"It's not much but it's ours"

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Let’s not try to paper over the cracks. It was a lousy performance. It was a performance that needed every man jack who took the field for England today to be tarred, feathered and dragged through the streets on a rail while the populace booed them. I cannot be the only person in town who actually got to the point of wishing that Trinidad & Tobago would score and beat the big girl's blouses who did not feel that their mere £50,000 per week gave them the responsibility of turning up.

Whoever they play in the next round, I hope they get soundly thrashed and have to limp back to Luton Airport their tails between their legs and have to walk all the way to London while people whip them with cow’s udders filled with piss and puke. That’s how badly they played. I despise them.

So, after the game, filled with merry glee, me and Hermano Primero needed to get out of the house and have some fun.

We decided on our Smithfield Market crawl and this post is dedicated to one person who improved our spirits no end. A cook who knows the value of hard work, is dedicated to what she does and eschews the glamour for the reward of knowing she does what she does exceptionally well. This post is about Carol. But, more of that later.

First stop, Compttoir Gascon. Booked out as usual, we took a seat at the bar and ordered some starters. Piggy treats were as good as always, each separate component served at the correct temperature. Then some Fromage blanc into which we dipped excellent bread. Finally, a special of sauternes soaked Foie. Exemplary. A glass of Juracon and a glass of Cahor saw us £52 less in our pockets but ready to head for the next course

Vinoteca was busting when we arrived, so we sat at the bar again. There was Carol. Let’s put this into context. If you asked either of Dos Hermanos who their favourite chef in London had been in the last few years, we would both screech “ Rosie Sykes” When she cooked at The Sutton Arms” she just hit every button we possessed. Generosity of spirit, good technique and sublime provenance of ingredients. Since she moved on, everything seems just that little bit flatter and we have searched for something and someone to fill the void.

Well, Carol Craddock ( no relation to the blessed Fanny, she is keen to point out ) is as close as we have found. Trained with Simon Hopkinson at Bibendum, she runs the tiny stove area at Vinoteca like Rommel marshalling his Panzer divisions. But, she is not just efficient, she can cook up a storm. Last time, Hermano Primero ordered a “ Five Bird terrine” which he mentioned in every conversation for five weeks. This time, a chicken liver parfait that was as close to godliness as a benediction from The Pope. With it we ordered a slab of belly pork with noodles. If we had one criticism, it would be that, despite the proximity of Smithfield, she should look to better sources for her piggy which was without flavour if perfectly cooked.

A small criticism. If anyone wants really honest cooking, they can do a lot worse than bundling up at the bar of Vinoteca and sitting in front of Carol Craddock. A real cook, preparing real food for real people with no frippery or pretensions. Such things are rare in London. She got us to write our blog address on her payslip. Whatever it was for, it’s nowhere near enough.

We sloped off from there after our main courses to St John and sat in the bar area for some Strawberry ripple ice cream ( superb ) and some flavourless peach jelly with a clotted cream that was as good as it gets. Washed down with some unfeasibly large post prandials, it almost made me forget just how shockingly awful the pretty boys ( Rooney excluded of course as he patently has a faced like a slapped backside ) were tonight.

In restaurants as in football, what we need is more decent, real, honest people. The world could do with a damn sight more Carol Craddocks
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're a bitter man - remind me never to cross you - cheers Paul

Friday, June 16, 2006 4:44:00 pm  

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