The Sun Ain’t Shining No More…

I’ve sold a lot of Vanilla ice creams this week. Even an order for vanilla ice cream with pouring cream on the side. That’s like taking your friend out to dinner and them saying “no, I don’t like this menu, I’ll just have a chicken breast with some chicken gravy,” so you can imagine my annoyance level is…high.  I need to escape.IMG_3165

Flatmate M hasn’t left the apt much lately as he is on “leave” from the Legion of Doom (the restaurant). Experience has told me that remaining cooped up inside when one is lonely and grumpy doesn’t ease the soul.

When you live in Plymouth and a walk of interest consists of going to the mall and you’ve already done that to no avail (5 times), for eleven pounds sixty p you can pick up some travel sized wine or Pimm’s in a can and jump on a train and rock up to the next town for an adventure.IMG_3138

The Guardian described Totnes, Devon almost akin to a miniature, English Portland, Oregon, but without the tv show. It is described as a world of outlandish characters, small-town politics of the ridiculous kind as seen in Gilmore Girls, where the town rises up against capitalist adversaries such as national coffee chains and the CHAIN BACKS DOWN. They have their own currency, this Totnes. And 42 coffee shops for its 7,500 inhabitants. We needed to get the fuck out of Plymouth, Totnes sounded like the answer to our woes. IMG_3164

As soon as the train stopped, the rare Devon sunshine retreated under a gigantic black cloud that continued to hang over the happy town until the end of the day. Dramatic irony?IMG_3154

We marched up the High Street looking for the hippie resto that served the veggies we so hoped could regenerate us. While there are a couple of chains here (a Morrisons, a Wine Warehouse, The Oggy Oggy Pasty Shop), generally the only recognizable signs along the way were banks, which I was a bit offended by considering the town touts it’s own currency, but I suppose they do still live in reality so I shouldn’t be hard on them. IMG_3152

The hippie resto does not bank. They believe only in cash. Back down the high street in the hail to fetch poundage. IMG_3153

The hippies made the kind of food you taste and think… I would have made this better… but you don’t mind because you didn’t make it, you just showed up and they placed the plate in front of you and it’s healthy so there’s no point in kicking up a fuss.IMG_3155

The sign at the cash clearly stated that you can ask for the Totnes Pound as change, and what better to remember a place than you take some of their currency out of circulation, but the hippie at the register shuffled through the til and replied “Oh, sorry, I seem to be out, but you can purchase them at some independant retailer I can’t recall because I was annoyed about being decieved by this hippie.” Purchase? Some currency? Like I’m a tourist or something? Pft. IMG_3128

For the most part, Totnes was alot of the same old South Devon shit, for example:IMG_3158

Sorry, not shit, I didn’t mean it like that, but yeah, I’ve begun to realize that all these towns are very similar, regardless of the chain-to-indie shop ratio. Plymouth is starting to look like the grimy black sheep in amongst the cutesy towns with their winding high streets, narrow alleys, and tiny roundabouts. Getting out for only a couple of hours was great, and look! I found mattresses! In a pub! Like being back in London…IMG_3148

This weeks lesson:

Don’t serve something you’re not proud of. Chef has been giving me ideas for the specials menu for the last couple of weeks, just a couple of words and letting me run with it, but last week on Sunday night he asked for my wording for the desserts menu.

I didn’t have any words because…

I didn’t have any dishes.

So I just made something up. Words came out of my mouth. Green Tea. Cashews (because I’d seen bags of the tasty nut in the dry stores and no one had been using them). Blueberry? (colour, it was a colour thing. And they are high in antioxidants and I need to antioxidize the shit out of myself).

So it came out something like this:IMG_3111

Which looked nice enough.

But it tasted like garbage. I tweeked it all week trying to make this dish happen in a way I was somewhat satisfied with, but no. I couldn’t do it. But everyone ordered it! People weren’t ordering starters because they wanted this stupid matcha creme brulee that tasted like dirt. I’d done a fig and honey fromage blanc with oats and wine but no one went near that dish.

And then, to my chagrin, a reviewer came in.

And he ordered the brulee.

Fuuuuuuuuuuuck.

That is why you don’t put stupid, out-of-you-ass dishes on a menu cause you’ll look like a dick.

So this week, despite the 0 degrees it’s been all week, I dreamt of a better season and put a Pimm’s cocktail jelly on the menu.

Everyone said “it’s too early for Pimm’s, no?” and I was like

We serve fine beans as seasonal veg in February, yes?IMG_3177

I hated the first Pimm’s I had, a Pimm’s Cup several years ago. In London, the night the Shard opened, the Canadian and I went for drinks at the Tate Modern. The Pimm’s I ordered (though he warned me I’d likely regret it) was more exciting than the Shard show, but not good at all. On a lark, I drank it on the train because I knew I can’t get it canned in Canada, take advantage of the moment, yes? The first sip was unpleasant. The last made me wanting more.

Pimm’s No. 1 is described as a “fruit cup” but in Canada, a fruit cup is a small plastic cup of mixed boiled (tropical) fruits for travelling, so I can only assume it’s something similar to a Sloe Gin, where gin is infused with fruits and sweetened. Pimm’s is diluted and only contains about 20% alcohol. Traditionally it is served with 3 parts clear, fizzy lemonade to one part Pimm’s. I started with this ratio, then added a bit of simple syrup to take the alcoholic bite away (it is a dessert after all, not a jello shot).IMG_3203

Fruits are commonly added as well, usually apple, orange, strawberry, cucumber, and garnished with mint. Instead of using oranges, I set orange jellies and cubed them, then layered them in the Pimm’s to simulate the look of a cocktail with ice.The jelly is layered with strawberries and lime crush compressed cucumber slices, topped with a thin layer or mint-citrus jelly and finished with sugared mint. IMG_3176

Everyone wanted the raspberry Bakewell tart. Fair enough.

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