Wednesday, 24 April 2013

sl Days Out: Alchemy at the Southbank

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So now. Before I ended up marvelling at the marathon in a brief but eye-opening moment of enlightenment, the fundamental reason for my so bravely foraging into London on Sunday in the first place. 

Alchemy at the Southbank Centre, I find out in hindsight, is now in it's fourth year running (almost at a close now though) - a celebration and summation of absolutely everything I love about the Indian subcontinent; vibrant explosions of colour in the way of art & fabric exhibitions, hustling-bustling crowds, highly skilled performers and then some. Of course if you've gathered anything in the time you've spent reading along with me, you'll probably have guessed what I found to be the crowning glory... Yup, THE most spicy, mouthwateringly tasty Indian food market you can imagine. Sizzling pau bhajis & refreshing lassi, pani puri prepared as you eat and clay-pot chai - HEAVEN. 

  As luck would have it, of course, I happened to be the very last Londoner to learn of this little treasure's existence... Friday, to be precise, which was exactly...err one day before the festival's last weekend. Bit of a 'do or die' situation really. Go on over and have a nose around the website, I think I've gotten back to you in the nick of time should you fancy catching the tail end - I'll be back tomorrow with some more. 


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Visit the Southbank Centre on Belvedere Rd, London SE1 8XX. Closest tube station: Waterloo. 

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

We're Rebranding...

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Readership is on the up (aww, thank you guys!), inspiration is on a high and so (though available time is on an all time low - read zero) I think it's time for a little change up around here. Stay tuned. 


Monday, 22 April 2013

The London Marathon

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The snaking marathon could be clearly seen from the Southbank Centre... perhaps not so clearly in this picture though.

That I've gotten to the rather ripe age of errr... 21 (shut up) now and never braved London on Marathon Sunday is something, as I realised yesterday, I'm not really proud of. And neither, I realised too, did "staying in" all those years pay off particularly. Don't get me wrong, my fitness is appalling to the extent I'd probably collapse half-way through the warm up - so I do have colossal admiration for the thousands so very much more dedicated than I am. But it's just...well I guess I've always just chosen to send good wishes & heartiest congratulations telepathically you see. Let me explain. 

In the few days preceding the event, I've always felt an aura of anticipation is 'created' of what is to befall the city - "Half a million enthusiastic supporters will line the streets of London", "And now for the travel news, viewers are reminded that there will be station closures...", "Those taking part in the marathon can expect unseasonably warm temperatures..." Now. Let's be honest. It's pretty easy for such...erm, persistent updates to conjure images of being squashed and piled on overflowing platforms, waiting for already crowded, heaving trains. And that's even before you're squished and packed into one like a tinned sardine - under a bloke's sweaty armpit if you're really unlucky, it is unseasonably warm remember? - only to get out the other side and find pushing and shoving is the name of the game (Sorry if this sounds horrifically similar to your daily journey home).

Well, the marathon sure put me in my place yesterday. And though I do have to hold my hands up that we didn't actually go for purposes of watching it (more on that tomorrow) I saw London in a light that is wholly absent on the dreary, routine work commute each morning. There was euphoria, excitement and easiness. Was there commotion? Yes. But chaos? No. Was I in awe? Yes. But overwhelmed? No.

Were you watching?


Sunday, 21 April 2013

The Missing Week, in Instagrams*

*... of food, of course.

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Right. I have one day off. And about 20 minutes to get my derrière showered, dressed, beautified (DON'T snigger, I heard that!) and out the door... so excuse the brevity and hastiness this post is quite clearly dripping of. BUT, be back tomorrow - 'til then, Happy Sunday.

1. Sunshine in the City at last.

2. Masala Chai - who needs to go to India anymore?!

3. The things you're resigned to reading when you finish the Metro cover to cover and the train still refuses to budge. 

4. Hangover cure.

5. Yes, more food. At least homemade though. #lunchdates

6. Columbia Road Flower Market - a feast for the senses, a beating for the wallet.


Saturday, 20 April 2013

Spring, at Last !

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Another week, another AWOL... and as you probably anticipated, another apology! Sowie with cream cheese icing and a cherry on top :(. Other than the same ol' "been there, heard those" excuses (y'know the ones I mean - work, university, exams, chores blahhhh....) I have few weapons for my self defence. BUT. LUCKILY. My stats have been telling some comforting secrets aaaaaand *wipes sweat from forehead, breathes sigh of relief* I see many of you still haven't given up hope that I'm always gonna bounce back bright-eyed and bushy-tailed just for you (Why thank you!) SO. Here I am again, ready to rock 'n' roll chit-chatter 'til I'm pouring out of your ears.

Stay tuned. G'weekend to y'all.


Saturday, 13 April 2013

A Museum I Missed

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It never fails to surprise me how often we tend to overlook the things that are sometimes closest to home - I don't think I've set foot in the British Museum for well over 10 years which is pretty alarming considering I'm probably within walking distance for more than half the entire week. One short visit though (a rather rushed high commission-museum-high commission sandwich) was enough to take me right back to some very memorable Latin-learning days (laboro, laboras, laborat, laboramus, labo... ring any bells?) and distant recollections of history lessons filled with tales of ancient civilisations, that, at the time felt about as real, or as magical (depending on how you see it) as Narnia. 

The reconstructed urns, the excavated jewellery, the re-pieced mosaics though - the inscriptions & sculptures, the utensils & manuscripts are a very tangible reminder that the world hasn't always been as we know it today.  

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A coin from every country in the World - one of the best exhibits.

Though we only had time for a very quick breeze through some of the corridors, I'm pretty sure it would be easy to get lost in these lost worlds for hours on end. 

One word only. Bewildering.


Visit the British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Food: White Cross Street Market

If you live or work near the Barbican then you’ll probably know all about Whitecross Street Food Market - personally, it was something of a revelation a few summers ago... but it's come to be a bit of a go-to lately. It's fabulous, fresh and filling food for well under a fiver be it Thai, Mexican, Indian, Italian, Brazilian, Chinese or the traditional Friday fish & chips. Pie and mash, soups and sandwiches, salads, falafal, or maybe you fancy a curry? It’s all there and then some. Every day (though there is by far a lot more choice Thursday-Friday) from about 11 to 3, trucks + stalls boasting authentic, freshly prepared & lip-lickingly delicious cuisine from all around the world line this otherwise non-descript EC1 street, transforming it into an aromatic wonderland for foodies. It makes for a captivating atmosphere too, almost carnival-like, a vibrant, bustling melting pot of suit-clad city workers, many clearly regulars, tourists + food lovers.

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Of the tried and tasted, I'd award first prize to possibly the most delicious Kachori Chaat known to mankind (outside of the homeland of course), a bowl full of steaming hot vegetable jalfrezi served with made-as-you-wait chappatis coming in a close second. The Vietnamese vegetable dumplings are worthy contenders (cheap as chips, literally, £1.50 for 4!) and while we're talking chips, this market certainly knows how to serve 'em crispy, crunchy and piping hot. I'm yet to try something Mexican at the Luardo's van (the queue's always too long by the time I get there - indicator, perhaps, that it's one of the better eats?) but I'm happily going to bumble my way through the stalls one by one.. of course for the pure and selfless reason of reporting my findings back to you...

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...stay tuned ;)x

Visit Whitecross Street Market, Whitecross Street, Barbican, EC1 Monday-Friday 11am onwards.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013


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The half-mast has most certainly brought a sombre sense of retrospect to the City, be it good or bad. Indeed, the Metro managed to dedicate an entire 15 page spread to the Iron Lady yesterday so it's just as well I spent much of my day shuffling around on the tube - more on that tomorrow - with enough time (+ space, it was off-peak thankfully!) to catch up on the diversity of reactions. Compounded with the dreary drizzle + soggy jeans laden, cling-filmy raincoat swathed tourists (who arrive in the truckloads with hopes of a warm April, alas!), I think this photograph, taken yesterday at Somerset House, summed up the general mood of both the media and the metropolis (not mine though, heeeeell no. My toes are tappin' as I'm typin'!). But for today, that's all. 


g.i Joe: A Newfound Woe?

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So. The other day. We rocked up at the cinema to watch Django Unchained. Only to find, of course, that we'd left it just a liiiiiitle too late (3 months, to be precise) and shows were really rather few and far between. Our options there and then - G.I. Joe, Spring Breakers, G.I. Joe 3D. A scratch of the head, a stroke of the chin & a quick read of some reviews... and G.I. Joe it was. I KNOW, *shock, horror*, I'm supposed to be the rom-com-chick-flick-gal and this is something I wouldn't have been caught dead watching - not even for free on TV (while we're at it we can throw Sci-Fi + Super Heroes into that category too). G.I Joe? Really....? I hear ya, BUT. Stop. Wait. Don't jump to conclusions for there is a 'but'. 

'Don't knock it 'til you've tried it' is the approach that's always worked for me. Now, in my family, for some unbeknowest or potentially non-existent reason there is a huge adversity to films of the aforementioned genres. So I guess I never really got into them. Superman, Spiderman, Batman, The Matrix, Star Wars.... naaaaaaahhhh *change the channel*. It's said though that you can discover a lot about yourself through new challenges and adventures (okay, okay, this wasn't exactly either of those... but it was 'foreign territory' of sorts). And here's the thing. What I've learnt whilst watching films and subsequently blogging about them - time to confess. 

1. I've come enjoy more than the odd Bond every so often in terms of good, slick, action packed entertainment - read here, you'll understand. (I'm sort of coming round to the idea of Super Heroes too...but...don't tell anyone, shhhhhhhh.)

2. I would make, quite possibly, the worst film critic in the history of the whole entire world, like EVER. Lets put it this way - I seem to like something about everything so there's nothing bad to say about anything - I'm simply far too easily amused! Oh dear. 

Thus, I hereby scrap my claim that I post condemning & critical film reviews - pahhh, who'm'I kidding? All you'll find here are reasons to give every film a chance... lest you miss out! Back to G.I.Joe - here are your reasons ;)

1. Rip-roaring action & mind-blowing explosions delivered by tough, beefy stars...

2...The Rock

3...& Bruce Willis...

4...& if they don't do it for you, a token hot chick too...

5...and finally entertainment that doesn't require you have your thinking cap on - mindless, escapist and fun.

Give it go - it supposedly kicks the first one's booty (not that I had any idea there was a first). 


Monday, 8 April 2013

Easter Brunches - the Full and Final

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Seeing as the sun finally showed it's smiley face for pretty much the first time this year (yes, if you don't live in England, it is April but we still seem to be in the midst of an ice age), what better than a summery Spanish frittata to make the sunshine seem just that little bit warmer - I found sweet red peppers, red hot chilli flakes and golden fluffy potatoes did just the trick. Yum yum!

Now, if you're much of a tapas-tempté, you've probably savoured at least one tortilla-liplickingly-delicious-española in your time. That is the wonderfully dense concoction made by frying potatoes + onions, adding beaten egg and cooking to a thick omelette that's later sliced into squares and served as a snack. 

And so, being the type-A control geek that I am (need answers to everything right away) I couldn't help but wonder if the frittata-tortilla enigma is merely a classic 'tomay-to/tomah-to' case. Alas - the bane of my breakfasts - what is the real difference? I did end up having to google around for a plausible answer but much to my dismay, I'm still not clear on the perceived differences between frittatas and tortillas. Some sites suggested differences in traditional serving temperatures whilst others theorised on potential variation in cooking techniques; "flipping" vs. "flashing"(the skillet under the oven, GOD what were you thinking?!) - who knows?

No sweat as fortunately, "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet" ;) So here it is, another great morning pick-me-up with hangover-killing potential as potent as my Mexican Scramble.

What you need: (measures are per person)

- 2 eggs
- 150g fluffy potatoes (Maris Piper, Yukon, King Edward - good spuds are key!), peeled and sliced to 1/2 cm discs
- 1/4 pepper oven roasted or ready-grilled from the jar
- 1/2 onion, roughly chopped
- salt, pepper, chilli flakes & fresh parsley to taste
- 30g grated Manchego cheese
- 2 tbsp olive oil

To Serve: 

- flour tortillas
- any extras you fancy - baked beans, roast tomatoes, sauteed mushroom, avocado salsa etc... options 2 + 4 are advisable.

What to Do: 

1. Begin by boiling the potatoes in slightly salted water until they reach the al-dente phase (hold their shape but tender to the bite).

2. Drain the potatoes & heat the olive oil on medium heat in a heavy-based pan. You want a pan that's relatively deep as you're not after making a crêpe style omelette. Add the onions and sauté gently trying not to brown them - we want sweet, semi-translucent caramelliness (mmmmm, hungry just thinking of it!)

4. Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a bowl, seasoning to taste. Add 1/2 the parsley and cheese, beating well into mix. Preheat your grill to approximately 200 degrees C. 

5. Add the peppers and then the potatoes to the pan. Be careful not to be too vicious stirring lest the potatoes crumble! Pour over the egg mix and, having reduced the heat slightly, allow to cook through for 7-10 minutes. 

6. When the bottom and sides look well set but the top-middle is wobbly-bobbly, extinguish the heat + sprinkle over remaining cheese, parsley and a spritz of fresh black pepper before transferring to the grill. 

7. Be sure to watch carefully here - I'd say it'll take no longer than a few measly minutes for the frittata to puff up in all its golden glory. Careful pulling it out of the oven too, the handle will be hot (DUH). 

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8. Slice into lusciously thick wedges, serve as you may, with all the condiments you please but certainly as quickly as you can. 



Sunday, 7 April 2013

Lounging at The Grove

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If you've ever been to The Grove, Watford, you'll know what I mean when I say it's possibly the closest thing to perfection in terms of a venue - huge stately mansion, a rolling green golf course, lush beige interiors, stunning light features and an exotic flower arrangement on every sparkling surface. Painstaking effort is put into delivering seamless service where no detail is insignificant, no request an inconvenience. It's pretty easy to lose yourself just gazing at all the beauty, almost like you've left behind the rest of the world and found yourself a little piece of paradise, a place of peace.

Not that I'm the big white fairytale type, but I'm sure it would more than suffice... as long as I'm prepared to be homeless for the following few years. Or I'm lucky enough to win the lottery. Wish me luck ;)


Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Celebrating a 60th

As someone who's always had her birthday on a Bank Holiday (thankfully the date we celebrate Christmas doesn't vary year on year!), I've never really known what it is to spend a birthday in the flow of day to day routine. I've only ever had to work once on the 25th in my whole, entire life (unfortunately the big 21) but I know I've always thought myself lucky to be with friends and family and mark it as a day different from any other. 

And so it was a great deal of both relief and excitement that we brought in a very special birthday this Easter Weekend (no, not mine, I'm not that old yet), with plenty of time, food and fortunately sunshine to celebrate it with. As birthdays go in our family, we're all about chilled out rather than charged up, pyjama parties over ostentatious affairs - here's how we indulged Papa Bear on his special day.

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1. Presents + balloons (you're never too old for balloons).

2. Birthday Brunch (also Easter Brunch No 3) - Spicy Red Pepper Frittata.

3. ...a very brief cessation before sitting down to a home-cooked full Indian thali.

4. There's got to be birthday cake. I know what you're thinking... how on EARTH did we have room? We can always accommodate ;) White chocolate & Peach Gateaux - recipe to follow.

5. Following a sloth fuelled seven star snooze, some games and a round of bowling (proud to admit I lost just one game).

6. And finally, early evening drinks at The Grove Mansion Lounges.

Ahhh, why do birthdays go by quickly? 

I'll be back with recipes and some reviews so stay tuned - 'til then, good luck beating those Tuesday Blues.


Monday, 1 April 2013

Easter Brunches, Part 2: A Mexican Scramble

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...and here it is, Easter Monday already, finale to the four days of feasting, transition from "Long weekend soon!" to "Ah well, at least we have a short week this week," complete. So how has everyone spent it - a) eating, b) lounging c) working d) holidaying, e) socialising? All bar 'd)' apply over here but if the fact that it's now 5pm and I've eaten two huge meals in my pyjamas is anything to go by (I had to starfish on my bed for an hour after meal 2), it seems eating has definitely been the essence of this Easter. We've got enough leftover to feed a hundred for the entire week (no, I'm not kidding) and a fridge so full that trying to retrieve milk for a simple cup of coffee results in eggs and the ketchup bottle catapulting into your face (again, not kidding, I just finished cleaning up). 

Alas, I'm sad it has to end because it's the most relaxed I've been in a long time - no moving date looming on the horizon and no nerves about starting a new job. So I'm off to make the most of what's left but here's recipe 2 of the Easter brunches. I know yesterday's recipe was a slightly fiddly one (worth it though, trust me) and sometimes you want a quick fix, one pan in, one plate out for two to share - if you're all about the duvet picnic, this one's definitely for you. Here it is - Mexican Scrambled Eggs a la Nigella, tweaked to suit my spicy streak. It's not only one of the tastiest ways to start the day but also one mighty cure for a hangover. Let me know how you get on.

What you need:

- Vegetable Oil
- 2 soft tortillas
- 8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced
- 1 spring onion, roughly chopped
- 1-2 small green chillies, finely diced (+ red chilli flakes, depending on taste)
- 4 eggs, beaten & seasoned with a splash of milk

- Waffles, to serve.
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What to Do: 

1. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Roll the tortillas into tight cylinders & snip them into long strips with a pair of kitchen scissors straight into the hot oil. 

2. Fry until crisp + golden & then decant onto a plate. 

3. Add the tomato, spring onion, pepper & chopped chilli to the frying pan, cooking until they begins to turn a luscious golden brown. 

4. Put your waffles on to toast!

5. Turn down the heat, put the fried tortilla strips back into the pan & add in the beaten eggs, continuously moving everything around in the pan, as you would for scramble. 

6. When the eggs begin to set, turn off the heat and stir through until they are at a consistency of your liking. 

7. Pile onto a nice spacious dish along side a stack of nicely browned waffles & dive in! 

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