Posts Tagged ‘food’

Mitzi and Teddy Hit Montreal, Eh?

Sunday, October 20th, 2013
Teddy Tedaloo tries the famous smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz's

Teddy Tedaloo tries the famous smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz’s

Right, that’s it – I’m moving! I’ve been to a lot of cities (and I’ve lived in a lot of cities), and I will say this: if you like food – good food – and food from every conceivable place on the planet, you’ve got to be in Montreal. If you want someone to cook it, you’ll find a restaurant that has it. If you want to cook it yourself, you’ll find a supermarket that has anything you’d ever want or need – and you don’t have to go broke to get it either.

Alas, poor Yorick!

Alas, poor Yorick!

After all this high praise, I’ll be polite and not discuss the Quebec drivers. I think someone must’ve really got on the wrong side of these guys.

I’ll also be polite and not bang on about the traffic jams or the endless road construction or the collapsing overpasses. (You didn’t hear any of this from me, you got it?)

But hey, Montreal has mayoral candidate Richard Bergeron! In fact, we even ran into him (though not with our car). It felt as if we were meeting an old mate, what with his mug being plastered on every street corner in the city. Oy, and what a mug! Now I ask you – would you buy a used Chevy from this man?

Dodgy mayoral candidate for Montreal

Dodgy mayoral candidate for Montreal

Mind you, I’m thinking I should have a chat avec Monsieur Bergeron about the complete load of bollocks I was given crossing the Canadian border. I must have been saddled with a seriously bored border control agent, since he appeared to want to hang about and chew the fat with me all afternoon, grilling me about everything from who my friends in Montreal were to who owned the vehicle I was driving. (You’d have thought I was the driver who had an arm dangling from the rear of the car!) Heck, I’m surprised the guy didn’t ask what brand of antiperspirant I use! I notice he didn’t ask my famous bear Teddy Tedaloo any questions. Like, what’s up with that, eh?

It was all I could do to keep our Ted from biting him. (I have no idea what the penalty is in Canada for bears biting border service agents, and I didn’t wish to find out.) All I can say is, if you lot want tourist dollars to be spent in your country (or province), this is definitely not the way to go about it. And here I thought it was the American border agents who go all John Wayne on you when it comes to entering the country. Oddly enough, I had a very warm welcome on the way back when crossing into New York. Maybe the fellow was a fan of mine. He did address me by my first name as if he knew me.

I guess it’s a good thing I wasn’t heading up to Canada for the book launch of my new novel The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray. Can you imagine the panic that would have ensued at the border crossing? I mean, the book hasn’t even been published yet! (That doesn’t mean you can’t pre-order it from Amazon – so what are you waiting for?) I’d have been taking my life in my hands if I hadn’t come armed (maybe “armed” isn’t the right word to use in this context) with an autographed copy for the border services agent. Hey, maybe that was his problem – I didn’t give him a free book! You’d be amazed by how weird people can get when they meet an author and aren’t given freebies.

Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo high above Montreal

Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo high above Montreal

Anyway, it’s not me who’s important here.

Teddy Tedaloo at Musee des Beaux Arts

Teddy Tedaloo at Musee des Beaux Arts

The official star of the show was Teddy Tedaloo, whom everyone was expecting. Our official Quebec hosts in the section of Montreal known as “Peter’s Bottom” (I’m not even going to try to explain this) were initially his friends, not mine. In fact, our host was a fluffy white cockapoo with a penchant for raising his hind leg whenever it suited him. He and Teddy got on like a house on fire. Mind you, everyone gets on with Teddy like a house on fire. Even a trip to the Musee des Beaux Arts was filled with members of the Teddy Tedaloo Admiration Society. One of the security guards insisted upon a formal introduction, offering Ted a hearty handshake along with the compliment that it was good to see a bear who appreciated fine art.

As for me, no one was really that bothered save for my new best friend at border control. Having said that, if he’s reading this, he’d better not be expecting a free autographed copy of my new book any time soon!

As for Montreal, I can’t wait to return and get cracking with some serious eating!

Mitzi TV launches with “Prowling For Eels”!

Thursday, May 28th, 2009
Mitzi TV

Mitzi Szereto presenting Mitzi TV

Mitzi TV goes on the prowl in London in search of the famous East End Cockney delicacy, the jellied eel… (Turns out these scary denizens of the deep weren’t our cup of tea. We should’ve ordered the pie and mash instead!)

Visit the official Mitzi TV website at: http://mitziszereto.com/tv

Move Over Sergey, Here We Come!

Sunday, May 17th, 2009
kebabcamp-copy

Mitzi Szereto with the KebabCampers

“The best startup in town, we don’t make anything, we just eat.”

Google Schmoogle. Who needs Larry Page or Sergey Brin?

Yeah, I know, everyone’s an entrepreneur. And everyone’s got a startup – from your crazy Uncle Jack who’s always grabbing the breasts of strange women to your potty old Aunt Tillie from Temecula. Hell, even your cousin Ernie with that twitching left eye and the embarrassing case of Tourette’s fancies himself as the next Jeff Bezos. Oh, and let’s not forget all those socially inept internet geeks with Asperger’s (a word of advice, ladies: don’t ever get into a relationship with one of these guys! If you’re not sure who they are, just think Mr. Spock).

In Silicon Valley alone you’ll find yourself tripping over the number of people doing startups, and let’s not forget their little brother on the East Coast, Silicon Alley. Frankly, I’m surprised there are this many things to actually START UP. Admittedly, London is lagging a bit behind its Yankee relatives, but hey, we’re catching up! Of course not every startup king (or queen) has a cunning master plan, but not to worry. If they don’t, they’ll most assuredly have a team all set to go… providing they ever come up with that startup idea they hope will set fire to the world (or, at the very least, set fire to their garage “headquarters” when things go down the pan). I believe this is known in the business as “an escape plan” – ie start up, then get the hell out!

Therefore not to be outdone, here is yet one more startup to add to the fray: KebabCamp. And I’m damned proud to be a founding member of the team.

We don’t need fancy offices in Canary Wharf or some “campus” in Palo Alto full of tykes playing Hide and Seek or frolicking in sandboxes. (Err, wait – that’s for the employees, not their kids!). And we don’t need some grungy garage either. Hell, we don’t even need a business plan! You won’t hear us bandying about terms like “Venture Capitalist” and “Angel Investor” and “Seed Money“. Who needs capitalists and angels and seeds when you’ve got a nice juicy kebab staring you in the face? Nah, we’re above all that stuff.

We hold our meetings over an orgy of food in a Tower Hamlets‘ kebab house. No, I won’t tell you which one, since it’s a bitch to get a table there even if you’ve booked. Mind you, I’m sure we’ll have an easier time of it in future, since last time we were there one of the waiters kept taking a perverse delight in brushing against me whenever we passed one another. (Is that a gun in your pocket…) But hey, if it gets us better service, who am I to complain? I’ve made sacrifices before – what’s one more?

When our team isn’t out kebabing in the East End, we’ll be busy Skypeing, since everyone knows that any startup worth its weight in bootstraps holds meetings on Skype. You’ll find us online day and night, 24/7, rain or shine. No one sleeps. Who has time for sleep when you’ve got a startup to start up? From various locations in and around London, there we’ll be: eyes and fingertips glued to our computers, an ethernet cable stuck up our arses, because baby, we mean business! If things go well, we might even launch an IPO.

So keep an eye out, because KebabCamp may be coming to a ticker tape near you!

East End Geek Dinners (or The Unofficial Official Kebab Meetup Group)

Friday, May 1st, 2009
East End Geek Dinners

Mitzi Szereto hanging wiv some geeks

Random nights out in The Big Smoke…

Right, I know exactly what you’re thinking: drugs, booze, wild parties, The Old Bill, riot gear… Bet you can hear the sirens wailing already as a police van carts me off into the sooty London night. Booked, fingerprinted, tossed in the nick. Oh, the shame of it!

Well, think again.

How about a Turkish kebab with a bunch of tech geeks? Scary stuff, huh? And it gets better. How about a Turkish kebab with a bunch of tech geeks in a Turkish restaurant located across the road from a mosque? You guessed it, Habib – no booze! But what the hey, the meat was Halal and there was little chance of catching swine flu from anything on the menu!

You might well ask how our charming group of geek-kebabites hooked up in the first place. It was random destiny, my dears – “random” being the operative word here. It could be that we were all foreigners to some extent, therefore not confined to the Britishness of needing to have downed pints at the local with someone for a zillion years before venturing out for a curry together. See, I belong to a ton of groups – Facebook groups, Meetup groups – you name it, I belong to it. Ergo this whole mad kebab caper kicked off with a mass email via one of my Meetup groups inquiring if anyone was going to the TechCrunch party in London. I replied that I was, and that kicked off still more mass emails with others RSVP-ing that they were going too.

Anyway, I forgot all about it till the night of the party, when one of the mass messagers recognised me and came over to introduce himself and his mate. Riveting stuff so far, eh? Well, give me a chance! Three nights later I was at some geek networking event in Brick Lane and there they were again, along with some other guy who recognised me from the party – and soon we were all hanging out with our drinks and chatting about cloud computing (yes, I’m serious.). Then yet another character from this geek play entered our arena, and the next thing I knew we were chasing down the street after the elected Pied Piper of our party as he endeavoured via the GPS on his phone to lead us to an Indian kebab house that was so good everyone back in Delhi was raving about it.

As we ventured further and further away from the relative safety of Brick Lane and I became hungrier and hungrier, I began to wonder if the place truly existed. Had I stumbled upon (no pun intended) the geek version of the Manson Family? Was I going to be murdered and dismembered in a Muslim neighbourhood near Aldgate? If so, I could only hope it would be done under strict Halal guidelines. Suddenly I recalled a conversation I’d had earlier that evening with someone who stated that these people (as in tech geeks) shouldn’t be let out on their own. Indeed, the words rang ominously in my ears…

When at last we reached the holy grail, I breathed a sigh of relief. Aside from the fact that I would live to see another day (not sure if that’s a blessing or a curse), it had already gone past 10pm; I’d have eaten pretty much anything by then. Alas, the divine scent of our Mecca was so packed with people waiting for tables that we were told it would be at least an hour’s wait. I stared desperately at the sweets counter, having an hour earlier embarked upon a mad dash to my favourite (past tense) Bengali sweet shop on Brick Lane, only to find the shutters closed. I was NOT happy. It was clear we would have to take our patronage elsewhere.

And that’s how we ended up at the Turkish kebab place across the road from the mosque.

Was it worth it? Yes. However, I think the excitement of being in the company of so many geeks proved too overwhelming for me (I don’t get out much), because I got a bit carried away when, halfway through my ground lamb kebab, I took a bite of an innocuous-looking object on my plate, which turned out to be a chili. The nice young gentleman seated beside me appeared to be on the verge of ringing the fire brigade, but I persevered and downed a hearty gulp of my yogurt drink, attempting to put out the flames. I tell you, I never realised those Turks could be so sneaky!

We’re now planning to make this a regular gig. Furthermore, we might even allow newcomers to join our ranks, providing they can prove their worthiness. It’s been suggested that an initiation ceremony involving the chili should be used to separate the men from the boys. Hmm…. I wonder what Amnesty International would have to say about that?

Bespoke in the East End

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
Mitzi Szereto tucks into some bangers and mash

Mitzi Szereto tucks into some bangers and mash

(Sunday S&M lunch…)

Can someone please tell me what in hell is up with this “bespoke” business? Lately I’ve been seeing it all over the place. The first time was in conjunction with a clothing establishment.  Apparently this is no longer the situation. Because if it were, then anyone who frequents the East End of London could be in serious trouble, since everything there seems to be bespoken of these days. (So much for the traditional Cockney culture of wide boys and jellied eel.) It’s now posh all the way in the East End and, for that matter, in the famous Spitalfields Market. I mean, they even have bespoke pastry. Next thing you know it’ll be bespoke oysters, bespoke chocolate, bespoke toilets, and maybe even bespoke bangers and mash. Oh sorry, they don’t call them bangers and mash anymore. Not upmarket enough, apparently.

Which brings me to the point of this blog post: bangers (oops, I mean sausage!) and mash. What began as a covert mission on a late Sunday morning to collect my person from outside Liverpool Street station led to what could only be described as a low-speed pursuit, with my mate driving around the city for nearly an hour hunting for a place to safely deposit his car. He finally found a legal parking space a couple of blocks from St. Paul’s Cathedral… at which point we were forced to amend our plan. We would now have to get the tube from St. Paul’s, and return back to Liverpool Street (where we’d started out!), then walk in the rain to Spitalfields Market, which fortunately is covered. Unfortunately there was a big fly in our ointment – St. Paul’s tube station was shut. We made it to the market two hours later than initially planned.

Needless to say, by that time I was starving. In fact, I was SO starving that I didn’t even care anymore about perusing the goods for sale – most of which I considered vastly overpriced for what was supposed to be a traditional East End “market”. Well, at least anything I wanted to buy was overpriced. Hey, I’m a good haggler, but getting a 65 pound handbag down to the 20 quid I thought it was barely worth was likely not gonna happen. So much for all that bespoke business. Besides, I had to eat. And I had to eat something substantial. Now I ask you, what’s more substantial than Great British Grub? And there it was, mere steps away – a little cafe with steamed-up windows and a crowd of people inside and a crowd of people outside queueing to get inside. How bad could it be? Well, considering the name of the place…

Indeed, I must confess to being a wee bit concerned about entering an establishment that called itself “The S&M Cafe“. (Perhaps the owner had read one too many of my M. S. Valentine erotic novels.) And the steamed-up windows only added to my increasing sense of disquiet. However, they had on offer “The World’s Number One Comfort Food”… or so they claimed. Sounded just right for a rainy downer of a Sunday afternoon. If said comfort came in the form of a plate of sausage and mash, so be it.

Once it was established that the place was, in fact, a cafe specialising in one of England’s favourite traditional meals (at least I hoped the S&M in their name referred to sausage and mash), we went inside, where we were shown to a table by their non-traditional Turkish manager. By then I was hysterical with hunger, only to find myself in the predicament of not knowing which kind of sausage and mash to order. I perused the menu like a burglar casing out an expensive home – a menu which, of all things, also boasted an S&M Teatime. If that wasn’t worrisome enough, it was then that I noticed a card on our table that had a picture of Santa Claus with a balloon coming out of his head saying, “How about a little S&M at Christmas?”

Talk about Ho Ho Ho.

Let’s just say that my doubts as to the wisdom of entering this establishment were rapidly returning…

Mitzi Szereto outside the S&M establishment

Mitzi Szereto outside the S&M establishment

(Would I lie to you?)