Thursday, 30 May 2013

TAP, TAP, TAP it in...

Today was another working day. 'S' is studying for exams, and Rose and I had a lot of photos to edit for our upcoming exhibition. As the flat below us is still under construction, we decided that we should plan an adventure to an interesting coffee shop in order to change things up a bit.

Am I ever glad we did, as the spot we found was a real find. It's called TAP (Tapped and Packed) and there are three locations in London. They offer a cozy environment, excellent coffee, baked goods, and sandwiches, and encourage work meetings, and studying. My only complaint would be the lack of plugs. My laptop is ancient and has about 45 mins of battery life.

My Sandwich: Cheddar and Chutney (and some other stuff)

I had sue me.

Behold the BEST chocolate cake (slice?). Apparently it sells out daily. I had to try it.

The only plug was hidden behind the barista bar, so that's where I saddled up. I wasn't complaining.

And if you're into happy socks....

We spent three and a half hours in TAP and nobody batted an eyelash. I did keep the snacks coming so that I wasn't abusing the privilege, but it's nice to find a place where you don't feel guilty hunched over the laptop for hours.

Any other suggestions for favourite work spots in London? There's actually a website, which is where I found this one (Best London Cafes for Work/Meetings).

That's all for now. If you're a Londoner, you need to hit up one of these cafes. We were at their Wardour Street location (No. 193) in case you were wondering.

P.S. this is post No. 150. 

Can you believe it?

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Ping Pong.

On Thursday my friend Rose and I spent the day working on our art project. We were taking pictures on the South Bank, so headed into Ping Pong for lunch.

If you know me, you know that I have NEVER had dim sum. I've been wanting to go for a proper dim sum meal for the last couple of years, and for some reason it was just never meant to be. To say I was excited was an understatement. I knew that I liked Har Gau (shrimp dumplings), as I used to pick them up frozen from the local Asian market (near my apartment in Vancouver) and steam them with broccoli for a light meal. I still don't understand how dim sum is a breakfast thing, but is it ever delicious!

The waitress suggested 4 items per person, and honestly, I found this a little on the heavy side for lunch, but it would be the perfect quantity for a dinner feast.

We sat at a giant round table that was a little large for our party of two, but at that point we decided this would be a great place to bring the rest of the Art crew down to for a group meal. Next time.

What we ordered (in photo order)

1. Hoi Sin Vegetable Puff (good initially but in comparison to the rest...meh.)

2. Har Gau (we ordered two orders of this, as we both love shrimp dumplings)

3. Spinach and Mushroom Dumpling

4. King Prawn and Scallop Sticky Rice

5. Char Sui Bun 

6. Chicken Shu Mai

7. Chicken and Mushroom Rice Pot


Did you have a good weekend? I had a low key Friday, and then hit some pubs in the Primrose Hill / Camden area on Saturday. This got a little crazy, and we ended up dancing the night away to horrible horrible tunes, and then dealing with the consequences of street meat and an hour long night bus home. 

I can now confirm they turn the lights out on the bus when you get to the end of the line. Comforting.

Sunday and Monday were mostly spent in the common, with an evening adventure to some establishments along Northcote road. Overall, a fun bank holiday weekend.

This week, it's back to work. Rose and I have big ideas, and somehow we've got to write a 2000 word paper between the two of us. I've never composed something that long with another person, so that should be interesting (time consuming).

Friday, 24 May 2013

The Freakin' Weekend!

...but if you're not happy already, and the below photo doesn't help, I'm not sure I can help you.

Here's HRH playing t-ball (last week on his U.S. tour), while wearing the crap out of a crisp white shirt. Pretty certain he could wear a paper bag.

Back to me (since let's be honest, that's what this blog is really about)...

Yesterday was a good day.

I had a great swim in the morning, but the best part is, as I was leaving the pool, I was stopped by one of the lifeguards who told me they (the other guards) had been wondering what I was training for. She said I always looked so focused, she assumed I must be training for something! Umm..stroke the ego, stroke the ego! I struggled to casually hide how happy that comment made me. Truth be told, it's actually my 'scary face', intended for keeping slow swimmers out of my lane (by slow I just mean the ones that don't put their head under the water)...quite selfish really, and helping myself feel confident amongst the 'flip turny', speedo wearing ones. Long story short, when you are competitive (and slightly 'type A') like I am, those kind of comments go a LONG way. Pathetic.

I then took my enlarged head and went to meet my friend Rose. We spent the afternoon in the beautiful London sunshine photographing people in different spaces for our Art Project.  We are both quite excited about it, so it has been fun collaborating. Hopefully we can pull it off.

After we were finished, I left Rose and went to Sloane Square to try on (pretty much all of) the dresses in Peter Jones. I'm still slightly totally panicked about Ascot and what the heck I'm going to wear. I found some nice dresses, but the sticker shock was a little much. I'll go back if I find nothing else, but I'd like to keep the price down if I can.

The final great thing that happened, is that I arrived home to a note saying my mom had been released from hospital early (on good behaviour). If you remember what happened last time, you'll know this puts all of our minds at ease. I'm happy she's in great shape and will be recovering at home with the Murph dog...and dad.

So for my mom (and the rest of you) here's some 'Fun Finds' (a.k.a light reading) I stumbled across lately:

Before and After Pictures in Oklahoma (slide the bar to the right to change the picture)

One of the MANY reasons we love Jennifer Lawrence

Some of these are seriously funny.

Ok, who's going to buy this for me (or any of my family members for that matter!)??

A very cool art project.

Do you have exciting things planned this weekend? It's a bank holiday weekend here (if it feels like we just had one, we did), so I'm quite excited. The Canadian crew (see Bunga Bunga / Thanksgiving) is getting together for a liquid picnic (if the weather holds up) on Saturday, and then Sunday I have a friend's birthday. I'm not sure what Monday holds, but I'll make it count, I promise!

Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Sushi from Scratch (Desperate times call for desperate measures).

You may or may not know that we've been searching high and low for great sushi spots half decent sushi in London. While we found a cute restaurant last week (Saki II in Kensington), it's still pricey. How pricey? One of my rolls was ₤12.50. Madness.

This left me no choice but to make it myself.

For Perfect Sushi Rice (They don't call me the 'Rice Master' for nothing) try this method:

You will need: Japanese sticky rice, Rice Vinegar, Water, Sugar, Salt

1) Measure 1 Cup Rice to 1 1/4 Cups Water into a pot

2) Bring Rice and Water to a minimum boil, stir, reduce heat to almost nothing, and cover for 12 mins

3) After 12 mins, keeping the lid on, remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for another 10 mins

4) While the rice is sitting, in another small pot, bring 1/2 Cup of Rice Vinegar to a boil

5) Remove from heat, add 4tbsp Sugar and 1tsp salt, stirring until dissolved (let this mixture cool)

6) Once rice has cooled, pour the Vinegar mixture in, folding the rice to make sure it is completely mixed

7)Allow Rice to continue to cool to body temperature (at that point it's ready for sushi)

Sushi Time:

Chop up your desired Sushi ingredients. I looked everywhere (ok, I just went to Waitrose) for sushi grade Tuna, but couldn't find, so we settled on Cucumber Avocado, and a few rolls with Mango in them. California Rolls would have been a good idea, but I'm not a huge crab fan. Up to you.

1) Place your sushi mat (the bamboo thing) with the short edge pointing towards you

2) Place a piece of seaweed on the mat (shiny side down)

3) Place 1/2 C (I actually used a little more) of sushi rice in the middle of the seaweed

4) Using a paddle, spread (and press) the rice all over the seaweed, leaving about 1/2 inch on the short  end farthest away from you (this is to allow the seaweed a tab to seal the roll with)

5) Place your desired ingredients in the centre of the rice (parallel to the short edge)

6) Use both hands and begin using the mat to roll the seaweed (squeeze gently as you roll)

7) Give the roll and extra squeeze at the end to make sure it's sealed before unravelling the mat

**check out this video to watch it in action (if you're paying attention, you'll notice I placed my seaweed the wrong way, the indentations are guidelines for cutting the roll...just keeping you on your toes!)

8) Slice into pieces with a VERY sharp nice (difficult for me, as we don't have one of those!)

*Note- if you want to try inverted sushi, just flip the seaweed over once you've pressed the rice down onto it, and then place the ingredients in the middle and roll away (it's a little trickier and harder to keep it looking pretty, but I do prefer the rice on the outside)

**essential: most store bought soy sauce IS NOT the same as sushi soy sauce. It doesn't taste right- look for the good stuff (to give Waitrose credit, they did carry Sushi Soy Sauce)

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Weekend (ahem) Lunch.

As I write this (Tuesday night), my mom is in surgery (in Vancouver) having her second knee replaced. While I am so pleased that after this, she will have two bionic legs, it's always a worry having someone that you love going through such a procedure so far away.

I decided I wasn't going to make myself do any school work today as I'm too distracted. I took myself for a big swim. It turned out to be much longer than planned as there were two sketchy characters lingering far too long (20+ mins!) under the pool-side showers and I didn't want to hop out to rinse off until they were I kept swimming....and swimming....and swimming. My legs were absolute jello when I got out, and my efforts were to no avail, as 'Spencer and Hugo' were hanging out by the hair dryers as I tried to leave. Head down, power walk. See ya later.

My one fun task for today was to write a post about Saturday's adventures. We had the BEST day, and I would have documented it sooner, but I had no pictures as my iphone was being a jerk. Insert Kat to save the day, sending me hers via dropbox. Woohooo! (Thanks Kat!)

The adventure starts like this...

On Friday I sent a quick FB message to a friend to see what he had planned this weekend.

Response: Hey Stranger, a bunch of us are going for lunch at Bunga Bunga, there's actually a spot left, COME! (actually when I re-read his message he was a little more clear, but this is what I got from it initially)

Having no clue what this entailed, I said of course. I had heard of Bunga Bunga (Mostly in reference to Berlusconi, but also as the London hot spot that HRH likes to frequent).

At 1:45pm I headed over to Bunga Bunga for 'Lunch'.

The rather large bouncer at the door mid-day should have been my first clue.

I walked in to see 5 GIANT tables full of large groups of friends.

Karaoke was in full effect, and there was a drag queen....but other than that, things seemed relatively normal.

To begin with, our table looked amazing. Large wooden boards propped on giant cans of tomatoes, held bowls of fruit salad, fresh bread, plates of prosciutto, and about 5 different types of fresh juice to make mimosas.

The prosecco was the clencher, as it was unlimited.....FOR THE ENTIRE AFTERNOON. Trouble.

A few minutes after arriving, we were casually aware that the wait staff was lowering the blinds on all the windows. Bunga Bunga was getting louder and crazier....and darker. 

It appeared we needed to catch up. 

Never a group to be 'out done' by the other parties, prosecco boat races it had to be.

The boat races helped. 

After countless pizzas, ice cream, dessert pizzas, and a cake with fireworks, we were up and dancing. 

This lasted a few hours, before they tossed us out...

....out into the SUNSHINE. What?!

We found ourselves heading to venue #2 at 5pm. Yes, 5pm. Down the road to the Prince Albert. Yes, the same Prince Albert Pub from a few weekends ago when I met a 'new friend' who chased foxes through graveyards with me. 

*You may have noticed this 'new friend' has not been mentioned since.  I will let you read between the lines. 

Apparently still thirsty....

After the Prince Albert, we headed into the city to our reservation at Bodo's Schloss. Bodo's Schloss does not deserve a link because we are fighting. 

Despite our reservation they decided we had too many boys to let us all in (for the record, the ratio was equal). Seriously.

Fine- we'll take our 18 thirsty Canadians (I actually don't know how many of us there were) and spend our money at another establishment.

The night finished off with us singing along with the piano man at the piano bar on Kensington High Street.

While we will all be the first to admit that the Prosecco wreaked havoc on our Sunday, I would still highly recommend a group 'lunch' (or dinner) at Bunga Bunga.

Okay, I've just received a note that mom's surgery went fine (phewf!), so I am off to make (yes make) sushi. I will let you know how that goes tomorrow.

**If anyone knows why my pictures won't line up straight, I'd love to know the answer. It's driving me crrrrrazy!