Monday, 28 November 2016

The Language of Disability

The language used around disability is complex and can be nightmarish to traverse without causing someone offence. So stay chilled and just apologise if someone takes umbrage, without getting into justifications &/or arguments. That's my personal advice anyway.

I personally have no problem with calling myself crippled - by disease & by pain - or handicapped - in the context of "by society". I do not mind calling my impairments, disabilities. And when tweeting I often use - hear the overly-PC-brigade tusk - "disabled" rather than "disabled people" because I can use those six characters more usefully. I also regularly use the term disablies in an attempt to humanise us.

[Image description: the author in his wheelchair]

The name of my personal blog is Crippled, Queer, Anglo-European Ranter and hence my nom de plume, Criquaer.

The following article from The Guardian newspaper authored by professional comedienne Penny Pepper is well worth a reading.

We’ve had all the insults. Now we’re reclaiming the language of disability


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

The Kitchen Brasserie, Inverness: a Review

On this occasion, we flew up from Manchester to Inverness. The airline that flies the route is Flybe in conjunction with their partner airline Loganair. The in-flight magazine recommended just one restaurant in the city centre, The Mustard Seed. Chatting to fellow passengers, they too recommended it. Alas, even though we attempted to book during the afternoon, it was already booked up until 21.30. Not to be deterred, our Scottish chum apprised us that there is a sister restaurant called The Kitchen Brasserie (the link is to their facebook page as I have been unable to open their website).

The restaurant has been constructed in a modern architecture style, but is cleverly snuggled into the gap between traditional buildings by the River Ness (top image). Oddly, it does not look out of place. There are three storeys, but the ground floor is wheelchair-accessible with an immaculately clean disabled w.c. We were very fortunate to have been allocated the floor-to-ceiling window-bay table, so we had open views of the riverfront and passers-by. Additionally, we were snook round the corner form the main entrance, so were not blasted by any of the chilly winds. The décor is a cross between Scandic & industrial utilitarian: a great ambience for friends &/or family; probably not somewhere to dine for a romantic dinner for two.

There was no doubt about what we would be drinking as no-one needed to drive so we were all at liberty to consume: Prosecco it was then. The 2015 vintage produced by Cavit was delightful: not too dry nor sweet; plenty of bubbles without over-spuming; and, quite quite palatable. We collectively quaffed two bottles between the three of us prior to and during our meal.

Nary a scrap was left of our three starters (images above) on the plates/platters: always a good sign and an indication that the diner is very likely going to find something to their taste.

Our main courses (images above) were: rump steak & pepper sauce with chips; duck with parsnip purée (mine); and, pan-fried chicken on creamy mash. Again, nothing was returned to the kitchen save for dirty dishes.

Only my assistant & I opted for dessert. We decided to share a cranachan served with an 18 y.o. Tomatin malt whisky. Chef was even kind enough to share his recipe with me, which probably everyone who dines with us over the next few months will get to sample!

The bill came to a very reasonable £130, of which £50 was in relation to the wine. The cuisine is excellent. The service occasionally let itself down, probably due to it being a very busy evening; however, our main waitress, Drina, did her very best to keep us happy and every time she passed had a smile &/or a cheery word for us. Even the manager exchanged pleasantries and jokes whenever he passed by. A really affable ambience. We shall definitely be returning when next in Inverness. Recommended.

Rocpool, Inverness: a Review

My friends moved up from Manchester to Inverness in the Highlands of Scotland some five-and-a-half years ago. We have visited four times now and each time have paid at least one visit to Rocpool. Rocpool Restaurant, by the River Ness, on Ness Walk, was established in 2002 (and is not be confused with Rocpool Reserve Hotel and its restaurant on the Culduthel road).

One is always warmly welcomed, and I can personally confirm that the staff are child-friendly, having taken children along with us on two of our visits including the latest. Wheelchairs can be accommodated on the upper level, but one has to descend four steps to pay a visit to the w.c. I cannot state strongly enough that pre-booking is essential, for the restaurant quickly fills for both lunch and dinner sittings. We booked our luncheon a week in advance. When we arrived at 12.30 there was already a notice attached to the main entrance advising that the restaurant was booked out.

The rooms are immaculate, as are the glassware and cutlery. The furnishings & décor appear formal, with white tea-roses on each table. Noise levels, including background music, are fairly subdued - just perfect for nattering. The chairs/banquettes are comfortable enough for a couple of hours eating and socialising. Service throughout our meal was perfect: only there when needed, with no hovering; and, conversation was never interrupted. Our main waiter, Mark, (previously of The Dores Inn where I have also had the pleasure of dining) was completely professional and affable at the same time. A choice of waters was proffered once we had sat down prior to drinks orders being taken (we adults all plumbed for G&T's with rosemary sprig, ice, and orange wedge - see image below). And Mark ensured that none of my food contained garlic, so no allergic reaction. Much appreciated.

The lunch menu is a fixed £15.95 for starters & mains. The children did not have starters other than selecting some of the home-baked bread already on table, but tucked into their mains - but more on that later. We four adults all opted for a different dish (images below). All four plates were wiped clean. In other words - unless one is extremely finicky - one will find something to one's taste.

  "buffalo mozzarella salad with baby courgettes, broad
beans & spinach leaves dressed with fresh
lemon, mint & basil"
"parma ham & roasted butternut squash with manchego
cheese, toasted pine nuts & fresh
gremolata dressing"
 "cream of mushroom soup with truffle oil & parmesan"
"grilled king prawn with roasted red pepper cous cous,
chilli, ginger, coriander & citrus scented yoghurt"

For our mains, every adult and both children agreed upon the one dish, fish & chips. But, this being Rocpool, they were no ordinary f&c (image below). The firm flesh of the haddock fillets were enveloped in a light, crispy beer batter. The proper English-style chunky chips were crisp on the outside with a fluffy potato within. Petits pois had been crushed with fresh mint. Then to garnish was 'tartare sauce', but probably not as one knows it. The elements of the tartare sauce were each added separately to the plate: mayo, capers, gherkins and parsley. Just wonderful!

Our two friends decided they could fit in a dessert, my carer & I were stuffed. The male opted for plums with posset and the female for braised pears with iced-cream (images below).

Needless to say, nothing remained. I chose a double espresso and my assistant a cappuccino. Mine was the best cup of coffee I experienced in Inverness itself. The blend was smooth, mildly nutty and not too strong. Delicious.

We have never been disappointed or had any reason for complaint at Rocpool, so of course we shall return when next we are in Inverness. Highly recommended.