Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Lunch at La Casita

June 26, 2015
 fillet of sea bass with white wine and garlic served rice

fillet of sea bass with white wine and garlic served rice

La Casita

La Casita

La Casita

La Casita

I had intended tapas, but chose instead sea bass covered in sauce with rice,  fillet of sea bass with white wine and garlic served rice.

I thought maybe the sauce would spoil it, as quite strong, and mask the flavour of the fish, but no, it was excellent.

The owner told me the sea bass  was fresh that day.

Very pleasant ambience, service good.  The owner, if not busy, is only too happy to talk about the food, how prepared and cooked, which is always a good sign.

Two recent fake reviews on TripAdvisor which not only stand out like a sore thumb, but bear no resemblance to my experience of La Casita (I have eaten there a few times).

La Casita is one of the few places worth eating in Guildford.

Lunch at Alexander’s

June 24, 2015
lunch at Alexander's

lunch at Alexander’s

Jimmy Bean had no food left and was packing up early.

Where to have lunch? Winchester lacks anywhere decent to eat.
Alexander’s. in the street before Ginger Two, which I have tried a couple of times and not been impressed.

A wide range of teas, but very poor choice of anything to eat.

I settled on tuna and avocado, a strange mix, but best of a poor choice.

I found it to be very dry. The avocado was not ripe. It was sliced. If ripe, it can be spread like butter.

Tuna and tomato, or onion, or cucumber, would have been better, as not so dry. Not helped by the bread being dry.

They has a couple of sandwiches on display. I said no thanks. Mine was freshly prepared.

Coffee was soorced from Extract Coffee Rasters. Having had a coffee from Jimmy Bean, I did not try.

Ambience was pleasant. Wooden tables, but spoilt by cheap plastic chairs.

Oxfam peanut butter

June 24, 2015
Liberation peanut butter

Liberation peanut butter

Oxfam does not only sell second books and clothes, usually overpriced, they also sell produce.

On sale peanut butter.  Plastic jar, padded out with sugar, palm oil, and salt.

Three additives that are extremely unhealthy. Palm oil  is high in saturated fat, so high, it is higher than pig fat. In its natural form, it is solid, and used to be used as axle grease. Until that is someone discovered how to chemically process it.

These ingredients are used to bulk out foods, because they are cheap.

Palm oil is not only on food, it is also widely used in cosmetics.

Palm oil apart from being bad for our health, is also bad for the environment. There is no such thing as sustainable palm oil production.

I took a jar to the counter and expressed my strong disgust. Not that they will care. Oxfam is another Big Business charity, its product aid.

I did not notice a Fairtrade logo, but at a  guess, it was part of the Fairtrade con.

I say Oxfam peanut butter. Strictly speaking it was Liberation peanut butter, and yes, it did have Fairtrade logo. But as we see with this one example Fairtrade is not synonymous with quality, health or good for the environment

If you this peanut butter on sale, please object,

If you see any product with palm oil, please object.

Quality peanuts butter is ground peanuts, nothing added, though occasionally you may find sea salt.

A a lady later in a health food shop said, it is a pity people do not pay more attention to what is on the label.

If you want quality peanut butter, look out for Meridian or Suma. If not on sale, ask why not.  Quality food shops will sell one or the other, sometimes both

Meridian peanut butter

Meridian peanut butter

Lunch at Caffe Macchiato

June 22, 2015
menu pollo boscaiola

menu pollo boscaiola

Pollo buscaiola

Pollo buscaiola

side salad

side salad

Excellent lunch today at Caffe Macchiato.

Pollo buscaiola, breast of chicken cooked with wine, peppers, served with porcini mushrooms in a garlic and tomato sauce, chips and a side salad.

The side salad, similar to a Greek salad. It was topped with olives which I cannot stand. The waitress took away and removed the olives and brought the salad back, minus olives.

I would have preferred served with English or Jersey new potatoes rather than chips, nevertheless the chips were good.

Portion size generous. More than sufficient for two people. I was hungry, but was struggling to clean my plate.

Everything freshly cooked with fresh ingredients.

Caffe Macchiato is an Italian restaurant at the top end of Union Street. The only attractive building in the street.

Union Street was an attractive tree-lined street, pleasant to sit outside Caffe Macchiato on a warm afternoon. All the trees have been cut down and uprooted, leaving an unpleasant stark urban street.

For the last six months, traffic has been blocked from the pedestrianised street whilst work takes place. This needs to be made permanent, as the absence of traffic has much improved the street.

Aldershot is infamous for its disgusting fast food outlets that dominate the town centre, that and pound shops, gambling joints and boarded-up empty shops. Caffe Macchiato is a rarity being the only decent place to eat in Aldershot. Indeed it is even worth making a trip to Aldershot.

End of last year an idiot left a very nasty review on TripAdvisor claiming poor service, unpleasant staff, not freshly cooked or fresh ingredients. Nothing could be further from than the truth.  TripAdvisor needs to do more to eliminate fake reviews.

Free newspapers, wifi.

The walls are used as an art gallery. Worth a visit for the art.

Occasional live music in the evening.

Waitrose pick your own offers

June 20, 2015
Waitrose pick your own offers

Waitrose pick your own offers

Waitrose pick your own offers

Waitrose pick your own offers

As I walked into Waitrose Farnham, sign saying pick your own offers, 20% off.

What does this mean, literally pick your own offers, get 20% off? Rather than offers on what you do not want, or dumb buy one get one free, when you only want one and generate food waste?

Many items had labels. What did this mean?

Sounds like a good idea. I pick what I get on offer. After all that is what the label says.

I asked a passing employee. Or partners as Waitrose call them.

I take what I want to the checkout, get 20%? Er, not quite. You have to go on-line, pick what you want, then show Waitrose card at checkout, then get 20% off.

WTF. What dumb-arsed, brain-dead jerk at Waitrose head office thought up such a dumb idea? I have to go on-line before I shop, to decide what I want on offer?  It is going to cause chaos at the checkouts. People are going to take items to the checkouts, expecting 20% off (I asked). Apparently the web site does not work, click the wrong item, nightmare trying to suss how to un-click.

Why not have pick what you want in store, go to checkout, scan Waitrose card, get 20% off. Ooh far to simple.  far better to have a complex system to piss customers off.

It is like the free coffee. It used to be possible help yourself to a free coffee. Easy, simple. But that was far too easy for customers. Now have to go to checkout, pay for coffee, show Waitrose card, cancelled from bill, then get cup for free coffee.

Today, I lacked my Waitrose card, handed back free newspaper, free coffee cup.

Not to worry regular customer, go the information desk and ask for a cup. Er no, that would be treating customers with respect, and far too easy. Told to go on-line, obtain the number for card. Did not work. I could than have called Waitrose. It was not worth the effort. I walked out and went home.  Had there been someone on the desk who knows I am a regular, I would have been given a cup.

Waitrose Farnham always has long queues at checkouts, because they fail to adequately man.

Waitrose Farnham has unbelievable bad stock control. Last week no cherries. This week no cherries, no Kenyan tea, no fresh bread. Every week, there is the same problem with poor stack control. Every week something I want is not on the shelves. Apart from M&S, I do not have this problem in any other store.

Lunch at Debenham’s

June 19, 2015
Milmead view of River Wey whilst eating lunch

Milmead view of River Wey whilst eating lunch

Debenham’s can do an excellent roast dinner, though it is very variable, usually let down by their vegetables.

roast pork and vegetables

roast pork and vegetables

Today it was roast pork, which is usually excellent. Today was excellent, though the crackling was not crisp.

The vegetables though were stone cold. And why no roast potatoes? Or at the very least, new potatoes?

Wifi did not work, Or rather the wifi did work, it was a good signal and fast speed, it was not connecting to anything.

I tried opening a web browser, as sometimes a log in is required (though this should be automatic), nada.

I spoke with a helpful Filipino lady. She said open web browser and log in. I did and it said welcome  Keith.

You are already logged in she said.

Still no connection.

chocolate cheesecake

chocolate cheesecake

I was going to have a cake elsewhere but their cheesecake looked good and so I stopped and had chocolate cheesecake and  a pot of tea.

I told the lady the vegetables were cold. She said I should have told her earlier.

As I was leaving I could hear data connecting.

I stopped and checked, yes I was now connected.

The restaurant overlooks the river, and as it was  a pleasant day, I sat outside.

As I was beside the river, I decided to take a walk along the River Wey to St Catherine’s Lock.

Lunch at Food for Thought

June 16, 2015
Food for Thought

Food for Thought

quiche and salad

quiche and salad



One last sad lunch at Food for Thought, it closes on Sunday after forty years in business, driven out of business by a greedy grasping landlord driving up the rent to an unaffordable level.
I usually enjoy my food at Thought for Thought. But not today. I think partly my choice, I chose quiche and salad, a mistake, I should have had the soup, followed by stir-fried vegetables and rice. But I think also that it was my last meal, that it was closing.

For dessert, scrunch.

I would have liked to have bought their cookbook, but they had none, try later in the week.

Food for Thought has been there since the 1970s, the food has been consistently good.

When Covent Garden market pulled out, the area was desolate, it was earmarked for redevelopemnt. Activists stopped the redevelopment. But what we have seen is a slow death. he samlll businesses that made it what it was , leaving, to be replaced by chains.

In the 1970s, there were many small businesses like Food For Thought.

Next door, was a barrow maker. In the street the barrows.

In thes ummer, we used to get our food, take it outside an sit on the barrows.

In Neal’s Yard Neal Yard Wholefood, Neal’s Yard Bakery, Neal’s Yard Dairy. All long gone.

In one of the side streets, Pret a Manger, Costa, in Neal Street sweatshop fashion chains.

Small businesses are being destroyed by property companies. Social cleansing is taking place, people kicked out of their homes, bulldozed, luxury apartments built, marketed in the Middle East, China and Russia.

There are now several empty premises in Neal Street, including one next to Food for Thought. Will the vacated Food for Thought join the list? The greedy property company will not care, one more business destroyed. If it sits empty they will offset the losses against tax.

We need political action to stop the destruct of the social fabric of our cities.

We have to have rent control as in New York. We have to have protection for small businesses as they have in France.

Afternoon in Guildford

June 13, 2015

First half of Friday afternoon, was a wild goose chase to find somewhere for lunch.

Options to eat in Guildford, at least somewhere decent, are rapidly vanishing.

Guildford Institute used to be excellent for Friday lunch, but no more as the lady who did the lunches has left.

I popped in Friday, to be accosted and told I had not paid. I was surprised, but, one can forget, and so I apologised and paid.

I left and gave it some thought.

How did the lady know, she was not there last week?

The amount I was told I owed, was not what my lunch cost last week.

And then I remembered, I had paid. The reason I remembered, as I had attempted to pay, as I usually do, where the food was served, but had been rudely told to go round to a hatch where they accept payment.

Something very wrong.

kebabs at The Royal Oak

kebabs at The Royal Oak

I was now on my way to The Royal Oak.

A few weeks back, I had popped in for a drink, and the chef had brought out an excellent kebab, put it on the bar, and suggested help yourself, he wished to know what we thought. It was excellent. So excellent that I popped back another day to try, only to find the pub had closed and changed hands, but the chef was still there.

Today I thought try again. Awful music playing, two sullen women behind the bar. I asked of the kebabs. They looked at each other. No, we don’t do kebabs.

I walked out with the passing comment, I have tried twice, there will not be a third attempt. I did not think to ask was the chef still there.

We are too polite. We accept second best. More people need to walk out.

It was then back to Guildford Institute.

I explained to the lady the situation. I asked what she thought I had had for the sum she claimed I owed. It was eight pounds and something. I then told her what I had had, main course, sweet and a cup of tea, which came to £10-50, more than she said I owed. Thus how could it be I?

And how did I know it came to £10-50? As that is what was on the bill I took to the counter to pay.

Begs the question who the bill was for, the bill it was claimed I had walked out without paying?

She said it was her daughter who made the claim. That I had tried to pay, had the money in my hand, but as I was talking, I walked off without paying.


Luckily, she accepted something was wrong, and gave me my money back.

I asked could I get something to eat? She said no. They were packing up. Though I was offered a sweet.

But what is worrying this is the second time it has been claimed I had not paid.

The Keystone courtyard covered over graffiti covered wall

The Keystone courtyard covered over graffiti covered wall

It was then down to The Keystone.

The Keystone was an excellent pub, but the landlords fell out amongst themselves, the pub went downhill, and eventually a new landlord took over. A new landlord who has been a disaster. His first act was to lose a good chef.

It used to be pleasant on a sunny afternoon to sit outside in the back courtyard and have their excellent fish cakes. I found the courtyard covered over (now dark and gloomy instead of open and airy), awful music playing (it was bad enough in the pub but at least the courtyard was quiet), and the back wall covered in graffiti (an unbelievable eyesore which the local council should enforce a clean up). I asked for the fish cakes to be told they did not do them any more. It was burgers or nothing. I walked out.

Looking from the church (and there are arms houses further along), the back of The Keystone looks like something out of a Third World shanty slum. is there planning permission for the unsightly structures that have been erected? Jobsworth from the local council need to get out and about a bit more (their office a few minutes walk along the road) and carry out enforcement.

lunch at Thai restaurant

lunch at Thai restaurant

Back up the High Street and late lunch in the Thai restaurant in Jeffries Passage. It was excellent. I should have gone there first.

We are losing many pubs every week. Too often it is greedy pubcos, selling them off for redevelopment. But it also badly run pubs too.

J D Weatherspoon, may be a chain, but their pubs are well run. That is why they are successful. If I go into Harris + Hoole for a coffee, the staff are always great, plus the tea and coffee and cookies are excellent too.

I contrast with the two pubs I visited yesterday. Bar staff who give the impression they are bored and would rather be somewhere else, indeed anywhere than where they were.

The two pubs empty. Harris + Hoole always busy, as it was today. Says it all.

Attitude is one problem. But awful music playing is another.

Both pubs had awful music playing. No, I do not wish to have the bad musical taste of other people imposed upon me.

Again, look to J D Weatherspoon, other than when full of roudy drunks, quiet, no music.

As it was a very warm humid afternoon, iced tea in Harris + Hoole.

What really matters

June 11, 2015
What really matters

What really matters

Έχουμε ξεχάσει να κοιτάξουμε γύρω μας και τι πραγματικά έχει σημασία.

We have forgotten to look around and what really matters.

Thanks to Elena.

I am reminded of a conversation several years ago with Satish Kumar. He recounted what he had learnt from Gandhi. Each day he made and baked bread. It reminded him of what was important in life.

Lunch at the Guildford Institute

June 5, 2015
Guildford Institute lunch

Guildford Institute lunch



The lady who did the excellent Friday  lunches at the Guildford Institute has now left. I enjoyed the last of her excellent cooking three weeks ago and said a sad farewell. Yes, it is still possible to have lunch at the Guildford Institute, but I do not recommend. Today’s fare simply did not compare.

To make matters worse, a price hike.

A meal deal, main course with two salads, a fruit juice, a dessert, plus a pot of tea, was less than a tenner.

Today, meal deal, main course with two salads, no fruit juice, a dessert, a cup of tea not a pot of tea, was £10-50.

The leftovers were being emptied into plastic boxes. Does this mean to be served up another day? I hope not.


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