Tag Archives: food

Jersey, Merci

I had never been to Jersey until last weekend. Friends, R…… and L…… have just moved back to the isle of their childhoods and Mr C and I thought it a brilliant idea to carpe le weekend and go somewhere new and not too far away.

We arrived just behind the pantechnicon containing one thousand plus boxes. Actually it was slightly more complicated than that. Because of the narrow, unforgiving, stone sided roads, the furniture removal truck had to remain in St Helier and the gang, van the boxes to our friends in a convoy of white. There were a lot of boxes. Both opened and unopened all over the house. Thankfully it’s a very big house.

We arrived just behind the 789th van deposit. I think R……. was quite pleased to see us as it gave him the perfect excuse to stop unpacking boxes. L……, like most women, was much more dedicated to the task and I believe, because of l……, the thousand boxes will all be opened and contents assigned quarters in a relatively short space of time. If it were left to R……., I have my doubts.

We flew in at lunchtime so out for lunch we went.

I considered joining the surf school (mrscarmichael)
view from our table (mrscarmichael)

I considered going the surf school but opted for

oh so yum (mrscarmichael)
oh so yum (mrscarmichael)

calamari, chorizo, beans and rocket salad with garlic mayonaise. Oh, and a nice big glass of rosé.

Then we went for a drive. Jersey is only 45 miles square. You would think it were much bigger if you, like me, were in the backseat of a Volvo going at speed, breaking at speed, cornering at speed and attempting to cover each and every mile of the isle before pre-prandials.

Before I got really car sick we saw a lot of beauty.

After a wee nana nap (to settle my stomach and prepare it for the evening) we went out for a slap -up meal. I remember very little about the food. I believe it was good. It seems I might have drunk my body weight in rosé at the restaurant. In my defence, it slipped down very easily. Although I did manage to force another down back at the ranch, it would be fair to say that I slept like a baby. An unconscious baby.

I woke feeling a tad seedy but two slices of toast and a strong black coffee sorted that out. Once I woke from my 9.30am nap I managed to make it to a sun lounger (another strong black in hand) and have a well deserved sleep while L……. unpacked more boxes. She is a machine.

I must tell you that L…… is also a Michelin starred chef. At least she has been referred to as such, so great are her skills in the kitchen. Unfortunately, her kitchen was brown- boxed- in last weekend. R…… rounded us up and all four headed to Marks and Spencer for lunch. Mr C insisted I come to ensure he didn’t horlicks up his choice of sandwich for yours truly. L…… came because her husband refuses to pay M and S for the carrier bags so many hands were needed to carry our carb laden repast back to the Volvo. I ate way too much and, bolstered by another mug of caffeine and an indigestion tablet, I dressed for an afternoon on the high seas.

Have any of you see the movie, Captain Ron? Made in the early 90’s it stars Kurt Russell and Martin Short and if you’re in a silly mood and want to watch a silly movie, this is a goody.

laugh out loud with a cult following (crusingoutpost.com)
laugh out loud with a cult following (crusingoutpost.com)

R…… is learning to captain/sail/drive a rather powerful motorboat. He’s mastered the going fast in a straight line in open water. He does that very well. Anchoring and mooring are proving ever so slightly more problematic. There are aspects of Captain Ron’s character that I see reflected in our friend R…… I was thus relieved to learn that, in ensuring the well being and longevity of all on board, he’d invited N…, his best bud, along for the ride. N… is good at anchoring and mooring and as such an asset to our afternoon’s adventuring.

We headed to St Brelade’s for a spot of swimming.

our boat did not look like this (mrscarmichael)
our boat did not look like this. This is way more Swallows and Amazons (mrscarmichael)

We anchored twice and began to bob around. I began to feel ever so slightly queasy. The queasiness got worse. Then it stepped up a gear. My mouth got all watery – usually a vomit precursor. By sitting high up, in the centre of the boat, looking with a fixed eye towards land and not talking to anyone I managed to hold my chicken caesar wrap down. I could not swim. The thought of changing in a confined and bobbing cabin brought tears to my eyes and more saliva to ma bouche.

We then drove/sailed to deeper water and fished for mackerel. This involved more bobbing so I couldn’t fish – having to keep my eye on land and sit atop the motorboat but Mr Carmichael gave it a go. He has fished once before when he was starving in Greece but is not sure if he used a hook or just bread and, unsurprisingly, caught nothing.

Saturday was very different.

“I think I’ve got the line caught on the bottom,” he says and with R…….’s help reels in a fish.

R…… catches a fish. And another.

Line cast again, Mr C is now a fisherman. “I’ve got another,” he shouts but he was wrong.

He had five! All tangled together on his now, and forever, unusable line.

R…… unhooked/cut them all off narrowly avoiding a tumble into the Atlantic.

I wish I could show you the photos. They are hilarious but, in the efforts of anonymity and without a pixalator, the amusement must remain on Mrs C’s camera. You will just have to use your imaginations.

We sailed/drove back to the marina.

At this point Captain Ron came to the fore and N… came into his own. Well, he would have if he hadn’t jumped off the boat prematurely. I think he was under the impression that because R……. had driven our craft full throttle into the berth he was planning to leave it there and ropes would need to be tied.

R…… had other ideas and within moments we were reversing rather quickly towards the behemoth moored behind us.

Because Mr Carmichael’s only job was to offer words of support and nothing else, I could actually enjoy the next thirty minutes or so of in/out manoeuvring, swearing, long distance exchanges between Captain Ron and land lubbered, N… and a few very close shaves.

We parked and had a rosé to celebrate and wait for other boaty people on their boats to stop laughing.

That evening, as a starter, we bbq’d the mackerel at the beach and watched the waves crash against the sea wall.

waves crashing onto sea wall (mrscarmichael)
waves crashing onto sea wall (mrscarmichael)

Mr Carmichael’s catch was delicious.

fish bliss (mrscarmichael)
fish bliss (mrscarmichael)

We had some rosé and and went for Italian. L……., my husband and I ordered seafood pizza. R…… doesn’t like fish so steered well clear. Sensible R…….

There are words that one never thinks they will concatenate into a single sentence. ‘Pizza bisque’ is a perfect example. Bisque as a soup – fantastic. A pasta sauce – perfect. A topping for a pizza -hmmmmm. So shocked was I, I neglected to take a photo. Again, please use your imagination. Think brown, think runny, think as far away from any pizza you have ever seen and you’re almost there.

“It says bisque on the menu,” our waitress informed us when I mentioned the utter oddness of my dinner.

We asked for a menu, believing that three of us could not have missed the warning. It said rein about the bisqueness of our chosen meal. Quel surprise!

L…….., she of the ‘michelin star’, took over from me and spent the good next while in the kitchen with manager and chef reinventing their menu. I drank rosé and waited to hear how she got on.

“Don’t think that’ll be appearing again,” she said and quaffed a well deserved mouthful of pink wine.

Mr C and I flew home in the arms of Hurricane Bertha, our little prop plane circling Stanstead in a left sloping holding pattern just long enough to make me airsick.

oh my god (mrscarmichael)
oh my god (mrscarmichael)

And so, to summarise:

A trifecta of motion sickness and then there was the rosé.

Fresh fish caught my Mr C, my pecheur d’island husband.

Beaches, beaches, sea, sea, sea and stunning hydrangeas.

Great company.

It’s Thursday and I have almost recovered.

Me, a ‘Pampered Chef’?

For those that know me, cooking and Mrs Carmichael aren’t best bedfellows. We are not even kissing cousins in the kitchen sense. Particularly.

So, when my niece, L…… invited me to a Pampered Chef evening I thought she must have the wrong phone number/aunt. I’m sure she could hear the surprise in my voice and hastily told me that her mother, my s-i-l, was attending. She would, if I felt the need to fortify myself against the foodage preparation onslaught with a libation or three, drive me there and home again. Too kind. Unnecessary however because I do have a modicum of self restraint de temps en temps. This party could be one of those temps I decided.

The, out of the blue, invite fulfilled a number of recent rules penned by me, for myself in the wake of losing my one remaining dog and having more time on my hands. The pertinent follow:

1) Do more things.

2) Do more new things for longer.

3) Make new friends.

4) Drink less.

“Yes,” I said. “I’d love to.”

Having utterly no idea what I’d let myself in for I began to feel quite excited. Apparently it was to be a night of cooking, eating and shopping. Two thirds of these activities are particular favourites of mine.

Pampering is another thing I’m into and have found lacking in my life of late, so booted and spurred  M……, my s-i-l, and I arrived at 7.30 prompt with with empty stomachs, wallets bulging and hearts aflutter. Stone cold sober.

we were not offered one of these (Pampered Chef website)
we were not offered one of these (Pampered Chef website)

We were given stick on name badges, sat down around a table with lots of utensils on it and asked if we’d been to a Pampered Chef party before.

“No,” we replied as we spelt our names out for the head chef and sales person, P…… Ours were easy to spell, remember and pronounce correctly. Not so Niamh’s it transpired. This beautiful, young teacher from County Derry proved, through the evening, to have a first name impossible for P……. to reconstitute with precision.

“Nam-ha, what about you?” she asked. “Have you been to a P C event before?”

It’s Niamh,” Niamh replied laughing. “Everyone over here gets it wrong. No, I haven’t.”

Does no one know the actress, Niamh Cussack? Doesn’t that help just a little?

Apparently not.

“Why don’t you do some chopping now, Kn-ive? If you turn the red pepper over it’ll be easier.”

“It’s Niamh,” Niamh laughed along with the rest of us and chopped a slice of pepper badly.

“Pretend its someone you don’t like,” P…… instructed. “Take your frustrations out on it.”

Sorry, this child is too young and pretty to have frustrations big enough to make that chopper go through that pepper skin.

“I’ll have a go,” I said.

Pepper chopped we were onto the pastry.

B…… who was seated next to me and who had been brought by her daughter was onto her second glass of wine.

“I’ve got one of those dibber things,” she said rather loudly.

P…… jumped on this with alacrity. “How do you find it?”

“I haven’t actually used it yet,” B…… replied. “It looks like fun.”

We made this:

got it out of the oven just in time (mrscarmichael)
got it out of the oven just in time (mrscarmichael)

Pretty good huh?

Now, I don’t really eat pastry. But starving and not wanting to appear churlish I had a bit. It was quite nice. The ingredients chopped by my frustrations, fine and well balanced.

B…… had almost finished her bottle of wine and was getting louder.

“How old do you think my daughter is?” She lent into my right ear and shouted.

Oh God, no.

“Ummm.”

“I wasn’t a teen mum, if that helps.”

It did and knowing her daughter had teenage children I was back in control.

“Thirty two,” I guessed.

“Thirty five,” she yelled pleased, I think, with the progress of the conversation but then a distraction.

“I’ve got that,” she fog horned, waving her empty glass at a muffin tin. “Nothing sticks to it.”

“Exactly as promised,” P……. smiled. “Do you use it a lot?”

“Never got it out of the box,” B…… shouted. “I read the reviews though and bought it a couple of parties ago.”

A couple of parties ago? Her thirty two year old daughter was nodding.

“I got the mixing bowl at that one, didn’t I, Mum?”

“Yes,” blared B……

Under my hair I pushed my finger over that little triangle of ear flesh thankfully provided to protect ear drums.

“How do you find the bowl?” P…… asked.

“It’s still in the box,” the daughter replied. “What are you ordering this time, Mum?”

Thank goodness I wasn’t drinking. I managed a rapid eye swivel at my s-i-l who shares my sense of humour and was enjoying the derailment too. Her experience was not quite as dramatically sensurround as mine however. Sitting further away from B…… she was enjoying safer decibel levels.

The young professionals down the end of the table seemed to have forgotten that they were there to buy product and were chatting excitedly about their jobs. Two of them had admitted they lived with their parents anyway. Having been in sales for many years I would have concentrated on our table-end, in general and B…… plus daughter in particular, if I were P…….. but I wasn’t and she didn’t.

“Nia-m-ve,” she said somewhat timidly. ” Is that right?” The question an afterthought.

“No, it’s Niamh, ” Niamh said.

“Sorry, I just don’t seem to be able to get it right, do I?”

No, you really don’t.

“Will you slice the banana?” P…… asked her producing a machine of infinite complexity.

“Why can’t we use a knife?” I asked but was drowned out by B……

“Ooh, I’m going to put one of those on my wish list. I might get it at the next party.”

I subtly removed forefinger from ear to hear P…….’s reply to my question.

She hadn’t heard it and was now preparing pastry cases for the desert. Woe. This was turning into a diet night. But with my new half full mentality that meant another tick against the evening as a whole.

These are the cases:

uh oh (mrscarmichael)
uh oh (mrscarmichael)

Needless to say the finished product did not look much like this:

the real McCoy (P C website)
the real McCoy (P C website)

But apparently they tasted good.

Then we had a raffle and I won. I never win anything. Yea, I thought, a utensil. But no it was a tiny recipe pamphlet. Never mind, I don’t do recipes anyway.

I bought a coloured knife because it is really pretty

mine's green and bigger (Pampered Chef website)
mine’s green and bigger (Pampered Chef website)

and my s-i-l bought the mother of all trifle bowls. I mean it’s gigantic. P……explained all the things M…… could use it for apart from filling it with trifle. It was almost 11.00 pm and our eyes were glazing a little. Here, pictorially then, are some of those things:

every home should have one (mrscarmichael)
every home should have one (Pampered Chef website)

Believe it or not I had a brilliant evening. Utterly out of my comfort zone for oh so many reasons I enjoyed every last second of it and do hope P……. made a profit on the evening.

I’m thinking of doing one for my utterly dysfunctional book group (Rules of Engagement and Rules of Engagement (Reprise)) when it’s next my turn to host. We will not cook pastry but if I can track down B…… and her daughter I will invite them along to their mutual activity of choice. I need to be kept abreast of any new Pampered Chef product they haven’t used yet.

As a postscript, Niamh is pronounced Neeve (as in heave) for anyone who is struggling as much as poor P…… did on the night.