Films and (the lack of) food

Empty coffee cups in films and television. One of my biggest peeves, and I get peeved fairly often.

I love films, I work in an independent cinema, I’ve been in a few, and nothing gets me more hacked off than an actor carrying an obviously empty paper cup. I LOVED the US remake of The Killing, but the rage which bubbles in my black heart when I see such fine actors as Mireille Enos and Joel Kinneman forced to mime a sip of coffee makes me want to do my very own killing.

We covered eating and drinking in the first year of drama school, even the kids in Jurassic Park nailed it with a table full of desserts and a kitchen full of velociraptors. It’s not rocket science is it, filling a cup with enough water to weight it down? If the actor can’t cope with a little sip of water now and again, then it’s perhaps time to de-Hollywood their diets.

Leonardo DiCaprio ate a bison’s heart in The Revenent and he’s a vegetarian!

I’m not advocating getting through an entire roast for each take of a scene, but surely a small mouthful of food or a small sip of water isn’t going to kill anyone. Perhaps the director is of the mind that if we are watching the liquid level in the cup then the show isn’t exciting enough, but if you’re chucking millions of pounds at sets then throw a couple of quid towards edible props. Leonardo DiCaprio ate a bison’s heart in The Revenent and he’s a vegetarian! This is an extreme (but fairly badass) example, and one which begs the question as to why several people around a dinner table can’t eat a single morsel of food. Brad Pitt got through roughly 10,000 calories in Se7en, so let’s see the cast of Doctors tucking into a Greggs pasty once in a while in between shifts.

Perhaps this could be a sponsorship opportunity worth of Simon Cowell and his everlasting Pepsi on America’s Got Talent. Let’s have the cast of X-Men heartily slurping a grande soy macchiato before looking down the camera lens with a cheeky wink, before flying off to save the world. Or maybe Finding Dory could feature her snacking on an ice-cream cone dropped by a hapless beach-goer, who delivers a killer line to camera about the damage to the earth’s coral reefs. Just a thought.

However they do it, let’s just do it. Let’s all chip in and make sure our beloved actors never have to revisit day 1 of GSCE drama and mime a plateful of food and cup of tea. A quid each should do it. Let’s get a family sized hamper of tea bags delivered to LA and get our screens (and their cups full) of decent English Breakfast, instead of the void in my heart where a lovely brew should be.

DL

Coffee culture And my Addiction To that naughty Bean

I am currently sipping away at my 6th coffee of the day. This one has been made using my brand new coffee maker I received as a birthday gift. My kitchen is like a fragrant, noisy, caffeine infused version of Breaking Bad. I love coffee and in the midst of the sleep deprived rabbit hole that the arrival of a 10 week old baby brings, I need it.

Coffee is a passion; for me it’s a bit like a good bottle of wine.  I like my coffee to have a story. I’m not interested in some freeze dried, corporate, mass manufactured bastardization of that beautiful bean.  It needs to have a soul. I want my coffee beans to be exotic, to have been grown from seeds first passed through the digestive system of an ageing mountain goat at high altitude. It should have a caffeine content that borders on the illegal and a body smoother than a chat up line from an Italian waiter who has took a shine to your wife. It should be gentle with a finish so long that you could watch the Lord of The Rings box set and still be able to taste it.

Afterwards I want that lingering smell to permeate through my entire house like a plug in air freshener and every time you inhale you experience that magic all over again.

I heard recently that many university campuses now are dumping the sticky floored boozer and instead having a coffee shop. At first I was stunned by this. I mean how many student liaisons were nurtured near the jukebox in a sweaty union bar on a wet Wednesday night, where a snake bite and black was only £1?

I include myself in this group. I met my wife in freshers week and I dread to think what she would have really thought of me if all we had swimming round our bellies was a soya chai latte with a hint of cinnamon. However now I understand, coffee is big business.

Coffee culture exploded into the UK in the mid-nineties and we’ve never looked back. I’m old enough to remember a time before there was a Costa or Nero on every street. The Gold Blend coffee adverts, where viewers were captivated with a blossoming romance happening over a cup of instant coffee, showed how we regarded the drink at the time. We Brits weren’t seduced by the fancy coffee shop culture of our French or Italian cousins.

My dad still to this day secretly prefers the instant variety, he thinks the freeze dried granules are the nearest us mere mortals will get to consuming foods made for astronauts. He’s convinced that the best cup of coffee he has ever tasted was served in a polystyrene cup out of a van at a rainy car boot sale in a field in Doncaster in 1989. Although this may have something to do with the fact that it was 25p and came with a free Club biscuit.

During my childhood there were very few options for coffee enthusiasts. You had two main choices, a flask or a greasy spoon café. No one ever sat down and relaxed in a coffee shop back then. We were always on the move. We did go to a greasy spoon café on a Saturday afternoon in Wakefield before going to see an afternoon matinee at the cinema.

With checkered table cloths and a big plastic tomato sauce holder in the middle as a rudimentary paperweight, the place was a bit of a dive. It had a glass window with water running down it, I used to think it was quite a stylish addition, looking back it was probably a creative twist on a leaking condensing pipe. I would have a steak Canadian and a calypso pop (the E numbers kept you going all day) and my dad would have an egg butty and a cup of tea. Everyone seemed to drink tea back then; rumour has it that we won wars on tea.

My wife’s family are huge tea drinkers; my father in law was pushing fifteen brews a day when he used to “work” for the council. When he first met me he offered me a brew, I refused (as I didn’t really care for it at the time, I preferred Ribena) he looked at my wife as if to say, “not sure about this one love!”

A visit to a coffee shop is part of our family routine every weekend now. The people who work in these places are proper cool; I think I’m ever so slightly in awe of one of the dudes in our local establishment.

I use the term “dude” deliberately. They are like the kids at school who had a motorbike at sixteen, smoked roll ups and could play the guitar. With a quiff, a t-shirt with rolled up sleeves and those things that the youth put in their ears now which make the lobes look like the eyelets in a camping ground sheet. It’s the job I would have wanted when I was younger.

It’s interesting that the coffee shops never really suffered during the recession. It’s the one luxury we are not prepared to forfeit. I worked out recently that I’m spending on average ten pounds a week on coffee, that’s over five hundred quid a year on beans! Even Jack wouldn’t have gone with that deal and he got a beanstalk out of it.

But I don’t begrudge it, particularly if it’s going to support the independent guys of the coffee world. I won’t mention the corporate giants; let’s just call them “Tarducks” who attempt to make a connection with you by asking your name to write on the cup. It didn’t wash with me, I used to say “HMRC” and then quickly take my coffee and leave.

Scott Bennett

 

 

 

 

Food Time!

“What time is it, Scarlett?”

Sal and I ask our two-year old from time to time. “FOOD TIME!” she replies with glee, and starts listing all the food she’d like to eat… “Wittybix, ogange, monkeynana, yoghurt, chocle bissit, grapes and cheese PWEASE!” she pleads politely but forcefully. “And bubbles and juice! And milk!”

And we smile because somehow having a tiny person with the permanent appetite of the shark from JAWS charging around the house actively trying to devour pretty much anything (except cucumber) is wonderfully cute and endearing.

We hear stories of parents who can’t get their children to eat anything but macaroni cheese or cat food and we wonder how weird that would be, in much the same way that I find it incomprehensible that anyone wouldn’t like STAR TREK (the proper one, with Captain Kirk of course).

And maybe there’ll come a time when she’ll hate everything except chicken nuggets and Haribo and I’ll be forced, ironically, to eat my own words – but I have to say for someone who likes food Beeston is an excellent place to be growing up.

Last Sunday Sal and I, admittedly without Scarlett this time, attended a charity fundraising dinner for My Sight Nottinghamshire (formerly the Nottinghamshire Royal Society for the Blind) at the always astounding Café Roya on Wollaton Road.

I have a soft spot for the charity as every year in November I lead a group of volunteer fundraisers in walking across burning hot coals to raise money for them at Nottingham Castle. Great fun, brilliant cause (give it a go, it’s inspiring, life-changing and best of all doesn’t actually hurt, I promise)!

For once it wasn’t Roya doing the cooking though, although the food was still entirely vegetarian – the special guest chef was the phenomenal Alex Bond. Alex is a brilliant bloke – very friendly, extremely talented and has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants and with Nottingham’s Sat Bains and hopes to be opening his own restaurant in Nottingham soon. Given the truly inspiring dishes he produced (in content, presentation and taste) I hope he does.

As I’ve said, Scarlett will eat pretty much anything but I’m a bit pickier these days – I certainly wouldn’t class myself as vegetarian but each time we’ve been to Roya’s we haven’t even noticed there’s no meat, the food is just so good. But Alex served up a series of dishes, some of which consisted entirely of foods I wouldn’t normally eat (olives, yoghurt and lemon anyone?) that were simply delicious.

So maybe I should learn a lesson from Scarlett and try a more varied diet – as I said, Beeston can certainly provide that.

We have a new world tapas restaurant, The Frustrated Chef opening in place of Relish on Chilwell High Road, a new seafood/Thai restaurant, The Lobster Pot (near Sainsbury’s), Korea House on Broadgate and the excellent Gurkha Express almost opposite, taking the place of the now-defunct ‘Bonito’ restaurant, a place that very long-term readers may recall I once wrote a scathingly unfavourable review of in this very magazine.

The place closed down very shortly afterwards and although I’m sure it was nothing to do with my review… well, just for a second I got to feel like a real food critic.

But these days, new food and drink establishments in Beeston have some great forebears to aspire to and beat – and I think we’re being really well served here, literally and figuratively.

So don’t worry about the clock not being repaired in the Square, if anyone asks you what time it is in Beeston you can just quote Scarlett… “Food time”!

For more information on other events organised by My Sight Nottinghamshire visit http://www.mysightnotts.org.uk. Roya’s and Alex Bond’s fundraising evening raised over £400 for the charity. Many thanks to them, their staff and My Sight’s Jonny Rudge and sponsors for organising it!

Tim Pollard

Nottingham’s Official Robin Hood

Food!

This month has been a bit of a blur.

Work has taken over, and despite my best efforts to eat a balanced diet, or indeed to actually make time to eat at all, I’ve been compiling a list of food which a person can eat without offending the people you share a work space with.

My shifts are anti-social to say the least, so mealtimes are basically just times throughout the day when I put food in my face. I rarely sit down to eat without a computer keyboard catching my crumbs. I am a leading mind in the field of snack research, and I have every intention of completing my PhD very soon.

My first tip is nutritious and mysterious, both qualities I prefer in my elevenses.

The granola pot is your friend. Do not be afraid of its texture or taste. I spent 33 years in its absence and what a waste of a life that was. Imagine, if you will, hiking through the Peak District, head low, tongue dragging on the forest floor. Every piece of bark, nut, seed and deer turd sticks to your palette like bluebottles on flypaper, except it tastes a bit of yoghurt. That is a granola pot. Go nuts, eat nature. You’re welcome.

My second recommendation is slightly less rural, based instead upon the rigours of inner-city living in 2016. The mighty bagel is very cool at the moment, regularly featuring in the fashion mags in the hands of Class A celebs.

My secret tip is chocolate spread. I don’t even care, judge me like your Grandma would, but there it is. Get the Nutella out and get your blood sugar working for you. Your metabolism and carb-lust will thank me, I promise. If you’re worried about nutritional content then this might not be the column for you. In fact this probably isn’t the column for anyone who enjoys food.

My last tip (yeah whatever, I only have 3, I’m not Willy Wonka) is beetroot. Honestly, anything that turns your wee pink is fine by me. It’s healthy, unusual in colour and taste, and a great talking point if you are ever saddled with a boring colleague by your side. No one wants to discuss beetroot. They WILL leave. It doesn’t smell so no one gets offended, and if you work late into the evening like me you’ll have a ready supply of lip stain and blusher should yours have worn off. I can’t fault beetroot. Apparently you can bake cakes with it too, but if you ask me you should probably just buy a normal cake and get over yourself.

And so concludes my nutritionally and culturally rich column. I feel we’ve all learned something important. Thanks for being with me on this journey.

Daisy Leverington

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