Tuesday, October 28, 2008

You got the money, I got Le Seoul

Surely a contender for one of Dakar's strangest restaurants is 'Le Seoul' on Rue Amadou Assane Ndoye in Plateau. If the old estate agent's adage about 'location, location, location' were to be believed, then Le Seoul should be doing a roaring trade. As it is, they don't have many punters, don't want many punters, and would prefer it the punters all buggered off home now please. I wonder if its a front for something more sinister? There's a lot of it about.

Its a nice peaceful spot as well, a little courtyard haven with a pool and nicely made furniture. the Senegalese staff were friendly, if slightly bewildered by our large group of foreign wannabe karaoke performers. The food was nice too, as long as you eat what you're given.

Perhaps Le Seoul is a misnomer. Le Pyongyang would be more appropriate, what with the 11pm curfew, no menu-just buffet stylings. Its a good buffet mind you, leaning more towards Vietnamese than Korean I'd guess. For some reason I enjoyed deep fried fish goujons. Octopus sashimi was good, but they weren't generous with these so I had to be quick. Other sushi bites lacked flavour, but were enjoyed by the crowd nonetheless. Fresh spring rolls seem to be everywhere lately, which is a good thing.

Karaoke-wise you get your own little room and karaoke set so you can croon to your heart's content without disturbing the other customers (hang on, what other customers?). the selection is a little weird, and the lift style muzak backing tracks are a bit insipid. But what the hell does that matter? Just get some beer down your neck and start shouting.


If I'm a selt then you're a sunt.

Le Celtic, Rue 6, Point E.
The owner is a quarter Irish, or something, which explains the name. There is no annoying Irish memorabilia about the place, apart from the odd Guinness beer towels, so bring your own bodhran.

Its another empty place, but this time they're eager to please. The bar area is comfortable and drinks are reasonably priced, with changing cocktail offers lit up on a neon board. You can also see into the nice clean kitchen and give the chef a wink.

Food is European grills and steaks and the odd bit of pasta. Our group were all pleased with their food, although some reported the vegetables to be 'a bit garlicky'. At one point the staff emerged from the kitchen with a large plate full of spare pommes sautes and distributed them around the table. Ironically the last place anything like that happened was in Dublin, in late 2002, and involved a fried egg and a black pudding (you don't get that kind of service in Bewley's mind).

Please come and spend your money here in Le Celtic, its my new local and I'd hate to see it struggle.

More Dakar nonsense on Dakar Restaurant Reviews.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Palate Cleansing

You should see the backblog. Its been almost a month since I returned from the far East and there is still a pile of x-rated food porn from Vietnam to get through on the blog. Then I also have to update Dakar Restaurant Reviews and think of something interesting to say on Kigali Restaurant Reviews. Its time for a rest and a brief return to normal random-crap mitherings on Jifflings.

Dobbies Garden Centres.
Mum and Dad Jiffler like to get their jiffling hands dirty down at th'allotment. Flanked by the sea, the Menai Straits, a medieval castle, with Snowdonia's giants striding handsomely in the background, they've been jammy enough to get hold of what could be the most beautiful plot in the world. The waiting list is 8 years long apparently. Well this sort of thing is fashionable these days.

Quite apart from the quiet enjoyment that comes from picking peas, pursuing bindweed, and brewing tea in the shed (activities which beat the daylights out of blogging), allotment ownership leads to afternoons spent visiting garden centres. Normallement, I couldn't think of anything more tedious, and as the car pulled in Dobbies garden centre in near Shrewsbury en route to Anglesey from a wedding in Hertfordshire, my hungover brain began to recoil at the anticipated boredom of bargain basement books, and composty smells.

I was wrong. Well I was right about the books and the compost, but I was wrong about Dobbies. Dobbies in Shrewsbury has a cafeteria, with proper coffee, fry-ups, and a selection of British cakes and pastries which made me gasp nostagically. Millionaire's shortbread, cream buns, egg custards, proper fruit pies. I made a beeline for an eccles cake, a large mug of coffee, and felt my hangover lift like a cloud.

It's not just about the cafe though. Dobbies boasts a classy deli concession just by the entrance. A place of Barkham blue, Cornish yarg, smoked salmon, meaty scotch eggs and massive steak pies. The sort of things my fantasy foodstore (Jiffler's Deli) would stock.

Here is the website. There are branches of Dobbies across the country, some with enormous farm food halls, so there is no excuse to put with Little Chef garbage again.

A mini-chorizo recipe.
Mrs Jiffler has just returned from Barcelona, bearing gifts of serious wine, cheese, jamon Iberico and chorizo. A bit of home-made tapas action was in order, and I remembered an old easy-peasy tapas dish that's worth a go. It might even work as a appetiser or starter to a more substantial racione.

Chorizo in red wine:
A good, dry or semi-dry chorizo
A glass of Rioja
Fresh parsley

(zen quantities apply as usual, depends how many you're cooking for)

A few hours in advance, cut up up the chorizo into half-bite sized nuggets (I prefer them to look a bit rough and craggy, but chacun a son gout) and place them in a small ovenproof bowl, one of those little terracotta things will do nicely. Chop up a small handful of fresh parsley and mix with the chorizo. Pour over the red wine and leave the mixture in the fridge for 3 hours or so.

Pre-heat the oven to a medium heat, and take the chorizo mixture out of the fridge. The chorizo should have absorbed much of the wine and the dish may appear a little dry. Put the bowl in the oven for about ten minutes, or until the crags of chorizo are looking nicely crunchy around the edges.

Serve out of the bowl with crusty bread to dip into the wine mixture which will have seeped out of the chorizo, exchanging a little flavour along the way.

In honour of man of the moment, chart topping comedian Peter Kay, let's finish with a gratuitous cheesecake shot. This little praline beauty came from a little tea shop in Central, Hong Kong
. It nearly beat me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rat Alley

Time to go through the leftovers of the Hong Kong trip.

First up: Rat Alley. Just off Lan Kwai fong, there are no rats, just a bustly Saturday crowd of tourists, expats, locals, Elvis impersonators, and restaurant touts. The quietest tout wins, and we settle at Coco, which has a colourful menu of Thai and Malysian dishes. I'm drawn to the Malysian dishes, and as an amateur in the region my choice is expertly guided by our hosts. We over ordered and over ate. Perfect.

Look at these (slightly dark photos):

Perfectly crisp meat samosas with a mint dip.

Chicken satay, done proper, not all rubbery.

The photos dried up at this point, partly due to a brief Elvis related interlude:

And partly due to a combination of Tsing Tao beer and enjoying the food too much.

More leftovers later in the week.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Airline Ace-ness

This website is ace: airlinemeals.net

The very fact that hundreds of people will go to the trouble of taking photographs of airline meals and posting them online gives me hope for the human race. There is even an archive section, where you can see what people ate on planes in the 60s.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Lamma Island Seafood Odyssey

Traditionally, a junk is a sailing boat of Chinese origin, designed and built to go out into the open ocean. Modern day junks tend to be pleasurecraft built with powerful engines and room for plenty of beer. Many of the big firms located in Hong Kong own a 'corporate junk' as a treat for employees, and for entertaining important clients and, on this occasion, two aid workers from Westest Africa on a dashing mission to fill their faces with molluscs and crustacea on the island of Lamma. All aboard?

Yung Shue Wan in Lamma is famous for its row of seafood restaurants. Families and junketeers occupy large round tables with a Lazy Susan at the hub, and are encouraged to inspect the seafood living in nearby tanks, before it goes into the pan.

Not that much encouragement is required. I'm never happier than when tormenting a cuttlefish. If you poke them, sometimes they go purple.

Some of the prawns are a bit lacklustre, but razor shell clams in black bean sauce are a treat. Chilli crab, or rather CHILLI! crab is forehead tinglingly hot. All is well.

Fondling some sea snails below. In the basket below my right elbow are Abalone, a rare mollusc prized for both its meat and its sometimes iridescent shell.

Previously these expensive delicacies had been on my mental list of 'things to eat', but I'm reliably informed that most of the abalone sold in Asia come from a nefarious trade with South African gangs. Drugs for molluscs and smiliar unpleasantness, so they're quite rightly off the menu today.

Soft Italian red wine sees me through the voyage back into Hong Kong harbour, and things started to get a little blurry.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Central Street Market

I love having a good nose around a market, especially if they're a bit grubby and stinky. Most of the food markets we visited in Hong Kong were sparklingly clean however, and the nearest we got to a bit of bustle was at the Central Street market on Graham St and Peel St:

Poking around was good fun though. You could get hold of just about anything here. Great fresh fruit and veg (I developed a taste for Dragonfruit), live seafood and every part of a chicken from the beak to the talon.

Oh yeah, fancy a frog for tea?

There are a couple of places where you can grab a bite to eat at the edge of the market. Mrs jiffler and I tucked into plates of beef and squid, cooked quickly with Kai-lan and plenty of garlic. All for a couple of quid. Sorry, no pictures of the food as we were conspicuous enough. I'd recommend the grub though. Ask nicely for an English language menu and get stuck in (avoid the jugs of tea though,:unpleasant warm puddle water).

Apparently the market is
under threat from developers. Same old story the world over isn't it? It seems ridiculous to me, both in my capacity as a tourist in Hong Kong, and as a professional planner. The site attracts tourists, is used by locals (and has a social function), and is part of Hong Kong's peculiar heritage (since the mid 19th century by some accounts). Would another wall of apartment blocks and shops selling Louis Vuitton handbags and swiss watches be much of a cultural improvement? The people at www.savethestreetmarket.com are organised and trying to do something about this.