Friday 26 February 2010

Fashion Splodge

I don't know that much about fashion but I know what I like...

My favourite 'off schedule' party at the last London Fashion Week was Digitaria's. They've since changed their name to MACHINE-A, a better name, and their party was even better than last time... once I'd managed to squeeze my way in, and I'm not really 'squeezing' material.

Earlier that day we'd been in Hoxton, where the square really is the only square around. After watching someone's dog rip another's to pieces in Old Street tube station, I spent an hour in a vintage shop watching someone try on the same dress. Eventually concluding that since it was really just the sleeves she liked, there was no point in buying it. Then I had a fashion moment and just blurted out... "Sleeve-ees" .. you what? "Sleeve-ees, detachable sleeves that you can add on to any outfit" ... erm, I see, and how would they stay on... "Err, Velcro".. don't think that would work... "Some sort of chain, yes, some sort of chain at the front and back"... I, at least, was very pleased with this.

So as I was bobbing up and down next to Warboy's decks, I started imaging how different it will be next time...

Hey, look over there, the awkward looking chap in the hot looking coat (hot in the original sense), next to Johnny Blue Eyes, that's Fashion Splodge, Mr Sleeve-ees!
Then I happened to glance down at some of the shop's merchandise...

No way... fing-ees! Looks like Gabriella Marina Gonzalez is heading in the same direction. I'd better be quick... this is gonna be big.

No weird drinks this time, just lots and lots of lager and some brilliant Toby jugs.

Check out STYLE SCANNER who'll shortly be posting pics of the many talented and beautiful people who were at this party. In the meantime, here's an excellent film of a Gabriella Marina Gonzalez fashion show by Matthew Charlie Robinson.

Monday 22 February 2010

Thoroughly Boroughly

Happy grass fed free range organic smiley faced foie gras burgers in a Danish farmers rye kerplotten bun... or words to that effect. The riverside entrance to Borough Market is rammed full of 'added value' fast food. Frankfurter? No. Sustainable Welsh-oak smoked wild boar sausage? Probably. The considerable queues were populated by affluent thirty something foodies, dribbling lifestyle from their favourite orifice. By the time I'd squeezed through to the market proper I was covered in a patchwork of expensive stains.

It was my first time this weekend. All anyone has ever said to me for years is, "Oh you've got to, you'll absolutely love it ", so of course, I never went. This Saturday the weather was beautiful and the hangover hadn't fully set in, so I went. I always crave seafood the morning after the night before.

Brown shrimps. £3.50 per 100g. Everyone else thought they looked like maggots, which I suppose they do, so I got to scoff the lot while musing on the poor sod who had to peel them and wondering what maggots might taste like.

Borough Market is impressive. It's no Boqeria, but it must be the best farmers market in the country... in the city. There's an awful lot to nibble, chew and slurp.

And while some prices are a bit steep, most are reasonable for central London, especially given the quality.

My favourite spot at the market was Bedales. A great little haven of very good wine and I bumped into Douglas Blyde of Intoxicating Prose! Nice to finally meet London's premier wine blogger.

Jane fancied a Pomerol and the guys suggested this.

Seriously good wine, savoured outside because inside was full. There's something about drinking Pomerol alfresco in February from quality glassware... it's just so... lifestyle. As we drank a little spill joined my jumper alongside a blob of Jamaican goat curry. Nice.

Sunday 14 February 2010

Truly, Madly, Deeply

Wherever I go these days, I'm reminded that my heart is no longer my own. For just over a year now, a longing, loving, craven desire has been growing inside me, and it doesn't go away. First thing in the morning, last thing at night and all through the day. Alone, I call out their name, when others are there, I whisper it. Daily, I'm teetering on the edge of a wonderful abyss.

And love really does hurt. Embraces, such as they are, so fleetingly short, and then, the aching pain of being apart.

Alone I am empty. Going through the motions. A hollow, hungry shell. Eating myself up from the inside.

Only when we're together will I be whole.

I didn't really do confectionery till we met. Now I can't stop. Salty, nutty, caramel filled bar of joy. Nothing else comes close. Hard to track down, available in The Cave, where I've started buying bottles of wine that I don't really need... "Is that all?"... "Oh, wait a minute, can I get...." ... "Pardon?"... "Erm yes, I did say four". Then last night I couldn't see any. The girl behind the counter said, "No, there's none left, I ate them". Her pal looked startled, "What all of them?"... "Yeah, they were going out of date".... Alone again.

Reese's Outrageous NutRageous
Available from THE CAVE & LUPE PINTOS, I LOVE CANDY and some Sainsbury's.

Monday 8 February 2010

What Not To Drink

If you work in the arts or own a restaurant, chances are you'll live in dread of the critics review. They can, or at least many of them think they can, make or break individuals, openings and performances. Of course, the critics themselves will publicly, with lashings of faux modesty, deny that they believe any such thing. Even among journalists they're a strange breed, still, at least they do criticise. Wine writers rarely lay it on the line.

I can see how it happens. Invited along, say to taste fifty wines from a large supermarket chain, or a nice visit to foreign winemakers in situ, the temptation is to recommend something a reader might enjoy. Why waste space listing duffers and endless bland wines? Well, one danger with this approach is that this gives a false idea of wine 'talent'. Highlighting the few, camouflages the many.

I'd been thinking about this after visiting Marks and Spencer the other night. For me it boasts one of the best supermarket wine ranges. But I tend to steer myself towards certain wines. This time I deliberately picked up a couple of cheaper 'randoms' from the shelf. The average price of wine bought in the UK is still incredibly low.
First up, a dry German wine, down £2 to £3.99. These days the domestic market in Germany is dominated by dry wines so there are some good ones.

This isn't one of them. Quite acidic and tasting of pears. It has a deeply unpleasant pithy bitterness in the mid palate, like a badly peeled grapefruit. The finish is astringent too. Not nice.

I've been enjoying a lot of 'oldskool' Chilean cabernets recently. Lighter, less concentrated not so over extracted and not too expensive. So I went for this at £3.99. Oh dear.

Good colour, nice legs... but not much of a bouquet and it tasted 'dirty', like it'll give you the hangover from hell. Not good.
So don't buy either of these wines. They're rubbish. Instead, buy this:

From Oddbins. A combination of Chianti's main grape with Merlot. It works really well. A great wine for £5.99. All cherries and plums with a lovely earthy, gravelly texture. I was steered towards it by a very knowledgeable chap in the Woodlands Road branch... and have drunk quite a lot of it since.

The picture at the top of this post is called 'The Critic' by Kathy Jo Braceland.

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Chez Splodge

A few people have enquired as to what it's like chez Splodge after tasting one too many wines....

Tuesday 2 February 2010

A very long lunch...

I was up very early a few weeks ago, looking for the best from the farmers market. Back home, after a three hours chopping, poaching and frying, I had ten minutes to spare for a gin and tonic before Carol and Michael came for lunch. Or so I thought.
After about an hour, doubt began to set in, so we re-read their email.... "Sounds great, look forward to seeing you... next Saturday"...
Thank god I hadn't phoned them, I nearly did, imagine... "How far away are you?"... "Oh, about a week".

Carol, Michael and baby Isla turned up exactly when they were supposed to. At least the rehearsal meant lunch was a finely honed performance.
First up, squat lobster salad with homemade 'marie rose' sauce. Based on an old Keith Floyd recipe taught to him many years ago by the owner of a hotel in the French Alpes. It's great and I'll pop the simple recipe at the end of this post. The squat lobster tails were cooked in sea strength salted boiling water for about 3 minutes. Drained, left to cool then peeled.

Carol and Michael brought along a couple of cracking wines from an Edinburgh merchant called Peter Green. The Macon was textbook stuff. All buttery chardonnay without any oak. Perfect with the squatties.
Next up, a Catalan fish stew. From the first Moro cookbook and, despite having eaten it twice in a week, I could go it again right now.

The base is long sautéed onion, pepper, bay leaf, rosemary, tomato and lots of saffron. Thickened with blanched almonds that are lightly toasted then roughly ground. When ready to eat, pop in mussels and monkfish- or any other fishy combination- cover with foil and cook for 5 minutes. Bingo. It's seriously, lusciously good.

The other wine from Peter Green was a Tasmanian Pinot Noir. This was a gorgeous drink that smelt of Turkish delight and tasted of cherries.

We finished off with some fascinating chocolates. Carol said they'd picked them up in Heart Buchanan on Byres Road. Flavours included Molasses & Hemp Seed, Strawberry & Black Pepper, and the sit up and pay attention... Smoked Chilli & Mezcal.

Recipe for Floyd inspired Pink Sauce for Prawns:


1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons of fromage frais
2 tablespoons of creme fraiche
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of bland oil (sunflower, groundnut)
2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
1 - 2 tablespoons of tomato ketchup
splash of Worcester Sauce
salt and pepper


Put the lot in a blender and whizz. I use a hand blender. You could use a whisk instead.