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One thing I like about December is the occasional impromptu party that springs up just because somebody caught a good deal on booze and stocked up early for Christmas, then they invite you back home after the pub or a little cheeky dinner out because there were some coupons in the local paper. Carveries do quite a lot of coupons like that, I find. I can’t say no to a good carvery.
So when my mate Alex called and asked if we’d like to go out for a nosh I was right up for it. I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t a carvery but some new place he’d spotted (with a coupon ad in the local paper). It had a bit of a dual identity. The serving team (that’s what they like to call them these days, apparently) were all wearing yellow shirts with big black question marks on them, like that Riddler blokey out of Batman, but the place was actually called ‘The Griddler’ because everything was cooked ‘on a griddle’. A bit more thought could have gone into that I think.
Still, the food was okay and very reasonably priced and a good time was had by all – especially after we got through a few bottles of Alex’s special offer Shiraz afterwards.
Enough about my sparkling social life, I think. I don’t want to make anyone jealous.
With Christmas only 17 days away I thought I’d do a quick round-up of a few unusual gifts that might help you get unstuck (if you’re stuck, that is).
If you have any foodie friends who constantly harp on about ‘a perfect balance of umami and bitterness’ or some such gubbins then this is a gift you might want to buy for yourself so that you can invite them for food and then bowl them a googly. This Molecular Gastronomy Aroma Kit will make you feel like Ferran Adrià (founder of El Bulli) as you weave magical wreaths of food odour over what you serve to completely change the flavour expectations of your guests. They’ll be talking about your genius for ages.
If you want to go the whole hog (which may taste like lemon sorbet by the time you’ve finished playing) then the Molecular Gastronomy Cuisine Kit contains all the tools and additives you need to make foaming things and frothy bursting stuff. There’s also a DVD with 50 recipes to teach you more about molecular gastronomy.
When it comes to odd jobs around the house I have to admit I’m not very good. I don’t mind the big stuff that are worth covering the floor with tools, but the little tightening and adjusting jobs that she wants done straight away and I want to save up until there are a few before I go rummaging in the toolbox get on my nerves. Who wants to haul out a toolbox to do a half-turn on a screw? Where’s the return on effort? Little jobs are a pain no more because I bought one of these little gizmos. It’s a Scarab-shaped Multitool that’s’ smaller than 2×3 inches – very handy (and I can keep asking the wife if she wants me to take out my tool again).
There have been times in the past when I possibly would have killed for one of these little chaps to use as toddler entertainment, especially when I had the kids for the day while my wife had a day out. The number of times I’ve stood on one leg rocking a pushchair with my other foot while stirring Bolognese sauce and sorting out some mushed pulpy stuff that smelled a bit apricot-with-a-hint-of-apple masquerading as baby food. A My Keepon Dancing Robot would have been just the thing to buy me a few minutes. Not only that but, unlike cats, he doesn’t mind being prodded with a finger.
Finally, the gentle art of embracing your inner hippy is brought to you by the Mathmos Baby Chrome and Blue Lava Lamp. Play relaxing music while watching the waxy contents rise in random globule shapes to the top before sinking back to the bottom before making another journey. Made by the British company that invented the original, the retro look and gentle light will warm up almost any environment. Standing 50cm tall it makes quite a style statement without being overpowering.
Chill out, baby.