Tag Archives: London

So French…in London

Vive la crepeA very dear friend came for a visit last fortnight and true to style we ended up spending most of our time eating and drinking in London. Despite its at times, well deserved reputation of the city where a tastebud is an abstract concept, we managed to entertain ourselves drinking and eating our merry ways through London.

Take La Creperie de Hampstead for example, well known for its crepe buttery goodness. I could have sworn my tastebud swooned the moment the chocollate and banana filling reached my mouth. If there is a little bit of callory heaven in London, this is it and it is perhaps the best crepe this side of the chanel. At the same time, I am somewhat relieved that I didn’t find out about this place earlier, or my waistline would have exponentially increased with each visit.

Open from midday, you can find it at:
77 Hampstead High Street
London, NW3, United Kingdom

Talking about all things French, I nearly forgot that I saw Soko in Camden a couple of weeks ago. Best known for her song “I’ll Kill Her”, she refused to play the song throughout the entire gig and threw the content of a bottle of a water on an audience member that was heckling her. The show itself started off playfully, with plenty of giggles and banter, but after the dozen or so “new song” she insisted on playing it was becoming ridicilously self-indulgent. By 11:30pm I left the show, along with half of the audience member leaving only the die hard myspace/youtube fans to continue filming the rest of the show.

Soko

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Long days of summer

Goodbye Primrose Hill (for now)

In the last few weeks I experienced some of the best summer days in this side of the world so far. Hardly a cloud in the sky for days at a time and I managed to get a tan while bumming around in the various parks scattered in central London. It’s amazing how much happier Londoners are when the sun is out, rather like Snow Day though not as inconvenient.

The weather held for both days of Blur’s concerts at Hyde Park. Although we were too far away to see them on stage, the screens made up for the lack of visual. It was a rather amazing concert in terms of atmosphere than anything else with possibly the most efficient beer tent in a gig. You were ushered into line, yelled to come and order your beer or cider and ushered out within minutes. Quite inspiring really. I was a little disappointed that Vampire Weekend was not part of the support line up for Thursday, but blur was in fine form that night.

Unfortunately I didn’t bring my camera thinking that it is likely to be confiscated, but by now there should be plenty of photos flooding the web.

A taste of London

Taste Festival 2009

Third week in London and all the moving around between different states of limbo made me forget about blogging. Take Taste Festival for example I went two weekends ago and barely had time to sit down and cull the photos let alone write about it properly. Strangely enough the weather remained sunny two weeks ago and if the weather channel can be believed London is in a middle of a HEAT WAVE (!!) for the next glorious week. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the rest of July will be as clear and the Blur concert this Thursday will not be an excercise in mass shower.

Anyway back to Taste London 2009 at Regents Park where the number of people crowded in small sectioned area has to be seen to be believed. It was X‘s birthday and going to taste was part of the celebration.  I waited for X and J before we ventured in with out wad of crowns. I didn’t know what to expect, only with a very vague idea that it was similar to the Food and Wine Fair back home with the added pleasure of an entry fee. At around £20 for a general entry it was not the cheapest food event I have been to, particularly with all the added crown vouchers you will still need to purchase in order to buy the meals from the various stalls. The price didn’t stop me from trying it once, particularly as  a number of the restaurants do have their iconic dishes on order and the idea of having access to a smorgabord of the best London can provide was too tempting to miss.

Taste Festival 2009

We first wandered to Benares and ordered their Tandoor smoked lamb chops with mint chutney, recommended by my housemate as the value for money buy. Somehow our nose led us to another lamb dish straight away with a cool cocktail of strawberry and rum being a welcome break in the middle.

Taste Festival 2009

The second lamb dish wa from Benja a 10 hour low cooked Lamb in Yellow Curry accompanied with cucumber relish. The meat was so tender that it melted the moment it toucher our mouth and much to our delight we notice that we ended up with a bigger portion that expected. That was when we realised that travelling as a pack of three girls had its benefits, all shared dishes we ordered onwards were big enough to feed all three of us.

Taste Festival 2009

There were quite a number highlights that day that it’s actually really difficult to blog about it from memory without salivating. The Ledbury’s celeriac baked in Ash with Hazelnuts, Summer Truffle and a Kromeski of Wild Boar was amazing. There was so much flavour packed in this humble root that it made me look at it in a completely different way.

Taste Festival 2009

L’Anima’s fettuccine with wild mushrooms and summer truffle deserved a mention as it was more truffle than fettuccine. The lady who was shaving the truffle started laughing as I took a number of photos while she was measuring out the truffle and as a result we ended up with a little mound of the stuff. Taste Festival 2009

From ALAIN DUCASSE AT THE DORCHESTER we had the Chilled pea velouté and ricotta scoop, crispy hazelnut bread, which was a lovely entree dish for a summer day. Taste Festival 2009

As for most expensive dish of the day, nothing beats Launceston Place’s iconic ossetra caviar and parsley lolly at 10 crowns per gram. We were down to our last 8 crowns for the day and perhaps because they felt sorry for us, combined with the fact that it was half an hour to closing we managed to nab a rather heftier serving of 3 grams at the bargain basement price of 8 crowns. Taste Festival 2009

After four hours of continuos eating in the sun, avoiding elbows and over eager gourmettes we found a cuban bar serving martinis playing the entire Flight of the Conchords album. It can’t be a more perfect day…

Taste Festival 2009

All packed up and nowhere to go

Moving DayThe longest day of the year is today and I can believe it. I’m typing at half past ten at night and even now, the sky is still a dusky purple. It’s hard to believe that a week ago I was still recovering from jet lag and a week before, I was back in Australia. Even more difficult to believe that 12 months ago I first moved into this apartment with a group of strangers, armed with nothing more than two bags and wide-eyed optimism.

Credit crunch snackPerhaps it’s true that luck is a frame of mind. I felt lucky when I landed in London a year ago, hopeful in finding new experiences, faces and adventures. Since then, Recession 2.0 smashed the economy and I somehow managed to exile myself in Sydney for no good reason. I don’t know what the second year in London will bring, it’s still undecided whether I can spend the year in the country past August, so many things are beyond my control at the moment.

So today felt a little surreal…packing up all my belongings into 7 boxes, a far cry from the backpack I had in the beginning. Even more disturbing was the nagging thought that I will be homeless for the next few weeks, while waiting to see whether I will be going back home to Australia or stay in the UK. Regardless of the outcome, it is uncomfortable to be reminded that my time here is finite. To that end I should just make the most of this short, but significant part in my life and experience as many different things as I can.

Small pleasures such as sitting in Regent’s Park after finding the most decent cheap coffee I had at Markus Coffee for £1.50 and a plate of the most buttery baklavas from Ranoush Juice for £1.00. An absolute bargain during these oh so lean times and the sun was complimentary too…

London yarn bombing

Knit by the Eye

If you are walking to work in London today and happen to see something resembling the wooly creation above, you might wonder what it is and who did it and why.

The following clip provides a hint to unravel the mystery, but for more details go here.

What’s up duck?

Suspicious looking duck

Last weekend was partially spent visiting London Wetland Centre in Barnes admiring beady eyed fowls as they stared back with avian suspicion/ curiosity. I heard a while back that there was a wetland centre in London, but it did not prepare me for the fact that the centre was actually embedded within walking distance of London’s suburbia.

WWT Barnes

If you look very closely at the picture above you can almost spot the houses on the horizon. The effect was a little surreal as I wandered around rather aimlessly gazing at birds that I could not tell apart even as I try.

“Moor hen you say, hem yes, yes can definitely see one” actually translates in my head as “oh look, it’s another brown bird. Isn’t that the same brown bird as before, oh wait it’s a different species”

Pirochan if you are reading this, I would definitely drag you to see the centre if you ever come a visiting, being the bird fan that you are, but I am hoping whenever that is, the variety of birds will be a lot bigger than what I saw.

WWT Barnes

As for me, the past few weeks had been exhausting. I am not very good at coping with limbo and right now there are just too many things beyond my control that I would not be able to do anything about except wait. My flight is booked for next week to go back home and as much as I am looking forward to see my family and friends it dawned on me that I am actually starting to build a life in this country. In many ways I had been incredibly lucky in meeting the wonderful, gorgeous people I have made friends with over the past few months and that made the biggest difference. The thought of not being able to come back to the UK (touch wood), should anything happen to my application left me cold.

WWT Barnes

Freaky Valentine

When valentine invades

What happened when Friday the 13th was the day before Valentine’s Day? Aside from the horror of heart shaped sashimi and (I suspect) a heart shaped axe being sold somewhere by a canny entrepreneur or two somewhere, the two rarely meets.

Zombie flashmob...

On Friday I wandered down to London Bridge to catch a glimpse of a flash mob dressed as zombies. Unfortunately the zombie mob was outnumbered by the photographers mob and the rather wary looking police force overlooking the entire scene. It was nothing like the impressive mob from last year’s World Zombie Day crowd, but I found the whole thing rather comical.

Lemon butter cookies

As for today, I was adamant not to touch anything remotely heart shaped. However after walking down Hampstead high street and being ambushed by everything from heart shaped cakes, cookies and giant signage I gave up and bought some heart shaped cutters. The recipe for these lemon butter cookies came from here. I added vanilla extract, but otherwise did not alter in any way. It was a nice simple recipe that would have been easy to alter, switching the lemon for vanilla, rose of attar or any other random flavour. I should have glazed the cookies before baking them, but otherwise I was quite happy with the way it turned out, buttery with a hint of lemon tang.

Lemon butter cookies

Snow day part 2

Snow Day 2009

I was hoping for another snow day today, but after watching the snow turn to rain it is looking increasingly unlikely. Like every other Londoner on Monday we were stuck at home with all modes of transport crippled to a halt. Buses were down, trains were canceled and the underground was chaotic. With so many to do, what else could we do but make pancakes and drink Irish coffee before running off to Prim Rose hill.

Snow Day 2009

Snow Day 2009

Early snow meant an early summer so they say, but this was and is rather difficult to believe when temperature is still so cold and the sky is still so gray.

Snow Day 2009

Part of the charm was the sheer surprise of it all. Having to travel somewhere to see snow in the past, it was rather magical to see big fat drops of it just outside my window. I learned to my dismay that making snow man was actually hard work! Our hands kept freezing as we rolled and packed the snow. Somehow my very sensible idea of claiming someone else’s snowman as ours was vetoed for not good reason!

Snow Day 2009

Snow Day 2009

Let it snooow

Cold winter night

I was about to blog about something else when something rather magical happened. It snowed. Not the horrible, spity bits from the sky but proper fluffy snow. Even now as I look out the window, the ground is almost gone from view and every flat surface is  now white.

Snow!

With such freaky going on we did what any sensible soul would do when given the choice between staying indoor where it is nice and warm with plenty of heating and freezing outside with the chance of catching pheunomia. We ran outside and started a snow fight. It felt surreal, cold and a lot more fun than I expected. Now if this continues I have no option, but to work from home for the next few days!

Snowfight

Flaky snow Budget snow man

Poor Anne Elliot

Poor Anne Elliot

It’s Sunday and for once in a long, long time I have a whole slothful Sunday to myself to do absolutely nothing (oh aside from laundry, grocery shopping and  other chores). It doesn’t matter that the sun is actually shining outside, I will not fall into the trap of feeling guilty for being indoor!

I think I finally understand why as obvious as it may seem why there are more knitters in the northern hemisphere. It really is fiendishly cold and I will forever be grateful for knitted scarves, beanies and mittens when the temperature dropped below the inside of my fridge. That being said, moving north should mean my productivity in said knitted garments should increase exponentially. Unfortunately although my stash and queued projects have increased the finished versus planned project ratio is rather woeful

It was no surprise that I was rather excited when I thought I knitted the lat bits of Anne Elliot only to realise that as I sew the pieces together that it was much too big and I just hated the way the sleeves draped on me. It didn’t help that the finished bust measurement ended up being much bigger than I estimated. No matter how I tried to block it, there was just no denying the fact that it needed a good frogging. The plan is to reknit the garment removing the number of stitch increase and changing the sleeves to raglan sleeves.

This rather depressing turn of event would have been the perfect reason to buy yarn at the various sales around town in John Lewis, Loop and Liberty, but I have already ordered a stash from Bendigo Woollen Mills not to mention the ridicilous amount I still have lying around. What did cheer me up was turning up to the first Stitch & Bitch London meet up at the Royal Festival Hall. Perhaps it was the combination of the weather, the start of the year and the number of people who decided to take up knitting as their new year resolution, but 194 knitters turned up on the evening and by 8pm we had overtaken the majority of chairs and tables. In a lot of ways it was a reflection of how popular knitting and crafting have become in the past few years, resulting in an increased number of books, yarns and accessories in the market.