. ‘Hullo,’ greets the octopus. They strike a bargain, which sees the octopus carry the rat to a far-away island. But as the rat disembarks, he disingenuously craps on the octopus’s head. And that is why octopuses have tubercles on their heads, and that is why rats are their sworn enemies.
Do not say you were not forewarned. It contains no otherworldly beings or mythical beasts. There is no overarching theme or cautionary tale. It begins with a character utterly superfluous to the plot and climaxes in a quite random and meaningless act. And the hostility between the two protagonists is biologically inaccurate; they inhabit completely different ecosystems. As
legends go, it is, frankly, not a particularly good one. It doesn’t even make sense.
But at least it’s a good introduction to my time in Tonga, a land that similarly confounded a young naive medical student at the turn of the Millennium. A faraway land replete with legend, a culture so different to my own. View Post
The year was 1773; Captain Cook, the esteemed explorer of yore, stepped ashore the fabled Tongan island of Lifuka. So enamoured was he with the locals and their exuberant entertainments, copious feasting and general revelry – the like of which he’d ne’er seen before back in Blighty – that he graciously bestowed on them the title ‘Friendly Islanders’.
Somewhat ironic – for his hosts were actually planning to chop him into bite-sized portions and serve him up as pre-dinner canapés. Luckily for Cook, the scheme foundered when they couldn’t agree on the finer details, such as whether Englishmen go well with ketchup, or whether they’re best served as a small-plates sharing concept.
Nevertheless, the term ‘Friendly Islanders’ has stuck forevermore. And indeed, it’s been gratuitously appropriated by the most unlikely local services (like Friendly Islander Vasectomies – ‘we snip with a smile..’) But despite their panache for canny marketing slogans, underneath lies an irrefutable generosity, something I increasingly discovered during my med-student placement on these fair isles. View Post