Sunday, March 28

Diary of a morbidly obscene biscuit addict


It’s been a tough week. I am battered, bruised and broken. Why you ask? Because I have been assaulted by the breathtaking biscuit brothers, the biscuit MEGA POWERS!


Fig 1. – the human embodiment of chocolate hobnobs and caramel digestives. And look! A saucy cup of tea in the middle!

I have spent all week having the mighty leg of the hobnob crashing down across my throat while the caramel digestive postures from the top turnbuckle before dropping the elbow on my chest. OOOH YEAH!

As far as I am concerned you can’t have a chocolate hobnob with out a delicious caramel digestive to follow. You know what they say about rats in London? That you’re never more than 6ft away from a rat (or some such tosh)? Well I reckon if you have a chocolate hobnob in your hand, you are never more that 6ft away from a caramel digestive.

So, I bought these biscuits, as I always do, with the intention of sharing them with my embittered colleagues. Only they already know that they will be lucky to even start salivating at the thought of eating biscuit, let alone seeing a solitary crumb.

With determined zeal I begin attacking my foes with confidence. High spirits. Gnashing teeth.

3-4 biscuits – I feel terrific. Nothing can stop me! King of the World! Lord of biscuits! etc etc

7-8 biscuits – It just gets better! I can’t believe this. I want to live in a land made of biscuits!

11-13 biscuits – I am struggling although I still have the upper hand. I should quit while I’m ahead

14-15 biscuits – except I don’t quit

17-18 biscuits – CRASH! I’m burnt out. I must be dying or something. I’m withering like a spoon in Uri Gellers hands

19-20 biscuits – why am I still eating them!? I am sobbing into my hands. My colleagues shake their heads, pouring shame and scorn on me with equal measure. They knew this was coming. It was as inevitable as Gordon Brown doing that nauseating breathing thing at the end of a sentence.

All gone – I feel truly terrible. My insides are well and truly clogged up. I am of the firm opinion that I’m not going to be able to have a good poo for days. This thought only serves to compound my misery. I’m sobbing again.

1 hour later – I am sweating uncontrollably

2 hours later – I am swearing uncontrollably

1 week later – I finally have a good poo. I want some biscuits.

Monday, March 22

Afternoon Tea at Albion Café

Albion Café is within a new Conran Hotel called The Boundary just off Shoreditch High Street. Its potential for pretentiousness is overcome by serving nice, not too pricey food, having a relaxed atmosphere and containing lots of pretty things such as enamel coffee pots and stripy tea-cosies with pom-poms on top.

I went there for afternoon tea one grey Saturday afternoon with two good friends, a sister, a boyfriend and a baby. Getting there felt like a relief after walking down through Broadway market which was filled with people trying too hard to look like they were relaxing while being stuffed into expensive cafes with not enough seats and being sold overpriced vegetables. We had to wait about 5 minutes for a table, which gave us a chance to look at some of the stuff in their shop, including very cheap (60p) massive brownies, very tempting and more expensive (£3 but possibly worth it) loaves of bread and aspirationally displayed vegetables and well-packaged grocery goods.
We sat at a spacious round table with comfortable chairs. The waiter was prompt. My sister and I ordered ‘Cream Tea’ (£6) hoping for a scone and tea. Alice ordered a pot of Earl Grey (£2.75) and a treacle tart (£5.50). Paul chose prune and almond tart (£3) and Earl Grey tea also. Helen modestly ordered a pot of coffee (£2.75). We also asked for some glasses of tap water.
Our order arrived quickly. Jo and I were pleasantly surprised to find that Cream Tea means a big fruit scone with a pot of strawberry jam and a pot of cream, a slice of fruit cake, a chocolate brownie and a flapjack as well as a big pot of tea. I normally find it difficult to leave food on a plate, but after eating the nice scone with jam and cream, I couldn’t face much more than a taste of the other stuff. Luckily the baby (Dennis) helped with the fruitcake, as did Helen, who was eventually tempted out of abstention. Paul enjoyed his tart but managed to also polish off my brownie. Alice exclaimed delight after finishing her treacle tart, and I believe helped Jo with some of her cakes too. So there was a healthy consumption of cakes all round, as there should be at an afternoon tea.

Helen’s pot of coffee was big enough for 5 cups, so Jo and I had a cup each, as well as 4 cups of tea each out of our teapot (after a gracious topping up by the waiter). The red enamel coffee pot really pleased me – it was almost identical to one I bought Helen for her birthday. And the enamel jug that the water came in was a agreeable object too.

The toilets are through the hotel and down the staircase, which is covered in a huge, colourful mural. In the individual unisex toilet rooms (one of which has a nice baby-changing table) there are small folded flannels to dry your hands, and smart hand cream. All very wasteful and unnecessary I’m sure, but again highly pleasing.

On the way out Paul and Helen both bought some bread, and Alice could not resist getting a huge scotch egg to take home to her lucky boyfriend.

The design of the place and the choice of things in it obviously has been meticulously thought through, but somehow it’s not overbearing. Essentially it does what a café should do – provides an environment and refreshments that contribute to a pleasant social experience.

I found it most enjoyable and would like to go for lunch there soon.

Sunday, March 14

Man Vs Dog

A day of food and drink consumed by a man, 
and his best friend.

Water: for hangover, for life, for all.

Emmett eat blanket. Man drink tea.

Chipolatas, bacon, black 
pudding, poached egg, 
beans, bread and butter 
for one. Biscuits, bacon 
rind and a hint of blood 
sausage for the other. 
But who gets what?!

Out on the walk, it's fizzy pop for 
pop and cheesey treats for the hairy baby.


A couple of these between myself and 
fellow sporker, Mr Samuel Butler.

Lettuce, like all things in life, comes at a price. And the price is obedience. Good boy.

PHOTOGRAPH MISSING. Sorry. But it should be our Mighty Lunch 
consisting of potato salad, parma ham, vegetable samosa, green salad, 
Danish Havarti cheese, chilli olives, pitta bread and roll mops. Wowzers!!

Despite it all, there's always room for tea and chocolate, 
carrot and peanut butter cupcakes, courtesy of another 
talented sporker, Mrs Lucy Donaldson (pictured left).

So this is where it all starts to get messy.

Featured models: Mrs Donaldson, Mr Butler, Emmett, the 
Money Box Owl, Masterquiz the Boardgame, Mr Donaldson, 
and Captain Beefheart.

Featured beverages: four 
bottles of ale, four bottles 
of wheatbeer, and a lone 
bottle of calvados.

Emmett drinks water. Again. It's pretty dull.

The carrot of OBEDIENCE!

The pepper and cheese of IDIOCY!

Dinner time. 
Thai style curry: prawns, peppers, coconut, whole lotta limes, noodles, 
so on and so forth. Deeelicious.

Quite literally, a dog's dinner. Biscuits, carrot n' pepper. Not much else!

Somewhere between the fourth and tenth glass
of calvados, I still managed to find the times to
cram in a couple more cakes. Cheeky.

As the loser bows out gracefully, I go to bed. Tired, tipsy, and slightly ashamed of myself. Ta ta x

Friday, March 5

An incomprehensive guide to Maltese cuisine
First kill your bird of prey, crush and cover in chocolate, make round and roll down a hill. For those who do not know, cooking the Maltese way, not only are the recipes unpronounceable they are equally inedible. But for the tryers amongst us who just can’t resist a challenge I have scoured the larder, the internet and looked into the dark heart of my own past to come up with the following recipes.

Angels on Horseback, which is grilled liver, wrapped in bacon. Essential at any traditional wedding cocktail buffet.
Soppa tal-Kirxa (Tripe Soup) – as it sounds. Horrible
Soppa ta’ l-armla (Widow’s Soup), which is basically vegetable soup simmered for an hour until so well done the veg are losing their identity and merging with each other in one big gloopy mess. You then crack some eggs into it and add ricotta and gbejniet (sheep’s cheese). Cook for a further 30 mins. Just when it couldn’t get any worse you top it off with a glass of milk. Why?

Pastizzis, (a.k.a Maltese cheesecake). They are kind of like pasties. My dad would hang around outside Maltese cafés waiting for sailors to throw him one of these - or at least that’s what he told me. Traditionally they are filled with either ricotta cheese or mushy split peas. Although, I had some at my brother’s wedding that were filled with minced lamb – and were rather nice. Best bought from the Little Malta bakery in Toronto, Canada

Lampuki Pie - Lampuka is the Maltese name for Mahi Mahi or Dolphin fish. It has fine, white flesh and only a few large bones. It is in season for around four months and doesn’t freeze well. So should you be fortunate enough to have one in your hand, here's what to do with it. Cut into slices, roll in seasoned flour, and fry lightly. Use the same oil to fry some onions in until brownish, add chopped tomatoes for 5 minutes. Then add spinach, olives, capers, mint and lemon peel. ½ pint of water and simmer till sauce becomes rather thick. Season and leave to cool. Line a greased dish with flaky pastry, dot with fish and sauce. Cover with more pastry. Bake in mod oven for about an hour.

Timpana is baked macaroni in pastry. So not only do you get a pasta dish you get pie too. Result.
Only the filling is tomatoes, hardboiled and raw eggs, chicken giblets, ox brain, pork liver and a little bit of minced beef (you wouldn't want to overdo it now). I know a woman who swears she makes the best Timpana in Britain and on family gatherings we are forced to consume this rather starchy and slightly foul smelling concoction. It's a bit like eating corrugated cardboard the dog has been using as a toilet and guarantees you won’t be able to shit for a week.
Pulpettun - A Large Meat Cake – mix together beef, pork, ham and liver with parmesan, breadcrumbs and beaten eggs; wrap in a pork caul and say a prayer. Bake until well done. This should be eaten cold or not at all.
For the unsentimental, there is Laħam taż-żiemel (stallion meat) –which is exactly what it says, usually steamed.
Fenkata – Rabbit Stew: 1rabbit, 2 onions, garlic, 3 large tomatoes, tomato paste, 3 potatoes, 5 carrots, 200 g peas, 2 bay leaves, mixed herbs, half stock cube, 275 ml red wine, seasoned flour, olive oil . Roll rabbit bits in the flour and add to heated oil and cook until light brown. Add veg. Pour over wine. Add the bay leaves, stock and paste. Simmer for 1 ½ hours. Add more wine if the sauce begins to dry up. This is actually rather nice.

Qagħaq tal-Għasel (Treacle Rings) Made from a semolina pastry with a filling of treacle, semolina, anisette, citrus zest, cinnamon and cocoa. We used to get deliveries of these post Xmas and I used to think they had gotten stale on the slow boat from Valletta until I tried some fresh. It is like eating the calcified bones of a dead sailor flavoured with deep sin.

Or the even more unpronounceable /inedible Kaghka Tal-Kavatelli. I once made this as a birthday treat and it turned into a work of art. Form a paste from flour, egg, butter and orange-flower water. Roll into long strips, out of which cut tiny diamond-shape pieces. Fry the pastry pieces until crisp. Leave to cool. Boil treacle, sugar and rind of an orange and a lemon. Throw in pastry pieces. Place into a buttered baking dish. Leave to set.

Cassar de Malte, of course. Malta’s first quality sparkling wine which is produced in the “Méthode Traditionnelle”. It is made in limited quantites and is made with the chardonnay grape with citrus lemon fruits and complexities of yeast, biscuit and bread. What more could you ask?
And don’t forget to listen to the Land of Honey’s favourite children while you slave: Bryan Adams, Gary Glitter and Britney Spears. You couldn’t make it up!

P.S. If you do try any of the dishes Ix-Xorti t-Tajba! as they say.