When I first got together with my wife, she was living with Jimmy, a 6’2” motorbike-riding fireman, which some men might find quite intimidating. Luckily he was clearly more preoccupied with Smudge, his psychotic cat, and as one of the first things we did was stay up and watch the Oscars together, doing an Academy Awards Questionnaire that he had both compiled and photocopied, I was starting to wonder if perhaps it was not my wife who would have to resist his advances. That is emphatically not the case, however, and it turns out the main thing Jimmy wants from me these days is loft space (that is not a euphemism,) as he tries to make room in his flat in Finsbury Park for the new lady in his life.
All four of us agreed to meet up for dinner at nearby Petek, a Turkish place with décor teetering just on the tasteful side of kitsch. I could wax lyrical here over the pillowy slabs of delicious Turkish bread, homemade chilli tomato sauce and enormous lemony olives that arrived at the table before we had ordered far too much meze. I could also gripe slightly over the amount of time it all took to arrive, but then maybe that is the price you pay for over ordering in what is clearly a very popular local eatery. Added to which, the price we did pay – £25 each including service – would make that a slightly unreasonable gripe. There are better, cheaper and more atmospheric Turkish restaurants dotted along Stoke Newington High St, but it would be unfair to be overly critical of Petek because it really didn’t do much wrong.
There were a couple of glasses of wine, even if £7.95 seems a little stiff for a Rioja, excellent alcohol free cocktails, and some wonderfully comforting food. Turkish cooking manages to combine the freshness of herbs and citrus with pulses, dairy and plenty of stonking great proteins and their cooking juices. To quote John Bender from The Breakfast Club, ‘All the food groups are represented’. We ordered the set menu but added slightly disappointing lamb livers and some more prawns because it’s difficult to have too many prawns, even if our great-great grandchildren may well disagree with us. Particular highlights were a baby broad bean salad and toothsome little goat’s cheese parcels. All the usual suspects were present and correct, but with clever little lifts – pomegranate seeds on the halloumi, for instance, just to make things a bit more of an event, which is nice when that is essentially what you’re paying for. There was baba ganoush, hummus, sticky chicken patties, sausage and lamb shish that we gobbled at til we were almost too full to lick our fingers. The only real misstep was a falafel, but then I tend to find falafel a bit of a misstep in the first place.
Not much beats great food in pleasant surroundings with good company, and so I would give Petek a resounding thumbs up, which would make this one of the shorter blogs I’ve ever written, but then I have got you here on slightly false pretences.
After we got back from New York, (see previous post,) some of you may know my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, which is shit, frankly, and a lot of people have been very supportive. The prognosis is good and we are repeating all those positive mantras and one-day-at-a-timing our way through it. The reason I mention it is that the latest installment in the homoerotic adventures of Jimmy and Al sees us running a half-marathon next Sunday (15/03/15) in aid of Breakthrough Breast Cancer (along with my brother, Bruce.) Thanks to tear-inducing generosity from some quarters I have already passed my fundraising target of £5k, but I would like to raise more. If you have ever read any of these blogs and enjoyed them, or even if you haven’t, I would be thrilled if you could donate any amount, no matter how big or small, and prove those pedants wrong who believe it is impossible to give more than 100%.
My Just Giving page is here: www.justgiving.com/AlistairBarrie
Jimmy’s page is here: www.justgiving.com/big-jim-ryan/
And Bruce’s is here: www.justgiving.com/Bruce-McPoodledoodle/
In return I will promise never to end a blog on quite such a downer again, and you will have my undying gratitude. I also promise to make it over the finishing line without a fireman’s lift, as Jimmy’s given us quite enough of one by agreeing to do this in the first place. Thanks for stopping by, and many, many thanks in advance.