Sunday, 15 August 2010


Feign a passing interest in taking part in Where's My Pork Chop? at your peril.

That's all I have to say on the matter.

Because if you do, I will slowly but surely grind you down. I will become the devil on your shoulder whispering into your ear, the kid whining in the back of the car "are we nearly there yet?", Mrs Doyle incarnate, repeating "go'waan, go'waan, go'waan, go'waan, go'waan, go'waan, go'waan, go'waan, go'waan, go'waan, go'waan" ad infinitum until your knees buckle, you wet your knickers and with clumps of hair in your hands, you scream "I'll do it! I'll do it! I'll do it"

And that is exactly what happened to Señorita Thomasina Miers when she asked me on Twitter, many, many months ago, the question 'what the hell is WMPC?'

Well OK, not quite. I made up the whole fainting, seat wetting, hair pulling scenario but when Tommi (as she known to her BFF's) made the enquiry way back, she might not have been prepared for the barrage of direct messages that came back her way. I don't know why but very quickly, she went mysteriously silent on me. Perhaps I shouldn't have said that I would love her forever and ever and ever and ever if she took part. So I decided to change tack, drop the guise of manic possessive stalker and go for the gentle nudging approach. And it seemed to work as Tommi kept popping her head in on Twitter, saying that she would love to take part but her schedule was really really hectic. Still I knew I had her hooked. I was like the scab that you just can't resist picking but the question was how could I make a food swap actually happen.

Luckily a chance came up when I was invited to a secret supper at The Dock Kitchen where Tommi was cooking alongside Stevie Parle. I remember at the start of the evening, walking in and grinning like a loon at Tommi, practically pointing at myself, going 'look it's me! it's me!' but she was far too busy to notice. At the end of the evening and after a sumptuous feast which included a variety of starters (the broad bean and morcilla salad was amazing), Ajo Blanco, Wild Sea Trout with Mexican Salsa and Cherry Clafoutis, I spotted an opportunity and bounded over to her. Unfortunately I had also drunk rather a lot of wine by then and doubt that I made much any sense, slurring that I was the guy from WMPC and that we really should arrange a swap. I like to think that from staring into my cookie monster eyes, Tommi could see that I really was just a gentle, harmless soul. So smiling back at me, she said that "yes we should definitely do something Danny". With this news, I simply hugged her and waltzed out into the night, happy that my mission was very nearly accomplished. I wasn't so happy to wake up in Bas Vagas later that night but that is a different story.

True to her word, an email bounced into my account the next day that I should liaise with her assistant and we'd do lunch at her restaurant, Wahaca. Now this was slightly out of remit, given that the whole WMPC ethos is about providing a meal for me when I am on my late shift at work but I thought what the hell, Tommi is still going to feed me, again in fact! The lunch date did get pushed back a few times because as she said, she is a very busy girl. And all of this didn't bother me too much until I discovered on one occasion that she had to cancel because she was out in Baja, eating, sampling, tasting and soaking up the sun. Which when you think about it, was rather cheeky really. There I am, wasting away and Tommi is living it up, stuffing her mouth with Mexican food all in the name of research. When the time for our lunch date finally came around a couple of weeks ago, I decided that I would give her a piece of my mind. But as I walked past the huge queue on the stairs of Wahaca, leapfrogging to the front and announcing my arrival, I soon realised that I was the brazen one.

Wahaca was packed to the rafters that afternoon and as I sat alone at a table, I did feel a bit stupid trying to take a few snaps with my camera. With a partner or en masse, it's fine but when you're on your tod, it felt really bizarre so I took to chugging away on a Corona whilst nonchalantly scanning the menu. Señorita Miers soon came to the rescue, breezing in and relieving me of billy-no-mates status. After ordering for the pair of us, we settled down to a good old chin wag. We covered a lot of ground. Talking about anything and everything, be it the elimination of the human race for the greater good of the planet, which we both agreed was rather a depressing subject for a Friday afternoon, to the somewhat lighter subject of dancing in muddy fields with wellies. She was utterly charming with a great self depreciating sense of humour, which shouldn't really come as a surprise. It's funny but when meeting someone with a high profile you tend to turn up with negative expectations but at the end of the day, we're all the same and Tommi was certainly down to earth. I suspect that I've played the 'don't you know who I am' card more often Tommi. Never goes down well in my local though. I particularly liked the fact that she was open to criticism and acknowledged that there was always room for improvement. She even admitted that her tortillas could be better and had been working hard to source a more authentic variety (and succeeded by the sounds of it).

Speaking of which, as we chatted away plates of food were piled onto the table consisting of Pork Pibil Tacos, Shrimp and Scallop Ceviche Tostadas, Broad Bean and Feta Quesadillas, Potato Taquitos, Guacamole, Frijoles and a Green Salad. All to be washed down with Agua Frescas or Hibiscus water plainly put. And it was all lovely, especially the ceviche which was refreshing and spicy hot at the same time. The broad bean quesadillas were great too, a light and healthy take on a dish that can sometimes can be a little too greasy. The potato taquitos were slightly odd as the combination amounted to a bit of a carb overload for me personally but the frijoles (refried beans) were gorgeous, rich and almost dark chocolate in flavour. Throughout, I did try to remember to take photos but concentrated more on the eating part, falling foul of Tommi's only bug bear about bloggers taking crap photos of food and then posting them willy nilly. Looking back through the pics I took, it seems that my technique generally consisted of shoveling a juicy and fiery pork pibil taco in my mouth and then taking a photo of an empty plate thus demonstrating Tommi's point.

As we finished up with some very naughty churros with melted chocolate, the topic of conversation then turned to how was I going to settle up on the agreement of giving something back for getting fed. With a mouthful of sweet doughnut, I stared back at Tommi trying to fathom exactly how I got into this position of getting a free meal. Strangely, the whole WMPC deal of this little adventure sort of left my mind so I stammered back that I would gladly come back one evening to do the dishes. Thankfully Tommi wouldn't have any of it and suggested that some allotment produce might be suitable payment and that she would even try to think up a recipe with what I give her.

See what I mean? She really is a lovely lady. Thanks again Tommi, I shall be popping by this week with a box of goodies for you.


Le Menu

Busy, busy, busy

Shrimp and Scallop Ceviche Tostadas

Stalker alert!