Sunday, 1 May 2016

London Love, Barcelona, and Jon Snow

I have been in a long relationship with London and lived here on and off since 1995.
And like one does in a long relationship, it has been tenuous and we have had our ups and downs.
But I am falling in love with this place all over again which is a change as I have turned very local and can be a right whinger ( just to my family and close friends).
The Thames isn't just for show you know.
It works and maintains its place otherwise it might be filled up with dirt and over priced luxury flats might be built on it.
I was wondering what the first Queen Elizabeth would have thought of this new view of the Tower of London?

But of course I have just shown you the grander bits of London.

Check out this house built between the space between two homes?
That is the reality that tourists don't see.
But it breeds a tough lot.
I would be lying if the average Londoner would listen to the problems of a California native who might complain about valet parking and finding a pool cleaner.
I reckon this is how people north of Moscow must look at Londoners.

I have said it before and I will say it again but the park is at its peak in the spring.

I have always loved this chocolate box cottage which is for staff who work at the royal parks of London.

RIP Prince.
It seems I wasn't the only one who thinks of him when I see purple.
I over heard some others mentioning Prince at this patch in the park.

There is a horsetrail around the park but rarely do you see a group of ladies chatting away while riding.

Such a nice alternative to the morning coffee.

Meanwhile, I joined the gym.
It's been nearly 5 years since I left.
So much has changed.
You have to enter your pin number and only one door opens at a time.
So robotic.

I love Game of Thrones likes every other person and I have populist tastes in men.
Who doesn't fancy Jon Snow?

I chose this play solely on the fact I adore Marlowe did 
no one say who booked tickets to watch this.
As I was taking a picture of the set before the play started, I heard a lot of whispering and  cameras out which I thought was odd because normally people aren't interested in the sets like I am.
The play was horrid.
Not even Jon Snow prancing around in underwear saved it.
PS my friend was really analyzing his hair style being very Jon Snow - what does this mean??

I love how these two nudge each other to stay on my lap - their presence is completely therapeutic and restorative. 
They are actually babysitting me.

I put this picture on instagram and our WellFedFred added a very interesting tidbit about this brooch.
Karl wasn't challenging the hoi polloi but it is his interpretation of the brooch which stems from a type of love token on this link here which she kindly provided.

I went and replanted so many plants.
I need bins but thought the brass tub looked better as a planter.

I bet the inventor of Scotchguard was inspired by plants after the rain.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Tasting menus at Michelin Restaurants - Moments in Barcelona

They say never say never so I won't.

What I will say is that I will most likely not go through the gastronomic version of a Stalinist North Korean march and parade that we call a tasting menu ever again.

Mind you like hangovers and some say childbirth
I have said this before,
 but forgot the digestive drudgery and booked a table at the Moments Restaurant on my recent trip to Barcelona.

But I made an exception because Barcelona has a foodie culture and I thought I might experience something different than that from other restaurants elsewhere.

This is nothing against this restaurant that has two Michelin stars nor is this a review specifically on this establishment which was rather pleasant in itself.

Long time readers will know that the only other time 
I wrote about a tasting menu was the one I had at Noma in Copenhagen which is considered the #1 restaurant in the world.

The tome that my husband is flipping through isn't the latest government tax laws and codes but the wine list.  

I am not that into wines and I really only have it for effect. 
I find that not having wine is the foodie version of someone wearing a huge puffer jacket in front of a roaring fire - 
people will constantly comment and ask if you are okay. 
Gets rather boring.

One of my best friends was a chef in the top restaurants in Melbourne and she has always told me that the best value is to get the tasting menus as the amount of work and the ingredients is almost at cost.  
These restaurants make their money - if at all - on alcohol.

El Bulli which was always voted the number one or at worst number two restaurant before it shut never made any profit in all!

I do as I am told so we decided to do a world gastronomic tasting menu which I was a little disappointed with as 
I wanted a Spanish / Catalan menu but it's not always about me.
The most Spanish dish I got was the anchovy with strawberry puree on toast.

This dumpling was very good but I can get that 5 minutes from my house.

I don't eat foie gras anymore but I made an exception and tried the macaroom with foie, apple, celery and armagnac.
You know how couture of food and fashion filters down - well get ready for your nearest deli to do ham and cheese macaroons.

They then brought out a freshly baked loaf of bread and sliced us a piece but without any oil or butter. It just seems disjointed but 
I rarely say no to food.  
But this made my husband question why this arbitrary loaf of bread was presented.
It was handy for sopping up the remains of this Spanish stew.

The prawn with zucchini and a saffron jellied medallion with basil sauce was nice.
But I won't dedicate a poem to it or anything.

The dish that was to transplant us to Turkey was a hors d'oeuvre sized gyro / souvlaki.
But oddly it tasted just like a miniature version of a really good regular one.
There was nothing that was elevated for a Michelin restaurant bar the portion on the pretty dollops of sauce around it. I was disappointed at their lack of high brow interpretation.

I started to wonder if the chefs have travelled and been to a cocktail party in America where these sliders are the norm. 
Only thing I didn't mind was the fondant potato French fry with pretty colored savoury sauces squeezed on top. Much ado about nothing and in a blind test McDonalds's chips would have won.

The token Japanese dish was nice but it was like wet falafel.

Okay not I am not being rude.
I must repeat I am not being odd but this next dish is a Thai dish called Clitoria Thai rice, monkfish and coconut.
If you don't believe me, look at the menu they handed out above.
Ping pong ball was not included.

Most disappointing dish was this duck and friend veggie tempura dish.
I have had better fried veggies at Japanese airports.

The ode to England was the Stilton, pear, and almonds.

But this dish depends on produce and raw ingredients not the skill so while nice I want to eat something at a restaurant I can't recreate myself.

By this time, my husband and I were experiencing so much discomfort and we were having a hard time not commiting the social faux pas of elbows on tables because we wanted to bury our face in our hands.

But as I am getting bolshier as I get older, I had to apologize to our waiters and ask them to skip the next two dessert courses.

This was turning out to be one of those unsuccessful Man v Food episodes.
She then said that we should have a light portion of a refreshing and digestive that was a vodka cocktail.  
We both enjoyed the theatrics.
But I liked the flamingo swizzle sticks more.
Then as we asked for the bill, we forgot about the petit fours that are de riguer.

Except in this case, the petit fours were humongous four cookies!
From left to right was a coconut cookie, white chocolate evil eye, chocolate cookie, and a ganache shaped like the Eiffel Tower.
Normally I would have devoured this but all we could do was take pictures and tell the waiters to convey to the chef how amazing everything was.

Even though I missed out on Miami and Marrakech stop on the tasting menu, I still got the stamp in my passport!
But the next morning at breakfast,
 I turned to my husband and said that unless circumstances dictate otherwise that I never want to do another tasting menu again and 
I think us both agreeing to this just saved our marriage!

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Chairs and Their Anthropomorphic Personas - Part 1

I'm a homo sapien so I can't help but have the tendency to anthropomorphize objects.

I do this with clothes, art, and furniture.

Plus I like making scenarios up in my head which I do all the time while waiting for things so I did this while scrolling on Pinter-est.

You may not like these chairs but you know these chairs.

1950's Emerald Velvet Armchair
The high functioning alcoholic.

Retro Vintage 50's Armchair
This chair is like that friend you have a mundane conversation with almost everyday about what you ate and what you dreamed about last night.
This is nourishment in minutiae but non-negotiable.

The Midas Chair
This chair is like that friend you made at work 3 jobs ago but there is less and less you have to talk about every time you meet up once a season and now you repeat the same old anecdotes.
Might be time to just like each others' posts on Facebook and leave it at that.

Upcycled Suitcase as Chair
This chair is that smug, suburban friend you have who always thinks they came up with something new but is so Martha Stewart Living 2006.
She also starts every other sentence with,"You are never going to believe this!"

Fur upholstered director's chair
This chair is like that person who says that they are so chilled out and so relaxed and they are so zen and that yoga has changed their life but they freak out that there is lemon instead of lime in their room temperature,crystal infused, new moon marinated Emoto water.

The Bright Floral Upholstered Louis Something or rather Armchair
This chair reminds me of the person who gets all the initial attention when you walk into a restaurant, club, and past the building site but never gets called for the second date.

Edwardian Chippendale style chair
This chair embodies the curmudgeon.
This chair wouldn't use a mobile phone unless it's an emergency. They hate the internet and thinks it is a conspiracy for Big Brother to track your every move and will ultimately be the downfall for the human race that most likely deserves it anyway.
And they are probably right.

Quaker Farmchair
Not necessarily the best value at dinner parties nor are they your most amusing friend but they are the ones who will bring you soup if you are ill, they are the ones who actually answers the phone, and they always keep your extra set of house keys safe.

Whether you liked it or not, you are getting a part 2 next month!

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Chanel cardies, Sotheby's Art Highlights, and Gardens of the Royal Academy and Shoreditch and more

I'm still going to Shoreditch once a week to babysit Millie.
I now am documenting all the fun and witty graffiti in the area because every week it seems there is a whole new batch that gets taken down and sprayed over.

This TB one above is no longer there which I am sad about.

I went to wander around the Nomadic Gardens of Shoreditch.
My brother volunteered here for a while before there was some major internal politics and egos played their hand which was odd from an outsider like myself. 
It made me think that actually Parliament isn't so bad considering all that power and money on the table.
But it is an interesting place which is sadly going to be redeveloped at the end of the year to be turned into what London is in dire need of...
Yes, you guessed it - some more over priced housing!
But in the meantime my brother has adopted a few beds ( the ones pictured are not his.)
It also is a place where people sit around at night or have coffee during the day.
It helps the local children learn about planting and gardens and basic food growing.
On Pinterest, I would have rolled my eyes at this 3 tier tire planter 
but in this setting it doesn't feel smug at all.
Back in west London, this is one of the most sculpted garden vignettes and gives respite to so many city folk.
Last year I heard rumours about a black swan in the Serpentine and did even see it in a hidden covey bit of the lake but finally saw it up close doing some bad synchronized swimming.
The tickets for the Painting the Modern Garden exhibition at the RA was ridiculously tedious to get so I became a "friend".
So glad I did because I have now seen it 3 times and got a free bag out of it.
I am happy I was a fleeting friend of the late Zaha Hadid via the RA.
I had coffee at the Serpentine cafe the day she passed.
Being a friend of the RA gives you the benefit of going to the internal courtyard that is only allowed for "friends."
Check out these 250 year old Aussie ferns they flew over!