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whining & dining by michael whiner | contact:

La Crebiche

Michael treated me to one of the finest culinary experiences of my life this week with a post-theatre corner table at Alberto and Mighele Rolo's, 'La Crebiche.' This watch pocket in the waistcoat of gastronomic time is an institution of award winning, passionate cuisine in London's restaurant saturated SW1. The dining area is a concasse of discretion and taste but the kitchen is now run by Alberto's well capable son Bruno - without doubt the most sublime and sensual experience my nose and mouth have had since their first plate of snails. My host arrived late and drunk as an abbot so I had ample time to indulge my fantasies in a menu that read like Charles Saatchi's will. As usual Michael was already in full flow…

"I must say I’m not impressed with the look of this daube. The consistency of the beef seems to be all wrong and there are way too many vegetables and not nearly enough wine. You! Boy! Take it away and bring me another one - from scratch! Don’t look at me like that. You’re being paid to serve me. I pay. You serve. That’s how this works. Don’t they teach these New Deal people anything?

I’m told that George Lucas is to receive BAFTA’s Stanley Kubrick Award for Excellence in Films. Excellence? He’s made his fortune out of a series of films about talking teddy bears, robots and men waving illuminated swords at each other! Obviously this is some peculiar new usage of the word "excellence" that I’ve not previously encountered before. In my day he would have quite rightly been relegated to making Saturday morning serials and cheapo B-movies. Instead he gets rich selling toys to children and suddenly he gets taken seriously by people! Ludicrous! Earlier in the week he was foaming at the mouth about a website putting up five minutes of blurry camcorder-shot footage sneaked of the set of ‘Star Wars: Episode II’. The quality was so poor that all you could see was Ewan McGregor waving a lightsaber around in front of a bluescreen. Hardly earth-shattering stuff but his lawyers threatened to sue the site unless the clip was withdrawn — which it duly was. The bearded-one was heard to rant that "if people continue to steal footage then less film will be made… (they) are taking a big bite out of the industry". To which I say — balls! Sony Pictures already have plans to allow people to view daily rushes of films during shooting on it’s own website. They don’t seem to be worried about it. Frankly, the man is so wealthy that he doesn’t need to make another film if he doesn’t want too. Personally, I think Lucas’s greatest work is his superb sparkplugs and other car spares.

I still can’t see any sign of my main course anywhere! What do you expect me to do, eat the table? Actually with a bit of seasoning and a sprig of parsley it would probably taste better then most of the swill they pass off as food here.

I take it you’ve heard all about John Grisham’s little hissy-fit have you? No? Oh, well it seems that he’s taken a dislike to the latest screen adaptation of one of his boring crime novels. In fact he took such offence when he saw ‘The Runaway Jury’ that he wrote a six-page memo to the filmmakers out-lining his grievances. By all accounts it was full of phrases like, "needless subplots", "Bad dialogue — painful at times", "dumb cop scenes" and concluded by saying "there is nothing redeeming about this script". Now whilst I have some sympathy for him if he feels that his novel has been treated badly but I have to ask what else he expected? Hasn’t had the misfortune to sit through any of the other adaptations of his books? Let me save him the trouble — THEY’RE ALL LIKE THAT! I haven’t read any of his books so I’m not qualified to comment on how much of that is his fault. However the plots of all these films do seem remarkably similar. An idealistic young lawyer battles in the courtroom against racism, sexism or alternatively sometimes racist sexism in the Deep South of America. They make for very turgid and repetitive viewing indeed. Yet actors and directors are queuing up to work on them! Madness!

Speaking of madness, I’m informed that plans are afoot to bring ‘The Magic Roundabout’ to the big-screen. May I ask why anybody would want to? It was all very well on BBC1 at five-twenty five, just before the news — this was in the days before the horror that is ‘Neighbours’ — but it’s hardly the stuff cinema is made of is it? What next? ’Bagpuss: The Motion Picture’? ‘Clangers: The Movie’? What has happened to British cinema? Has it all collectively dropped acid at the same time? Is it any wonder that the French laugh at us?

Rather like I’m laughing at this Bloody Bull right now. Is it meant to be this colour? Who trained the barman? Mr Bean?

There was some good news this week though, a cinema manager in Cardiff has announced that anybody whose mobile phone rings during a film screening will be ejected from the premises. To do this he’s installed CCTV cameras in the auditorium and staff will sit and watch the audience to try and spot any offenders. He said the straw that broke the camel's back was when a woman started having a conversation in Spanish during a showing of ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’. It’s a depressingly familiar story. How many times have you been sat there trying to enjoy the film when the dreaded sound of a novelty phone ring cuts through the air, swiftly followed by, "Yeah. Yeah. Actually I’m in the cinema at the moment. Can I ring you back?". This is usually followed by me inserting the afore-mentioned mobile phone into the person’s nearest available orifice with the words, "Use the bloody off-button, you ignorant, inconsiderate, low-foreheaded cretin!" I find a telephone suppository usually rams the message home. Eject them from the cinema? Hanging’s too good for ‘em."

recent whines...

January 2002 - St John - Clerkenwell EC1

December 7 - Hell

November 30 - Birthday at Brula

November 23 - Picnic on the Heath

November 16 - Les Trois Soeurs

November 9 - Ed's

November 2 - Burger King: Piccadilly

October 26 - Lindsay House

October 19 - Darcy's

October 5 - Spitz of Spittlefields

September 28 - West Street

September 21 - St John's

September 7 - Southeast W9

August 31 - Rogues

August 24 - Royale With Cheese

August 17 - Rules

August 10 - Manana

August 3 - £15/head at Mazzo

July 27 - La Scala

July 20 - La Putain de la Tour

July 13 - The Real Zorba

July 6 - Palefico

June 29 - The Moon and Pigeons

June 22 - Post Theatre

June 15 - Danang Vice

June 7 - La Crebiche

June 1 - B.A.N.G.E.R.S

May 25 - The Ritz

May 18 - The Harpo

May 11 - Trading Braces

May 4 - Hijo De Puta

April 27 - Broadway!

April 20 - Escoffier Steakhouse

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