Sunday, 22 May 2016

White Jeans Rules?

 There is fashion folklore about white jeans only being worn 
after the last Monday in May which is known
in North America as Memorial Day.
The first time I heard of this was when I used to attend church every week in a US Military compound with American people who would murmur if someone wore a white dress in April.
That confuses me to this day.
But I love white jeans year round.
I love how everyone says how crisp white jeans are.
Indeed they are.
So crisp.
So fresh.
Such a light neutral that goes with everything.
That good ol' favourite fashion - casual yet chic combo going on.
So streamlined.
It highlights accessories so well.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Tales from a London wedding

I do love a wedding.
Even though I was not a bridezilla myself I do enjoy celebrating
and this is one of the few occasions where
my Anglo Saxon inner emotional life doesn't wince at sugary spoken words.

I love London weddings even more because it doesn't consume the whole weekend getting to a country/overseas venue.
But my husband and I are at the age where weddings are not as common an occurrence and going by people's timeline, I must wait for the batch of second marriages to start.

But this weekend we went to a wedding of two first timers that was in a church we walked to from home and more surprisingly which was a first of my husband - 
his first Catholic wedding.

I was raised Catholic and he was raised Greek Orthodox however he went to an Anglican school that required chapel attendance every morning and most of the weddings we have been to have all been Church of England weddings.

The couple were both Catholic via Italian / Irish / Scottish / Iranian roots and the service was held in a wedding mass.

Now this will mean nothing to those who are not familiar with Catholic services.

But I was sitting in the pew with my husband and one of his best friends who is a Hindu Protestant.

Okay let me explain.

His friend was raised in religiously tense Northern Ireland where
people like to know which tribe one belongs to. 
He used to reply he was Hindu.
But the people would further press - aye, but are you Hindu Catholic or Hindu Protestant?
He went to a C of E ( Church of England ) school so he became a HP ( for short ).

The gorgeous couple who really are lucky to have each other
I didn't think much of these slight variations of a mono theistic religion until the wedding mass.

Don't worry it's not one of those posts!

There is a bit where people will shake hands with people around you and one recites,
"Peace be with you."

I offered my hand to my husband and he looked confused and 
I didn't have time to chastise him so I offered my hand and said the peace greeting to his friend who looked at me like I was being odd and said,
" but I already know you."
My husband asked what I was doing.
I had to point out to what other people were doing the same all around us.

Then during the communion bit,
a bell is rung but they whispered that someone should turn their phone off.

The couple also received a special papal blessing and the non Catholics were asking if that was a big deal.  I had to reason with them what they would think if the Dalai Lama wrote in to express his wishes on their wedding...
But I had to laugh at the religious culture differences!

I also love the red London buses that some wedding parties will use to usher their guests to the next venue.

It is so much fun as the people on the streets and cars that 
we drive by honk their horns and start waving.

We drove past a cricket game whose appeal is so foreign to me.
But I think it has more to do with an all day excuse for drinking.

The reception was held at one of the orangeries.

Then we could either walk or take one of those trains to another orangery for dinner.

We chose to walk as the weather was perfect.

The irises were on top Chelsea Flower show standard form.
The lighting was perfect for the wedding photos.
I do wish I had more weddings to attend this year.
I might start pestering my single friends so I have a few more parties to go to!

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!