Krimo's Washing Up...

My first job in catering was as a porter in a very busy Newcastle pizzeria, La Capanella in Shakespeare Street. It no longer exists. It was swallowed up in the early eighties by the Theatre Royal and now forms part of its backstage. So, come to think of it, I can claim that I have fulfilled one of my childhood ambitions: to be an actor. Backstage, washing dishes for over 300 people a day and crying over a sack of onions, wishing that I had stuck in at Sunderland Poly, drawing ships instead of slicing chips...

No, I am waffling, really...
Though it may be physically demanding, washing up is the one job in the kitchen where, while the chefs are stressed out their wits over spilt milk, over-cooked steaks, mushy vegetables or burnt toast, the porter will be the only cool person in the house.
I could be a million miles away from the scraping, scrubbing, rinsing and drying of my dishes. My apron, trouser fronts and sleeves would be wringing wet, but there I was soaking the sun on a faraway exotic beach or sailing the beautiful Indian Ocean.

Nowadays, at home I'd rather cook than wash up. So if you want me to rustle you up something for supper, promise you'll do the washing up. But be warned, I am a messy cook and I will use every single pot and pan you own. Just ask Karen.

Krimo's Yachting Pictures...

Or Krimo's Yacht in Pictures... Often in the past year, I have referred to HMS Tricomalee as My Yacht...
Krimo's Royal Yacht
Krimo Naval Gazing

Yesterday, as part of HMS Trincomalee Trust fundraising efforts to keep the ship afloat for generations to come, I launched a Flickr group, inviting photographers from all over the world to contribute with their photos of Hartlepool's Own Tall Ship.

The result has been staggering. In less than 12 hours, the group has acquired 20 members and nearly 100 photos featuring the Trinc.
Take a look

If you have or know of anyone who has photos of HMS Trincomalee, we would be delighted if you could post them at the above Flickr group.

Krimo's Connections in High Atlas...

When my cousin, Jallel sent me an email saying that Jamie Oliver was about to visit the Ryad he manages in Marrakesh, I said: "Yeah, right! Pull the other one."

A jovial Algerian with a great Scottish accent, having lived and run restaurants in Edinburgh for a large part of his life, Jallel is a hyper-joker!
He moved to Marrakesh, -an amazing city to visit if you ever manage to get yourselves to Morocco- nearly two years ago to manage a luxury boutique hotel called Maison MK, which had just been voted one of the world's 100 best hotels.

Then out of the blue, I get the photo below. So, it was true after all.

Jamie Oliver was filming a program on Moroccan food in Marrakesh.
When I asked my cousin whether he would appear in it, he coolly replied: "Of course, Couz! I don't just work in Marrakesh!"

The photo was taken in the hotel's rooftop terrace. You may see the Atlas mountains in the background.

Krimo's Winners...

Mr and Mrs Skinner enjoying the Valentine's Day meal they won in our latest draw.
All our restaurants were fully booked last night. I cannot imagine there being a free table in the entire UK.
Many returning regulars but also many new faces.
Hands knotted across tables.
Shared nibbles.
Clinking of glasses.
Chocolates and roses flooded the Marina.
Rosé wines and champagnes led to a pink overload.

I am sure that the same scenes were repeated all over the world last night but for us, Hartlepool was the Centre of the Universal Romance.

Krimo's Valentine...

The Valentine Poll (top right hand) shows that only 1/3 of the voters believe that it is a load of hype! This goes to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that romance is still alive and kicking.

For restaurants, a special day like Valentine's falling on Saturday is like a kid's birthday falling on Christmas Day. This does rile many in the catering industry. Personally, I say you win some you lose some. Over our 24 years in business, we have had our fair share out of Valentine's Day.

No matter on what day it falls, our restaurants could fill up several times over. Three years ago, Krimo's was voted one of the 50 most romantic restaurants in the UK by Remy Martin.

In September 1985, a few months after we opened, I placed a little advert in the Hartlepool Mail that said:
"Valentine's Day is only 19 weeks away. (I counted just to make sure) Do not disappoint your sweetheart.
The restaurant was booked up within two days."
I learnt two things from the experiment:
1. The power of advertising
2. The power of love

A few years ago a middle-aged couple came to Krimo's on Valentine's Day. The guy proposed, the lady accepted. They have not missed celebrating a single Valentine's Day with us since.

The winner of our Valentine's Day draw is Kath Skinner. She wins a Meal for Two (worth over £70) at Krimo's on February 14th.
She told me that when hinting to her husband that she wanted a little romance on Valentine's Day, he told to go and buy a couple of Mills and Boon books!! ;o)
Is it any wonder that 85% of all the one billion Valentine's Day cards sold each year are bought by women?

Krimo's Tasty Olives...

There was a time when it was very hard to find olives in British supermarket. Nowadays dozens of different kinds adorn the shelves of even the smallest grocer. The following is but a small selection from Asda's olive offer: Stuffed green, Kalamata, Greek Olympian, Stuffed with garlic, peppers, jalapenos, anchovies, etc... Around 30 varieties!

For my own consumption, I usually buy a couple of jars of whole green olives (around 80p each) then add the following ingredients to create my favourite taste:
Two fresh garlic clove, halved
Chilli flakes
Cumin seeds
Coriander seeds
Caraway seeds
Lemon, either fresh or pickled
Olive oil.
Place olives and brine in a large bowl.
Add all the above ingredients.
Mix well and store in plastic tub or glass jar.
Leave for a couple of days before tasting.

Krimo's Pigeon Flight...

A man was arrested for an alleged breach of quarantine rules after getting off a flight to Australia with two live pigeons in his trousers. Courtesy of BBC News
How long does it take to fly down under?
What about the droppings?
What about deep-vein thrombosis?

No wonder the price of a single pigeon breast has now reached 95p if people keep pinching them to take back to Australia.
Below is our supplier's latest price list!

Krimo's T-shirt winner

Will Spoors (6) is Portofino's latest T-shirt winner.
Once a week we dig into the chef's hat and draw the name of one of our younger regulars.

The next time they have a meal at Portofino, and lately at Casa del Mar, too, we present them with one of our Tshirts. We carry various sizes to accommodate children from 5 to 13 years of age. We offer larger ones for sale as souvenirs.

Our operation is not on the same scale as that of the Hard Rock Café whose Tshirts one often comes across on the busy streets of capital cities or sometimes even in the remotest Amazon village. No, our Tshirts are a rarity, mostly worn as nighties. Size 5-6 is huge!

Will's mother said that he was not one to stand still long enough to have his photo taken. On this occasion she was pleasantly surprised that he calmly stripped off the sweater he arrived in to pose in our exclusive T-shirt.
His younger sister cannot wait to pinch it.

Don't forget to tell us what you're planning for Valentine's Day. Poll top right.

Krimo's Onion Knowledge...

Every now and then I blow my own trumpet. I only do it if I've achieved a major sporting feat or discovered the cure for an unknown disease. After all if you can't blowing your own trumpet, who's going to blow it for you?

Today, I'm blowing it to say I think I know my onions!
Anyway, let me get on my pedestal and tell you why...

"Ladies and Gentlemen, despite the dreaded Credit Crunch, January's figures are up on last year!"
Drum roll.
"Thank you, thank you!"

You may wish to refer to a post I wrote earlier called the art of surviving recessions.

Many elements have to come together in various proportions to achieve business success and survival.
Location, product, demand, value, customer trust, marketing, business acumen, etc... to enumerate but a few, not forgetting the odd ounce of good luck which can also be added to the mix.

The simple reason why we are not feeling the effects of the crunch:
If people have only a certain amount of money to buy a given product or service they always go for the tried-and-tested. As simple as that!

In the meantime, to avoid tears, please watch the following video.