Archive for February, 2021

Prawn toast toasties

February 28, 2021

King prawns, spring onions, ginger, toasted between two slices of bread. What could be easier? What could go wrong?

Simplification of a Jamie Oliver recipe, skipped the egg and sesame seeds.

Two spring onions, thumb length of ginger, half a dozen king onions, finely chopped, mixed, then between two slices of bread. I wished for whole meal bread, made do with sourdough bread.

Rapeseed oil in a hot pan, could be olive oil. Bread three minutes each side, followed by a minute each side.

I had the pan on high, medium heat would have been preferable. First side burnt, turned heat down to medium. But I was worried the raw prawns cooked.

The result, not good. Crispy if not burnt on the outside, soggy in the middle.

Prawns cooked? I did not get food poisoning so I guess yes.

Featured on Channel 4 Keep Cooking Family Favourites and in 7 Ways.

Not a recommended dish.

Lincoln coronavirus lockdown day fifty-four

February 28, 2021

Saturday like Friday, starts off with a chill to the air, clear blue sky, sun warm.

It is becoming like August of last year, too many people out, behaving as though coronavirus does not exist. No surprise that across the country covid-19 cases beginning to rise. Lincoln is now above the national average for new coronavirus cases.

Sincil Street busy.

From butcher, chicken thighs wrapped in streaky bacon, as favour to me, a regular.

Look in 200 Degrees, curious, coffee from India, I am told it is good. Maybe try one day. Anything is better than their cheap house blend.

Two lots of prawns from fishmonger, including raw king prawns for prawn toast toastie for tea.

No customers zero waste store in Central Market as I pass by. What I am learning, people are visiting Lincoln Eco Pantry in Bailgate, a wider ranger of stock. There may though be another reason. Lincoln Eco Pantry built up a following long before they opened. They were due or at least rumoured to open at two different premises before Bailgate, but for whatever reason, did not happen. In the meantime, the stall in the market stole a march on them.

Chat with barista Angel Coffee House. He tells me Ozone was the best of the coffee they had tried. Begs the question what had they tried? He does not know. I suggest they try Cartwheel Coffee and Outpost Coffee. If I pass by again, I will suggest try espresso blend from DT Coffee Roastery. I also suggested Coffee Gems.

I raise reusable cups, they should not be accepting as a disease vector. I am told what I was told before, we fill a jug, then fill the reusable cup. Before I was also told, we trust our customers.

Whilst we are chatting, a man hands over a reusable cup to be filled, barista takes away, fills with coffee, then hands back.

I question then man. I’m ok, I have been vaccinated. Actually no, you have had the first dose, you are at risk and put others at risk.

I am now encountering ignorance of vaccines, I’ve been vaccinated, therefore I am OK. No, you have had one dose. .

A woman on a bus a couple of weeks ago. I have bene vaccinated, I am OK. Coffee Aroma had a customer walk in claiming they did not have to wear a mask, been vaccinated.

When people go to be vaccinated, they need to be given clear information, that they are still at risk, are a risk to others, must still carry on with coronavirus biosecurity.

I think try Vines early. No bread left people were queuing from nine in the morning.

Again many people around Steep Hill and Bailgate, though not as many as last weekend, but still very busy.

No farmers market, cancelled. Why, no idea. It seems they are cancelled on a whim.

Sourdough bread from Redhill fam shop. Not what I wished for, but all they have.

Lincoln Eco Pantry looks busy, I do not pop in.

Haddock and chips from Elite on the Bail. Pleaant sat in the sun.

Take a walk round to Stokes at the Lawn. As I suspected, closes at three. I arrive just after three. They offer to serve me, I say ok and decline the offer, I was checking if open.

Cappuccino from Coffee Aroma.

Digging the garden and mowing the lawns

February 26, 2021

I had only intended a little digging, that was all, but kind of got carried away.

I did far more digging than I had intended, dug up nettles, then thought, why not mow the lawns. Had I originally decided to mow the lawns, I would not have been walking on the grass.

Lawn mower must have been put away wet, as rusting, corroded, not in a good state. It took a while to get it started, I did not think it would start, but persevered and got it going.

Grass was too wet to mow.

Who needs a gym? Two hours or more hard physical work in the garden.

Arranged for lawn mower to be serviced.

End of February, mowing the grass.

The Great Reset

February 25, 2021

Who controls the post-covid world?

Post-covid we cannot return to business as usual as what was seen as normal was not nornml. Neither can we have a world controlled by people like Bill Gates and Marc Zuckerberg.

Bill Gates has been flying around the world in his executive jet to flog his book, how to save the world from climate change. He invests in fossil fuels, GMOs, fake meats, engages in biopiracy.

Marc Zuckerberg steals our personal data, uses it to manipulates us.

Companies like Nestle and Monsanto control the food chain.

Lincoln Eco Pantry revisited

February 24, 2021

When visit anywhere a shop, coffee shop, have a bad experience, it can be worth paying a second visit, maybe the first visit was an anomaly.

That is what I did today with Lincoln Eco Pantry.

My first visit was before Christmas, their second day of opening. Sympathetic refurbishment of the building, excellent stock, but what I did not like, too many people crowded in, a coronavirus death trap, and as I left when I spoke to the lady who identified herself as the owner I would not go as far as surly but not very friendly. But to be fair, very busy, major problems and delays in opening, probably stressed out.

I passed by last Saturday, I had intended to pop in, too many people, gave it a miss.

Today, empty.

The reception could not have been different, the owner went out of her way to help, information on the products in stock.

I was very pleased to learn, Tony’s Chocolonely once stocks have gone, will not be restocking, links with slave trade, industrial low quality cholate. What a pity others do not show same standard of ethics. I advised check out Luisa’s and Bullion.

Everything I wanted was in stock, though not olive oil shampoo. Even sea salt. For salt I will have to take in a glass jar, it would eat through a brown paper bag. Would she like glass bottles and jars? Yes, but not currently. On the first floor, a box with an assortment of glass jars and bottle, also a shelf of glass kilner storage jars.

A big plus compared with the zero waste stall in Lincoln Central Market a wider range of stock. Another advantage actually open.

One week after the zero waste stall opened in Lincoln Central Market, the local Council kicked out the fruit and vegetable stall that accounted for at least 80% of market footfall. The market is now dead. The zero waste stall has irregular hours, take pot luck if find open. I can pass through on my way from the bus station, but I would not go out of my way not knowing if open. Sometimes I am lucky and find open, sometimes not. A downward death spiral.

Lincoln Eco Shop located opposite Redhill farm shop. The location is good, as a range of food shops, butcher, baker, greengrocer, Elite on the Bail fish restaurant. All we now need is a decent speciality coffee shop.

Note: For quality chocolate try Imperial Tea.

Note: Coffee beans are loose. Not ideal, will have oxidised and not be fresh. For coffee beans, Madame Waffle or Coffee Aroma.

Cappuccino Angel Coffee House

February 24, 2021

Lincoln used to have three excellent coffee shops but sadly Makushi aka Base Camp closed last January leaving two. Madame Waffle has closed during lockdown with no indication of if or when will reopen, leaving one, Coffee Aroma.

Last week I learnt Angel Coffee House had changed owners, good news.

A pleasant day, I thought I would have a cappuccino and sit outside on one of their park bench seats.

I am sorry to report it was not good.

Lincoln coronavirus lockdown day fifty-one

February 24, 2021

Gale force wind blowing, cloudy, hazy sun.

February, Conningsby 18C, Hull 17C. Warm winds blowing in from North Africa. Ten degrees above seasonal average. these are temperatures would see end of May, early June.

Eight people on the bus, maybe more, I do not know if passengers on upper deck. Far more people in the bus station.

Sincil Street busy, as busy as Saturday.

Worrying. Monday, announced long slow relaxation with start in two weeks time. Holiday companies are reporting a huge surge in bookings. Unbelievable Reading and Leeds music festivals to go ahead. Greed and stupidity writ large.

Are we seeing the same stupidly we saw last August, caution thrown to the wind, followed by a massive increase in in coronavirus?

Cappuccino from Angel Coffee House. Not good.

Back way up Steep Hill, Castle Hill, Bailgate, unlike Saturday, when busy with tourists, few people around, most of the eateries closed.

Haddock and chips from Elite on the Bail. Eat outside in the little square.

Looked in Lincoln Eco Pantry. Pleased I did, long chat with the owner. Pleased to learn once shop has got rid of Tony’s Chocolonely will not restock due to their slave trade links. What a pity others do not show same standard of ethics. I advised check out Luisa’s and Bullion.

Too late to pay a visit to Stokes at the Lawn.

Looked in Vines. No bread I fancied.

Excellent cappuccino from Coffee Aroma.

Cauz Coffee

February 22, 2021

Cauz Coffee, never heard of? Me neither neither. Launched today as a branding exercise by a clothing company, Cauz Clothing. Never heard of them either.

Why buy coffee from a clothing company? Why indeed? I would not, not when there is no shortage of reputable roasteries and indie coffee shops to buy coffee from.

Launched with a generous helping of hype and bullshit.

Q grade 82, bare minimum. I would expect at least 85.

Q grade 82 is not ‘World Class Specialty Coffee’, it is the lowest can get away with and still claim speciality coffee, world class it is not. Comparison with instant coffee meaningless, anything is going to be better than instant coffee, not a high bar to exceed.

All that I see is a marketing exercise, a branding exercise. Take coffee from unknown roastery and stick your label on it.

No mention of country of origin, the farm, processing, the roastery. Or at least not on the bags. Nothing but unsubstantiated claims.

Roasted by ‘one of the best in the business’ but refusal to name the roastery does not inspire confidence.

No, these are not ‘the best roasted beans you can imagine’, far from it.

No reputable coffee roastery roasts dark roast. Dark roast destroys all the intrinsic nuances of the coffee. Dark roast is to hide the defects of bad coffee.

Claims of high profit margins by others in the business, but no evidence to support the claim.

50% of our profits go to support cancer. Looks good, eye catching, but utterly meaningless. The profit may be very low, and 50% of very low is even lower.

And what is this support? They do no not say.


The Caps are Cauz Coffee not mine. No mention of the charities which will receive their largesse.

Contrast with Stephen Leighton of Hasbean coffee who wished to help one of his growers install drying beds. An appeal to buyers of his coffee. Would they support a small premium on the bags of coffee sourced from the farm to support drying beds. They agreed, a small premium was added, this paid for drying beds. Transparency.

And if the hype was not sufficient, a 25% discount code.


And no, I will not be taking advantage of the discount code.

If you wish to support a cancer charity, that is fine, visit their charity shop, volunteer, make a donation, but please do not fall for a guilt trip to buy branded coffee from an unknown roastery. If you want to buy coffee, buy from an indie coffee shop or reputable coffee roastery.

Reputable coffee companies, direct trade, high premiums paid to the growers, higher than the FairTrade scam, transparency. And they don’t have to resort to bullshit to promote their coffee, the coffee speaks for itself.

The same applies to chocolate, do not fall for the Tony’s Chocolonely baloney, buy from bean-to-bar chocolate makers, quality chocolate, growers paid a premium for quality.

From Bean to Bar, a whimsical tour of bean-to-bar chocolate makers in Great Britain, is an excellent guide to quality chocolate.

It is not only a clothing chain. Would I buy coffee from a band? Er, no.

The White Crow

February 22, 2021

Early life of Rudolf Nureyev, leading to his defection.

Film of Rudolf Nureyev as a boy and a young man leading to his defection to the West whilst touring in Paris with a group of Russian ballet dancers.

He was helped to defect by Clara Saint.

The film was inspired by the book Rudolf Nureyev: The Life by Julie Kavanagh. The title is a reference to his childhood nickname of white crow (similar meaning to “black sheep” in English), because he was unusual.

Is coffee too expensive?

February 21, 2021

Excellent points made by James Hoffmann, but we should be talking about coffee shops not cafes.

Several years ago, Puerto de la Cruz, there was for as long as I can remember a bookshop, then I am sorry to report it closed, a sad loss.

A young couple, not locals, decided to open a bakery. Prime location, on a corner, behind the main church. But quality bread locals were not willing to pay the price. It changed to a coffee shop, with excellent cakes, and continued to sell bread.

They decided not to cut corners on the coffee, not buy the cheapest rubbish coffee. He said everyone was looking at it from the wrong end. They were looking at how much they were paying for a bag of coffee, not looking at the difference it made to the actual cost of a cup of coffee.

Net result was busy, always busy, but not with locals, with German tourists.

And that was the point I was making. Tourists are used to drinking quality coffee. They will not drink the cheap crap that is being served.

Other bars and cafes would tell him, you need a widescreen TV. I told him no, lack of made you different, that was why you were busy and the others empty.

The next year I am sorry to say he installed a widescreen TV. And as I told him would happen, he lost all his clientele.

If we look at coffee shops, located on a side street, not the main street, rent and business rates will be a third but still too high.

I have this discussion with people all the time. Coffee is too expensive. I have the same conversation craft beer.

Quality costs money, time and care costs money.

I say no, you are paying for a quality product, and no you are not being ripped off. The coffee shop is paying for quality coffee beans, has invested in high quality equipment, is employing skilled staff.

Where you are being ripped off, is when you are being charged high prices in a corporate coffee chain, where you are being served undrinkable coffee, cheap coffee beans, brewed by staff who may wear a sweatshirt that says barista, but the one thing they are not is a barista.

Cauz Coffee, a branding exercise for a clothing company, launched Monday 22 January 2021 make ludicrous claims of high profit margins by others in the business, but provide no evidence to support their claim. They make equally bullshit claims the quality of their coffee. Why would anyone wish to buy branded coffee from a clothing company when spoilt for choice with reputable coffee roasteries? Why indeed?

No one I know is getting rich on coffee. But yes, enjoy what they are doing, take a pride in what they are doing, and are grateful they can earn a living doing what they enjoy.

Fixed costs need to be addressed. This is for society to address, not the coffee shop.

The lowest paid, wages are too low, so low subsidized by the state. It is not for the state to subsidise bad employers. Minimum wage should rise, to where it is affordable to live on.

Furlough needs to continue, to be replaced by a Basic Income. As the economy recovers, replace Basic Income with Universal Dividend. No one should be employed on zero hours contracts.

Rents have been driven up to obscene levels. In part, greedy, grasping landlords, but also corporate chains driving up rents, funded by debt. The chains then collapse, not longer able to service their debt, taking out our town centres.

The rent bears no resemblance to reality. Coronavirus has accelerated the trend to on-line shopping by at least five years. People will not return, not to buy the same consumer crap they can as easily buy on-line. We have to reinvent our town centres, drive out the car, rebuild from the bottom up, support independent businesses like coffee shops that recycle money within the local economy.

Business rates, a property tax, too high, but has advantage the one tax big business cannot dodge.

We need to levy a revenue tax of 5% on Big Tech and tax dodging corporations for example Starbucks.

We can all help. We can push for societal change, we can support our local coffee shops, take our friends for a coffee, especially those who do not like coffee or patronise coffee chains. They will be pleasantly surprised when they discover what real coffee actually tastes like.

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