Wee miniatures of Sheffield

We Live Here (of the prints and greasy spoon mugs) have a nice new project. Wee Miniatures are tilt-shift postcards of Sheffield. £7.50 for 12. Nice, I like 'em.

Giant cans

Looking at this US map of who says pop v who says soda made me wonder what a British equivalent would look like. I'd call it juice and would have called it ginger in the past. I think juice is a bit posher than ginger and obviously I'm a lady now. What do you call it and where are you from?

[Picture from the Museum of Brands and Packaging, of which more later.]

Fried fish bar

In response to that last post about Scotland's classic cafes Mr Gibbon asks two good questions:

  1. Can you please make a list of the cafes, like this, that are in and around Glasgow that are still open?
  2. Where are all the decent chippies?

To Q.1 the answer is yes, will do. I've meant to do that for some time. Q.2 I don't know. I've stopped eating chips out of chip shops because they are generally so rubbish. A decline in national chip standards is a bit of a worry. For a nation that pretty much lives off deep-fried stodge you'd think we could do it a bit better. The only good chips I've had lately were from a place in East Kilbride village called Marini's (or Martini's, I'm not sure), although chips out of any Chinese or kebab shop are usually spot on. They're not chippy chips though. So any recommendations? - could be Glasgow or further afield. Good chips are usually worth travelling for.

Eddie, the oldest resident of the Excalibur Estate, Catford

There's a rather sad entry about the Excalibur Estate in Catford by Doctor Boogie on Nothing To See Here. The 187 prefabs there (the largest estate of its kind left in Europe) have survived for 60 years but are now under serious threat as they don't meet Decent Homes Standard and would cost £8.4 million to refurbish. Clearly the numbers don't add up, but sometimes it's not just about money.

Belle & Sebastian 2008 Glasgow calendar

Belle & Sebastian have made a great 2008 calendar featuring all their favourite places in Glasgow. They've chosen well - some of my favourite places are in there too, like the Queen's Cafe on Victoria Rd with its wonderful ice cream cone window display and that great little 1930s street in the Transport Museum. It's a picture of the real Glasgow, not the tourist version and brings together a great city and a great band. Yours for £10 from the B&S Shop.

Gateshead Get Carter car park

We Live Here from Sheffield make wonderful art prints, t-shirts and accoutrements featuring risky modern buildings. The prints feature Owen Luder's Get Carter car park in Gateshead, soon to be demolished apparently, Sheffield's Egg Box, New Roxy Disco and Cooling Towers, remaindered from a long gone power station. If you like these, wait 'til you see the memorial Sheffield Castle Market Greasy Spoon Mug.

Sheffield Castle Market greasy spoon mug

Deep joy. Thanks Simon James for the tip (via Creative Review blog).

A deep fried Mars bar

Up north we visited Stonehaven, a nice old seaside town south of Aberdeen. The Carron (formerly The Haven) chippie there claims to be the home of the deep-fried Mars Bar. As it's the first time I've seen one on a menu I had to try one. It's a curious thing, an example of whatever the modern equivalent of tartanry is - something that represents Scotland worldwide but isn't very common when you live here. Londoners recently voted it the 6th best Scottish invention while Scots didn't include it in their top 10 at all.

So, what was it like? Well, it was very well made for a start. The batter was beautifully light and crispy and sealed the chocolate so none of it oozed out. Initially, a very tidy snack. The first bite was magical - a lovely mix of savoury and sweet. The crunch of the batter contrasted nicely with the gooey filling. The Mars bar doesn't melt but the caramel and the Milky Way-style fluffy stuff (technical term?) melt together and go all marshmallowy. Overall, it was surprisingly nice but after a couple of bites I'd had enough. I wouldn't eat a normal Mars bar really, so it's no reflection on its deep fried friend.

The wikipedia entry on Deep fried Mars bars is pretty detailed and outlines local variations like the deep fried Creme Egg from Duns (they've taken that too far). It also says, in a very deadpan way "It is known that the deep-fried Mars Bar was preceded by the deep-fried pizza. It was common practice in Angus to deep fry frozen pizza from as early as 1980." - now deep fried pizza really was a real part of growing up. I remember it being a real treat although when I tried one recently I couldn't handle it. Posting the Mars bar photo on Flickr prompted a discussion of the best thing you've ever had deep fried. My friend John (from Aberdeen) grew up on deep fried jam butties. Something I remember fondly is the cheese sandwiches deep fried in pakora batter from (the now defunct) Murphy's Pakora Bar. They were outstanding. Fried ice cream is big in Mexico. Any advances on that?

Update: Simon James points out a clip of Raymond Blanc trying a deep fried Mars bar on BBC2's The Restaurant. He couldn't eat a whole one either.

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