Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!
Enjoy your sparkling wine (which is produced by inducing the in-bottle secondary fermentation of wine to effect carbonation).

May you have a wonderful 2008 filled with joys, laughter and all things dolce!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas tear downIt seems that after the great festivities of Christmas there is the massive come down; no more luxurious dinners scheduled on almost every day in your calendar, no more masses of chocolates and sweets in bowls everywhere and no more excesses of friends and family.

For those that survived the holiday without any dramas there is a large percentage that are,
at present, either sick with a cold (moi) or reading or watching DVDs quietly at home. This peace and quiet is the little reprieve before the last large celebration of the year - New Years Eve (which I can't believe is tomorrow). Remember when we thought the world was coming to an end in Y2K? That was 8 years ago...

Each year we were unable to eat our ginger bread house - and we never really made one - it wasn't something my Grandmother ever made with my mom and aunts in Sicily. They made panettone and loads of Christmas cookies - so the ginger bread house had not much significance.

One year, we got a gingerbread house as a gift from Momma Dolce's friend at work, it was nicely wrapped in cellophane and perfectly made. That year we admired it and at the end of the holidays it went into the closet, each year after that it emerged, we displayed it and then back in the closet. This is what we thought everyone did! I was shocked the first time I saw friends eating their ginger bread houses bit by bit over the holidays.

As the new generation which mixes old and new we make the houses from scratch or errmmm....from the pre-made packages. Immediately or after Christmas we tear it down and eat it. Sometimes, seconds after it is made the candies start disappearing. What a change from the days of the gingerbread house protected by its lovely cellophane bubble and my mother's stern eye.

Enjoy tearing your gingerbread houses down and eating all your leftover goodies!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Cocktail anyone?After an afternoon skating at Somerset House - or I would say watching the Brits; perform some acrobatic falls, do the hanging onto the ledge skate and wobble along precariously, we had mulled wine at Somerset House and then went for happy hour drinks at a bar in Covent Garden. It was the night of our work Christmas party and the bartender was probably overwhelmed when 25 of us piled into the bar and the boss ordered 100 drinks at once -half were mojitos and the other half were some kind of grapefruit cocktail. Happy Hour only lasts til 7pm you know?

Loungers really know how to have a party! After drinks we went onto Guanabara for some Brazilian food, music and dance lessons. A great night out! Hope everyone's work Christmas party was as fab as ours.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Home made pasta for Christmas!The tradition continues even though Nonna Calogera is no longer with us. Zia Grace has filled the shoes quite amazingly. The home made lasagna she made melted in your mouth!! It was absolutely delicious.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry ChristmasMerry Christmas from snowy and rainy Toronto!

Hope you all have a wonderful day filled with fabulous food, family and friends.

Best wishes!


Friday, December 21, 2007

99pI caved and had a 99p chicken sandwich from KFC before our Christmas panto. I was starving, Hackney didn't have a wide array of healthy places to eat from and I needed something before the 2hr show. I have to admit it tasted good too....all salty and deep fried. I think I have gained 5lbs in the past few weeks, there are lots of Christmas cookies everywhere, lots of big dinners and lots of eating out and add to that lots of wine (had another bottle of nouveau Beaujolais last night) feeling a little bigger than usual. I even complained that one of my tops shrunk but I think it is just me getting a little bigger....

Yoga and running schedule needs to be adhered to after the holidays.

Apologies for the old pic (above) I lost my cord for downloading photos but will borrow one today to post some holiday food pics! Am off to a Christmas themed wedding today so there may be some Christmas themed food.

Stay tuned.Dick Whittington and his Cat at the Hackney Empire

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Brunch at Valerie'spics from a brunch at Valerie's on Marylebone high street a few weeks ago with my Canadian friends John and Ally.

posting is very slow this holiday season as the days are filled with family friends and more...

I hope you are enjoying the pics!


Monday, December 17, 2007

Vin primeur
This past weekend was stuck in a Toronto snow storm for the last two days. Luckily we were stuck inside with some great Nouveau Beaujolais wine and lots of dvds...

Also known as vin primeur (primo=first), nouveau wine’s history comes from the Middle Ages when wine was shipped from Bordeaux to England and other parts of northern Europe within a couple of months of harvest.

In those times, wine was so unstable that it was most highly valued when it was young, and the main goal was to keep it from going off too badly before the next vintage was delivered.

Made from Gamay grapes, this 'nouveau' wine can only be purchased from the third Thursday of November each year and is a red wine that is sold when it is only two months old. The bottles we had were lovely, smooth, fruity and really easy to drink. Apparently it is a race to buy these wines at the LCBO when they are released as they are so popular. D bought a case and said that when he went back the next week they were all gone!

Mark your calendars for next year - third Thursday of November!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Con 24,000 baci...Amazing food and great service from Baci & Pomodori in Queen's Park...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Icelandic tipple

Icelandic drinks being passed around at the BBC's Next Big Thing global talent search. The winners of the search were a band called Yunasi from Kenya!

more to follow too...sorry not much time to post it is busy xmas season time...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Shoreditch shenanigansmore to follow...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Dragon disappointment

It tasted like a bland melon. Not sure if it was over ripe or if it was under ripe? Three of us tasted it, we each had one slice with no oohs and ahhs - it was more of confused faces as to what it tasted like and whether we liked it or not. The rest was left for grabs but remained on the plate for hours before we had to chuck it in the bin...

Will have to try another one again.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Christmas Markets near London Bridge
You don't have to travel to Germany or Austria anymore!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Windows to Christmas
(Fortnum and Mason Christmas windows, 2007)

Food styling can be so interesting. Fortnum and Mason, fine food retailers to the Queen and general public have the sweetest window displays this year. How do you promote your fine caviar, champagne, sweets and more??

As my old boss said, 'it is all about creating theatre my dear' (said with a posh British accent).(Nine Ladies Dancing & Ten Lords a Leaping, from The 12 days of Christmas)

People love going to the theatre to be entertained and awed. And when they are looking to buy stuff, especially luxury goods - a product sold with a little theatre does better than those that don't. We all want to feel spoiled a little sometime, non?

The boss also said, every time saw me eat something fattening, 'a minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips!' he was a weird bugger.(Eight Maids a Milking, from The 12 days of Christmas)

Established in 1705 and still operating today Fortnum and Mason is always great to wander around in - their online site is very classy and you can browse through all the amazing foods they sell. It is also the place to buy a luxurious hamper for someone. They even have children's Christmas story telling in their restaurants but you need tickets as after 300years of doing it - it is very popular!

This holiday season, get down to the retailers who know how to do window theatre; Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges, Harrods and Harvey Nichols in the UK and Holt Renfrew in Canada. Smaller shops like Ralph Lauren are also great for their window theatre. Paolo used to be the creative genius behind the one in London. The whole NY team of Ralph Lauren squealed over and over 'I love those eggs!' when he hand painted some wonderful Faberge-esque eggs for last Easter's window display. Magnicifco il Paolo di Milano!


Monday, December 03, 2007

Carluccio's 'exotic food'
Am a bit tired this week but will fill in the blanks for the last two posts shortly... I think the Christmas season is upon us and all things are hectic at the moment. I have made a mental note to avoid Oxford Circus until mid January - it is like being in a sardine can trying to walk along the's utterly frustrating & gross! Mayor Ken needs to sort it out.

Anyhoo, onto food...I had this super delicious squid ink pasta at Carluccio's the other night (I don't think I am eating at home at all this week). I brought some home in a doggy bag and some of B's friends were here who are from the norf (North) saw it and shrieked, 'what on earth are you eating??!' I love the northerners - they are so fun - I explained that the black color comes from the ink of the squid. It is an unusual type of ingredient for a pasta sauce but it is delicious! I offered a taste, but it was 'way too exotic' for them.

Instead they happily drank their champagne and went off to a party in their fancy dress - the house was full of Pink Ladies from Grease, a Cher look a like, Spider Woman, Wonder Woman and Shrek. Needless to say there were two large bags of recycling today full of wine and champagne bottles - the sign of a good pre-party!

Good food, good friends and good wine (or champagne) - that is what life is all about...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Serenaded at The SavoySome pics from Friday night drinks at The American Bar at The Savoy.

You must go there asap because:

  • Mid December it will close for 2 years - yes 2 whole years for a complete re-furb!
So you want to sit and see the decor that was around when Sir Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe or Charlie Chaplin graced the halls and stayed at the hotel - you can even buy their beds or fixtures from their rooms. You can buy furniture, silverware, mirrors, kitchen goods, china and everything else from doorknobs to sinks at the online auction orgnaised by Bonhams.

  • You may not get the old world service by some of the old timers - long standing staff like the doorman and the Harry Connick Jnr.-esque piano player at the American Bar may never return. They may retire to quieter terrain or be swept up by other hotels in London.

  • It is an interesting place to try for a drink as you can try and imagine what it was like when it was at its peak - now it definitely doesn't compare to some of the newer hotels (like Claridges) but am sure it was a stunner in its day. The art deco entrance alone is wonderful - I hope they don't change that. I think it is seen in the Pretty Woman film but as I am not a film freak not sure about that - Ranoush can you verify??

  • And if you are stuck for somewhere to duck into on a rainy evening before mid December why not try something new. They serve wasabi covered peanuts with your drinks ;)

Saturday, December 01, 2007