Helping dish...

Some of you will remember the cookery competition I entered back in April. Just before I left for Algeria, I received my prize, a £250 Gordon Ramsay's voucher.

Well, since I won it for just doing something I love, "cooking", I have decided to raffle it and give the proceeds to the NSPCC.

Even if the winner can't be bothered to go to London for a slap-up meal, I'm certain that the voucher will easily fetch a couple hundred quid on Ebay.
We always hold an NSPCC raffle in December where we raffle a meal for two at our three restaurants so the idea to give away this voucher came naturally.

Algerian trip...

I'm back!
I went to visit my father, my sisters and their families.
The weather ranged from boiling hot afternoons to cool evenings, dusty mornings and torrential rains.
As usual, the seasonal produce was on show. I was a few days too early for my sister's apricots but there were enough fruits to make up for them. The strawberries were delicious and the dates absolutely luscious.

A visit to one of Algiers oldest fish restaurants, Sauveur (a true Saviour!) was an evening to remember. Fish, fish and fish... Gorgeous.

Minted tea and roasted nuts, overlooking the Med from the south.

Fishermen enjoying a great sunset...

Coffee and chocolates...

Karen and I went to Krimo's for Sunday lunch.
It's not often we get the chance to eat at Krimo's. A quick pizza or pasta at Portofino or a couple tapas at Casa, yes, but Krimo's is more of a "proper" restaurant and I wouldn't dare dirty a tablecloth or waste a posh napkin.

I had Boureks and Roast Beef and Karen had Pate and Salmon. She said what she usually says after the first mouthful of pate... "You should sell it in the shops! It's so much better than any of the stuff I buy in Asda..."
Yeah, right, Karen... She also says that about my Paesano sauce, Algerian Merguez sausages and Boureks.

I finished the meal with a beautiful espresso and two mint chocolates.
Tearing the wrapper I noticed the motto that I, personally, moi, myself, created over 10 years ago.
"Krimo's... A mint of restaurant!"

Seeing Mrs. Walker and her daughter, Molly enjoying their Sunday lunch, I realised that they must agree with my motto. After all, they should know. They have been coming at least once a week for the last 23 years...

What a waste of bubbly...

I watched helpless as Ryan Giggs wasted a magnum of Champagne on Sunday after Manchested United won the Premier League.
Made even worse when it's my bank that is paying for it! (Check out the label on the bottle.)

Who the hell started this wasteful habit? What's wrong with dousing other players with soda water -it's full of bubbles!- and THEN drinking the Champagne to celebrate?
Eh, tell me!
What's wrong with that?

Photo courtesy of BBC Sport.

Adam's Mojitos...

Trying to fathom out how to take close-ups, I ended up snapping, among other things, a lime and a bunch of mint...
To the untrained eye, two simple green things...
Our Casa del Mar's Tom-Cruise-shake-alikes, Adam, Rob, Shelley, Lyndsay and Rachael would see the essential ingredients for my favourite Summer drink: an ice-cool, refreshing Mojito! With a touch of Havana Club or alcohol-free, Cuban Mojitos taste delicious!

Web design...

Since finishing the web design course at Teesside Uni, I have been playing web designer. I am thinking about taking up another course on Flash so there is a bit of movement in the website. We'll see if I have time...

May the 4th be with you...

Today is Krimo's 23rd anniversary.
We opened our restaurant at Seaton Carew on May 4th 1985. It seems like yesterday!
We moved into the flat above the restaurant on April 13th and began cleaning and decorate the ground floor restaurant with the help of family and friends. Some painted, others scrubbed and we opened on Saturday 4th May at 7.30pm to a full-house (30 people). I showed poor Karen how to take TWO orders and then retreated to the kitchen to begin cooking. She had never worked in a restaurant before, so you can imagine how hard she found it.
The first few days were spent tweaking stuff, buying stuff and coping with stuff. Had there not been so much enthusiasm and a will to take our future in our own hands, we would've easily given up in the first few weeks.
Within about a fortnight, Saturdays were fully booked days in advance and soon there wasn't an empty seat months ahead. The rest is history...
Tonight, we'll celebrate with a Salsa at Casa del Mar. And Adam will be waiting on us hand and foot. He was three and a half years old in May 1985...

Staff Profile: Nicole Clark

Position: Senior Waitress
Joined the restaurant: 10 October2005 Initial job: Meeter and Greeter
Job History: I left school and came straight here. I am studying Sports Science at the College of Further Education.
I'm now thoroughly trained on all the tasks but when I work on bar I can't go a whole shift without breaking at least one glass! Ooops!
What do I like about working here? The banter between the girls especially my "right-hand man" Kim(berley) Allen.
Favourite dishes: I love our potato skins as a starter and then it's Chicken à la crème. And maybe a cheese and tomato garlic bread. You can't beat that.
Favourite holiday: Zante (Greece) with the girls. We go there every Summer and I love it.
About me: I leave College in May and I am going to take a year or so out. I may work here full time before going to University.

Krimo says: Nicole is Joey's younger sister. Born on the same day two years later, she came to Portofino when she turned sweet 16. Within weeks she could juggle with the job, fitting in with staff and customers alike. Nicole is a perfectionist. She loves Portofino so much that she spends most of hard-earned cash dining here.

Nicole, I am glad you are staying with us a lot longer than expected because you are the best tea-maker at Portofino! :o)