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Dishoom. Five stars.

September 1, 2014

So after the fabulous Shakespeare in Love, we walked up the road to Dishoom. A sophisticated curry house. The food was top notch. Really tasty, really tender and served by great staff. Expensive compared to your standard curry house because portions are smaller so you need more of them, but well worth it. The chicken tikka and garlic nan were the best ever. Apparently the prawns were even better. Not to mention the black daal. Mmmmm. And right in the heart of the West End so I know we will be returning. Five stars.

Free Prosecco with our tickets!

Free Prosecco with our tickets!

I have to lay my cards on the table. Shakespeare in Love is probably my favourite film. So it was with some fear and trepidation that I booked this one. It is rotten when the stage show doesn’t live up to the film and vice versa. Think Dirty dancing. Think Commitments. Think History Boys. All three were far better in the first version that I saw them in.

But the reviews for SiL the play were good across the board so I decided to chance it. And I’m so glad we dd. The set evokes the Globe with its balustrades and different levels and the play mirrors the film’s narrative fairly closely but makes a much bigger role for Christopher Marlowe as a friend and mentor to “Will”, both of whom are superb. The first half is the comedy, the second the tragedy and when it works it really works. There are lots of laugh out loud moments and a warmth and wit about the whole piece. The cast are great – and Elizabethan musicians add to the drama – although i wasn’t as enamoured by Viola as I was in the film. It is nearly three hours but it whizzed by. It probably helps if you like Shakespeare -it help you get some of the ‘in’ jokes, but no doubt there were plenty i missed but still rate this as nearly five stars.

We are on the latter half of our week in the Greek Aegean . Known as “Crete part two: escape from Sissi” as we try to forget the ’boutique’ hotel that was more Tesco than teashop and the ‘authentic Cretan village’ it nestled in more Portsmouth than Portobello. But fabulous if you’d been expecting a Premier Inn. But we weren’t so it is a joy to be in a wonderful place with its own beach and water sports. Which we availed ourselves of yesterday hiring a speedboat and its captain to take us on a seaborne adventure and stopping on the way for snorkelling and general cooling off in the blue waters.

And each of us took a turn at the helm. Starting with son who has never even tried to drive a car, but seemed to take to the water with ease whizzing us along the coastline. The daughters pressed the throttle even further and enjoyed the weaving in and out of bays. Cap’n Clarke himself also managed to keep us all afloat and seemed a natural. Then it was my turn. I’ve always loved driving. The dodgems were my favourite fairground ride. I watched rallies as a teen and learnt to drive as soon as I could. I may have mentioned an illegal escapade here.

So it was with no fear that I perched behind the wheel of the beautiful speedboat. Too short to see  without standing up, I focused on the horizon and sped off. Within moments the real captain was trying to help hubby to his feet. He had been thrown upwards so violently by my crashing through the waves that he had “broken his arse’ as he so delicately put it crashing back down on to his seat and thence to the floor. But he gallantly waved me to continue so I did. Pushing the throttle forward again, rising high above the waves, a daughter screamed and threw her Mythos over her sister as she too succumbed to the white knuckle ride that was my driving. The beercan crushed in fear as she too landed on the floor of the boat. Chessington should employ me.

Daytona. Four stars

August 3, 2014

I am not a fan of Maureen Lipman. She routinely plays a stereotypical Jewish mother in a way I do not warm to. But in this three handler although again using the occasional phrase or mannerism as a comedic device , I found her much more plausible and engaging. But the star of the show was the long lost brother. His breathless, excited recounting of his life is perfectly foiled by his brother’s calm repression. The second half picks up the pace and the story keeps us enthralled. The traumas they have been through, the emotions, the passion. And now this. The play raises numerous moral issues and sees how the three of them have dealt with them differently.
We sat in the third row of the stalls and I think that made it all the more enjoyable as it is an intimate play. I’m not sure I would have been as involved in the dress circle. Four stars.

You might think four folk nearer 60 than 50 would take in a theatre trip, maybe a meal and potter home after a civilised cultural evening. But you’d be wrong. In our case we went to the wonderful Globe to see Julius Casesar. The weather had been forecast as dry but the rain lashed down as the plot to kill him evolved. We sat smugly in the dry, but did feel for those standing in a good couple of inches of water. The play was well done. Have to admit I’m more of a fan of the tragedies and comedies than histories and missed the love interest and general banter. But it was good.
We ate in the Swan bar attached to the Globe and headed off along the south bank, stopping at local hostelries and bizarrely bumping in to relatives. We continued on. Over the water to villiiers street to a newish wine bar ( son of Gordon’s). And thence on to the Ship and Shovell. The only pub in two halves. And one of our companions was able to give us a resume of Admiral Shovell himself. Although by this time I was in no fit state to remember it.

On a meal deal at the Menier – one of the best theatre experiences. Lovely food served quickly and washed down with wine. And so to see Forbidden Broadway – the pisstake of the current big production musicals running in the West End. Well, obviously it was originally about the Broadway ones, but perhaps ‘Shafting Shaftesbury” or ‘Dreary Drury’ just didn’t cut it.

So this is the second time I’ve seen this – the first time about 5 years ago in the same theatre, but this version is updated and relates to current shows. And it is great. Obviously helps if you’ve seen the actual shows to get all the in jokes, but even though I had not been drawn in to see The Pajama Game up town, I knew enough about it to find the Menier’s “Revival Game” a cracking number. They basically say the things most people are thinking and do it with fabulous singing voices and humour themselves. The four-strong cast takes us through all the big ones: Billy Elliot, Lion King, Miss Saigon, Phantom, Wicked, Matilda, Once, Jersey Boys, West Side Story,….. too numerous to mention, but the best for me had to be the fantastic parody of Les Mis just before the interval. The superb farce of them pretending to get on and off a rotating stage is making me snigger at the memory. The classic ‘Master of the House’ overblown, over acted and with lyrics along the lines of ‘Half an empty house, still we never close”, and the bored extra singing “On my phone”, about how all she wants to do is get out of there.

The second half was not as strong, with some solo bits I could have done without and references to stars who I didn’t know. But still a great night out if you enjoy a well executed revue show in a fabulous little theatre.

So last night we are having people round for dinner and split the meal so that hubby doing starters and I’m doing mains and pud. I’m thinking slow roasted lamb. Easy. slap the veg and wine in a casserole pot and job done. Made it before and works a treat.

As hubby is roasting tomatoes and will want a highish heat, I decide I will leave him the oven that I have been cooking the chocolate mousse cake in and use the second oven to slow roast the lamb. This is a new cooker and in fact I’ve never used the second oven before, but seriously, what can go wrong? It’s just a matter of turning a dial. Unfortunately when I go to take the lamb out just before the starters are served, I realise it is still raw. Despite having been in the oven for seven hours. Well, not completely raw, but even the surrounding carrots still weren’t cooked. We have six guests and no main course. I call hubby in from outside, trying to keep the hysteria out of my voice.

We transferred the lamb to the main oven whilst we tried to figure out what to do. Luckily on his Waitrose trip he had bought Sunday’s roast and it was beef. And in fact he’d bought two pieces for some  (still unexplained) reason. So we cut them in to smaller joints, turned the heat up full blast in the main oven and slammed them in. The roast potatoes were transferred to the second oven to keep warm. The green beans flopped limply in the pan, gently overcooking.

We sat down for starters, ate slowly and forty minutes later the beef was carved, the potatoes burnt and the green beans mush. But we served it anyway and our guests had to eat it. There was no other choice. I was drinking for England and trying to remove the carbonised potatoes from the dish. But there was no salvaging this meal. We could only apologise.

Still, this morning we thought that at least we have the lamb for today. But  no. Unfortunately it is still inedible as now it has been overdone by being blasted with the beef and being left in the cooling over overnight. Even the onions and carrots are black.

 

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