Sunday, 30 December 2012

Tongue Ticklers at Mamounia


If you've been reading a while, you'll know that I've been pretty much living on Prezzos, Pizzas & Paneer for a long time now (not a complaint, all three come in abundant combinations). Buuuuuuut, as much as Indian and Italian are well up there on my list of loves, what's with cutting out all that Mexico & Morocco have to mete out, all the flavour Greece has to gloat about? Let's not forget Jamaican, Japanese & Chinese, Thai, Turkish & Lebanese. Oh and smashing Spanish, super soups and sharp sushis. Mmmmmmm. 

And so I guess it's just as well that there's been a sudden but very, very, VERY welcome explosion of new restaurants close to where I live. Japanese, check. Tex-Mex, check. Fast food American style, check. But the glittering, sparkling, dazzling jewel in the crown, for when you just can't decide (/feel hungry enough to eat an elephant)? A world food buffet. More on that later though. 

At the moment I'm here to tell you of recent escapades in the Knightsbridge area. Don't you think the best evenings unfold when you hit them without a plan in place? I like to think so. Especially when you end up in a cosy, Christmassy corner you didn't expect to find. Mamounia Lounge, slap bang diagonally opposite Harrods, describes itself as broadly Middle Eastern - one glance at the decor and you'll understand why. It boasts "menus inspired by the tastes, recipes and flavours from the great cuisines of Morocco and Lebanon"... which would be numerous variations of humous, falafel, cous cous, tagine & pitta.

 Considering it's been... an age, at least, since a pitta last passed this pout (and I've never had a tagine before) I'd be hard pushed to say just how good the food was. All I can say, really, is that it was guuuuuuud. And affable, efficient service in a beautiful restaurant. Plus SO many (v)s on the menu!  


It's very rare, as a vegetarian, to be flunked with so many choices that you don't know if you've chosen right - then there was dessert we were too full to deliberate, shisha we were shivering too much to give a shot. But always a next time. 


Saturday, 29 December 2012

Walking in a Winter Wonderland


Yes, I seem practically to be living here this December. Let's just say the appetite for fairground rides, mulled wine & Christmas magic is insatiable (so much so for my pre-25th Scrooge mood - we all knew it would catch up on me eventually). 

If you haven't been, go. And definitely ride the star flyer. Your eyes will sting, your hair will be ravaged & the wind will pinch your cheeks... but the view is absolutely breathtaking. 


P.S. 54 hours of 2012 to go!

Friday, 28 December 2012

Seasonal Surfeit

One of the best things about Christmas time, in my opinion, is the ready availability of overly indulgent, rich, luxurious and lip-lickingly delicious food, both in and out. I know there's always something special on the hob/in the fridge around my house (even leftovers are a treat in December!) but should we choose to eat out, many-a-seasonal-special on menus as well. And what with birthday celebrations, Christmas dos, family meals, dinner dates & girly catch-ups, there's a plethora of excuses to overindulge too. 

On the flip side though, one of the worst things about Christmas time is probably the ready availability of overly indulgent, rich, luxurious and lip-lickingly delicious food (!). I've been eating no less than a little piglet (I literally have a muffin top to show for it) and silly as it sounds, I'm quite looking forward to eating slightly more moderately (hey, let's not push it okay?) once the Christmas goodies, and spirit, have run out. Yes, I know how out of character that sounds for me but... a picture paints a thousand words: 


That, in case you're ogling, drooling and curious, is the Gnocchi al Quattro Formaggi I had a few nights ago at a little Italian called Zinco. I.e. hot, fresh, oven baked Gnocchi in a bubbling, creamy four cheese sauce of fontina, mascarpone, mozzarella & parmesan. As if one cheese simply wasn't lavish enough for Christmas. Mmmmmmmmmmm. Look at it. Just look at it. So extravagant (and I daresay, calorific!) I think I'm gaining weight just eyeing it up. 

Word of advice - get in the door before you embark on your post-Christmas detox. It really is one of the better Italians I've had in a long while. 


Zinco, 89-91 High Street, Watford, Hertfordshire, WD17 1LN

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Done, Dusted.


Christmas over, sales well underway (apparently we were shopping online on Christmas Day?!) and plenty of us back to work. So now? Well of course, it's time to reel in the new year - the last burst of pomp and cheer before the inevitable January lull. January. Britain at its skintest, coldest, grimmest, fatest. Ahhh so much to look forward to. 

To me, January has never felt like the time for new starts - dietting at a time when only comfort food will do? Nah. Exercising in the snow? Naaaaah. Spring time seems much more fitting an occasion for change - warmer mornings, brighter days and promise of summer in the air. 

All said, it wouldn't really be New Years without the age long tradition of making resolutions... and subsequently breaking them within a few days due, of course, to the aforementioned lack of motivation. So what are yours? I have three, #1 being a resolution to not break any further resolutions I resolve to make. ;) Let's see how long that lasts! 


Monday, 24 December 2012

Evening of Anticipation


Isn't in funny how we spend a whole month shopping and wrapping, running and planning, organising, decorating, co-ordinating & cooking; in anticipation, in preparation, in an utter state of commotion for just two measly days of lazing, grazing and vegging out (well chez moi at least - reliable sources tell me it can be quite the opposite)? 

December, in all honesty, is only bearable because of the promise it bears - I mean would you really queue for hours on end, fending off hundreds of co-shoppers in heaving stores to buy grandpa some fairly forgettable socks, at any other time of the year? Thought not. It's almost like we're so drunk on the Christmas Spirit that nothing seems unreasonable any more. Alas, Christmas Eve is upon us and tomorrow all our handiwork will be undone. Presents will be torn open, trees left bereft and all manner of indulgent food consumed. 

Today, though, is the day to step back, take a deep breath and admire our twinkling, glittering, festively attired homes. It's the peace after a storm when we can finally declare we are "done" and collapse in a heap on the sofa.

I think Christmas Eve is a hot favourite with a lot of people - probably because it treads that fine line between anticipation & culmination. The best of both worlds. But while most of us will reflect on the work that's gone into making tomorrow memorable, for me it's about what, if anything, I've achieved to render my whole year memorable. 12 hours of being 22 remain - I know I'll be spending those searching for my answer. 

Happy Christmas Eve.


Sunday, 23 December 2012

Pi: Missing the Point? (spoiler alert)


"Technical marvel". "Mind blowing". "A bounteous celebration of the natural world." Yes I too (don't you roll your eyes at me!) am talking about Life of Pi, and no, I'm not disagreeing with any of that praise. Because a marvel in its cinematography it is. In my opinion though, it was well set up for runaway success even before it hit the screens - sumptuously shot, ravishingly coloured and based on a Booker Prize winning novel. The likelihood it wouldn't deliver? Nil. 

As the film drew to an unexpected close though and we slowly ushered ourselves out, a distinct murmur of debate hung in the air; "Which story do you think was true?". "I don't understand the twist". "I think the human story is much more believable". Now, as most movies go, a story is told about people, places or events over a certain time period - from start to finish. Simple. But this time round, film-goers expecting nothing more than a fanciful, colourful adventure out at sea were caught off-guard by the finale.   

If you've read the book, you already knew what was coming. And also understood why. Lets think this through - did Yann Martel win the Booker Prize for telling yes, the beautiful, engaging, enriching tale of a young man stranded out at sea for 227 days, or for managing to do that whilst simultaneously catapulting the reader into a moment of theological reflection when the story concludes? Don't forget that even in the film, from the very outset the Writer character was promised a story that would make him believe in God. 

The “truth”: Pi survived for 227 days at sea, married the girl of his dreams, had children, and lived to tell two stories.

Taking into account the first part of the narrative, in which we witness Pi struggling to reconcile the differences between faith and interpretations (he acknowledges that they all contain valuable elements), in reality, the aforementioned "truth" is of little concern to anyone. What is open to interpretation are the 227 days Pi spends out at sea. Faced with two mutually exclusive stories, we are left with a very simple proposition -

Which story do you prefer?

Whilst some of us might remain unconvinced, in the case of others, like the The Writer who openly admits that he prefers the story with the tiger, Pi successfully helps us overcome one of the largest hurdles to faith – believing in the unbelievable - "And so it goes with God." 

Evidenced by his multi-religion background, Pi does not believe that any of the world’s religions are a one-stop shop for the truth of God – and his goal is not to convert anyone to a given mindset. Instead, his story helps viewers consider which version of the world we prefer.

Do Watch. 


Recipe: Sunshine Sweetcorn Rice


Slightly overdue, written in November but forgotten to share! Sowie. I do advise you peak out the window (Londoners only) if you're going to deny the doom and gloom still looms. Rain rain go away!

November's a pretty glum month. Days grow shorter, nights colder and work busier. Don't you sometimes feel trapped by the endless cycle of going to and returning from work in pitch dark? Alas, if you can't bring a girl to the sunshine, you gotta bring sunshine to the girl. Et voila, sunshine served up in but a few swift seconds - sweetcorn studded, saffron scented rice. For those of you already having palpitations at the thought of cooking rice without a resulting gloop mass, don't worry - this formula is fool proof, you just need to remember that the perfect rice takes 1 part grain to 2 parts liquid. 

You'll need: 

- a glug of vegetable oil
- a sprinkle of cumin seeds
- one pinch turmeric
- half a dozen saffron strands
- chilli flakes, according to taste
- tons of super sweet sweetcorn
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 can (use above) basmati rice
- 1 can boiling water
- a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- a scatter of sugar
- salt to taste
- desiccated coconut & coriander to garnish

What to do: 

1. Soak the rice for 15 minutes in lukewarm water. Then drain of excess water. 

2. Heat the oil in a non-stick pot over medium heat - gently fry the cumin seeds, chilli flakes, saffron & turmeric for a minute or so. 

3. Add in the sweetcorn, coconut milk & boiling water, bring to a simmer and then add the salt, lemon juice, sugar and finally the rice. 

4. Cover and let cook until all the liquid is absorbed. Once done, scatter generously with coriander & coconut. 

5. Serve with yogurt & some sort of pickle or relish. 


Friday, 21 December 2012


It is OFFICIALLY my favourite day of the year. December is my darling, 21 my lucky number & Friday... well that can only mean one thing - the weekend is here! Need I say anymore. I've spent the last 48 hours indulging myself in all things Christmassy (better late than never, no?!) from home-made mince pies to toffee nut lattes, topped off by a flying visit from Santa(/Sunita) him(/her)self. Fairy lights are on, wrapping is done & the kitchen smells of fruit cake. I can almost hear the angels sing. As my work here is done, I'm off to celebrate the best weekend of the year. The last one before Christmas. Happy 21st to you all. 


Sunday, 16 December 2012

Currently Crushing On...



9 days to cram in some Christmas cheer. Or 10 to go if you're all about the sales. Happy Sunday lovely people.


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Christmas Countdown

Two weeks to go and, don't fall off your chair in horror, I'm yet to indulge myself in anything vaguely festive. :/ I mean this coming from the girl who's totally crazed by the Christmas magic year after year after every single year. Remember this? Or this. Yeah, I'm as much in disbelief as you are. 


I've always loved all the holiday stuff in the build up to Christmas much more than the day itself - anticipation in the air, smiley faces and acts of goodwill everywhere. As they say though, better late than never so maybe I'll start out tonight. After all December's not December without a golden tree, sparkling fairy lights, festive films, a panto and lots of mulled wine, is it? 

Happy 11th December. 


Monday, 10 December 2012

Whirlwind Weeks, Windier Weekends


Aaaaand BOOM. Christmas is nigh. Ever felt it creep up on you soooooo sneakily? I definitely haven't. For lack of time, for now, here's the in on my last few weeks. Hoping you're all revelling in festivities & fun, enjoying each and every day of Advent. Happy December :)

1. Festive work times & wintry journeys home.

2. Too much cake?

3. Date nights, good lunches, new places. Stay tuned.

4. A wedding I've awaited since 16. No more to say. 


Saturday, 8 December 2012

Six Seasons Later

So the unimaginable has happened and I, having pelted through six seasons minus two episodes in what can't be longer than four weeks, am now faced with a GG-less weekend and the excruciating wait for Monday night's showdown. Now, don't judge me for this latest little craze of mine (it's addictive!) but I'm slightly anxious. :/ I mean... how on earth am I going to fill my time?(what?! I said don't judge, all recovering addicts need therapy or a placebo during the withdrawal phase). I've been advised that One Tree Hill & Made in Chelsea are formidable substitutes.  
I'm going to leave that with you...

Meanwhile, I have Fifty Shades 3 (I succumbed!), festivities and a special friend's wedding to attend to. And on the upside, you might actually see me around a little more now ;) Wishing you all a great weekend.


Friday, 30 November 2012

My Shameful Secret

Aaaaaand I've disappeared off the radar. Sowie. I wish I could say I've been jet-setting off to exotic sunsets in faraway locations, discovering new, unthought of and revolutionary energy resources or working for the FBI to crack right into Al-Qaeda's next planned terror attack. Hell yeah, I do wish. But no, unfortunately not. Undercover, no. Under covers, maybe. I hear your inquisitive mind ticking away, working overtime - where exactly have I been then...? And no you're not going to buy my work-uni busy busy explanation. Okay, fine...*sighs*. I suppose it's time I reveal my secret. But don't judge, I'm not exactly proud of it okay? So...I've sortabnracingthrugsspgrlseasons1to6. There. I said it. 

What, u didn't hear? Urgh trust you. Okay, fine, I've been watching Gossip Girl okay?! Happy now?


Gossip Girl, if you haven't heard of it (I hadn't, probably better that way) is a very melodramatic teenage... well drama, (doh) about NY's Paris Hiltons & Sid Mallyas residing on Manhattan's Upper East Side. The Hampstead or Swiss Cottage equivalent for us Londoners. Now, I know that doesn't sound particularly curious or amazing, but you've GOT to understand just how addictive the show is. Twists, turns, revelations & realisations - you never know what's happening next. Can you really walk away not knowing..? 

The best part, though, and what keeps me coming back is differentiating between what I do understand and what I don't. It's fictional, sure, but some scenes are breathtaking. 

I hear ya, trust me to buy right into that stuff. But there you go. You've outed me. Now I must be off. There is much work to be done (/season 6 episode 4 to be watched. Six seasons to get through, it's hard work!). Laters.


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

New Musings

I'm In Here


Just a quick hi-bye at this ludicrous hour - the few things keeping me ticking over.

1. Newfound obsession with pixie pans - don't ask, it's a comfort thing. 

2. The upside to working mad, crazy hours? You get to shop for the job.

3. Well... what else is a TV-less gal supposed to watch?! I blame the flatmate for getting me started, I'm hooked. :/

4. 10 days (and SO not counting) until Magical Month!

5. Try this recipe. Here it is. You won't regret it, I promise. 


Friday, 16 November 2012

Autumn on Instagram


These pictures pretty much sum up everything I love so much about Autumn - golden leaves, crisp air, Indian festivities, cozy nights in, warm desserts, spicy food and imminent Christmas. Just 14 days away from December :D For now, only as it's Friday, you're gonna have to let me off the hook for the paltry picture post - but I'll be back tomorrow. 'Til then, Happy Friday.


(Not that I've EVER been apple picking before. Or been thankful on Thanksgiving. But you know. The rest stand.)

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Spoke too Soon

So perhaps that was the aforementioned hiatus I was supposedly taking. Wowzers, it's been a while since we had a catch up around here - but boy have I missed this place. I'm back now - ready with reviews, recipes and ranting but above all, ready to welcome festivities after what, personally, has been a year filled with disappointment. And that, my friends, begins today. Happy Diwali to those for the rest of ya, Happy Diwali nonetheless ;) Thanks for sticking with me.


P.S. You can catch me intermittently here and here too - all in working progress. Stay tuned.  

Sunday, 28 October 2012


Has anyone been watching Jamie Oliver's new series on Channel 4? You know, the 15 minute meals? I'm going to have to be honest with you - I've never really rated Jamie. Jamie's Italian? No comment. Cook, maybe. Chef...? Naaaaaaaa. One series later..? Let's just say I'm not quite convertée, but as Queen of my own Palace, I'm for sure digging quick, smart, one-man recipes for a nutritious, healthy & fresh meal. Mushroom farfalle? Yes please. Apple & pomegranate salad? Yus PUH-lease.

I'm sort of coming round to his ideas the longer I watch him "wazzing up" this and that (check out his camembert parcel idea before you judge me)... I'm back now, by the way. Hiatus in the duster and all thoughts of a break in the pan. I'm back with more - maybe you've noticed the new tabs? Try the 'on love' and 'on food' tabs, you'll catch my drift. Being the type A organized control freak that I am, it seemed only right to diversify my blog into the various 'love', 'travel' and 'food' (in progress, bear with me) categories as promised. Let me know what you think! 


Friday, 26 October 2012

On Hiatus

Until further notice. Hopefully we'll meet the other side. Wishing you all a wonderful weekend. 


Monday, 22 October 2012

A New Love

One advantage of having a single-mindedly Italian-Indian eating boyfriend (well, technically cheese-eating, favourites being macaroni cheese, margherita pizza & paneer), is that while he orders something similar every time we go out to eat, I have the time and leisure of working your way through the entire [vegetarian part of any given] menu. So none of that having-to-choose-between-two-mains-you-reeeeeally-want-and-never-knowing-what-the-other-would've-been-like quandary. Good for a curious consumer like me, I hear you think. 

On the flip-side, though, it means we rarely frequent non-cheese serving establishments. Namely sushi bars ("why would you wanna eat raw vegetables?!?!"), Thai, North African, Spanish etc etc etc. Yerrrrr, not too big on the Extra Mature British Cheddar Cheese in those regions, I'll be honest with you. So truth be told, on the rare occasions I slip out for a meal with one of my girls or work colleagues or school friends, trying something completely different is a real treat. 


Take Friday for example - off I was whisked for a Thai meal in Abbot's Langley at one of those few restaurants which scores 5/5 on Trip Advisor almost every time; Pin Wei. Sometimes I tend to steer clear of cuisines that I know use a lot of meat in their dishes because I assume that any vegetarian option they might offer will assimilate the 'Chicken Tikka Masala' story - devoid of any authenticity. Alas, a plate full of spring rolls and some noodles later, all inhibition is blown out of the water. The food was amazing, light and fresh, and I spied rice from a bamboo steamer for the first time in my life - enlightened. I'm a little scared I might have sparked up one love affair too many... after all, how much can one girl eat?!


P.S. Mr Boyfriend, if you're reading this, Prezzo dates with you are the best thing ever ;) This most definitely isn't a complaint but a mere observation that by veering away from our Italian Indulgences, albeit temporarily, I'll continue to appreciate them forevermore. So please keep the Cannelloni coming. Ty. 

Pin Wei Restaurant, 35 High Street, Abbots Langley, Herts, WD5 0AA

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Changes and Chip Sandwiches


To say the week's gone by in a whirlwind would be a massive understatement. A hurricane, more like, with change coming in wave after tidal wave. A flood of university assignments and today, with a flash of lightning, a new job (now there's a phrase you've seen around here before) - definitely too much to think about. Is it absurd that at this particular point in time, I could take or leave Christmas, it's tomorrow morning's lie in that has me squirming in excitement...? Sad, I know. Even sadder that I rounded off my Friday night constructing the world's tastiest (read unhealthiest) chip sandwich. 

Wishing all of you a beautiful weekend! 


Friday, 19 October 2012

Halloween To-Dos

Seeing as I missed Halloween and Guy Fawkes last year (yeah, ouch, double whammy - a good thing in a way as I was some place hot and happy) it seems only fair one compensates with double celebration, no? Anyone who knows me knows how particular I am for marking special occasions - be it Easter or Eid, Navratri or New Year. So it's for sure befitting that I have an entire to do list this Halloween. 

1. Find (or make, if that's what it takes!) a costume with some imagination. The hunt for an outfit can be really quite disheartening - for unless you can convince me otherwise, a nurse/policewoman/cowgirl/Snow White/whatever costume consists of stockings, a corset, peplum & perspex platforms outside the privacy of one's home constitutes a sex worker's outfit.

2. Thrill Night at Thorpe Park - still on the list from last year.

3. Pumpkin carving

4. My faaaaavourite thing at this time of year, without a doubt, are toffee apples. Definitely on the to-make list.


What are your Halloween plans? 


Thursday, 18 October 2012

We Don't Do Dinner, We Have Tea

Remember this post? I feel it's going to be a bit of a déjà vu 
moment but something freakishly similar seems to be going down. Forget the days of "wha gwan" though because right now I seem to be calling everyone 'babs' and asking what's for 'tea'(on the phone to mum - "I've had my tea ma.") 'I'nt that right funny?' I don't know if it's something to do with the fact that English around here is so uptight I'd do anything to make it sound more...affable - but I blame the Sheffielder flat mate. 

In other news, I'm in complete disbelief that we've hit Thursday already - even greater incredulity that we're nearing the end of October. Christmas round the corner and New Year just beyond... I'nt that right scary?


Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Top of the Pots

Now that I'm a one man army (two at times but dinner tends to be staggered in the flat as we show up home at varying times), it can be difficult figuring out what to cook. How tempting is it to just shove on some toast and be done with it?

The inconvenient prophylactic for CBA syndrome? An inopportune stomach growling in the dead of night when you're too hungry to sleep but too tired to do anything about it. Know the feeling?

Coming up to a month since I moved though, I'm definitely forming new routines - with regards to what's on the menu, there are definitely regulars (à la carte, I'd like to think) and then the specials that creep in at weekends or on days off when I really have time to cook, rather than assemble a meal.

The four fast-but-filling familiars: 


1. Tomato Soup with salad and croutons. Mmmmm.

2. Pasta (yes, okay, predictable). Forget faffing with sauces though... you ever tried cream cheese with a spritz of lemon and oregano?

3. Good breakfast = good mood. I'm fast becoming a porridge addict - try it with yogurt and fruit, cream and dark brown sugar or ice-cream sauce (naughty, I know). Don't judge me for saying it's just as tasty at dinner time... 

4. An old boyfriend used to make the nicest creamy potato curry - it was SO flavourful that its taste is etched still in my mind. Lo and behold, I HAD to get my hands on the recipe (obviously tamper it to rid the fridge of spare vegetables) and see if I could replicate it. Good call, will most definitely share. 

More tomorrow. 


Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Nine Nights

It's official. We're into my absolute faaaaaaavourite time of year. Already, I hear you mumble? It's not Christmas yet love... yes yes, just let me explain. I've honestly believed, year after year, that NO-vember is possibly the most inconvenient month ever (sorry if you've a November birthday, nothing personal). I mean look at it sitting so stubborn, so long, between the Hindu festivities and my Darling December. Grrrrrr. 

This time round though it feels like things are going to be a little different. Flatmate's birthday, maybe a sneaky holiday and bob's your uncle. It kicks off today with a gorgeous Indian festival known as Navratri - nine nights of sarees, sweets and shaking a leg to celebrate the triumph of good over evil... It means I get to eat things like this: 


And wear things like that --->


Nothing like a pop of colour when the weather outside's like...



P.S. Apologies in advance for any outfit pictures that may randomly pop up this week - I'm probably having a Bollywood Diva moment. You understand.


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