Would you share your last slice of pizza?

I imagine that most pizzas in the world will go cold by the time you reach the last slice. But would you share it?
I doubt it!
Personalmente, if a pizza is good, I will lick the plate! Honestamente!
There was a bakery in my old hometown, which served slices of pizzas at 5 centimes a go. At around twelve, everyday, the place was swamped with hungry, greedy mouths, dying for a slice of the action.
A square slice of pizza, drizzled with home made chilli sauce.
Five centimes of heaven!
Many of us wanted more than one slice of heaven. And the trays kept steaming out of the oven.
Who cared about burnt tongues, blistered lips! A pizza is to be had hot!
If the last slice is still warm, I will start another war for it!
Dare you touch it?
I very much doubt it!

Top of the pops...

Our friend Stan Laundon , well-known BBC Radio presenter/DJ, took this photo from the top of Christ Church, Hartlepool's own Art Gallery.
He climbed the 172 steps to the top of the tower in Church Square to take this beautiful shot.
What a fit guy!
Krimo's is the building on the left in the foreground.
The headland looks amazing and so close!

The art of surviving recessions...

Over our twenty-three years in business we have been through a few trials, Foot-and-mouth, Salmonella, Chinese Bird Flu, and many more financial crises that would usually floor a fledgling business.
I learnt that our survival had to do with our customers putting their trust in us.

Let me put it this way.
If you don't have two pennies to rub together, can you afford to gamble?
Of course, not!
So, you stick to what you know, the tried-and-tested. As simple as that!

And that is why we can survive anything this world throws at us.
Wall Street crash... Not 1929...
Credit crunch...
Flu epidemic...

And guess what?
These lows help us sharpen our operation. Honest!
We look at how we can improve our customer care.
We talk to our existing suppliers and look at new ones for better deals.
The only thing we do not do is to lower our standards!
Instead, we improve them. Not by lowering prices but by giving better value. Not in monetary terms but in satisfaction terms.

The extra mile...The extra smile...

All this goes a long way.
And when the recession is over we find that we come out of it much stronger.

You've had your chips...

At Portofino, Noel, Chris and the team pride themselves in serving fresh, homemade chips.
Many years ago, frozen chips were given a try but they "tasted like straw!"
Nowadays, Portofino's chips are very famous in... Hartlepool.
The other morning I asked if they knew what country made the best chips.
"England! We make the best fish and chips in the world!"
"Oh, no! Sorry, boys, it's Belgium!"
They laughed.
So I went back to my office and Googled it for proof.
"Best chip in the World."
Guess what came up first?

But, after further research I came up with the answer.
Belgium in general and Brussels in particular is the home of the best chips in the world.
The country is after all famous for Mussels and Chips.

The secret is twice-cooked chips.
My cousin in Dieppe (France) once showed me how to make Frites.

Peel and slice the potatoes into 1cm thick chips.
Thickness matters more than length! I've heard that before...
Wash them in warm water, then drain and dry them.
Par-fry or blanch them in oil at around 140 degrees.
Once the chips are cooked through but still white, drain them and leave them to drip dry.
Turn the frying temperature to 180 degrees.
Drop the basket in and shake it to keep the chips loose.
They will become golden within two minutes.
Drain, sprinkle them with salt and serve immediately.

Chips, frites, French fries... or whatever they're called...
They are beautiful... in moderation!

Tapas to go...

Adam and his team have come up with this new concept for lunch on the hoof...
There are many call centres nearby and most of the workers usually grab a sarnie, fish and chips, a pizza, etc... from the numerous food outlets around the Marina.
So why not Tapas?
A couple of Albondigas, a few Patatas Bravas, a bit of salad, etc... and you've got an alternative lunch...
They are launching it this week. I'll keep you posted as to its success.
But don't hold your breath; new concepts need time to develop and become popular.
Watch this space

Keep it simple...

That's the first rule of cooking.

Anyone who has watched the latest cookery programmes on telly must have heard this phrase. The presenters make it sound like a new prophecy!
Like reinventing the wheel!
Of course, things have to be kept simple or else you lose the plot.

There were many instances in the Seventies and Eighties, when over-zealous cooks misunderstood Nouvelle Cuisine, marrying totally unmixable ingredients together for the sake of presentation and ending up with unpalatable mix bound for the divorce courts!

This post was prompted after I tweaked the vinaigrette at Casa.

Vinaigrette is the French for salad dressing and it comes from the word vinaigre (vinegar).
The original recipe is one quarter vinegar and three quarters oil. Salt and pepper are normally the only other ingredients.
My mother usually replaced the vinegar by lemon juice. This made her dressing taste a lot fresher.
The addition of any other ingredient is the cook's prerogative. Flavoured vinegars, mustards, herbs, etc... are all acceptable in the right measure.

Personally, I prefer the simple version. Here is how I prepare one portion of salad:
A large plastic bowl. One tbsp of olive oil, a pinch each of freshly ground sea salt and black pepper and the juice of a quarter of lemon.
All this before I add the salad ingredients. This is the only way one can tell how much dressing is used.
No need to mix, whisk or blend!
I just add the ingredients.
Tossing the salad is all one needs to cover the leaves with dressing. That is the reason for the large bowl.
My favourite side salad is a head of baby gems, a few slices of fresh fennel, a tsp of finely chopped red onion and that's about it.

Ready, steady, munch!

Burning dreams...

I have been having weird dreams since my knee operation.

This morning, was it this morning or this afternoon? Was it not yesterday? Colin from Krimo's came to the office to talk news, reviews and mainly menus. A fruitful and vegetable meeting...
As he got up to leave I asked him whether he'd enjoyed his stint at Casa last week?
He looked at me and said:
"Casa? I wouldn't know the first thing about tapas. Especially when the menu is in blooming Spanish!"

I honestly, clearly remember somebody telling me that he had worked a shift at Casa del Mar as all the chefs were off... All that in what must have been a dream!

Since I came out of hospital, I have had very vivid dreams about cooking, kitchens, etc...

Last night I woke up in a sweat really believing that I had set a pan on fire. Then I realised that it was only a bad dream!

Moi, burn a pan? Are you joking me or what?

Just ask Lydia, our long-suffering-serving porter (At least 18 years at the sink!) Yes, just ask her if Krimo ever burnt a pan in his time in the kitchen!!!

Making the news...

Our joker-friend, Daniel Raudin from the York Hotel noticed in his morning newsfeed that I have been keeping very quiet about my political ambitions.

OK, I confess, I have decided to enter the American Presidential Race.

Check out the above link and make the news.

Daniel, you're such a joker, mate.
And no, I didn't fall for it!

Knee jerk... Action!

My left knee has been on the telly!
Six years ago, while playing footie, Portofino against Krimo's, I slipped and hurt my knee. I had to skip the gym for a few months. It niggled me on and off but got worse over the last few months, especially after a busy shift at the restaurants.

This Thursday morning my knee got its first acting role in a dramatic arthroscopy. It all went well and I am now resting, twirling my thumbs, watching The X-factor, Eurovision Dance Contest, and getting totally bored out of my brains! I have tried drawing, practising on my guitar, drinking tea till it seeps out of my ears...
I am a very impatient patient!
I know that the restaurants are all very busy despite this awful wet and cold weather. I know that because my mobile is right next to me.
The doctor suggested a two-week break to make sure my knee heels properly. No driving for two weeks! That alone is going to drive me crackers!

Hot pancakes.....

Traditional pancakes cooked over a wood fire.
A great Olympic new sport, this would be.
The lady's face was red as a beetroot. I just hope she had heat and fire-proof undergarments. She was jumping from one black-iron pan to the next, one ladle at a time, turning the pancakes over, then lifting them onto a large plate.
They sold like hot pancakes, with sugar, honey or jam.
Absolument gorgeous!

Harvest Festival in the French town of Provins.

Designs on menu planning...

We have been working on Portofino's new menu for the last couple of months. Tasting, tweaking, binning, slurping, salivating and lastly PRINTING...
This morning, my office was like the back room of a print factory.
In 1994, over three years before we opened Portofino, I asked the Hartlepool College of Arts if they could help me design menu covers. The then-lecturer jumped on the idea and turned it into an end-of-year project for his students.
I was rewarded with 17 different designs!
I chose one which we have used for the last eleven years. The logo was out of this world!
I framed all the artwork and put it up on the walls at Portofino. This morning I decided to change the menu cover while still keeping the logo.
I picked two pictures, photoshopped them and hey, Presto! we have a new menu cover!
I printed over thirty copies while working on the final touches of the menu.

Staff Profile: Lindsay Welsh

Position: Assistant-Manager at Casa del Mar
Age: 33 (I know... I look younger!)
Joined the restaurant: Day One!! 25th January 2006
Initial job: Bar-Manager
Job History: The Wynyard Golf Club 1996-2005, Bollinger's Wine Bar 2005-2006
What I like about working at Casa: I love the social aspect of my job, meeting new people and getting to know regulars.
Favourite dishes: Can't cook! Won't cook! Why should I? My boyfriend is a fabulous Italian chef! I love Japanese food but you can't beat a Sunday Dinner!

Favourite holiday: Italy of course especially with my own personal guide. I've there four times. There is so much beauty and culture.
I would also like to visit China. I'm fascinated by the culture.
Heroes: Princess Diana. I admire her for the charity work she did before she was sadly taken away.
Thoughts: I dream that one day Andrea (my own, personal Italian chef and tour guide) and I will own a quaint Italian restaurant in Italy, or here, or both?!?
Note to myself: Must learn more than just Italian swear words...

Krimo says: Lindsay, you are a character! I am sure that without you, Adam would be lost, but I won't say that in front of him. Customers love you because you are genuine and they also love that cheeky spark in your eyes. Keep it up, bambina!