The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

William Sitwell Headshot

This Week I Ate... Colbert, Andrew Edmonds and Dangerous Canapes

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

I think the eternal optimist in me might be gently moving towards a half empty glass position. This is distressing as it seems to confirm that one has well and truly crossed over and landed well onto the wrong side of 40, with no way back. But a body of evidence, gathered just this week, does seem to lend the glass half empty scenario credibility. Because with that evidence comes wisdom and knowledge. Not that anyone seems willing to pay me any attention.

But here are two moments from this week (the aforementioned body of evidence). Both involving women, their food choices and their not listening to my advice.

Scene One: I'm in Colbert, that café on Sloane Square in London's Chelsea where on my last visit I practically had to throw cutlery at the staff to get their attention.

But there is plenty of attention this time. Opposite me is a brilliant woman: bright, intelligent, successful, clever, wise. She lets slip that she is considering ordering the scrambled eggs. Don't do it, I say. You know there is no one who can make proper scrambled eggs outside of your own kitchen.

She seems to think I have a point, which I do. My own choice will be eggs benedict, which is sensible.

But she ploughs on and orders the scrambled eggs. She likes them, as I do, soft and creamy but not made with cream. They should be gently turned in melted butter and put onto the plate when they are not quite done; indeed you can crack a third egg into the mix for the last 30 seconds.

They will finish cooking on their journey from kitchen to table.

"I'm an optimist", says my friend as I tut, remembering when I was just such a person, very possibly just a few minutes previously.

Anyway, along come the eggs. Not creamy, but like a round, mounded blob of rivets. Far too much of it for a start, an immodest load of egg, overcooked, unattractive, no finery, no creamy length, no juxtaposition of yellowy yolk and egg white.

God knows how the chef created it, we just breathe in deeply, shrug our shoulders and as I set about my excellent eggs benedict; a cute thing, egg just right (the yolk slowly running down the edges of the bun when cut into to) with a lovely béarnaise sauce and some crunchy bite to the bread, we focus on our chat and glug coffee.

There is never any consistency on the scrambled eggs issue between establishments. And for those who love scrambled eggs, this is quite depressing. The prospect of having to leap into the dark at each breakfast opportunity and having that sinking feeling that you will simply plunge into a well of disappointment.

The second moment of ignored advice came at a wedding on Friday. Hence scene two: I am chatting to a famous actress when a waitress proffers a spring roll. Don't do it, I say. It will be too hot, the stringy contents will gush forward, you will recoil backwards at the shock of heat and the revolting long onion/veg dripping catastrophe and then pray no one is taking pictures.

She ignores me, waving off my gloomy prognosis. Meanwhile I wait for a safe sausage. She bites into the roll, recoils back - it is lip-burning hot - and a stringy load of stuff stretches out between her mouth and the other half of the roll.

See what I mean? No one listens to me. If you're planning a party; stick with cheese straws. No clumsy eating, and you can wave them around to help drive home points, or jokes.

My new, enriched and wise (but ignored) self also had lunch at Andrew Edmonds this week. Which was a shame because my attitude was completely in conflict with the place. This is a lovely Soho restaurant in a 300-year-old building that opened in 1986. Thin and narrow like an 18th century inn, the menus are written by hand which draws you into the romance of the place.

There is soup, chicken liver parfait, roast duck, stews, crumbles and treacle tarts. The place calls for a rainy day and a good excuse to get stuck in. It's the sort of place that makes you wish your office could blow up so you can order another bottle of wine.

The place - its atmosphere and staff - is like a Siren call to the land of drink drinky. Go on, it whispers, have a dry Vermouth, pate and toasted brioche with a Pouilly-Fume, then a rich stew, finish the bottle of red before sticky toffee pudding, a glass of Tokaji, then cheese, some port...

But sadly, the sun was out, I'd forgotten to lay explosives where I work, so I simply succumbed to the fish pie, with a walnut salad and a glass of water.

My friend had a deeply flavoursome octopus stew. As I left this wonderful place I actually apologised to the staff for not drinking. I felt the same remorse you might feel if, say, you're visiting the upright grandmother of a new girlfriend and having knocked over your glass of sherry across the side table and the assembled doilies, you then throw up onto her small terrier.

I promise I'll behave better next time. I'll be sober/drunk (delete as appropriate). But with the weight of pessimism on one's shoulders, it's a tall order.

Around the Web

williamsitwell

William Sitwell (WilliamSitwell) on Twitter

Amazon.com: William Sitwell: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks ...

WILLIAM SITWELL: Why I hate Starbucks (And, gawd help me, love ...

A History of Food in 100 Recipes by William Sitwell – review | Books ...