How to Criticise?

Sometimes beans on toast are better!

I like to write restaurant reviews online. I do it because those reviews help me find good places to eat. And I feel like I ought to contribute to the pool of knowledge. My problem is that I’m reluctant to criticise. I’m especially reluctant to criticise a small business. I know how tough it can be to get a small business up & running. I know too that it’s been really tough for many small restaurants to survive covid restrictions. But, to be honest, some of them don’t deserve the reviews I give them!

I know, I know, that is not very helpful to the other readers. But I just can’t help it. When I hint that the food was mediocre, the service average, or the cleanliness just slightly lacking, I then compensate by enthusing about how great & nice the people were. Even if they weren’t! I’ll then tick 3 of 5 stars, because I just couldn’t force myself to give them the 2 that would have been generous.

Is this wrong?

It’s been really challenging to write good restaurant reviews in whatever phase of the pandemic we’re in at the moment. I don’t know what’s going on, but places that I used to like are now awful. Did they fire the old chef? Are they using last year’s oil? Are they buying cheap ingredients? It’s been so challenging to write good reviews, that I’m not writing any recently.

We’re all used to something advertised as “home cooked” being absolutely nothing like Mom used to make. But we’ve only got one Mom, so that’s understandable. But when something is advertised as bring authentically Irish, British, or whatever ethnic flavour is core to the business, then it should vaguely resemble that. Sometimes, it doesn’t. And when the owners are from that country, I feel even more cheated. I know they know better. Or maybe their Moms (or Dads!) were hopeless in the kitchen!

So here’s my dilemma … how do I warn the other Irish people out there that the Irish breakfast at this particular restaurant is about as Irish as flambéd alligator ice-cream? That the other place is about as British as Timbuktu? But without beating up on some small business owner, who may be struggling to pay his kids tuition through school. Or she is trying to keep the place afloat because her partner is sick. I worry that my criticism will add to the burden of their backstory.

But if I don’t offer criticism, how can I help the small businesses owner who genuinely wants the feedback, so they can improve?

I’ve built a list of new restaurants that I want to visit. I’m hoping there will be some good ones that will free me to wax lyrically about how great they are. Fingers crossed! 🤞🏻

Despite all the very mediocre food I am being served, I’m still tucking it away. So, no, I’m not losing any weight either. Maybe those people are serving me this stuff because they see that I need the help! 😜

Anyone got any idea how to best provide feedback? Without being too hurtful!

Dishwasher Art

Thermaquaformed Cellar of Salt!

Many of us are getting better at the whole work-from-home thing these days. Some of us are picking up new hobbies along the way too. I’m struggling along trying to add a few words of French to my very limited vocabulaire, for example. I’ve also become a part-time DIY investor. There seems to be some sort of correlation between my portfolio & when the market is going up. I might be on to something here (😜)!!! And while my diligence with my writing is nothing short of horrendous, I have had an occasional artistic success.

In case you’re in search of a new hobby, I’d like to share one of those successes with you …

Dishwasher Art!

I know, I know, it sounds a bit silly, doesn’t it? But have you seen the money some of our art galleries have paid for a few big stripes of leftover paint on a sheet of drywall? What about your man that used to dance all over the canvas on the floor like a mad thing, while splashing paint all over the place. What was his name again? It escapes me for the moment, but if I ever get to have a pint with the guy in the hereafter, I know I’ll be ROTFLing with him. He’s probably got abs from laughing so hard at the money people were willing to pay him for using up the dregs in the leftover paint cans in the basement.

Well … Dishwasher Art is even better than this. You don’t need an art studio. There is no mess & no cleanup. In fact, you can do it while the dishwasher does the dishes. Anyone can take on this new artform, but only a few will rise to the top of what might become a new art niche. If it works out for you, remember who told you about it first!

A little while back, I bought this big tub of pink Himalayan salt. I got it because I thought the pink salt looked kinda cool. It was all odd-sized granules, more natural & elemental, very artisanal in fact. But some of the grains were too big & they blocked the holes in every salt cellar I owned. My salt cellars were all made of glass, or ceramic, or of some bloody material that I couldn’t easily run a drill bit through. To enlarge the holes, you see. I thought of going into the forest to hew down an oaken limb, so that I might sculpt an artistic salt cellar, for my artisanal salt. No, I shaggin’ didn’t, are you out of your mind? That’s way too much work! LOL

I went hunting in the press (cupboard!) for a nearly-empty bottle & I found one with a few whole peppercorns, balling about the bottom of it. Dumped those into the pepper mill & then, I had me a salt shaker in the making! Whacked a hole through the center of the plastic screw-on cap & tossed the nearly-finished ensemble into the dishwasher to excoriate the piquancy of the perrercorns’ piperine. I like pepper but I didn’t want the peppers’ pungency contaminating the olfactorius magnificence of the Himalayas on me. 🤪

While lesser mortals were decrying my daring, insisting that my simple cellar should not see the light of day in the company of visitors, I forged ahead regardless. Creating the masterpiece in the pic above.

Dishwasher Art! 😜😁

PS … There’s no truth to the rumour that pink Himalayan salt is a miracle weight-loss cure! 🤪

DIY Fast Food

DIY Murg Tikka Masala

It’s probably not helping my diet, but I am trying to help my local businesses, by getting takeout. Or maybe I’m just putting that virtuous spin on it by way of excusing the bad behaviour! 😜

Every now & then though, I just don’t feel like another takeout meal. I feel like something home cooked. But I don’t feel like cooking it.

DIY homemade fast-food is the answer.

Between cans, jars, & leftovers, you can sometimes be serving dinner faster than you can find the car keys. Or call out for delivery. Over the course of the pandemic, I’ve noticed an increase in the pantry inventory of canned foods & sauces in jars. It was never a plan, it just evolved that way.

Take that Murg Tikka Masala, for example. It’s a quick concoction of some leftover chicken, frozen peas, a can of mushrooms, & some chopped onion & garlic. With a jar of tikka masala sauce thrown in at the end. A few sprigs of cilantro & a splash (okay, it was a cup or two!) of cream finished it off & it made for a mouth-watering, gustatory delight. Even the rice was that quick-cook type. Bring it to the boil, turn off the stove, & it’s ready to serve when everything else is done. The whole meal had little to no prep time, & very short cooking time. It’s all just too easy. These pandemic skills will be carried forward to when this whole covid thing is, hopefully, just a bad memory for us. Buy some cans & give it a try. And if you already have, send me your fast recipes!

I think that Murg Tikka Masala just means Chicken Pieces in Mixed spices, right? Convert any food name to Hindi & it sounds way more delicious & exotic to my western anglophone ears. I wonder if that works with Irish!?!

Fancy a plate of my special Píosaí Sicín Spíosrach? No? Maybe I’ll just stick to coddle & boxty for the Irish stuff then! 😜😁😂

PS … Make sure you make enough for more leftovers next day. That’s even faster fast food! Stay safe out there.

A New Beginning!

Shrug it off & start anew!

I’m not a big fan of new year resolutions but, after 2020, I find myself making a lot of them this morning. For starters, I haven’t had any weight-loss benefits from blogging about my dietary screw-ups over the past two & a bit years. So I’m writing that off as a failed effort now. Time to wipe the slate clean & begin anew. Starting with a new way of reporting progress, or lack thereof, at the beginning of each month. The pic above is my shiny new weight-loss goal in 2021. This new “reporting” format is just a sneaky way of disguising how much weight I regained towards the end of 2020! But cut me some slack here, please. It’s a little embarrassing & 2020 wasn’t easy, you know! 😜

I weighed in this morning. I have a new tracking app & I logged my weight. The new 50lb target is dialled in. I’m ready to go. Wish me luck. And if you’re starting a new weight-control program, I wish you every success too. Let’s see what we can do before 2022 sneaks up on us! 😜😁

Last year brought pain & despair to many families. But as miserable as it was, 2020 wasn’t all bad. And not for everyone. I’m grateful for the positives too. It threw up a few epiphanies. Only little ones, but these minor events sometimes make little shifts in the direction of our lives. Such tweaks can have a compounding effect that matters. I hope it’s not one of those too-little, too-late things, but I’m now just over two months a non-smoker, for example. Though I’d still kill for a couple of cigarettes with my morning coffee! 🤭

Last year was pretty rough for some of our neighbours. Fortunately, most of us have a little store of kindness on the inside. Sometimes, when we remember that, we can start to make a difference in the lives of others. A lot of us, making tiny positive ripples, can create waves that wash some of the bad stuff away. I’m not preaching at you here, I’m trying to encourage myself to make ripples in this new year. Especially on a beautiful sunny morning like this morning.

To kick off the new year, I think I’ll swing by the ocean today. For a little water-therapy. Maybe I can support a local business on the way back. I just need to make sure that I choose something that doesn’t have me gaining weight the very first day! LOL

I wish you, & those you care for, the very best for the New Year.

May 2021 treat us all kindly!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings!

I’m taking a break from dieting, healthy eating, & weigh-ins until January 4th. Who’s with me!?! 🤪

No, no, no! I’m just kidding. Stick with your program. I’m sure it’s working better than mine & I wouldn’t want to draw you into my patch of quicksand!

Whatever & however you celebrate, I want to share all the peace, joy & happiness that we can enjoy together at this time of year.
Have a safe & wonderful holiday.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays & Seasons Greetings!