Return of the pie

We’ve been eating mostly healthy food over the last several months and so a previous staple of my diet has mostly disappeared: pies.

I love pies – savoury or sweet. They’re the pinnacle of pastry-topped food and I love them. I just haven’t been eating them very much recently.

However, I managed to revisit Pie Heaven today during a visit to the rather excellent Bottle Kiln. This is a lovely old pottery that’s been turned into an artsy shop with a café and Japanese garden. The menu is very simple, and a little expensive, but delicious. I had a large slice of ambrosia topped with shortcrust pastry – an utterly delicious pie with pork, stuffing, leek and apple. I even had the mixed salad – it was lovely and I normally hate salad!

Jo and I needed cheering up today and this was just the ticket. A little bit of luxury.

I’m not clairvoyant but I’m not seeing too many pies in my immediate future. It matters not, though, as I can still taste this one. Lovely.


Cancer – good for your stats

Cancer is a horrible, horrible disease but it seems that one recent cancer-related news story has driven a considerable amount of extra traffic here.

It was announced on Tuesday that Jade Goody has cervical cancer. This is a sad state of affairs even if I do think that Jade makes a pretty worthless “celebrity”. It’s unfortunate that she’s had this diagnosis and I honestly hope that she’s able to beat it.

So, why has this story suddenly driven extra visitors here? Well, I happened to mention a certain Ms Goody in a post around the time she was in Big Brother. I also used such intellectual words as “naked” and “tits” in posts around the same time, and so I started to get hits from people looking for images of a certain (very) minor celebrity displaying her nether-regions and other such rude things. I then made the matter worse by creating a post called “Jade Goody Free Naked Pics” where I complained about this unfortunate happenstance.

Since then Google has been serving my site with visitors interested in seeing Jade Goody sans clothing. It’s by largest key phrase for search engine hits and highly inaccurate. I don’t have any naked pictures of the young lady and I really don’t want any.

The upstick of this whole search débâcle is that I ended up with nearly twice my normal number of visitors yesterday – 159 up from 89 the previous day. I’m not saying that these are “quality” visitors, in that they’re really not going to see Jade’s kebab or anything, but its always nice to see that peak in the stats graph.

There are a couple of things that I find a little disturbing about this. Firstly, the new breaks that Jade has cancer and the first thing that goes through some people’s minds is to seek out naked pictures of her. How messed up is that? I’m also a little distressed, but not surprised, to see that The Sun newspaper seemed to think that Jade’s diagnosis is the most important news of the day, inserting “Jade Has Cancer” in huge letters across its front page. It’s sad news, especially for her and her family, but it’s certainly not the most important thing happening in the world at the moment.

Anyway, I hope she recovers. I hope that anyone with cancer is able to beat the disease.

Yo! Sushi

Jo and I decided to spoil ourselves for lunch today so we headed into town to sample to culinary delights of Yo! Sushi. Jo is a big fan of the uncooked fish and I’ve really enjoyed the few bits and pieces of sushi that I’ve sampled before.

You can order individual cooked dishes if you prefer (I had a rather nice Chicken Katsu Curry) but most of the food arrives in bowls travelling along a little conveyor belt. Each dish is colour-coded and different colours are charged different amount. You pick your bowls, eat your food and are charged by counting the pile of bowls at the end.

It’s a great idea and I was impressed by the convenience of this method of food delivery. The food itself was mostly delicious. I wasn’t so enamoured by one dish (a tofu salad) but the octopus was delicious and I ate a number of lovely dishes involving uncooked fish.

If you’re not careful, though, it can turn out to be quite expensive. The dishes are all small and we ended up eating 14 between us. 14! It’s probably better to have a little self-control when eating here otherwise you can end up with a large bill. I can’t really complain – it’s a funky, little sushi bar and the food really was delicious.

It’s right on Fletcher Gate if you’re thinking of going. Don’t forget the Aubergine Salad – it’s utterly delicious.

Wholegrains – friend or foe?

Every time I see an advert on the television for breakfast cereal trumpeting the benefits of “100% wholegrain” I think to myself: “Why the hell is that a good thing?”

I can see that not having added sugar and salt is a good thing. I can see that there are no additives and that my Shreddies aren’t going to fill me full of cancer-causing chemicals and trans-fats. However, I don’t really understand why these wholegrains are a healthy breakfast.

I subscribe to the feed of the excellent health and fitness website Mark’s Daily Apple and he has one or two things to say about grains. It seems that this supposed benefitial start to your day might not be so good for you after all.

Mark’s article mentions the evolutionary process quite a bit. Apparently grains were only a very small part of our diet for most of our existence but have taken a larger portion on our plates since we started along the agricultural path about 10,000 years ago. That’s not a very long time at all in evolutionary terms and it seems that our guts struggle to cope with the digestion of our Shreddies.

Grains, new evolutionarily-speaking, are frankly hard on the digestive system. (You say fiber, I say unnecessary roughage, but that’s only the half of it.) Enter gluten and lectins, both initiators of digestive mayhem, you might say. Gluten, the large, water-soluble protein that creates the sludge, err, elasticity in dough, is found in most common grains like wheat, rye and barley (and it’s the primary glue in wallpaper paste). Researchers now believe that a third of us are likely gluten intolerant/sensitive. That third of us (and I would suspect many more on some level) “react” to gluten with a perceptible inflammatory response. Over time, those who are gluten intolerant can develop a dismal array of medical conditions: dermatitis, joint pain, reproductive problems, acid reflux and other digestive conditions, autoimmune disorders, and Celiac disease.

Ouch! The thing is, most of us eat a LOT of grains. We eat bread, pasta, cakes – all loaded with wheat. There’s some nutritional value to all these things but Mark reckons we can get all the things we need in our diet from other sources – ones that are easier digested and cause fewer problems.

The bottom line is this: grains = carbs. Unnecessary at best, but flat out unhealthy at worst, they’re not the wholesome staples they’re made out to be. Talk about double taxation: Our bodies pay for what our trusty government subsidizes Big Agra for. The best – really the only way – to achieve a low carb, whole foods diet is to ditch the grains. (Your body will be better off without inflammation, the insulin roller coaster, not to mention the constant onslaught of creepy gluten and lectins.) A diet very low or entirely without grains (low-carb) has been shown to decrease risk for problems associated with diabetes, to lower blood pressure, alleviate heartburn symptoms, and shed abdominal fat.

Mark is really on his high horse on this subject. I’m loath to trust one source for information on any subject but Mark tends to argue against faddy diets and argues for a healthy, scientifically-designed approach to food. His site argues for food common sense and regular exercise without resorting to pseudo-science and weird eating habits.

I’d miss my biscuits, toast and pasta but I wonder how much healthier I’d be if I reduced my intake of grains.

The Library Bar and Kitchen

Jo and I had a fantastic meal out last night at one of Beeston’s finest eateries – the Library Bar and Kitchen on Wollaton Road. We’ve been here a few times before as the food is delicious and very well priced. It used to be termed a “Swedish Tapas Bar” but now seems to have forgotten about being Swedish and just aiming for general deliciousness.

There’s still mostly Tapas-style food on the menu and we decided to choose from that for our meal. We had some absolutely gorgeous Curry Battered Monkfish with pea purée (a Library signature dish) and some superb Chorizo Sausage wraps, among other similarly lovely dishes. I washed mine down with some of my favourite Belgian beer – Leffe Blonde.

Their own website seems to have died for some reason but it’s directly opposite the Lace Mill if you’re interested in going. The decor is nice and contemporary with lots of leather stools and some sofas for lounging around and drinking your wine in.

It’s probably the nicest food you’ll find in Beeston. Even tastier than the Victoria Hotel.

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.

Sad Davey

Sad Davey – Day 11

Originally uploaded by rutty.

Christmas is over and I’m back at work today. That isn’t the saddening thing for me, but the fact that I’ve had to leave my girlfriend to travel back to Nottingham is.

It’s been great seeing her over the festive season and a bit of a wrench to come back here.

The good news is that I’ll see her in 3 days!

In other news, the results are in for Porkathon 2006. I did quite well actually, gaining an impressive 8.8 pounds for charity! I’m a little behind the current lardy leader though, as one porker has somehow managed to gain 15 pounds over the festive season. Fifteen pounds! That’s over a whole stone in two weeks.

I reckon it was the booze that gave me the weight gain this Christmas. That and an unending quantity of pre-packaged Christmas fare plus some rather nice meals. I’ve eaten very well and got the distended stomach to prove it.

Still, it was for a good cause but now it’s time to start eating more vegetables and get some exercise. Tomorrow. Maybe.