Thursday 5 March 2009

Castell to the carnivore's rescue again

To beef me up
I got off the train after a long hour's journey from Apeldoorn at Amsterdam and wondered if I wanted to return home to the kitchen or eat out of another kitchen.
The latter appealed to me between having a decent Italian which was not easy to get to, maybe returning to Castell where I am a carnivore par excellence, so it was Castell.
A restaurant where the ambience is mellow, the lights are low, the seating is bar-cum-living room and the music is easy. Just at the door, like any decent restaurant should, my coat was taken, my hat to the stand and my cane kept but there was no seating at the bar.
I plumb for a corner where I found I could either be facing the wall or facing the crowd, sometimes, even though I love my own company, it is not a love to be cherished when you are out – I felt both alone and lonely at one time – new discovery, I am a social animal, I feed off the company of people even if I do not interact with them.
Slow down the snails
My entrĂ©e was slow food, escargots when alive were slow, awash with garlic butter and herbs with the callipers to hold the shells as you prised out the snails with a special fork – it was interesting to see another patron later on switching the roles of the callipers and the fork, amusing, I thought.
Usually, I have the Dutch fat arse steak but I was persuaded to try the Black Angus variety with the choice of sirloin or prime, went for the sirloin medium rare – my appetite was in over-drive as I sipped from a glass of the house deep red.
Soon afterwards, there was a free space at the bar and I took residence within a social setting waiting for le plat principal to appear – it did and should have arrived with a jacket potato when the waiter realised I might have been served the wrong end, I would not have noticed but before I stuck my knife in it my Black Angus was served.
Et tu Brute?
I half gulped it down, I was that famished, but I think it is a classic piece of dining to have an 8” Sabatier to stab and cut the meat as I listened to Sam Cooke, Anita Baker, Oleta Adams, Micheal Jackson, Dolly Parton – the list of mellow that segued into easy listening just made it all the more worthwhile.
Now, a knife that threatening could do much damage in the wrong hands, it should be kept low and close to the meat as some other patron had it high in a most uncouth manner, I had to deign from the character role of Julius Caesar as Brutus allowed for the first cut to be the deepest – some people are in need of kindergarten refresher courses on how to handle cutlery at the table.
The dessert was butterscotch ice cream which only confirmed to me that my dream of having a six-pack late spring in Gran Canaria might well remain a dream.
See through teas
It was close to 10 and I could not be having coffee at that time of the day, I asked for tea. Serving tea in the Netherlands is nothing like the English would like. Ideally, one should be asked if one takes milk in the tea which should be served in chinaware because one really cannot have milky tea in a clear glass as one would have with other kinds of non-lactate infusions.
In short, I had my Earl Grey tea without milk even as one person tried to persuade me that I could do whatever I liked, well, one might be given to bouts of private lasciviousness but there is still place for proper conduct – my Englishness does at times constrain me.
It was another good evening at Castells until an insatiable craving compels me to make a beeline to a place so well appointed to the eating of the cow, the bull, the sheep, the pig and sometimes the chicken – chicken? Oven on 175 degrees and clock to 45 minutes – surely, I can roast my own chicken. Bliss!

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