Saturday, June 28, 2008

Burnt naan

Green Thai curry was on the menu the other night but someone was chatting too much and the naan bread ended up burning and needing to cool off on the back patio.

There is also half a can of coconut milk left and not sure what to do with it, any suggestions?

Sweet potato and snap beans with fresh coriander added to the mix, gave it such nice flavours and textures. Served with basmati rice it was a delicious meal. I even had some chili sauce from Street Hawker that gave it that extra spicy kick - yum!

Am in Spain for the next few days so will be sampling lots of cocktails by the beach and some Spanish food...stay tuned for some updates next week.

Ciao, ciao

Friday, June 27, 2008

Deja Vu pour le New Yorker
We had a very SITC night out the other night - the lovely French Madame M was in town from NYC. We had champagne to celebrate seeing each other after a long period and to celebrate all of our recent pieces of good news.

So our actress extraordinnaire decided to arrange the night - it was a walk from M's hotel in Mayfair to Randall and Aubin's in Soho. We got to the entrance and she screeched, you took me here last time! (2 years ago) But we decided we all really liked it there so why not go again.

Then after dinner the actress said she had another great suggestion - Soho House - we get to the main entrance and again our New Yorker said - this looks familiar - you took me here two years ago too!

It was quite funny - as we all seem to have our usual haunts we take guests too - I am a fan of a quick bite at Busaba and then onwards to a gig or a show and the actress's is Randall & Aubin and Soho House. When I go to NYC am going to get the usual Madame M tour too which is sure to include her partner's bar Bua. We had a great night, feasted on lobster and champagne and caught up on all the Toronto, New York and London gossip - aren't girlfriends great?! Love the disco ball and dancing waiters at Randall - they are all gorgeously gay. Pics are from Randall & Aubin's - not the best but perhaps the champagne hindered the photograph quality :)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mmmm ....Canada"Mmm…Canada" celebrates our nation in a culinary way: what foods and drinks taste like Canada to you?

That is the question put forward to me from Jennifer from The Domestic Goddess food blog and Jasmine at Confessions of a Cardamom Addict, they are working on Taste Canada - a project asking people what Canada tastes like to them. Great idea, non?So here is what initially came to my mind when I read their email on what reminds one of Canada. Growing up in Ontario we always had an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables in our fridge, in our lunchboxes and on our tables. We ate seasonally and we did a lot of family trips to the 'Green Belt' (mainly St. Catherines) to pick our own fruit at different times of the year. In the fall we went apple picking and in the summer we went strawberry, peach and cherry picking.

It was a day out, it was fun and it was a great way to spend the time with family. It was cheaper to 'pick your own' and the fresh fruit we got was incredibly tasty; am not sure if farmers really made more money as we ate so many strawberries while picking we should've left some extra money! I even forgot my shoes one weekend and went strawberry picking with only my funny slippers. My forgetfulness still continues to this day.

Back to strawberries...on the way to the cottage we picked a few baskets then headed to the beach, swam all day like little sea lions and came back for lunch or dinner to eat more strawberries. At lunch one day we decided to make a strawberry sandwich. I think my cousin Mary or Tami invented this - not sure who can take the credit?

We cut up loads of the little strawberries - they were tiny bulbous and strangely shaped, not the perfect kind you get in the shops today and laid them on freshly toasted bread with melted butter and sprinkled it with sugar. The sweet and the salty mixed with the sugar and the warm bread made it the most excellent and delicious sandwich ever. What an invention! I should sell these from a little stall somewhere. They are sooo good.

So that was what we ate for lunch or snack almost every weekend (during strawberry season) - a strawberry sandwich. We were picky eaters when we were young so I guess our parents thought as long as we were eating something why not a strawberry sandwich for lunch!

I made one the other day for the blog and it was good, but the strawberries were nothing near the ones that you get in the Niagara St. Catherines - Canada's fruit belt. I can't wait to have another strawberry sandwich at the beach again - will have to show my nephews how to make one so the tradition continues.

Happy Canada Day for all reading this on July 1st!
Milk at lastThe lovely PR, Chris, from Lactofree sent me some vouchers so I can drink milk again. Yay! It tastes great and am loving drinking milk again. Only problem is that it is not sold at my local grocery store so needed to go to Selfridges to get this carton. Hopefully Tesco will start selling it soon but I don't mind going to Selfridges as there is always something interesting to look at there. Thanks Lacto-free people!

Check out their website for more info.
There is news, advice and more information about lactose intolerance and Lactofree milk. There is even a community hub and a guide to restaurants that cater for lactose-intolerant people, making it easier for them to choose where they eat out in the UK. How helpful!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Dionne's dessertsFrom her baby shower party - I wish I was there to eat all the great food!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bits of coconut goodnessHanded out after a parade travelling along, outside Green Park tube station on Saturday. The parade was heading to a big festival in Trafalgar Square. More to be added...

Monday, June 23, 2008

£2.50 donerWhen you are in need of some grease and a cheap lunch a £2.50 doner kebab is just perfect. Everyone says they are gross but most people love them after a night out drinking. And many people like them for lunch as the little shop we went to at lunch the other day was quite busy.

PB got this for his lunch. It smelled is hard to tell, but there is a massive cone of chips underneath the shavings of kebab and squirts of garlic and chili sauces. I asked him what meat it was and he said, 'best not to ask.' I guess it doesn't really matter does it as it could be anything!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Red Bull appears at The LeathermarketVery funny, on Friday afternoon I was saying that I needed a boost of energy and about ten seconds later two Red Bull models came with little coolers on their back to give our office samples of the new Red Bull Cola. I was stunned at the sheer coincidence.

They said that another agency down the road told them to come visit us at The Leathermarket (we work in an old leather market), which was very nice. So we each got a can of the new cola and the lovely sampling staff explained that it is all natural with ingredients like lime, cinnamon, ginger etc.. and there is no 'secret recipe' like another cola brand, all ingredients are listed on the back of the can.

The verdict in the office: we said it tasted like Haribo candy and most people liked it, no one really said they loved it but at the end of the day no cans were left over. Many said they still like the one and only Coke.

Not sure I would buy it often as having a few Haribo candies is great but drinking a can of it may be a bit too much, will have to try it again.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Pasta baby!
Sometimes on a Friday you just need some pics of an adorable baby eating pasta for a blog post.

Love this little PJ!


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Turkey take off

I get an interesting array of press releases each day and I thought snippets of this one was worth sharing. It stated that, according to scientists, eating turkey could enhance an athlete’s performance by up to 20%. Turkey breast contains one of the highest concentrations of the muscle-building dipeptides, anserine & carnosine. (we all know what those are right? )

Researchers at the University of Chichester’s School of Sport, Exercise & Health Sciences carried out tests on the effect of consuming carnosine and beta-alanine on volunteers who underwent muscle biopsies and performance tests. The 800mg beta-alanine supplements they used, the equivalent to 145g portions of turkey breast meat, increased muscle concentrations by 40% and improved cycling performance by 13%.

It goes on to say that you must eat 250-300g of turkey a day for 6-12 months to see these increases. Turkey is low in fat and high in protein and tastes good but would you really want to eat it every day?

The research also discovered anserine & carnosine was high in certain muscle meats, including whale, prawns and turkey. The scientists chose to concentrate their research on turkey for practical reasons. Good thinking as we wouldn’t want to have plates of whale meat every day, wouldn’t that kill the species off and a plate of prawns every day could get expensive!

Sometimes I wonder about press releases – they could really be shorter and sweeter and with less useless information. Am I being a bit cynical today? Well I do think the British Turkey Federation sure got my attention but perhaps am a little grumpy today. I do like turkey and recommend it to all to eat as it is quite healthy.

Maybe you can get your muscle concentration up by lifting a few weights at the gym each week or bench pressing your little nephews, kids love that stuff!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Potato OdysseyI almost broke my neck while visitng this exhibition at Hay's Galleria the other morning. The poor Peruvian woman almost had me in her arms instead of those little plastic potatos. The cleaners had just come by with that strange machine that half sweeps and half mops the floor and I slipped on a trail of the water - which may have been soapy!?

It was quite funny and luckily I didn't fall - as I did scrape my knee on an escalator earlier on in the week - I think I am turning into my clumsy Aunt Grace. Luckily only the statues witnessed my slip as it was early in the morning. When I looked around I could only see that cleaner in the distance creating a trail of water for other poor workers around the area to slip on. Well onto the exhibit, I wasn't sure what to expect - who knew there were so many varieites of spuds?! Well there are, and the exhibit put on by the Peruvian Embassy displays all of them, I think.

From Time Out mag: This travelling photo exhibition celebrates the humble spud's place as the third most important food crop in the world after rice and wheat. Organised by the Peruvian Embassy for the International Year of the Potato, the display explores the potato's domestication and importance in food cultures worldwide.

If you are in the area it would be interesting to look at just to see all the different types of potatoes but I wouldn't really go out of my way to see it.

Tip: don't go early in the morning with heels on!

Santander sweetsI received a lovely gift of Spanish turron (torrone in Italian) from my marine engineering friend in Spain. It was very sweet for me but I brought it to the office to share and it was a hit! It is a nougat-y bar filled with nuts, honey, sugar and other things that make it taste great.

Thanks ER, next time we meet am looking forward to another Spanish treat and hearing about your boss trying to seduce you and turn you into a gay man ;)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Belli's mohitosKids mixing drinks?

Well, what else do you get kids to do in the summer? We put them to work making mohitos for us a few weekends ago at the beach. They are great at picking the fresh mint from the garden, stirring in the sugar and very exact at pouring the lemon & lime juice and mixing in the solda and vodka; it is like being in home economics class! Kids love tasks that are usually left to grownups. They didn't get a chance to taste the drinks but we did make them a virgin version.

Belli is the cutest little angel and a great helper. I wish I was a teacher like her mother and had a little star sticker to give her. Thanks for your help cutie and see you soon!


Westwood Mohito Recipe:

*We altered the recipe for what was in the cupboard

- Lots of fresh mint from the garden

- A squirt of lemon and lime juice (as much as we had in the fridge)

- A tbsp of sugar per glass – brown sugar is nice

- We used Havana Club rum – but any rum will do – the flavored Bacardi Limon one would be nice

- Ice

- We didn’t have club soda so we used Perrier water with a hint of lime

What's in a name part 3
Can you tell I am away for the weekend?

Topeka - good place to dig potatoes (Kansas, USA)

Harbin - where fish is dried (tenth largest city in China)

Danube - river of sheep (longest river in the EU which starts in Germany and flows all the way to Romania/Ukraine) Pic is of the Danube gate on the Romanian-Serbian border

Saturday, June 14, 2008

What's in a name part 2

Chicago - garlic place

Coney island - rabbit island

Saskatoon - fruit of tree of many branches (from the Canadian homeland)

Friday, June 13, 2008

What's in a name?

The original meaning of a few place names:

Aran Islands - kidney islands (pic of laughing horse is from the Irish islands)

Bangkok- region of olive trees

Bethlehem - house of bread

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Truffle hunting on your next vacation?
A travel idea: travel to Italy for a truffle hunt! It may be muddy and dirty but it sounds like fun and you stay with a family or in a small town and eat like a King (or Queen). In the past, truffles were only found by trained pigs but it seems like dogs are now the main way that these precious fungi are found.

They are edible subterranean mushrooms that are hard to find and therefore a much sought after delicacy. Pungent tasting and rich smelling, round and not quite hard - they are brown and wrinkly and plain ugly (see pic above). They are used very sparingly in dishes and am not sure you can really taste them when they are on menus (in truffle oil, truffle infused sauce etc.).

I have been meaning to make a truffle themed dinner for a while and will have to get some fresh truffles from Borough and make it happen, maybe when Momma Dolce is in town.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sunday RoastThis was Sunday's dinner a lovely free range chicken with potatoes and sweet potato. Easy to make - how? throw all ingredients into a roasting pan, drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and a bit of rosemary and you are ready to eat a healthy meal in 1.5hrs.

When people say they don't know how to cook, you wonder if they ever really tried? It is not that difficult to get it wrong with simple stuff like this.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Re: posts belowInterestingly, the term 'salad days' was mentioned by the baldy from Sex in the City who is now on my new favourite show, Californication - why did I not discover the David Duchovny hotness earlier? No one eats on that show, all they do is drink Fiji water, cocktails and hard liquor.

And I need to go back and write a proper post about the Whole Foods store on High Street Kensington as I loved going there a few weeks ago. I spent forever in there. I actually lost track of time, checking out all their products, produce, cheeses etc.. it was a great food shopping experience which resulted in me buying oysters, an oyster shucker, swordfish steaks and white sea bass. It was too much fish for one weekend but it was great, bar the Oysters that were not too juicy-how do you choose oysters? Do you shake them to see if there is lots of seawater inside?

More places like this are needed in London, am really getting annoyed with shopping at the local petrol station for my fruit and veg.

Anyhow another busy week, am surviving on golden pineapple in the morning, chicken and rice soup for lunch and whatever is in the fridge for dinner - lots of Thai food is being consumed from our local favourite, Street Hawker - the guy even knows us in there and asks, 'nasi goreng for you?' Errm...maybe should go there a little less. How do you get bathing suit body in 2 weeks?

Running & Pilates marathon to commence immediately...

Monday, June 09, 2008

Use Lactaid to make yoghurtI was almost poisoned 2x this week by milk related activity. First I think I was served a regular latte at the Sanderson Hotel, but I asked for a soy one of course. During my meeting I was feeling very ill, was sick a few times and felt off the whole day - the only thing I could attribute it to was the latte. It also took a long time to get the latte, it had to be ordered a few times and chased up and I think in the delay there was a mix up of the milk used. I was pre-occupied with the meeting so didn't really examine the taste but think it was definitely the cause of my seeing stars at one point in the day. oh joy!

And, while in Canada I bought this little bottle of drops which I thought would allow me to drink milk daily again. Instructions are to add 15 drops to one litre of milk and then let stand for 24hours to kill all the lactose. I did as directed, and the next day had cereal and milk for the first time in ages, but it tasted a little funny. I ignored that and thought about the next day's breakfast. Day 2 - I open the milk and there is a funny rotten smell - like yoghurt that has gone off. I rush off to work without drinking it as not too sure about the smell. When I get home that evening the container of milk is completely turned into some sort of slushy, solid pudding. It was gross and in the bin it went!

The next day I am taking my calcium pill at work and moaning about it -wishing the milk brand Lactancia was sold here and up pops an email from a nice young man saying he has been reading about my lactose intolerance on the blob (as my family calls it) and he wants to send me some samples of lactose free milk to try.

Will let you know how the new product goes - am sure they don't sell it in my petrol station super market.

A question I have been asking is, if you don't drink milk or eat any dairy, what are other food sources provide calcium?

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Free Paella - Borough Market

They were handing out free paella at Borough Market on 5 & 6 of June for a Spanish/city of Valencia showcase. The queue was massive but it looked good and everyone was enjoying their little dish of rice.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Cooking class in Tuscanyemail from my friend Dee:

My friends and I had a fab time in Tuscany. The weather was a bit rainy though so we decided to splash out and take a cooking class with a local lady at her farm house. Giulietta was so nice and welcoming and let us get stuck in. We made 4 courses: Zucchini risotto, ricotta and asparagas ravioli, chicken with sweet peppers for main and then apple cake. yuuummmyyyy...
Look at Dee getting right in there with the pasta machine, she better make dinner for us soon before she forgets her Tuscan techniques!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Breakfast at SandersonHad a business function at the Sanderson Hotel this morning. We had the courtyard cafe booked and it was lovely, bar the June rain! The pastries and fresh fruit platters were delicious - the atmosphere is so relaxed and chic that you could easily spend the whole day there. I wanted to take pics of the fruit platters and set up but didn't think it was right in front of the client so have these pics instead which come from their website. Top is of the courtyard at night and bottom is of the Long Bar which gets very busy in the evenings with the chic tribes of London town descending on it.

Tip for the weekend: take your girlfriend/boyfriend for a cocktail to the Sanderson - hopefully the sun is shining and you can relax outside. Be sure to check out their lifts, their billiards function room and even their toilets are very posh.

Second tip: Try not to act like a dumb, snoopy tourist.

British GQ calls it - 'the hippest hotel in the world'

Pics below: entrance & lobby