It’s been a while since I’ve had a good moan/rant about anything on here. I think in the midst of writing my final English essays (possibly ever?!? Actually don’t jinx it Pip, a Masters might be around the corner if a job opportunity doesn’t emerge soon…) I’ve either reached a state of contentment with the world around me and so feel no urge to moan, or I’ve become really boring and can’t be arsed to write when it’s not writing my dissertation or my neuroscience module essay. The latter, obviously.
But this has really caught the attention of angry Pip, so much so that even a rant in the car to Dad and over the phone to boyfriend hasn’t satisfied my dissatisfaction. Why the fuck is David Baddiel writing for the Table Talk column of The Sunday Times Magazine?(Reading this sentence back I realise what a sad little 21 year old I am. Essay writing has obviously reduced me to this. Next I’ll be visiting cafes and restaurants purely to give them a scathing review on TripAdvisor for fun). Not that I have anything against David Baddiel as a person or comedian or children’s author or any of the other occupations he chooses to have; my qualm arises from the fact that after reading a 2 page review of his visit to Palatino in Clerkenwell last week, I have learnt absolutely nothing about the restaurant or the food served there. I’ve learnt that he’s apparently incapable of heating up and eating soup without giving himself second degree burns (an account of how he microwaves his soup the day before and subsequent burnt his mouth took up roughly 1/3 of the review, discounting the odd comments that are smattered over the course of the rest of the review), and I’ve learnt that his eating companion was one of those infuriating people that eats nothing but plain food without sauce or seasoning – aka someone not to take to a restaurant, let alone to actually review the food.
It started quite promising. He explained that the restaurant is Italian, specifically Roman. Good. Need to know stuff. He said that its owned by Stevie Parle, who also owns Dock Kitchen and Sardine. Interesting. An indicator of the kind of food to be expected. All good so far. But then we launch into a painstakingly drawn-out account of David’s mishap the day before; he burnt his mouth on some soup. Poor him. Half a page later, I want to find out what the restaurant is like. Unlike David I know how to eat soup, and so I’m finding it hard to sympathise here.
After describing, at length, his journey from the tube to the restaurant and enlightening us on the pain that is walking with a burnt mouth, we’re finally told about the aesthetic of the restaurant. “wide windows giving on to concrete floors and yellow upholstery [denoting] one of those Nordic design shops”. Good, more information – quite concise considering the Epic that was the ordeal of the molten soup previously described, but it’ll do. But onto far more important matters, like who he’s eating with. I don’t care. Oh, but he doesn’t like starters or sauce or flavour or anything served on the menu, isn’t that a funny anecdote to spend another column milking? Not really. I want to hear what’s on the menu. Am I just really boring and lacking a sense of humour or am I justified in wanting to read a restaurant review in the restaurant review section?
Finally, he gets down to describing food, all of which sounds delicious if it weren’t overshadowed by the obvious pain Baddiel was facing in forcing it down his oesophagus. The salt cod starter he describes as “delicate and firm, its fishiness held nicely in check by tart chunk of orange” – very appetising, until he advises taking it with olive oil “if you are trying to force food down a burnt inner tube”. The artichoke and crab salad – something that by the sounds of I would definitely go for – is given a much less favourable review owing to the fact that it was “difficult” because it had chilli in it. It’s like reading a geriatric attempting to force down a non-liquidised Sunday Lunch (no offence to any geriatrics reading – I’m sure you’d make much less fuss over it).
The primi platti and main was described half through the eyes of his infantile eating companion – quite useful if you’re thinking of taking a small child to an upmarket Italian, but not so useful for me, or anyone else who would eat the onglet steak without “knifing off the spicy salsa on top” – no wonder he calls it bloody bland if the flavour has been wiped off and banished to the side of the plate. Did he ask for ketchup with it too? Baddiel does, however, start to give us some (not much) indication that he’s actually tasting and enjoying the food without his self-inflicted wound interfering with his verdict. Though he writes that the pork chop in anchovy cream sauce was overwhelming by the end, he does admit that the first few bites were “exquisite”.
Of pudding he writes that “all of them were good, but none of them blew my mind”. My God, what an insight. Even his companion gave a more detailed response when he was reported to have said the honeycomb cake tasted “like a posh Crunchie”. He, of course, has to round off the review with one last reminder of his damaged gullet, just in case we hadn’t got the picture already. Congrats David Baddiel, I know in meticulous detail now about your terrible mishap concerning your lunch the previous day, and in as much detail about your poor choice in lunch buddies. But do I actually know any more about Palatino than I did before – enough to want to/not want to spend my own money on having the same experience (minus the burns because I’m not stupid) as you? No. Go back to being funny to an audience that is paying to hear you be funny, or reschedule your lunch for a day when you can actually taste your food. I’d prefer the former, because then I can take your job.
ps. he gave the restaurant 3/5. I give him 1/5.
Here’s a recipe for some cauliflower bagel-shaped things I made the other day. They’re good if you’ve had toast for lunch every day for the past month and want something else to put your avocado/chicken/ham/all the sandwich fillings in. Plus you can add parmesan to the mix and make them taste a bit cheesy. Win win.
Cauliflower Kind of Cheesy Bread-Like Rings (Adapted from Dishing Up The Dirt)
1 Medium cauliflower head, chopped into small florets
2 tbsp ground almonds
2 tbsp coconut flour
1/2 tbsp plain flour
2 large eggs
Flavourings – I used a handful of parmesan, 1 tsp garlic powder and some chopped chives but use any flavourings you want – paprika, za’atar, more cheese etc.
- Preheat the oven to 200 fan. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and oil lightly.
- In a food processor, process the cauliflower until it resembles couscous/rice. Pour into a large mixing bowl – it should make about 3 cups worth.
- Add the ground almonds, coconut flour and plain flour, along with the seasonings. Mix well.
- In a separate bowl, beat the eggs lightly, before adding them to the mixture and mixing until it sticks together and forms a kind-of dough consistency – it will be a little crumbly and wet but don’t fret (yay for rhymes).
- Form the dough into 5 tennis ball sized balls and place on the baking sheet. One by one, poke a hole in the centre and mould the dough around the hole to make a bagel shape. Close any cracks that form on the sides of the dough until you have a proper bagel shape.
- Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes, turning the oven up to 220 in the last 10 minutes to brown the top.
- Wait until they’re cool before slicing and filling, as they’ll still be quite soft straight from the oven (if you just want to eat them as is then dive in as soon as they’re out, armed with butter). Store in the fridge.