the bitchinest bloody mary in town

every so often, when adam and i are near trafalgar square and in need of a drink, we head over to a little pub called the two chairmen to have one of their bloody marys. 

i've always been a fan of the bloody mary, and these ones are definitely the best i've ever had, but they really should come with a hazard warning because the side effects you want to watch out for do not include intoxication - they include heartburn!!

usually i can only drink about half of mine, it really does burn going down, but it tastes so good. i mean, just look at the MASSIVE chunks of horse radish in there and the chilli flakes on the top!

adam usually has to finish mine because i just can't go on, and this is his "i want four more" face. he really must have an iron stomach.

a visit to spuntino

a few weeks ago before i left for kenya, adam and i spent a day shopping in the west end by way of a date day/night. it was a lot of fun, we don't really go shopping that often but it was a nice excuse to get out of the house before i left on my trip. adam bought a shirt and jacket, i bought a top, some vintage scarves, and a book to read on my trip (the flame trees of thinka).

 we had intended to go to nando's for dinner (of course) but adam convinced me to try this restaurant called spuntino. i would never have guessed that there was even a restaurant there because, as you can see, there's no sign and the windows are frosted so you can't see people eating.

there was about a half an hour wait for seats, and there aren't any tables as all seating was diner style. but it was actually quite intimate and personal in that you never really get to sit next to each other when eating, do you? you're always across from each other with a table in between - it made a nice change. oh, and the waiting staff were really friendly and helpful.

about an hour before going adam got a call off his dad saying that his sister had just had a baby. this is his "oh wow, my sister is a mother... that's so weird... i'm an uncle!!"face, he wasn't really sure how to process all of that...

with all of my nostalgic thoughts lately about 1920's england and talking in the queen's english, i decided it was high time i started drinking gin - above was my very first ever gin and tonic. i feel like drinking it actually worked towards strengthening my colonial roots.

my starter was: eggplant chips with fennel dipping sauce - adam ate most of it.

adams starter was: a ground beef and bone marrow starter - i ate most of it.

we shared a side of shoe string fries...

and then i had linguini with mussels, wild garlic and chilli.

and adam had mackerel, agretti (still not too sure what that is...), and saffron.

if you are ever in the west end with an evening to spare i definitely recommend you give spuntino a visit, as long as you don't mind hanging around a bit for a seat, but even if you do it is absolutely worth the wait. oh, and it's reasonably priced too!

a moroccan themed dinner party

on saturday adam and i made dinner for our friends lauren and jonathan. lauren works at harrods and managed to bring us a present of some ladurée macaroons, which i absolutely love love love! so i'm glad that we put in a real effort in making dinner for them. they had us over for dinner over a year ago and this is the first time we have been able to return the invite because it is the first time we have had a proper kitchen, in a proper flat with enough furniture, plates, knifes and forks to go around since we started living together. it's a real step i think, and even more of a reason to pull out all the stops...

we had lamb tagine with dates and couscous, home made hummus, baba ganoush, and a few bits of baclava for desert (no i didn't make those...).

adam also had a wee bit of an accident with the hand blender, see the splatter marks on his top? they were also all over me and all over the cupboards too...

there's no evening like a sushi making evening.

saturday was a really lovely day. adam had to work all weekend (again) so we took some time to have breakfast together early in the morning in soho before he went into the office. we then spent a little time at his office playing with the rolling chairs - him pulling me around by my legs while i held on to the chair for dear life.

after that i just sort of roamed the streets. i headed in the direction of regents park (with a short deviation into topshop - i got distracted by the sale signs) and took some photos of the birds, and then i ended up paying a visit to some friends on their canal boat, which i'll probably do a post about another time because it was a lot of fun.

after that i wandered the streets and some random markets with my friends kim and ashleigh. we found passion fruit, 7 for £1 which was pretty great. some scary children's toys. and some aubergines which were bigger than my head.

kim headed off to drinks with friends after we hatched a plan to go away together for the upcoming may bank holiday weekend, ash headed off to wimbledon to get her hair done, and i headed home for an evening of sushi making fun! below are some pictures - i live with some pretty serious foodies and will probably gain about 100lbs before i move out as a result. i do love sushi though.

cooking the sushi rice.

 making spring rolls takes team work.

 tom has proclaimed that he wishes to be buried with his new deep-fat fryer.

my rolls turned out quite good i think... 

adam refusing all advice on how to roll sushi the right way.

not too shabby actually. 

 this was my contribution to the evening. passionfruit, elderflower, pink-lemonade vodka-tini. oh yes. It was amazing.

macaroni & "cheese"

my friend kim just came back from america. she put this on my desk at work today and as excited as i was to recieve it, little did i know how much i would NEED it by the end of the day.

this is kraft makaroni & cheese. i pretty much grew up on this stuff, eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner as a child whenever i could get away with it. its horrible, synthetic, radioactive-looking powdered cheese that is pretty much one chemical reaction away from becoming a plastic - and it tasts like it was sent down direct from heaven just for me.

today was a pretty horrible day. the overlaying theme was embarrassment and annoyance in the workplace. it was one of those days where i just should have kept my mouth shut. i don't have a lot of professional confidence, though i think i do a pretty great job of faking it - and today was one of those days that i needed to employ all of my "faking it" skills.

so by the end of the day when i hauled my tired and miserable self home, i needed a pick me up. and what better way than to achieve one than by eating my favourite childhood dinner. i only hope adam forgives me for eating it without him - he's out at an office party - because he loves it just as much as i do.

sometimes it's nice with a dollop of ketchup too.
gross, i know, but desperate times call for desperate measures!

rain rain go away - now please!

it's been raining for the past two days pretty much non stop. i just looked at the weather forecast and it's set to keep raining pretty much non stop for the next five days.

i may have mentioned it once or twice before, but i'm a warm weather kind of girl. i love the occasional rainy, chilly day, but only if i don't have to get up and travel into work only to arrive wind-blown, soaking and grumpy.

so i'm taking stock and getting ready to have some serious home-time. i've been making stews, right now i have a chicken roasting in the oven to make a comforting soup, lots of warm blankets, books to read and trips to plan. i'm all set. apart from the obligatory trudge into the city for work, i'm not moving from my bed except to make cups of tea.

and for this reason i am really glad i made this purchase recently: have you heard of rachel khoo? she's a london girl living in paris and cooking up all kinds of good looking stuff. i've been glued to her bbc cooking show on monday nights and after about the third or fourth episode i ordered her book.

many hours are going to be spent wrapped up in a blanket and planning some cooking adventures. and that's where you'll find me, at least until this rather unpleasant weather blows over.

above are a few recipes i am thinking of trying out. i'm really looking forward to giving them a go. i figure if she can cook them in her kitchen the size of a shoe box then i can do the same in my kitchen, which is also the size of a shoe box.

not what you would expect

last night adam and i met our friend darcy and her boyfriend christian at our favourite little notting hill pub, the churchill arms. it was a special occasion because christian has just moved to london from australia so that he and darcy can be together (romantic, or what?!?). darcy is working for the olympics, so when thats over who knows what they'll do, but for now they're around for us to have fun hangouts with in random places in london. 

and the churchill arms is definitely random. it is named for winston churchill, but it's secretly...

a thai food restaurant/botanical garden! ok, so it's not really a botanical garden but it does have more plants than i've ever seen indoors, that's for sure. one half of it is old fashioned english pub with a funny collection of local people who always seem to be there and a really big collection of old bedpans hanging from the ceiling, and the other half seems to be a privately run thai food restaurant where they go out of their way to make you believe you are actually in thailand by making it just a little bit tropical.

also, the food is really really good. and you better believe that when they say a dish is spicy, it really is spicy. 

don't darcy and christian look so happy together? she's been waiting for him for a long time and i had to fight off the urge to pinch him to make sure he is real...

i think i need to take a moment


i have found somewhere in london that sells aunt jemima original syrup.
oh goodness do i miss this stuff.
i've been happy over the years with golden syrup, i'll buy maple if i'm feeling in the mood to splash out
but nothing beats aunt jemima, no sir

where did i find this miracle? 
at the indian shop across the road from the hindu temple in north london, 
of course. 
i purchased it with my samosas. no joke. 

our long weekend

this easter weekend was pretty busy. not the most relaxing, but sometimes it's nice to have a lot to do - better then having nothing, right?

my mum came to visit and we went all over london. she got a massage while i sat in a coffee shop and studied for a bit. we had lunch. we went to the museum. had stopped to warm up with the occasional starbucks, and pretty much just spent the whole weekend talking - like we normally do. 

adam came along sometimes, and other times he peeled off to do his own thing. it was pretty relaxed really. we got to watch two of my favourite films, midnight in paris and away we go, and we ate lots of yummy food.

friday was the only day that the sun was shining, so what better way to take advantage of it than by climbing out of your landing window and sitting on your roof, right?

we went to see the haj exhibit at the british museum. it was pretty amazing. i think religious traditions and rights of passage such as pilgrimage are so beautiful. to have so much faith and to express it in such a dedicated way must be pretty fantastic, don't you think?

my mum brought down some lamb to roast for easter from near where she lives in lancashire, it's from one of beatrix potter's farms up in the lake district. and it was pretty damn tasty... but...

i have a lot of guilt when it comes to eating meat for so many reasons. i really feel like i should go vegetarian, but i'm just too greedy. and my stomach has far too big a say over what i do and what goes in my mouth than my brain or my heart. i feel like it's something that will happen one day, just not yet. until then, every tasty mouthful will be seasoned with a tiny bit of bitter guilt. or, you know, i may just get over it eventually. life's too short and all that.

she also brought down some smoked garlic to put in the lamb. YUM. there's not much else to be said on that.

and after she left, adam and i sat on the sofa and talked for ages about all sorts of things - i noticed that sometimes the reflection from the window was almost covering up his entire pupil.

now i've got a stew in the oven and laundry to do and fun weekly plans to make.

my soundtrack for the past day or so has been the soundtrack to away we go. it's pretty fab, you should check it out.

hope you had a really great weekend too.

shopping for pho, my one true love

on wednesday my flatmate came out with these magic words: "i'm making pho tomorrow night, do you guys want some?"

if this blog were years old, you would all know by now how much i love pho. i mean, really love it. i'll have more entries about it in the future i have no doubt, so i won't get into it at the moment.

clara and i went on a bit of a shopping trip to leicester square to get some ingredients. i love china town in london, that place really is never what you expect. no shop is as small as it looks and sketchy doorways with misleading staircases are everywhere. 

but because she knows her way around, we managed to come away with some quite tasty ingredients, and having had her pho before, clara knows what she's doing it the kitchen.

and when you know what you're looking for and where to find it, you can get in and out unscathed with just a bbq pork bun and without being roped into overpriced dim-sum. 

kaffir lime leaves?! yes please!

Clara's homemade pho.

this is me a few years ago enjoying pho at my favourite ever vietnamese
restaurant in toronto, pho hung
the picture was taken just after i had been trying to create
walrus tusks with my chopsticks, as you do. i am a great advocate of playing with my food.