Hedging Brexit

btcSo what’s going on?  If you look at the trading volumes of Bitcoin most of the trades are for completely footling amounts of a few hundred bucks.  But there are a lot of them and they don’t seem to care what price they buy at.  I’d imagine these are the teccy speculators, the students and the Chinese gamblers. Then there are some relatively large trades where half a million dollars pumps the price up dramatically in five minutes.  But $500,000 is nothing to the Winkelevii – the Facebook angels turned Bitcoin evangelists.

This is a pump and dump for sure.  Where to exit?  $1200 is the record high – so how does $1500 sound?

If we Brexit next week Sterling is going to Dollar parity or worse so this is my only hedge, apart from the foreign currency in my wallet.

 

Bitcoin Bubble?

2016-06-03 16.16.42It’s been a while since any of my investments had a curve that looked like this.  What is behind the current surge in Bitcoin seems a bit of a mystery.  Some say the Chinese have gone mad for Bitcoins, frustrated by the low returns they are getting on cash.  I could well believe it – certainly the last time I visited a casino the Chinese were heavily over-represented amongst the clientele and Bitcoin is certainly a gamble.  Others say that immanent halving in the rewards for Bitcoin miners will cause supply to dry up.

Whatever the reason, a poll of my friends (none of them averse to gambling and all pretty tech savvy) revealed that I am the only Bitcoin owner amongst us.  So can we really call this a bubble yet?

Masala Junction

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Mixed Seafood Starter (for two)

This time EatNottingham.com was pretty quick off the mark – dining at Masala Junction on Mansfield Road before it even opened to the public.  The restaurant is the creation of Naj Aziz, whose previous venue was the multi award-winning Mebsaab on Maid Marion Way.  Naj has been under a two year non-competition clause after selling Mebsaab but is now free to work his magic in Nottingham once more.

Masala Junction is in the old Nat West bank building at the junction of Mansfield and Hucknall Roads.  The building has been beautifully and sympathetically restored and provides an elegant dining space.

In retrospect I should not have been so hasty and should have allowed the restaurant time to get everything bedded in before I visited.  While the mixed seafood starter was excellent, with lovely contrasting marinades and dips, the main courses were not up to the signature standard that we learned to expect at the original Memsaab.  We opted for a vegetarian jalfrezi and a biryani and both were painfully, eye-wateringly chilli hot to a degree which must have been due to an error in the kitchens.  The breads were excellent though and the winelist exceptional.

Having perused Naj’s Twitter feed I almost regret deleting my own Twitter account.  I salute a brother secularist, feminist and lover of science and food and wish him every success with his new venture.  On his track record It would be a foolish man who would bet against him.

EatNottingham.com dined with a 50% food discount courtesy of Masala Junction but that does not make any difference.  EatNottingham.com will be honest in its reviews without fear or favour.

EatNottingham.com rating 7/10

The Harts 100

Last night to the Hart’s 100 Spring Party.  Tim Hart, owner of the eponymous restaurant and hotel as well as the stupendous Hambleton Hall, runs a group called the Hart’s 100 who meet at the restaurant several times a year to feast, network and socialise.  It’s all at Tim’s expense in an extraordinary act of generosity towards the city that his restaurant has done so much to transform.

I remember when Hart’s first opened.  I had just moved up from London and was suffering in the bleak culinary landscape that Nottingham provided at that time.  Hart’s catapulted us into the world-class league overnight and unleashed a pent-up demand that saw it packed out even mid-week.  Today things look much brighter in the city and Harts is still with us, seemingly achieving effortlessly what others can only dream of in terms of food, ambiance and service.

Tim made a brief speech and it was inspiring to hear articulated exactly my own philosophy for restaurant food.  Quoting a TripAdvisor reviewer who had bemoaned the lack of a “wow factor” at Hart’s, Tim explained that “wow factors” were not his business – Hart’s seeks only to excel at the fundamentals.  If only more restaurants understood that.

I was jolly hungry when I arrived and accidentally scoffed the “Tomato essence, spring vegetables” without photographing it.  But here are the rest of the courses:

Fricassee of morels, wild garlic & asparagus

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This was excellent and really generous with the morels which were whoppers.

Seafood Salad

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Beautiful and once again generously proportioned with scallop, octopus, prawns and more.

Spring lamb, pink fir potatoes, piperade, burnt onions, lamb belly, sprouting onions.

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Rich, tender and perfectly pink lamb.  Warming and delicious with the 2013 Zweigeit, Zero G Austrian wine Tim had chosen for this course – possibly the first Austrian wine I have ever tasted.

Elderflower panna cotta, strawberries, consomme

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Light and summery and not too sweet – the perfect dessert.

Chocolate & olive mouuse, salted caramel, candied peanuts

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Complex and unusual – my least favourite course but I seemed to be the only one on our table of six who felt that way.

We had an interesting table and it was fascinating to hear about what is happening at Nottingham Trent University, how they are encouraging entrepreneurship amongst their students, to the point of bringing in the venture capitalists to get them started in business.  I came away with a great sense of optimism for our city.

EatNottingham.com rating 9/10

EatNottingham.com dined at the expense of the Hart’s 100 but that does not make any difference.  EatNottingham.com will be honest in its reviews without fear or favour.

Calcutta Club

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The photo does not do justice to what was an excellent dinner at the Calcutta Club.  It’s a delightful addition to Maid Marion Way which seems to be developing into Nottingham’s own version of the The Curry Mile back in the Northern Powerhouse where I grew up.

It’s hard to say which of the mighty triumvirate of Cumin, Memsaab and the Calcultta Club has the edge at the moment- mainly because it’s a while since I visited all of them but the vegetarians in our party put the Calcutta Club ahead.  I went carnivorous (unusual for me) and was greatly satisfied.

It’s an elegant space and reminds me a bit of the Tollegunge Club as I remember it in Kolkata many years ago during my travels in India.

You can tell a lot about a restaurant from its bread and the Calcutta Club has the freshest naan breads I have ever tasted – straight from the tandoor to the table.  The photo above shows the abundant use of fresh herbs and spices and is making my mouth water just as I look at it.

The Calcutta Club has deservedly won “Best Newcomer Award in the UK” in the British Curry Awards, a glittering event attended by the Prime Minister and (bafflingly) by Nigel I’m-not-racist-because-I-like-curry Farage.  This can only be a huge boost for Nottingham and must be applauded.

EatNottingham.com rating 8/10

EatNottingham.com dined at their own expense.

Happy 2nd Birthday to The Calcutta Club

Calcutta Club Birthday Cake RS

It was nice to get invited to The Calcutta Club for their 2nd birthday celebrations, particularly since I have yet to dine there.  I’m going to rectify that appalling omission as soon as possible because:

  1. Everything I hear about them is good.
  2. The nibbles were fabulous.
  3. The other guests had a kind of missionary zeal to convert me.
  4. They just won Best Newcomer in the British Curry Awards.

Chatting to owner/manager John Dhaliwal seemed to confirm my suspicions about a turnaround in the local economy, business is booming.

Oaks

Oaks

Oaks Nottingham

With increasing frequency, as I pass through Nottingham, I find myself doing a double-take as some previously forlorn and vacant shop front is suddenly revealed as expensively refurbished and crammed with diners and/or drinkers.  It is this phenomenon that has awoken this blog from its almost decade-long slumber.

One minute Bromley Place was a dark and empty side-street and the next it was packed with students from all over the world and two new restaurants, Zaap and Oaks.

Zaap will have to wait as I add it to my burgeoning “to-do” list but Oaks was my first experience of the new breed of Nottingham restaurant and I have to say that I was very favourably impressed.

My criteria for judging restaurants is now based almost exclusively upon value for money as it would be understood by a normal person in Nottingham.  Thus, Sat Bains, arguably the finest chef in the UK at present, does not score particularly highly in my system since any normal denizen of Nottingham would judge his prices to be absolutely ludicrous.

So what I look for is good quality, local ingredients and a commitment to do at least one thing well.  And that’s exactly what you get at Oaks.  My steak came perfectly cooked and nicely scented with wood-smoke.  Oaks is a grill room but their grilling is done over natural wood-embers so that everything has that gently smoked flavour and nicely caramelised fat. It’s sustainable and responsible, with partnerships with the The Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust as well as with our wonderful Castle Rock Brewery.

This is not pub food.  Oaks elevates grilled steak and chips to the level of a proper occasion.  Yet, with prices still grounded in the realm of what we all understand to be reasonable, I would not hesitate to recommend them.

EatNottingham.com rating 8/10

EatNottingham.com dined at Oaks as a guest of Tank PR but that does not make any difference.  EatNottingham.com will be honest in its reviews without fear or favour.

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