I'm suppose to look puzzled, not angry!

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I have a book to publish. Editors love it, marketing departments say 'up the media profile'. So here I am 'upping it' and writing about the book, food, and life in general.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Never mind the bollocks . . .

Maurizio, the chef and owner of La Locanda called me this morning to say how very offensive he had found my blog review of his restaurant.  "You say my food is like eating dog bollocks!  This is offensive!"  I had to agree; it was definitely not a compliment.  What I didn't realise was that he had already left a comment on my blog.

NB  If you are one of my subscribers who receives my posts by e-mail PLEASE have a look at my blog site and read Maurizio's comment, you won't regret it.

I was interested to know how Maurizio had come across my blog.  He said he had looked me up after reading the evaluation sheet we had been handed with the bill. "So you did read the evaluation then?" I asked. We dined on the 7th September and I didn't publish the blog post until the 21st.  Why had he taken so long to contact me?  "I've been very busy" was Maurizio's reply.

Personally, I think that if you have the time to take a customer's money and hand them a piece of paper asking for their comments then you should find the time to reply to their grievances.  Just as I am now replying to his.

I pointed out to Maurizio that I had kindly not reviewed his restaurant on Tripadvisor just in case it had been the regular chef's night off.   It was bad enough when I thought I'd closed down Shanghai after writing a Tripadvisor review (and I had said only good things about their food).  Maurizio said he had been the chef on the night and anyway he didn't care about Tripadvisor and never read it.  It's very nice that Maurizio thinks my blog has more influence than Tripadvisor but I really do think he should take a look at the reviews on there.  He'll find I'm not the only one who has had a bad experience.

About the bollocks.  I tried explaining that we English use the term 'It was the dog's bollocks' to describe something which is superlative.  And that it was a play on words when I said that dogs bollocks would probably have tasted better than his pork.  And that no, I had never eaten dog's bollocks although I had eaten stuffed bull's testicles once in an Argentinian restaurant in Tel Aviv.

Another thing.  Maurizio said he thought the pork was not that bad and so I asked if he had tasted it when our plates came back to the kitchen.  He said he didn't see the plates come back so was unaware that we had barely touched our food.  He agreed that his staff should tell him if customers leave most of their meals. And then I remembered that he would not have seen the plates coming back to the kitchen because the waitress tripped and dropped the whole lot.  The funny thing was that Sarah (the lovely step-daughter) had asked if she could take the left-over soggy chips home for her boyfriend (who on earth eats cold chips?) and they actually made some more for her.  I could have died.

Maurizio said that if we were to come back he would welcome us and was sure we would have no complaints.  I told him that I would rather not visit just yet but would listen out for other customer comments and reviews and maybe give La Locanda a second chance in a year or so.  Can't say fairer than that can I?

By the way, have I mentioned that my fiendish friend Johnnie Mountain published his pork cookery book, PIG last week?  Oh the tearful disappointment when I realised we could not be there to celebrate with him especially as there were to be nibbly bits of his piggy dishes on offer.  But I was otherwise engaged hocking my own nibbly bits (canapes, that is) at the very glamorous opening of ARTisan fashion house.  I will leave you with a picture of Johnnie's slow-cooked shoulder ('no arms', as Maurizio would say) which comes out perfect every time - even for a chef like me who has always had a bit of a pork problem.
Johnnie's succulent shoulder
Bargain lamb shoulder

Fennel, chilli, cumin, salt

Plum smother

After 5 hours

Melt-in-the-mouth spicy lamb

And while I'm about it, here's last night's lamb shoulder (£11 for a WHOLE SHOULDER at Morrison's) which I  rubbed with fennel, chilli and cumin seeds before slow roasting for 4 hours. I then smothered it with cooked, liquidised plums before roasting for the final hour at 220C.  The best ever lamb, I promise.

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