The search for the elusive Sunday roast..

Today was probably the worst Sunday I think I’ve had for a long time… It started out simply enough with a plan to drive to the countryside with some friends and have a roast dinner followed by a walk. And although we sort of achieved these things, it came with a great sacrifice.First up, having left the house after a row we approach the car to find a parking ticket issued for having two wheels on the curb. £50 that’s going to cost me. What’s annoying is that it wasn’t even like I’d mounted the curb, in this case the curb was as flat as the road. So all we’re really talking about here is gradations of stone.. I was simple on the wrong strata by two inches. The ticket was issued at 08:52 this morning. What kind of crazy jobsworth traffic warden is out and about at that time?! Furthermore the only reason I parked in this spot and not my usual high curbed road was that a funeral was taking place at the church next door and loads of weeping relatives had clogged the street with their cars. I’ve a good mind to go to the reading of the will and demand £50 – pah!So… not the best start. We then drive to Streatham and pick up some other friends and head off. Two hours later we’re lost somewhere near Sevenoaks. There then follows frantic texting and phone calls to determine where we’re susposed to be. At one point I stopped and asked a man who it turned out was an architect, so his directions were peppered with things like “turn left at the new school I designed”. Anyway, he drew me a lovely map, however I did glean some satisfaction from pointing out his school boy error it drawing the symbol for a church with a tower when in actual fact it had a round spire.You’d think we were in the back of beyond for all the mobile reception you could get… each dip in the road would loose the call. We then found the pub, only it was the wrong Fox and Hounds, they had no reservation under our name and said they were full. Look how many Foxes and Hounds there are near Sevenoaks.By this time I was facing a mutiny from the back seat, things had turned rather feral and there was a fight over the last Polo and who should have the chonch. We headed back towards Sevenoaks to a pub we’d past 45 mins ago called The Woodman, oh dear.Look at this menu. Far too much, over forty dishes (fresh from the microwave). I hate the way these sort of pub menus are written almost as much as what’s on them. Gammon Steak served with your choice of pineapple or fried egg…but not both! Thai Red Chicken Curry served with white and wild rice & naan bread. Naan? With Thai curry? Pork Saltimbocca fillets of pork with sage and prosciutta. Served with a red wine jus. Saltimbocca is supposed to be made with veal isn’t it, and oooh we all luv a jus…. And finally lines like this “In the unlikely event that our chalkboards can’t tempt you, perhaps we might suggest something from our snack menu below.”Okay, so the menu is standard English pub, far to ambitious and you know that a pub like this isn’t exactly going to be getting deliveries fresh everyday. But hey, maybe they’ve got a Octopus God at the range who can pull it all off… alas no.“Are you doing food?” “Yis”, “all day?” “yis, bat there’s a 45 minute wit”. Now the pub wasn’t that busy, but three roast dinners and a fish pie took an hour. All served by confused chalkboard parading white South Africans. When the food did arrive it was dull, insipid and bland.Still at least they were attempting food all day, most places we rang up were ‘only from 12 till 2’ Two hours! Eat in these 120 minutes or it’s another seven days till we can roast some meat again. Shuttle Launch windows are wider than that.So, in short fuck the countryside, fuck crappy English country pubs, fuck the fuckwit teenage chefs who can only microwave things one at a time, fuck chalkboards, fuck bits of agricultural hardware screwed to the walls, fuck old photos, and fuck the other dull diners who didn’t even complain, fuck it all. Next time I want a roast dinner I’m staying in London. I think we’ll be well into spring by the time I’m up to attempting a day trip to the countryside and it’ll be warm enough then to pack a picnic.On the way home we swerved to try and hit a pheasant but he got out of the way…

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I've left it here for historical purposes. Please visit my new blog at www.foodjournalist.co.uk

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These are my personal views and not those of Channel 4 or the BBC
February 2006
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