14 memories from 2014

30 December 2014

Last year, I opted for a completely frivolous and light-hearted end of the year post, so I thought that this year I would change it up a bit. Not that we're getting deep and sentimental or anything like that, but considering that this year has been so good to me, I felt that I owed it a little gratitude. You know that it's been a good one when choosing 14 memories from the whole year is a struggle - I could have easy doubled it, but here are some highlights.

1 :: Day trip to Brighton.

Although it was only a train ride away, it felt like a real mini holiday by the sea - we ate plenty, strolled around and had a day out with not a care in the world. {Brighton blog posts}

2 :: E's 30th birthday.

He cooked up a storm, including this monster of a beef wellington, we had the loveliest company and it was a fantastic evening. {Birthday blog post}

3 :: Sunset in Montmartre, Paris

We had a lovely few days in Paris in the Spring, and the best evening was spent soaking in the view in Montmartre, eating mussels, drinking wine and enjoying the city of light in the best way possible. {Paris blog posts}

4 :: Sister date in Camden.

When my sister was visiting in the summer, we went for a day out in Camden, just mooching around, grabbing bites to eat and browsing through trinkets. The brownie-wich from Chin Chin was the icing on the cake! {Camden blog post}

5 :: Anniversary lunch at La Petite Maison.

E and I celebrated our legal ceremony anniversary with - what else - amazing food. It was a beautifully sunny day, we ate outside, and we relaxed in the garden later in the afternoon. It was such a good day. {La Petite Maison blog post}

6 :: A girls-only Berlin trip.

A few of my friends and I went to another friend's wedding in Berlin in the Summer, leaving our boys behind at home. It was so nice to spend some time with them, and S and I had a couple of days alone exploring various corners of the city and eating delicious food. {Berlin blog posts}

7 :: Visiting C in Hamburg.

C is one of my very best friends and we've been close for about 7 years, but I'd never had the chance to see her home city and the house she grew up in until this summer. Although the reason for the visit was because she was recovering from a foot operation (not the most cheerful thing!), it was a good excuse to go and see a bit of Hamburg. I had a great time with her and her parents, and the city is beautiful.

8 :: Holiday in Lake Como.

I can't possibly choose a single day or moment during this trip as being a favourite - there were far too many. It was one of the most beautiful places I've been lucky enough to visit, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it as a gorgeous and romantic getaway for anyone who's considering it. {Lake Como blog posts}

9 :: Running a 10K race.

Never thought I'd see the day, but by some miracle, I ran a 10K race with one of my best friends. I trained quite well for it and ran a time I was more than happy with, and it felt like such an accomplishment! Running has gone by the wayside in the last few months, but I'm determined to get back into it in the new year. {Running blog post}

10 :: Aix-en-Provence in September.

We went to a French-Argentinian wedding in Aix in September, where it was still very much summertime, and had a complete blast. I didn't feel particularly perky the next day having partied 'til beyond 6am (for a grandma-type like me, it's impressive), but it was so much fun and it was also lovely just spending a little time in Provence as always. {Aix blog posts}

11 :: Japanese Journey @ London Restaurant Festival

Meeting and spending the afternoon with two lovely fellow bloggers, restaurant-hopping and eating my favourite kinds of food - that had to make the list! It was delicious, fun and something different. {Japanese Journey blog post}

12 :: Visiting my sister in Vienna.

Although I'd been to Vienna a few times before, it had been quite a while so it was great to go there again. She took me to excellent foodie spots and we had a good old catch up, all in this gorgeous city! {Vienna blog posts}

13 :: Birthday lunch at l'Atelier de Joel Robuchon.

It was such a special treat to enjoy this spectacular meal with my favourite person, and obviously, it's one of the most delicious things I have eaten this entire year. {l'Atelier blog post}

14 :: Spending Christmas in Bordeaux.

More posts to come on Bordeaux, but we had the best time there. For me, the highlight was meeting the little niece and nephew (children of E's sister) who are visiting from Australia (meaning they can only come to Europe every few years) - they are the most delightful pair and I miss them so much! It was so nice to spend time with everyone and the city itself is just wonderful. 

And there we have it! As I said, I could have gone on and on... there are things that are continually exciting that happened this year, like two of my best friends getting engaged, and more personal and work-related highlights that I've particularly enjoyed or been proud of. There are also more general things, like the Winter Olympics and the World Cup, which also made this year that much better. 

I hope you all ring in the new year in whichever way you enjoy most - I'll be with E and our friends, eating, drinking and playing silly games.

2014, I really liked you. I hope your successor is just as nice.

Wishing you a very happy New Year! 

bordeaux :: wine more time

27 December 2014

If you follow my Instagram, you'll know that I am currently in Bordeaux, France! We are spending a week in this beautiful (and seriously, I mean beautiful - I am in love) city over Christmas. It's somewhere I had never been before, so a gathering with some of E's family here was a good excuse to visit and explore.

We had a couple of days by ourselves before the rest of the group started to arrive, so we had a relaxing time just wandering around and sightseeing. On our first night, recommended by the landlady of our apartment, we went to Wine More Time - a little place that's perfect for good wine, cheese and charcuterie.

Their menu is affordable and easy to navigate for people like us, who like wine but are not experts! They give you their top recommendations of the week from over 300 bottles, and the one we chose - a Bordeaux wine, Château Courréges 2007 - was excellent. 

Of course, we also had a spread of delicious meat and cheese, in true French style - it was all top quality and we even ordered a second platter of cheese, it was so good. Let me tell you, I had been suffering from a strange stomach-or-something bug just prior to leaving London, and I was so glad it had finally gone so I could enjoy this!

It's located in the centre of town, clearly a popular spot as it was pretty full the whole evening. We might even go back there another night as it was exactly what we were after - a chilled out, reasonably priced dinner with great wine, food and ambience.

As this post goes live, we will have just made it home from Bordeaux so sadly can't take on any recommendations for this trip, but hopefully I will have some souvenir stories to share with you in case this city is in your future travel plans. It should be - it's quite a gem.

merry christmas {a homemade video!}

24 December 2014

And here we are again - 24th December, Christmas Eve, the day Santa's caffeine intake goes through the roof.

I hope you all have a wonderful day with the people you love, with plenty of jolliness and big food babies. 

Now, I'm no Steven Spielberg, but I attempted to make a very short, festive video that hopefully captures a little of the Christmas spirit that I've been enjoying over the last couple of weeks. It's only 2 minutes long and probably a little wobbly at times, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless.

(Please click the little gear at the bottom and crank it up to HD 1080p, it's worth it!)

Merry Christmas, and thank you for stopping by on this special day!


22 December 2014

Remember when I went restaurant hopping for the London Restaurant Festival's Japanese Journey? One of our stops was Kurobuta, a place that serves what they deem "Japanese junk/street food" - not quite the description I would give, it's more like dishes with a Japanese/fusion flair. In any case, I really enjoyed the selection on offer when I went there, so my sister and I decided to give them a go for a casual, tapas-style dinner when she was in London. We went to the Chelsea branch and sat at the small counter - it's a small, cosy restaurant, especially compared to the Marble Arch one which is much larger and more snazzy.

Without actually meaning to, we ended up with more fried food than we anticipated - oh well. It happens! First up were the sweet potato fries with soba-ko, which were quite delicious and not at all greasy, which is a plus. Then the Jerusalem Artichoke Chopsticks with truffled ponzu sauce arrived, which are quite original and the whole thing works. Kana and I love seafood, so the fried squid didn't escape us - a bit too much of the fried stuff at this point, but we ate it all up dutifully. 

Our favourites were the Tuna Sashimi Pizza & BBQ Pork Belly Buns. Obviously the "pizza" is nothing like its namesake, other than that there is a base and things are place on top, but it was really quite good - the crispy base somehow went very well with the sashimi, and the flavouring was spot on. As for the pork belly - I had tried it on the Japanese Journey so I knew it would be good, and it did not disappoint.

Although it looks like a small selection of food, we left quite happily satisfied - although we did have room for dessert, and picked up a cake from l'Eto on the way home (I will be writing about l'Eto soon!). The guy serving us at the counter was very friendly, with a true Australian accent (Scott Hallsworth, the founder of Kurobuta, is Australian), and we had a lovely evening. 

Don't go there expecting authentic Japanese food - that ain't happening. But for a menu with a twist that will give you plenty of variety and interesting ideas, it's a good one. Don't skip the pork belly, you won't regret it.

behind the scenes :: of a life/food blogger

20 December 2014

I've been thinking for a while to start a little "behind the scenes" series - I have a bunch of ideas for future posts, but what better way to start it off than with the classic? I'm sure that for fellow bloggers, a lot of this will resonate with you (and make me feel like I'm in good company!) - it's just a fun little list of the common happenings of someone who likes to talk about stuff on the internet.

My camera is surgically attached to my hip.
It's a given, and kind of a necessity. The moment you realise you forgot your camera on your way to something/somewhere bloggable? It's that shock horror emoticon.

However good I think I am at spelling & grammar, I make mistakes and then someone calls me out on them.
You are all too polite to point them out so I've never got any such comments, but luckily my sister is my spelling & typo police. Many a time she has texted me pointing out my mistakes, which I've hastily corrected (or forgotten about...oops.). I don't mind it in the least, and it only proves that she is a very loyal reader!

I take time on the weekends and some evenings to write and schedule posts.
This explains the slight lapse in time of my blog content compared to "real life", as most posts are published about a week (on average) after the fact. Posting every other day takes a considerable amount of organisation and commitment, so you have to be on the ball! I try to schedule all posts for the week (or longer) on the weekend so that I don't have to worry about it during the week, but of course sometimes I fall behind and end up writing at 11pm for the next day's post!

My close friends and family get very used to my snap happy ways.
Or at least, they put up with it which is very understanding of them. Especially when it comes to eating together - the "no eating before Miho takes pictures" rule is something that happens almost naturally when I'm with my closest friends! I choose not to post any faces of my friends on WTW - they haven't banned me or anything, I just want to respect their privacy. E doesn't like having photos taken of himself, but he obliges to stay in my good books! He is a trooper with my food photos in restaurants - he's even got to the point of asking to be sat where there is most light for my benefit! He's a good egg.

I didn't tell anyone about my blog for about 6 months, and still kept quiet about it for a while longer. 
I suppose I was worried that people would think it was silly, although that is a silly worry itself. Once the cat was out of the bag though, I felt more comfortable spreading the word and I should have known that my amazing friends would be more than supportive! I know that to some people, the idea of documenting their life (or snippets of it) is completely unappealing, but it comes naturally to me and I enjoy every minute of it.

There are issues, thoughts and musings that I would love to write about, but haven't quite plucked up the courage to, considering how public this platform is. 
I didn't set out to write a blog that gets too personal, but I for one love to read other bloggers' posts that dig a little deeper - maybe I will one day. It's just a scary thought that technically, anyone in the world could read what I write!

That's all for now, folks - there's more where those came from, but maybe some of you might share your "behind the scenes" confessions if you're a blogger too?

e cooks :: brioche french toast

18 December 2014

It's about time for another E cooks episode! Today, it's one of my favourite ever dishes - good old French toast. Except it's not just a piece of bread dipped in egg and milk. Of course not, this is E we are talking about! Something to know about my husband: he is an amateur chef, who takes cooking very seriously. Like, "can't make a pasta dish in less than 2 hours" seriously. What can I say? He likes to make life difficult for himself.

But who am I to complain when the result is this good? Slices of brioche, dipped in Crème Anglaise and pan fried to perfection. Not too shabby at all.

His tip for the Crème Anglaise (which is the tricky part) is to get the consistency right. You have to be patient and cook it on very low heat, and if you overcook it then it begins to separate and becomes a big fat disaster. His words. 

If you're not into this whole fancy cream thing, even just using good quality brioche instead of baguette or toast bread would make a difference - it's so decadent and buttery and completely luxurious. Pretty much perfect for this time of year!

I can attest to the fact that the extra effort will be worth it though, so if you want to take on the challenge, the recipe is below all the deliciousness. Feast your eyes on this.

Recipe from Thomas Keller's Bouchon

Ingredients {for the Crème Anglaise}
1 cup double cream
1 cup milk
7 tablespoons sugar
1 vanilla bean, split
5 large egg yolks

To make:
1. Combine cream, milk & 4 tbsp sugar in a large saucepan. Add the seeds from one half of the vanilla pod. 
2. Bring to simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove pan from heat, cover, let sit for 30 minutes.
3. Place a metal bowl in an ice bath, where the custard will go once it's ready. Reheat the cream mixture until warm.
4. Whisk the egg yolks and remaining sugar until colour lightens. Whisking constantly, gradually add the hot cream mixture into the eggs. 
5. Return mixture to saucepan, and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. If you run a finger down the back of the stirring spoon and the mixture stays put on either side of the line and doesn't run, it's the right consistency.
6. Pour the custard into the bowl in the ice bath, and let it cool, stirring occasionally.

Ingredients {for the French toast}
1 1/2 cups Crème Anglaise
4 thick (3/4 inch) slices Brioche
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Icing sugar (optional)
Berries (optional)

To make:
1. Pour the Crème Anglaise into a baking tray, deep enough for one slice of Brioche. 
2. Soak the slices on one side, and then the other. 
3. Cook over medium heat on both sides, about 4-5 minutes each.
4. Serve with fruit, jam, maple syrup, icing sugar - whatever you like.