Saturday, 30 March 2013

Forte's



As a late baby boomer, I do have a sort of hankering for the food of my childhood.
1970s food ( especially party food) was all a bit technicolor, frou frou and kitch. Tomatoes had a frilly edge. Black Forest gateaux was all the rage and the height of good taste was a cheese and pineapple hedgehog surrounded by  " lurid looking dips and a mug filled with breadsticks"
Occasionally we have lunch at a horrendously revamped seaside cafe in Rhos on Sea called FORTE'S

The decor in FORTE'S may be pure 1980s soap opera, but the food is pure 1950s-1970s nostalgia.
Jacket potatoes ( with a selection of fillings including prawn cocktail!), knickerbockerglories in pressed glass boats, all washed down by fairly weak watery tea served out of tiny chrome teapots.
The waitresses are clean and tidy and wear neat motel staff uniforms and there is not a crumb to be seen on any of the kitchen worktop looking tables.
Classy it is not
Comforting it very much is.
I have a sort of false nostalgia for Forte's
There was one in Prestatyn for years with its Lloyd Loom chairs ( the furniture still remains there to this day)and  my mother actually worked there  when she was a 16 year old refugee from a bomb damaged 1941 Liverpool......it's funny how a history you didn't actually experience can infuse your own nostalgia buttons so to speak.
So today, we shall sip the weak tea out of cheap, white , clean cups and may share an exotic banana split complete with its paper flag and glacé cherry.........
And we shall celebrate the likes of Fanny Craddock and my mother's homemade " savoury dips"
Now I know, where I get my taste for scotch eggs from

59 comments:

  1. Like the traditional transport cafes, usually a wooden building next to the road, where you could get a full English heart-attack-on-a-plate and a steaming mug of tea for a few bob.

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    1. Aye...it was just grand b'fore the war

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  2. There used to be a Forte's on Rhyl High Street. As teenagers my friend and I regularly went for a knickerbockerglory but then it served in a tall glass with a long spoon. I've just read your post to my husband and told him I want to go to Rhos on Sea for a knickerbockerglory :-)

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    1. I had a strawberry surprise....it was lovely

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  3. ok, I give up; what's a knickerbockerglory? sounds like it has something to do with NYC.

    I LOVE the ice cream swirly cone out front!

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    1. A knickerbocker glory is an ice cream sundae that is served in a large tall glass, particularly in the United Kingdom.[1]
      The knickerbocker glory, first described in the 1930s, may contain ice cream, gelatin, cream, fruit, meringue, even liquor. Layers of these different sweet tastes are alternated in a tall glass and topped with different kinds of syrup, nuts, whipped cream and often a cherry.[2]

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    2. ohhhhhhhhh; interesting! fascinating how it has a new york name. but LIQUOR? wow, you would NEVER see that here! unless you were making one at home for yourself...

      thanks, john! smooches! :)

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    3. Hmm, a knickerbockerglory sounds a bit like what we called parfaits or sundaes. As a kid, i remember especially creme de menthe parfaits, which was either alternating layers of vanilla ice cream and creme de menthe, topped with whipped cream, chopped nuts, and a cherry, or some vanilla ice cream with creme de menthe poured over and topped with the aforementioned whipped cream, chopped nuts, and cherry.

      When one asked for a sundae, it was never made with liquor, but instead of the creme de menthe, one would use butterscotch topping, or hot fudge topping, or chocolate syrup. Same whipped cream, chopped nuts, and cherry cap.

      The tall glasses they were served in were parfait glasses (which were tall and the bottom of the container came to nearly a point, whilst the foot of the glass had a round foot, or sundae glasses, which looked like huge goblets.

      Oh, other assorted toppings were "wet nuts" which were chopped nuts in some sugary, syrupy goo, marshmallow (liquified, similar to Fluffernutter®), crushed or chopped pineapple, peanuts, or little bits of chocolate or mixed colour hard pieces that looked like teeny twigs and called "sprinkles," "jimmies," or "shots," depending upon where you were from.

      I was never fond of marshmallow, but found CMPs--Chocolate (syrup), Marshmallow, and Peanuts poured over vanilla ice cream quite tasty.

      Finally, a regular restaurant patron told me about taking some chocolate ice cream (my favourite) and pouring some Frangelico over it. For those who might not know, Frangelico is a hazelnut liqueur. It was divine!

      Sorry for such an epistle; i rather prefer the name "knickerbocker glory" to "parfait."

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  4. Do you remember Berni Inns, Strike Cola, Ben Shaws, snake belts, Watneys Party 4 & 7 pale ale, silver service,(who invented self service?) and a chippy tea on a Friday night, when everybody queued up because it was Friday? Great nostalgia John!

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    1. A party 4....them was the days

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  5. Where was it in Prestatyn?

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    1. The cafe just down from blockbusters Hannah.....look at the chairs!

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    2. I'll have a look this week!

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  6. This sounds just like my type of place. Also, I love a lurid dip...

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  7. Did you mention Banana Splits? Memories, memories...

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    1. What are they called in France?

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    2. They're called 'Feelthy Eengleesh food, zat zay eet when takeeng LSD'.

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  8. Gala pork pie with egg centres. Doughnuts like Fanny's... Craddock that is!

    LLX

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    1. A fanny like a doughnut? Go see a doctor x

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  9. Oooh what I wouldn't give for an old fashioned Prawn Cocktail :oP Only ever had 1 knickerbocker glory in my life when I was a kid and we had a Wimpy in our town (the only 'fast food' place back then). Always pestered my Mum for the icecream delight but she refused. Her friend took me in one day and bought me one - back then it was dreamy, not sure it would have the same effect now tho :o)

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    1. My mother used to make prawn cocktails and she often left them "in situ" on the dining table at Christmas overnight.....how we didn't get salmonella bugger only knows

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  10. That looks like a Dairy Queen soft ice cream cone out front.... I could go for a pork pie or shrimp cocktail... but NEVER that soft ice cream!

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    1. A lady with savoury tastes

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  11. Nothing more comforting that a trip down memory lane.

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  12. I am unfamiliar with the foods you mentioned, but when you said banana split, I had to smile. Oh, how I would love to go into an old fashioned ice cream parlor of my youth and order one of those. I have made them for my grandchildren at home, but it is not the same. Maybe it was the dish it was served in or the delightful smell of the place. You can't put that in a can.

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    1. A banana split is an ice cream-based dessert. In its classic form it is served in a long dish called a boat. A banana is cut in half lengthwise (hence the split) and laid in the dish. There are many variations, but the classic banana split is made with scoops of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream served in a row between the split banana. Pineapple topping is spooned over the strawberry ice cream, chocolate syrup over the vanilla, and strawberry topping over the chocolate. It is garnished with crushed nuts, whipped cream, and maraschino cherries.[1]

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  13. Ah yes, there are a few time-warp restaurants like that in Northern Ireland. Traditional British fare as if the last 50 years had never happened. I don't find them comforting though, I find them rather scary....

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    1. That is because THEY ARE frightening

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    2. But there is something so very comforting about a full breakfast in a greasy spoon. They are dying out here due to chain restaurants.

      Nothing beats what you'd call a full English. Here we have Truckers Specials, eggs, sausage, bacon, potatoes, toast. They look at me like I have three heads when I ask for grilled tomatoes. What would they do if I demanded bean!!!

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  14. you and Chris have a lovely time in what sounds like a FAB eatery. if I was doing a nostalgia, comfort food thingy here in the states I'd go to Doumars in Virginia :D

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  15. What a trip down memory lane for me John. We had a Fortes in Bournemouth, and was exactly how you describe, The place we always went to after the cinema for a cup of that tea, and those knickerbockerglories.....simply THE best!

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    1. I have always HATED weak tea as a result

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  16. I honestly think I must have grown up in a different universe...

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    1. That is e cause you spent your teenage years looking pale, reading Proust and dreaming of sexually ambiguous people

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    2. And Flaubert of course...

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  17. Hang on a mo. Knickerbockerglories in boat shaped glass? A glory is supposed to be served in a tall glass with a long spoon. Ice cream sundaes and banana splits are served in the boats.
    My mum always treated us to knickerbockerglories the morning we were due to drive home from holiday. Not the best idea for three queasy kids on a 300 mile journey.

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    1. And I.. I was wrong its the BANANASPLIT in the boat dish!

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  18. Comfort eating means good taste in bad food! I wonder if I can't get some of our local farmers to start making local, pasture-raised, hormone free Scotch eggs. Of course, they'd probably cost $10 a pop. Perfect for Easter, though, right?

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  19. I recall that as a lad in the 50's there was a Fortes in every seaside town that we visited (apart from St.Ives in Cornwall) In the summertime it was the Knickerbockerglories in a tall glass with a very long spoon and in winter it was a drink of hot chocolate.

    In St. Ives it was a cafe called Hartes that served delicious Banana splits with ice cream and a large dollop of Cornish clotted cream.

    Thanks for stirring my memory John.

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    1. There was four along the north Wales coast...only one now!

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  20. I'm with The Odd Essay. The ice cream cone caught my eye... And your mention of banana split. I may have to go downstairs this evening for an ice cream!

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  21. A soft serve vanilla ice cream cone. One of my favorite things, except for homemade vanilla ice cream in an old crank ice cream maker! When I was younger it was a hot fudge sundae with nuts, but they are much too rich for me today. And, when I was a young, young girl, I could polish off a banana split in nothing flat. Yumo! Brings back lots of memories at the old Dairy Queen!

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  22. I know what you mean. My childhood memories consist of three layered jelly at British Home Stores on a Friday afternoon when my Mum met up with my Aunties for the messages and a natter. 99's with red syrup.

    Unknown here in Canada.

    There really wasn't a lot of eating out once we moved here. McD's didn't arrive until around 1975 and was a treat.

    I do have very fond memories of Hudson's Bay's coffee shops in Vancouver. The best cinnamon bun ever, none of the uberstickiness of today's versions. Dry and breadish. And their cheescake is dry as well. Whenever I'm near a Baystore with a coffee shop, that's what I still buy.

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  23. Ah yes, some nostalgia and you have me yearning to go visit "Wally's Restaurant" in Vancouver with it's fifties futuristic building with fifties food and young ladies on roller skates bringing food to your car window. Does the person above me remember the malted milkshakes they used to serve in the downtown Hudson's Bay?

    You might note to your vast North American legion of adoring fans that a "jacket potato" doesn't actually wear a jacket. It's a baked potato. Be well and enjoy the Easter weekend.

    Gary

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    1. We lived about a seven minute walk from Wally's Drive In on Kingsway. Felt ever so grown up when you were allowed to walk up there for a milkshake.

      You had to have a hot dog with that milkshake. Used to be in the basement of the store, just a counter type set up. Then there was the coffee shop in the basement that had a chocolate cake square that was huge. I remember some round table that were quite tall/high up?

      The Seymour Room became a favourite as I got older, because it was quiet. Same food, same price but just more comfortable.

      Now, it's Wendy's if you want a baked potato!

      How about the Only Seafood down on Hastings, is it still there or has Hastings just gotten too skuzzy?

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    2. Sorry to hijack your posting, John. I'm only back in Vancouver every three years or so and a lot has changed. Hastings Street, well especially east of Main Street, is a place they don't exactly mention to the tourists. I don't know if the restaurant you mention is still there. Speaking of Kingsway, I used to go to the "Knight and Day", just across the street from Wally's Drive In.

      Apologies, once again for hijacking the comment section :) Take care, eh....

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  24. I have a terrible craving for a banana split now! There's no way I could replicate the sauce or the '70's pappy Wall's ice cream though. Thanks for a walk down memory lane too. x

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  25. Hehehe, for me it is club sandwiches made with tinned salmon, rubbery custard squares and raspberry buns that remind me of morning tea in a cafe in town. Such a treat it was!

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  26. The Prestatyn cafe was a regular haunt - a medium coffee & magnificent eccles cakes. They had the full monty gaggia coffee machine; amazing cream scones now I look back - clearly it was my brother that favoured them! I'm sure one of my first sentences must have been "ice cream with red sauce" from there. I was so disappointed many tears later to return to a later cafe and be served cappuccino out of a bag!! Pasg Hapus boys! x

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    1. That coffee machine made a right noise as I recall
      Xxxx
      Nos da sweetie x

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  27. Respect to Forte's for getting the apostrophe right!

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  28. As a child I used to save up my money to get a banana split down at the 'Met'....Metropolitan Store. It cost 39 cents for this HUGE dish of ice-cream, bananas, chocolate sauce, strawberry sauce and pineapple....topped off with nuts, cherries and whipping cream!!
    Now I am hungry!! Thanks so much John!
    Looks like a great place!

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  29. Sounds like a great place, and even better memories, John. ♥

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  30. There were several of these sorts of cafes in Chelmsford where I grew up and each has different and special memories. There was one I went to with my friends in my early teens that only sat about 12 people where we used to drink Cola Floats or any other lurid coloured fizzy drink.

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  31. Anyplace with a larger than life e plastic ice cream cone out front is very comforting to me, just ask my therapist. Psst get back over and see my very snappy ~ if I should say so myself ~reply to your duck and bun comment ;)

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