Sunday, 23 March 2014

A little closer to home, going vegan at Camden Market: Arepa & co

I am a firm believer in challenging oneself regularly, preferrably something involving moving countries, but as I am anchored to London (more specifically my desk) for a little while, I decided lent would be the perfect opportunity to delve into veganism. An avid carnivore, it's been less challenging than I thought. The one thing I am struggling with, is eating out - my most favourite lesiuretime pursuit. A bit of googling told me Camden Market was the place to go, thankfully merely a pebblethrow from where I live. Last weekend, we took full advantage of the sun and bought vegan yumminess before wandering along Regents Canal all the way to Paddington Basin.





Cornbread is my favourite type of bread; ever since I read To Kill A Mockingbird all I wanted was to be Scout Finch and cornbread just reminds me of that book and how wonderful it is. Despite being so tempted by the topping of guacamole and pulled chicken (mixed together!) I picked plantain, roasted veg and black beans. It was so good and for £5, such good value. The other options for toppings also looked amazing, as did the corn pancakes! 

The queue for the stall was full of South Americans chatting in Spanish with the staff and, in the streaming sunlight, it was almost like being in a South American market. That is why I love London! Camden Market on the weekends, the part of the market where Honest Burger and Chin Chin Laboratories is, is food heaven! There is a vegan bakery in there too that I am dying to try. Giving up all naughty things is a struggle, thank goodness oreos are vegan.


Monday, 3 March 2014

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I'm now signed up to Bloglovin'!
Hopefully it will make it easier to find more of you similar-minded people to follow and to share some foodie/Londony tips with!

Dim T[errible]

Sorry its been so long since the last post, but I really haven't done anything very bloggable recently. Lots of visit to the library and rain-dodging on the sofa.

Last weekend my boyfriend mentioned how much he was craving Dim Sum. He spent a while in Asia and LOVES Asian food. More of a Europhile, it isn't a cuisine I tend to get craving for...(bratwurst und bretzlen tend to be my cravings of choice) But I'd happened to walk passed a pretty looking restaurant earlier in the week fittingly named Dim T so I thought it would be a fun Sunday Brunch for us.

 
It started off strong. The decor was clean and modern, it was light and airy and there were plenty of free tables and it was quiet - all good brunching qualities. On the tables were little teapots of soy sauce and little white pots of chilli, along with napkins and chopsticks. I started with a cocktail and Rob had a pot of tea (clearly forgetting the most important rule that the only drinks allow at brunch are alcoholic ones). I had the raspberry and ginger cocktail and it was so delicious. It tasted like melted ice lolly but in the best way possible. I thoroughly recommend it. They bought glasses of tap water to the table too, unasked for, which was nice.

I left the ordering to Rob as I am a Dim Sum novice - placing my food order in someone elses hand is NOT something that comes easy to me. I knows what I likes and I do not like to be food-envious. For a restaurant perputing to specialise in Dim Sum the menu was EXTREMELY limited. Maybe about 10 options? Then a whole other two sides of non-Dim Sum dishes. This did not please me. There was no great explanation of what each dish was, so it was an exercise in blind faith. The restaurant was slowly filling up and we were getting slightly anxious about time (we had a date with beer and Man City at 2) but felt sure that, as Dim Sum is known to be such a speedy meal, we would make it in time for kick off.

The dishes are served by waiting staff who steam the dishes in the restaurant. And when they eventually came they were SUCH a disappointment.


The top picture is of the spinach dish. I am a huge spinach fan, in all its forms, but this was disgusting. The outer casing was thick and slimey and the inside was bland and sloppy. None of these are things you want food to be. They looked like slugs and they did not taste any better than they looked. We had to spit it out. All of the dishes, with the exception of the pork buns, were cased in thick, slimey goo and were really not nice to eat. We were both expecting a variety of types of Dim Sum, but we were wrong. The pork buns were good - the cloud buns were soft and fluffy and the pork was tender and well flavoured. If there had been more like this, it would have been an enjoyable meal. Alas it was not the case and I left feeling ill. It was the worst meal I've had in a long time.

The redeeming features were the decor and the cocktails. Maybe if we'd ordered from the mains section then we would have had a different experience, but if a restaurant calls itself Dim T, then you expect their Dim Sum selection to be their USP, not their other dishes. This has really put me off Dim Sum AND letting other people order for me.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Borough Market



I spent last weekend at what has to be my new favourite place in London for lazy Saturdays. My mother is a cookery teacher and has been begging for me to take her to Borough Market for a while now, however for some reason or another we have never got round to it (it is the other side of the river *shudder*). Finally, we made it there and I must say, it is amazing. I was expecting a tourist-y place not dissimilar to Camden Market, but oh no siree Borough is like an amalgamation of the quaint markets of France and Spain, coupled with the coolest pop-up restaurant and a well-stocked deli.




The extensive beer stalls made for a very happy boyfriend, who bought one of pretty much everything.


Whilst I made friends with this little guy! The fresh fish selection was amazing; I was particularly taken with the humongous oysters, an absolute favourite of mine.



We plumped for the juiciest salt-beef sandwiches smothered in mustard and pickles. The queue for them was reassuringly long and boy, they were good! Steaming hot and packed full of the pinkest beef. 



My mother takes burger-eating very seriously!

And after a busy morning all we wanted was a nice cup of tea. The afternoon tea at the National Gallery was unfortunately not quite of the same standard of Borough Market's cakes and sandwiches; really quite expensive and, although the scones were a delight, the other sweet treats were unremarkable and the sandwiches even worse. The service was also dire; despite an almost empty restaurant, we were seated on a long canteen style table with another party almost in the dark, well away from the windows, the waitress took forever and forgot various other parts of our order. A shame, because the galleries are so beautiful and Trafalgar Square is always full of interesting street performers and the perfect photo opportunity. If you were thinking of heading for afternoon tea at the National Dining Rooms, I'd take heed and consider checking out somewhere else. It was rather a shame to end such a lovely day with something so disappointing.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Fro-yo in Soho

`This weekend I had a good friend come to stay and whenever we're in London together, we HAVE to Snog. Before you go thinking I'm oversharing, Snog is a chain of fro-yo shops in London that have the coolest interiors, the most attractive staff and the tastiest flavours. Even better, the shops are open until midnight! We love it so much that we went twice in less than 24 hours. Commitment to the Snog.

 But before pudding we went to The Breakfast Club, again another London based chain specialising in all things breakfast-y - alas they only serve their breakfast menu until 4pm so we both had burgers and chips (such classy gals). Usually, there is a queue but as it's a breakfast place it was the only restaurant in the area without one so we were able to walk straight in.


I went for the cheeseburger with blue cheese - a girl can never have too much cheese on her burger, and, for a restaurant that doesn't focus on the non-breakfast foodstuff, it was very VERY good. I loved the pickles underneath the patty and the brioche bun was a delight. The chips were like fish and chip shop chips and the coleslaw wasn't too creamy or sloppy. I would have liked the patty slightly pinker or even if they'd asked how I wanted it cooked, but other than that it was pretty much perfect!

Even more perfect was pudding....
Just look at that.
I had raspberry frozen yogurt with mini marshmallows and caramel sauce. Cath had chocolate yogurt with strawberries. The Soho branch is the perfect place to people-watch. Soho on a Friday night is an interesting place, to say the least!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

V-DAY

And next in our calendars is the most divisive holiday of them all. Valentines Day. Commercial nightmare or the perfect day to show your hunnybunny how much you just wurve them. I fall somewhere in the middle. Any excuse to eat some good food, drink something sparkly and meet with those you love is fine by me. I have been very single for quite a while before I met my boyfriend so I know how just darn boring it is to have love rammed down your throat for the weeks that lead up to valentines. But if you can't beat them, join them I say. Last single valentines me and a massive group of friends went for all-you-can-eat sushi, drank too much wine  and gave each other silly cupcakes and tokens of our love.

 It was so much better than sitting at home getting increasingly more annoyed at all the roses and teddy bears filling our instagram and facebook feeds.

This year, if you're single in London, eschew all the overpriced restaurants filled with candles and couples and steer clear of too much chocolate and self-pity, I've got a few much better ideas for how to spend your night:
Lots of club nights are doing special one-off valentines nights, my two recommendations would be
1. Itchy Feet, Shoreditch
2. Soul Train, Peckham

Both are fun, cheap and the best place for a proper groove in London.
If you're lucky enough to be loved up then my advice would be to do something silly and fun. My friend is going to a comedy night with his significant other, I went bowling last year with my boy as that is something we do together and this year we are putting on our PJs, ordering in fried chicken and drinking too much beer.

Gift-wise, something small and thoughtful is best. Tickets to something or a small token of your love. Steer clear of teddies or roses - overpriced and show a lack of creativity. But really there is no right answer, no one else knows your relationship. Valentines day IS so commercial but a day promoting love can't be bad in my opinion.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

BBQ Brunch.

Giving myself the aim of exploring new pockets of London, I planned on spending Saturday in undiscovered territories. The reality was, starving hungry and very impatient, my boyfriend and I ended up in Soho, just about the most familiar part of London to me. However, we did go somewhere new to us - Bodeans. I shall admit that I am indeed very late to the game here, they've been open for almost 12 years and have branches in Tower Hill, Fulham etc. Having worked in a memphis BBQ restaurant in Camden for a year and being an avid carnivore, my knowledge of smoked meat is quite extensive and I must say, Bodeans does a very good job.

The screens showing the football certainly made this little one very happy. We were seated straight away, which I wasn't expecting, given the time of day and the restaurants reputation as serving some of the best BBQ in London. It seems small but there is a downstairs too so capacity is decent. We started with coffee (a must for brunch!), then had pulled pork, 1/4 chicken and ribs with sweet potato fries and a side of the diablo chicken wings, slightly less brunch-y.





The pulled pork, ribs and chicken were all excellently cooked, super smokey and not at all fatty. the sweet potato fries were also really fresh and managed to be both crispy on the outside and fluffy in the centre. But all of these were outshadowed by the A-MAZING chicken wings. And this is from a girl who doesn't even like meat on the bone. The sauce (which we were twice warned was incredibly spicy) had the most delicious lime undertones and, yes it was spicy, but was not overpowered by heat. In fact, it wasn't as spicy as we were expecting and the heat definitely hits you after. The ranch dressing it came with was good, but these babies were just perfect as they were. Portion sizes are fantastic and we both rolled out onto the streets, to murmer about the chicken wings for the whole afternoon.