Archive for the ‘food’ Category

What is the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership?

April 19, 2015

An assault on European and US societies by transnational corporations. — John Hilary, Executive Director of War on Want

TTIP is a secret trade deal between US and EU that will give global corporations unprecedented powers over our lives, as if they did not control us already, they will be able to sue governments in secret trade courts.

TTIP is so secret that even Members of the European Parliament are kept in the dark. What we do know, has come via leeks.

Yesterday, demonstrations took place across Europe against TTIP.

TTIP will reduce environmental protections, reduce food safeguards, removal of employment protection, making draconian intellectual property rights even more so, loosening of banking regulations, sell-off of NHS …

In other words, it is a Charter or Bill of Rights for Corporations, at the very time when we are celebrating Magna Carta.

KFC is lobbying for a lowering of food safety. Can what is served by KFC actually get any worse?

Do we want KFC, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, dictating what we eat and drink, dictating what employment conditions shuuld be?

David Cameron is pushing TTIP. Labour is not opposing TTIP. The Green Party are opposed.

Guildford farmers market

April 7, 2015
Town Bridge

Town Bridge



Celtic Baker sough dough  bread

Celtic Baker sough dough bread



English wine

English wine

A lovely warm, if not hot in the sun, sunny day. Not what to expect when it is farmers market, as often cold and windy and raining. And not what to expect early April.

No sunflower seed wholemeal loaf off Celtic Baker. One greedy woman had taken four, and  as a result they ran out early.

The pie man had Cornish pasties.

Guildford Allotment Society had a stall. I was surprised how many allotments in Guildford, though they may not have actually been in Guildford, could be the surrounding villages.

I suggested they opened up a social enterprise cafe in the town, as Russell Brand has with The Trew Era Cafe in Hackney or Skipchen in Bristol,  supply it with surplus produce from the allotments.

Other ideas floated:

  • In Switzerland, neighbours get together, each agreeing what to grow, this avoids all having the same surplus, and then swap the surplus.
  • Guerilla gardening, identify public space, turn it into growing space.
  • Identify unkempt gardens. Offer to grow produce, share 50:50 with the householder.

One thing I liked, some of the produce on their stall had been grown by a nine-year old girl. As it was school holiday, a pity she was not there to discuss what she had been growing.

I thought maybe soup in Glutton & Glee. Curried cauliflower. Er, no thanks.

Lunch in the Thai restaurant in Jeffries Passage. When the owner is not there, it is not good, and today was one of those days. The service was appalling, surly, harassing people to leave when closed, and the food was not good either. My stomach was bad a few hours later.

Shocked to find The Joint, up market butcher in Jeffries Pasage, has closed. Their shop repossessed by Abbot’s Hospital who are the landlords. Why I do not know. Their prices were high, always busy, the staff always pleasant and helpful, though sadly the quality was not commensurate with their high prices. I suspect rip-off rents which is driving everyone out of business.

An example of rip-off rent. Ben’s Records runs a Record Fair in the Old Town Hall. It was £200 to rent, now £450. Whether this means Ben doubles the cost to the stalls to recover, I do not know. Absolutely no excuses for the rent hike, other than crass stupidity and greed by the local council.

Sometimes you get the impression, local councils wish to deliberately kill off all local businesses.

And yet, it is local specialist businesses like Ben’s Records that makes a trip to Guildford worthwhile.

Standards on the market must be improved. It is not acceptable to be serving food in polystyrene burger boxes or drinks in polystyrene cups, not when there are readily available alternatives and other markets set far higher standards.

If the Watercress Festival, music festivals, set high standards, why not Guildford?

Jimmy Bean on Winchester market serves the soup in a recyclable, compostable paper cup with a lid. If he can do it, why not everyone? And not even from specialist suppliers, easily obtainable from catering suppliers. He said cup product of Compost Me. And no great cost as is often offered as a pathetic excuse.

Hypocrisy from Guildford. Often a stall encouraging us to be more aware. Put their own house in order first. Not only put there own house in order, get the information out there, make sure everyone knows where they can get supplies from.

Yet another example of crass stupidity by the Council, monoliths (as they are known in the jargon), erected on the pavement. They are unsightly, and an obstruction. At least A-boards can be kicked over.

And to make matters worse, they are everywhere where there is a concentration of people and a pinch point. Outside the entrance to the Station, both ends of Bridge Street including on a busy traffic island where people are crossing the road, in the High Street.

I did see the Mayor loitering in the High Street. I should have collared him and asked for an explanation for this crass stupidity.

Yet more public money poured down the drain.

There is no innovation in councils. One council has a stupid idea, and they all follow like mindless sheep.

Coffee and cookie in Harris + Hoole.

There will be an additional market on St George’s Day, Thursday 23 April 2015. Note a Thursday not a Tuesday. I saw no publicity on any of the stalls. I am only aware because a couple of stallholders told me.

The Trew Era Cafe

April 4, 2015
Revolution - Russell Brand

Revolution – Russell Brand

The Trew Era Cafe

The Trew Era Cafe

A social enterprise cafe on the New Era Estate in Hoxton (Hackney).

The Trew Era Cafe was one of the outcomes of the campaign by residents on the New Era Estate to save their tenancies, save the estate, from being destroyed by greedy rapacious Rachman landlords who were wanting to triple their rents and drive them off the estate.

The tenants fought back.

Initially financed by Russell Brand with proceeds from Revolution.  It is expected to become self-financing, part of a network of mutually supporting social enterprises.

Excellent that emphasis on quality and organic.

I trust quality coffee beans, from quality roasters, and skilled baristas who know how to make coffee.

Well done Hackney Council for making land available to grow produce for The Trew Era Cafe.

People with allotments or gardens, could supply produce, maybe in return get a free meal or coffee.

Intercept waste from farms and supermarkets, turn into delicious meals on a pay-what-you-can basis. Better than food banks, as retains dignity, not having to beg for food.

Autonomous people, ideally open coops, or small businesses, supplied with beehives who will supply the honey, who will supply the produce, each supporting each other, giving local people meaningful employment, recycling money within the local economy.

How about occasional live music evenings?

The Trew Era Cafe is one of many social enterprises, contributing to the collaborative commons, that are now springing up.

Top story in Yum Coffee (Sunday 5 March 2015).

Late lunch at Caffe Macchiato

March 30, 2015
spaghetti con polpette

spaghetti con polpette

Caffe Macchiato

Caffe Macchiato

Caffe Macchiato

Caffe Macchiato

Aldershot is infamous for its boarded-up shops, gambling joints, Pound shops, disgusting fast food outlets and tacky chain eateries.

To find somewhere worth eating, let alone worth making a trip to Aldershot for, is nothing short of a miracle.

Caffe Macchiato is one such place.

I had spaghetti con polpette, spaghetti with meatballs, onion and tomato sauce, It was excellent, generous portion size too, all freshly cooked from quality ingredients.

On a previous visit, pollo crema a fungi, breast of chicken cooked with wine, peppers, served with porcini mushrooms in a garlic and tomato sauce. That too was excellent.

I do not though recommend the coffee. They need to source better quality coffee from specialist coffee roasters, not source from a sister coffee bar, where they lack the expertise to roast coffee (though full marks for trying).

An idiot has posted a  very nasty review on TripAdvisor, claiming service without a smile, poor quality ingredients. This simply is not true.

Newspapers to read, Times, Independent, Daily Mail, art on the wall by Emilia, free wifi.

Since my last visit, a revamp, new chairs outside, different décor inside.

Occasional live music in the evening, with a set menu.

My only question: Why not No1 on TripAdvisor for places to eat in Aldershot?

Bodeguilla de San Roque

March 23, 2015
tasted as disgusting as it looks

tasted as disgusting as it looks

Bodeguilla de San Roque

Bodeguilla de San Roque

What was described as warm pork with peppers.

In reality thin slices of cold, poor quality ham, with rather disgusting green peppers, plus potatoes.

I ate the potatoes which were quite good, left the disgusting peppers and left about half of the ham.

Not ordered, but served before the main course, a plate of chips with a fried egg on top. This I waved away.

Tarta de chocolate en O Paris

March 22, 2015
tarta de chocolate

tarta de chocolate

Excelente tarta de chocolate.

Quality tea, though they had not a clue how to make tea. They allowed me to show them.

They appeared to know how to make coffee, though I did not try.

Almuerzo en Monasterio de San Martín Pinario

March 22, 2015


vino tinto

vino tinto

The church of the Monasterio de San Martín Pinario is now a museum.

A much larger building facing Catedral de Santiago has its doors wide open, open times displayed, and yet when you walk in, told it is not open to the public.

There is though another entrance.

This leads to a vey impressive hotel, and yet only a one star Pension.

Leading off from the cloisters, the Refectory, now serving food.

  1. caldo Gallego
  2. escalope de cerdo con ensalada
  3. manzano asado

Galican broth (potatoes and vegetables), escalope of pork with salad and chips, with baked apple as dessert.

The broth was a meal in itself. An alternative starter octopus and potatoes, portion size sufficient for a main meal.

Served with bread, a bottle of red wine and  a large bottle of water

Followed by coffee or tea.

Falafel y ensalada en Hervor y Fervor

March 21, 2015
Hervor y Fervor

Hervor y Fervor

Hervor y Fervor a very old bar, or at least gives the appearance of being.

Falafel was listed on its own. This I querried, to learn served with salad, or rather served with lettuce.

The falafel was slightly overcooked, otherwise excellent.

The salad would have been much improved by addition of a little sliced tomato and onion.

The beer was disgusting.

People were eating Japanese food. Not on the menu. Chalked up on  a board. Special for last night and tonight.

Loud music, very noisy.

An art exhibion on the walls.

Live music Tuesday nights.

Sopa de champiñones en O Paris

March 21, 2015
O Paris

O Paris

Excellent cream of mushroom soup in O Paris.  Served with bread, for which there was no extra charge.

It was actually the starter for menú el día but I did not want anything else.

Pleasant environment, pleasant staff but spolit by loud music.

As I was leaving, I saw a delicious looking chocolate cake being served, and thought maybe good choice for afternoon tea and cake another day.

I was very surprised to find dogs allowed.

One bad review on TripAdvisor  by someone writing rubbish claiming O Paris failed to honour a reservation. They did not fail to honour for the simple fact they do not take reservations. No one bar a fool would even try to make a reservation, as only a small place.

A completely different experience to A-Vaca, which I strongly recommend avoid.

Hamburguesa en A-Vaca

March 20, 2015
disgusting hamburger in A-Vaca

disgusting hamburger in A-Vaca

I strongly recommend A-Vaca as a place to avoid.

Service without a smile.

I ordered a classic burger.

When it arrived it tasted disgusting. And why no lettuce or tomato?

As I bit into it, I found the outside cooked, the inside raw and oozing blood.

As I was sat by the counter, I angrily pushed it across the counter, said it was disgusting, and to make the point, wiped my fingers now dripping with blood, across their clean wooden counter.

My reaction did not go down too well.

They tried to claim, uncooked, dripping blood, was normal. No apology for what I had been served.

Note: Talking to locals, they have all been disgusted at how the burger was served.

At this point I should have got up and walked out.

Instead of cooking afresh they simply reheated a little more the burger I had rejected. But still it was disgusting.

Then to add insult to injury, they overcharged me on the bill.

They insisted I had ordered a different more expensive burger. I had not.

I refused to pay  more.

I counted it out and walked out.

As I walked out, I was shouted at: Go home!

When a place is this bad, so bad it should be closed down, it is important an official complaint is filed. Demand the complaint book. If they refuse, that is a grounds for further complaint.

I walked out and did not think to file a complaint. But a few days later, a formal complaint was filed with the Tourist Information Office.

A big question mark needs to be raised re the glowing reviews on TripAdvior. All in Spanish, all singing from the same hymn sheet the praises of the burgers.

A-Vaca is not serving quality burgers, and anyone who says  otherwise has never eaten a quality burger made from quality ingredients.

I suggest try New Forest Steak Burgers on Winchester market or The Advisory in Hackney.

The chips served were surprisingly quite good. But why in a silly little basket where they get cold, rather than on the plate?

If you wish to try fresh made burgers, try O Paris. I have not, but their soup and cakes are delicious. And the staff are pleasant.


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