Category Archives: cheese

A caring, sensitive man

Now the thing about caring and sensitive men
– I find them quite bad for my health –
He’ll be perfectly lovely on dates 1 to 10,
But that will have all changed by the 12th.
It’s a pattern I’ve witnessed again and again,
Like so many nice, sensitive, caring men,
He is at his most caring and sensitive when
He is caring about himself.

Advertisements

Early tastes of my new life in Liverpool

This is my first post since, two weeks ago, I left my lifelong (almost) home of north east London and started a new life and adventure in Liverpool. I was leaving a job I hated, working for a government I hated, and a city I love but found exhausting. Dr E has a job in Liverpool and we’ve got to know it as an interesting, friendly place, and so it seemed like a good chance for me to break away and have the late gap year (or early mid-life crisis) that was awaiting. I hope this time gives me opportunities to learn and experience new things, more time to cook and to make things, to read and to write, to do more good than bad. Beyond that, I’m feeling open-minded and excited. I’m a  little bit addicted to
variety and new things and hope I can sustain that here – there’s a vibrant culture and diverse communities so I am sure I’ll be all right.

My first weekend here I was pleased to be welcomed by the Hope Street Feast as a quick intro to some of Liverpool’s food ‘scene’. I was somewhat overwhelmed by the prevalence of cupcakes. I wanted to try Laura’s little bakery as she’s a strong twitter presence but frankly there was too much of a queue and it was too far away from the coffee stall. I had a salted caramel cupcake from Blackburne house’s stall (which was nice but, if I’m being picky, could have carried more flavour). Also took home some goodies: sweet, flavoursome little strawberries from a farm stall,  a selection of 3 beers from  Peerless brewery –  the woman on the stall was sure I would like them all (all light girly enough ones) and so far I’ve
very much enjoyed the Triple blonde – fairly billed as ‘zesty’ – very hoppy and refreshing, and thought the Viking Blond was nice though not as exciting. I also treated myself to a lovely nutty sheep’s cheese from the Liverpool Cheese Company whose name I couldn’t remember but have decided from the website it must have been the Berkswell Ewe. Mmm.

I’ve dipped my toe into the restaurant scene starting with:

Chilli Banana – fabulous Thai food. Very slow service but it was Saturday night and it was worth it.

Sahara is a very decent Lebanese near the university with good mezze –  perfect haloumi, rich, spicy muhammara – we only needed more pitta – and for mains we had an aubergine-rich, tender vegetable stew. All accompanied with BYO
chilled-outness, dated décor and cheeky scouse service.

I’ve been to Host before and knew I was going back soon – it didn’t let me down.

I’m wowed by Liverpool’s cafes, Bold St Coffee does an unsurprisingly delicious, complex cup. I’ve tried out Oomoo, a friendly chilled-out cafe just around the
corner where. I had a good americano, and slice of peanut butter cheesecake. I wouldn’t normally pick cheesecake but as a peanut butter enthusiast my fancy was taken. This was delicious, creamy with a subtle peanut flavour filling on a crumbly nutty base. And somewhere nice to sit, and change from a fiver. Am definitely going back there, not least to try out the extensive range of teas and was pretty appealed by the savoury muffins, too. Moon & Pea did me a great cup of coffee, nice brunch (eggs florentine) and somewhere nice to sit outdoors on a sunny day. I thought I’d have to go back to try out those desserts, but my little brother was not deterred by the heat, tucking into an immense sticky toffee pudding to the amusement of the staff (I had a spoonful. It was amazing).

 

I could hardly miss out the pubs and have sampled a few nice pints in the Philharmonic, Leaf, and a little boozer in Southport when I popped up there for one night of the British Fireworks Championships (long story!)

Believe it or not, I have done other things than just eat and drink. I’ve also been exploring and even at times looking for a job. I got involved in the Abandon Normal Devices festival which gave me a great chance to see some fascinating contemporary art being shown and created and to talk to loads of interesting people. I partied in the Kazimier’s created world of Atalonia, heard some  interesting electro-punk at Static, played with pigs’ bladder footballs, watched monkeys watching humans acting as monkeys, and people acting as fictional people going through a ’70s self-actualisation seminar. It’s made me think about loads of questions. What’s the role and representation of time in art and how
art acts with and against a ‘history’ of events? These new forms of art pose challenges to the role of the ‘human’ as essential but also as creator and spectator. AND is ambitious, posing challenges to big hegemonies, such as science and the commercialisation of sport, but at times succeeded in doing so in a fun, engaging way. The pace was pretty exhausting, but there really are always fantastic things going on and it really enthused me for my time in Liverpool.

Glastonbury 2011

Shame about the lateness and the rubbish photos…

At the last minute, I was given the chance to go to Glastonbury and of course I jumped at it. I became a temporary redhead, slung some (insufficient) clothes into a bag and off I went. Maybe 28 is a little late to join the party, but I didn’t mind that – in fact, I was glad. My younger self was scared of everything, and festivals were no exception. Being there really made me realised how much more confident and at ease with myself I am now.

Seasoned Glastonbury-goers will of course say it’s not about the big name headliners at the Pyramid stage – no shit, U2 and Coldplay? I didn’t even go there apart from for Wu Tang. I was unbelievably lucky that there were some much more exciting (especially to a 90s indie kid like me) surprise special guests acts and to have got wind of them early enough. The buzz that went with the rumours and anticipation was definitely one of the best things and the atmosphere at Radiohead’s intense, atmospheric set and Pulp’s unashamedly crowd-pleasing one was fantastic. Being with my brother and his friend, I caught a lot of electronica-inflected experimental stuff and special mentions go to QOTSA and Caribou.

I had some nice times hanging out in fields with hippies – went to a massage workshop, signed loads of petitions, went to the circus, watched some nice sunsets, got muddy, got sunburned, admired some art installations…and drank more cider than I ever thought I would in 5 days. Most of it was overpriced shit (or the cheap shit we brought in) but we did have some delicious local cider from Burrow Hill (although unfortunately this only happened when we excitedly stumbled into a pub tent (with awesome old-school cash register) for some real ale but the bar staff weren’t really up to pouring a pint, which was a shame).

Couldn’t help but be struck by the contradictions between the earnest, hippyish legacy of the ‘traditional glastonbury’ and the massive commercial enterprise that dominates the mainstream media. That’s co-option in action for you, I suppose. There were anarchist exhibitions and art installations railing against consumerism and waste, but also thousands and thousands of  stalls, and loads of (sometimes thinly disguised) advertising. There was an earnest Greenpeace presence, but the whole thing generated an unspeakable amount of waste. Workers’ beer is becoming marginalised as a political concern, instead I was struck by the army of Oxfam kids in t-shirts bearing the galling slogan ‘Fix the System’.

But what can I say…I consumed along with everyone else. I’m a sucker for vintage, and insufficiently prepared for the extremes of weather, ended up buying both a hat, and a lovely reworked vintage summer dress from Cow Vintage complete, excitingly, with a label confirming it had been made in the USA by the International Ladies’ Garment Worker’s Union – nice bit of labour history. And yes, there was food too. We partly self catered, living on a mix of fruit, nuts, stuffed pasta and some surprisingly edible boil in the bag curries from Ashoka. I was a sceptic, but had to concede the Punjabi Choley had a slight dusty, store-cupboard flavour but had plenty of flavour and heat to make up for it, and the Dal Makhani was rich and soothing – just as we needed. It was at least as good as the £7 veg curry from the Thali cafe I’d had the night before. I’m a bit hazy on details, but I definitely had a delicious meal from a Moroccan tagine stall one night, and an even more delicious mezze plate from a Lebanese stall another night. I was too awed to choose from the available options so went for the everything plate and was rewarded with a mountain of delicious food, from creamy, smoky baba ghanoush, to marinated olives so powerful they made my poor brother throw up.  I was excited to be able to partake in the Meatwagon, a food phenomenon I’ve read about but thought I probably never would experience. But they were serving burgers in the corner of a pretend retro party hotel, and there she was, the Sloppy Joanna, just there waiting for me. And yeah, she was tasty, messy, yum. Could have carried more flavour, but then what do I get for not eating meat?

I was also fairly excited by the farmers’ market in the greenpeace fields, and enjoyed sweet, perfect cherries and fragrant organic tomatoes, light, fluffy Olive Oil bread from Lynda’s Loaf made a perfect picnic with a couple of wedges of Greens of Glastonbury cheeses. He was selling them at £2 a wedge which was the best value for money in the whole place, I reckon, and so I went for one each of the punchy mature cheddar (which shall we say matured yet further throughout the hot sunny day) and the mellow, sweet hard goats cheese. Seriously, this was a festival highlight…