Thursday, 28 July 2011

HaPpY bIrThDaY tHe WiG!

Today is The Wigs birthday, he is 30 plus one. Happy Birthday Wig! The day began with me singing 'Happy Birthday' directly into his ear in a voice I like to call 'my old record player voice'. Lucky Wig. It's a sort of high pitched, quivery yet quiet voice, a bit like something you might hear at an exhibition about Thomas Eddison.

After the opening of the gifts (a leatherman, obligatory birthday socks, a book about restaurants, a Falconry day out and a Segway race for two), we went for a quick breakfast before work. It was such a lovely day that we walked half of the way and spotted some rather nice graffiti en route.

Hackney Road

Columbia Road Pavement

St Leonards Church

Boundry Street (this one is my favorite)

Then just as I got to work it seemed to be lunchtime, so we went to Byron on Wardour Street. Another place I have wanted to go to for ages and another high scoring lunch venue, receiving 9 fried courgettes out of a possible 10 from The March Hare. Another example of a good idea done well. Byron is a burger chain but its quite a posh one and this particular restaurant is in the Intrepid Fox building is not only is the food good, the building is too!

Old cartoons projected on the wall

Bare brick - industtrial cheap

Good selection of condiments noted. French + English mustard.

Chips and Dips.

Cheese burger with fried courgettes (not mine) and normal fries (also not mine) in the background.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

A quartet of exciting things.

The first exciting thing, and in no particular order (LIE!), I have just paid the deposit on my dress!! Yip to the mother frikkin eeeee!! That Wig better not change his mind that's all I can say. I realise it may be somewhat premature since we don't have a date or a venue yet but these are just minor details as far as I'm concerned. I won't have to have my first fitting until the New Year so that's plenty of time to get my mouth wired up for an (alcohol free) liquid only diet. I'm aiming to lose 2 stone before the big day. Good luck with that!

The second exciting thing is The Wig (and his work partners, collectively known as Blac Ionica) finished the pop promo that they have been working on for Black Black Hills (previously Pope Joan) . It was self funded, written, produced and directed by Blac Ionica and I think its really rather good. Don't have nightmares!

Thirdly, The Wig treated us to a theatre trip last night and we went to see War Horse at the National Theatre on Drury Lane. I have been wanting to see this play for a long time as it's had such great reviews, but the waiting time for tickets is very long. I think we had to wait 3 months before we could go and see it but it was absolutely worth it. I wont say too much about it since I don't want to spoil the plot but the set design and puppetry is amazing. The fact that the audience knows the horses are puppets and you can clearly see them being worked by the puppeteers, yet completely draws you in to the story emotionally is no mean feat. You can't beat a simple story well told and this is a great example. Being an emotional person / wreck (particularly at the moment due to wedding fever) I had been warned by my boss to take tissues as I would probably cry A LOT. But guess what, I only cried once at the end when it finished. This is progress.

Whenever I go to the theatre, which isn't very often, I always wish that I went more. I love a good stage production and it sometimes makes me want to join an Am Dram class so I can get clapped at and curtesy. The War Horse also reminded me of a story about when my older brother was in the school Nativity. He had been 'cast' as the back end of the Donkey and my dad was livid. He went up to the school and said "No son of mine is being the back end of a donkey!". My brother got bumped up to a sheep. Ahh, sweet memories.

Finally, it is exactly 1 year today until the London Olympics start! This is really very exciting indeed for many reasons. It will be great for the UK, great for London, great for EAST London where I live and great that The Wig and I have tickets to see a couple of the events. Its also great that the year an acquaintance of mine spent relocating the newts from the Olympic site wasn't wasted time. 

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Handbags and Manbags

Despite being at work yesterday I still managed to squeeze in the following eateries/drinkeries in less than 24 hours. Mondays must be the be the new Thursday's.

Firstly, lunch at Wahaca on Wardour Street. Its a Mexican Market Food restaurant set up by Masterchef winner, Thomasina Myers. When I travelled round Mexico in 2003 with the Baboon I got the runs and stopped eating the food in Mexico. It was good for weight loss but bad for romantic liaisons. I'm glad to say the food at Wahaca had no such repercussions. It was quite delicious and I will score it 8 tequila worms out of a possible 10.

There is also a great looking bar downstairs with table football . . .

 . . . and groovy chairs.

Chicken Burrito with complimentary crisps.

Also, complimentary chilli seeds to grown your own chilli plants. Great idea even though I am allergic to chilli.

Next stop, Yuforia on Beak Street for lunch pudding. A delicious frozen yoghurt place, where you get 3 scoops of yoghurt (chocolate, blueberry, plain) and unlimited, yes, UNLIMITED, toppings. I was quite restrained and just went for nuts and chocolate sprinkles. £2.80, absolute bargain. 

Finally, Dean Street Townhouse for a 'Sav Blonk' as our Australian cousins call it. Lovely Bar / restaurant on Dean Street with super nice staff, but beware the beggars and watch your handbags and manbags. I ate in here at chrimbo and it was delicious but last night I just had wine and a chinwag with a friend. Another March Hare recommendation for a swifty.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Homemade (Secret) Potato Salad

What a scorcher! Finally went into the garden which was heart breakingly overgrown after weeks of rain and a holiday away. I'm shattered from all the weeding, pruning, lopping, sweeping and concentrating on trying not to crunch any snails, but I was rewarded for the hard work by some secret potatoes we didn't know we had. Bonus

Tiny green tomato. The first of many I hope.

Cricket thing.

Bee or wasp.


The Wigs flower bed.

Present from Mole + Lucie. 

More of The Wigs flowers.

Even weeds can look good if you have a nice vessel.

Bonus Potatoes.

 Rather pale looking Potato Salad, but surprisingly tasty.

To Make Potato Salad:
Boil some small new potatoes that have been chopped to roughly the same size pieces.
When boiled, drain, rinse in cold water and leave to cool down.
When cool, season, add some mayonnaise and fresh chives (from the garden) and fine slices of Spring Onion.
Mix together in a bowl and serve.

A City in Bloom

Yesterday I went back to my new favorite place with Auntie Margaret. The Wedding Dress shop. For the second Saturday in a row. I made a 'joke' to Rachel, the (lovely) lady that works there, that I was going to come back every Saturday until the actual wedding to try the dress on. 'Ha ha' I said. But I laughed a bit too loud and maniacally when I said it. We all knew I wasn't really joking.

After the fitting and a few small tears from me and Auntie M, Rachel said if I wanted to order it I could fill out the paper work there and then, decide at a later date if I wanted to place the order then phone up with my credit card details. "Or maybe, I could come back in and pay the deposit in person? Next Saturday? It really is no trouble?..I don't mind . . .?". "We are actually pretty booked up next week', replied Rachel, "I can take it over the phone". And I can take a hint. No sense being slapped with a restraining order over a wedding dress. Although, it is a beaut.

So, after a an hour of swirling around the shop humming "Here comes the bride", we left the shop. As we were leaving I said to Rachel " Can I give you a hug? You're so lovely!" Its official. The Wedding Beast knows no boundaries as far as shame is concerned.

Then we met up with The Wig and had a little stroll up to the Southbank. I know that everyone has been moaning about the crummy weather lately but it really has had a wonderful effect on all the plant life around town. I spied some glorious blooms in the most unexpected places yesterday and it made me glad of the rain. Its worth having soggy toes for these bad boys!

London Fields

Hackney Downs

Southwark Street

Hoptons Almshouses

And we also saw this poor chap who was on his Stag Do and had drawn quite a crowd along the river. Poor bloke.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011


P.T.W (Pre The Wig) I lived in Clapton. I bought a house there with the Baboon and it was probably one of the biggest mistakes of my life. It was a mistake for several reasons, but not a regret since there's no point walking around regretting things you've done or decisions you've made, you'll just do your own head in. As long as you learn from those experiences then it wasn't a waste of time was it?  Anyway, we bought a house there as we had fallen in love with the garden and the higgeldy piggeldy interior but neglected to properly check out the area or investigate how we would get to work. (Very rookie) But if that wasn't a big enough cock up, we failed to notice the vile neighbours that we unfortunately inherited. They were total scum who made our lives a misery and even attacked us in our hallway one sunny Sunday. It took the Police 3 hours to come round and then they lost our statements at the station. All in all a horrible experience I never want to re-live. The March Hare does not like to swear but will make an exception for the scum bag neighbours in this instance. They were utter 'see you next Tuesday's'.

So my memories of Clapton are pretty bad and as much as people are saying "its up and coming" nothing would make me live in E5 again. However, that's not to say I wouldn't pop there for lunch if I was really really hungry which is what I did yesterday. When I lived there in 2004-2006 there was nothing good going for it, apart from the cheaper house prices, and not even any where decent to go for a coffee. Another neighbour, a non-punching one, used to drive to Stoke Newington everyday for a Cappuccino. I did have a dream at one point of trying to open a little cafe / coffee shop there but after I realised I didn't like living there I buried that dream alongside the dream of me becoming the 6th member of Girls Aloud.

But now there are about 4 little cafes along the Chatsworth Road, so The Wig and I took a little trip there and were pleasantly surprised when we ended up in a place called 'Creparie du Monde'.

I've seen a couple of internet reviews about this place saying that the service isn't very good, but I thought it was excellent. The French lady who served us (I think she may be the owner) couldn't have been nicer and the food was excellent. It has a limited menu of sweet or savoury crepes, omelettes with a filling of your choice and waffles for dessert. But I think much better to have a small menu with great food then a long menu with a load of old crud. The crepes are around £5 each and are obviously made to order, which you can watch so its a really nice lunch option for the area.

The Wig had some sort of Spanish Crepe and I had a mushroom omelette which came with a little salad which was very fresh. I would score 'Creparie du Monde' a high 7 berets out of a possible 10 and Clapton minus 7.

Hooray for Hollywoodland.

I was very lucky on Monday afternoon and had a spare hour to pop down to The National Portrait Gallery by Trafalger Square. They have an exhibition on at the moment which I have been simply itching to see. Its called 'Glamour of The Gods - Hollywood Portraits' and runs until 23rd October. If you are in anyway a fan of old Hollywood or Black and White Photography, I suggest you get yourself down there! It was a bargain (in my opinion) £6 entry fee which is well worth it as some of the prints are originals or taken from the original negatives, and a lot of the photo's in the exhibition are pretty iconic. This exhibition is a high 9 feather boas put of a possible 10.

I can't really explain why, but I am a bit of an old Hollywood nut. I love the glamourous exterior of it combined with the seedy under belly of it, actually anything to do with it at all. When I was about 22 I got sent to Hollywood for a shoot. The reason for me going was slightly seedy in itself but it was an amazing opportunity to visit such an interesting place. However, apart from the swanky hotel I was put up in, (The Mondrian), I didn't get to see any glamour, although the room was 4 times the size of my flat.

My most vivid memory is of the chaperone who was supposed to be 'looking after' me dumping me one evening at his friends place high up in the hills before disappearing. The friend was apparently a photographer who decided to take a shower while I sat on the sofa and asked me if I wanted one. To this day I still have no idea what this episode was about. Maybe if I was a different type of person I would have a more interesting tale to tell than just sitting on the sofa, but I'm not a different type of person.

Then a few years later my boyfriend at the time (the Baboon) and I did a road trip around California and visited Hearst Castle in San Simeon en route from LA to San Fransisco.

This place is probably the most amazing place I have ever been to. It was built for William Randolph Hearst, the famous newspaper tycoon that 'Citizen Kane' is based on, and is absolutely astonishing. During the 1920's work started on what would later become, a castle with guest house, zoo, swimming pools, a cinema and airport all on top of a huge hill. Its a real test of what can be achieved if you have the dream, the will power and the cash.  It should definitely be on your list of places to see before you snuff it. Visiting Hearst Castle was the catalyst for my interest in old Hollywood and below are a few juicy book titles that I like and recommend to anyone else that has an interest in the history of Hollywood.

1. Hollywood Babylon by Kenneth Anger (Juiciest book of all).

2. The Assasination of Marilyn Monroe by Donald H Wolfe (An absolute gripper).

3. Mr S - The last word on Frank Sinatra by George Jacobs (Fascinating insight by Sinatra's PA)

4. Mommie Dearest by Christina Crawford (Probably complete cobblers but a great read none the less)

5. Get Happy - The LIfe of Judy Garland by Gerald Clarke (Heart breaking)

6. Furious Love - Elizabeth taylor + Richard Burton by Sam Kashner (Unputdownable)

7. Clark Gable: Tormented Star by David Bret (Insightful)

8. The Worlds Greatest Hollywood Scandals by John Marriot (Poor mans Hollywood Babylon)

9. Patty Hearst: Her own Story by Patricia Hearst (Unbelievable story of kidnap and Stockholm Syndrome)

10. John F Kennedy: An unfinished life by Robert Dallek (Eye popping)

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Stuffed (Hackney) Courgette Flowers with a Homemade Meatball Chaser

We haven't been in the garden for weeks what with being on holiday and then straight back to work, so imagine our surprise when we found a whole heap of courgette booty in the vegetable patch. They were quite small but very delicious indeed. Yee hah! Free home grown veggies with absolute zero maintenance. My favorite kind of vegetables.

Stuffed (Hackney) Courgette Flowers:
Several Small Courgette's with flowers attached, washed and with stamen carefully removed.

Ingredients for stuffing mixture:
Optional handful of sage leaves and runner beans (also from the garden)
5 x finely chopped Spring Onions
Handful of chopped mint leaves (from the garden too)
Half a block of feta
2 x Tablespoons of Mascarpone
1 x Tablespoon of Cream Cheese
1/2 Lemon zest
1 x Teaspoon of nutmeg
Pepper to season

Mix together the stuffing mixture ingredients together, put into a piping bag and pipe into the flowers.

Tempura Batter:
200g of Self Raising Flour
Sparkling water
Coarsely Ground Pepper

Add the water slowly to the flour, whisking until its sort of runny but not too thick.
Dip the vegetables and flowers into the batter and fry in vegetable oil until the batter goes slightly brown. This takes about 30 seconds if the oil is the right temperature but be careful of the oil. The Wig burnt his finger. Poor Wig.
Squeeze on some lemon juice and enjoy!

Since this was more like a starter, we also made meatballs for a main course... Diet starts tomorrow. Just call me Garfield.

Homemade Meatballs
1 x small pack of minced beef
1 x Whole Egg
1 x Egg yolk
1 x Crushed Garlic Clove
Handful of Lemon Thyme (from the garden)

Tomato Sauce Ingredients
1 x Finely chopped red onion
1 x Tin of Tomato's
1 x Finely chopped carrot
2 x Cloves of crushed Garlic
1/4 Bottle of red wine
Fresh torn Basil Leaves

Mix all the meatball mixture ingredients together in a bowl, with your hands.
When its all mixed together, divide into equal amounts and roll into balls. Add some flour to stop it from being too sticky.
Put in a pan with some olive oil to brown them.

While the balls are browning, in another pan make the tomato sauce by softening the onions, garlic and carrots.
When this is done chuck in the rest of the sauce ingredients and, the browned balls.
Simmer with the lid on the pan for about 15 minutes then cook with the lid off for 5 minutes or until the liquid has reduced slightly.
When its all cooked, stir in some cooked spaghetti and sling some parmesan and basil on top.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The March Hare and The Wig do not let let a small matter of extremely bad weather get in the way of sniffing around for food.

Today we went for brunch at The Zetter in Clerkenwell. We were actually hoping to go somewhere else in Clerkenwell but they were fully booked. This did not please The Wig one bit and he became extremely agitated at the situation. He does not often get agitated but lack of coffee can sometimes do this to him. Be aware.

The fortuitous thing about ending up at The Zetter was that we could also do an impromptu wedding venue recce and stuff our chops all at the same time.

I came to a wedding here about 6 years ago for some friends who I regrettably lost in the Great Break Up of 2006 (ie when I split up with my ex-boyfriend, they were his friends really) and I remember it being a really super day as far as weddings go.  I have been to 30 weddings so I have lots to compare. It's very central and pretty relaxed, which are two of our top priorities I think, however coming back again today made me think its not really right for us. There's no reason that I can put my finger on but I think we can get something a bit more us. Oh god. Its happening. I'm using phrases like 'a bit more us'. . . The transformation from normal human being to Wedding bore is well under way. . .

Back to more important matters, the staff were almost as friendly as the population of Turkey and the food and coffee was very good. The Wig and I had Egg's Benedict and Eggs Royale which initially we were slightly disappointed with as the portions were quite small (ha!), but actually they were delicious and the perfect size. They also do lunches, roasts and dinners and have a lovely bar area so I would definitely recommend a visit here for something like a group birthday or just somewhere for a change from Soho or Shoreditch.

As an added bonus for venturing out into the rain, we stumbled across The Procession of Our Lady Carmel. I've never heard of this before, which is unsurprising since I am neither Italian or Catholic, but it's a yearly procession which takes place at St Peters Italian Church on Clerkenwell Road.

We chatted to a Policeman who said that 10,000 people were expected to visit today and pointed us in the direction of a street market that had Italian beers, food, ice cream and icons for sale. It was a real treat but a shame that the weather was so crummy which just goes to show, even when the weather is crap you can still find things to do. God Bless London.