Tuesday, 1 June 2010

dogs, sleeping late, Carrie and The Ladywell Tavern

The beauty of bank holidays is this: if it’s sunny, you can enjoy a glorious day out. If it’s miserable and rainy and grey – and guess which one we had yesterday? – you have the perfect excuse to stare at the telly/a book/Heat magazine/the wall all day.

I used my day off wisely: slept late, spent an inordinate amount of time at breakfast, gave it a good couple of hours start at Shutter Island (scary!), and then dived into an ambitious task: to empty my entire wardrobe on the floor, handbags and all, and re-organise the lot.

Sadly, a bit too over-ambitious, as it turned out.

By 6 in the afternoon, I had declared break time and we headed to The Ladywell Tavern, with the excuse task of investigating organic dishes on offer at our local pubs.

And before you ask, I had a great time on Friday, also known as The Big Opening Of Sex And The City 2 Film Day (T.B.O.O.S.A.T.C.2.D.).

Is the film good? Well, the first 10 minutes are exhilaratingly fun, the clothes are out of this world, some of the dialogue is sharp and hilarious, some is forced down the script with a hammer, some characters have no reason at all to be there but to pull in audiences (what was that with The Great Aidan Return??), some bits are frankly a little bit racist, and Samantha is back on her very top form, with laugh out loud one liners, and also looking fantastic. So, all in all, I’d go again next week if you ask me out. But I can see why some critics – I am only reading them now, having stopped reading film reviews beforehand some years ago – had a problem with it.

(glamorous Kay did her own version of Carrie about town in her tutu – only this time the town was London and the double deckers did not splash water on her, because British bus drivers are true gentlemen)

Back in South London, the Ladywell Tavern was a complete delight because:

1. of the adorable dog who befriended us at the door and didn’t leave us until her owner turned up for walkies.

2. the good selection of organic drinks.

3. they have an unexpected art gallery at the back. Now, this wasn’t my own talent scout discovery. I suspect it is one of the reasons the Ladywell Tavern won Best Pub in Lewisham 2010 (isn't it a bit early and shouldn't that read 2009?). We went to have a look and I must admit I was a little taken aback when I saw no nicely framed pictures on immaculately white walls, and also not a canape’or free wine on sight. Instead, we met the artist preparing for her next exhibition.

I’m not sure what it is, but it did make me gasp and despair when I saw all these books torn up and left to hang on walls. Just as I was starting to make outraged noises at how dare they deface books and deprive people from reading them, I spotted some of the raw material she was using for her art:

I know we should never speak ill of the dead, but take this, Dr Atkins! This is for putting yourself between me and carbs.

4. even if the food is no Michelin star grabbing, it is still really tasty and more than right for a relaxed weekend. And as their menu says…

This is when this business of eating ethically starts getting a bit murky. I’m glad to read on their menu that ingredients are all traced back to origin. They also reassure me all vegetables come from the local market, fish from Billingsgate and meat from the local butcher. But, lovely as they are at the Tavern, is there a way to confirm these claims? And is it a good idea to introduce yet another (expensive) certification process to reassure customers they are eating genuinely local food?

Personally, I think the quality and freshness of their food will be reflected in happy (and plenty of) customers, which is worth more than a million certificates. And if I really want to be absolutely sure, a simple solution would be to ask for the name of their butchers. If I’m running a kitchen, I’d have no problem showing the public where I get my ingredients from.

Because we are greedy, we passed on the mains and fooled ourselves that we were being light by sharing as many starters and sides we could manage.

Special mention to the duck liver pâté, served with caramelised onions, green salad and bread. The reason they dispensed with the de rigueur butter to accompany the pate is this: it was served in an individual ramekin, covered in a healthy layer of pure, yellow, shiny duck fat. Just my kind of dish! If you’re going to be ladylike about duck dishes, please don’t bother serving them. It was delicious. With the added bonus that I didn’t have to share its deliciousness with The Vegetarian.
                                                                                       (and goat's cheese tart for the veggies)

We left the pub slightly worse for wear, but still early enough for the walk across Ladywell Park and a catch up of my current favourite on telly: The Pacific. Again, I fail to understand those with the irrational need to maintain they dislike Spielberg.

Not without stopping on the way for a father-of-all-ethicals Ben and Jerry's Monkey Walnut to eat in front of the telly.
(note to self: in future, stick to the golden rule of never mixing ingredients that don’t grow side by side in their natural form. Bananas and walnut? Do not go together.)

All in all, a very enjoyable long weekend, mostly within the principles of ethical living.

I also went a bit crazy on the photographic tour of South London, the fruit of which I shall share with you along the week.

For now, I await invitations for a second screening of S&TC2, this time hopefully more sober and less giddy.

Have a happy short week!

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