The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


When Love Turns To Apathy …

You might just be getting over the shock of yesterdays post, where I showed the world I was wearing shoes.

Real shoes.

Proper, proper shoes.

Well hold on to your hats because it’s going to get worse.

As many of you know, I have had a long, long, long, long, long time love affair with Taiwanese restaurant, Din Tai Fung.

I have been there so many times.

Literally hundreds.

The food is amazing.

The service is amazing.

The whole thing is amazing.

It’s the first restaurant I took my son to.

It’s the first restaurant we went to when we moved to LA.

It’s the first restaurant I looked forward to going to when we moved to the UK.

Now, to be honest, the food wasn’t quite the same in LA compared to China/Asia.

Don’t get me wrong, it was nice … but some of the ‘classics’ had been adapted to American tastes.

A bit sweeter.

A little less spicy.

But I could deal with it because apart from the free soda refills, it’s Din Tai Fung and that’s all that matters.

OR SO I THOUGHT.

You see when we moved to London, the restaurant had not yet opened.

In the 3 months between moving here and the doors opening, I had told everyone – and I mean EVERYONE – how this was going to change their life.

Well, we went … and I was right, it did change my life.

FOR THE WORSE.

I know … this is possibly even more shocking than the Birkenstock situation.

You see, while they had food that was on all their menus around the World, it was a poor imitation of it.

Worse, the sizes were smaller … it was less well cooked … it was served by people who were severely lacking in the kind, seamless service I had come to expect and a shedload more expensive.

As you can see from the receipt, a meal for my wife, 4 year old son and me was over £100.

ONE HUNDRED POUNDS.

No booze … no excessive amounts of ordering … and yet it cost about twice as much as my biggest ever order in China and trust me, that was a huuuuuuuuge order.

Now I get London is more expensive than China.

I get people in London may not have a frame of reference for what Din Tai Fung should be.

But it utterly destroyed me.

I went in their with such high hopes and came out disappointed and dismayed.

OK, so they have just opened and may still be having teething problems … but sadly, I doubt that is the real reason. As in the fashion with many companies trying to duplicate the success of one thing, they tend to focus on the ‘big things’ to copy and completely miss – or ignore – the small.

The details that make the big things sing.

While I’ll give them one more chance, the reality is I fully expect I won’t be back until I am back in Asia and while that might not sound a big thing, the fact they have lost such a massively loyal customer should be of concern to them.

Sadly I doubt they’d even care.

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Can Anyone Miss Home This Much?

Despite being half Italian, I identify myself as British.

And I love my country.

I do.

I know I don’t live there, but it is still somewhere very precious to me, both for my memories and my friends.

My Britishness affects quite a lot of what I do and how I do it.

Even to this day, if I see ‘bangers and mash’ on a menu, I’m going to have it.

It doesn’t matter if I’m in London, Shanghai or Vietnam … it’s going to go into my gob.

And when I do go home, I absolutely adore stocking up on old favourites.

Monster Munch crisps.

Double Decker chocolate bars.

Kebab Cob Special from Nick the Greeks on Radcliffe Road.

Of course it’s not just food that makes me feel British, but I mention this because I recently got served this ad on Facebook.

Look, I get how nostalgic food can make you feel.

And yes, I appreciate how irrational our emotions can be.

But seriously, who the hell would be nostalgic for beef stock cubes.

Especially pretty shitty beef stock cubes.

Suddenly I don’t feel anywhere near as sad as I thought I was.

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PS: If you want to get a taste for British regional ‘cuisine’ – as well as good old fashioned banter – check out the comments in this awesome article about the Wigan ‘pie sandwich’.



When Was The Last Time You Did Something For The First Time …
June 3, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Dad, Daddyhood, Family, Food, Jill, Otis, Parents

I’ve written previously about the privilege it is to see my son experience things for the very first time in his life.

His first word.

His first food.

His first crawl.

His first plane trip.

His first time in the sea.

I cannot put into words how magical and amazing it feels.

The only downside being it is a constant reminder he is growing up in the blink of an eye.

Before I was a Dad, I used to listen to parents say that about their children and think ..

“It takes 18 years for your kid to grow up. 18 years is a bloody long time. Get over it”

… but now I am a father, I totally get what they mean.

Every day something new happens.

A new word.

A new experience.

A new interaction.

And you both relish it and hate it because it means they’re growing up. Developing. Moving towards a time where they will no longer be reliant on you … a time where you will no longer be the most important people in their World.

The best thing about technology is I can capture these things in perfect clarity.

Not just so I can embarrass Otis when he’s older – though that is pretty good too – but so I can remember the feeling or love and wonder I have every time I am given the honour of witnessing my son grow up right in front of my eyes.

Which leads to the point of this post.

Recently we gave Otis his first taste of ice cream.

A product he could neither quite grasp in terms of taste or how to eat it.

But he liked it … or at least the concept of it.

I won’t say anymore – I’ll let you see it for yourself – though wouldn’t it be great if we were all this happy about such simple pleasures.

God, I love that kid so, so much.

Have a great weekend.



England Is Becoming America …
May 20, 2015, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment, Food, Health

When I was in the UK recently, we found ourselves in a cheap and cheerful hotel.

While it was clean and quiet, it had no food service and so if you wanted to eat, you went to the cheap and cheerful pub next door.

In-keeping with these sorts of ‘restaurants’, the menu consisted of food that was cooked by being placed in a deep fat fryer … but what really got me was the portion sizes.

Frankly they were huge.

I mean absolutely massive.

And this is coming from a man that loves his [bad] food.

What the hell is going on?

What’s worse is they are trying to make it even bigger.

Seriously, look at this:

Yes … despite offering basically a whole set of farm yard animals on a plate, they offer you the opportunity to ‘Go Large’.

Are they mad?

They used to say that anyone who visited the US for 2 weeks would put on about 7 pounds over that time, but I bet it’s the same – if not more – when you now visit the UK.

Of course part of the reason – and there are many – is that the food companies have made us think quantity represents value.

Our minds now look at the portion size and compare that with the price to evaluate whether we are getting a good deal.

Doesn’t matter it’s full of fat, salt and sugar.

Doesn’t matter that it contains way more than anyone needs in a single meal.

Doesn’t matter that there are more calories than Elvis could munch down.

Value is now often viewed as quantity not quality – especially when we’re talking about prices of between 5 and 10 pounds – so it’s no surprise many lower income families view this sort of food as their average dinner.

Years ago Jamie Oliver took this issue on with his school dinners program.

Regardless what you think of him, I thought this was a great idea but sadly, it’s still easier to obtain food like this – at least in the UK – than something approaching anything with some health value.

With so much pressure on NHS funding, surely it’s time the Government start taxing companies who make this junk and cause future health problems?

I know ultimate responsibility lies with the parent/consumer but by the same token, when people are literally surrounded by opportunities to choose the wrong thing – driven by big corporations who do all they can to push their low-quality food drug [as seen in the brilliant W+K WeightWatchers ad below] into the hearts, minds & mouths of society – surely a Government whose job is to protect it’s citizens should step in?