Sex, lies and flipping pancakes

If I haul myself out of bed on time in the morning, I’ll have breakfast in the café before heading off to work. Let’s call it a terrific perk of having sex with a chef. These days I’m eating some of Guido’s red berry and hazelnut granola. It might taste like gravel but apparently it’s one of the best selling healthy options on his breakfast menu.

Last Monday I found myself sharing a table with two wonderful seventy year old American tourists from Hackensack, New Jersey. They’re a married couple, called Belva and Cricket (you’ve got to just love those names haven’t you?) who are checked-in for seven nights around the corner at the Hilton London Bankside. There’s just one big problem. Cricket thinks the breakfast there stinks.

“D’you guys serve pancakes?” yelled Belva throwing open the café door last week. It almost came flying off at the hinges. She shrieked that question like someone asking if I knew how to start pumping CPR compressions or blow some air urgently for mouth to mouth resuscitation. I suppose there are times when only a pancake will do.

“Yes,” I said.

Of course I lied. Although I knew that pancakes aren’t a permanent fixture on the breakfast menu, I figured if somebody’s life depended on them then Guido wouldn’t mind rustling up a stack. And just maybe if they were lucky, drizzling on optional maple syrup.

Unfortunately that particular Monday morning it was super hectic in the kitchen. I found Guido sweating profusely over six simultaneous orders of French Toast, two buttered baps, and a pan of worryingly unresponsive porridge. When I told him about a further two unsolicited orders which involved whipping fresh pancake batter he shouted something very derogatory at me in Spanish. Trust me, in the cut and thrust of the culinary world, he’s no mister nice guy.

“I love a kid who makes his pancakes with buttermilk,” said Cricket pushing back an empty plate and unfurling the napkin from his collar. “And that crispy bacon on the side? Hell yeah.”

The next morning Cricket had pancakes with blueberries. The next morning he had pancakes with Nutella and a sprinkle of chopped almonds. This morning when I walked through the café Cricket was actually flipping his own on the griddle. If the two of them hadn’t been booked for a visit to Buckingham Palace this afternoon he could’ve helped with the lunch service.

“You and Guido,” said Belva sipping her coffee, “you two boys are havin’ sex, aren’t you?”

Whilst I do admire directness, this did make me almost choke to death on my super healthy granola. Which would certainly have been pretty ironic.

“I can always tell lovers,” whispered Belva. She drew me near. “When our daughter, Shirley, brought her girlfriend, Vera, home for the first time… I opened the door and I said straight off right there and then on the porch – you two girls are havin’ sex, aren’t you?” God only knows what poor Vera must thought at the time. I’m surprised she didn’t run a mile. It must be like having Dr Ruth as your mother-in-law.

Guido’s created a pancake which is going to be on the special’s board all next week. He’s named it the Hackenstack.

I just hope Cricket can fit one in before he has to fly home.

You talkin’ to me?

“If you overheard somebody specifically talking about you, what would you ideally like to hear him or her say?” I asked Guido cryptically in bed last night.

Naturally there was the usual time delay pause before any signs of life sprang from the darkness.

“Hypothetically speaking where is this person and where am I?” said Guido equally obtusely, “and does this person already know me, and do I know them?”

“Let’s keep it simple,” I said propping up a pillow.

There was another pause.

“Do I like this person or is he or she a total pain in the arse?” asked Guido.

To maintain blog clarity at this juncture please let me be clear to any readers in the north American geographical area that at, “arse” what Guido really means is, “ass”.

“Well it doesn’t really matter because this person is only imaginary, not actually a bona fide friend, and I’m assuming we like our friends (unless we’re being trounced at poker – you know who you are.) For the purposes of this particular little scenario let’s stay neutral.”

“Like Switzerland?” asked Guido.

“Yes,” I said, “but thankfully we’re in bed so can avoid any unnecessary border controls.”

“Okay,” Guido said giving me the thumbs up, “fully understood. I just like to know where I stand on these things before I give it my full and undivided attention.”

Good grief, was it just me or was this getting overly complicated? I was beginning to wonder if this line of questioning was worth all of the aggrevation. Never mind getting into bed, at this rate we’d soon be getting out of it again, as it would be dawn.

“I suppose I’d want to hear something like – Congratulations Mr Guido Vasquez, you’ve just won the Euro Millions Lottery Rollover Jackpot.”

“That would be nice,” I said because £22 million would be a big help, “but, what if someone said something about you?”

“You see,” said Guido, “I do realise of course where you’re going with this because when you start a conversation asking me a question, I know it’s very rarely about what I think, it’s about what you think.”

Goodness, this guy was more intuitive than I’d ever have thought.

“Okay smart arse,” I said (where applicable please insert an “ass”), “it’s just that I heard two guys talking about us at the bus stop this morning.”

“And?” said Guido. I could tell he was intrigued because he’d screwed the lid back on the jar of peanut butter he had between his thighs.

“One guy pointed me out to another guy and I heard him say that I was sleeping with a chef who made a terrific salsa verde.”

“Which was obviously me,” said Guido, because obviously it was him.

“Doesn’t that disturb you?” I said. “I just felt like I was somehow secondary to a combination of parsley, garlic, capers and anchovies.”

“Well let’s put it this way, it would disturb me if they said you were sleeping with a chef who made a tasteless salsa verde,” said Guido sagely. He took the top off the peanut butter jar again, “Where do you want me to spread this?”

If only complete strangers knew what Guido could do with a spatula and a liberal amount of Reese’s spread. I certainly wouldn’t be able to travel on the bus anymore.

The trouble with tartan

I realise it’s an annoying habit of mine but, once in a blue moon, I like to drop a bombshell in bed just before lights out.

“I’m thinking of ditching the pink tuxedo idea for our marriage,” I said to Guido under the blanket last night. “I’m worried I’m going to look like Liberace.”

Rest assured readers, despite the fact that it’s the final countdown to our wedding I’m completely relaxed about the fact that I currently have nothing to wear to it. And breathe in 1, 2, 3, and exhale, 1, 2, 3.

“There is a God,” said Guido. I noticed the distinct whiff of relief fill the air.

“Yes,” I said casually preparing to detonate, “instead I’m going down the less controversial route of a loud check or plaid, or, get ready for this one – a tartan suit.”

I’ve got my blogger friend at over at lenaleegoeshmmm.wordpress.com to thank for the plaid idea. She’s been researching her family history and has discovered they have a tartan.

It took a moment for what I’d call stunned silent contemplation to kick in from Guido’s side of the mattress. It was the calm before the storm as my latest fashion revelation got fully absorbed. Sadly Guido’s brain can be a bit clunky like this on occasions. You know the pilot light’s lit but you seriously begin to wonder if anybody’s cooking with gas. That is unless of course Guido happens to be in the middle of averting a culinary meatball crisis at the time, in which case I can guarantee the gas is going and the gravy will always be rescued. Just splash in some Worcestershire Sauce. Hey, there’s another little one of his secret tips for you to try at home.

“I’ve seen a Vivienne Westwood tartan suit,” I said to Guido. I think at this point he had his head buried between pillows. “It’s reduced from £775 to a paltry £542.50. It’s a total bargain.” Once the wedding is over it’s going to make a great pair of bathroom curtains. As far as I was concerned it was a complete no brainer.

Guido suddenly sat bolt upright.

“Have you got splinters for the windmills of your mind?” he asked. It’s a distinct possibility, yes. “That’s more than the cost of our honeymoon flights to Lanzarote. Anyway, I thought you told Best Man Ted kilts were out.”

“They are, well, let’s just say, his is,” I said. “I mean, really, have you seen Ted’s legs? They’re not what I’d call Chippendale, but they could possibly be what I’d call Queen Anne.”

No disrespect intended but Ted has the sort of knees which scare small children. At the very least they’d have other guests gagging on their calamari. Forget a meatball crisis, can you imagine half nibbled squid leftovers? And not even a spicy dip to save the day.

“One day soon, when all this wedding nonsense is finally over you’ll have nothing to think about,” said Guido turning out the light. “I, on the other hand, am concentrating my thoughts on the vital ingredients that will form a signature raspberry ripple cheesecake recipe.”

I suppose there are worse things to think about in bed other than cheesecake. Guido could be tossing and turning all night worrying about the perils of an over stuffed haggis.

Lena, this one’s for you.

Guido at the beach

It was Bank Holiday Monday here this week. Almost everything in the city was closed, including The Spanish Onion café. One word sprang to mind. Yipee!

Our loft neighbours Bethany and Ethel who own the launderette next door, Toxic Bubbles, are holidaying in St Tropez (we’re clearly in the wrong line of business). They kindly left us the keys to their 1974 registration Fiat 500 for a few days. This caused uber excitement in our household as we don’t own a car. This is on account of the fact that we have no place to park, we don’t have a driveway, and we don’t own a garage. The only people now living in central London who can afford to have a parking space, have a driveway, or own a garage, are either Russian oligarchs or lesbian laundrette owners.

“It may not be the South of France but how do you fancy motoring down to Camber Sands for the day?” asked Guido grinning enthusiastically. My heart sank. Immediate thoughts turned to wearing highly revealing swim trunks and exposing my burgeoning waistline (please don’t mention the cabbage diet). I pinched at least an inch of pillowy flesh.

“For crying out loud would you stop worrying about the size of your stomach,” said Guido.

“Well it would help if a certain chef stopped bringing leftover pie upstairs from the kitchen every night,” I said. “Just saying.”

“Are you talking about me?” asked Guido.

“No,” I said, “I’m talking about Gordon Ramsey. He’s living under our mattress.”

Anyway as far as going to the beach is concerned Guido sure does have a short memory. The last time we went to Camber Sands on a Bank Holiday it was a total disaster. The weather was like that final scene from the movie The Perfect Storm. Guido insisted on running manly into the icy waves wearing only a pair of microscopic Speedos just like Charles Atlas did. Regrettably he emerged five soggy minutes later looking more like The Creature From The Black Lagoon.

“We could take the tent and the disposable bar-b-q and some tuna steaks and my fiery pineapple salsa,” said Guido.

He always gets really excited about cooking on the beach. I think its the butch Spaniard in him. I grew up in Bromley and the mere mention of cooking on hot coals makes me cringe. Picture it. My mother in a drunken stupor trying to ignite our George Foreman using Pimms.

The journey from Bermondsey to Camber Sands in a 1974 registration Fiat 500 is a very long and cramped one. Even with the sun roof open. Unfortunately I was map reading, so you can imagine what that was like. I think I had it upside down so we took a wrong turning and ended up at the Dartford Tunnel.

Guido enjoyed the drive and didn’t seem to mind at all that we never made it to the coast. Well, at least this Bank Holiday he didn’t get soaked and I got to keep my clothes on.

Guido’s Fiery Pineapple Salsa

Mix one can of chopped pineapple with half a chopped sweet onion and half a chopped red pepper. Add a few sliced jalapeño peppers from a jar and the juice of one lime. Sprinkle with some salt and coriander (cilantro). Chill.

Then eat by the side of a very busy intersection.