Monday, August 30, 2004

The Invention Of Retsina

Stev (For it is he) - "Gorg, our wine is shit, what should we do ?"

Gorg - "The French put theirs in oak"

Stevan - "Do we have any oak trees ?"

George - "No"

Stevanios -"Bugger. What do we have then?"

Georgios -"Pine trees, fucking thousands of them"

.........Some months later......

Stevanipopolous -"The wine, what does it taste like ?"

Georgiofandunos - "It's still shit mate"

Stevanipopodopolous - "Bollocks. Put it in a fancy bottle and sell it to the tourists then, they'll drink any old crap"

And that's how it happened.
I'm confused over the Olympic closing ceremony, I kept catching bits in between serving meals, a quick synopsis follows.........

A row of dancing, neo-facist Mickey Mouse impersonators jig up and down to the sound of one man and his drum whilst the cast of Queer Eye For The Athletic Guy take it in turns to leap over a frying pan filled with flaming Retsina.

This was followed by the Chinese presentation which involved dozens of leggy Beijing ladyboys pretending to play mandolins to the rythym of thousands of Falun Gong supporters being ritually beaten with police batons.
Yorkshire Soul's Olympic Babes Results

1) Jodie Swallow - Triathalon, Jodie was looking good in the swim, ok in the cycling but sadly pulled out during the road race.

2) Jo Fenn- 800m, well, we all know what happened in the 800m.

3) Sarah Stevenson-Taekwondo, Sarah was on equal points with her opponent in the first round, but was knocked out for not being aggresive enough.

4) Victoria Pendleton - Sprint + 500TT, knocked out in the opening rounds.

5) Jade Johnson - Long Jump, looked good, jumped well but didn't get a medal.

6) Gail Emms - Badminton, hurrah, a success at last, Gail got a silver medal in the mixed doubles with Nathan Robertson.

7) Denise Lewis - Heptathlon, looked great, pulled out, but Kelly Sotherton came through to take the bronze.

8) Paula Radcliffe - Marathon + 10,000m, poor Paula, I've been a big fan of hers for years and it was so distressing to see her pulling up towards the end of the marathon, I'm sure she'll be back to form over the winter though.

9) Kirsten Lawton - Trampoline, lovely Kirsten didn't get a medal, but she brought a warm feeling in the trouser department to dirty old men everywhere.

10) Lee McConnell 400m+4x400m, Lee ran well but in both the individual and team races she was outclassed.

So then, being ranked as one of my Olympic Babes was pretty much a kiss of death for their medal chances, maybe I should feature their opponents next time around.

The Olympics was great though, I've heard very few complaints, there must be quite a few journalists who have been forced to eat their words after the hate campaign that ran through both the printed and visual media prior to thr games opening.

We found some new stars, Kelly Sotherton, Amir Khan (let's hope he can resist the financial temptation and get gold in Beijing before turning pro) and rediscovered some older ones, Bradley Wiggins, Matthew Pinsent and the wonderful Kelly Holmes.

The games seemed to run smoothly, as well as Sydney and certainly better than Atlanta, well done the Greeks, roll on Beijing and then London.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Wine Review - Mischa Estate Shiraz '02 ****

This is fantastic, so inky dark it's almost black, powerful, concentrated fruit on the nose and masses of flavour laced with dark chocolate, smoke, wet leather and bramble fruit. It has a long finish and is sublimely smooth, belying it's hugely full bodied style, the Mischa is a weighty 14% abv, a serious wine.

Made by Andrew Barns at Mischa Estate from 11 year old vines, this estate is rapidly becoming one of South Africa's best vineyards. The wine is available from the excellent Martinez Wines for £9.99, you'd be paying at least half as much again for a comparable Australian effort.

Mischa Estate

Martinez Wines - Famously Independent

Friday, August 27, 2004

Small Business In The Real World

A rather less tongue in cheek article than the Rules of Cheffery. I have a suspicion that the anonymous reader who commented on this recently re-posted article comes from a large employer background, I'm pretty certain they have never either run, or been employed in a small business.

The reader got all hot under the collar about a couple of paragraphs, here they are.........

"You must be hard as nails, tough as old boots, 16 hour shifts with barely enough time to go for a piss, standard day.You'll work Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Eve until three in the bloody morning and then some back for lunch shift on New Years Day, and every bank holiday."

"We don't do workers rights, fixed home time, unions, breaktimes, lunch hour, shop stewards, jobsworths and as for contracts ? I've heard they have them in other industries."

I'll reprint the comments made by Anonymous in full...........

"You are breaking the law if as an employer you are not allowing breaks, providing a written statement of terms and conditions (a contract exists whether its written down or not, and if you don't write it, the law does!) or looking after your employees' health & safety.

I would be very careful about bragging about being lax in these areas - I worked out where you work in a few minutes on your site, and if I was an ambulance chasing lawyer I would be leafletting your gaffe tonight!

Even if your staff are too frightened of you the punters won't want the trouble.These employment rights are there for a reason and were hard fought for. Flout them at your peril."

Oh dear, oh dear, did you work out where I work because I keep mentioning it on the site ? Well done sir, or madam. For anyone that isn't aware, I'm the Club Steward at Ilkley Golf Club, I have the catering business on a franchise.

Now dear reader, I know where you're coming from, but the shocking truth is, what I wrote about working conditions across the restaurant industry is the truth. Every chef knows it, we don't try to hide it, we work like buggery. If you want a 35 hour week with four weeks holiday, sick pay, weekends, nights off, bank holidays, Christmas breaks and all the rest, then for God's sake don't get involved with catering.

When you're playing out, we're working, you're out drinking, we're serving, you're eating, we're cooking, and when we've done all that we get to clean up all the bloody mess you've made of the bar and restaurant before we go home.

On the specific question of how I treat my staff. Frightened ? Of me ? If you want to talk to any of my staff, feel free. The article was written with tongue lightly in cheek, chef's are suposed to be evil ogre types, prowling the kitchen and striking the fear of chef into quivering commis. I'll now throw this hard earned reputation out the window, I've only really shouted at a staff member twice in the last four years.

(After being shouted at, one waitress said to me.....
"Stop it, you're making me feel really bad" - she had just dropped £70 of wild mushroom soup all over the storeroom.
"That's the general idea" I replied.)

My staff do get breaks, but in the real world it works like this, we take a break when there isn't a huge queue of customers waiting for food, not when some abitary timetable says we should, but, in order to the two of us to get days off, we have to work full days and just snatch a few minutes off as orders allow.

My staff get all their meals while working, tea and coffee are free all day, I place no restrictions on what the staff can eat (barring prawns/fillet steak/lobster etc.) and all meals are free. If I'm having a glass of wine with dinner, they get offered one as well.

Because my staff are mostly young girls, I make sure they all get safely home after a late shift, they get driven home and don't have to wait for taxi's, minicabs or buses.

On the subject of rights though, what about employers rights ? All small business owners dread the early morning phone call that says "I've got a slight sniffle, I'm not coming in." I might already be working a 16 hour shift, now I'll be working it on my own. If you ever consider going into business for yourself, think on this. You cannot afford to be ill, if your health is poor, this is not the life choice for you. When your staff phone in sick, you usually end up doing all the work yourself.

Employ more staff you might say, well, if we could afford that option, we would.

Rights are all very well, but for every worker in a small business that does a ten hour shift, I bet you can find his boss doing a longer one, then sitting up into the night to do the books and catch up with the bills.

Workers rights ? I work harder and longer than any of my staff, next time I'm doing a 100 hour week(I did 11 of them early this summer season), can I shout workers rights and go off to bed early ? No.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

I Hate Punk Brands

I was a punk you see. I 'ruined' my perfectly good blue jeans by drizzling them with bleach, then slashing them with a razor, over which I would wear a strappy, leather bondage belt, a mutilated tee-shirt, studded wristbands, make up and mad hair.

A short history of my hair styles....

A sort of tangled mop, which became........

A wedge, angled across my head, coming to a point 4 inches west of left ear, and dyed blue.......

then a mohhawk, first black, held up with soap, then sprayed silver, then black again, and finally a sort of dull red.........

then a sort of floppedy mohawk grown out into a bit of a rats tail effort at the back.

My clothing was either mangled by myself, or purchased at the excellent X-Clothes in Leeds, or from Oxfam, where no two items ever appeared to be the same, I veered towards a punk/new romantic look with definate overtones of Adam Ant.

These days though, punk has been sold down the river, we've got bloody punk brands! For the love of John Lydon, what are you kids doing?

Macbeth shoes, Atticus t-shirts and hoodies, Loserkids hats, Ad!o Bam Margera sneakers, Zero schoolbags, Lip Service vinyl pants, Scary Miss Mary absolutely bloody everything! The list goes on and on, Sourpuss, Steady, Emo, Alchemy, Dragonfly, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Where's your spirit of revolution gone ? It's no good saying you won't wear the clothing of the evil conglomorates and then going out and filling Blink 182's pockets by outfitting yourself head to toe in Atticus, don't you see ? It's the same bloody thing.

You are supposed to be anti-fashion, despising the Gap sheep and Nike addicts, the Armani whores and the Gucci capitalist running dogs, you pay lip service to punk and then go out with your Scary Miss Mary handbag, just as pleased as punch to be with it in the out crowd.

Where are the folks who used to sew their own jackets, the artists who usd to wear brilliant and dazzling, hand painted leathers at gigs ? Nobody wants to put in the time and the effort anymore, I never could paint myself, but I used to drool over customised leather jackets.

Punk, and goth, have become manufactured, it's culture of anti-culture has been so easily subverted to the corporate dollar that it makes me cringe to see little groups of wannabe anarchists in their carefully selected megastore punk brands.

Do you remember kids that used to get chucked out of school for having green hair or multiple nose piercings ? Sure, there were one or two at every school. Not now though, have you seen the 'new punk' hair do's ? Flat for school, then spike-it-up at the school gates on the way home home, ha ha ha ha ha ha, how outrageous are you ? Not very at all.

Every school now has a pack of teenage boys preening their hair into the compulsory post-pubescent spike top when the last bell rings, then they go home and listen to Good Charlotte and Blink 182, Busted and McFly and think they're well hard.

They've never heard of Black Flag or Bad Brains, they don't care about the Pistols, the Clash, the Banshees, DOA, Sham 69, the Boomtown Rats and all those others that tried to break away, tried to do something new, tried to say something, but who's saying anything anymore ? (Apart from Henry Rollins, but then is anybody listening ?).

So be a modern punk, listen to some vague pop punk with no soul and no social agenda, buy yourself some threads from the mass marketed fashion range, fill the pockets of your favourite punk band so that they can buy another 43 room mansion in Beverly Hills, spike your hair after a double chemistry lesson, don't think, just follow, remember, individuality is good, as long as your wearing our t-shirts.

Of course, after I've said all this, you won't make me get rid of my favourite shirt will you ? You know, the Dragonfly one with the big skull, and did I mention my New Rock boots ? I love my boots, I can still wear my boots can't I ?
Cheffette's mum has asked whether she is getting lunch breaks (in a kitchen ferfucksake!), please read this from the archives......The Rules Of Chef School.
Book Review - Hellblazer : Good Intentions - Brian Azzarello, Marcelo Frusin ****

John Constantine continues his dark American road trip in this, the second of this series of four collections.

Having been released from what was left of the high security prison, Constantine opts to hitchhike to Doglick, West Virginia, one of those places you would prefer to drive through, quickley, with the windows up. He leaves one poor driver terrified in his wake, speaks words of bitter wisdom to roadkill and delivers instant, and bloody, justice to two more wretches unfortunate enough to cross his path.

Constantine is travelling to the picturesque sounding Doglick in order to meet with Lucky Fermin's brothers, and tell them that he didn't murder their sibling, and then to find Lucky's wife. The surviving Fermin boys, Richie and Dickie, are about as nasty a pair of good old redneck psycopaths as you could ever wish to meet, and our hero runs right into trouble with them.

Azzarello is still repeating old stories, Hard Time was strongly reminiscent of the diner scene in Sandman, a theme which he visits again in the third installment of this series. He is also obsessd with strange sex and still portrays Constantine in a far darker light than has been previously seen.

Good Intentions though is better written then Hard Time, you might even have a wry smile when John manages to fall foul of the evil makers of doggy porn movies. The Fermin boys are well aware of Constantine's reputation as a magi, but for once his perception is off, and some home truths are given to him after his prediction that "I could kill you with a snap of my fingers" becomes bloody reality.

When Constantine leaves Doglick, with the obligatory pile of corpses in his wake, he's more troubled than ever, he's told that "If this is a bad place John, it's because you make it that way", the words ring true, he's as bad as the men he's killed.

Good Intentions is much better than the opening installment of this series, Marcelo Frusin's artwork is a vast improvement upon Richard Corbens work, and Constantine seems to be regaining a little conscience, but only a little. Anyone fancy a ride to Doglick ?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

A Day for Sport To Hang Its Head In Shame

My local cricket team, Burley-In-Wharfedale CC 1st, this week achieved promotion to the top division of the Aire-Wharfe league with two matches still remaining. Led from the front by captain Richard Harrison the team hit a consistently high standard from the very start of the season.

There have been excellent bowling performances from the teams two main strike bowlers, the captain and Nick Brook, the captain and overseas player B. Harris also managed a hat trick each.

On the batting side there have been great performances from Harris (who managed an undefeated double ton), I Normington, M Harrison, R Brook, I Frost, N Brook and J Davey, it's been a real team effort, apologies if I've missed anyone out.

Last week then, when the team got the required points to promotion, it should have been a night of celebration, guaranteed A Division status with two matches to go, but no, because something rather nasty happened after the match.

Small teams, like Burley, can be riven by politics just as nasty and divisive as the situations you can read about in the tabloids concerning county sides or Premiership football teams. After the winning match, a 'majority' of the 1st team got together, sharpened their knives, and then announced to the captain their decision to have him sacked, and to install another player as captain.

Can you imagine anything designed to be more hurtful and cruel to a winning captain than this ?
Can you understand why a team should want to sack a winning leader ? I can't. If memory serves correctly, the 1st team were relegated from the top division last season, this year Harrison turns the team around and leads them right back up, his reward ? A knife in the back.

I would have liked to heap superlatives upon the team at this point, to congratulate one and all on a highly successful season, instead I'm left shocked and appalled. The problem with some village cricket clubs is that good 1st team players sometimes come to (mistakenly) believe that they are running the club. Well, it works like this, if some current 1st team members drop out, the club will not cease to exist, somebody else will step up to play. Granted, the team might be weaker, but it will continue.

If however, the small core of people that actually run the club stop working, and by this I mean the committee members and volunteers who organise all the matches, umpire, open and staff the bars, prepare the match meals, cut the outfield and prepare the wickets, who organise fund raising dinners, quizzes, social nights, car boots and all the other things that are required to keep a club running. If these few people stop working, if they stop dedicating their time to the club, then we're in trouble.

There are all sorts of things I wanted to say about the 1st team at this point, but I've scrapped the lot, for those of you that were involved in last weeks meeting, your callow and underhand betrayal of your captain puts you all to shame.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Hello readers, sorry for the lack of material, mind you, it hasn't stopped 600 or so of you from checking out the Olympic Babes section every day. I'm rather busy so here's the condensed blog..............

Super, super Kelly Holmes.
Poor Paula Radcliffe, I just want to give her a big hug.
Well done the sailers and rowers.
I hate punk brands.
Inheritance tax is legal robbery.
Mischa Estate Shiraz is rather good.
England cricket 7-0.
Table tennis is rubbish to watch.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Bugger. It has rained all night, it is still raining now, and once again the golf course is shut. This is only to be expected during the winter, but to lose a weeks play in the middle of August is a right pain in the wallet. I have two groups booked today, one has been cancelled, the other party are more local so I'm going to see if I can persuade them to still come here for dinner.

Well done to Gail Emms and Nathan Robertson yesterday on their silver medal, they did make a fight of it, after losing the first set 15-1 it looked as if the final would be an embarassment, but they fought back to take the second set and really should have kept their four point lead in the last.

England got off to a racky start yesterday, losing three early wickets before captain Michael Vaughan came in to steady the side, new boy Ian Bell played well and worlds best cricketer Freddy Flintoff looks set to lead England to a decent first innings total, if the rain holds off down south that is.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

We set off to go to Scarborough the week before, but we were a bit late setting off and the traffic was terrible, so we went along a very pretty series of narrow country lanes to reach Bridlington instead.

A gatehouse on the Castle Howard estate, I was trying to navigate us to Malton at this point, but the traffic was worse there.

Bridlington seafront packed with hordes of happy Tykes.

Mrs YS on the seafront.

Small boats in the harbour at low tide.

A speedboat, we went on this, about three quid for a lightning fast, and veru bouncy, trip around the bay, very exciting.

A small crab/lobster boat makes its way in to the working harbour.
I was going to do a post about the monsoon like weather we have been having up here, but looking at weather conditions elsewhere in the British Isles at the moment, I think I'll be a little more stoic.

Instead then..............

A day out in Scarborough, our advice is, if you want to go to a kiddies theme park, give Kinderland a miss and head for the excellent Sundown instead. From left to right, Yours Truly, Steven, Candice, JR, Nats.

Aaaaand......Candice, Nats, Chez, Joshua, YS, Steven.

How cute ? A strait 10 on the Yorkshire Soul Cute Baby Scale.

The gangs most junior member, Kayleigh, all funned out after a happy morning's gurgling and being generally pretty.

After Kinderland we went and played on the beach for a while, well done Joshua who managed to fall in three times, third time not so lucky though as I didn't reach him in time and he got a sand and seaweed filled wave right in the mush. Two minutes screaming, then he was right back in.

This sea battle takes place in Peasholme Park, the boats are about 20 feet long and have blokes sat inside them, lots of loud bangs, flashes and smoke. In the picture here you ca see a flight of RAF Barnacle Geese straffing the German u-boat.

Biff, baff, bosh! A direct hit! Hooray for the Royal Navy, the Germans are sent packing and hordes of happy holidaymakers wander home to the sounds of Rule Brittania.
Olympic Babe Update

Of the girls I have featured in my Olympic Babes mini-series, only Gail Emms has yet competed but the good news is, Gail and her partner, Nathan Robertson, are into the finls of the mixed pairs badminton and are therefore guaranteed at least a silver medal, go Gail!

Look out for Denise Lewis on Friday as she starts her Heptathlon challenge, Kirsten Lawson competes on the trampoline from 4.30pm (I think that's Greek time, so 2.30 pm over here) and Victoria Pendleton races in the track cycling at 5.15pm (3.15pm Blighty time).

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Yorkshire Soul's Olympic Babes #10 - Lee McConnell, 400m, 4x400m

She's been a sprinter, then she was pretty at good at high jump for quite a while, now she's got gold medals for th 4x400m at the Commonwealth and European Championships.
Yorkshire Soul's Olympic Babes #9 - Kirsten Lawton, Trampoline

Trampoline, I'm trying really hard to avoid any bounce orientated, smutty puns.

Yorkshire Soul's Olympic Babes #8 - Paula Radcliffe

Thanks to the folk who have written in, and sent pictures of, olympic babes from around the world, but the point is, all my babes are from the British team, the American high jumper in the fur bikini was intriguing though.

This is the very wonderful Paula winning the Chicago marathon, we are now so used to Radcliffe winning that it's hard to believe that the press used to mock her for being the 'nearly girl.'

Paula was told by those 'in the know' that her action was all wrong, she would never improve if she couldn't stop her arms from flailing around and prevent her head from bobbling as she ran.

What Paula opted to do though was ignore all her critics, including her fool of a husband who once ran onto the track to berate her when she lost her lead position in a race, and just run as she wanted to, but a lot faster. Since then, all the other female long distance runners see of Radcliffe is her back.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Book Review - Memories Of Ice, Steven Erikson *****

Thud! The third and so far the largest volume of Erikson's ongoing Malazan Book Of The Fallen is about the same length as LOTR, and it's utterly fantastic.

Memories is set back on Genabackis after the revolution which has left Dujek One Arm's Host as a rogue army, divided from the rest of the Malazan invasion. Again you get a five page dramatis personae, a couple of maps, and a tome that you wouldn't want to drop on your stockinged feet.

An army needs to fight, and handily an enemy has arisen. The Pannion Seer, a man who's madness has swept an entire nation into an orgy of inward bloodshed and religious genocide, is moving his armies ever closer to the Host of Dujek, and therefore the remaining free cities of Genabackis.

The threat posed by the zealot army throws together those who were at each others throats during Gardens Of The Moon. An alliance of the Host, Anomander Rake and the Tiste Andii, the Barghest, the Rhivi tribes and the second gathering of the undead T'lan Imass plunges towards the besieged city of Capustan.

Erikson has a brilliant mind for tactics and battle, but it is his long term grasp of politics and strategy that make his books so good. As plot and counter plot are revealed, subterfuge and misinformation are rife, and you need a damn good memory to recall events set in motion two novels (and about 2,000 pages ago) that come to relevance half way through this novel. That said, you could read Memories without having read GOTM or Deadhouse Gates, but it's a much more enjoyable saga if you have.

In this novel Erikson shows us more of his seemingly endless inventiveness, including two of the nastiest creations I've seen in a fantasy novel. The Tenescowri, the peasant army driven headlong into battle, unsupplied and unfed as they march, what do they eat ? Their own dead and those they kill in battle, this is a nasty idea, but Erikson saves his most blood curdling, evil, none more black creation for the leaders of the Tenescowri, the Children Of The Dead Seed. It's so nasty that you will have to read it in the novel.

Elsewhere we have a welter of characters old and new, as always though, don't expect your favourite character to survive the novel. Itkovian, the Shield Anvil of Fener's Reeve, is a very thoughtful creation, it isn't often that the concepts of redemption and hope have been so well explored in fantasy literature. Silverfox, the four soul child created at the end of GOTM is another pleasingly complex person, and the caravan captain Gruntle is a welcome addition to the cast.

Erikson's descriptions of battle and warfare are as brutal and realistic as ever, the siege of Capustan is at the same time brilliant and appalling, as is the invasion of Coral which expertly captures the feeling of a good plan going horribly, tragically wrong.

Memories Of Ice equals the exceptional standards that Erikson set with Deadhouse Gates, no-one is writing better fantasy today than this man. I love Lord Of The Rings, indeed, I'm a bit of an anorak about it, but this series of novels is every bit as good as LOTR. It has an incredible depth and richness to it, all the time you feel the hands of history manipulating events, particularly on the case of the T'lan Imass, where even after 300,000 years of warfare, they can still find no end to their battle.

I'm used to Erikson's traits by now, I know that the hero I've followed throughout the entire book may well end up hacked to bits in the final chapter, if you were upset when Coltaine died within feet of safety last time around, you'll feel much the same when one of the major good guys falls at the end of Memories, plus one of the really bad guys gets away, and a few who were dead come back, and just what might happen if someone breaks Rake's soul stealing sword ?

It's fantastic, go out and beg or borrow a copy of Gardens Of The Moon if you haven't already, plough right through Deadhouse Gates and into Memories Of Ice, I've got the next installment, House Of Chains, sat beside me right now, another thousand pages of gripping reading I hope.

A reader writes.............."Nice site. But (am I missing a joke?): bias. "

Somebody tell him.
It's the Yorkshire monsoon season, we lost three full days (and five functions) last week, but as we had some quiet days we did some training with chefette Rebecca. Becca plans to stay with me until the end of the year, so that I can get a holiday this year, and she can pick up the basics of cooking.

Chefette Rebecca hard at work creating another masterpiece dish.

This was her first effort of the afternoon, a risotto of chicken and smoked bacon with green beans and parmesan, surrounded by an infusion of fresh herbs in olive oil.

Next, roasted monkfish with cracked black pepper and parsley butter on a bed of crushed potatoes, roasted green beans and tomatoes with fresh rosemary. Monkfish is a good starter fish for aspiring chefs, although pricey, it has no fiddly bones, it has a really firm texture and when cooked really simply like this, it tastes great.

This was the final dish of the afternoon, and a stunner. Roast duck breast with honey and orange glaze, chinese noodles and a stir fry of baby corn, beansprouts and pak choi. The sweetness of the honey sauce was temepered with soy sauce and balsamic vinegar and Rebecca reduced the sauce to reach a fantastic concentration of flavour.

A good afternoons work, and the best thing is, you have to eat all this stuff to check how good it is. This week we're going to do choux pastries, chocolate mousses and other sweet things.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Restaurant Review - Tubby Wadlow's, Ilkley *****

We didn't book, which was almost a mistake as we got the very last table just ahead of another walk in couple. The first thing to impress me about Tubby Wadlow's was the staff, two gents, bright, polite, very efficient.

We had drinks at the bar, G&T, lemonade, pondered the menu with it's modern English and French combinations and wide range of mussel dishes. I brought Mrs YS here because she loves mussels, sometimes she finds the flavour combinations of posh restaurants too busy for her palette but Wadlows suited her (and me) just fine.

Our order was taken promptly, I perused the wine list for a while before opting for a half bottle of good, Chilean Merlot. The restaurant, which seats about 40, was by now full, I had a sudden flashback to a nightmare dining experience at Steps (just over the road) last year when it was nearly an hour and a half before starters arrived in a restaurant that was less than half full, but not here.

Within 15 minutes my tart of goats cheese and asparagus was on the table, nicely presented on a square plate with drizzles of sticky balsamic vinegar. The waiter offered water at the table, and we were not pushed into buying bottled water, he was quite happy to serve us with a jug of Yorkshire's finest Adam's Ale.

For main course I had calves liver, nice and pink, on haggis mash with caramelised shallots and boudin blanc with a beef jus, a splendid medley of complimentary flavours. Mrs YS went for kebabs of (HUGE!) scallops with chorizo and bacon, on mash with a Parmesan cream. Both main courses were fantastic, a good balance of flavours without being overly busy.

In fact most of the menu seems to be this way, chef has obviously tried to be interesting without pushing the parameters too hard, you see so many restaurants (the now bankrupt Negreskis was one) who seem desperate to fill every dish with bizarre flavour combinations and things improbably infused with something wholly inappropriate. The chef here is to be congratulated on his even handed approach to his meals.

We were both too full for dessert, though I was rather tempted by a decent looking selection of cheeses and a short but pleasant selection of desserts.

The bill, with pre dinner drinks, two courses each, a half bottle of wine and a side order of crisp summer vegetables, was about £57, not cheap I'll agree, but it was very, very good and we will be back.

Restaurant Review - The Farsyde, Ilkley ****

This is the first time I have been to The Farsyde since it moved to its new premises ages ago. We popped in for lunch and were shown strait to a table by the smart and polite staff.

You get the choice of a three course lunch menu, with about three choices on each course, for £11.95, or to choose from the varied lunch menu which includes full meals, lighter snacks and sandwiches.

As I was playing football later (rather badly as it turned out) I went for a risotto of Thai chicken, bacon and chorizo accompanied by a salad of rocket and Parmesan (which seems to be the 'in' salad for all Ilkley eating houses) at £7 for both dishes , Mrs YS went for a prawn sandwich and chips.

Glasses of very acceptable house sauvignon blanc were £2.30, lemonade about a quid.

The risotto was lovely, moist, creamy and filled with thinly sliced meats, I wasn't sure what was Thai about the chicken, but it was most succulent. Very well presented with a lemongrass dressing around the plate and some fresh leaves on top, the rocket was fresh, crisp and peppery and had plenty of Parmesan shavings. Mrs YS's sandwich was also good, plenty of prawns and sauce in lovely, fresh white bloomer.

Lunch cost about £17 with two drinks each and I would highly recommend dropping in. I gather that evenings are often busy, and that you may have to book weeks in advance to get a table at the weekend.
Restaurant Review - Here's Johnny's, Cardigan Fields, Kirkstall, Leeds *

The music is booming, it's half past three and we are the only people in the place, I didn't ask for it to be turned down as I have come across the 'company policy' line far too often. I can't work out why we're listening to Sean Paul but watching the videos of ZZ Top on the numerous tv screens.

Food, well, it just about qualifies. We opted for a mixed starter, the ludicrous name escapes my memory, composed of.........
6 breaded mushrooms
4 half chicken wings from a very small chicken
2 scooped out bits of potato skin with no filling
a handful of tortilla chips with a little cheese
a teaspoon each of guacamole, salsa and sour cream
some elderly lettuce
About nine quid for a starter for two, bottled beer £2.50, lemonade £1.50.

I asked for a rare fillet with pepper sauce, only to be told that they had run out of pepper sauce, right you muppets..............
Gravy (or demi-glace)
a little tomato puree
a splash of red wine
cracked black peppercorns

Can you believe that any kitchen can't lay their hands on this simple list of ingredients, or that anyone at all that calls himself a chef couldn't put them together ?

The steak was fine, chips were alright, it was served with stir fried veg, which would have been nice, except they were coated with a very raw tasting spice mix, you really don't need to bugger about too much with broccoli, onions and mange tout.

Mrs YS opted for a pizza with onion, mushroom and pepperoni, what a soggy mess. The onions and mushrooms had been fried in plenty of oil, which then seemed to have been added to the pizza, mix in some poor quality pepperoni and lightly undercook and you have ? Wet greasy stodge.

Would we like to see the dessert menu ? Only through the window as I cast a despairing glance over my rapidly escaping shoulder.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Yorkshire Soul's Rambling And Occasionally Incorrect Quiz

You do realise that I don't actually know all this don't you ? I get it from books, anyway, it has been brought to my attention that Austria was in fact a member of the first quadruple alliance, the confusion arising from the fact that the Holy Roman Emporer was in fact Austrian.

This fact gives MR another point, which means.................Quiz Series 2 is declared a draw (technically it's a home win, MR comes from beautiful Kettlewell whilst I'm assured that Dr.P was spawned on Morecombe mud flats).

Sorry for the problems, when writing the quiz I do have to assume that my reference tomes have actually got the information right, also, I don't always check my e-mail all that frequently.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Walking Yorkshire : Buckden Pike pt.2

Cray Gill tumbles down the limestone beds in fields next to the B6160.

Looking down Wharfedale from Hay Close above Cray, the high pastures here were carpetted with a beautiful array of late summer wildflowers, it was worth the rain to see this.

A waterfall on Cray Gill below Todd's Wood(935785), there are four or five pretty waterfalls in the light woodland here, but be careful, some of them are in deep cuts in the stone and there are sudden drop offs of so feet or more with slippery edges.

Stone barn close to Stubbing Bridge.

The graveyard of St.Michaels and All Angles in Hubberholme, home to the fattest Chaffinch in the Dales.

The church, well, obviously.

I was a bit tired at this point, so it was good to take a detour into Buckden and pause for cups of sweet tea, coffee cake and jam scone at the excellent West Winds Cottage Tea Room. I strode in and shouted a cheery hello, full marks to the young waitress who, expecting to find some elderly gent, was instead confronted with the bedraggled, mud spattered, beardy, sweaty bloke instead.
Splendid home made cakes and scones at very reasonable prices, the tea room wasn't overly busy, indeed I was the only customer.

The only downside was the tea room cat insisted on trying to get onto my lap, a swift slap when the waitresses back was turned sorted that out though.

Looking up to Buckden Out Moor from Buckden village, typical, now that I have come down into the valley, all the clouds seem to be retreating.

A pretty, flower filled lane to the west of Starbotton. As I followed the Dales Way along the Wharfe here it was becoming a bit motorwayish, first a few more hikers, then packs of Daleswayers heavily encumbered by massive rucksacks, then dog walkers and finally, and most bizarrely, a pack of about 20 cagoule clad chavs all holding space hoppers, time to take to the hills again I think.

Fungi, species unknown, didn't eat them.

The Wharfe meandering through the valley below Moor End Fell, I walked up the Fell from Starbotton to escape the crowds on the Dales Way, only saw three more souls on the moor, it did rain again but the views from the top were very nice.

Flowers in a Kettlewell garden. If you have seen the film 'Calender Girls', most of the filming was done in Kettlewell village, with bits of Ilkley Moor thrown in for good measure.
Chutney Carrot Salad

8 carrots
1 red onion
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaf
1-2 tbsp mango chutney
1-2 tbsp lime pickle
2 tsp black poppy seed
2 tsp mild curry powder
pinch salt

Grate the carrots through a mandolin or food processor, they give a more julienne like texture which will be nicer to eat, box graters produce rather insipid little shreds which will make the whole dish rather limp and wet.

Slice the onion into half inch strips, then combine everything, mix it up and taste, you can use hotter curry powder of you prefer a bit more bite, or extra hot lime pickle for a similar effect.

This salad goes really well with Indian dishes/curries, and as it looks fantastic it adds a great splash of colour to any buffet table.

There you go Wendy, can I come to Lisa's party now ?

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Yorkshire Soul's Olympic Babes no.7 - Denise Lewis, Heptathlon

Heptathlon. As if it isn't hard enough to become world class at one sport, Denise can hold her own in 7.

She runs, she chucks large, heavy balls (above), she sprints, she hurdles, she pole vaults, she's got a baby boy and her body still looks that good.