Time for a spot of dinner.

In the last few years I have developed a diet that has helped me loose quite a lot of weight. It revolves around eating soup for two days and then a normal meal on the third. As I really enjoy cooking I tend to make both the soups and then go to town on the main meal. But every now and then I think it is important to treat yourself, especially when you are on a diet that revolves making such drastic changes to the way you eat for ever. On those treat days Diane and myself have a few local restaurants that we love to visit. One that is at the top of that list is our local Italian eatery Good Fare, 26 Parkway in our home town of Camden. But it’s not just because it is nice and close. We both feel that it serves some of the best Italian food in the capital. Not the posh highfaluting stuff but good quality home cooked Italian fare… Good Fare!Mik and Menu

We are both creatures of habit when we visit Good Fare. Diane has two dishes that she loves, Penne Italiano and Tortellini Spinachi, and I always have Penne Al Arrabiata. As vegetarians we normally have a very small choice when eating out, but at Good Fare this isn’t the case… so we could go nuts. But if something isn’t broken why fix it? As Diane always points out, there is nothing worse than trying something new and then all the way through the meal wishing you had gone for your favourite choice. As the Penne Al Arrabiata is the best I have ever tasted I’m sticking to it like glue. Just the right combination of heat and yumminess that keeps me coming back for more. In fact that’s the same reason why I love Diane… tee hee. So my choice was easy, and Diane went for the Penne Italiano as she was the mood for cheese. As this meal comes covered in a wheel goat’s cheese the size of a small plate, it was a wise decision.

Di waits her foodAs we waited for our food to come we sat and watched the world go by.  Sitting outside in the busy heart of exciting Camden Town soaking up the sun is one of the joys of this restaurant, and the attentive and friendly staff is another. The meals arrived with the usual speed, and we tucked in like greed piggies… who had been fed only on soup for two days. As per usual the meal was gorgeous. Di was rewarded by joking with our waiter that she would like “loads of Parmesan” cheese with a deluge of the her favourite food… cheese! So she was in food heaven, as was I. By the end of the meal my lips were just the right amount of numb to indicate a good Arrabiata, and I was shortly followed by Diane clearing her plate. Di normally eats much slower then me, so it showed how much she enjoyed her meal that I wasn’t left waiting for ages. In fact we both fell on our meals so quickly that I forgot to take any photos of the food, so you’ll just have to take my word for how good it was.

All goneWe then ordered another Good Fare favourite, Caramel Latte. Trust me, if you’re in Camden and want a coffee, forget the chains; it has to be Good Fare. Truly great coffee. Another treat to try is their breakfast cakes. A personal fave is the chocolate twist, served hot with chocolate sauce. Just thinking about it is making my mouth water. If I’m honest, the only draw back for me is they don’t have an accessible toilet, but that’s it. (Well they do in their sister restaurant Al Parco but the door is fitted wrong so I can’t get in with my chair unless I don’t mind the entire restaurant watching me do my business) Our meal, comprising of two beers, two lovely meals and two yummy caramel lattes came in under £30. So not only great food but great value. Of course now I’ve told you all about Good Fare I’m worried it will become even more popular and we won’t be able to get a table next time we want to treat ourselves. All I can say is “cheers Good Fare!”.

Cheers

 

 

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La Patagonia – A Taste of the Argentine

As my wife Diane and I left our Camden flat on a wet Wednesday night for our visit La Patagonia I did feel a little trepidations. Argentinian cuisine is best known for being carnivorous in nature, and as we are both vegetarians I wasn’t sure if our meal would be to our taste. I was also worried as nothing spoils a veggie’s meal than eating through the fog of the smell of cooking meat. I didn’t know yet but all of my worries would soon be proved very unfounded.
We had booked our table for seven pm, but even this early on the aforementioned wet Wednesday the place was packed. The staff met us with a friendly smile and were totally fine with my placing my wheelchair next to my seat at our table. Even in the 21st century I still find that some restaurants are unhappy when I turn up on wheels, so this set the tone for the rest of the evening in a good way. We placed our order, after being impressed at the choice for us non-meat eaters. As we waited for our order to arrive, we were brought a plate of bread and some pickled Aubergine that was lovely. We were joined by one of the owners Noah, and we chatted about how well things were going with his plans to bring a rustic Argentinian menu to the streets of Camden. The restaurant is a warm and friendly place furnished in a designer rustic style. It’s filled with all manner of memorabilia from the country, collected by the owners over the years, and the whole experience is most enjoyable. But let’s get down to the food shall we?
As soon as a flash our meal arrived, and Noah left us to watch the football on TV (another Argentinian passion). We had both ordered the same thing, Calabaza con Humita which is a Butternut Squash filled with a corn and béchamel sauce filling served with a nice side salad. Even though I have been a veggie for over 20 years, I have never tried butternut squash and neither had my wife. On our first mouthful we stopped and stared at each other…. yummy! It was gorgeous. The squash itself was done to perfection, soft, sweet and tender and in combination with the corn filling it was a treat. I may have wolfed mine down a little too quickly, but that is usual when I am enjoying my food.
Next up was desert. Normally I would have stopped at my main meal, but I had heard that the desert menu at La Patagonia had to be tried to be believed. Boy had I heard right! Yet again my wife and I had matching orders, the La Patagonia Tiramisu. I freely admit to having a rather developed sweet tooth, and as the huge half pint (0.35L actually – I’m showing my age using Imperial) Kilner style glass jars filled with chocolately yumminess were presented my heart skipped a beat. 

 

Even though there was easily enough in each serving for us to have shared, I was so glad we had ordered one each… I would hated sharing this desert lovers paradise. The latte we ordered to accompany this gooey, chocolately, caramelly heaven was equally as tasty and as I put down my spoon and slurped my last mouthful of coffee I felt wonderful. Full, happy and a little drunk on sugar. The bill arrived and we were both very impressed that such a great meal could be so reasonably priced.
Both of my wife and I laughed as we wondered home through the streets of Camden at what a great night we’d had. It had also occurred to me that if you do eat meat I would imagine that your meal would be as amazing as ours, if not more so. I can’t recommend La Patagonia highly enough, and I do know that it has been added to our list of favourite restaurants. I know we’re going to become regulars and I think you should too. Whether it’s for a romantic night out, a night out with friends or for a party La Patagonia won’t let you down.

 

Una gran noche fuera!
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"What’s going on?"

Last Friday I was watching TV, flicking between BBC1’s Crop To Shop and Channel 4’s Unreported World, and it depressed the hell out of me. Crop To Shop showed how our foods is grown and transported from all over the world, and the episode of Unreported World focused on the new middle class homeless of the USA.
As I watched Crop To Shop, time and time again the presenter Jimmy Doherty stated that those who grow our food in the developing world gain benefits due to their work farming our food. Yet these benefits seemed to be the bare minimum needed to live. Shots of mothers outside mud brick houses in the baking sun, washing their children in tin baths, using old food tins to scoop water on to their beloved offspring did not conjure up the feeling of an equal sharing of the wealth they were helping generate. Farmers here in the UK deserve a bigger cut of the money we pay for our food, but surely these people deserve it too? Fresh water should be something the developed world is giving these people because they need it, and because we are civilized. The rewards for helping feed us should be a growing chance to have a standard of living like ours in the west. They should be thriving, not just surviving.
Then I flicked over to Unreported World where Ramita Navai explored the truth behind the banking crisis as she exposed how the banks repossessing homes through out the US has led to a surge in homelessness among middle class Americans. I sat in stunned silence as I watched her walk around a tent city in Chicago, and realised that the poverty that had annoyed me in Africa is rampant in the biggest economy in the world. I have worked in Chicago and it has always had areas of poverty but this was ridiculous. In a country were you can buy $10,000 pairs of jeans, why are there people living in tents under a freeway junction? Yeah, yeah, free economy I hear you say. Well bollocks to that I say.
We now live in a world were 1% of the population owns 99% of the wealth. So the current argument about deficits and recession is rubbish, put about to ensure we take our eyes of the real question. Why should the rich be allowed to be so rich, while working people in rich economies are forced out of their homes by bankers, and at the same time we are having our public services cut and huge VAT hikes to we can pay back the money we lent to the same bankers after they gambled with our economies and lost? Why are people in the developing world being told that the privilege of being able to safely bathe their children is a fair payment for their toil, while share holders in our major supermarkets take home massive dividends? I know many people think Communism, or even Socialism are dirty words, especially many of the people shown living in tents in the USA, but I’m starting to think that anything is better than what have now. Even if an uprising of those of us at the bottom, who actually do something against those at the top, who live off our labour is out of the question, surely there must be a middle way? Why should the rich be allowed to be SO rich while so many of the rest of us argue over the scraps the rich throw us to keep quiet? Isn’t it time for the people of the world to come together, stop arguing over little things like religion and find a way to create a fairer and more equal way to live in peace and prosperity. The craziest thing is all the major religions have this equality of main ideal at their core, but they have been twisted by those in power to keep us all at each others throats.

But I digress. Whatever our differences, we must start to see ourselves as the same, and move to bring an end to the way our world is moving at the minute. We must create a fairer, more equal world and share the wealth and success around. And if that makes me a Communist then right on Comrade!

As an addendum to my TV reviewing, just after watching the above shows I tuned into “Are You Having A Laugh?” on BBC2. A show about the way disability has been covered on our TV screens over the last 50 years. As I watched I realised that I had been written out of the history of disability and TV, even though I was on our screens from 1986 to 2006, appearing on every one of the four terrestrial channels we had back then! I was the first disabled person to present on a mainstream program, on ITV in 1986, and was the first disabled kids TV presenter in 1990. I even won an Emmy with Channel 4’s kids TV show Beat That, and was BAFTA nominated. I was also the first real disabled person in a soap, when I appeared in Brookside, was one of the first wheelchair users to work in news with my reporting for BBC News 24 and BBC LDN. At one point if you asked someone in the street to name someone disabled off TV they nearly always answered “That punky bloke in wheelchair that looks like Billy Idol… what’s his name?… Mik Scarlet”. I used to receive bags of fan mail, with most coming from ladies who wanted to meet me for “adult fun” and even had a stalker, who wanted “scary adult fun”. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet or claim to be more important than I was, but I do feel I merit a mention. Just a one line throw away.
So am I hurt to not have my part in the changing way disability is shown on TV? Bloody right I am! Bastards! I’m going off for a cry.

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