Don’t you remember?

What makes you remember a meal?

I’ve eaten many hundreds and thousands of meals in my life, some unforgettable, some diabolical, some lost in the void of time and some wasted due to stupid things like hangovers. However, there are certain meals that stick out in my memory.

These aren’t ones that were served in dog bowls, or other novelty kinds of plates, they didn’t have foams and no-one served them to me on a silver platter. These were meals that meant something.

Every time I’m sad, I rush back to the safety of Lincolnshire and my mother will without fail make me lasagne. It’s something I now cook when I’ve had a bad day as it makes me think of home and ‘Miss Dior’ perfume. Housemate  defaults to her Nan’s amazing veg crumble, other housemate shares stunning veggie recipes from her childhood and brother brings home memorable dishes from his travels. However, all of these examples are food cooked at home.

This leads to the question: ‘What makes me remember a meal from a restaurant?’ Is it overly fussy food in a white linen clad room where the “stars” matter more than the food? Is it a place that I can crawl into when I’m tired and in need of a glass of pinot or is it the place that I had my first date with that special someone? Either at home or out on the town I think good food is defiantly the clarity of flavours and the atmosphere that you’re in. I thought I’d share a few of my top food memories:

  • My mothers lasagne: I know I’ve already mentioned it but seriously. Crunchy, crispy, meaty, cheesy, to me: the epitome of comfort in a dish. This lasagne saw me through screwing up my A-levels to my first real broken heart (I was 16, obviously, and he was totally….totally the love of my life). Meat, pasta, béchamel, repeat, top with mozzarella and cheddar. Bam
  • Tapas @ Cerventes in Malaga: I love tapas darling. Not only was this the best tapas I’ve ever had but it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had in general. Buttery leeks, perfectly cooked cod and a stew that made me eat lamb for the first time in about five years, this restaurant is the reason that my poor housemates are going to have to try hundreds of variations of cauliflower puree until i get it just right
  • BBQ on the beach: The long days of summer were getting shorter, the idea of autumn was in the air and it was a gorgeous night on a Welsh beach. We’d gone on an adventure and watched the sun go down. If I close my eyes I can still taste the blue cheesy mushrooms. Didn’t even have plates. Didn’t even care
  • Housemates Mac and Cheese: I’m incredibly blessed to have two amazing housemates, we talk till late into the night and do all the things good girl friends do together. The first time I was really poorly in the house, housemate sprang into action and cooked me the best Mac and Cheese of my life. Crunchy and cheesy what a winner
  • Seafood Biryani @ The Thali Cafe: I love this little hug of a café. Tucked away behind a brightly covered front it’s a mish mash of lovely staff, quirky décor and incredible food. It also does BYOB, a favourite of mine. The best meal I’ve had there so far is still the first time I went and discovered this place, not normally a Biryani fan this had the most fresh gorgeously spiced sea food ever. I still wake up thinking about it , it does what all good meals do. Brings back memories of a wonderful time in my life
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“Excuse me but…”

So, I opened a can of worms. A really large. Really ugly can of worms. Phone calls were made, messages were sent and my phone didn’t stop buzzing for three whole days. I asked a group of people who’s voices are rarely heard to speak up. To raise themselves above the coffee counters and tequila soaked bars. To make a stand and let the general great unwashed know what is unacceptable when placing an order.

Strap in folks. We’re in for a bumpy ride

Things as a person who works in hospitality I freaking hate: 

  • Clicking your fingers
    Genuinely. I will snap your fingers off
  • There’s a large group of you. You’ve all ordered drinks. I bring the drink over……..no-one claims it
    Cue blank stares and an awkward silence. Finally someone pipes up, coffee is now cold

  • Ordering your drinks one at a time, finally ending with “Oh. And a pint of Guinness”
    Seriously

  • “Is it alright if we just move to that table over there?”
    No. NO IT’S NOT. It’s never ok

  • “I couldn’t get in the door”
    That’s because we’re shut. The sign says closed, I don’t care if it’s 9.58 with an opening time of 10

  • Queue…..Queue…….Queue…..”I Still don’t know what I want
    Get out my bar

  • “I’d like a long island iced tea” Made “and another long island iced tea”
    I definitely have enough brain cells to make two drinks at once
  • “Are you serving”…
    No I’m just making my own mojito…
  • Working in a gin bar.. “What gin do you have?”..
    Well I could list the 100+ gins for you but you’re still probably going to pick the house gin

  • Table of 20 covers…..”Can we all pay separately?”
    The worst

  • Half a shot, decaf, soy latte extra hot
    …………

  • Plonking money down on the counter
    Just bloody rude

  • “That pint tasted funny”
    Still drank it didn’t you cheap beggar

  • “It’s so busy in here today!”
    It’s bank holiday. Want to swop?

  • “Could I try the elderflower martini?…….Oh no that’s awful  could I have a smirnoff and coke?”
    I hate you

  • “How long does it take to make an omelette?”
    About four minutes but I also have everyone else’s food to cook  too

  • “Please be careful this plate is very hot” Grab. Pain.
    I did tell you

  • Sitting on the only dirty table in the café. Staring expectantly
    Just leave

  • “I’m so sorry we’re so late, I know the booking was around an hour ago but we’re here now. We’re also 12 instead of 8, that’s ok right?”
    No

  • “Keep the change”
    Thanks for the 5p. Mate

  • Children
    Just children

  • Could I grab your WIFI Password?
    Only if you promise not to sit here for the next 8 hours nursing a pot of £1.80 tea furiously demanding more hot water to fill it it. Go write your ‘bestseller’ somewhere else
  • Carries tray over, customer grabs drink off tray. Drink ends up all over customer. Get off my tray

  • I’ve been waiting for like 20 minutes
    Well. You haven’t though. Have you?

If you think of anymore feel free to harass me at erin_lawlor@hotmail.co.uk

Carroting Around

Everything has a day, these days, doesn’t it!? There’s a day for mothers, for fathers, for sisters, for brothers, for hugs, for penguins, for doughnuts and even a day dedicated to wiggling your toes. Whilst some of these may seem a tad over the top I’m always up for a good bit of celebration and positivity. When I found out that April 4th was International Carrot Day I jumped at the chance at hero-ing one of my favourite veg.

Carrots are great aren’t they? Completely versatile they go with everything. You can boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew (yes I know that’s potatoes). One of my favourite things to do with a carrot is roast them whole. My brother taught me this trick, just a tiny bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and let the carrot work it’s carroty goodness.

 When I thought about how to champion the carrot though I couldn’t stop thinking about something I’d recently tried when in Malaga. We were in this gorgeous sun filled café that did some of the most incredible eggs. They also had a cabinet filled with gorgeous looking cakes, including, a carrot cake cookie. I was intrigued, tried it and was immediately determined that I could re-create and maybe even cheekily improve it. So here we go, my very own carrot cake cookie recipe:

Carrot Cake Cookie Sandwich with Orange Cream Cheese Filling.
Makes enough for 6 cookie sandwiches.

Cookie ingredients:

  • 110g soft brown sugar
  • 85 g self raising flour
  • 110g wholemeal flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2 tsp ish of ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ish of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ish of cinnamon
  • 55g sultanas
  • 170 g of peeled and grated carrot
  • 1 dessert apple peeled, cored and grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 pint of vegetable or other plain light oil
  • 2 tblsps apple juice

Filling ingredients:

  • 300g icing sugar
  • 50 g unsalted butter
  • 125 g cream cheese
  • 1/2 an orange zested

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 180 degrees (Gas Mark 4). Set up two medium sized trays with baking paper.
    Mother Lawlor always taught me to get my trays set up first. Super useful. Medium is a tad vague I know, I used two pizza trays as I am hugely lacking in trays at home

  2. In a large bowl beat sugar and eggs together till thick and frothy. Gradually beat in oil.
    Don’t question how much liquid is in this cake. It’ll feel like a lot but it works

  3. In a separate bowl sift both flours, spices, baking powder and bicarb.
    Always check that baking powder, bicarb etc are in date. If they’re not your cakes won’t rise = sad cakes. If you’re anything like me you’ll always forget this and have to scramble around the cupboard

  4. Tip flour mixture into liquid mixture, along with carrot, apple and sultanas. Mix well then finally add in apple juice and stir until all incorporated.
    See why I said large bowl?
  5. Take large dessert spoon fulls of the mixture and place on baking tray, flatten until all level. Each tray should fit 6 cookies on. Place in pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes depending on oven.
    I tried various sizes of these cookies. Too small and they’re overwhelmed by icing, too big you’re overwhelmed by cookie. They should be a tad squishy and soft, they’ll firm up as they cool

  6. Leave to cool for around ten minutes and them move to a wire cooling rack to cool completely
    Sounds obviously but seriously. Never. Ever. Ever ice anything when it’s even vaguely warm. Wait even longer than you think you should. Make them the day before and store in an air tight container even. THEY  NEED TO BE COLD OK!?

  7. Whilst waiting to cool make the cream cheese filling. In a free standing mixer (if you’re fancy), with an electric whisk (most of us) or using a hand whisk (good luck) place the icing sugar in a bowl and combine with butter until all incorporated.
    Inevitably curse yourself for turning on said mixer or electric whisk too violently and ending up covered head to toe in sodding icing sugar

     

  8. Add in cream cheese all in one and mix until glossy and completely smooth. Add in your orange zest and mix using a spatula.
    Stop eating the icing. It’s for the cookies

  9. To assemble your cookie sandwiches take a cookie, smother it liberally in the icing then place second cookie on top and dust lightly with icing sugar
    Eat all of them and immediately regret it

    carrotcakecookies