Do not forget to tell us how you spent New Year's Eve.
(Poll in the top right hand corner)
According to Eat Out Magazine, it appears many diners are going to see how the festive mood takes them, with 17% saying they are just 'not sure' if it's going to be a 'cut back' Christmas or whether they will dine out more or less frequently, compared to this time last year.
In Hartlepool , everyone in the business reported a drop in customer numbers since mid-November compared to the same period last year.
Over the holidays, shops, restaurants, cafes, etc... were full to capacity. Let us hope the mood continues into the New Year.
At home we went for the usual favourites:
Pomegranates, Duck, Tuna, Turkey...and lots of Christmas spirit.
Pools lost twice but didn't put a damper on things:
A Boxing Day trip to Scunthorpe to watch them lose 3-0.
And losing 4-1 at home against bottom of the league, Crewe Alexandra.
Let's hope we start the New Year with a better result on Saturday against Stoke City in the Cup.
Do not forget to tell us how you spent New Year's Eve.
We felt, just as our last poll concluded, that Christmas is for families, kids, presents, lots of food and drink but no work whatsoever...
No work? Maybe for some but I've still ended up cooking dinner for a minimum of a dozen people every year since then.
But it's not real work, honest. I really love preparing and cooking the Christmas dinner. Karen is charge of the table and the desserts with an "s"... Thousands of calories!
By the time I've finished cooking, I'm as stuffed as the obligatory turkey. But I still try to make something different every year.
This time, I've plumped on three small starters.
An espresso cupful of cauliflower and cheese soup.
A piece of seared tuna in sesame seeds and wasabi dressing.
A couple of slices of pink roasted duck breast with sweet chili dressing.
For main course I've decided to serve the turkey boned and rolled with a chestnut stuffing. This will save the hassle when it comes to carving. I've often tried the same with chicken and the result is quite good.
I will also have to cook a piece of beef for those who don't like turkey.
I've also decided to cook a few Conference pears in red wine and cinnamon and serve them with lemon sorbet. Very refreshing dessert!
And I'll fall asleep just after that.
The turkey featured below is last year's. I think we've still got some left for sarnies...
When Hartlepool Marina began taking shape in the early nineties, my dream was to open a casual bistro serving from pizzas to fresh fish, pasta to steaks, somewhere very close to water.
Was it my Mediterranean feet itching to dangle in the sea?
Was it my Naval Architecture past at Sunderland Poly tugging me back to the shipping lanes?
All I know is that our Pizzeria-Bistro, Portofino couldn't have brought me closer to my dream!
I listen with pride to our customers' wonderful comments about Portofino's location.
On the right we have HMS Trincomalee, Britain's oldest warship afloat, bobbing up and down so close to our windows that, when I tell our younger diners that she is my private yacht their eyes light up with disbelief.
Out of our front windows, Hartlepool Marina glistens invitingly in the sunlight or moonlight, transporting us back to happy Mediterranean holidays. After a few glasses of Rosé, it is often compared to Puerto Banus or St Tropez...
Right here on Hartlepool Maritime Experience!
Many a morning, I've sipped a coffee at table 9 while proudly guarding MY yacht and MY swimming pool.
Please enter our Christmas Day poll... (top right)
The Eating Out Poll showed that the majority of us eat out once a month followed by once a week.
I am a once-a-weeker... But I call it market research. Whenever I eat out I'm always on the lookout for new ideas.
I feel like writing a letter to Tesco to help them save a bit of money in this current economic climate. By adding the word "crunchy" to the packaging, Tesco have unnecessarily wasted quite a few quid in extra ink.
To the best of my knowledge, carrots have, since the beginning of Time, always been crunchy. So why the emphasis?
Are there any other varieties of carrots that we haven't yet discovered?
Squeaky carrots? Silent carrots? Soft carrots?
If a carrot is soft, it's because it is defunct and is only good for the compost bin.
What next? Sweet Sugar, Salty Salt...
But, guess what? I ended up buying two bag of crunchy carrots!
I must have been subliminally enticed to buy them...
(Actually I'm joking! They were two for the price of one... They might come in handy for these dark nights.)
2008 has been a very hard year for business in general and catering in particular.
It began with huge increases in food prices: butter, flour, meat, fish, (cooking) oil, etc...
The finger pointed at the price of (the other) oil, last summer's floods, the ongoing wars, Indian Ocean pirates, elections, etc...
Anything and everything, really. Just take your pick.
Then came the dreaded C.C.
Do you know that in the last few months, the most Googled phrase has been Credit Crunch?
I love anything al dente but not sure about this one.
Everyone is predicting gloomy times ahead and sadly there will be many casualties.
I sympathise with anyone starting a business in this current economic climate.
Having said it before, I shall repeat myself as usual.
When people do not have much cash to play with, they will invariably stick to what they know.
At Krimo's we are lucky to have gone through many lean times over the 24 years we've been in business, not only survived them and but come out stronger.
Our Eating Out Poll is showing that more people dine out once a month. (A couple of days to go)
So, as long as they come to one of our restaurants every three months, we will survive...
Christmas is only twelve days away. The party season is reaching its last fortnight and peak. But there is no escaping the credit crunch. Up to the middle of November, Christmas party bookings were slow in coming as everyone was being very wary of making long term plans. But on the day, customers have arrived in their droves.
Next week is pretty booked up solid in all three restaurants. Last year, Noel, Portofino's head chef kept a tally of the number of customers in the last full week leading up to Christmas Day. Over 1200 customers!
I doubt whether we will beat that record this year, but we won't be far off it.
I took these photos last night while going round our restaurants to watch revellers eating, drinking and being merry.
I caught Barry Anderson with a bit of tinsel in his hair. He threatened never to grace us with his patronage again if I published the photo on the blog.
I'll just have to blackmail him. Maybe a good bottle of red wine once a week...
By the way, don't forget to vote in our "Eating out poll" (Top right)
The Poll on Swearing in the Kitchen showed by 80% to 20% that we do not agree with foul language in kitchens and especially TV kitchens.
Thanks to all those who entered, all 35 of you.
Rising to his own defence, Gordon Ramsay pleads: "People say I'm a monster, but I'm not a monster... I just have to maintain a high standard that people are paying a fortune for. I seem to be the only chef in the country who gets upset when things go wrong."
Chefs in their kitchen are like sea captains aboard their ship.
They have to have the last word on what goes on. You can only laugh when they laugh. If they're quiet during service, you'd be a fool to utter a word that has nothing to do with food. I know this because I was a chef!
But when they're relaxed they are very amiable beings, always willing to impart a few pearls of wisdom.
Delia Smith, our famous TV chef once said: "Football and cookery are the two most important subjects in this country."
Obviously, she has an interest in both. Football being her second love as she is joint majority shareholder in Norwich City FC.
Woody Allen, though not a chef, but a brilliant actor and director said: "I will not eat oysters. I want my food dead. Not sick, not wounded... Dead!"
Miss Piggy, serial dieter has this piece of advice for us: "Never eat more than you can lift."
How often do you eat out?
Please vote now. (Top right hand corner)
I've just discovered a Blogger widget which I've placed on the top right of my blog.
Personally, I do not agree with swearing anyway.
I think Gordon Ramshead is a great chef and an even better businessman. But does he really need to swear every other word to be funny? A few years ago, when a hidden camera caught him demeaning a French waiter, I began worrying about the message this would send to young catering students on their way to real life in a hotel or a restaurant.
Bullying? What the program showed was more like verbal assassination!
We often hear moans of the fabric of society being eroded, the young don't respect anything anymore... A couple of TV presenters take this abject practice to the limit...
Isn't about time "Role Models" like Gordon Ramsay realised that every time they appear on our screens, they have a moral duty to educate young people with the skills they have honed over the years rather than make them laugh with gratuitous foul language.
There is a time and a place for that kind of thing and I certainly don't agree that it should be on a TV cookery program!
Please make your vote count if only till the end of next week.
I'm quite certain that the following has happened to some of us at one time or another on Christmas Day.
We've cooked our vegetables al dente, roasted our potatoes golden and crisp, set the table beautifully and then....
HACKED OUR TURKEY TO SHREDS!!!
This useful video is the way to present a turkey on Christmas Day.
But don't wait until the last minute to watch and practice.
Try carving a chicken once a week. I know that most of us prefer boneless breasts but how much easier and more delicious can it get, sticking a whole chicken in the oven and roasting it on the bone.
Practice makes perfect!!