Those of you that know me will know that my girlfriend, Jade, and I have recently decided to head north of the wall, Sheffield to be exact. If you’re au fait with the blustery conditions of the North then my wailings will seem unjustified but what can I say? We are soft southerners. Hopefully a blisteringly cold winter and not much money to blow on central heating (put a damn jumper on Jade! Hehe) will go some way in providing ourselves with that typically unyielding, stoic northern character. For this most momentous of moves I have decided to start a blog. This is possibly the tenth time in my life I have made this decision but, hey, I’ve written almost eight lines now, so my progress is unprecedented. I’m on a roll. Maybe I’ve changed, watch this space…
The reason I decided to leave the ‘Big Smoke’ was two-fold; business and pleasure. Firstly the pleasure. After seven fantastic years in London I felt my time had run it’s course and I fancied somewhere with a slower pace of life. Somewhere I wouldn’t have to tackle rush-hour crushes, painfully-edgy East London kids (you know who you are) and the ruthless business bastards that epitomise that odd impersonal atmosphere around the place. I sound like a cynic when it comes to our fair capital but don’t get me wrong, I love London. Samuel Johnson, wordsmith extraordinaire, once mused that when a man was ‘tired of London, he was tired of life’ or something to that effect anyway. I couldn’t agree more, for every negative there are a dozen positives but sometimes one needs a bit of a change of scenery. My love affair with London isn’t over but for now I’ll put a pin in it, TBC.
All this talk of business bastards neatly brings me on to my other reason I decided to escape up here. Wait for it… I’m going to open my own food-cart business. Let the fanfare rejoice! Now you’re gripped I’ll spiel some of the backstory…
It was a dark and stormy night back in winter of 2012, Tooting, London. Where a younger more naive, less bearded Thomas H Miller sat aloft of the city in his (free!) accommodation musing on the direction his life would take. After much deliberation and personal turmoil he decided the best course of action was to postpone personal motivation and self fulfillment and pour all his funds into another great adventure. Namely to the US and Canada. He spent 3 incredible months lugging himself around the East coast of said place before washing ashore in Vancouver BC. Here he spent a heady summer with some of the most wonderful, interesting, insightful people anyone could ever wish to meet. One of these aforementioned people was a girl that would have a profound effect on his tiny mind, that person was Yasmin, proprietor and overlord of ‘Taser Grilled Cheese Sandwiches’.
Anyways, long story short, I had a ball working all summer for Yaz and since arriving back on these isles, the idea of setting up something similar has burned in the back of my head. Of course I didn’t spring into action, rather I kicked around different hospitality jobs for a good while longer. Listless and unmotivated, bluuuurrrgh, no one wants that. All the while the idea of a food-cart grew in my head like a friendly tumour until I thought “f*ck it, why the hell not?”. So along with my brother, Benjamin, who will be my co-conspirator, sounding board and more than likely my personal motivation coach via skype, we settled on Poutine. “I know what you’re thinking, wtf is Poutine? Well gather round and I’ll tell you.
Poutine is a disgustingly delicious Canadian comfort food consisting of fries, cheese curds & beef gravy. If ya don’t know, now ya knowwwww, fella(?) It is something they take very seriously, especially in Quebec where it originated (click here for a cool little back story). There are many purists over there in Quebec so unless I want to mysteriously drown in a pool of maple syrup or be lacerated by an ice skate then I’ve got to be on my toes. For those of you that are thinking wtf are cheese curds they sound heinous but similarly do not have the wherewithal to click the link, it’s basically fresh cheese. Think the consistency of Halloumi but the taste and melting qualities of Mozzarella. It’s bangin, trust.
You can see why it translates as ‘hot mess’ huh? It is truly something to behold and is perhaps the reason that I spent a frankly obscene amount of time and money eating it when I was in Canada. The beauty of Poutine is that there is so much you can do with it. As you see it above, that is your standard anywhere, anytime kinda stuff, but then you can throw all kinds of sexy and delectable extras on top; Choppy ‘Slaw, Caramelised Onions, Sauteed Mushrooms, Red Hot Chillies, Sriracha, Guacamole or bigger, badder loaded Poutine ‘meals’ such as Pulled Pork, Coq Au Vin, etc etc. The list is endless, and honestly, the bigger the better.
If you care half as much as I then you can visit Smoke’s Poutinerie’s website, a Canadian chain that have some really interesting flavour combos. After trialling some bangin’ recipes and doing a good amount of research we decided that Poutine was the way to go. So we bought our tickets and climbed aboard the gravy train. One way, destination – Sheffield. So here we are in a little two up two down terraced house in the quaint Sharrow Vale area just South West of the city. You can’t move for parks, independent shops and bearded hipsters (maybe I am one, still working through it). Jade keeps saying it’s like we are in an episode of Coronation Street, then she attempts her ‘version’ of the local dialect, then I back out of the door closing it behind me.
I feel like when people make drastic changes to their lives they are quick to denounce their previous place/situation and praise whatever is new on their plate, especially on social media but rest-assured that is not what this platform is about. Although I could have a very public breakdown like these guys, so ya know, there’s that. Anyways I always felt that it’s not easy to immediately feel comfortable in new surroundings, but I like it here. With my dad and stepmum living not 25 minutes south and the purchase of sweet Bemo, our tortoise shell kitten (I had to give Jade someone to talk to) we are settling in real nice.
Anyways the long and short of it is that this blog is going to be my attempt at documenting this new phase of life, of the tribulations of starting a fledgling business, of Sheffield and its (as of yet unknown) treasures, of Jade’s outrageous life lessons. It will be heavily food-led as that’s all I seem to do with my life, so keep a look out for my Poutine recipes as I tweak them ready for launch in spring, and also just my own creations born from our tiny kitchen (the good ones anyhow). Work permitting I’ll be posting weekly so until then, I’ll be seeing ya.