Saturday, 4 July 2009

Service:Teen goth

Aren't these babies beautiful? 60p each at Portobello Market, freshly picked at 5am that morning. Same thing £1.20p from Borough market and a day old, so hard to open for stuffing.

Do NOT switch off Aga switch EVER or you will die. One week, one of my daughter's friends unplugged it to charge up her mobile. She's lucky she's still alive.

The rather gynecological experience of inserting mozzarella into the courgette flowers

Green Onions, looking like Allegra McEvedy's wilder sister, scrubbing the clams. Any that don't close on rinsing or are broken, discard.

Making caramel, the 'dry' technique. Bubbles starting...

Salted caramel on it's way

The production line to batter the courgette flowers

The eco greaseproof paper

How I made it before...with normal greaseproof paper

There was me boasting to Green Onions...
"yes my daughter is becoming quite professional as a waitress now. It's great, it's like work experience every week..."
Little did I know...
Guests afterwards:
"What we really liked was the service. It was comedic. Your daughter's response when we asked if we should open our wine (for apparently she'd merely handed over the bottle and corkscrew) was... 'Whatever'. When we asked where we should sit... 'whatever'.
"Yes I asked for another bottle of wine. Then I went to the toilet. Your daughter handed over the bottle to me as I was entering the toilet. I suggested that she put it on the table."
Someone else:
"I liked hearing your tiff in the kitchen. You telling her off and her rolling her eyes as soon as your back was turned".
Does Marco Pierre White or Gordon Ramsay have to put up with this? I don't think so. Their word is law. But here, at a home restaurant, there has been door slamming on occasion. The 'staff' is highly disrespectful to the chef. Cos the chef is mum and therefore an idiot.
Every table had two plates of courgette flowers to start, amounting to two each, but served family style as they came out of the fryer. Moving onto the next course, I suddenly discover one table has had nothing to eat, not even one plate of courgette flowers. I get a bit shouty.
My daughter:
"Yeah well, you are just in the way. I mean shut up yeah. It's none of your business. You aren't helping."
I move towards her. I am within a hair's breadth of smacking my daughter in the face. I manage, just, to confine my behaviour to wagging my finger menacingly and telling her not to be so cheeky.

The food: Courgette flower recipe courtesy of Valentine Warner's new book 'What to eat now more please'; they were stuffed with buffalo mozzarella and anchovy (capers for the veggies).
The spaghetti vongole in a bag. Grrr...have anybody else noticed that you can't get normal greaseproof or baking paper anymore in the shops?
Now it's some sort of 'eco' version; brown and ineffective. This dish, that works so well with normal greaseproof paper, suddenly fell apart on the eco-version of this paper. The mixture, spooned onto the sheets of paper, soaked through, meaning the pasta could not hold the delicious vongole liquor and was drier. Think I got away with it though.
Sometimes the whole eco-fascism trend drives me mad. I don't want the new lightbulbs. The light from them is horrible. My Bosch dishwasher annoys me too. It's got some sort of eco facility in which you have to switch it on and off several times before it actually starts working. I'm sorry but I don't give a fuck about the planet when I've got 30 people to feed. If I turn a dishwasher on, I expect it to go on. No ifs no buts.
The caramel: cocked it up the first go. There are two methods: wet and dry. My advice: go for the dry, it's less temperamental. You merely put a heavy-based pan full of sugar with a bit of butter on the heat. Don't stir. Wait till you get a few brown bubbles, then give the pan a mild shake to move the sugar around. Eventually the whole thing becomes liquified. Take it off the heat and slow add the cream. At this point you do stir. Lots. At the end add good salt like Maldon.
I poured it over the passion fruit pavlova. Yum.

Green Onions, another underground restauranteur helped me and it was great to share the burden. We haven't been to each other's restaurants yet because we were always open the same night. She wants to retain the mystery, secrecy and excitement of the underground restaurant scene and, unlike some, is not desperate to get her gob in the papers. For her this is about the food, giving great home-cooked food to people, not a quick route to fame. Plus she doesn't want to get busted. Sensible girl.


  1. Re: greaseproof paper - you need to get a silicon-coated paper specifically for catering, available from Macro / other such places. The eco-stuff is greaseproof, but not liquid proof, which is what you need. Hope this helps.

    Salt caramel over pavlova sounds positively delish - chewy, salty, sweet mmmmmm......

    Could it be that GothGirl knew what was coming in the post today, and therefore feeling a little under pressure?!

    green drawers x

  2. Good to see you at Sipsmiths...let's keep in touch re the various matters discussed. Love the post above, especially AGA plug warning.

    Where do I book for October?

  3. Green drawers: possibly? Or she's got a permanent case of 15 yearolditus
    Charlie: yes deffo and thanks.

  4. I'm guessing you'll be having your daughter as waitress again next time then??

    You could make it a positive attraction... LOL

  5. ...And here's me saying how she sounds like she's got her head screwed on... you've got a future leader there liking the idea of an underground restaurant. Would have to convince my hubby tho'....

  6. "Now it's some sort of 'eco' version; brown and ineffective." LOL! As with so much in life these days.

    Sorry, I live in Brighton and the whole eco/hippy thing wears a bit thin sometimes. As for the new fleet of eco busses and their greasy chip fat stench going past me at a delicate time of each morning. Bleaugh.

  7. Yeah, foodie, like having rubbish greaseproof paper is going to save the Amazon. Since when was the old greaseproof such a problem?
    Priorities totally wrong in terms of Climate Change in my opinion. All the responsibility is dumped on the public when the real problem is industry.
    There will be a backlash for all this guilt-tripping...

  8. I ruined one of my mum's best pans making caramel. Well, it wasn't caramel - it was rock hard burnt stuff. She hasn't forgiven me I don't think.

  9. LOL - I can imagine the teen goth service! Brilliant - as is the description of stuffing courgette flowers as gynaecological. Inspired :) And OMG, if I never see that hideous light cast by an energy saving bulb it will be too soon...

  10. Even 60p for one makes you laugh when they grow so easily, so quickly and so rampantly.

    Nothing like a bit of drama in the kitchen - it's when you find out who people really are.

  11. Yes James I found out that I must keep my cool. Smacking kid in front of 30 people probably not a good look. It would all be a little too 'home' restaurant then?


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