Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The Breakfast Club

I often get asked what I do for a living and my response of "print monkey" often elicits non-plussed expressions of bemusement. To provide further explanation, I will often say that I work vaguely in the field of digital print where the most taxing of my tasks involves the pressing of a button to set things in motion. In short, a chimpanzee could do my job. Hmm maybe I'm selling myself a bit short here. I do have to keep a sharp eye for detail, I have to be organised and I have to work to deadlines. There are times when I get to be a little creative even. "Hey Dan, that idea for using little televisions as bullet points worked great, just what we needed for our pitch!". There's no escaping it though, life as a print monkey is mind numbingly boring. In the past I've tried to dress it up but have often fallen flat on my arse as a consequence. Once, I bumped into Claire Bristow, an old face from school. She was working behind the bar, I was ordering and being an arrogant twat presumed I had some kind of higher ground.

"How long have you worked here then Claire?"

"Oh about 2 years, what do you do anyway Dan?

"Oh I work in I.T, it's pretty complicated"

"Really? I'm just finishing my Masters on managing information systems, what code do you use?"

With that I just smiled weakly, took a gulp of my pint, placed it back down and ran straight out the bar, screaming. What a prick.

Anyway, I am detracting slightly here with this rant so lets get back to the thread of explaining an aspect of my job that is particularly annoying, having to work late into the night. Whilst everyone else is out there gallivanting across town, I am stuck behind my desk waiting for some PR bod or lawyer to get back from the pub and sign off a press release or some M&A document. Now please do not weep and put your tiny violin and hankerchief away, as over the last few months, I have at least had the good fortune to eat very well when I work in the evenings. And this is all down to a little project called Where's My Pork Chop? Meeting up with different people and getting to sample their food has been fantastic. I am having a ball with it.

However last week, I was incensed beyond belief as I was left in the lurch to...- THIS PART OF THE POST HAS BEEN EDITED OUT AS IT GOES OFF TANGENT, IS FULL OF SELF PITY AND GOES ON AND ON ABOUT BANAL OFFICE POLITICS - ...needless to say I was very busy and didn't get time to eat the very wonderful spread that Naomi aka The Ginger Gourmand had prepared for me for that evening. I was so looking forward to her sumptuous vegetarian feast too, entitled "A Last Taste Of Summer". Instead I spent a cab journey home at 2AM, feeling angry, starved and faintly ridiculous with a large froufie Bonne Maman bag on my lap. As the car picked its way through the quiet streets, I formulated a plan, I would have her picnic for breakfast instead.

Six hours later, I found myself in the kitchen getting ready to get stuck into a full on three course meal which was quite unusual. In the morning, I'm normally a mug of tea and couple slices of toast kinda guy. But as the saying goes breakfast like king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper. Although I don't think I looked particularly regal slouching at the table in an old, moth ridden t-shirt and boxer shorts, I was bloody hungry, I can tell you that.

So what did Naomi serve up? Well the menu went like this:


Leek & Gruyère Tart with Puy Lentil Tabbouleh and Lollo Rosso Salad (with Mustard Dressing)

Lemon Drizzle Cake and All Butter Shortbread

In other words, there was rather a lot.

As this was the first meal of the day, the gazpacho was a perfect start to kick off proceedings, a nice light chilled soup full of vitamin C goodness. Vibrant in colour and with peppery undertones, this Spanish speciality certainly perked up the grey matter. Naomi's tart combined nutty cheese flavours with soft caramelised leeks which worked really well although the pastry itself seemed unusually sweet to me. I later asked her about the recipe and Naomi replied that she had used a simple all butter shortcrust for the tart, seasoned with salt and pepper making me wonder whether perceptions of taste differ at certain times of the day. Any food scientists care to answer? I've coveted Naomi's tabbouleh in the past and having finally tried some, it was certainly good, although perhaps the puy lentils were a little too earthy for this dish. The salad leaves amazingly enough didn't suffer overnight and was still crisp and crunchy with the dressing adding just a gentle touch of mustard heat. As for the lemon drizzle cake, well Naomi provided a massive bar and I am supremely grateful that she did because it was heavenly. Moist and soft with a sugary, citrus crust. The little people who gathered around the table were very impressed with it too. Utterly delicious and destroyed in minutes. I was so full by this point that the biscuits ended getting divvied up between the twins. Probably not the best of ideas as they launched into sucrose overdrive shortly afterwards and went spinning about the house for about an hour.

For the exchange, I gave Naomi some John Doe potatoes from the allotment, named so because I can't remember the variety I planted but they're great for roasties. She also took charge of Verity, the third daughter of Veronica and some bottles of Duvel as I had gathered from her tweets on Twitter that she was rather fond of the stuff. When I met her at the Monument for the swap, I found out that she had in fact lived in Belgium for a period of time. With brews as strong as 8.5%, I was surprised she could even remember.

Thanks for breakfast Naomi and thanks for making me walk through the city with the most frou-frou bag you could find. I don't think I shall return it you now. I think it rather suits me.
Welcome to The Breakfast Club
Leek & Gruyère Tart with Puy Lentil Tabbouleh and Lollo Rosso Salad (with Mustard Dressing)

Lemon Drizzle Cake

The problem with breakfasting is that you have to share it with the little people


  1. You do know that there's no way I can trump this, right?

    I love a good shortbread, me.

  2. Oh little person v cute!

    Meemalee, I feel your pain. Me too me too.

  3. That is the funniest piccy I have seen of you EVER! I take it you are not a morning kinda guy?

    Food looked V good.

  4. Yet another impressive haul you got yourself there. Looks delicious. I love lemon drizzle cake but I've never made it because i know I'd eat one slice then forget i had it and find in mouldy in the tin several weeks later.

  5. It seems we don't lead far different work lives you and me with our late nights in the office and taxis home feeling rather hungry and disgruntled with the world... What better way to hit the sack though than knowing that a feast awaits you? More importantly, a feast which you didn't have to slave over!

    Now I eat most things for breakfast, but I'm fairly confident that gazpacho, tarts and salads make for a rather strange breakfast...! Odd though that the leek and gruyere tart pastry tasted slightly sweet. Mine didn't. Maybe it had something to do with the sweetness of the leeks and having just eaten the gazpacho with the lovely sweet tomatoes?

    I did indeed spend 6 months or so living in Brussels and becoming well acquainted with the amazing beers they brew over there. Duvel is a fine specimen and even better that it's widely available over here now too. Westmalle Tripel is another of my favourites. It weighs in at a hefty 9%... I do remember some of those 6 months I'm sure. Just not everything.

    I'm so glad you managed to 'breakfast like a king' and that the twins enjoyed the shortbread.

    A few more regular buyers and maybe my future will indeed lie in the selling of lemon drizzle cake. I'll put you down for 2 a week.

  6. I forgot to mention that the 'john doe' potatoes inspire a roast dinner last Sunday and made fantastic roasties. The Duvel has been duly drunk and Verity is still alive (well, almost...I blame my job if she's a touch neglected at times).

  7. Yes I don't think the ol' tastebuds quite knew what hit them that morning. Mrs Food Urchin had the other tart later in the day and said she didn't think the pastry was sweet either.

    Thanks again, it was a great way to start the day after a crappy night. Glad you enjoyed the spuds, feel like I still owe you one. What about a Delirium Tremens?

  8. Aaaaw your little 'un is SO CUTE!! And what an incredible feast -that Naomi really can cook can't she?! (I'm sure I recognise that bag from somewhere....) ;D