Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dos and Don’ts
DO- spill your wine – it is a sign of good luck, as it means there are celebrations to come

DON'T - have 13 people to dinner – because of the association with the Last Supper, Judas (the traitor) was the 13th person. And these are my comments - place settings are usually for 6 or 12 & it is a lot of people to cook for!
(caption for the pic) The Last Supper, showing Jesus, at the center, saying to his disciples, "One of you shall betray me." One disciple is painted in darkness. His face is in the shadow of another, and he leans back, nervously holding a bag of silver. This disciple, Judas, is the third face to the left of Jesus.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Berry strange

Walking along the canal from Camden Market to Little Venice on a sunny afternoon (Mother Nature has blessed us with a bit of sunshine these past few days) I noticed lots of lovely blackberry bushes, the one strange thing about all these bushes was that there were loads of berries still on them. The berries were past their date of consumption and most of them were dead and all shriveled up. But not just a few spare ones that bloomed late, there were thousands of them. Why were so many berries that would make lovely treats for anyone walking along the busy canal, left unnoticed and uneaten?

I am not an expert but maybe… people either a) didn’t know that these were edible –as they probably never picked fruit/berries off a tree or bush ever (which is sad) or b) they weren’t sure if they were poisonous (again not being able to recognize basic fruit –sad) or c) they were a bit weary of eating berries from the side of the canal –probably only buy food from supermarkets. Who knows? There is not much pollution from the boats floating by at 2km/ph and there are a lot of people that walk and cycle along this path so not sure exactly why they were all left there. Another reason could be that with the terrible weather we have been having no one has really been stopping to pick berries but instead trying to rush home out of the rain.

On my first visit, there was an old man walking towards me and he was happily picking and eating the few remaining berries, as I was from the opposite direction. I was doing it half heartedly so there was plenty for him to eat when he went past, but when I passed him, he had cleaned those bushes so well there was none left! I then walked along the canal a few days later and there were absolutely no berries that were edible. Am sure that man took the last of them… well, at least someone enjoyed them!

What to do with leftover rice?

Create Nasi Goreng – which in Indonesian translates to ‘fried rice’. It is my favourite item on the Street Hawker menu at present. In Indonesia it can refer to a meal where the rice is served with other things like chicken, prawn or beef or it can be just the rice itself that is the meal, with pieces of meat or fish inside it. I ordered the beef version and my partner in crime ordered the pad Thai, this combined with a bottle of La Chasse Du Pape, from the Cotes du Rhone region made for a wonderful evening star gazing out across the city from the top of Primrose Hill.

I think the one from the Hawker is made with tamarind, cashews, shallots, spring onions, soy sauce, egg and extra chilli on the side. On Wiki it says you can eat Nasi goreng any time of day, which is great, as I have been known to have it for breakfast. If you have any left over rice, let it cool down or store it in the fridge, whack all these ingredients to it in a fry pan and there you have it a great, tasty and quick Thai style meal.

I prefer to get mine from the Hawker as you always bump into one of the neighbours there! And guess what, they serve all their meals with chop stix – ahh city living.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Am taking the BBC MasterChef course online – which is extremely interesting –and thought I would post this info which may be helpful to some who don’t know much about food hygiene. We have a cutting board for vegetables only and meat only, which are not to be confused or else the kiwi warden reprimands us! (and it's really bad for food hygiene)

If you want to try the course yourself visit this link and see if you have what it takes to be a master chef.

The clever people at the BBC and from various UK food agencies have created it and at the end of it you also get a certificate to hang on the fridge!

Cross-contamination of food

Cross-contamination occurs when bacteria spread between food, surfaces or equipment. It's most likely to happen when:

-Raw food touches (or drips onto) any ready-to-eat foods.
-Raw food touches (or drips onto) equipment or surfaces.
-People touch raw food with their hands then touch ready-to-eat food.

So, if raw meat drips onto a cake in the fridge, bacteria will spread from the meat to the cake. The whole cake could be contaminated with harmful bacteria, so it would not suffice to cut off the piece of cake that can be seen to be contaminated: the whole cake would need to be thrown away.

If you cut raw meat on a chopping board, bacteria will spread from the raw meat to the board and knife. If you then use the same board and knife (without washing them thoroughly) to chop a cucumber, the bacteria will spread from the board and knife to the cucumber.

Hands can also spread bacteria. If you touch raw food and don't wash your hands thoroughly, you can spread bacteria to other things you touch.

By avoiding cross-contamination, you can stop bacteria spreading.

What you need to do:
Separate raw and ready-to-eat foods. Raw meat contains harmful bacteria that can spread very easily to anything it touches, including other food, worktops, chopping boards and knives.
It's especially important to keep raw meat away from ready-to-eat foods. Salad, fruit and bread are not necessarily cooked before they're eaten, so any bacteria that get onto the foods won't be killed by the heat. Raw meat should be kept away from cooked meat because cooked meat can be eaten cold: any bacteria present would still exist in the cold cooked meat.

To help stop bacteria from spreading, remember these things:

-Don't let raw meat touch other foods.
-Never prepare ready-to-eat food using a chopping board or knife that you have used to prepare raw meat, unless they've been washed thoroughly first.
-Always wash your hands thoroughly after touching raw meat and before you touch anything else.
-Always cover raw meat and store it on the bottom shelf of the fridge where it can't touch or drip onto other foods.
-Clean surfaces and equipment thoroughly before you start to prepare food and after they've been used with raw food.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Are you allowed to moan about the lack of authenticity at a restaurant? What is missing from this place setting?

Not on this side either...

Well there was a lot of garnish and frills but no chopsitx . At an 'authentic' Thai restaurant would you not expect chopstix? Even when we asked they said - 'no we don't have any.'
Not even for any customers who ask for it? I think this is what happens in the suburbs! (The restaurant is in St. Albans)
It was very strange as the owner and servers were all Thai. I think I am allowed to have a moan about that - albeit a shorter one than I did have, non? (Sorry Squirly) It would be like going to an authentic Italian restaurant and getting a pizza with pineapple and sweetcorn on it!

It is no match for Street Hawker.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

No, but yeah but, bloating, but what??
The Flour Advisory Bureau put out this info in 2005 and I think it is quite interesting. I have bulleted the most important parts and since I like to self diagnose myself I think a few others may relate to the information. So the copious amounts of fruit I eat can be the cause of my bloating and it seems my love of spicy foods doesn’t help either.
  • 20% of the population in the UK claim to suffer from bloating. Bloating is unsightly and uncomfortable and can cause considerable concern for consumers, especially women.

  • Many believe that bloating is caused by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and frequently claim they have a wheat intolerance. The problem is made worse by well meaning advice from unqualified celebrities promoting bizarre detox diets, and so called health gurus who advise long-term elimination diets.

  • IBS symptoms can vary but typically include bloating, spasm, lower abdominal pain, diarrhoea and/or constipation. Bloating does not automatically mean you have IBS. In fact it is more likely to be caused by lifestyle and dietary factors. The survey demonstrated that rather than wheat, the main causes of bloating were monthly female hormone fluctuations (32%), over-eating / irregular meal patterns (28%) and stress related indigestion (27%).

  • Even when specific foods were blamed, wheat did not feature as a culprit.

  • The most common foods to trigger bloating included the consumption of too much fruit, spicy foods and fizzy drinks - all of which can cause abdominal gas and bloating. Additional causes of bloating included constipation, which can be caused by a lack of dietary fibre and low fluid intake. This type of bloating can be easily helped by drinking at least 8-10 cups of water a day and eating more fibre rich foods such as wholemeal bread and high fibre breakfast cereals.

    Very interesting indeed! The Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada gives these 10 tips to increasing your fibre intake -which should reduce your bloating, so you won't look like a character from Little Britain.

  1. Choose a fibre rich cereal. Choose a cereal that has at least 4 grams of fibre per serving.

  2. Add a high fibre cereal to your regular cereal. Choose a cereal that has at least 10 grams of fibre per serving and sprinkle it on your regular cereal.

  3. Eat more fruit. Limit juice and try to eat the whole fruit. Have fruit for a snack or dessert. Don’t forget to eat the skin on fruits like apples and pears. That is where most of the fibre is.

  4. Add one more vegetable to your diet today. Vegetables are low in calories and high in fibre and nutrition.

  5. Add beans and lentils. Add beans or lentils to your tossed salad, spaghetti sauce, or soups.

  6. Choose whole grain and whole wheat breads and pasta. Look for terms like “100% whole grain”, or 100% whole wheat”.

  7. Add ¼ cup of wheat bran, oat bran or ground flax to your baking.

  8. Use hummus or other bean dips for spreads on sandwiches instead of mustard and mayonnaise.

  9. Add dried fruit, nuts or seeds to cereal, salads or yogurt.

  10. Substitute half the white flour for whole wheat flour in your favorite recipes.

Monday, September 22, 2008

WTF? Burger King launches Apple Fries

LONDON - Burger King is launching a product, called Apple Fries, intended to challenge McDonald's fruit bags and offer a healthy alternative to potato french fries.

The product, fresh apple pieces cut in the shape of fries, will be trialled in seven cities this month before a wider roll-out at the end of the year.

It will be supported in participating restaurants with an in-store marketing campaign using the strapline, '100% fresh, 0% fried'.

Huh?! They will be layered with chemicals to make them look perfect and keep them from going brown. Why don't they just give everyone a free apple with their meal, that may be a better PR stunt and may get some BK regulars to actually see what fruit looks like and if they get really hungry after their grease fill, they may even try and eat it?!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Soho anticsOutdoor eating at its best. Parisian style - this restaurant's tables look out into the busy streets of Soho, which are always filled with interesting characters. The restaurant is located right in the heart of the gay village facing onto Old Compton Street (I can't recall the name!).

This time it was the characters next to us who stole the show. The J-Lo ordered calves liver and wore a woolly hat like it was icy weather conditions, I reminded her that this is the UK summer...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Alcohol fuelled personality types

According to the UK govt. The nine alcohol-fuelled personality types are:

· "De-stress drinkers" use alcohol to regain control of life and calm down. They include middle-class women and men.

· "Conformist drinkers" are driven by the need to belong and seek a structure to their lives. They are typically men aged 45 to 59 in clerical or manual jobs.

· "Boredom drinkers" consume alcohol to pass the time, seeking stimulation to relieve the monotony of life. Alcohol helps them to feel comforted and secure.

· "Depressed drinkers" may be of any age, gender or socioeconomic group. They crave comfort, safety and security.

· "Re-bonding drinkers" are driven by a need to keep in touch with people who are close to them.

· "Community drinkers" are motivated by the need to belong. They are usually lower middle class men and women who drink in large friendship groups.

· "Hedonistic drinkers" crave stimulation and want to abandon control. They are often divorced people with grown-up children, who want to stand out from the crowd.

· "Macho drinkers" spend most of their spare time in pubs. They are mostly men of all ages who want to stand out from the crowd.

· "Border dependents" regard the pub as a home from home. They visit it during the day and the evening, on weekdays and at weekends, drinking fast and often.

Did you know there were so many? And isn't it weird that reading this you can probaly think of several people that you know that fit one of these categories?

Read the full article from the Guardian here and find out what the govt is planning to do to help these people that drink 50% more than the weekly limit.

I think they forgot a category - "Celebs" see the pic of Lilo above. There are a lot of celebs rolling out of clubs in London each night, ending up in the London Paper or the Metro the next day in horrid photographs. It does sell papers though...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Prometheus water
My friend launched this beverage company this week.
It sounds intriguing and can't wait to try some! Congrats Mr. P!

From their website: PrometheusSprings.com

We are very serious about keeping our product free of any chemicals or man-made badness. Our product is, and always will be made from the best all natural ingredients. This elixir is made from charcoal filtered water, cane sugar, fresh ginger, hand picked scotch bonnet pepper, citric acid (for tartness), malic acid (extracted from apples and grapes), sea salt, capsaicin oil, and natural flavor.

Capsaicin (pronounced: kăp-sā'ĭ-sĭn) is the super food antioxidant that makes peppers so deliciously spicy. Every bottle of Prometheus Springs is crafted with the world’s finest, hand-selected peppers then enhanced further with gentle touch of pure capsaicin oil.

To add balance, we add in fresh cold-pressed ginger to soothe the palette and refresh the senses. To make matters even more refreshing we add a hint of citrus extracts for a tart finish.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Texas U
A sampling of what was on offer for the Texas football game night - the game was cancelled due to the hurricane but there was plenty of food and fantastic mojiots to entertain in its absence.

The flour tortillas were home made - did you know that there is lard in the ingredients? Apparently a lot more than we thought. I thought tortillas and chapatis were just made out of flour, water and salt? The chapati recipe I remember is flour, oil, warm water and salt. I guess that's what makes the tortillas fluffier.

I had a small scoop of the re-fried beans as was on a plane the next day and didn't want to have any embarrassing wind emissions. Off to sample some Scottish haggis...adios amigos.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Chocolate cake with butterscotch icingServed with Häagen-Dazs' Cookies 'n Cream ice cream - what more could you ask for after dinner? Look who's returned from sunny Australia? Our favourite legal eagle...xx

Friday, September 12, 2008

TGIF! Look at what you can do with bread???

How creative.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Chocolate incense

The Burger got these for her birthday and decided to share them at the office. When she ripped open the pack in excitement, as they were bought from the lovely Liberty shop on Regent Street, you could instantly smell the incense.

This is not chocolate - it is like eating a bathroom air freshener or inhaling a big dollop of incense at some spiritual healer's house -mixed in with a piece of chocolate. Although it is organic and free of artificial flavours and colors we have not been able to have more than a bite.

The milk chocolate one has Goji berries, which are the popular berries found in the Himalayas and have super health benefits, in it with cardamon oil (which probably is the cause of the smell and awful taste) and the white one has a hint of Ylang Ylang (pronounced ee-lang ee-lang). Not sure what Ylang Ylang is but the essential oil of this is most likely what makes this bar also horrible.

What happened to old fashioned chocolate and nut combo?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Rainbow TwizzlersThe lovely Astaire (love the name) brought these back from Georgia - a few comments:
  • Twizzlers should not come in other flavours than original as it is just wrong - the blue and yellow and purple ones taste terrible! Although I do like the packaging and they look good in those color combinations.
  • I love Twizzlers especially from North America, they always taste better
  • I love these little packs as they are a great snack size
  • These were probably sold for the big build up to Halloween, which is something I miss, the Brits don't know how to get all excited for Halloween like the Canadians and Yanks do
  • Now that Astaire is back we are going to have candy in the office every day - that is a bonus and a negative at the same time as we are all trying to trim down for the lovely sunny weather that is on its way! Our sun dresses may get one more chance to emerge from the closet into the fresh air (fingers crossed) and our umbrellas may get a rest...
Off to pray to the sun God for a lovely and non-rainy weekend in Scotland. But also off to find some wellies that are lurking in the closet, as sometimes our prayers aren't answered!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

To Clairify - Curry
This posting is for Momma Dolce.
Curry is a misunderstood food. The original word, kari means sauce and refers to a sauce that was poured over rice, lentils or any other food to give it a flavour. However, it was only a relish rather than the bulk of the dish. Also it was not hot and spicy. Chilis are now an integral part of the dish but did not appear in India until the 1500s when they were introduced by the Yanks.

During the era of the East India Company, the Europeans devised a forumla for the spice mixtures, and in 1889 at the Universal Paris Exhibition the composition of curry powder was fixed at

  • 34g tamarind

  • 44g onion

  • 20g coriander

  • 5g chili pepper

  • 3g tumeric

  • 2g cumin

  • 3g fenugreek

  • 2g pepper

  • 2g mustard

However in India and in any home that makes curry the ingredients vary wildly (I omit the cumin as I don't like it much). Many people in India vary according to their regional customs, caste and spices available - just like the Italians do with their pastas and sauces. That is what makes curry great, it comes in so many different variations depending on the chef. I especially like the coconut versions.

I think a trip to the Amin household is in order!

Monday, September 08, 2008

A day in the loaf

Below, is the trailer for Hovis' new ad launching on Friday during Bunny's favourite show, Coronation Street at 8.45pm! Watch it, it's great.

The ad features the sweet, 13-year-old actor Brian Mackie, buying a loaf of the embossed bread 122 years ago, before darting through the different eras with his clothes changing to fit the styles of the time. The ad ends with him finally bringing the loaf home to his mother.

He is lovely and am sure we will see more of him. The little brown loaf is delicious too.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Razor clams

My razor clam dinner with parsley, white wine, butter and garlic broth.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


Pumpkin sold at Berlin street market
Boat BBQAnother grey & rainy day in London. Thought I would look at some Greece pictures to remind me what the sun actually looks like. Found this one of our tiny bbq aboard our hosts' boat Jade. I wonder where Jade is sailing now? The last I heard from our lovely hosts Shirl & Pete, they were in Mykonos. Oh the life...they have been sailing around the world for the last 6 years!

We had a bbq'd fish one night that Pete caught in the strait of Messina, on their jouney from Sicily to Greece. I can't remember what it was called but it was delicious - it was so large they will be eating it for a while to come.

Well back to London grey weather, went to a great restaurant called Market, in Camden yesterday, for lunch and had two courses for a tenner - will write about that later, off to find a sun bed or a job in Greece :)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Turkish Wraps

Freshly made on the street in Berlin by these two lovely ladies. They had such a warm aura around them and the food looked and smelled lovely. We had just come from a large breakfast and couldn't fit anymore food in but will definitely have to try it next time.

What’s in a name?

The series continues….

This edition is for the British readers

Croydon – Saffron Vally (birthplace of Kate Moss-that is her skinny butt above)
Gatwick – Goat Farm (known now more for its ever expanding airport)
Purley – Pear-tree wood
Swindon – Pig Hill
Accrington – Acorn Valley
Ely – Eel
Stranraer – Fat Peninsula

Monday, September 01, 2008

PretzelPic of a pretzel seller on the street in Berlin. These pretzels were extra large and sold by a girl who epitomised the look of a German pretzel seller with her two braids, blonde hair and sweet Rapunzel look, like she just stepped out of a German fairytale.

Common around the southern part of Germany they are eaten as a snack, sometimes for breakfast and are made of simple ingredients: wheat flour, water, sugar & yeast along with large helpings of thick chunky bits of salt. The exact date and place of the origin of the pretzel is not known, but in 1111 the pretzel was an emblem on the bakers’ guilds in Southern Germany - only a short 896 years ago.

And did you know that within the Catholic church, pretzels are regarded as having religious significance and are particularly associated with Lent, fasting and prayers before Easter.

And in North America, fat bar goers eat lots of pretzels with beer, go the fatties!