On August.

31 August 2013

[Sushi @ Wasabi] [Niolon, France] [Southbank by night]
[Shake Shack] [It's Christmas in Harrods] [New friend in Hamleys]

from Instagram @MihoWTW

I've sat here for a while, playing the staring game with the blank page, because words are simply not coming. But maybe that is what this month was? A month where I often felt at a loss for words, and when they came they were not enough. 

The wedding was truly humbling. Neither E nor I could ever express just how grateful we felt that day, enveloped by so much love and support. It is also humbling in the sense that however momentous a milestone it may be, it is not an earth-shattering change. It wasn't the first day of the rest of our lives. It hasn't changed us. Underneath it all, it is still one more brick that we have to build with.

But I won't pretend that being married to E isn't special. Of course it is. It thrills me to see the ring on his finger, I am filled with pride when he calls me his wife, and growing old together is a luxury I hope we are lucky enough to have with all my might.

Despite some moments of sadness and difficulty that have come with good reason, this month has been good to me. And while it makes me slightly anxious to see the days getting shorter and nights getting colder - setting the scene for a season of change - I can't wait to shuffle through crisp autumn leaves and bury my face in a thick, soft scarf.

August's best
Food: Granger & Co. (and I have to add, food at our wedding by Roland Paix)
London discovery: The Sampler
TV show: The Newsroom

St. Christopher's Place

29 August 2013

It's really too bad that sunshine in London is somewhat unpredictable and often fleeting, because there are so many little corners of the city that blossom in beautiful weather.

St. Christopher's Place by Bond Street tube station is one of these places. We stopped by last weekend, just for a quick bite at Apostrophe since we were saving our appetites for dinner with friends. A small and bustling square with popular cafés and restaurants (if you turn off into James Street, you will also find the tempting Patty & Bun), it's a great place for some respite on a busy shopping day.

Shake Shack

27 August 2013

Ever since Shake Shack came to London, I've wanted to try it. E and I would say to each other, "Once the wedding is over and there's no more we have to look good in our photos nonsense, we are so going to try that burger." 

So I expected there to be this great big build up towards us going there, planning a certain day, maybe on a sunny weekend, and we'd look forward to it day/week long. I have a weird thing about drawing out the excitement and enjoying the wait.

That's not how we ended up at Shake Shack last week. After another stressful and unsuccessful day of flat hunting, we popped into the lovely pub around the corner from home for a drink. E picked up the menu, not meaning to get any food, but was tempted by the burger they do (which is very good). Then he turned to me and said, "Why don't we go to that place in Covent Garden?" He didn't need to ask me twice.

We arrived around 8:15pm, and there was still a sizeable queue. But it moved along pretty quickly, and it didn't feel like a long wait before we were like excited kids with naughty junkfood after school.

I went for the regular SmokeShack, a cheeseburger with bacon, cherry tomatoes & their ShackSauce, and E went for the double. We also got one each of regular & cheese topped fries, I got wine (it was much needed) and E got a peanut butter shake. Clearly, not a meal for the faint-hearted.

To quote E, "This is essentially what McDonalds should be." It's fast food in its best form, with good ingredients, quality taste, and just enough sloppiness to make it feel like you're breaking the rules.

Although I still think that it is overpriced for what it is (when is anything not in London?), it was definitely worth it and I know that we'll be back. Next up to try is Five Guys, I'm interested to see how it compares. 

We wondered around Covent Garden to digest the meal, and what turned out to be a lovely midweek date night. Spontaneity is underrated.

Wine tasting @ The Sampler

25 August 2013

When it comes to wine, I'm used to feeling like a clueless person who only knows one thing: how to drink it. Marrying into a French family has only enhanced this evident ignorance - watching them swish their glasses and sniff the stuff like a pro, and copying their gestures to pretend to know what I'm doing is as close as I get.

So on Friday evening, when E suggested we go to The Sampler which was recommended to him by a friend, I was equal parts curious and intimidated. I imagined wine tasting to be a stuffy, scary experience, with mustasched men swirling around their Chardonnay and writing notes in a leather-bound notebook. 

Sometimes my imagination takes me a little too far.

Anyway, it could not have been more different. Located right by South Kensington tube station (there is also one in Islington), it's a small shop/bar covered in wine bottles. Funnily enough, we bumped into the friends who recommended this place to us, so they showed us around and taught us how it was done.

It's a simple and fun system, which E likened to "Disneyland for adults". I would have to disagree, since a) it's not quite as exciting, and b) Disneyland is for adults, but you get the idea. You put as much money as you like on your "The Sampler" card, and simply go to town on the snazzy wine machines.

I would say that the prices are quite reasonable. You get a choice of a 25ml, 50ml or 75ml sample, and many 25ml samples were under a pound, although the special wines were up to around 5 pounds.

Such as these, in the "Icons" selection.

Downstairs there is a seating area, with a cosy wine cellar atmosphere, where you can sit down with some fromage or charcuterie. The cheese comes from a nearby delicatessen, La Cave, and it was all very delicious.

I think that if you let go of the stigma you might have about wine tasting, it can be a very relaxed, fun and interesting activity, especially in a place like this. Even for someone like me, I tried a few samples and knew immediately which ones were my favourite.

Favourite Red:

Favourite White:

Favourite Port:

They change over the wines every two weeks or so, which means that regular goers will always have something new to try. They sell a lot of wine by the bottle at good prices, which is great if you try something that you fall in love with and want to hoard bottles of.

We've got money left over on our card, so no doubt we will be back (and probably topping it up, too...). As a bonus, we ended our evening on a sweet note with frozen yogurts from Snog across the street. 

It's a lovely alternative to your usual dinner date, or just a quick pit-stop before a night in. It's well worth it, I feel like an amateur sommelier already.

Smoked Salmon Pasta

23 August 2013

If this pasta salad was the healthy take on the Italian carb-y goodness, this is the polar opposite. Unbutton your jeans, because this is one hearty dish.

When I transitioned from being in boarding school to living alone for university, one of the most daunting prospects was cooking for myself. Since smoked salmon is my favourite food, I made a beeline for this recipe to have in my arsenal, as my very first "cook to impress" meal.

I have since tweaked the original (read = play it by ear every time), and have no idea where I found the recipe, but nevertheless this is my take on it.

Once you've put a big pot of water on the stove to boil, take a few stalks of spring onion, a generous amount of garlic, and chop/crush respectively.

Cut about 100g of smoked salmon into bite sized pieces, and prepare half a lemon for later.

Fry the spring onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil until it sizzles and smells delicious, and then pour in 300ml of single cream. Add the juice of the lemon.

Let it simmer on low heat, and in the meantime boil your pasta. I used regular spaghetti this time, but my favourite for this dish would be linguini or fettucini.

A couple of minutes before the pasta is ready, add the smoked salmon to the cream sauce and season to taste.

Drain the pasta, mix with the sauce, and you're done.

Add a sprinkle of your favourite herb & some parmesan, and enjoy!

This was just what we needed last weekend. I went all out and also baked some brownies, with a secret family recipe that I was kindly given. Ridiculously indulgent and worth every bite.

Granger & Co.

21 August 2013

Maybe it's just me, but I feel like a bit of a grown-up when I go for brunch in Notting Hill. It seems to be a popular spot for brunching, especially at the trendy cafés on Westbourne Grove, so my friends and I made sure to grab a table early (around 9:30) on Saturday morning to avoid the queue. We went to Granger & Co, a place I had only heard great things about.

I already knew what I wanted - the ricotta hotcakes. And wow, they absolutely did not disappoint! The portion was more than generous, the honeycomb butter was salty and sweet, and the hotcakes were so fluffy and decadent. My friend's eggs & chipolatas looked amazing as well.

It was a great place to catch up, chat about girly things and have a lovely, delicious morning, after which we wandered around the neighbourhood. Perfect start to the weekend.