World Service

I love food.

I’m sure I have stated this many times before but there are some particularly important aspects of my life and enjoying a good meal is high on the list. I can’t think of many more pleasurable experiences while keeping your clothes on.

Thankfully I can cook, as long as I have a decent recipe. I can follow instructions pretty well and I’m happy to experiment with ingredients. There aren’t too many things I won’t eat – I just love good quality food and there are some really good quality restaurants in our local area for us to visit.

Perhaps the best among these is World Service. This lovingly decorated restaurant has won the ‘Best Overall Restaurant’ in Nottingham’s prestigious restaurant award for four out of the last five years and provides a wonderful location for a meal. Luckily for us my Dad and Step-mum decided to treat us to a meal and we arranged to eat here.

A good meal can be ruined by poor surroundings, but that certainly isn’t a problem at World Service. They’ve decorated the restaurant in a Colonial English style, like you’d imagine a posh Victorian eatery owned by someone with a fascination for the Orient. There are stuffed animals, stone Buddhas and all sorts of weird and wonderful bric-a-brac arranged tastefully around the otherwise modern surroundings. Somehow they’ve successfully combined the old and new in a quite wonderful fashion.

The service was very friendly and efficient and not at all stuffy. When we visited Harts last year the only thing we could really find fault with was the slightly standoffish waiters. Some people like that but World Service provide a more friendly atmosphere, something I found very welcome.

While we were sat waiting for our table and looking at the menu we were brought some little canapés. They were delicious and a really nice touch. The wine list was very extensive with a large selection of fine wines. Prices ranged from £14 to £1500! We stayed off the fine wine list and ordered something more sensible – a delicious red wine from the Saumur region of France.

After a short while our table was ready and our food ordered. The menu changes every day apparently and there was plenty to admire on the one produced last night. I ordered a Duck Samosa with Ginger and Pickled Carrot Salad and the others had a quite delicious-looking selection – the soft-shelled Crab and pigeon terrine both looked wonderful.

We were all delighted with our starters and the fabulous quality of the food continued with our main courses too. My Dad’s Sea Bass looked fantastic and Jo’s Pork was utterly delicious. My own main course had my taste buds in a frenzy – a quite superb Venison dish that involved a small portion of Foie Gras.

Now, I’ve never eaten Foie Gras before but I saw it on the menu and I just had to try it. I have no idea if this was ethically sourced or not (the force-feeding of geese to produce the best Foie Gras is rather unpleasant) but however it was farmed it was my favourite item of the evening. It was seared and just so delicious that I’m pushed to write a suitable superlative to describe it. The Venison was pink and so tender that I had to slow myself down so that I didn’t gobble it all up in seconds.

Dessert continued in the same, delicious vein. My Dark Chocolate Tart was lovely and it came with some Passionfruit Sorbet that exploded with flavour.

Dining this well is expensive though. I won’t divulge how much it all cost but my Dad insisted on paying. Cheers Dad! We will definitely return the favour at some point.

I can see why this restaurant is so popular. The food is as good as you’d ever hope for and it’s tastefully presented. The service is as good as I’ve ever had, anywhere, and the restaurant itself is a wonderful place to eat. If you have a special occasion and don’t mind cranking up the Visa bill then I would heartily recommend World Service.

Dublin

I’ve been going through my Dublin photos from back in May and have really liked how some of the shots came out. Here are a few for your approval. You can click on the image to go straight to Flickr and see some others on my stream there if you wish.

Waiting for tickets (by rutty)

Reflection of Dublin (by rutty)

The street (by rutty)

Wonky Smile

I’ve been spending some time going over my old photos in iPhoto recently. I’ve found that this is a particularly useful application for arranging my shots and it also doubles as a half-decent photograph “improver”.

It’s certainly not in the same league as Photoshop or Aperture by any stretch of the imagination, but it does a really good job of cropping, straightening and level adjustments. I’ve been able to going through a whole bunch of photos quite quickly and make little changes here and there.

This would have taken me far, far longer in The GIMP, and as much as I’m a fan of the Open Source underdog I’ve got to give praise where it’s due. iPhoto does a really good job of the organising and simpler changes whereas I’m still going to need a more advanced application to do the more in-depth modifications I may want to do every now and again.

Anyway, there’s probably a whole other article in there somewhere. In the meantime here’s an example of what iPhoto can do:

That wonky smile again (by rutty)

This shot was taken on my birthday back in June by my girlfriend Jo. I’m not sure why but I overlooked it when I was importing my photos at the time and I’m pleased that I’ve rediscovered it. I’ve used iPhoto to crop it, adjusted the shadows so that the right side of my face is showing a bit more detail and then I’ve desaturated it before warming it up a little. It’s given the photo a nice sepia-like tint.

I could have used one of the built-in effects to do something similar but I like to have a little more control over what happens to the shot.

I was really pleased how this came out. Jo has managed to capture a very natural photo of me, something I failed to do in the whole time I was taking a daily self-portrait!

I’ll add more photos on here every now and again. The blog does benefit from the occasional image, but I promise not to put too many more of my ugly mug up here.

Let there be…. horseshit?

Have you heard of the Creation Museum? It’s museum in Kentucky that presents the evidence, such as it is, for the biblically-accurate hypothesis of the Creation of our lovely planet. It’s been built by creationists who seem intent on spreading the farcical notion that the Earth is only around 6000 years old, among other theories.

I’ve been reading about it for a little while but I’ve never seen any photos of the place. However, after reading a rather interesting seed on Newsvine I came across this wonderful article written by a guy that had actually visited the place. He’s placed over 100 photos of his visit up on Flickr too. He’s a bit of a sarcastic bugger, but I like that in a blogger!

There are some priceless assertions in there. Apparently dinosaurs were around in the Garden of Eden and they were all vegetarians until Adam corrupted everything with that infamous bite of the forbidden fruit. Well, it makes sense to me!

I just love them noodles

I’m not sure how I’ve not been to Wagamama but went there for our traditional Sunday lunch this weekend. Traditional in Japan possibly, but regardless – their noodles are quite outstanding.

I’ve visited quite a number of chain restaurants over the years and you always get the impression that the food isn’t quite as good as you’d hope for. American-themed places are good choices for burgers but they’re pretty much at the bottom of the food-chain for me. I love Italian food but you really can’t beat the real thing – in Italy. Wagamama, though, seem to have hit a fantastic niche and my expectations were more than surpassed.

I suppose my previous noodle experience has been a little limited. I’ve obviously eaten them before but they’ve usually been just “alright” – being home-cooked usually. However, the food in Wagamama was utterly delicious. I chose to have some yasai chilli men which is a spicy vegetarian dish. The ginger and chillies sauce was superb! You can buy it in-store too so I’ll definitely be picking some up before too long. I also tried out one of the sides – some delicious duck parcels in cherry hoi-sin sauce.

We’ll definitely be going again, although I suspect I may get the Wagamama recipe book and try some of these things myself. As chain restaurants go this is the best I’ve ever tasted.