Friday, August 19, 2022
No doubt, like me, you’ve been reading about the efforts to get young people in Japan to drink more alcohol. And no, I have no idea what the guys the picture below are drinking. Milk? Ouzo?
Well ere’s my plan – reduce the price!
My local supermarket had a couple of bottles of Adnams Jardín Mexicano Gin on sale, ‘reduced to clear,’ down from £32.95 to £17.79. Of course I would never have bought it at 33 quid but at £17.95 I thought it was worth a punt.
The label says, inscrutably, that it’s an ‘Avocado and botanical gin’ and that singular through me for a while. Just the one botanical? But the Adnams website explains that it’s made with juniper and angelica, so far much as expected, but then, ‘There are also warming notes of cinnamon from Cassia Bark, a punchy woodiness from the Mexican herb, Epazote and a smoky hint of Chipotle Chilli in the background. The addition of Coriander leaf and Mexican Oregano (which is related to Verbena) and Lime Peel created the underlying citrus freshness, much like that found in Mexican salsa.’
A first taste test suggest they may be exaggerating its specialness - though I think I detected some hotness - but it tastes fine and hey, it’s alcohol and it’s cheap (ish).
Tuesday, August 9, 2022
I’ve often mocked the idea of the ‘sandwich recipe.’ I mean, you take some food that you like and you put it between slices of bread and that’s really the only recipe you need.
And yet and yet … this hasn’t stopped me forming (even curating) a small collection of sandwich books – many of them American, so there’s a lot of recipes for BLTs, Reubens, Po’boys and so on. And to be fair there is the occasional recipe in these books that I couldn’t imagine inventing, let alone eating, such as, in Sandwich Exotica, ‘the peanut butter-sardine and potato salad-lettuce on rye.”
So when I saw in the local charity shop the Encyclopedia of Sandwichesby Susan Russo, photography by Matt Armendariz, how could I resist buying it?
It’s American again – and contains such gems as how to make a ham sandwich – bread, ham, mustard or mayonnaise. Yes, really.
But hold your horses - there’s a recipe in there for a potato chip sandwich (that’s potato crisps to the British) which the author describes as ‘a crunchy salty guilty pleasure.’ I don’t generally do guilt when it comes to food, but in fact the potato crisp sandwich does strike me as slightly shameful.
But here Susan Russo comes up with a variation I again would never have dreamed of – ‘creamy peanut butter, 2 slices of white bread, 4 to 6 dill pickle chips, a layer of your favorite plain potato chips.’
Well that sounded kind of dubious, so of course I had to make one. I wasn’t sure I’d ever had a dill pickle chip so I used sliced pickle gherkins. And I would probably have used crunchy peanut butter but the recipe called for creamy, so I went with smooth. And I didn't have any acceptable white bread.
Monday, August 8, 2022
You know how you could sell more booze round here?
Fill the bloody glasses!
This was at 5th View which is on the top floor of Waterstone’s bookshop in Piccadilly, an improbable little watering hole that I’ve been going to for a few years. Books and martinis go together (obviously) and the martinis used to be better than anybody has a right to expect in a bookshop, especially since they do a ‘two for one’ deal.
But last week there was something not right. The staff seemed harassed and sullen. I said I wanted the 2 for 1 but could I have one now and one later, so the second one wouldn’t get warm?
Nope. I had to have 'em both at the same time because of ‘staff shortages.’
Since there were 2 of us drinking this wasn’t a great problem, but really - sullen and harassed is no way to serve a martini. And if you ask for olives you don’t want lemon peel – but I just didn’t need the angst – and I’m sure the staff didn’t either.
Monday, August 1, 2022
I like Sarah Lucas’s art, and I like the idea of Sarah Lucas.
I was once eating lunch in St Johns restaurant and I noticed this incredibly charismatic woman sitting a few tables away. There seemed to be nothing very remarkable about her and yet she was incredibly compelling. I suppose that’s how it is with charisma. It was, of course Sarah Lucas. This was long before she was nearly as famous as she is now.
So last weekend off we went to see her piece Sandwich, one of 20 works around the City of London, part of the annual ‘Sculpture in the City’ programme.
On the train to London I read Private Eye and Sarah Lucas had made into Pseud’s Corner (tis a consummation devotedly to be wished) with this description of the work in question:
“Sarah Lucas’s recent large-scale sculpture, Sandwich, 2011-2020, stands in opposition to traditional public sculpture. Its horizontal configuration opposes veneration and pomposity through its prosaic absurdity and functional accessibility. Mining at themes of British culture, Lucas ambiguously transposes the humble sandwich on a monumental scale with a metaphoric and literal sense of hyperbole; simultaneously satirizing and celebrating the commonplace foodstuff as a proletariat symbol. The material austerity of the work in concrete, elevates and inverts the object’s ordinariness with irreverent humour.”
The Sculpture in the City website says “© Sarah Lucas, Courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London” but I don’t know if Sarah Lucas actually wrote that. I hope not unless the pretentious art-speak nonsense is also part of the joke.
Anyway, Sandwich is indeed austere – which I liked – just a plain concrete thing and you couldn’t guess what was the filling was. And of course I thought about the recently late Claes Oldenburg’s Giant BLT, 1963, which which looks like this:
It’s colourful and overstuffed, with the filling spilling out. And maybe that’s Sarah Lucas’s point. The American sandwich is an exuberant and extravert thing, while the English sandwich is plain and muted.
And the great thing about Oldenburg’s Giant BLT is that it’s made up of various components (just like a BLT in the real world) and these components have to be put together again whenever the sculpture’s moved and reinstalled. Isn’t that kind of wonderful?
And it so happened that later in the weekend I was passing an Aldi supermarket, and I went in and they were selling pre-packed BLTs, so in honour of dear departed Claes, and partly in honour of Sarah Lucas, I bought one. It looked like this (not a work of art):
But it really didn’t taste bad at all.