Everyone’s a Critic

I sit and watch my twitter time line as it flashes past and so often I see comments about restaurants and coffee shops. I see comments about car companies, banks, City Power and everyone else as well but for the purpose of this blog I am sticking to food. Yes, I do have a vested interest.
In days of old there were “Food Critics”, feared paragons of food virtue that every restaurateur everywhere hated. One has visions of stick figure people with waistcoats and waxed mustaches popping in unannounced, expecting the best table in the house on a busy night and examining every plate of food for every nuance and flavour. Rolling every morsel around their palate fifteen times before swallowing that mushy gelatinous mass to extract the last micro ounce of flavour no matter how subtle or missing. Lucky there are no spittoons in modern restaurants, this isn’t Rome any more.
Then the following day that very same stick figure critic, after licking his plate clean, paying his bill, giving you a sour smile as he exits your establishment proceeds to destroy your restaurant one carefully placed very long word at a time.
The ambiance wasn’t right, the music was too loud, the plate too big, the portion too small. The fillet was just so when it should have been just so. The food was hot, the food was cold, I ordered it rare, the list of things he could, would and will judge you on endless, the potential for obscurity huge. Did you think he would judge you on the colour of your serviettes, the colour of your plates, the quality of your wine glasses. I heard Barry Ronge, the movie critic, on the radio one day talking about, wait for it…………restaurants. How he wouldn’t eat off coloured plates or drink out of coloured glass wine glasses and serviettes had to be white. I had to text him to say “I know where you shouldn’t eat”
My point in all this actually being that there was this one person a restaurateur actually feared walking in the door because that person could make or break your establishment with one swift flick of his pen and the morning’s daily paper.

Those were the old days! Today we have social media, twitter, Facebook, food bloggers and every one of us is a critic no matter how much or how little experience on the subject we have. We walk into restaurants, we check in. We order and then we begin to tap our fingers on the table. The food is slow, let’s tell the world. The food arrives, let’s tell the world. The food is cold, let’s tell the world. The order was wrong, let’s tell the world.The food looks fabulous, let’s take a picture and tell the world.

Are we so busy telling the world that we forget to enjoy our meal? Are we so busy telling the world, that we forget to tell the owner, the manager, the waiter (I refuse to say waitron)? Have we forgotten how to speak to people? How to pay a compliment face to face? How to complain face to face in such a manner…actually that is the material of a whole other blog post.
What sparked this post was a tweet I happened to see last week which I followed for a while until it had run its course. A blogger was sitting in a very well-known very busy restaurant with friends, they had ordered and they were waiting for their food. If they had their times right, they had waited an hour and the food hadn’t arrived yet. Granted that is an incredibly long time to wait and is wrong, particularly if no one is communicating with the client about the delay. So the blogger tweeted to the restaurant, to whomever runs that twitter account which is not necessarily a person who is on the spot to complain to about the wait. By the time the reply and responses had gone back and forth with the apology made etc, another 20 minutes had elapsed and the food had arrived and the blogger never said another word about it. However the parting tweet which didn’t mention the restaurant’s name was words to the effect, if you cannot manage a 200 seater restaurant you shouldn’t run one.
This tweet was phrased in such a way that it went out the entire follower base and not only to the intended recipient thus ensuring that everyone and his dog saw the comment.

For me this raises a couple of questions………..
What would have been wrong with calling the manager or the waiter over to the table to inquire as to the whereabouts of the food and the delay?
Why was it necessary to tweet to everyone and not just the restaurant?
Why was it necessary to tweet at all?
Are there such things as twitter ethics and should we be looking at them?
Are we entitled to rip into things just because we can, does that make it okay to do?
Are you entitled to be a food critic just because you eat food?
Are we becoming hyper-critical just because we can be or have we always been this way and now it is just easier to moan to a wider audience and bring someone else down?

I am just putting these questions out there in the ether, it isn’t my intention to actually answer them so please don’t hold your breath waiting for the answers. I don’t have the answers. However it is my feeling that discussion is needed. Whether it is a murder trial or bad service in a restaurant, a lousy driver or a radio presenter saying something you don’t like, just because you have an opinion, do you need to voice it? I was brought up with my mum saying, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all”, is this an outdated ethic or just a modern dilemma?

The question can also be asked of the restaurant……………..
Why wasn’t the waiter communicating with the client about the food delay?
Why was there such a delay?
And indeed if your clients are waiting over an hour for their food, are you running your restaurant properly?
Maybe your staff need a little training in customer relations?
These questions, whilst I have posed them, are not pertinent to the subject of this blog and maybe will tackle them at a later date……………..maybe.

In the meantime every restaurateur everywhere from Jozi to the world at large best jack up his service, his ambiance, his food, his decor, his sense of humour and thicken his skin because everyone’s a critic

So Much Death, So Little Time

This morning at 10.13 my mum called to tell me that my sister’s husband, my brother in law has passed away. I wasn’t especially close to him. They have lived in London for the past 25 years or so, so we have never really had a chance to get to know one another well. So why then do I feel so broken right now? Why am I who is so many miles away feeling that loss so keenly? Is it because my beloved sister has been robbed of her life partner by a dreadful disease that ate away ate her husband for years, that her two teenaged children are now fatherless. He was an incredible father, always having time to spend with his kids at the end of every working day. As they say it is quality time over quantity time any day.
I think I am feeling so sad at this moment because it is only mid March and already this year a handful of people amongst my friends and family have passed away. In January alone we buried two friends a week apart. One older, one my age, no time to mourn the loss of the one before the second dropped dead from a heart attack. At least his wife was with him at the time, in fact neither of the two died alone, both had the comfort of their wives with them.
I am feeling horribly mortal at the moment. Death is so final in our daily lives. You may believe in an afterlife, a place where spirits roam free and are happy to have shuffled off this mortal coil but that doesn’t leave the rest of us left behind with much comfort. We may be relieved that those who have suffered in pain have passed on and are now free of that burden. We may be relieved that they are no longer a burden to us, the hospital visits, Hospice, funerals, all of that behind us. Rituals that are meant to comfort us after their passing but do they? Does that wake give you closure? Does the sound of soil hitting a coffin make it easier to cope with the lost of a mother, father, husband or child.
The comforting arms of friends and family are there for you in the immediate aftermath but what happens once the dust has settled and they have all returned to their lives, a week or two weeks later. The calls stop coming, the food stops arriving and you are left to your own devices. Attempting to pick up the pieces of your shattered life and move on. How do you move on? Do you pack up their stuff and donate it to a charity organization? Do you leave it in the cupboard for months after so that you can hug their clothing and remember their smell. Do you hold onto a favourite jersey and hug it like a pillow at night whilst you sob your heart out because you miss them and you are actually inconsolable?

Or do you light a candle, paint a picture, put a photobook together and remember the good times?
If the person you loved was ill and suffered greatly before passing on, it takes a long time before you can remember the person they were before they got ill. At first all you remember is the hospital, the smells, the sadness, the fact that they looked gray or they looked yellow, or just sallow, the funeral, the medicine, the doctors, the sadness that wells up in you every time you think of them. Months and years can pass before you can remember the love, the sense of humour they had, the good times that you shared. It takes a long time to make peace with their passing. I know they say that you expect the elderly to die, it doesn’t make it any easier though. It becomes harder and harder as time passes to remember their faces, their laughs, their smiles.
You do eventually. Eventually you learn to smile again, you can talk about them without crying, you can laugh at anecdotes about them, their little idiosyncrasies, their silly jokes. You learn it is okay to laugh, it is okay to be happy, to pack their stuff away or put it in boxes in the storeroom. Life is okay to go on with.
You need to forgive yourself for life carrying on, for living whilst they have passed on, for being happy when you have no idea if they are happy any more. It is okay, life goes on and for that, though it is hard to believe at the time, life does go on. It doesn’t stop because the person you loved has passed on. Cows still need to be milked and accounts still need to be paid and it isn’t fair. The whole world isn’t mourning and the whole world didn’t stop because you wanted to get off. Life goes on and IT IS OKAY. In fact it is a blessing because you begin over time to forget, you move on and it is okay. It is okay to move on. To fall in love again. To feel again. You can forgive yourself because it is okay.

Death unless you are a medium is final. So remember to make your peace every day, kiss them, hug them, tell them you love them because one day it is too late and you never said those words, returned that book or sent that message. Life really is too short for regrets so on their deathbeds if you are lucky enough to get the chance to say goodbye then do it. Tell that person that it is okay to die, to move on, tell them that you will be okay, that you will go on and that you love them. The soul hears.

To all those that have passed on before me you are loved, you are missed, you are remembered, you will never be forgotten and I will be okay without you one day.
I am okay without you.
I am okay.

Ladies in Lavender dessert table

Ladies in Lavender dessert table

Oh, what a month February was! Bye bye February, I am incredibly happy to see the back of you.
Did you experience the same kind of month that I did? Was it fraught with tension and anxiety? Was everyone around you going through some kind of drama in their lives? I swear that is what mine was like. Everyone I know had huge issues in February including us with the old vehicle being stolen and the purchase of the new one. There was definitely something in the air this past month (or two in fact). In spite of all of that some of the most wonderful things happened during February as well……………like our old bakkie being stolen and our new one being delivered! Hahahahh The Universe works in very mysterious ways! We hosted some amazing events, met some fascinating people, made new friends and lost some old ones! I count myself lucky that I never murdered anyone this month, restraint is such a wonderful thing to practice. I will attempt to use it on my tongue as well in the future…………just not today!

Indulgence had a fabulous review on the Joburg’s Darling site, please click the link if you would like to read it http://www.joburgsdarling.co.za/post.aspx?id=509

The Month that was…………..
At the beginning of February we hosted our first AuthorTalk of the year with guests Animals in Distress and authors Anton Harber and Adriaan Basson. It was a wonderful event, really nicely attended. Thank you everyone for your very generous book donations throughout the year as well as all the food and other goodies for the animals that were dropped off before the event. We ended up donating a whopping R2200, Amiga’s pocket money to Animals in Distress, money that you guys brought to the party with the purchase of Amiga T-shirts and by coming to her birthday party. Thank you so much, please give yourself a huge pat on the back from us and Animals in Distress.
Our two speakers were great speakers and both had their audiences captivated. The stories and tales around Diepsloot are fascinating. What fascinates me the most is the human condition and how we all deal with the same issue from our individual view points and based on our very different needs! Our president, The Never Ending Story of Jacob Zuma was shown to us in a whole new light by Adriaan Basson. Personally I would have preferred the lights to be kept somewhat dimmer as, being so well illuminated the flaws do tend to show up. No wonder we Jozi had an earth tremor on Tuesday night! We cooked the brunch based on the Animals in Distress cookbook, Respectful Recipes which is a vegetarian cookbook. As such there was no meat included in the meal but that didn’t stop it from being an absolutely fabulous repast and no one went away hungry or disappointed at the lack of hors in the food. It was a very lovely morning all in all and we have begun our 2013 book collection for next Feb!

meet our very own Christian Gray

meet our very own Christian Gray

Adriaan Basson and Anton Harber

Adriaan Basson and Anton Harber

Anton Harber enjoying a glass of bubbly

Anton Harber enjoying a glass of bubbly

A lovely smile

Adriaan Basson, A lovely smile

Bubbly Antique Style

Bubbly Antique Style

Hot on the heels of the AuthorTalk was a delightful Valentine’s dinner which was incredibly well supported. I had one somewhat unhappy lady who walked in with a very long face because she felt she was eating in the car park. Cannot really fault her as the patio used to be the parking lot but it is now the prettiest four parking bays in town. I will admit that my feelings were bruised somewhat. In Feb we also had the first of our floating Wednesday nights, namely quiz, bridge, singles social and sushi. Of the 4 nights the quiz evening and the sushi evening really rocked, the others are going to take some working on. Bridge will probably change to a games evening and the singles evening to more of a social dinner evening open to a wider age group if that is where the need is! I have brought along a canvas to keep me company on Wednesday and Friday nights that are still quiet and you are very welcome to bring along a canvas or some paper and come join me whilst I work or pretend to.

Valentine's Dinner

Valentine’s Dinner






Our first foray into Sushi was a fabulous evening!

Our first foray into Sushi was a fabulous evening!

The one thing that did slip quietly passed this February was our birthday! Indulgence turned 7 and Lollipops Catering came of age at 21, next year we can give the two a joint birthday party as they turn dirty thirty! Happy birthday Indulgence and Lollipops Catering, many more foodie years!

I cannot go any further without saying how incredible the Auriol Hays concert was! She is a “Rockstar” of note with the most incredible voice and she absolutely blew her audience away! What an incredible evening. Thank you so much Auriol, you are Amazing girlfriend! (Dinner wasn’t to bad either :))
And a special treat of the evening was the surprise arrival of Keira Witherkay, acoustic guitarist of note !

Auriol Hays and a special guest appearence by Keira Witherkay






That is enough about February, shall we tackle March now…………..?

March 2013 Quick Calendar:
6th Quiz dinner
7th Thursday Dinner
8th Pot luck Dinner
9th AuthorTalk
13th Games Dinner
14th Thursday Dinner
15th Pot Luck dinner
20th Wednesday night singles social evening!
21st Human Rights Day, public holiday: Thursday dinner
22nd Pot Luck Dinner
23rd Fetish and Kink market
25th 1st night Pesach Monday
26th 2nd night Pesach Tuesday
27th Wednesday sushi evening
28th Thursday dinner
29th Good Friday closed
30th closed
31st Closed
1st Monday OPEN

A jam packed March lies ahead…………….
Wednesdays………..These are fun mid-week evenings to get you over the hump and on the roll down to the week end



6th March
Quiz dinner, teams of 3 or 4. We have changed this a bit in that the winning team will get a 50% discount off the cost of their food, and not their entire meal for free like the first month. Only teams no bigger than 4 people are allowed to claim the prize, so sorry if you are a team that is bigger than that. We are introducing bonus round sheets and as soon as we are a little bigger we will introduce spot questions as well. A truly fun evening for people who can have a good laugh…………..at themselves mainly! The cost per head is R120, includes food, excludes drinks and gratuity
13th March
Games evening….bring friends, pop down, have a bite to eat, play cards, board games, scrabble etc etc. You are welcome to bring your own games along although we do have backgammon, a few decks of cards and scrabble right here. Bringing family fun back the old fashioned way! Dinner is a self service buffet, simply but filling. Cost R90 per head, games free, evening Priceless J
20th March
Our second singles social. The idea of these is to mingle and meet new people instead of going home straight from work to an empty house. Stop here, have a drink, have a light supper, unwind and meet some weird and wonderfully strange people. I got lambasted for the age limit last month so this month I am daring anyone of any age to come down and hang out with us! The next day is a PUBLIC HOLIDAY, come out and play!
27th March
This is unlucky for some as the Jewish holiday of Passover will have kicked in, so not everyone will be able to enjoy sushi this night but as always there will be another dish available for the evening to eat. The chicken curry and basmati rice of February was very popular so I will make an even more delicious chicken dish for the sushi night. Sushi is ala carte so pay for what you order and eat. We will work on streamlining the process to get the sushi out a little faster than February.

Best value in town evenings still, at just R100 per head for a fabulous 3 course meal you really cannot go wrongggggggggggggg
7 March
Stuffed baked potato half with sour cream sauce
Roast pork belly, potato croquettes, apple sauce, green beans and carrots
Roast chicken leg quarter, potato croquettes, green beans and carrots with gravy
Brinjal and tofu tomato curry with basmati rice and sambals
Custard cream eclairs

14 March
Grilled baby tomatoes with fresh basil and garlic on toast rounds
Grilled line fish topped with spicy avocado salsa, served with cous-cous and button mushrooms
Chicken sosaties in apricot marinade with cous-cous and button mushrooms
Spinach roulade filled with roasted vegetables and served with mashed potatoes
Chocolate mousse and Frangellica tarts

21 March
Vegetarian sushi with wasabi, ginger and soy sauce
Beef curry and basmati rice with sambals and topped with a poppadom
Chicken and mushroom lasagne with a Caprese side salad
Vegetable & nut burger topped with tomato and pepperdew salsa, with quinoa
Yoghurt ice cream and fresh berries

28 March
Fantasy salad with seasonal fresh fruits and cheeses
Spaghetti with sun dried tomato seafood sauce
Beef roast with roast potatoes, creamed spinach and pumpkin fritters
Bean and lentil hotpot with sweet potato mash
Peach Melba

AuthorTalk with Hagen Engler

Our March AuthorTalk is with Hagen Engler who has self published a few books already. He sounds like a real character if his writing is anything to go by! The event starts at 2pm, if you are planning to eat or drink anything then please be seated a whole bunch of time earlier so we can get you settled well before he starts to talk at 2pm. This is an event that requires books, so please remember to bring along your two books, one to swap and one to donate, all for a good cause! Please pop me an email to book lollipops@telkomsa.net

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2012-12-13-comrade-baby-review-a-hitchhikers-guide-to-mzansi-madness” Link to the Daily Maverick review of Comrade Baby

Hagen Engler's Comrade Baby

Hagen Engler’s Comrade Baby

Fetish and Kink Market
It is time again for our Fetish and Kink market, so if whips and chains excite you, if you would like to know more about the Story of O, buy a paddle, meet a few kinks, have a fun, relaxed and chilled day amongst some very interesting and unusual characters please come and join us! If you would like a stall on the day please contact me lollipops@telkomsa.net
The date is the 23rd of March from 2-5pm

http://www.facebook.com/events/530123680344746/?ref=2 Link to the FB event

Easter and Passover
I need to chat to you about Easter and Passover but I think I shall leave that for next week’s blog post

Have an incredible March, welcome Autumn with open arms and above all else, love yourself!
Love ‘n Lollipops
Mandi Friedman
Lollipops Catering

“Food, Passion, Life”