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Showing posts from June, 2012

We do like to be beside the seaside. We do.

I keep thinking I’ve pretty much recovered from jet-lag until I get behind the wheel of the car when my brain seems to slip into a fog and I have to remind myself to really focus. It must be the repetitiveness of the actions, or, along the motorway, the monotony of just staring into drizzle and tarmac. 
Having left Miami last Wednesday, arriving in London Heathrow mid-afternoon on Thursday, I headed off to Folkestone on Friday afternoon for a meeting with French haiku poets to start organising an Anglo-French Haiku Festival for 2013. I really did think I’d be falling asleep over the discussions and meals but I was surprisingly alert for the majority of the time. Partly because the Southcliff Hotel on The Leas kept me generously and tastily well fed (I had ‘top points’ fried eggs on toast for breakfast each morning) and partly because of the energetic weather along the cliff-top and gardens below. 

I don’t know Folkestone that well. I’ve been to the harbour for cockles and shrimp doused …

Cheese, dreams, dream breakfasts and my cat.

My Dad’cu (maternal grandfather) used to melt cheese in a glass dish at the side of an open fire then spread it on a thick slice of hand-cut white bread. Grampa Rees (paternal grandfather) used to like Crackerbarrel. Do you remember Crackerbarrel? A brick of cheddar in a red foil wrapper? I haven’t seen it, or perhaps I haven’t noticed it, for years in British supermarkets but it’s really popular here in the US and comes in a number of varieties – sharp, vintage, aged. I had high hopes. I remember it as being a sharp and slightly crumbly cheddar but the one I bought in Publix last week was the same as most other pre-packed American cheeses: rubbery and anonymous. What do they add to their cheese to achieve that texture? Silicone?

And it must have been the cheese that made me dream: three rough, unshaven men in paint-stained t-shirts who become aggressive when we refuse to sell them the wooden cupboard that opens out into a piano. Twenty quid, one of them says, pushes it up to £35 when …

I pick IPic – lay back and don’t think of England

Think about a Filet Slider Trio (filet mignon with caramelized onions, arugula, and crumbled blue cheese on a garlic-buttered and lightly-toasted brioche bun), or some Tuna Wonton Crisps (seared sesame seed crusted tuna on a bed of asian slaw and lightly-fried wonton crisps topped with wasabi mayo and spicy mustard) or the Blackened Mahi Mahi Trio (tender mahi mahi crusted in blackening spice, with jalapeno pepper jelly, and fresh cantaloupe on a lightly-toasted hawaiian roll). If you do want to think of England then order Fish and Chips (old bay seasoned beer-battered cod, served with fries, tartar sauce and malt vinegar). 

And watch the movie.

IPic Theaters (there are currently nine in the US) are as far removed from bog-standard cinema going as you can get. The one in Boca Raton has a cocktail bar and restaurant, a whole range of freshly made snacks to buy and take into the movie with you, and 8 theaters. And I’m not kidding about the laying back either.

The Premium Plus seats at IPic…

Flexing muscles. And chomping them.

I’m not blinkered to the natural state of meat. I don’t have a moral problem with eating it as long as certain conditions have been met in animal husbandry. (I don’t agree with the argument, ‘If you’re not prepared to kill an animal you shouldn’t be willing to eat it’ because that doesn’t make any sense for the way life operates in the 21st century: I’m not prepared to keep sheep for wool, or drill for my own oil, but I’m willing to wear a sweater and drive a car.)
But I’m not attracted to ordering anything off a menu that has the word ‘muscle’ in it (as opposed to mussel). So I can’t imagine myself walking past this restaurant and thinking, ‘Hey, I really want to eat here!’
Apart from the name, I’m also put off by the didactic strap-line. Call me perverse but when I’m eating out my focus is on sensory pleasure; I don’t want a menu wagging its finger and telling me what’s good for me. 
The first MMG opened in 1995 and there are now over 200 franchises. I guess that’s not a lot when you …