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I just fed you and your fat brother, so why are you now still yelling at me?

In contrast to yesterday’s triumphant dessert, P and I went out for dinner tonight and had at best an average meal for a slightly above average price. ((Of course, we did the stupid English thing of saying ‘everything’s great, thanks’ when the waiter asked us how everything was, when we actually meant ‘no, the food’s overcooked, bland and I think I’d even rather have a McDonald’s’)) I mention price because an average meal for an average price, while still being a waste of time in my opinion, at least is predictable and reasonable.

I won’t mention the name of the restaurant we ate at (I really must get round to writing that post about why I don’t write bad reviews) but it was another disappointing meal in Reigate. In our household, ‘Reigate’ is now a pejorative adjective for food that achieves a level of blandness and lack of adventure. ‘Safe’ food, I guess, where the spices are kept to a minimum and things are comfortingly beige or meat cooked to leathery dryness. Extending that to life in general, it also describes a stultifying comfort that eschews adventure and external influence, preferring parochial smugness. And I say that as someone who quite likes Reigate! Jay Rayner actually thinks this is a Surrey problem, rather than just Reigate’s:

Perhaps it’s the Surrey effect. Blimey, but it’s an odd place. I don’t mean this as an insult to all the interesting, forward-thinking, lovely liberal people who live there. It’s all the other ones, the miserable sods who live surrounded by manicured lawns and carriage-drive garlanded houses, who drive four-by-fours and their nannies to distraction. The ones who have all that money and carefully calibrated taste, and yet for the life of them can’t support an interesting crop of restaurants.

Tonight’s restaurant, as with other places we’ve been to where we’ve been disappointed with the food, was absolutely packed, mainly by the second of the types of people Jay Rayner described above, meaning that it was highly likely that it was going to serve food that absolutely catered to that crowd. I’ve got no problem with restaurants being successful serving a clientele like that; I just don’t want to eat at them. It’s disappointing that P and I continue to struggle to find anywhere near us where we can go for a vaguely interesting meal that isn’t something I could easily cook at home, let along something I could actually cook better myself. The notable exception to this is Maxwell McKenzie but he doesn’t have a permanent base so it’s almost impossible to eat with him without a lot of notice.

Maybe we just live in the wrong county.

Post title lyric taken from Willy Mason – Where the Humans Eat

Cracking cranachan at the Crown at Bray

I went for lunch at The Crown at Bray today. Before looking at its website, I had no idea it was a Heston Blumenthal establishment, which goes some way to telling you how his influence is mainly in the quality of the food rather than in the recipes. It’s standard decent modern pub fare, which isn’t meant to sound like I’m damning it with faint praise. I wouldn’t be writing about the pub otherwise. The hamburger I had was made with good quality beef served in a beautifully soft brioche bun that soaked up the juices so none of the burger’s taste escaped. Even the burger sauce served on the side was beautifully made. Great food doesn’t have to be fancy – it just has to be great.

The reason I’m bothering to blog about the lunch, though, is because of the beauty I had for dessert: the Crown Cranachan. I hadn’t heard of this dessert before today but I can’t see myself ever ordering any other dessert from the menu at the Crown whenever I visit. A cranachan is traditional Scottish dessert and kind of like a Scottish version of the Eton Mess, although in my opinion, vastly superior. The version at the Crown is a whisky cream with honeycomb, chocolate chips, granola and raspberries, topped with ‘chocolate spaghetti’. It’s a sweet dish (obviously) but the raspberry cuts through perfectly. I was in heaven eating this. I’m going to have to try to make a version at home.

Crown Cranachan

Other girls may try to take me away (take me away), but you know, it’s by your side I will stay…

Pre-kick-off gubbins

I like to think I’m all cool and more mature in my relationship with football and in particular my football team, Crystal Palace, but when it comes down to it, I can’t help caring more than is healthy. I care as much now as I did when I was a season ticket holder and regular away game traveller. I care as much now as I did when I used to wear a Crystal Palace scarf to bed. I care as much now as I ever did.

I generally like to keep my life stress-free – it suits me fine, although I accept some people would be bored out of their minds with the relatively calm life I lead – so at Wembley today, watching Palace in the Championship play-off final, I found myself questioning why I had taken up the offer of a ticket in order to subject myself to 90 minutes – plus 30 minutes extra time – of sheer stomach-churning anguish.

Well, the reason why was the feeling of utter elation at full-time, when Palace’s 1-0 victory and promotion to the Premier League was confirmed. Football, bloody hell.

Post title lyric taken from Palace’s club song, The Dave Clark Five – Glad All Over