“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ― Julia Child

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Eating Out

Well, here we are again, Tuesday is here once more and the weather is looking most definitely Springlike. We survived Easter without too much chocolate overload (or Simnel cake overload in my case) and we can now look forward to sitting on the patio and eating al fresco. The only thing that bugs me (if you'll pardon the unintended pun) about eating out of doors is the, well, bugs. As long as there's a brisk enough breeze to keep them from alighting on your food, but not too strong of a wind that your napkin (or worse, your food) takes off, you're fine.

Barley Water rocks!
Eating outside reminds me of many things, but generally, the seaside. When we were kids we would go with one set of grandparents or the other to Hastings or Rye or Dymchurch or Folkestone and either picnic or eat at some fish-and-chip shop or cafe. Nanny Kath always had some food stashed in the car somewhere. She'd have a whole picnic packed and we would be completely unaware. We'd get somewhere, park, and before you knew it she'd be pulling Tupperware box after Tupperware box of food out of the boot of the car.Sandwiches, sausage rolls, small meat pies, Thermoses of tea, bottles of orange squash (or Robinsons Barley Water), a stiff breeze and the sound of seagulls flying overhead. And the bloody sand would end up in everything.

Len and Elsie would sometimes  move the dining table out onto the patio under Len's grapevine on a pretty day in summer. The vine would provide some nice dapply shade under which to eat lunch. Their back garden was a place we would love to sit in the Summer sun in the afternoon and catch a few rays while digesting a nice bit of roast beef or pork. Even if it was really hot we'd still have a cup of tea around 3 or 4 pm and a biscuit or two. We English are strange like that.

Tom's Cabin, R.I.P. We hardly knew ye.
On a sad but slightly related note, I must mention the passing of one of the South East's oldest food institutions - Tom's Cabin. Located in the area known as The Stade, Tom's cabin has been purveying candy floss and Hastings rock and other seaside snacks for many years. The building, which is over 100 years old, closed the other day for the last time. The Stade is being redesigned. From the Jerwood gallery website: "Hastings Borough Council, East Sussex County Council and the Jerwood Foundation are working together to transform the beachfront Stade coach and lorry park into a fantastic new public space for events, festivals and informal use, alongside a nationally significant new art gallery and community facilities." And the fate of Tom's Cabin? "...the preferred option... is to replace it with a high quality family café, with kitchens large enough to service the large open area we are creating too. This option also maximises the open space available, something most people were very keen to see."
While I am sad and a bit miffed to see Tom's go, let's hope that whatever takes its place is decent, serves good food from local sources and not out of a packet, and does not have a cold-dead-hand-of-big-business atmosphere about it - because that would turn a real loss into a dead loss.

Lastly, there are only two more days until the new Name This Food! Get your thinkers on, people. What is it?

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