Sunday, March 30, 2008

Minnie & MeHad a fabulous bday weekend, the only thing missing was a cake with Minnie Mouse on it. How come adult's don't get really fun cakes? I made a wish and blew out one candle on a piece of gorgeous chocolate, caramel, pecan, date and chocolate cake - 21 candles would not fit on that little dessert?! Thanks to all the birthday messages from all in the UK and Canada. I feel younger each day. Next year am buying a fun cake with Minnie Mouse on it.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

And yesterday's lunch with Burger and Bloomfield The actor, actress and I ventured through the pouring rain, Bloomfield (in pic) and the Burger almost got hit by a God Saves bus, how ironic, and I almost got in the way of a motorcycle - after a few screams we made it safely across the road to the shelter of this old man's boozer. Once inside The Shipwright's Arms we looked out our window and saw the traffic lights a few yards away - we then used them on the way out.We ordered the usual pub grub - bangers and mash (bangers = sausages), club sandwich, and tuna melt - which is two pieces of bread with tuna layered on and then a hefty amount of melted cheese to secure it all together - for a lactose intolerant person the amount of melted cheese in one go looks painful.

The presentation is not the greatest, as you can see from the gravy drips on Bloomfield's plate, but the service is good and it does give you that old, authentic pub feel. It is a bit run down but has character and is comfortable and relaxed. All pubs seem to be turning into cool, trendy gastro pubs so this was a nice change. As Burger said, 'a proper old man's boozer.' The Brits love to use the word 'proper' when describing things they like.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Yesterday's lunch
My lunch date Bialystock BloomfieldFrom Fuzzy's Grub - excellent place for a large lunch! It is like having a Sunday roast in a sandwich. Sooo good especially if you are really hungry - like I was.

Fuzzy's is only across the road and I never noticed it or knew about it until fellow colleagues at work were eating it and I couldn’t stop staring.

You go in, order any of the following roasted items: chicken, pork, turkey or beef - you can get it as a traditional roasted dinner on a plate with stuffing, gravy, horseradish, roasted potatoes, peas and carrots or you can get it in a sandwich. It is packed with the same ingredients, nestled between two slices of fresh bread (bap, ciabatta or toast bread –ick) Stuffing and roasted potatoes in a sandwich is sooo good.

Drenched in gravy with horseradish and mustard it is a proper sandwich for a hungry lad or ladette! I have an insatiable appetite this week so it was perfect, although normally I would never be able to finish it. The staff is friendly, the place is like a New York deli and I think it is good value for money. And it is full of men, for those looking to meet some real, meat eating men!

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

FeedbackFeedback from the cookbook proposal send out. In one of my first posts I was warned of lots of rejection before someone would take on the project. And it is coming in nice and steady...

Well as you know, I am not a celebrity chef and with the UK's celebrity obsessed culture I have got replies from publishers saying something to the effect, 'since you are not a celebrity it will be hard to work on this project, as UK residents love their celebrity cookbooks.' Fab!

Another reply, 'great idea but we are working on something similar.' Ugh! Similar what? region, food, style, theme?

But on the bright side, there have positive leads from friends which have led to other new leads, but it is a lot of waiting and trying to get a hold of the right person at the right time. A BIG THANKS to my friends who have connected me to some key people in publishing - it is most appreciated.

Oh and most places have replied saying you need an agent, do not contact us directly. So now onto approaching agents.

Am going to the London Book Fair (LBF) in April, which is one of the largest book fairs in the world so hopefully I can network a few more contacts - am going to wear neon pink or something bright or wacky like rooster earrings so people remember me!

Maybe I should make some rice balls and hand them out, any other suggestions appreciated.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter eating
Hope you all had a nice Easter - we had some wacky weather with sun, rain, snow and hail all coming in the same few hours. Hopefully spring will now emerge and I can put away my boots!

Easter dinner was great with fabulous friends, food and wine. There weren't many pics of the final dinner as we were hungry and of course, served it, and ate it without thinking about photos. We did have time for pics when Trev's dessert came out. It was a panna cotta column made with fresh vanilla bean, which sat on top of a gorgeous chocolate biscuit and was surrounded by a raspberry coulis. Absolutely mouth watering and all made by Mr. J himself.
(Trev and his panna cotta creation)

AND he made home made Easter bread, which was a beautifully braided, egg bread that came all wrapped up with bows and a little daffodil. No he is not gay, and he doesn't have any single brothers ladies...unfortunately they are taken and he is married to the lovely actress, Le Jedan, so one must look elsewhere for a man who can cook and is passionate about food.

Starters were a selection of fine cheeses and olives from the Honey Monster, gorgeous wine was brought by the Coach (a great Malbec and a smooth South African red from the Western Cape called Chocolate Block - I didn't pay attention the the whites) the pasta was made with a simple tomato sauce and basil and then there was the roasted lamb.

Our leg of lamb from award winning, Sheepdrove Organic farm's butchery cooked nicely with only salt, pepper and fresh rosemary as seasoning. It was so soft and tender; served with mint gravy, mint jelly, roasted potatoes and vegetables it was delicious, even the Honey M who doesn't eat lamb, ate it and enjoyed it. Thanks to our NZ lamb expert and sous-chef too!

The bad news is we are all a few pounds heavier but the good news is we had a great evening and it is another short work week!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Loose legOur organic leg of lamb fell to the ground on Randolph Avenue. The bag split in two and we just stared at the leg as it lay on the pavement...I was then shouted at to pick it up - 3 second rule right? It was hilarious but no flesh to pavement action occurred. It was brought home safely and stored for cooking the next day. One day to Easter and to eating chocolate, crisps and biscuits again!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter egg huntOnly two more days til Easter. Am having an Orphan's Easter Dinner at my home with some fellow Canadian orphans and two others from the southern hemisphere. Pic is of Prince Matthew and his Easter egg hunt last year - isn't he too cute?!
And second pic is teacher Tami's Easter bunny bread - the talent keeps oozing out of that woman!
Tomorrow I am on the hunt for a fresh leg of lamb. There are two options and hopefully I didn't have to pre-order. Am going to Portobello Market and Sainsbury's to get final groceries. There was some debate this morning on what fasting entails for Good Friday, if any of you have any suggestions please post. Momma Dolce said she is skipping breakfast which I think doesn't count as fasting. Practicing Catholics please reply as I have no clue :)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Knysna Oyster Factory
Rexi is in South Africa for two weeks visiting the outlaws and will be going to some great places along the Garden Route. I recommend stopping in to the Knysna Oyster Company in Knysna. I remember really enjoying these fresh oysters from their little shop. We were camping around SA so I think I ate them on the hood of our car - how glamorous!

South Africa is a beautiful country with amazing food and people - I loved their pie shops too - I think they are called Mr. Pie. We even visited one of the top restaurants in the world, as nominated by Restaurant Magazine - it is called Le Quartier Francais in the Cape Winelands with the Franschheok Mountains as a backdrop. It came in the top 50 list again last year. Get to South Africa to see the Big 5 (which I still haven't seen after 2 visits there) and to experience a totally different type of vacation filled with contrasts and cultural differences.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Shoot Bafta - Clue E I can't remember what the clue was, I think it was related to 'PG' ratings of films...B & I interpreted it this way -which is oh so creative, non?

We were going to buy a box of tea bags and then make the word film, but decided to instead empty the shelves and make the word out of the the PG Tips tea boxes. We did this in a busy Tesco in Covent Garden amongst many stares from shoppers and staff, luckily they didn't tell us to stop or kick us out, but we were quick as! PG Tips is the great British Tea consumed by the majority here, the company started in 1869 and is still going strong.

I think the winning photo was of a PG Tips tea bag in the foreground and a naked couple kissing in the church gardens (there is a lovely church behind the Piazza) in the background of the pic. I guess they won for their fancy camera work, a risqué pose and being naked, somehow, always gets you noticed by the judges!

Bafta sponsored the Shoot event the day of the awards ceremony and the photo treasure hunt ended in Covent Garden's Piazza. We didn't win a prize for any of our photos but am sure it was a tough choice between ours and the winners ;)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Members only MayfairVisited Morton’s of Mayfair for work - completely refurbished in 2004, Morton’s sits amongst a successful portfolio of restaurants and bars owned by Marlon Abela. Abela’s portfolio of restaurants includes Michelin starred The Greenhouse and UMU in the UK, with the trendy A Voce and Gaia in New York and Connecticut.

Morton’s home is a townhouse overlooking the green of Berkeley Square. The place has had many lives, first as a home for a Victorian family in the 1800s, then as a casino and for the last 75 years as various private members’ clubs.

First-rate service, partnered with a relaxed atmosphere, best illustrates what Morton’s is all about. Members are treated with such care that one can do nothing but relax, sip a cocktail and admire some of the fabulous artwork in the Grade II listed building – there are Matisse acquatints in the main dining room and Julian Opie portraits adorn the main bar - I love Opie’s work! I walk by it every day in the Ernst and Young building.

All staff including the head chef, lively and entertaining general manager and the extremely knowledgeable and cute sommeliers have been trained at the finest establishments around the world, so you feel very taken care of. Their wine list, has over 2,500 wines on it - we nicknamed it, ‘the Bible’, as it is so large; there are wines on there from the year 1875?!

D & I had a great time and met some interesting members who happened to be extreme wine fanatics. We got to sample some of their 1990 L’Extravagant De Doisy-Daene dessert wine, which tasted heavenly with a honey flavour that was absolutely divine! Find a member to take you for dinner or a drink it is a relaxed place to sip a cocktail and people watch.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Music & food don't mix
Dinner at the 1940s themed Pigalle Club for PM's bday. Food was nothing to write home about but the atmosphere and music was great. You feel like you have been transported back in time and the details from the decor to the staff's uniforms make you think Fred Astaire would soon come waltzing on the stage to perform. There is a great calendar of events ranging from burlesque shows to the house band performing.Miso and sesame tuna starterI had the lime and asparagus risotto with rocket, which had a strange taste/spice that I couldn't put my finger on. Why is rocket added to everything now? It used to be a weed that we were forced to eat as kids and now it is so cool and chic and found on top of everything from pizza to risotto. I forgot what we call it in Sicily -arugula? will have to ask Momma Dolce - it is just so sour!

And the Pigalle does not have side plates, which I always think is weird as when you are served bread and butter - where do you butter it, directly on the table? And if you want to put it down to have a sip of wine - do you put it on the table? That is what we had to do which I think is gross.

Some places can't do food and music well, case in point - went to Ronnie Scott's famous jazz bar in Soho the other night and Zeff who is a jazz freak said that you go to these places to ONLY enjoy the music, not the food. He said the only people that eat there are tourists or people who don't know that the food is sh*t. Music is the focus, which I guess could be said for the Pigalle, which is fair enough but give a diner somewhere to put their bread!
Rob just came back from a few weeks in India with some sickness that killed his taste buds so it was only Dan the Builder and PM who enjoyed their food. I ate when I got home.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Life is like a box of chocolates....You never know what you're going to get. Had a crappy day today and thought of two things:
  1. Forrest Gump's saying - Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are gonna get (so true!)
  2. When life hands you a lemon - make lemonade (as there is nothing else you can do, non?)
A few friends made me smile this evening and while was moping along the street this morning, on the way to the tube I saw the Queen's horses doing their morning trot along Elgin Avenue.

The sight of those horses and carriages and the young soldiers on them always makes me smile like crazy - I don't know why but I think it is the sound (you can hear them coming far before they arrive), strength and beauty of the horses and the smiling faces of the riders (not a bad job to have each morning - trotting through London on a horse!) I sometimes stop and just take a snap with my camera phone. Anyhow that brings me to the chocolate reference above and the Queen.

There is a new chocolate made by the Queen's chocolatiers called Prestat - eating 2 squares a day can give you enough antioxidants that you need. It is true as the press release comes with a whole other page of studies and tests carried out on this magic chocolate. Ain't no need for Madonna to give you a shot of B12 up your arse, just have some chocolate!From the PR for Choxi- Alternatively, you could eat more than 1lb (0.46kg) of Brussels sprouts or over 5lbs (2.3kg) of apples! It is available nationwide from larger Tesco stores. Weight for weight, Choxi+ dark chocolate contains almost 20 times as many antioxidants as blueberries.

It tastes good too! Somehow it has not broke into mainstream media but am sure once it does it will fly off the shelves. Lemonade recipe to come another day that I am feeling miserable!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Is farming cool?

I only ever heard one person our age say that the only thing he ever wanted to do was farm. Does anyone else our age feel this way?

I would love to try farming but does our generation even know how? And what does farming entail as a lifestyle/profession? It's really pretty from the inside of a car driving along but once you stop and get out the reality of the smell and hard work may discourage many.

My friend Bergy inherited a farm in Wales from an elderly couple and he is loving life away from the city but also admitted to feeling removed from everyone else. You can see my previous post on my visit there and his cute mug here.

I wonder if any of us could go to an opposite life and thrive? Would we miss our hectic lifestyle or delve into country life and fall in love with it. My desire would be to have a lavender farm but not sure where to start. My current professor has one and I just think it would be ideal to work / write from a lovely piece of land where your lavender was flourishing outside your window. Well am adding that to the list to look into.

The pic is Ammo's take on cool farming fashion! We love these wellies which have been worn to posh places around London and to music festivals. Going to Wales again to see Bergy so will give you another update on how his farming adventures are going. Will have to pack these lovely red boots if Rexi is not wearing them to her anniversary dinner. Will bring some free range eggs home!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Hot cross bunsV. interesting - always wondered why hot cross buns emerged around Easter.

The cross in a hot cross bun signifies the Crucifiction. As this took place on Good Friday, it is considered lucky to eat these buns on Good Friday. Also, it is said that if you hang one in your
home, the building will be protected from bad luck or fire.

It's Palm Sunday next Sunday. Nobody really eats the palms :)

Source: The Cooks Pocket Companion - love this little book!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Food warsAn interesting poster exhibition at the Imperial War Museum entitled, Weapons of Mass Communication. The posters range from war recruitment to pro and anti war messages along with posters about keeping war secrets and food rationing. The exhibition is very colorful and it is interesting to see how the different messages were conveyed by the posters.

Some via guilt, with recruitment posters showing a guilty looking father with his child reading a war hero booking and the child asking, ‘Daddy how come you didn’t go to war?’ and another poster about keeping war secrets, the imagery was a pretty woman and two army generals speaking candidly about the war beside her at a posh bar. The caption read something to the effect - be careful what you say as pretty women can also be smart and give away war secrets to the enemy, they don't just smile and have no brains?!

The food ones were interesting as there were huge campaigns for people to grow their own food during rationing and how not to waste food and make it last. They should enforce a rationing system again and it would be interesting to see how many people plant stuff in their gardens and get thinking about how much food they waste!
I read something about the weekly rations and at times it was pretty limited. I can see how our grandparents were very frugal as living on a tiny lump of butter a week really made you precious about all that you had.

Butter, bacon and sugar were the first goods to be rationed in January 1940 followed by meat and preserves in March 1940, tea, margarine and cooking fats in July 1940 and cheese in 1941. Sugar, bacon, butter, cheese and cooking fats were rationed by weight and the relevant ration coupons entitled the customer to buy a given weight. The museum even has war time cookbooks which outlined how to use rations to feed your family. It must have been an interesting time to live in.

The rationing system seemed complicated but it made sense as vegetarians could swap their meat coupons for more fats and fruit while manual and agricultural workers were allowed an extra piece of cheese ration and pregnant women, children and the elderly were given more milk, eggs and fresh fruit allowances.

Perhaps a good test would be to live on a typical diet that was allocated via the rations during the war and see how we would fare today.

Monday, March 03, 2008


Wonderful hospitality and food on the Isle of Wight.

Staying at One-fifty B& B on the Isle of Wight was a delight. The owner Paula picked us up from the station and made us feel very welcome in her home. All the details were perfect from the fresh flowers in your room, the pretty handmade soaps in the toilet, the Egyptian cotton bathrobes and the lovely décor. You felt immediately at home and very comfortable. The weekend consisted of cycling, I didn’t realise how hilly the island was –I did walk up a few hills with bike in tow, eating – at the local pubs and restaurants and just enjoying the sunshine and slower pace of life.

Breakfast at 150 was divine with fresh strawberries and melon, yoghurt, muesli and a lovely selection of organic egg choices. Their lovely sun room is the perfect place to start your day and as you can see from the pics you get a delicious breakfast, freshly cooked. I highly recommend visiting the island and cycling around or walking some of the lovely coastal or inland paths, the hospitality can’t be beat and it is a short jaunt from London and just far enough to feel like you have been ‘away’.