Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Gig Review : Dragonforce, Edguy, Sabater @ Leeds Metropolitan****

First off, and this seems to happen at almost every gig, shoddy organisation. It says 'doors 7pm' on the tickets, so what time do Leeds Met open up ? Well half past seven obviously, and it's a sell out crowd so by the time the poor buggers at the end of the queue have got inside, Sabater have already finished their set. If you were at the bac and missed the first band, why don't you phone Leeds Met and ask for a couple of quid back on your ticket price.

We're paying customers, and yet music fans always get treated very badly, I've lost count of the number of times I've stood out in the cold or the rain waiting for some disorganised venue to open up, it isn't good enough. What was also weird was me, 38 year bloke, having to get my hand stamped by a barely old enough to shave student to say I was old enough to buy alcohol! Also you couldn't purchase a round of drinks as the bar staff demanded to see the hand stamps of every person, so you all had to get up from your table and demonstate your age every time you wanted a pint. We're paying customers, stop treating us like this.

Sabater, for those lucky enough to be inside the venue, were OK. Bog standard power metal and I don't think their singer has a particularly strong delivery, but they got a warm reception from the crowd. Both Sabater and Edguy suffered from having to get all their equipment on a stage almost crowded by Dragonforce's kit which left them with no room to move at all.

The Germans Edguy are good, they've been around a while and their set is slick and polished. Singer Tobias Sammet looks like he's having a great time, he speaks perfect English, cracks jokes and introduces the title track from their Rocket Ride album as being "The best thing in the history of music." Edguy are a mass of whirling hair and frenetic/melodic guitar work, good, fun power metal.

When Dragonforce take the stage they do at least have some space, and they use it. It's quite obvious who runs this band, Herman Li and Sam Totman take the stage front more often than singer ZP Theart, their twin lead guitar style pulling the band along at breakneck speed. It really is all about fretwank tonight, there are so many solo's in a Dragonforce gig that Yngwie Malmsteen himself would turn green with envy, they are so brilliantly executed that Vai and Satriani would be left weeping in their beer.

Now if there is a slight downer to Dragonforce it is this, that they are a little samey. Songs from the first two albums stand out as being fractionally slower but allowing for more melody and catchiness, and catchiness is no bad thing, we love to sing along. Whilst the guitar work is dazzling, by the twentieth blistering guitar assault of the night I'd have swapped or two for a big old chorus.

ZP works the crowd well, it's all old school 'this side go yeah!, oh you're so much louder than those guys' stuff, it's inane, but it's fun. Herman and Sam jump and leap, keyboard player Vadim makes a few appearences with a hand held keyboard and part time/live bass player Frederic Leclerq looks like he's loving every minute of it.

Dragonforce have filled the hall tonight, it's a happy crowd, there's a very positive buzz about the band in the media, are they then on the verge of being really big ? Possibly, I think they are great, but they are in danger of sacrificing themselves on the altar of speed, look to the likes of Helloween, speed is good, but so are riffs, harmonies and time changes. Still, it's been a fine night's music and it's good to see trad metal making a comeback in the UK, we've scorned this sort of music for years whilst the rest of Europe have lapped it up, hair metal is back, and I've just cut all mine off, bugger.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

D&D : The Magnificent 7, oh dear, 6 again, hang on, no, 7

We are lost in Undermountain. It always happens like this, bold young adventurers think they can take on just a few chambers on the upper level of the world famous dungeon, they kill a few wandering Orcs, blast a Zombie or two, then they stumble across one of Nadrun's magical doors. or one of Halaster's trapped corridors, or even one of Varaghast's spell chambers.

And suddenly we have been teleported somewhere else in the dungeon, we have traversed mushroom filled corridors, vast chambers with no gravity and strange air swimming shark like creatures, we eventually found some stairs up, then......

We came across six sleeping Dwarves. "I'll just prod one with my knife" says Thazar. Enter the all too corporeal and mightily vengeful Dwarf Ghost guardian, two mighty hammer strikes later and Thazar is dead. But then he comes back, still obviously dead, with a large hammer indentation across his face.

We continued on with the now see through rogue tagging along, and as bad luck follows bad, we awoke a Wight, who landed a blow on me, Garag, Goblin priest of Ilmater. A hard days dungeoneering, one dead, one drained, and we still don't know the way out.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Best Of 2005

1) Judas Priest - Angel Of Retribution


Rob's back and the boys are back to their ear shredding best.

2) Ascendancy - Trivium



Wow, that's fairly fast, I like music with a bit of wooooaaargghh!

3) Mezmerise - System Of A Down



Brilliant, inventive, strange, powerful, if only part two had been as good. It sounds like this has been SOAD's White Album, a mix of styles, the band can't get on so realease everything before they split up.

4) The Dangermen Sessions - Madness


The Nutty Boys come back with an album packed with covers of the songs that inspired the band, including a fantastic version of Lola.

5) Rosenrot - Rammstein



Another heavy helping of German 'blowing things up' metal, or 'dance metal' as the Indy called them.....

6) Doomsday Machine - Arch Enemy



It's a girl singing, no really, well grunting ayway.

7) Dark Ages - Soulfly


If you like what Max does, then he does it fairly well here.

8) Employment - Kaiser Cheifs



Local boys done good, done very good indeed actually, they won't ever have to work again after this has spent five months (and counting) in the charts.

9) Frances The Mute - The Mars Volta



Well, you either love them, or are utterly bewildered by them, or both.

10) War Of The Worlds (remastered) - Jeff Wayne


Forget the crappy US film, just pop this in your player and listen to the bloke with the the best voice ever, "No-one would have believed........", Richard Burton rules.

Well at least that's one list that I trust you can't argue with.

iMeme

Total number of tracks in iTunes 850

Sort by song title
First song:Hmm, it comes up with the bracketed (Can't You ?) Trip Like I Do - Crystal Method & Filter, but the first song proper after various number songs (2112, 36, 502, 51st state) would be A Farewell To Kings - Rush
Last song: Zwitter - Rammstein

Sort by time
Shortest song: Invocation Of Apocalyptic Evil - Dragonforce 0.13
Longest song: Brainsaw - Therapy? 25.27

Sort by artist
First: AC/DC
Last: ZZ Top

Sort by album
First: Absolution - Muse
Last: Young Lust - Aerosmith

10 most played - I don't listen much on the PC so this is from my iPod
1) Dictosaurus - Probot
2) Nausea - Therapy?
3) Rock 'n Roll Aint Noise Pollution - AC/DC
4) Blood And Thunder - Mastodon
5) Holy Wars...The Punishment Due - Megadeth
6) Angel Of Death - Slayer
7) Chinatown - Thin Lizzy
8) Loveshit - The Wildhearts
9) Drinking About Life - The Wildhearts
10) Shoot To Thrill - AC/DC

First five songs that come up on Party Shuffle
1) Caffeine Bomb - The Wildhearts
2) Orgasmatron - Motorhead
3) Disgracelands - Therapy?
4) Peephole - System Of A Down
5) Is Vis There ? - Department S

Number of search returns for:
sex: 2
love: 36
you: 65
death: 29
hate:3
wish: 11

(pinched from Counting Sheep)

Friday, January 27, 2006

Staring At Fit Bird's Arses

Now you see usually this is something I'll get a thick ear for, but last night we went to a salsa class, I was the only bloke there amongst twenty or so women. In our little clan of friends it was reckoned that I am the only one of the husbands daft enough to try something like this, they wern't wrong.

Anyway, where the bottom watching comes in, to learn the steps you have to watch the dance instructor, fit young blonde girl, you know the type "You must let yourselves feel the music, watch me, watch me." No worries there girl, I'm paying attention.

The only down side of this is a bad case of two left feet syndrome, who would of thought it could be so difficult to get your feet to go where you want them to ? After all, they have managed it for me for the best part of four decades, with the odd night of copious vino when they have strayed a little.

Mambo, forwards, backwards, forwards, backwards, right, ok then, I can just about cope with this. Open left, open right, try not to look too camp, all going fairly well so far, crossover, bugger me, how can this be so hard, the little blonde thing is moving and shaking, I'm suddenly stumbling around like a St Vitus Dance sufferer on a hot tin roof.

After a while though I manage to settle into a rather lumbering form of the dance, then we do it as partners. Are you paying attention guys, you get to spend most of the hour watching a lithe blonde thing shake her stuff, then you get to dance with other blokes wives and girlfriends without getting into a fight afterwards. This was mostly ok, I didn't tread on too many toes I hope.

I'm not repeating the class next week as I will be "Feeling the music" at Coheed & Cambria vs. Thrice, but I might well be back the week after. Hey girls, anyone want to see my mambo ?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

I'm sorry if I am not responding to e-mails, but I can't get gmail to work at all this week, is anyone else having problems ?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Wine Review - St. Hallett Faith Shiraz '99****



I was pottering around in the cellar last night, laying down the '01 Riojas that have finally been delivered, and opening two cases that have been maturing for a while, Edi3ione and this. Faith is St. Hallett's third ranked Barossa Shiraz, after the Old Block and Blackwell. St. Hallett are dedicated to producing 'Appelation Barossa' wines with no fillers from other regions bought in.

I tried the Faith Shiraz alongside steak with sweet pepper & chilli sauce, a good match. The tannins present in wine when I bought it five years ago have softened beautifully to produce a very smooth drink. It is still a big wine, but the cellaring has smoothed out the direct berry first taste that was present in the younger wine.

The Shiraz has lots of well integrated dark berry flavour, pleasant notes of spice and pepper, with a warm richness of chocolate and a nice background smokiness. Try it with any red meat or most game, casseroles etc.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Book Review : Life Of Pi - Yann Martel*****


Pi, full name Piscine Moliter Patel, has the misfortune of being named after a Parisian Olympic swimming pool, this makes things hard at school in where the other boys naturally name him Pissing Patel. Pi is a cunning lad though and when he moves to the older boys school he trains all the boys and teachers to use his nickname.

Pi's father owns Pondicherry Zoo, but the zoo business is becoming harder so his father sells the zoo and all its animals and the family prepare to travel to start a new life in Canada.

On the way, tragedy strikes. The ship carrying Pi, his family and an assortment of the zoo's animals also bound for a new life in Canada, sinks suddenly. Pi scrambles into a lifeboat where he finds he is the only human occupant alongside an injured Zebra, a hungry Hyena, an Orangutan and the zoos pride and joy, a huge Royal Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker.

As the population of the boat dwindles, Pi realises he will have to do something extraordinary in order to save himself.

This is a hugely enjoyable book, from Pi's experimenting with religion through to his survival on the high seas saga, I loved nearly all of it. Nearly all ? I was a bit bewildered by the island of meerkats, as were the Japanese insurance investigators, but ho hum, otherwise it's a good fun read and I'm right there with Pi and his thoughts about God.

Life Of Pi is a Booker Prizw winner, wait wait! I know that has already sent some folks running for the hills, if you have bought novels on the basis of their prize winning credentials and had to suffer the bone dry moanings of Coetzee, the witterings of Amis or the desperately needs an editor with a big black pen Ben Okri, then Yann Martell might come as a pleasent surprise. It's eminently readable, enjoyable and fun, the 2002 commitee must have had a sense of humour.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Bird Flu Down Under

Twenty20 silliness reached its climax at North Sydney Oval yesterday when Victoria took on NSW in the domestic final. Thankfully, by then the controversy over the nickname of young Bankstown quick Aaron Bird had subsided, for he had agreed to wear "Birdy" on his back rather than his preferred moniker, "Flu". Bird was persuaded not to go with "Flu" amid fears it might upset the major sponsor of the Big Bash tournament, which happens to be KFC.

(pinched from Aftergrogblog)
Come Out Of The Closet Tom Cruise

An episode of South Park won't be shown on British TV because the show makes repeated jibes about Cruise's refusal to "Come out of the closet" and they are afraid that lawyer friendly Tom is likely to sue them.

Oh well, you'll just have to watch it here then.
Yorkshire Soul's Rambling Quiz, Series 4:5 Answers

1) A medical report published recently claimed that giving homeless alcoholics up to sixteen glasses of wine or sherry a day improved their health and behavior. What country was the report published in and how did the authors claim that the free alcohol improved health ? (2)

Doctors in Canada published the report in which it was claimed that giving free booze to alcoholics helped to build up a level of trust which "ensured the facilitated the provision of healthcare", Dr Jeff Turnbill, Canadian Medical Assocoation.

2) A special limited edition packaging for a drink was launched to commemorate a football match at the weekend, which drink and which match ? (2)

Bovril was put in a one off wrapper for the Burton Albion vs Man United game.

3) "He's so unpopular that if he became a funeral director people would stop dying" - who speaking about whom ? (2)

The late Tony Banks speaking about then PM John Major.

4) Why can't the residents of Bethnal Green & Bow contact their MP this week ? (1)

Because George Galloway is locked in the big Brother house.

5) An army chief was arrested this week after threatening military intervention if a province of his country gained further autonomy, his name and the name of the troublesome province please ? (2)

Lieutenant-General Jose Mena Agaudo, Catalonia.

6) Who is this ? (1) Round the world yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur.



7) Who is this ? (1) Apparently the only Lib Dem not to be an alcoholic or having an affair with a male prostitute, Sir Menzies Campbell.



8) Who is this (1) ? Shemale Pete Burns, once of Dear Or Alive.


9) Who is this ? (1) Ariel Sharon


10) Who is this ? (1) Andy 'The Viking' Fordham, I ought to deduct points for the ones that said "It's you after Christmas dinner".


4:5 Scores and League

Chez 14
MR 14
Rachel 'O' 13
Dr P 13
Eleanor 12
Andrew M 10

Series 4:5 League

1) Eleanor 76
2) MR 72
3) Chez 61
4) Dr. P 60
5) Rachel 'O' 43
6) Dirk Thruster 22
7) Mandy 17
8) EvilBarSteward 15
9) Penny Farthing 14
10) Miss Fitty 13
11) Mr Moosehead 11
12) Andrew M 10
13) Patricia 8
14) Ms B Haven 1

Thursday, January 19, 2006

London




Changing of the guard at Horsegaurd's Parade.



Downing Street.



The Diana and Dodi memorial at Harrods.



Rachel Whitehead's Giant Heaps Of White Plastic Cartons That You Get Told Off If You Sit On Them, at Tate Modern.



St. Paul's at night, ooh, look at the pretty lights.




Newton at the British Library.



The Heron Lady in Regent's Park.



Wahey, I get to meet Aiswarya Rai, result!
G'day Mate, I'm Australian

I know you're a bloody Australian, this is because you are wearing a multi-dayglo-hued sports shirt, ridiculous three quarter length nylon beach shorts and flip flops. In England. In January.

You see little huddles of them on tube station platforms telling each other how cold it is over here, that's why everyone else owns a coat you muppets.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Restaurant Review : The TV Chef’s

Gary Rhodes W1 at the Cumberland
Vs.
Gordon Ramsey’s Boxwood at the Berkeley

The Restaurants


W1 looks flash, towering walls of glowing blue glass, loads of space, you certainly don’t feel cramped, the tables are set with centre cloths only though and as for the trancy DJ, well, it’s not my cup of tea. The Boxwood is very subtly done in chocolate brown, green and shades of dull silver, nice effect, but Gordon, get someone to go around with a tin of brown paint and just do the windowledge edges where the paint has rubbed down to the undercoat, I notice these little things when I’m about to pay a small fortune for a dinner.

We sat at the bar in W1 for pre dinner drinks, gin and tonic £8 and an alcohol free Unfuzzy Navel for Mrs YS £5.50, in the Boxwood we were swept strait to our corner table, we ordered pre dinner drinks, prices about the same, but the staff seemed desperate to get our dinner order even though we were half an hour early. The slightly too quick service was the same all the way through at the Boxwood, just chill out a little guys, don’t make your customers feel as if you want them out the door as soon as possible.

The Starters

Both restaurants offered bread which was equally good at both, neither of us were impressed at Rhodes’ offering of butter in little foil dishes, whether it is Isigny AOC or not, it looks a bit cheap.

W1, Crayfish Pasta for Mrs YS £8.60, Smoked Haddock with Welsh Rarebit for me £7.75.
Boxwood, Warm Salads of Squid and Chorizo for Mrs YS £9.50, Rabbit, Parma Ham, Foie Gras, Roasted Artichokes for me, £12.50.

My smoked haddock is nice, and nicely presented on thinly sliced tomato salad, but where is Mr Rhodes much vaunted insistence on the very best of British ? Tomatoes in January ? The dish is nice, but not exceptional. Mrs YS enjoyed her crayfish and chilli cream pasta, I thought it was a little underseasoned.

The warm salad of foie gras and rabbit though is wonderful, foie gras is superb, one of the nicest things you can put in your mouth, both the salads are nicely presented and bursting with flavour.

The Wines

Although the menu’s don’t seem to be astronomical in price, the wine lists are certainly much more expensive than I’m used to in Yorkshire. At W1 I have a really good bottle of Kanu Chenin Blanc at £21.50, at Boxwood a bottle of, also South African, Shiraz at £36, both wines are at the lower end of the price spectrum. Service for both is attentive, a sip had is a sip replaced.

The Mains

W1 – Seared Salmon with Fried Squid, Leek Risotto for Mrs YS, Plaice with Red Pepper Butter for me.
Boxwood – Crab Linguine for Mrs YS, Roast Suckling Pig for me.

The seared salmon looked superb, crispy skin, translucent inside, I tasted a little of the squid and risotto, it was really good. My main course is a major disappointment though, although my fish is perfectly cooked the red pepper butter tastes of nothing, and worse, the fish hasn’t been drained well so the butter mooches around the rim of the dish with little ponds of tepid water. My main course comes with nothing, so I shell out for new potatoes and green beans at £3.25 each, my £14 main course now costs £20.50. Mrs YS has a rocket salad in addition to her salmon taking the price to £19.25. Mine was dull, the new potatoes were good, the beans ever so slightly aged.

Over at the Boxwood, a decent sized portion of Crab Linguine at £19 for Mrs YS and pronounced really good. I get two thick slices of suckling pig with perfect crackling, plenty of creamy mustard sauce and a soft, succulent roast potato, £16. I had two vegetables, roast butternut squash with parmesan and capers, and creamed sprouts with chestnuts and bacon at £3.95 each, and don’t go thinking you get enough to share at that price.

My main course though is good, and the inventive vegetables go perfectly with it, Boxwood scores heavily over W1 for the main courses.

The Desserts

W1 – Tiramisu £6.50, Bread and Butter Pudding £5.50
Boxwood – Chocolate Fondue £7, Warm Chocolate Fondant with Salt Caramel Sorbet £7

Al the desserts are great, the bread and butter pudding is the lightest I have ever tasted, not a hint of stodge and with a superb vanilla infused custard, my wife had great fun with the individual chocolate fondue with it’s homemade marshmallow and biscotti, my fondant with it’s runny chocolate sauce centre was superb, nicely balanced by the salt caramel sorbet.

Afters

W1 – Black coffee £2.90, Latte £3.10
Boxwood - Glass of Quinta Port £9, glass of dessert Muscat £9, cheese plate £7, latte £4

I just wanted to go the whole hog at Boxwood, thus the selection of British cheeses followed by a very slow plod back to the tube station. A very generous selection it was, a thick slab of Quicke’s cheddar, some ash coated goat’s cheese and a creamy blue, very good.

The Bill – W1 £109.60, Boxwood £154.05

Rhodes vs. Ramsey ?

Ramsey, much more expensive but much better quality all the way through, I honestly wouldn’t recommend W1 if you are in London, there are surely many better restaurants than this, if your pockets will stand it though, do reserve a table at the Boxwood.

Rhodes W1 - ***
Boxwood Café - *****


After dinner at the Boxwood, we wandered back into the Berkeley Hotel and into Petrus, another of Ramsey’s placed with Marcus Wareing at the helm, we asked to see a menu and enquired about how far in advance we would have to book. The staff were highly professional, courteous and friendly and answered all our questions however pertinent or wandering (one gin, one whole bottle of Shiraz, one port) they were. The tasting menu is £80, I am tempted.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Stranger In A Strange Land

Ey up, I'm down South, i would say I'm amongst the Southerners, but that's not exactly true.

The truth is rather more like the start of a long joke, you see, there's an Englishman, two Lebanese, a Jew, a Sikh, various East Europeans, assorted Somali's, Kenyans, Ghanaians and a small horde of Australians, and that's just in my tube carraige.

This really is the most marvellously cosmopolitan of cities. Three people on the tube are reading papers, one in English, one in German and one that's looks like (although I am by no means certain), Indonesian. You can tell the Tyke bumpkins, we're the ones that laugh and giggle every time the tube jerks to a halt and throws us against each other. You can tell all the locals as well, they're the ones giving us disdainful looks and wondering just how someone can be having so much fun on something as mundane as the tube.

So far then, we have walked along the river, both in muggy daylight and in darkness when the city shimmers and sparkles and St. Pauls becomes astonishingly beautiful. We popped in to the Tate Modern, had dinner at Gary Rhodes W1 (not fantastic, report to follow) walked across the (now non-wobbly) Millenium Bridge, have giggled on dozens of tube trips, had a great lunch with Aunt Morag and friends in Croyden (good lunch, but did you know that when an architectural plan is rejected anywhere else in the country for being too square/ugly/dull, it gets built in Croyden just for a laugh?), went to the shockingly expensive Madame Tussaud's, visited Harrod's and had a Lebanese lunch, shopped, played with toys in Hamley's, walked in parks, seen the changing of the guard and got into the photo's of lots of Japanese tourists at Buck Palace ("Hey Hiro, who fat beardy bloke in all your pictures ?") and we've still got time to have dinner tonight with Mr Ramsey, phew.

When we were in New York the Yanks made us laugh by continually pointing us towards Central Park, you don't understand we would say, we live in Yorkshire, we don't need your postage stamp bit of parkland. London though, like quite a few of the great European cities, was built in an age where the great and good placed much importance on green spaces, after all, you had to have somewhere to hunt deer and execute revolutionaries. Thus parks abound in London, there are bits of green all over and the city is a nicer place for it.

I sort of like the hustle and bustle as well, I couldn't stop giggling when we piled onto a tube along with half the population of Kings Cross (or so it seemed) and I had my head in a thankfully clean Kurdish armpit whilst two small Koreans sat in my coat pocket.

We didn't manage Speaker's Corner, but there were some radical Christian types heckling the shoppers on Regent Street, "Jesus loves you," mumbled one in a monotone into his bullhorn, "You could sound a bit happier about it," shouted back the tipsy Tykes "Cheer up!", he was momentarily stunned into silence, the crowd slowed, perhaps expecting an argument but we gave him a cheery wave and left him befuddled, Canute against the waves.

I really like London, I've jetted all over the world in the last few years and I havn't been down here for 15 years or so, we will have to come back, there's so much to do and see. It's a wonderful place, but you know where my heart lies, every morning at home I can see the sun rising from behind the Cow and Calf, the mist on the moors, the pheasant that treats my roof as his personal screeching point, London is wonderful, but you wouldn't leave Yorkshire for it.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Passport, Clogs, Flat Cap, Ready To Go

We're all packed for our Southern adventure, off for a long weekend in the 'Bright Lights', the land of celebs and nose candy, flat beer and funny accents, museums, monuments and tube strikes.

There's a question that's been bothering Mrs YS and myself ever since the last series of Hell's Kitchen, who really is the better cook between Gordon Ramsey and Gary Rhodes, well by the end of the weekend I shall know the answer, it's chez Rhodes tonight, and the f******g Boxwood on Monday.

Also, and this is actually the most important reason reason for going down South, it's my aunt Morag's birthday, so Happy Birthday to a lurker!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Wino

Best of 2005
  1. Amarone Della Valpollicella '01, Guiseppi Campagnola, DOC Amarone, Itlay
  2. Best's Great Western Bin 0 Shiraz '98, Grampians, Oz
  3. Edi2ione '01, Laithwaites, Tuscany
  4. Gales Heritage Cremant de Luxembourg NV
  5. Onix '01, Priorato, Spain
  6. Mischa Estate Shiraz '02, Wellington, South Africa
  7. Coppermine Road Cabernet '02, d'Arenberg, McLaren Vale, Oz
  8. Gran Reserva Cabernet '01, Portal Del Alto, Maipo Valley, Chile
  9. Emilius de Tremoulet '99, Ch. Tremoulet, AC Saint Emilion, France
  10. Filsell Old Vine Shiraz '99, Grant Burge, Barossa, Oz
  11. Ch. Musar '94, Lebanon

Avoid

  • Clos Delem Semillon, AC Bergerac Sec
  • Heresie Cathare, Ch. Domaine de la Chanade, AC Gaillac Doux
  • Gaudio Rosso, Italy
  • La Barque Vielle, Andre Roux, AC Cotes de Rhone
  • Bruwer Gold Reserve, Bon Courage, Robertson, RSA

I drank my way through about 150 different wines, lower than is previous years because my cellar has reached maturity this year so I have pulled out whole cases of some wines (Edi2ione, a couple of Rioja's etc) for drinking throughout the year.

I've had every major grape and probably most of the minor ones, but there's lways something new in wine and this year I tasted the dark, lip staining Lancelotta for the first time as well as some unpronounceable grapes from Eastern Europe that are probably better left unremembered.

I've had some memorable wines, mostly consumed with The Big Red Boys, and also a few really bad ones, my tasting notes for a wine we had from (Tajikistan ?) says "After we drunk the whole bottle we still couldn't decide whether it was corked or just shit."

Here's to a vintage 2006, cheers!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

...And in other news....

There was chaos last night at the Paranoid Schizophrenics Society Pantomime when one of the actors shouted, "He's behind you."
WOAAAAARGH! etc.

I have purchased tickets for the quite wonderful....

Coppermine



Some pleasant, melodic rock for you, a little light for my taste, but check them out on.....

Myspace - Coppermine, where there are 4 good quality songs to listen to.

Coppermine.com, there are a couple more tracks to listen to here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Captions ?

Old Kitchen Joke

"Our sommelier is really randy."

"Why do you say that ?"

"He's always walking around with a semillon."
Googled

Have Google changed their search algorithm again ? The huge surge in visitors I started getting about three months ago, pushing the daily visitors over 10,000 most days, has now shrunk back to a rather more cosy 2,000 or so a day, starting just after Christmas.

The amount of returning visitors has only fallen slightly though, that's nice.
Yorkshire Soul's Rambling Quiz, Series 4:5

1) A medical report published recently claimed that giving homeless alcoholics up to sixteen glasses of wine or sherry a day improved their health and behavior. What country was the report published in and how did the authors claim that the free alcohol improved health ? (2)

2) A special limited edition packaging for a drink was launched to commemorate a football match at the weekend, which drink and which match ? (2)

3) "He's so unpopular that if he became a funeral director people would stop dying" - who speaking about whom ? (2)

4) Why can't the residents of Bethnal Green & Bow contact their MP this week ? (1)

5) An army chief was arrested this week after threatening military intervention if a province of his country gained further autonomy, his name and the name of the troublesome province please ? (2)

6) Who is this ? (1)



7) Who is this ? (1)


8) Who is this ? (1)


9) Who is this ? (1)


10) Who is this ? (1)



Answers to Yorkshiresoul@gmail.com on/by Tues 17th Jan. No lists of possible answers.

No spoilers please.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Yorkshire Soul vs. Gordon Ramsey

Do you think that all I do with my spare time is eat out at fancy rstaurants ? You're about right then. Next week we're heading down South, Monday night we'll be dining at Gordon Ramsey's Boxwood Cafe at the Berkeley, reports to follow.
Restaurant Review - Five Rise Locks Hotel, Bingley***


I seem to have thrown the owners into a slight tizz by asking if we could come tonight on the Times £5 offer, this is the first night you could go out on the deal and it seems they really weren't expecting any package customers until next week, after a moments pondering though my booking was accepted.

Now, the Eat Out For £5 offer. From a restaurants point of view, surely you have to accept this as a loss leader or part of your advertising budget. The whole point of the offer is that it brings people into your restaurant who otherwise probably would not have dined there, whilst these new folk are with you, you have to demonstrate that your cooking is good enough to bring them back for the full price version. It is absolutely no use serving a poor quality, cut down meal and trying to squeeze a 'decent profit' out of it. The customers understand that they will be offered only cheaper meats and fish, but don't make it poor as well.

This, by the way, isn't specifically aimed at the 5 Rise, it's just a general comment about the offer. We have visited in years past some places who were desperate to get a few quid profit from the fiver, therefore served a fairly dreadful meal and ensured that we wouldn't ever come back, other places though, and I'll mention Whitebait and The Olive Tree here, served excellent meals which secured good reviews and repeat custom. If there is profit to be made from these type of offers, it must come from drinks, wine etc.

Our meal then, we had a round of pre-dinner drinks in the bar before being taken into a dining room with fairly modern, new and clean looking decor but a lovely looking, sturdy old table. My mum in law an myself were both cooing over the table, it's just the sort of thing I'd love in my dining room. We were served some pleasent sun dried tomato bread before the meal.

Starters and mains were from the £5 offer three choices, I had a chicken and pork pate, nicely presented with some good fresh salad and drops of basil infused oil, the girls had garlic creamed mushrooms, the portion size here was slightly dissapointing, just a few mushrooms in a puddle of sauce, no garnish. I thought at first this was because we were on the offer menu, but peeking at the meals being had by the other three couples in the restaurant, this seems not to be so, it was the standard size portion.

For the main course, three of us opted for smoked haddock mornay, Brian got the best of the night when his generously sized penne carbonara arrived. Again, the portion size seemed a little small, I don't mind this on the offer, but again looking around the room, I might have felt hard done by paying around £8 for it, I think there is a short list of extra potatoes and veg. The fish and sauce were nice where I could taste the cheese but badly presented, some fresh salad had been placed on top, fair enough, but this had been drizzled with a good quality balsamic vinegar which clashed badly with mornay and flavoured the entire dish doing away with any subtlety the fish and sauce might have had to offer.

Three of us were still peckish after the mains and chose a pudding from the full price list (£4 I think), Mrs YS had a chocolate parfait and was still peckish after receiving one very small slice, Kath and I both had the more generously portioned spotted dick with real home made creamy custard.

I chose a Lingenfelder Bird Label Riesling at £12.95 from a very reasonably priced wine list.

Has the Five Rise done enough to entice us back ? Unfortunately not, if I thought that our smaller meals were cut down from the main menu for the offer I might reconsider, but it looked like slimmer sizes were the style of the restaurant. The full menu as presented tonight seemed to be an entirely different style from the splendid looking sample one on the website, a change of chefs ? Aiming for a different market perhaps ? Mrs YS had three courses and was still hungry, and wasn't happy that her portion of haddock was poorly filleted and full of bones.

Restaurant Review - Millrace Organic, Kirkstall, Leeds****



The Millrace Organic does not have that vital location, location , location. Perched at Kirkstall lights between a second hand bookshop and a 'massage parlour' you might think it would have problems pulling in the punters. Well, there are eight of us here on a Thursday night just after New Year, a traditional ghost town period for the restaurant trade, and the place is two thirds full.

We had pre-dinner drinks in the bar before being taken through into the surprisingly large and smart looking dining area, Millrace looks good and the floor staff were all dressed in uniform black, everything is appealing to the eye then, what about the food ?

I opted for pork dumplings with creamed cabbage, four dumplings, more meat than flour and suet and therefore not heavy at all, on a bed of braised cabbage in a flavoursome cream sauce. The flavours were subtle throughout, but very nice. Other starters included garlic king prawns and a very nice looking herb gnocchi.

I had venison for the main course, served with black eye peas and shallots in a red wine reduction. Millrace didn't excel themselves here, the venison itself was alright, but if I was going to be picky then I'd say it was a well exercised deer. The peas and shallots though were both undercooked, the crunchy texture of the peas wasn't great and the raw onion flavour of the undercooked shallots really didn't help the meal at all. Half of the party went for grilled sea bass fillet with a fennel risotto, which was pronounced superb by all, Mrs YS had rib eye steak which she also said was very good.

Extras, I don't like charging for extras. I'm a Yorkshire bloke, I like to see the whole price and know I'm getting a whole dinner for it, I realise that in this I'm becoming ever more isolated, especially as I'm inside the trade and almost everybody else now seems to do this, but this is how I feel. So, my venison cost an initial £13.95, not too bad, but if like me you like some potatoes and vegetables to round out your dinner you have to fork out £2.75 a portion, now my main course costs £19.45 which is fairly pricey. I wouldn't even mind so much paying this extra price if they were remarkable and interesting extras, but £2.75 for a small dish of mashed potato is frankly exorbitant, the same price for a dish of gratin dauphine for example would have seemed more reasonable.

I had a bottle of organic, as everything is here, Australian Merlot for a very reasonable £12.95, full flavoured and heaped with ripe berries, excellent.

Desserts were priced from around five pounds, I opted for a cheeseboard at £7 and was rewarded with so much cheese, four varieties plus biscuits, apple and celery, that I couldn't possibly finish it. Coffee was £1.30, latte £1.70, after dinner drinks may be served in a cosy looking, living room like upstairs lounge.

Overall, despite my price whinging I had a good night, the company was excellent, service good, food good overall again despite a slight glitch with my main course, I would go back again.

Friday, January 06, 2006

This Article Isn't Late, It's 11 Months Early

CHRISTMAS CAROLS FOR THE DISTURBED

1. Schizophrenia --- Do You Hear What I Hear?

2. Multiple Personality Disorder --- We Three Kings Disoriented Are

3. Dementia --- I Think I'll be Home for Christmas

4. Narcissistic --- Hark the Herald Angels Sing About Me

5. Manic --- Deck the Halls and Walls and House and Lawn and Streets and Stores and Office and Town and Cars and Buses and Trucks and Trees and.....

6. Paranoid --- Santa Claus is Coming to Town to Get Me

7. Borderline Personality Disorder --- Thoughts of Roasting on an Open Fire

8. Personality Disorder --- You Better Watch Out, I'm Gonna Cry, I'm Gonna Pout, Maybe I'll Tell You Why

9. Attention Deficit Disorder --- Silent night, Holy oooh look at the froggy - can I have a chocolate, why is France so far away?

10. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder --Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle,Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,
A Plug

The Times Eat Out For £5

If like me you had no intention of making any New Year's Resolutions and would rather start off 2006 much as you finished 2005, then this is the ideal offer. We did this two years ago and had good meals at Whitebait, The Box Tree and The Olive Tree amongst others.

You need three tokens, two from the Times and one online token, handily provided below, then you can take up to six folk out for a cheapy dinner, assuming you don't assault the wine and dessert lists. It is very good value and although you obviously have to choose from a set menu, we found that we got good meals at all the restaurants we visited.

Restaurant Review - Brio Pizza, The Light, Leeds****

I had a lovely day out with Godling Ellie on Tuesday, she was being so good that I though we'd try our luck at a 'proper' restaurant for lunch.

Brio Pizza is situated on the ground floor of the rather flash looking 'The Light' shopping/entertainment centre in the centre of Leeds, we chose to have an 'outside' table, outside the restaurant but inside the enclosed atrium of The Light with good views for people watching and looking at the biggest Christmas baubles I've ever seen.

Ellie wanted a pizza from the reasonably priced children's menu, I opted for Tuscan Sausages with Tomato, Garlic and Chilli Borlotti Beans (Salcisse Tosca). The meals duly arrived, and three year old diner duly announced that she now didn't want pizza but would rather have my sausages, no chance!

There were three sausages cut open and grilled atop a mound of beans, nicely presented with drizzled balsamic vinegar and chilli dressing. The sausages were good, chunky and piquant, the beans were perfectly cooked, soft without being mushy and with a goodly amount of chilli, grilled onions and peppers.

Our lunch cost just under £20, a children's pizza was £3.75, glass of milk just 50p, my main course £10.75 for a very tasty and hearty portion, glass of house red £2.95.

I was so impressed that I took Mrs. YS there for lunch the next day, we both had pizzas, an Americano with chillies and salami for Mrs YS, a Briosa with wonderful Calabrian sausage for me. Both were very good, and they don't skimp on the chillies!

We both had a dessert, a very nice and rich chocolate mousse for Mrs YS, a light and boozy Tiramisu for me followed by coffee. Ellie was obvously a hit with the waitresses, they were all asking where she was.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Fancy Taking Up Archery ?



I do like a girl with a good strong pull. What ? What do you mean this has nothing to do with D&D ? Are you saying I'm just randomly posting pictures of the rather attractive Keira Knightley ? Oh well, you might be right.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Yorkshire Soul Dances

AD&D Character Generator

AD&D mk.3 Character Generator , I found this last night after the dungeoneering session and thought my players might like it, not that I'm planning on killing off your current characters of course ;-)
Yorkshire Soul's Rambling Quiz - Series 4 Week 4
So, you think you know Yorkshire Soul ?

A number of people have pointed out that that this quiz was shamelessly self-centred, to which I have to say, hello, this is a blog, I already think my life is so interesting that I write about it every day, oh well.....

1) Yorkshire Soul dines out, which menu will he choose ?
a) Fresh oysters, roast wild salmon with sorrel butter, orange creme brulee
b) Pancetta and pig's cheek salad, venison fillet with haggis and whisky jus, chocolate tart
c) Grilled asparagus with parmesan shavings, caramelised red pepper tart, strawberry crepe with vanilla ice cream

b) It's got obscene amounts of strange meaty things, and chocolate.


2) And to drink ?
a) The house red
b) Russian River Pinot Noir
c) Filsell Old Vine Shiraz

c) Life's too short to drink the house wine, my palate doesn't get on with Pinot Noir so it's the tongue, lip and tooth staining black monster Shiraz every time.


3) And afterwards ?
a) A Rafael Gonzales Coronas cigar
b) The cheeseboard
c) A glass of Royal Tokay

b) or c), a wise person might have said both

4) A quiet night in front of the telly, what will I watch ?
a) Buffy The Vampire Slayer - T.A.T.U. The Inside Story - Constantine
b) Eastenders - The X Factor - Legally Blonde
c) Waking The Dead - CSI - Enemy At The Gate

c) Two excellent crime drama's followed by a brilliant war movie, obviously it was never going to be b), and not a) either as Constantine is about the worst pile of shite ever commited to film, Keanu Reaves/Chopped Liver etc.

5) A selection of books to while away a few hours with, which shall I choose ?
a) Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook, the new Stephen Erikson tome and this months National Geographic
b) Mrs Beeton's Household Management, the new Tad Williams epic and this week's NME
c) LJ Hanneman's Patisserie, the new Neal Stephenson novel and this month's Leeds Life

Tricky ? Well, Tad Williams should be shot, or at least put under the charge of a decent editor who could trim away several hundred pages of useless gumph from each novel, Beeton and Hanneman are both interesting but rather dry, Leeds Life ? There are only so many articles you can be bothered reading about clothes shops you'll never set foot in, so it's a)

6) I'm off to a gig, but all these are playing at different venues on the same night, which shall I choose ?
a) Girls Aloud - Steps - T.A.T.U.
b) The Mars Volta, Coheed & Cambria and InMe
c) Corpsegrinder, Three Inches Of Blood and Finntroll

b) Obviously the girly bands were never going to be a choice, and three slight variations on the same death/grind/wall of noise theme doesn't really appeal.

7) A day off, what shall I do ?
a) Go and watch 3 movies back to back at the cinema, nice, cosy and warm
b) Hike up Pennyghent in the horizontal rain, muttering to myself all the way about the bloody awful weather
c) Spend the morning horse riding, and dry slope ski-ing in the afternoon

b) Moaning in the rain, perfect.

8) A chocie of holiday destinations, but I can only afford to visit one, which one ?
a) Perth
b) Egypt
c) Ayia Napa

I shudder at the very thought of Ayia Napa, I would like to visit Egypt, but the security situation worries me, so it's Perth, and if I can manage it, we'll be there whilst the Ashes Test is on!

9) I'm going clothes shopping, which selection of trendy brands am I likely to come home with ?a) River Island, Reebok and Burberry
b) Atticus, Scary Miss Mary and Lucky 13
c) New Rock, Marks and Sparks and something from the market

Chav wear, faux plastic punk wear, or doesn't seem to care what he wears ? c) then.

10) The shameless namedropping question, which of these people havn't I cooked for (1 point for each correct answer, -1 point for each incorrect answer) ?
a) Gabby Yorath - no
b) Norman Hunter - yes
c) Michael Vaughan - yes
d) Andrew Flintoff - no
e) Geoffrey Boycott - yes
f) Fred Trueman - yes
g) T.A.T.U. - no, sadly
h) Brian Blessed - no
i) Paul Jewell - yes
j) Lemmy from Motorhead - no

11) Oh no, it's the shameless namedropping bonus question, which of these musical hero's / gibbering smackheads did I meet during my brief career as a rock journo ? (1 point for each correct, -1 point for each incorrect)
a) The Little Angels - and what a nice bunch of lads they were, all the business sense of a jellyfish obviously, how did they end up £1m+ in debt after having 5 top ten singles ?
b) Ozzy Osbourne - no
c) Ian Dury - yes, old Spasticus once called me a wanker, I don't know why and now he's dead so I can't ask him.
d) Ice Age - Promising early career cut short when the lead guitarist decides to punch through a window and cuts her arm to ribbons, it wasn't my fault, I don't know why she did it, the preceeding argument was all in Norweigan.
e) Uriah Heep - great lads, they realised they were never going to pull in big crowds again so to make sure there minimal road crew got paid they got venues to put a huge rider on which they gave to the roadies to sell.
f) Deep Purple - I'll say no, although I know one guitarist.
g) T.A.T.U. - sadly, no.
h) Arch Enemy - no
i) Terrorvision - I did the band's first interview, when they were Spoilt Bratz, conducted with four of us cramped into a toilet stall at the Frog and Toad (it was the only place in the building quiet enough, until a couple started going at it hammer and tongs next door)
j) Lemmy from Motorhead - yes, the elderly rocker was exiting the toilets, I was going in, pissed, and said rather stupidly "Wow, it's Lemmy from Motorhead", he fixed me with an evil eye and "Yeah ? So fucking what?", I have had better moments.

4:4 Scores and League

Chez 16
Eleanor 13
MR 13
Dr. P 11
Mr Moosehead 11
Rachel 'O' 7

Series 4:4 League

1) Eleanor 64
2) MR 58
3) Dr. P 47
4) Chez 47
5) Rachel 'O' 31
6) Dirk Thruster 22
7) Mandy 17
8) EvilBarSteward 15
9) Penny Farthing 14
10) Miss Fitty 13
11) Mr Moosehead 11
12) Patricia 8
13) Ms B Haven 1

Numerous complaints about the scoring system, it won't be used again as it was a right pain to mark, well done everyone, the quiz will continue, well, sometime this year.........

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The best blonde joke ever.
We were in my car, Megadeth's Hanger 18 pumping out in an attempt to get my unbelieving friend into the true path of metal.

"It's hardly even a song," said Stuart. "It's just a loosely connected series of ridiculously fast guitar solos."

We drove on without further speech, him wrongly thinking that he had justifiably condemned my taste in music, me wrongly thinking that he was finally begining to understand.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy New Year



As is now traditional on New Year's Day we walked up to White Wells to partake in the cold plunge, l-r P, Chez, YS Candice, front and more rowdy row, Nats, Joshua, Stephen, Kayleigh.


My chef 'Evil' Steve, who told him it was fancy dress ? Or does he always dres as a begging Buddhist on his days off ?


Control yourselves now girls, I know what you're thinking, 'Diet' 'Too much Xmas pudding' etc. Look closely though, you can see the raw, primal fear in Patrick's eyes.



People often ask, "Are you completely mad, just how cold is it in there ?". Well dear readers, it's so cold that for the first few seconds you can't actually breathe, it's shockingly cold, it's makes your testicles retreat upwards for warmer climes for the rest of the morning cold.



And doing this just makes your brain stop working.



Children's entertainer Yorkshiresoul, available for parties, christenings etc., has own scary face Marilyn Manson t-shirt and guaranteed daft as a brush.