Thanks to Helen we have a cunning plan. A table plan, that is, for the World Kitchen in Leith event at Out of the Blue next week. More to the point we also have a menu which makes us hungry just to think of it – and it’s a menu you won’t find in any other restaurant. But back for a moment to that table plan because we’re learning fast that there is much more to running a restaurant than writing the menu!
After several nights of dreaming about tables I realise that I need a GCSE in what Helen calls ‘waiter maths’. The exam question would go something like this…
You have 60 people coming for dinner and four cooks in the kitchen. There are three hours for eating and drinking. How many tables do you need to make sure diners have time to relax, chill out and enjoy their meal before the next sitting? And how can you make sure they don’t all come at once – so that cooks and waiters meet orders without ending up like a scene out of Fawlty Towers?
We have the answer thanks to a chart drawn up by Helen (her student years working and waiting in Edinburgh restaurants were not wasted). And thanks to Isi at Out of the Blue who is going to magic up 12 tables – now we just need a nice flow of bookings at 15 minute intervals.
(Cue John Cleese striding round the room muttering, ‘Table 10 is 5 minutes late, table 11 is 10 minutes early, and table 5 is all over the place. Why don’t they pay attention!”)
But what are we worrying about! All the bookings are from lovely people who will enter into the spirit of thing. And the spirit of World Kitchen is about the food and the company.
In capable hands: Mridu dishes up cauliflower, coriander and cream
And after yesterday’s meeting we can’t wait to prepare and serve a menu you really won’t find anywhere else: Mridu’s Indian Thali offering bowls of delicately spiced vegetables including black chick peas, Alice’s African fish curry served with ugali and spinach with peanut sauce, Fatima’s Middle Eastern minted lamb meatballs with spiced tomato sauce, Meena’s pakora’s with green chutney made from her granny’s secret recipe, Celia’s Irish champ (which goes amazingly well with the meatballs) and Granny Barron’s Irish soda bread (delicious with Scotch broth). Not to mention Wojtek and Daniel’s melt-in-the-mouth Polish cheese cake, sour apple cake and ginger carrot cake.
All washed down with world music selected by Radio Magnetic specially for the night
Just make sure you’ve got your table booked. Ring 0131 556 4646 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
On a grey Edinburgh summer’s day I jump off a bus painted with blue skies and fluffy white clouds and on to the tram in Princes Street. It isn’t going anywhere of course but it’s still a great ride if only to dispel myths and misconceptions rumbling around town.
The tram project is not wildly over budget, the council is not planning to axe other projects to pay for it and the line will run all the way from Newhaven to Edinburgh airport.
That’s the gist of TIE’s Myths Buster bulletin. Busting myths is important in a cynical environment but I long to hear someone speak with blood stirring passion about the benefits trams will bring. Even when you are just standing on the motionless tram Edinburgh suddenly feels like a different place: smart, efficient, connected.
So Richard Jeffrey (the chief executive of TIE is surely a man with thick skin) urges politicians to have courage. Reading yesterday’s media coverage of Jeffrey’s energetic outburst I was also interested to see a quote from an old newspaper colleague of mine.
Howard Johnston, editor-in-chief of Tramways and Urban Transit, says Edinburgh needs to get its act together as pretty soon there will be so many cars in the city it will seize up. I paraphrase just a little.
Even Kazakhstan has trams: flashback to the brilliant Friends of the Earth Scotland 2007 campaign.
LRTA – “a new magazine for a new era of city transport” – is refreshingly evangelistic about trams but it also speaks authoritative good sense. One editorial argues that public opposition to tram construction might be reduced if the cost of moving utilities was not included in the price. Edinburgh’s ancient utilities – water, sewage and gas pipes – would have been replaced sooner rather than later even without the trams.
That puts a different slant on those shock horror newspaper stories claiming that it has cost £350m to construct only 18% of Edinburgh’s tram project. The £350m spent so far includes utility work as well as purchasing the trams and acquiring land etc plus that 18% of track laid – which, according to TIE, was always the deal agreed with the council. There’s lots more like this on theMyths Buster but don’t expect to find it prominently quoted in the local press.
Sadly the only passionate voices we hear are those rubbishing the scheme without much regard for the facts. But that is because those are the voices that are reported.
As it happens Howard Johnston and I did our newspaper training together a long time ago in a friendly newsroom producing the old EMAP Spalding Guardian and Lincs Free Press. We did a bit of council bashing when necessary from time to time but it was not our mission to undermine every project proposed by local councillors.
Back on the tram, I’m told more than 50,000 people have hopped aboard since it arrived on Princes Street and – according to the man on the tram and the LRTA’s Edinburgh page – most people seem to like it. But you won’t read that in the local press either.
(The blue sky bus is a feel-good story in itself but more of that later…)
I like to think this could be a sweetly subversive movement: poetry in motion, gently working its way into the nooks and crannies of city life; sometimes soothing, sometimes stirring. In London this summer at least some of the 3.5 million daily passengers on the Underground will find solace in six poems staring them in the face on the tube. And in Edinburgh? The Poetry Garden will bloom for a day in Castle Street on Friday 16th July.
In fact the Poetry Garden is rooted in St Andrew Square (where it was planted almost two years ago) but – Scottish summers being what they are – outdoor events can be a bit of a gamble. So Friday’s Summer Reading/Poetry in Motion has the great bonus of a mobile library (thanks to Ian Kirkby and Jane Douglas from Edinburgh City Libraries Direct Services).
As parking can also be a bit of a problem Mike Gallagher of Essential Edinburgh suggested Castle Street. That’s a brainwave which links two of Edinburgh’s new public spaces. While St Andrew Square is a fantastic success the great potential of Castle Street has yet to be fully realised (sadly the monthly Eating Place market no longer happens).
But parking poetry there between 10 am and 3pm on Friday seems to me a great opportunity to show how streets can come to life when people make creative use of them.
Hope I am not wrong! But with a little instant gardening (thanks to the horticulture team at the Botanics) and another inspired collection of poems handpicked by Lilias Fraser of the Scottish Poetry Library…how can anyone just walk on by? You can even use your library card to take out a book from the van right there and then.
SUMMER READING / POETRY IN MOTION
Friday 16 July, 10.30am-3pm
Mobile library van, Castle Street
Meanwhile Poems on the Underground continue to work their quiet magic as they have been doing ever since the idea was first dreamed up in 1986. Each season there is a new theme. This summer the theme is music with poems by, among others, Kathleen Raine, D.H Lawrence, Thomas Hardy and Gillian Clarke, celebrating birdsong, hymns, songs of love and longing – in tube carriages across London.