30 – Unveiling the Mole

sherlock

You’ll remember that only recently I almost caught someone who was rifling through my restaurant’s bins late at night. At the time I thought it must be the mole sent by Carotene Half, owner of the so called contemporary Italian restaurant, The Bologna Pony. And I had thought I had seen Ainsley Harricot running away in the moonlight.

Well, tonight the mystery was solved.

It only happened because Mad4Food TV broadcast my Biscuit Special two days ago, the episode which had of course not yet broadcast several weeks ago and yet Carotene Half had somehow found out weeks ago that I had, er, mentioned him in the programme. Then last night, one of my occasional regulars, Black Cab Trev, came to eat at the Sausage. He only eats here when he has done one of his early morning ‘special trips’ to Felixstowe to drop something off at the port. He never tells me what he drops off and I don’t ask (and nor, I suspect,does he).

Anyhow, Trev told me that he had seen my programme “on the box” and then he knocked me out with the following: “Not only that, Mr B, but then I remembered where I had seen your co-presenter before, Ainsley whatsisname. Right in the back of my taxi only a week or so ago. Strange it was, ” he continued, “Cos it was real late at night and I wondered who would want picking up round here at that time who I didn’t already know. Right outside your restaurant too. I didn’t think much more of it at the time, but then last night I clocked him again on your TV programme.”

Well, to say you could have knocked me down with a feather, Trevor, would have been absolutely true. I couldn’t quite believe it – Ainsley Harricot was the mole after all.

I made sure of it today when we had a production meeting to discuss next months’ programmes and I asked Harricot point blank if he had been at my restaurant the other night – and he didn’t even try to deny it. Just shrugged and said he’d been looking for something he could “get me” with. Waffled on about how he was still pissed off at me after I served him the dead-live rabbit in an earlier programme. But when I pushed him for more details he wouldn’t say anything. Until I said, “Why did Half put you up to it, Harricot? What were you doing for him?” At which point, Harricot quite genuinely turned pale and stuttered something about needing to leave and literally rushed out of the room.

So although I now know who the mole was, I still don’t really know why. Or what he was after. I don’t believe for a second it was based purely on getting his revenge on me after I made him look a little bit silly on TV. There were plenty of easier ways for him to try to get his own back than coming out to the Sausage late at night and looking through my bins.

I might have to confront Half himself.

21 – Bins and Moles

mole

I think I almost captured the mole last night. You’ll remember that we had a problem with dogs somehow getting in to our secure grounds and pissing in the snow a while back, and more recently a strange case of Carotene Half’s lawyers accusing me of slandering Half on my TV show when that episode had not even been broadcast yet. Unsurprisingly, I smelt a mole. And today, my suspicions have increased.

Last night, after I closed up the Sausage, I remembered I had to collect some papers to work on at home, so I went back to the restaurant when it was shut up. It was nearly full moon last night and so the dining room had an eerie but very bright feel. But as I was walking between the tables I suddenly saw a flash of light from outside. Intrigued, I pushed open our back door and immediately heard a crash which sounded like two of our large wheelie bins being shoved into one another.

At first I thought the dogs might be back – you might recall that I suspect Half could have sent his dogs here – and so I ran full pelt towards the bins. But when I got there, it wasn’t a dog I saw running away, but the silhouette of a somewhat portly man as he rather clumsily squeezed himself between two bins and ran towards our back fence.

But as he clambered over the fence, he caught his jacket on a fence-post and twisted round so he was facing towards me, and as the moon was out I caught a half glimpse of his face. And I can’t quite believe what I think I saw. I had of course suspected it would be Half or one of his staff, but it wasn’t. In fact, it looked like Ainsely Harricot. It stopped me in my tracks.

Ainsley Harricot? Why would he be rifling through my waste bins? He can’t have been looking for food. But my next menu maybe? My recipe notes? I know other chefs are jealous of what I achieve.

Or maybe I was mistaken. Maybe it wasn’t Harricot. But I tell you what, I am having CCTV installed immediately. And whoever you are, mole, next time I will capture you on film. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

19 – My Response to Carotene Half’s Solicitor

You will have read the recent, obnoxious letter I received from Carotene Half’s solicitor last week (the chef of nearby Italian restaurant, The Bologna Pony) – the one in which he accuses me of saying all sorts of things about his “cooking” on my TV show. I said I would be responding in kind and I have done so, and so, for your entertainment, I produce  a copy of what I have sent him:

SolicitorLetter Back to Him reBiscuits2

Ha! Let’s see what he has to say about that.

I guess I had also better send a copy to my solicitor too.

17 – Solicitor’s Letter From Carotene Half

Well this is interesting. As you will have read, in my latest TV show, I discussed the biscuits I made, and apparently, if you listened in a certain way,  then it sounds as though I was taking the piss out of our near-by restaurant, The Bologna Pony, and its chef, Carotene Half. I of course was not. However, that hasn’t stopped Half instructing his solicitors to write a letter to me asking me to retract my remarks. Here is a copy of said letter:

SolicitorLetter reBiscuits2

All I can say here is that I certainly will not be retracting my remarks here on my blog. I never even made the comments which Half says I did and I will be informing his solicitor of that by return of mail. I will post that letter on my next blog too.

However, the most interesting thing about this is that Half has written to me before the TV show has even aired! So how on earth did he know what I said?

Me thinks I smell a mole. Woe betide, Mole! Just wait til I find out who you are – because, Mole, digging around for maggots and worms will be all you’ll be able to do thereafter.

13 – Yellow Snow

Italian Spinone

If you read my last blog then you will know that we have been thrilling our customers at the desert table during this snowy weather with our Melting Snowman, where we build a 6 inch snowman which melts before the diners’ eyes to give them a surprise amuse-bouche.

Unfortunately we have had a few problems with, er, yellow snow getting into the snowmen. It seems that one of the neighbourhood dogs has been getting into the area of our kitchen garden where we get the snow from, and for some reason one of my Chef de Partie did not check his ingredients properly.

Regrettably, the first person to notice this was one of our customers. Who just happened to be the mayor of the local town. Who just happened to be dining with two other councillors… and the food critic at our local newspaper… and the local Rabbi. I don’t think it meant the dish wasn’t Kosher but it certainly wasn’t “kosher”-genuine. Well, it was genuine, in fact far too genuine, it just wasn’t quite wasn’t what they, or I expected.

Fortunately, none of them actually ate it. Unlike my Chef de Partie, who then did have to taste it. All of it.

– – –

PostScript: My Chef de Partie was so aggrieved by what had happened, that he “voluntarily” stayed up all night to try to catch the canine culprit. Sure enough, the dog did return, somewhere near 5am apparently, and was just about to do his thing again when my chef managed to chase him off. He swears blind he would have actually caught the dog if it hadn’t been for the frost-bite in his fingers. Pathetic excuse.

The interesting thing is that he says the dog looked a bit like a curly coated retriever. When I showed him a photo later of a similar breed he confirmed that’s what it was. The thing is, the photo I showed him was a Spinone Italiano – they look similar but they are quite distinctive. And rare as pets in the UK. In fact, there is only one person I know who lives near here who has one: Carotene Half – the owner of The Bologna Pony. Surely he wouldn’t stoop that low, would he? Would he?

9 – Going Fishin’

Gone Fishing.

After my recent late-night phone message from Carotene Half I called him back and, much to my surprise, he invited me on a fishing trip. Out at sea. The man who has never shown any interest in my livelihood. Inviting me out for a day. I agreed, but with some suspicion…

That was 2 days ago. And I was right to be distrustful. This is what happened:

Half arranged to meet me at the port at 6:30am. A very early start. I drove down with my rod and angling kit. Half was already there, on board the boat, along with another man who I presumed was the skipper.

We set off and for the next hour chugged out to sea. Half appeared relaxed and constantly engaged me in conversation, laughing about other chefs and almost gently chiding me about the Sausage. I could see why he has the reputation of being a charmer.

Once we anchored, we started fishing. It has been a while since I fished but in no time I was catching more than my host. Which is when Carotene Half showed his colours and it became clear why he had invited me. The conversation went something like this:

CH: “So, Beycope, what do you say to a little wager? A little competition. See who catches the most fish today. And whoever does…” Half paused and then said, “Whoever does catch more, well, they get the other man’s restaurant. What do you say?”

It took me a moment to be able to respond. “You mean, you want whoever loses to give up his restaurant to the other chef?”

CH: “Exactly. So, are you up for it? I mean, you think you can fish don’t you?”

I weighed him up. This was extreme even for what I knew about Half. Was he serious? Was he really asking me to gamble my entire restaurant based on a fishing competition? There again, if I won…

At that moment I looked away, out to sea, and as I did so I caught sight of the very slightest of glances between Half and the skipper of the boat.

It only took me a few more moments to decide. “Sorry, Half, I can’t do that. Even though I think I’ll win, that’s just too high a stake. Even for me.”

Half shrugged. “Fine. No problem. If you’re too chicken…”

I took a deep breath, turned my back on him and cast my line. We didn’t say anything more until we were chugging back into port an hour or so later, when we exchanged a cold if civil goodbye.

I drove home – but with a nagging regret at the back of my mind. Why? Because in end I had caught more fish than Half. I had won. But as I had turned down his bet, I didn’t have his restaurant.

But I also wonder if Half is going to give up his new pursuit. If you ask me he’s a bit of a slippery so-and-so.