The Wrong Side Of The Bar

Hmmm, that coffee’s been sitting there for a while. Maybe I should take it to the table myself.

“Coffee away!”

Hmmm still nobody coming to get it. I think I’m going to take it myself.

“Drinks up!”

Still no one. Shit! OK just go to straight to the table and don’t look anyone in the eye.

“Hi guys, who’s got the flat white?”

“That’s mine thanks.”

“There you go.” GO, GO, GO!

“Excuse me?”

Shit! “Hi”

“Can I order with you?”

“Er I’m really just… sure. What would you like?”

“What’s the soup of the day?”

Shit! “I’ll just find out. Charlotte, what’s the soup of the day?”

“Spicy pumpkin.”

“Thanks. It’s spicy pumpkin ladies.”

“Ooh no, I’ll have the chopped salad.”

“OK and for you madam.”

“I’ll have the corn fritters. No, the hotcakes. No, the cornfritters. Oh I don’t know it all looks so delicious, ha ha ha.”

“Ha ha ha I know what you mean!” Shit! “Can’t go wrong with the hotcakes.”

“OK I’ll have the hotcakes. You couldn’t bring us some more water please?”

“Sure.” For fuck’s sake!

“My fork’s dirty.”

“Just a jiffy.”

“Can we have another round of coffees?”

“Sure thing.”

“I didn’t want ice in my coke.”

“Let me just fix that for you.”

“Is there dairy in the cornichon dressing?”

“I’ll just find out for you.”

Never, ever leave the bar.

 

 

 

 

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My First Food Venture: A Failure

“So why is it called pulled pork?” she asked with naive anticipation. “Well,” I said as I scraped the very last flecks of flesh from the fibrous knot of muscle with my tongs, “the shoulder has been brined overnight and then slowly roasted for ten hours. This makes the meat so succulent and tender that you can literally pull the meat apart with your fingers”. I was sweating from the effort. I put down the tongs and poked the porky tumour with the tip of my knife. How the fuck is this meat still intact? What else do I have to do to it? I started running the blade back and forth across the pork as I watched the frosty winter air turn the juices to orange lard. The fibres pinged one by one as the knife passed through, relieving some of the tension in the stubborn nugget. I heard once of a cable snapping on a oil tanker. It cut a man in half. I wondered if my pork harnessed that sort of potential energy. I wet the dry meat with lashings of tangy sauce and passed over the sandwich. I took her fiver and savoured her kind smile and friendly eyes knowing I would never see them again. Another punter, seduced by the empty promises of my blackboard, approached. I covered the remains with a piece of foil. “Sorry mate, completely sold out”. He looked gutted. I closed the hatch and hid.

The shed belonged to a butcher – the meat supplier of the restaurant where I made coffee. The restaurant owner and I had become friendly with this intimidating chap. A bear of a man with boxer’s hands and a bloodied apron. It was part of the dream. He was the essence of butchery and our bond of flesh, bone and blood legitimised us as budding restauranteurs. I spent a week clearing the out-house of cobwebs, filling the rat holes with cement and scrubbing back an old butcher’s bench with wire wool and bleach. I sealed the concrete floor with a shock of blood red paint – a homage to the animals that had supplied their flesh and my sacred oath I would honour them. “You should do burgers,” he said.

Every Thursday afternoon I would prep the meat in the restaurant office. The chefs found it difficult to tolerate my intrusion. That kitchen was balanced with culinary feng shui and I was taking a dump in the sandpit every time I took the boning knife or moved a tea towel. The office became my prep area. Amongst invoices and boxes of wine I would lovingly season the pork shoulders with smoked chipotle, fennel seeds, dried onion, mustard powder and salt. My fingers would stain from working the rub into the crackling scores. The following day I would take the marinated meat from the cold store, smoke it with oak chips on the stovetop and seal it in foil with a slick of cider vinegar and water to keep the massive neck ends from drying out. The sous chef was to deploy the glistening pork bombs into the oven after service. As you peeled back the foil, the rendered fat would gush forth coloured blazing amber with roasted spices. Ten hours of cooking would break the pork down. It would fall apart in your hands like a love letter retrieved from a fire.

The sous chef looked at me the following morning as I looked at her for an explanation to why my pork was still in the fridge. Fuck you for asking me to do ANYTHING after a Friday night’s service. Fuck you for getting me in trouble. Fuck you for taking my boning knife and moving my tea towel, and fuck you for coming in here and glory cooking you half-arsed wannabe prick. It’s amazing what you can pick up from a single expression. I was at the shallow end of a learning curve that was not steep enough. The restaurant hired a new head chef who liked to get his meat from smallholdings in the Orkneys. The Orkneys are the Notting Hill of meat production. The pigs are macro-biotic and have names like Artemis or Winklepop. The butcher didn’t take kindly to this. “At that price that meat is coming in on a Polish truck I promise you that”.

The email that ended it cut straight to the point and the bone. “The meat wasn’t even cooked properly most of the time. I thought there was going to be a bit of variety not just some dodgy bits of pulled pork. I wanted you to do burgers”. I hope he enjoys his new shed.

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Festival time!

Starting to apply for this summer’s festivals. I’m an outdoorsy kind of guy so the prospect of doing my thing in a field always lifts my spirits. Here are some of the things that make me love the life of a festival barista.

Wellingtons and short shorts – surprisingly few opportunities to bust out this outfit.

20 hour days fueled by too much caffeine, too much cider and too much adrenalin. Guaranteed best sleep of your life that night even if your tent is  pitched right next to a giant generator.

Fitness – Packing and unpacking, ferrying supplies too and from the support van which will be parked 10 miles away, going back because you left your float in the glove box, doing the coffee making dance for 20 hours straight, forgetting to eat because you are too busy/excited… buff by September! Well, not fat at least.

Friends – Meeting and working with great people. The festival crowd are a happy bunch!

People excited about coffee – Wake up in a collapsing tent with a stinking hangover, don’t have a shower, prepare yourself to traipse through a field of mud, realise you didn’t bring a raincoat – tell me you don’t need a coffee. Kisses and hugs from strangers all day long!

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So long So Ho

Fare thee well you wonderful crack-addled borough of naughtiness. You need a wash but I still love you.

So Brewed Boy is no longer on Rupert St which is a damn shame because I made a lot of friends and, for the first time in a long time, truly felt part of a community. It’s like Devon but with really ugly prostitutes and no cows.

But onto ventures new! I am taking residency at benscanteen.com (not a website but the actual canteen the website represents). It’s in Clapham don’t you know. Ben is a great guy who is all about local suppliers and quality ingredients so it goes without saying I brought Square Mile along to the party. There will be a new machine on the way but in the meantime we will be using this little baby…

It’s a beauty. An iconic e61 machine with bags of retro charm. Unfortunately, all was not well with the little chromed wonder. The previous owners need to be brought up in front of The Hague for crimes against coffee. First up the gaskets were so old they had fossilised (water was literally gushing out the sides instead of brewing the coffee!) and the screens were blackened with scorched coffee oils. I literally had to crobar the stubborn buggers out. The boys at coffeehit.co.uk did awsy great job getting us the replacement parts.

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Next on the list of shame was the dispersion block. It’s like a shower head that soaks the coffee evenly except water was only coming out of one hole! Arghhhhh!

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I had to soak the block in acid to release it from all the junk and then take a wire brush to free up those holes.

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Finally I replaced the steam wand tip with a highly engineered beauty and chucked the one that used a rusty nail inside it to control the steam power – that is just wrong.

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We now have a great machine that is producing the best coffee in this part of London. All for about 30 quid. I hope you come down to have a cup soon and get involved with what Ben is doing here. Top guy. Plus I’m on the contact grill in the morning making  Brown Sugar and Banana Drop Scones like this…_

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I know this place like the back of my hand

Lost: excuse me mate, do you know where Brook Mews is?

Me: Brook Mews? Hmmm. Sorry, don’t that one.

No teeth man: I do! Straight up there on the right. And i’ll tell you how I know. Great place to smoke crack. Great place. No lights, no cameras. Bloody beautiful down there. I just finished smoking me pipe down there once and a copper came down. He said ‘what are ya doing?’ and I said ‘I’ve just finished smoking me pipe so ya can’t nick me now can ya cunt.’

Lost: er thanks.

Gap tooth man: ya welcome.

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Brewed Boy podcast #7

Right, he’s finally done it. Shown me up by producing another podcast before I write a post. A whopping eight tracks and a new intro jingle to boot. Mr Rutter, you are an overachiever of the highest calibre.

Download (mp3, 55 MB)
Subscribe via iTunes (itpc://huffduffer.com/brewedboy/rss)

Track listing:

  1. ‘Desire’ – Anna Calvi. From ‘Anna Calvi’, 2011, Domino
  2. ‘Car’ – Jim Noir. From the ‘Zooper Dooper’ EP, 2011, Self released
  3. ‘Up So Fast’ – Young Man. From the ‘Up So Fast’ single, 2011, Chess Club
  4. ‘…And The World Laughs With You’ – Flying Lotus. From ‘Cosmogramma’, 2010, Warp
  5. ‘Horse Shoes’ – Wavves. From the bands blog ghostramp.blogspot.com, 2011
  6. ‘Take Me Somewhere’ – Tennis. From ‘Cape Dory’, 2011, Fat Possum (US)
  7. ‘Snow’ – Tall Ships. From the ‘There Is Nothing But Chemistry Here’ EP, 2010, Big Scary Monsters
  8. ‘Angel Echoes (Caribou remix)’ – Four Tet. From the ‘Angel Echoes’ 12″, 2010, Domino
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Brewed Boy podcast #6

They grow up so fast don’t they? I remember when the Brewed Boy podcast was barely big enough to fill the media player and now look at it – six episodes old and already stealing money out of my wallet and experimenting with buckfast and over-the-counter painkillers. You must be so proud Mr Rutter!

Download (mp3, 42 MB)
Subscribe via iTunes (itpc://huffduffer.com/brewedboy/rss)

Track listing:

  1. Blue Blood – Foals. From ‘Total Life Forever’, 2010, Transgressive Records
  2. Jesus Fever – Kurt Vile. From ‘Smoke Ring For My Halo’, 2011, Matador
  3. Morning Mr Magpie – Radiohead. From ‘The King Of Limbs’, 2011, self-released.
  4. Touching Down – Therapies Son. From the ‘Over The Sea’ EP, 2011, Transparent Records
  5. NW Apt. – Band Of Horses. From ‘Infinite Arms’, 2010, Sub Pop
  6. Old Man (Radioproof Remix) – Harrys Gym . From the ‘Old Man’ EP, 2011, Sonic Cathedral
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