Well hello again, it’s been a while!
I blame my new job for my blogging absence, it has taken me all over the country in the last few months. I say “new” job, I’ve been in it a while now - since my last post probably…. It’s done a bit of a life take over!
Anyway, this little home counties girl has been on a proper little UK cultural adventure. I’ve been subjected to the fake tans, well fake everything really, of the Newcastle nightlife, the remarkably good restaurant scene in Manchester, the haunted hotels of Coventry, the welshness of Wales (who’d have thought!)….
N.B Did you know martinis up north are basically the same price as a coke in London???
It’s been quite a whirlwind of discovery. That said, the adventure is about to get much BIGGER.
I am doing the unthinkable, the inconceivable for Buckinghamshire girls everywhere… I am relocating BEYOND the Watford Gap. Words I never thought I’d utter in my whole life time.
So i’m about to go northern (shut up, it IS the north if you’re a proper southerner like me), and I’m taking you with me. I move to the delightful city of Birmingham in a few weeks time, to an apartment in the trendy, up and coming (so I’m told) Jewellery Quarter. Yes I’m scared of getting stabbed, yes I’m terrified I won’t find a nice deli for Sunday brunches, yes I’m petrified Ocado won’t deliver in my area…the list goes on. But I’m reassured by my brummy friends that I’ll find peace and serenity in the Mailbox (shopping centre) and that martinis are as cheap there as they were in Newcastle.
So in a few weeks it’s goodbye to my gorgeous Buckinghamshire, farewell to my darling London and hello to my new life…let the ride begin!
One of my many resolutions for 2012 is to learn to cook, properly….
It’s started well- and thus my hopes are high! Today I rustled up a feast of homemade leek and potato soup (for lunch), and king prawns marinated in lime juice, ginger and coriander, with mangetout (for dinner). No super-extraordinary recipes to report back on yet but I’ll keep you posted. Stay tuned for the best and worst of my culinary awakening…..
We welcomed in December with a musical, rather than a Panto, this year. Specifically none other than Whatsonstage.com award nominee Matilda!
It was impeccably choreographed with fantastic staging (sit in the stalls if you can, to really appreciate it), a great set and a fab cast. For me, Bertie Carvel stole the show with his hilarious take on Miss Trunchbull but the amazing kids just blew the whole audience away - especially adorable Matilda (of course).
The reviews speak for themselves really, an incredible performance in every respect. It’s showing at the lovely Cambridge Theatre, but for more info have a look at:
Earlier in the week I popped into my favourite restaurant, Quaglino’s, for a cheeky midweek dinner with the bessie and the boyf. We picked from the Christmas Champagne Menu, a bargain at £25.50 for 3 courses and a glass of bubbly! The gnocchi was, as I remembered, totally heavenly and the post dinner cocktails in the bar were equally to die for. Couldn’t recommend this place enough, and although I do prefer the atmosphere on a Saturday night, we might not have spotted one of the JLS boys slipping in for a late dinner if it had been super busy - win some lose some…
If you want to book the Champagne Menu you can book it through the link above.
A few weeks back I trekked all the way to a disused space in Dalston for East London’s first ever night food market - The Long Table. It was opening night and the queue was huge, anticipation was rife and it was, to be frank, bloody freezing. My first suggestion, should you wish to venture over to the Long Table, is wrap up warm .
The Market is open 6pm till midnight, we got in at about 9 and come 10ish a lot of the vendors were running out/had run out of food. That brings me to my second suggestion, get there early , because you do not want to miss any of the below:
- Yum Bun’s amazing steamed buns with the most gorgeously slow cooked pork.
- The best mince pie I’ve ever tasted (with a dollop of delicious brandy butter) - I can’t recall the stall name but there is only one selling them…
- Yam the Cassava’s Caribbean fare (of Glastonbury fame)
And of course there is more, if your stomach can take the strain! There is Indian food, Chinese food, hot dogs, spit roasted chicken, donuts and a few more stalls to boot. My third and final suggestion though; avoid the mulled wine , possibly the worst I’ve sampled, I hope for everyone’s sake it was just a bad batch, because a good glass of mulled wine would finish off the night just perfectly.
The Long Table is open every Friday night until Christmas and you’d be a fool not to pop along if you’ve got a Friday night free and fancy something a little different for dinner.
You can find out more here: http://www.bootstrapcompany.co.uk/20_the_long_table
I have to confess, I actually had “Twilight” pencilled in on the 18th of November for longer than I care to share. Now don’t get me confused with some kind of crazed fan but I did enjoy the books and I have enjoyed the films so far. So, as planned, last night my best friend and I headed to the cinema for a little vampire indulgence. We laughed at all the wrong bits; the awful mind reading wolves conference, the shocking special effects and the dodgy baby name, BUT it was bloody (sorry had to do it) good.
Don’t expect an earth moving, groundbreaking cultural extravaganza but if you fancy some eye candy (topless Taylor Lautner within moments of the film starting), and some light entertainment then book a ticket to Breaking Dawn. I’ll be honest, I might even indulge in a Twiathlon (saw this advertised a few days ago - killer marketing) for part 2…
A combination of a bizarre desire to make jam and an accidental moment of early Christmas excitement led me to scouring the Internet for some kind of festive jam recipe. I was looking for a bit of a mulled wine spices inspired jam to have on my toast in the run up to December 25th. Turns out, there really isn’t much out there so I got creative (goodness knows what inspired me, I’ve never made jam before). After a quick trip to the supermarket and a slightly longer trip to Lakeland I was armed with everything I needed for my Christmas Jam creation.
So here’s how it goes:
What you need:
1 250g pack of frozen blackberries
1 250g pack of frozen cherries
1 250g pack of frozen raspberries
1 bottle of Certo pectin
4 cups (American measures) of sugar
1/2 cup (American measures) of water
1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Yes I know - dodgy measurements, I took my inspiration from a mix of British and American recipes.
So its simple really..
1. Grate then peel and chop up the oranges.
2. Chop up the frozen (although slight thawed) fruit.
When I say “chop up” I mean like really small pieces, you could lightly blend instead even.
3. Put the zest and all the fruit into a big pan.
4. Add the water and sugar then cook over a low heat for 2 minutes.
5. Bring the mixture to the boil and add the whole bottle of pectin.
6. Bring to the boil again for 4 minutes, or for as long as it takes (check http://www.deliaonline.com/how-to-cook/preserves/ten-steps-to-jam-making.html - read point 5 for a great Delia top tip).
7. Pour into sterilised jars (I filled 6 and a half (a perfect little bit extra for tasting purposes!).
8. Wait for the jars to cool and then store in a cool dark cupboard.
So that’s it - Christmas Jam for beginners, and it tastes gorgeously festive. YUM
I confess, I am a Pilates addict. I’ve been taking classes for over 8 years and I swear by it. I’ve been taught by lots of people and I have to say, Lenka, my current teacher is truly fantastic. If you’re looking for a class in Bucks then you have to go to one of hers. There is a waiting list (she’s just that good), but she’s definitely worth it…..
Halloween calls for a minimum of 2 things:
1. Pumpkin Carving
2. Apple Bobbing
Really it should also contain excessive consumption of sweets and dressing up in costume too but I’ll settle for 2 out of 4. This year I, as per usual, embarassed myself apple bobbing with a shocking time of 2 minutes (a good 1 minute 45 seconds longer than the fastest bobber) BUT I think I recovered my halloween kudos with the pumpkin carving.
This year I threw aside my traditional notions of a spooky face design and went for a fancy creative one (I’ll admit to having done some preliminary investigations on google) and I recon it paid off. Voted number 1 by trick or treaters of Amersham…thats all I’m saying….
I’ve just finished reading Sister by Rosamund Lupton and I am verging on stunned at the unexpected twist which brings the story to a close. I’ve been glued to the pages for just over a week and I couldn’t possibly have predicted the ending, or pretty much anything past page 331. I’m desperate to write more but I won’t divulge for want of not ruining the book for anyone intending to pick it up themselves.
I’ve never ventured into the crime fiction genre before but I have to say, I have been more than satisfied with my first time. If you are looking for an easy read but something that you just can’t put down - you’ve found it. Sister is heart wrenching, devastating and wonderfully written. Even if you aren’t a big reader you’ll devour this in no time at all.