Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Nottingham cold mid-January afternoon

January 15, 2020

A sunny albeit cold afternoon in Nottingham.

Not every day visit a bean-to-bar chocolate maker, craft beer brewery and a coffee roastery all in once day.

And visit Thai restaurant and a coffee shop.

To Paste, Thai restaurant. Excellent lunch, generous portion size. As last week, empty.

Looked in Ugly Bread Bakery. Mentioned the Panorama programme on town centres broadcast on Monday, worth watching.

Invited to a meeting with retailers the following day.

Head off to Sneinton Market.

Pass Bookwise, a second hand bookshop. I briefly look in.

Sneinton Market fairly easy to find, head off straight down the street. The further I walk down the street, the seedier it becomes.

Google Maps says five minutes, more like ten minutes.

Steinton Market something of a disappointment. I was expecting something like Trinity Market in Hull. I was also expecting fruit and vegetable stalls. But no, revamped units, now let to small businesses by the local council. A good idea. Though nearly everything appeared to be closed.

I then happen upon Luisa’s bean-to-bar craft chocolate, the jewel in the crown in Sneinton Market.

I pop in, but at a delicate process. I am asked can I pop back? No problem. I am off to Blend coffee shop, I will return a little later.

Sneinton Market is three rows of long low outbuildings. In the second row I find a craft brewery. I pop in. Not open to visitors, but I walk in anyway. I buy a can of expensive IPA, only a choice of two. I don’t like cans, I prefer beer in bottles.

Then in the third row I find Stewarts of Trent Bridge, a coffee roastery. Again I pop in. I am kindly shown around, not that there is a lot to see apart from a Probat coffee roaster.

Then to Blend, a coffee shop, the retail outlet for the coffee roastery.

Open and airy, like a warehouse, but smell of frying bacon not so good, nor the loud unpleasant music, too loud. I was surprised how busy.

For an outlet for a coffee roastery not exactly showcasing their coffee, a single origin, not at all obvious, appears to be a blend that changes monthly and the house blend.

I asked for a cappuccino. As far as I could tell, no pour over on offer, or if there was not obvious as I did not see.

I was asked what size? Show me the cups. I asked for the correct size. Then a silly conservation ensues, told it is personal preference. No, there is only one size for a cappuccino, the correct size. It is always best to keep quiet than display ones ignorance. And if do not know, do not wish to know, then get out of coffee.

My coffee is brought blended with chocolate.

No, a cappuccino does not have chocolate, ether blended or dumped on top.

I take it back, ask for a cappuccino with no chocolate. I should not have to ask. I should be asked. And a good coffee shop would not ask as they would not dream of insulting clients with chocolate.

What is brought is not good. OK, but not good. Lukewarm, mediocre at best. Marginally better than 200 Degrees, which is a very low bar to exceed.

It is then back to Luisa’s. An interesting conversation on chocolate ensues.

I had tasted samples earlier. Another taste. Each one is better than before. In essence it is wow. Mind blowing chocolate. I have never before tasted such exquisite chocolate, though I have yet to try Bullion or Bare Bones from The Steam Yard. One fruity, maybe cherry like, another more citrus. Mind blowing flavours. The last one I tried, as I hold it in my mouth, the flavour intensifies.

These are not added flavours, these are the intrinsic flavours of the chocolate. This is what chocolate should taste like, not like Cadbury’s. A coffee analogy, coffee does not taste like the vile tasting undrinkable coffee served by Costa or Starbuck’s.

It is then to Outpost Coffee to enjoy a decent coffee.

Then to Ideas on Paper. Where I needed to visit, half price sale on back issues of magazine. But only time for a quick browse, no running late.

Dash Vegan zero waste shop has gone from Cobden Chambers. The restaurant had gone when I visited a few weeks ago. It was the zero waste side I excepted to go. I say gone, it has relocated to Hopkinson. But how long before it goes, as not a viable business the amateurish manner in which it is run. A pity they had not advised customers soonest, not waste a visit to find closed a notice posted on the door, especially as I had passed Hopkinson earlier, as would other customers if arrived by train.

Managed to catch train with a few minutes to spare. Have to walk to the front of the train to get on, standing room only.

Second day of New Year in Sheffield

January 3, 2020

As regular as clockwork, which is more than can be said of our rail network, rail fares increased on Thursday by 2.7%.

Equally as regular as clockwork, rail companies justify rail fare increase claiming improvement in service.

Strange how none of us notice this improvement in service.

I wait and wait and wait at ticket office to buy my return ticket to Sheffield. Increase in rail fares but same piss-poor service.

New Northern Fail train to Sheffield. New but still only two coaches on a route that requires at least three coaches.

Poor design, seats fail to align with windows, partial obstruction of windows by external indicators, large TV screen in your face, deafened each time an announcement. Yes wifi, yes 13A power socket. But power socket hidden beneath the seats and have to be a contortionist to access, and no usb power point on the 13A socket.

Arrive at Sheffield to be met by an army of ticket collectors. This is how they treat rail passengers, as criminals. The guard walks up and down the train after departing each station, checking and selling tickets.

Alighted from train, very very cold.

Walking up from Sheffield Station, no Motore Coffee kiosk. Not that I could stop as heading straight to Union St via Winter Garden for a Taiwanese lunch.

I was not sure if Union St open or if Taiwanese food, but luckily yes to both, and I had had a message in the morning from ShuJu Kitchen confirming would be there serving food.

As always excellent food. I sampled a bit of almost everything. As always excellent and generous portion size. The downside a few of the dishes cold or almost cold. This needs to be addressed. Also they need to serve on hot plates, have the ability to warm the plates.

One reason for visit to Sheffield beginning of the month, latest issue of Now Then. To my surprise a pile of Now Then December 2019 arrives.

I later learn, no Now Then January 2020. The next issue will be Now Then February 2020.

Now Then is like gold dust. Lucky if find. It puts to shame the glossy freebies found in other towns.

From Union St through Winter Garden to Millennium Gallery for an exhibition Now is The time. I was looking forward to it. A total waste of time.

To Marmadukes. Packed, very busy. Who I wished to see not there, indeed I did not recognise any of the staff.

Excellent cappuccino.

To Steam Yard.

I passed Stone the Crows, an indie businesses forced to close by business rates too high. A story that could be told across the country. A total failure of the local council to engage. The same local council that destroyed tens of thousands of trees. Is this why Labour lost the General Election. One party states, Labour councils with arrogant contempt for local people, local businesses? The same story in Lincoln. What is odd, Stone the Crows paying higher rates than comparable businesses which are corporate chains. Why? Answers please Sheffield City Council.

Steam Yard as with Marmadukes, packed, very busy. Leaving Marmadukes early meant more time at Steam Yard. Last few visits, no time to stop.

I noticed as last visit, not only Bullion bean-to-bar craft chocolate, added to their range Bare Bones bean-to-bar chocolate.

Chocolate is following in the footsteps of speciality coffee, source single origin, care taken throughout the process. Not to be confused with overpriced chocolate from Hotel Chocolat or too many chocolates that are simply buying in chocolate and moulding it.

A pile of Now Then on the windowsill next to where I was sitting.

Interesting conversation with one of the baristas. He had been to the coffee farm in Panama owned by Ninety Plus. They own two farms, one in Panama the other in Ethiopia.

Pass by a butcher cum fishmonger in Division Street. Peeled prawns loose, but prawns in their shells shells prepacked on a polystyrene tray shrink wrapped in plastic.

To Sheffield Station with time to spare.

Train running late. Overcrowded standing room only clapped out Northern Fail train of only two coaches. Last part of journey a gang of pre-teen and early teen girls running amok on the train. They should not have been out on their own, let alone travelling on a train on their own.

Alighting from the train, positively balmy compared with Sheffield.

Note: Northern Fail to be stripped of their rail franchise.

Happy New Year 2020

January 1, 2020

So may the New Year be a happy one to you, happy to many more whose happiness depends on you! — Charles Dickens

Happy New Year

Feliz año nuevo

Ευτυχισμένο το νέο έτος

С новым годом

Christmas Emporium Lincoln Castle

December 21, 2019

Why is it everywhere has the desire to dump a few sheds in a town centre fill with tat and junk food and call it a Christmas Market?

This market was dismal. I walked in a little after three to find no one around, all the sheds bar a couple closed. They had obviously closed before three. The ubiquitous junk food.

What is the point of a market that closes at three then reopens again at five, albeit to then charge £8 entrance fee?

I spoke to a couple of stallholders. To say the last they were thoroughly pissed off.  And I do not blame them. Paying a high fee for a pitch for no customers. They will not be returning.

I then found I could not get out the West Gate and had to walk around the Castle to Stokes at The Lawn

This is another example of the appalling mismanagement of Lincoln Castle. Complaints fall on deaf ears.

Paste Thai Contemporary Cuisine

December 18, 2019

We could find nowhere to eat, eventually settled on Paste Thai Contemporary Cuisine.

The exterior belies the interior, open and airy.

Attentive staff, maybe a little too attentive.

For starter we each had chicken and mushroom soup, though menu said chicken or mushroom, a few vegetables, with added coconut.

Main dishes, sweet and sour chicken and a deep fried crispy chicken with a sauce. I preferred the crispy chicken without the sauce as it changed the texture and taste. Both served with rice.

Ice cream with coconut for dessert.

Food was good, though maybe more suited to an evening meal than lunchtime.

Dinner with a view

December 3, 2019

Last night in Athens, dinner with a view.

Cold brew in The Underdog

December 3, 2019

Cold brew in The Underdog, only not cold brew, a filter coffee put in the fridge.

Why? Better consistency than using a cold drip tower.

Athens First Saturday in November

November 30, 2019

Since the clocks went back the previous weekend a noticeable change in the weather.

Very much like late autumn in England, cold in the morning, warm and sunny in the afternoon, clear blue skies, temperature drops as soon as the sun goes down, cold at night, very cold late at night.

Today a visit to The Acropolis, but first find an art museum.

The museum I was looking for National Museum of Contemporary Art, Whether or not the correct museum, as many with art, I do not know, but correct or not, it was closed.

En route I passed an interesting modern hotel. I actually thought it a furniture shop that makes wooden beds, which also makes wooden bicycles, but no it was a very modern hotel Coco-Mat with wooden bicycles parked outside.

I also passed an interesting bar with a wide range of craft beer.

In the same street, more or less opposite, a derelict mansion.

A slightly different route back, stopped at a falafel bar and had falafel and salad.

Making this quality of falafel in North Laine in Brighton would do very well.

An amazing sight, a scooter piled high with eggs then more added.

Now maybe too late for The Acropolis as late afternoon, but decided to visit anyway.

But why were they charging 30 euros for a season ticket? November it should be half price and I had been told last week at Ancient Agora half price for November, as it has been in the past. No they were adamant, 30 euros but half price for The Acropolis, 10 euros not 20 euros. I grudgingly paid 10 euros.

Areopagus, a rocky outcrop on the western side of The Acropolis.

Sun was setting as I left The Acropolis. As it was nearby I climbed the rock.

There are steps carved into the rock, dodgy to ascend, now barred off and an ugly stairs adjacent.

A popular site for watching the sun set.

Walked to The Underdog, had a cappuccino.

I now notice Nespresso capsules with Brazilian coffee, 20 euros for 18 capsules.

Once the sun goes down it is cold.

I decided too cold to walk back caught the Metro at Thisio. Very rough character on the train, not been on this line before. Maybe a line to avoid.

Dinner in Plaka.

Turkish sisters who were there the night before, one sister again joined the musicians to sing. She was good.

Foyer espresso bar

November 28, 2019

After Philos and Graffito on to Foyer espresso bar. It has now turned cold.

Look in sister shop next door, bought nuts and dried figs.

Excellent coffee in Foyer espresso bar.

Foyer espresso bar has guest coffees. I recommended for them a few roasteries I was familiar with.

It has tuned cold. I take the Metro to Acropoli.

Graffito

November 28, 2019

After a coffee at Taresso, went off in search of Graffito a few minuses walk away.

I learnt no coffee shop, closed at least two years ago. Strange how no one had ever mentioned. Now I know why, it no longer exists.

An interesting shop, well designed. Could be summed up as style, slow fashion.

I passed by Philos, sympathetic restoration of an old building, a pity they serve Illy coffee.

When Graffito hosted a coffee shop, they sourced coffee from Kudo. I suggested they may wish to recommend Kudo to Philos next door.