Thursday, 26 May 2011

Mews cows.

It’s not an excuse for being an idiot but I have been very busy this week.  I have been too busy to tidy the flat, too busy to weed the poor neglected garden,  too busy to get my ratty fringe trimmed (and incidentally that's not a euphemism) too busy too write a thank you card to my friend thanking her for taking me to Croatia and too busy to remember that the piece of Perspex I had to order for a shoot today was supposed to be 5 feet square. Subsequently, a huge truck arrived at our studio this afternoon with the biggest piece of Perspex you can buy.  3metres long by 2 metres wide and requiring 3 men to lift it out of the back of a lorry. Mortificado! There are few situations in this world more humiliating than exposing yourself as an idiot to a film crew. What. An. Idiot.

The only redeeming feature of the day was discovering The Old Dairy on the corner of Conway Street and Warren Street., a real hidden gem in the heart of Fitzrovia. The Old Dairy is a little café that serves breakfast and lunch, which is nothing special in itself, particularly as their menu is rather limited, however Beyza, the owner, is so lovely and the building is so quirky (I usually hate this word), that it’s not to be missed. The building itself is listed and you’ve guessed it, used to be a Dairy.! During the 1920’s, when it was first used as a dairy, the owner used to bring his cows from Wales and keep them in the mews next to the dairy. Can you imagine?!  I can, and I like it! He used to make his own butter and the container where he kept it cool is still in the building but now it’s where Beyza keeps the till.  The café still has a lot of the original features such  as the mosaic floor, the counter tops and the façade outside. Anyway, it brought a smile to my humiliated chops today and think the more people that pop in, the better. Beyza deserves this café to be a success as the Old Dairy is a small slice of something special amongst a big bland Pret/Eat/Wasabi/Itsu pie.

Monday, 23 May 2011

It's the little things

Sometimes Mother Nature rewards a hard days work with a rainbow and an orange sky on the way home. Amazing.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Dim Sumday Part 2

Things have been pretty hectic in March Hare Towers during the past few weeks. Not only have I been very lucky and busily freelancing on back to back jobs during the past few weeks, I have also nearly completed my course at the hospital. I have one session left, this Friday, and then I will be a master in positive thinking and confidence (fingers crossed). The course essentially teaches you how to question your responses to things that life throws at you and shows you that looking at them in a  different way can affect your life for the better. All very interesting and I've no idea why I haven't been on a course like this sooner! I think everyone should do it.

As well, as working hard and re-wiring my poor old battered brain, I have successfully managed to buy a share of the freehold of my flat. After a year of uncertainty and sleepless nights, the deal has been done. This is huge news for me as it now means that I can sell my flat or rent it out or buy a dog or do whatever I friggin' well want! The sweet taste of freedom didn't come cheap but is worth every penny.

But perhaps the biggest news of all is that today we made it to the best dim sum eatery in town. Yes, my friends, we went to Imperial China! I'm really trying hard not to keep talking about food and stuffing my pie hole but its so damn hard! However, in our haste to get to the sweet nectar of char sui buns we got to the restaurant before it had even opened. Very keen but not too cool. So in order to kill some time we mooched around China Town then went for a quick coffee at the Curzon Cinema on Shaftesbury Avenue.

I really like this cinema  as its normally packed to the rafters with 'serious film buffs', usually sporting large beards which they like to rub while discussing film theory. This can be a little intimidating at times but great people watching fodder none the less. This cinema usually shows the more independent type films and is the place I have been to in the past when I want to pretend I am more interesting and mysterious than I really am. They also have Q+A sessions every so often, for example tomorrow there is a Q+A with the director of a film about Hugh Hefner. The Wig was very excited about this.

In the foyer they have a great cafe area run by Konditor and Cook which is always very busy indeed. Its a great place to meet friends for a coffee (+ CAKE!) but you can sometimes struggle to get a seat. However, if you are part of a greedy gang of pigs and get there early on a Sunday, you will pretty much have the place to yourself.

After a quick mocha and a dribble over the delicious looking cakes on offer we eventually got into Imperial China and ate the biggest selection of dim sum I have ever experienced. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, my camera battery died when the food arrived so I could not take any pictures of our humungous feast. The Wig was in charge of ordering on behalf of all of us, which is done by ticking off different dishes on a form. He shall never be permitted to do this again. Not on my watch anyhow. I lost count of all the dishes that we ate but we definitely could have fed at least 3 more people with all the food we had. Nonetheless, it was just as good as I had hoped and I would score Imperial China high 8 pork buns out of a possible 10.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Dinner in a vase

There is a restaurant in Hackney that I haven't been to for quite some time but it is somewhere that definitely requires a mention. I had hoped to take my brother and Frenchie there on their last night in London when they stayed with us in February, however, my civilised plan for dinner got over ridden for a drunken night in Shoreditch which I have regretted ever since. Not because we had a bad time  (although I did drink too much and have a hangover on a shoot the following morning which is always a mistake), but I have always thought this was a shame since its such a a unique place that really is not to be missed.

So, after a hard days work I decided to treat The Wig to dinner at LMNT on Queensbridge Road. Lucky old Wig.

From the outside it doesn't really look like anything special. It looks a bit like an old pub with a golden wall around the outside, which is pretty much what it is. But if you look more closely you will notice that the golden wall is covered in Egyptian heads and iconography. And if you venture inside it gets even more strange and not at all what you would expect to find in Hackney. There are Sphinxes surrounding the fireplaces, Egyptian paintings on the walls and in one corner, a huge vase that you can sit and eat your dinner in! It has been my dream to get the table in the vase and tonight (being that it was a quiet Tuesday night), we got it! I can die happy.

The other great thing about this restaurant is that they have a very varied drinks list (where else could you sample Tutankhamen's Erection or a Perpetual Sphinx?) and the food is amazing. One might expect that its a bit 'style over substance' and that they are trying to take away the attention from the food by the jazzy decor, but this is not the case at all. Not only is it reasonably priced (approx £5 for a starter and dessert and £10 for a main) the standard of food is very good. The Wig had Confit Duck with red Cabbage and Garlic Mash, I had Poached Haddock, mash and kale and it was as nice as any restaurant up West as they say. We also shared a Chocolate Tart for pudding which we didn't really need but didn't want to appear rude. And as if all that wasn't enough, the waiter was an absolute delight. If money and waistlines weren't an issue I would go to LMNT every night for my tea. Its a wonderful place and gets a magnificent 10 Sphinxes out of a possible 10. Bravo!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Grey Mullet with celery and yellow peppers.

Almost another week has whizzed by and I haven't written anything since I got home from Croatia. This is due in part as the day after I returned from my trip away I started work on another job and have been a bit busy with that, and also due to the fact that I haven't done anything worth writing about. So much for early retirement, I'm working on my 8th job since February! Also, I feel a bit like the last few weekends have been chock-a-block with Easter BBQ's, Wondrous Royal weddings and trips abroad, so subsequently I'm a bit tired out. I'm not complaining at all just saying that sometimes it nice to be lazy and not feel like you have to rush around all the time. In fact we have been so lazy this weekend that we have driven everywhere. We even drove 1.5 minutes up the road this afternoon to collect a take away coffee. I'm not proud of this fact at all and certainly this is not a good move for 2 people who are rather too rotund for their own good, but at least it justified buying a car. Sort of.

As well, as collecting a small mocha, while we were out we also collected a lovely Grey Mullet for our tea from our friends at Fin and Flounder on Broadway Market. We have never cooked this at home before but I have to say it was a marvelous and will rate it a high 8 fish bones out of a possible 10. Its a very meaty fish so to speak, but does have rather a lot of bones, so beware. When I was a child I got a fish bone stuck in my throat and had to be taken to Stoke Mandeville Hospital to have it removed by a nurse with an extremely steady hand and a pair of the longest tweezers known to man. Thus I am actually rather wary of all fish products.

Grey Mullet with celery and yellow peppers
Roughly chop 2 x celery stalks/sticks and one small yellow pepper.
Add this to the cavity of the fish (washed by the monger) along with some dill tops, lemon thyme and wedges of lime.
Season the fish and vegetables with salt + pepper.
Place on a baking tray wrapped in foil and bake in a low oven for around 30 minutes (ours was a large fish).
Remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes at a higher heat.
Serve with a salad and try not to choke on the bones.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Bok Croatia!

The March Hare would like to apologise for the lack of bloggage during the past week. Firstly, I was working on a very stressful shoot which reminded me why I tried to take premature retirement last December, and secondly, I have been in CROATIA!

The trip to Zadar came about several weeks ago when you may (but most likely may not) recall that I mentioned I had inherited a second hand birthday gift from my best friend, Twitty McPhee. She had bought a surprise trip away for her boyfriend then discovered he was not available to go. Bad for him, but supremely lucky pour moi. So, a quick name change with Ryan Air secured my place on the holiday, however the destination was Top Secret. Until last week when I made my way to Stansted Airport with Twitty and her friends Trimmy and The Doonan and discovered where we were headed. I would love to be able to give a detailed account of the adventure but unfortunately due to a combination of copious amounts of grape juice and complimentary Grappa this is not going to be possible. Also much of the conversation revolved around the contents of the 5 Chav Mags that we took with us, and the games of  "Which famous person would you like to punch in the face"(backed up with arguments for and against) and "Would you rather ...." which I fear would not translate well onto a blog. I can confirm however that should the revolting situation arise I would rather sleep with Mick Hucknall than Phil from Eastenders.

I have come home with a burnt forearm (it was very hot) and 198 photo's of which I present a small selection for your perusal below. Zadar really is a beautiful place but I think the best part of the last few days has been spending time with some most excellent people. I cant remember the last time I laughed so much in such a short space of time. So thanks guys, you are 'amaze'. xx

The first night. A miracle no one fell backwards into the sea.

The bar that got drained of its entire white wine reserves. 

Outside Villa Triana, our home for the trip. Run by the beautiful Triana who assured us that every journey, every entry fee, every bus fare, basically everything in Croatia cost 8 kuna's. It didn't. It was considerably more.

The man that rowed us to the Old Town. Anyone that plays Bon Jovi on a rowing boat is ok in my eyes.

The Doonan, chillaxing. 

The Grey Raven, or Graven of Zadar, by the Sea Pipes. The wind blows underneath the slats made in the pavement producing a strangely hypnotic, low moan.

Saint Donats.

A delightful restaurant in the old town, the site of the pizza that nearly killed me due to its vast size.

The view from the tower. I didn't make the walk to the top but the others did. And that nearly killed them.

The Doonan. Chillaxing again.


The ice cream that promised so much yet delivered so little.

Our view from the Villa.

Beautiful sunset. A trip abroad is a disappointment without one.

Day trip to Skradin, not to be missed.

Strange car rally in Skradin.

Krka National Park. Brilliant.

Poor donkey that I wanted to pet but was not allowed. Poor donkey.







Our last night. Trimmy is not impressed...

Goodbye Croatia.

Hello home.