How was your day?

Wonderful. I had lunch at my favourite English Tea Rooms.


Yes. I had sausage rolls and Earl Grey. Happy.

I’m sure you were very happy. I don’t mind a bit of forcemeat myself.

And my friend had a meat pie. But they only make four or five of each a day. We convinced her to make a bigger batch on the weekend so we can have them at our party.

They’ll be a hit.

They will. And you know what?


It made me wonder about opening my own Aussie pie shop. All that baking. It’d be fun. And people really love a good meat pie.

Yes, and all that getting up at 4:00 am.

Hmmm. Could I make them the night before and freeze them?

Well, I think if you’re working on using the fresh and quality strategy, offering frozen pies might kill the buzz.

Did you say horsemeat?


Horsemeat. You said you liked horsemeat. In your sausage rolls.

Did I? No. That’s awful.

I’m pretty sure you did.

Oh. No. I said forcemeat.

What’s forcemeat?

The kind of meat that goes into sausage rolls. And sausages.

I need to look that up on Wikipedia.

Go for it. I’d like to know myself. But you didn’t stop me when you thought I’d said horsemeat. Did you think that was acceptable?


No no. I said I didn’t mind a bit of forcemeat myself, but you heard horsemeat and didn’t comment. Therefore, you deem eating equine acceptable.


Yes. Either that or you weren’t listening.

Of course I was listening.

I want to make it clear. I don’t eat pony.


#forcemeat not #horsemeat


What are you having for dinner?

I can’t tell you.

What? Why?

Because you’ll mock me.

Oh no.

And give me a hard time.

Probably because you will deserve it.


It’s what I think, isn’t it?

I don’t know. What do you think?

Salmon again?

No, actually. Not tonight.

It must be sardines then. And broccoli. Ugh.

Got it. I really don’t know why this is so bad. The Daily Mail posted an article by a nutritionist who wrote that sardines and broccoli were both superfoods. Better than salmon and kale.

Ugh. I will not take dietary advice from someone from Leeds.

Why not?

I just won’t.

But Miss Whitehead is an authority. And she has a very attractive figure and arresting hair. And that cute Yorkshire accent.

I don’t care. The thought of you eating those poor defenceless fish with their little heads and all makes me sick.

Their heads are chopped off. Like the rabble taking all the smart people’s noggins in the French Revolution.

Why can’t you eat steak? Like normal people?

Because it’s not that good for you.

But I eat it and I’m fine. Plus you eat a dozen little creatures, and I eat only one tiny percentage of the cow.

Steer, probably.


We milk cows and eat the males.


Don’t worry about it. And in any case your comparison is silly. What percentage of a thing that we eat is irrelevant.

No. Not in my book.

So you’re saying that I’m better off eating a much larger portion of a bovine than a half-dozen sardines because six is fewer than 2 percent?


Crappy Mexican

The great iceberg lettuce glut of 2014 will not be without its beneficiaries. The Grasshopper, for example, will be out there bidding pennies for boxes of these things. Huzzah! the owners will cry, chomping on their cigars, our profit margin just tripled!

Friends tell me that El Chapulin caught a ride down I-75 from Adrian, Michigan before creating his Sarasotan home. Call me green with six legs, but since when was anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon line any kind of wellspring of “Tex-Mex”?

The key here is the number of MI plates on the roads around these parts. It seems the plague of Michiganders that descends upon us each winter will eat anything that reminds them of home, all the while shouting “Go Blue” or other chants rather rude about something called “Ohio.” I presume that cacophony is the equivalent of rubbing wings.

There is a word for being more than underwhelmed, but I don’t know what it is. Actually, thinking about my meal, there are several descriptive phrases that spring to mind. One is their use of tasteless shredded cheese instead of Walmart’s Fiesta blend. Another is the surfeit of peppers and onions; el cheapo ingredients Senor Hopper. Yet another might be the bulking out of dishes with those bargain lettuce heads.

Yep. It’s Fiesta Time. Somewhere.


Despite their reliably good coffee I gave up on Pastry Art a few years ago for two reasons. The first reason was the unreasonably surly service provided by (non-proprietor) staff. Absent the owner, the alternatively coiffed and decorated attendants varied from grudging to outright combative.

The second reason concerned Sarasota’s merry band of stinking, aggressive street bums. Taking one’s coffee outdoors meant preparing for a visual, nasal and/or verbal assault should one of these gruesome creatures sit close. And sit close they did, attempting to cadge money by intimidation.

On the insistence of a colleague, I recently returned. Happily, the service is acceptable, and the panhandler problem appears to have evaporated. Whether that has any connection with the rent-a-cop lurking about that part of Main is open to conjecture, but in three visits I have yet to be harassed.

The coffee remains excellent.

Carousel or Carrousel?

My breakfast companion this morning was a regular at the Carrousel for years when he worked at the B of A across the road. But baby that was years ago, as the song goes. Notwithstanding, he was greeted by name yesterday morning.

Does this qualify the Coffee Carrousel as the Cheers of Sarasota? My mathematics teacher used to say that drawing a line from fewer than two points put you on Euclid’s bad side, a space best avoided. However, this one data point I do have regarding the friendliness of this downtown hidey-hole is a good one.

My fellow Yelp!ers capture the mood here perfectly. Linoleum floors, a diner ambience, home-style cooking and the happy fragrance of non-corporate ownership wrap you in a feel-good breakfast blanket. And for good measure, our two omelets with toast and coffee TOGETHER cost less than fifteen bucks. I recently paid five dollars more than that for a single meal at a place that didn’t want to know my name.

Florida is a breakfast kind of state. I guess that’s because so many folks here are awake early checking the obituaries. With many choices, it’s easy to become jaded, but for the first time in a long time I am happily anticipating a return trip to brekkie place.

Cheers! to that.

It’s Phuh Not Fo

Places like Pho Cali have no need for Yelp!

Owners of restaurants turning their tables three or even four times per lunch service, every lunch service, are too busy cooking and serving to bother with written reviews. All the critics they need are standing in a line at the front door waiting to eat.

Dissection is pointless in the face of appetites with cash.

Pointless and unnecessary. Whether Pho Cali is an authentic Vietnamese experience makes no difference, although it is close to the real deal. The food is sufficiently exotic to wake the most jaded punter, so that if your palate is fatigued by endless bland-o burgers and fried mystery meals, your choices are clear: go Vietnamese, go Indian, go Thai – go anywhere without a ‘grille’. Or ‘American cheese’ for that matter.

Fast food be damned, get Pho-ed.


Do you know what I feel like?

No. What?


Mmm. So go buy something.

Nah. It has to be special. I so rarely eat baked goods. It feels like it needs to be an event.

Like going to church?

Sure. A wedding. Not just any Sunday. And not a funeral. And not a baptism.

A baptism isn’t as special as buying a pastry?

Not as special as anything involving sugar and eggs and flour and an oven.

So you don’t just want a pastry. Anything baked and sweet will do?

Maybe. I think the most decadent thing would be a tart. Some kind of custard tart, perhaps.

Muffins don’t count? Or croissant?

Muffins are too widespread. They’re like the operating system of baked goods, no-one takes any notice of them any more.

Croissant? They’re still slightly exotic aren’t they?

Well, not really. Did you see my review of that French place on Siesta Key? They use frozen croissants. Oh, and claim for them to be fresh. Frauds.

It’s always the libertie with the French, never the get up and do the hard baking yards.

Savoir faire 24/7 isn’t easy to pull off you know. It requires a good night’s sleep.

And a twenty-a-day fag habit.

You can’t say fag.

You know what I mean. Ciggies. Don’t get all politically bullshit on me.

So no croissant then.

Nah. I don’t think that’ll satisfy my tart jones.


Did you go to TJ’s?

God. Yes.

Not good?

Hideous. Have you seen the people who shop there?

People like me?

No. The people who shop at the one here.

What’s wrong with them.

They’re gnarly. White-haired hippy women decades past their prime pushing their carts into my achilles. Dreadful people. It’s like shopping with zombies in sandals. And the feet. Why are old people feet that way? Have they no closed-toe footwear?

The people at my TJs are relatively normal. And they have such tasty treats. Their pain au chocolat for a start. The chicken curry. You like that, I know.

You confuse two things here.


The store and the patrons.

But it’s all one experience.

Yes, but the horror of the people overshadows the deliciousness of whatever you buy there. They have the stink of superiority without the fact of it.

Hmmm. Well, you were tired.

Yes. And they were ugly. Never again. I bought the chevre spread by the way.