Archive for October 27th, 2007

October 27, 2007

Chewing on this and that.


It was a typical day at work today with Giselle, Melissa and myself stringing together the newscast which, by nature of the season, primarily consists of political stories these days. We had no dearth of stories and put several stories on hold to use tomorrow –  even then we had to drop a story during the newscast and completely omit the week in review. Working with a small crew has a couple of disadvantages. While Giselle and Melissa could easily do sufficient stories for an hour newscast much less our 1/2 hour one the problem is with the end product – the news. The quality of the stories is fine but to the viewer it becomes obvious that they are only hearing a couple of voices for the entire newscast – not an ideal situation. There was some debate about who would read the news but I ended up doing it after studiously avoiding the virtual set thus far. It was surprisingly pleasant except the chair was uncomfortable but having A/C during the news was a nice compensation. I managed to screw up once by thinking I had already read a story and forwarded the prompter to the follow-up to that story when, in fact, I had not read it yet…so I went back to it shortly thereafter. Thank goodness the guys in control figured out what i was doing and ran the story as i read it. They did, however, manage to leave story audio under my voice for another story…I guess you win some you lose some.

At some point during the day Robin called and invited me to dinner saying he heard Batimamselle came in for high praise recently from another restauranteur. I adore Robin and I think all his friends do but when it comes to cooking he is seriously challenged – so much so that he hasn’t had a stove in his beautiful house for over a year. He makes up for the dinners he has at the homes of his friends by taking all of us out to restaurants occasionally. I was tired after work but, eager to spend time with him and try a restaurant that I may have to include in the guidebook, I picked him up after work and proceeded to the restaurant that is literally 1 minute from my home in Cascade. The decor of the restaurant has been toned down from the previous garish canary yellow and we were seated outside under a glass canopy supported by French metro style wrought iron – all very pleasant. I say ambiance 8 out of 10. The staff were all friendly though there seemed to be a lack of coordination as two different waiters came to ask what we wanted to drink and, shortly thereafter two waiters arrived in succession to ask if we wanted to place our order. Not a real problem as i would always choose too much service rather than too little. The prices were high which to me means a restaurant should be held to a higher standard. Starters aka appetizers circled the $100 TT mark which is about $16USD not a low price by any means. Suffice to say that despite the elaborate item descriptions for the appetizers none seemed even slightly interesting so we just ordered main courses.

What is it with restaurants and pretentious chefs that they insist on listing at least 10 things in addition to the main focus of what you are ordering? When you reach that number we are pretty savvy as customers and know we will not recognize or remember half of the items you promised. Maybe you are counting on that..we are on to you. Now I was informed that the new chef is Scottish, and, while I would never be so crass to note that despite the rebirth of the food scene in Glasgow, Scotland is not a nation known for great chefs, I had no preconceptions. Robin and I both ordered the same dish..which seemed the safest….steak. But, dear reader, it was not simply a steak, and I am stretching my tired powers of recollection here, it was more than a steak it had friends on the plate. We actually ordered dry rubbed steak accompanied by a mango ( I think) reduction, saffron sauteed onions, parmesan cracklings,  grilled vegetables in a chadon beni ( aka culantro) cup and a yam mash ( which is apparently different enough from mashed yams to merit the nomenclature). Raise your hands in the air and praise the brilliance of the chef who could conceive such a combination!  I suppose that would be the call of a food dilettante who spent no time thinking about the description. Who on earth thinks mango goes well with steak and what the hell does saffron contribute to onions? As we discovered – absolutely nothing.

The item we ordered was listed at $275TT or about $44USD so anyone but a food challenged local French Creole would expect something rather good. I added that proviso because in my experience local whites seem happy with novelty and have palates that have been covered with cement…they flock to new and trendy restaurants to see and be seen oblivious to the need for taste..and, of course, the local wannabes follow. When our plates arrived we were confronted with rather a different situation than I had expected. My steak was of inferior quality with large chunks of fat that suggested something less than restaurant quality and the whatever reduction was a dark substance with no definable taste but with an unpleasant granularity that added nothing to the bits of steak I managed to slice away from the fat. The rest of the elaborate promised creation  turned out to be an inedible hard pastry cup containing boring unseasoned vegetables and the yam mash was a round dense mass of some starch that seemed like a bad effort at a potato pie I could buy at any creole food place in Trinidad..just much, much, worse. I am still wondering where the parmesan cracklings were hidden and I am also puzzled by the unfortunate association of the name of my favourite herb ( culantro) with that dismal pastry thing on my plate. The saffron onion thing turned out to be non-carmelized onions with a vaguely yellow tint. There is no excuse for this. If you charge top dollar then you have to rise to a standard. When I asked Rob what he thought he said, always the diplomat, it was okay. I told him that based on the prices okay was not really good enough. He looked at me as if the owner of the restaurant was present at the table but I am am sure I saw a detectable nod. I was not helped by the fact my innards, in the midst of this overpriced travesty, decided to start rumblings that would normally require residents on the slopes of Mount Etna to flee in their Fiats. In all fairness, this may have been associated with my fried wonton lunch and follow-up Subway salad, but I had to resort to leaving the table to have a major regurgitation. In case you were wondering-  the bathrooms are lovely. After that meal…guess what isn’t being recommended for Fodor’s Caribbean Guide as our choice?

Grilling a steak is not a complicated business but the key is buying ( I am talking to you chef) good foundations. If you see a lump of fat toss it away…simple as that. The meal I had could have easily been beaten by a simple bit of avocado with some salt and lime. No promises of reductions and cracklings. A quick summation of the meal would be lower than mediocre..and I am being kind. The restaurant itself is, as I said, an 8, the food is, in a general review, a 4 and …based on the price…a 2.

Okay, I just noticed that Disney’s Ratatouille is now available on I the only person who cried watching it? I guess so…it must be the foodie in me off to bed now.