Monday, 9 December 2013

Why I Asked For Beefaroni For Christmas

Around this time last year I was walking home from Balans in Chelsea with my boyfriend after stuffing my face with Eggs Benedict when a woman walking in front of us suddenly collapsed.  We ran to help her and insisted on calling an ambulance but she begged us not to.  She was shaking and fighting back tears.  I thought she might have blood sugar issues so I ran to the corner store and got an orange juice while my boyfriend stayed with her.  When I came back, she was still sitting on the sidewalk with her laptop case and after having the juice, she seemed to calm down.  That’s when I noticed her trousers were a little frayed and her trainers almost worn through. 

We started to talk to her.  As it turned out, she hadn't eaten in a few days.  She had been made redundant from her estate agent job several months back and was struggling to feed herself and was staying in hostels when she could get enough money together.  She had been in the Brompton library searching for jobs online, but it’s hard to find employment when you don’t have an address. 

I burst into tears.  I had been made redundant two years before and it took me four months to find another job.  I hardly had any savings and it was one of the most stressful times of my life.  But I had friends, a boyfriend and a family back home that I knew would help me if I needed it.  This woman didn't have that safety net that I took for granted. 

We offered to get her some lunch but she declined.  She also refused to take any money from us and actually dug in her bag to find change to pay me for the orange juice.  She was proud, which I understood but I managed to distract her and my boyfriend slipped some money into her laptop bag.  She did thank us for talking to her, because she hadn't had a real conversation with anyone in a long time. 

She finally convinced us she was OK and got up to walk the rest of the way to her hostel.  I went home and cried some more.  It kills me to think that there are people out there who don’t get to enjoy food and just look at getting enough nutrition to survive. I know the world isn't perfect and there isn't a way to fix everything, so I wanted to think of what I could do that very day.  A few weeks earlier my family had asked for a Christmas list and the only thing I could think of putting on there was a £900 pair of Jimmy Choo boots. That’s when I realized I actually didn't need anything. 

Christmas is about giving and people want to give you stuff.  I emailed my family and asked them to get me food, my favourites from home: Beefaroni, Kraft Dinner, Chewy Chips Ahoy etc and I would give it to the food bank.  It didn't fly as well as I hoped, mostly because everyone had already got me something. 

But this year I hope it’s different.  I started earlier and asked that at least 50% of my gift from anyone would be food I could donate to the food bank.  Meet me halfway, you know?  I don’t like to dictate gift giving, that’s kind of the opposite of what a gift is supposed to be, but I hope they understand how much this means to me and add a can of Beefaroni to my stocking. 

I wasn't going to post this because I figure if you are going to do something, just do it, don’t sit there and write a blog post about it.  But then I thought, if even one other person reads this and does the same thing that would make a difference to at least one hungry family in a place that I've probably never been to.  And that would be awesome. 


So, instead of those amazing boots, why not ask for a can of Beefaroni for Christmas? 

Also, I've been away from the blog for a while but have a really good reason.  If you want to know why, you can click here .  I'll be back soon with some more awesome restaurants.  

Sunday, 2 June 2013

The Diner

My boyfriend and I had been looking forward to The Diner since Black and Blue shut down.  We were hoping a great new restaurant would open and prayed it was one that didn't only cater towards tourists, like most restaurants on Gloucester Road.  It got to the point that when we saw the sign go up, my boyfriend went and asked the builders outside when it would open.  

Then it finally did, and hungover one Saturday we were ready.. only to find it closed.  Apparently it hadn't opened properly yet.  Take 2, the boy had golf and my head hurt from a long night before at Brompton Club and Bodos Schloss.  So I ventured out on my own.


                          

                                       
First visit:

The staff were very nice and sat me at a table near the window.  I didn't really notice the decor or the atmosphere because I was in a corner.  But, at the same time that worked for me, as I didn't feel like being stared at while I inhaled my brunch alone.  I obviously ordered the Eggs Benedict and toyed with the possibility of also ordering a corn dog, because I love me some corn dog, but thought that was a bit much.  

They were super quick to take my OJ order and brought that straight away but unfortunately took their time coming back to take my food order, so eventually I flagged someone down.  She took it, and my food arrived fairly promptly but unfortunately they didn't bring cutlery.  So I waited for that as well.  It was pretty delicious but the bacon was a bit chewy for my tastes and the hollandaise was a little too buttery and not quite tangy enough.  Also, be careful with the pepper.  It's super fine and in a container with large holes so I basically ended up dumping it all over my meal.  I'm a big fan of pepper, but it kind of ruined things for me.  

Visit 2:

The very next day my boyfriend wanted to go, so there we found ourselves again.  We were sat at at a middle booth so I could admire what they did for decor.  My favourite part are the walls which look like they were put together from old gymnasium floors, love it!

                                    

I ordered the Eggs Benedict again, but this time asked for extra crispy bacon, which I got and I highly recommend they serve the dish like that as a staple.  The hollandaise was also better this time, with the right amount of tang.  I also used the pepper more cautiously so all in all, this was a much better Benedict.  It was £7.

I wanted a root beer, but was told that the kitchen staff drank the last of it the night before and were in very big trouble.  Can't hold it against them though, root beer is pretty awesome.  My boyfriend ordered a cherry coke instead and I drank half of it.  It was yummy.


                                    

We also ordered the wings which were a bit of a disappointment.  They were kind of breaded and deep friend and not spicy.  They should work on those, and until they do, I wouldn't order them.


                                  

My boyfriend ordered the Grab burger which was USDA beef.  Don't order any of those burgers on the menu because he said they tasted like a frozen patty.  I imagine the other hamburgers are better as it says on the menu that they are hand ground scottish beef which are made daily.  Next time we will probably go for that option.  He also said the bun was too bready which looking at it I'd have to agree with.

One thing I found distracting was one of the waitresses was wearing booty shorts and a backless t-shirt. She was basically naked and it felt awkward because it was 2 o'clock on a Sunday afternoon and there were children in the restaurant.  It would have been more appropriate if it were Saturday night.  Her outfit just seemed weird and I feel like staff's clothing shouldn't be the stand out thing you remember from a restaurant.

Overall, this is probably one of the better dining choices on that part of Gloucester road (but keeping in mind, it's competition are a steakhouse and italian place geared towards tourists and a Burger King).  I am pretty keen to try other things on the menu, they had a toasted cornbread with eggs that sounded delicious, and of course the hot dogs.

Another suggestion would be to change the shakes a little.  I was going to order the oreo one until I read the description and it doesn't look like there are actually oreos in it, but nutella and chocolate instead.  I don't like nutella.  They should make a regular oreo shake and I would eat it every day.

In total we ordered:  Margarita (pretty small), Cherry Coke, Orange Juice, Grab Burger, Wings and an Eggs Benedict and it was £35.  Service isn't included which is kind of nice as I find it annoying when restaurants add it automatically.   We left £5.70 tip which is more than the usual 12.5% added.  Other restaurants, take note.

I would recommend a try if you are in the area, but I wouldn't necessarily venture out to eat there.  They have other locations around London as well.

To book:

Web: www.goodlifediner.com


Address: 105 Gloucester Road, SW7

Phone: 02072447666


The Diner on Urbanspoon


The Diner on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Bubbledogs

My love of hot dogs is well documented, mainly here, and I have been looking forward to this post for a very long time.

I tried to get a reservation at Bubbledogs for a group of us in November, but they didn't have anything till February.  In February I called again and they didn't have anything until the end of March, which so happened to coincide with my early birthday get together.  So I booked for 10 girls, two of which couldn't make it last minute.  

We went down the street to the Charlotte Street hotel for drinks first which I always love.  The room is big enough so you don't feel claustrophobic and has a great crowd.  house white wine was £8/glass though so beware.  

Then we moved to the main event!  We were shown to our table(s) near the back right away.  They asked if they could seat another two with us, which I awkwardly said no to because it was my birthday party and it would have been like having two complete strangers hanging out with us.  

Then came the exploration of the menu.  They (as advertised) have loads of champers and hot dogs to choose from which posed a very serious problem for me.  We wanted to order our champagne first, because it was taking ages for hot dog decisions, but the waiter was nowhere to be seen.  In fact, it took over half an hour for us to get our champagne.
Le Menu

So, by the time the waiter came around, I basically didn't decide.  I ordered the Horny dog (corn dog) and the Breakie.

All of my favorite things together!

Turns out, getting everything you've ever wanted all at once isn't as awesome as it sounds.  I love breakfast food and I love hot  dogs so in theory i should love a breakfast hot dog.  In truth, the idea of it is far better than the execution.  For all the dogs you have a choice of beef, pork or veggie and I decided on beef for all of mine because I felt a pork hot dog wrapped in more pork was a bit much.  But because there is so much going on in this one you couldn't really taste anything individually.  Like putting all your favorite paint colors together and getting a brown sludge.  Not my favorite   Don't get me wrong though, I still ate the whole thing.  


Horny dog (that's what she said)

Horny dog was really really good.  Corn dogs are just a regular dog, covered in corn meal batter and deep fried.  even tastier than it sounds because the salty dog and sweet corn go great together.  I have mine with both mustard (it's  American mustard!) and ketchup. If I had one criticism, it would be that it wasn't quite crispy enough on the outside.  for corn dogs, there is about a 3 min window from out of the deep fryer that they need to be served in order to keep the crispyness.  We did not make that window.  

All dressed up

My friends ordered a variety of things (veggie and pork as well).  Here are pictures of those things.  The girls all seemed very pleased with their meals.  


Jose (avocado, salsa, sour cream, jalapenos)


New Yorker


Mine again (getting acquainted with the champagne washing them down)

You can also order tater tots which are these little hasbrown-y things I used to eat almost daily as a kid.  They are awesome.

Tots

So all in all, The service wasn't amazing, but we did have a very good time.

Hot Dog Massive

I would recommend booking a group of 6 or more, otherwise you'll be waiting in line for a few hours.  Their phones are only open for reservations 9:30am - 11am Tuesday to Saturday.  Not the most convenient  but you can also book through this email: info@bubbledogs.co.uk.  Not instant, but they do get back to you relatively soon.

B-room

One other cool thing was that the bathroom walls are papered with posh restaurant menus like Nobu, Hedon (DON'T order the pigeon there... it comes with FEET attached), Noma and the fancy NY restaurant Per Se.  I asked the waiter about it and apparently it's places the head chef has liked or worked at.  In fact he once worked at Per Se.  Now he makes posh hot dogs. I would prefer the latter as well.  

Bubbledogs

Where: 70 Charlotte Street, London W1T 4QG 
Phone: 0207 637 7770
What to wear: See above photo.  It's pretty low key, we were going out after.  
Cost:  Dogs are about £7, with champagne for all of us to have a dog (I had 2 dogs) and share tots and sweet potato fries was about £22 each.  

Bubbledogs on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Totally Off Topic... Again (Pitch Madness)

So, along with spending my days watching/making kids TV and stuffing my face with bacon and/or cheese, I'm also an aspiring novelist.  And I wrote one *pats self on back* that I hope other people will want to read so much they would pay money.  If you are on this blog because you want to read more about food, you can stop here and click on one of the posts over here --->. Unless, of course,  you want to read 250 words about a drunk girl having an argument with a McDonalds employee over a cheeseburger.

Turns out, it's really f*ing hard to get published.  I've only sent out a hand full of queries and I think (hope) things are going ok so far.  When I found out about Pitch Madness on Twitter (awesome writing resource/distraction), I was all like, this is brilliant!  And then I submitted and have been checking the Twitter feed every five seconds.

I'm taking the leap and posting my entry here.  I would love any feedback! Super insecure about my pitch and can think of a million ways to make it better, doh!  Totally left out that the main character accidentally becomes famous on her first day in London.

Good luck to all my fellow Pitch Madness entrants!



Title: THE ACCIDENTAL SOCIALITE
Genre: Women's Fiction
Word Count: 77,000

Pitch:

What happens when a small town girl collides with the London glitterati?  Someone’s lady bits trend on Twitter. THE ACCIDENTAL SOCIALITE follows a quirky and clumsy twenty-something as she forges her own path in life.
Excerpt:
It was 3 A.M and all I wanted was a cheeseburger.
“Miss, we sell only Big Mac after midnight,” said the Bangladeshi McDonalds employee.
“Yes, I understand that and I will pay for a Big Mac, but I would like a cheeseburger, so can you, like, remove a patty and mid bun and hold the secret sauce?  Please?”
“Miss I am sorry, but we do not have this item now.”
A tall, drunk and incredibly beautiful blonde South African girl appeared at the till next to me.
“I’ll have a hot dog.”
That’s my new best friend, Lucinda.
We walked out of McDonalds still drunk and without our respective food, just a small fries to ‘split’, which really meant Lucinda was going to watch me eat them.  As I was elegantly shoving eight fries into my mouth at once, not unlike a four-year-old, I became the unwitting participant of a photo-shoot.  Confused, I looked around for the celebrity garnering all this attention and it wasn’t until Lucinda slapped the second fistful of fries out of my hand that I realized that celebrity was me. 
***
Less than twenty four hours earlier, my eighteen-hour flight from Edmonton to London connecting in Denver landed at 9:38 A.M on a grey, drizzly Saturday in late January, twenty minutes late at terminal three.  I struggled to get my large carry on bag out of the overhead compartment, not just because it was heavy, but also because I had inadvertently rendered myself immobile.  

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The Big Easy


The one thing I crave the most from home is BBQ.  In Canada, we had a barbeque if it wasn’t torrential rain or a blizzard.  For real, in the winter we just dig a path through the snow and put on a pair of boots to flip the meat. 

London has a few options, but on the most part, they are imitations of what English people think BBQ is.  But it’s not all bad.  I’ve been to the big easy several times.  The Big Easy has great waffles and good deals on lobster.  You’ll also never walk out hungry. 


On my last visit, it was a lazy hangover Sunday and I wanted boneless chicken wings, which are essentially chicken tenders tossed in hot sauce.  It’s not as weird as it sounds a fairly widely available in the US.  So, knowing I was being a massive pain in the ass and they weren't on the (huge) menu, I ordered them anyway.  Bless him, the waiter tried to understand what I wanted and did try hard.  To be honest what he brought was close enough anyway, which was tenders, a massive bowl of hot sauce and the blue cheese dressing.  It was delicious (and only £6.95)!


But I also ordered the mac and cheese (£3.45).  It wasn’t delicious because the thing is; it was more like mac and cheese soup.    The cheese was a bit too salty and there probably needed to be 50% less cheese and, if I’m really picky, I prefer my mac and cheese baked. 

My boyfriend ordered the lobster roll (£9.95).  Whatever you do, don’t do that.  What came was a non toasted brioche roll filled with everything except lobster and the piece of lobster was laid on top to prove there was some in there.  Far, far too much mayo was involved in the whole thing. 



The Big Easy 'Lobster Roll'



What a lobster roll is supposed to look like from Burger and Lobster (to be fair this one is twice as much as the one above).

Even though service can be very slow, they have fairly decent margaritas, prices are reasonable (for Kings Road) and the atmosphere is good, so The Big Easy is a fun time.  But whatever you do, don’t judge American BBQ and crab shacks by their standards, it’s nothing like the real thing. 



The Big Easy
Address: 332-334 Kings Road, Chelsea, London, SW3 5UR
Phone: 020 7352 4071
What to wear:  To be honest, I threw on jeans and brushed my hair after a night out.  But I also saw someone from the made in Chelsea crowd in full hair and make up (it was a dude).  

Big Easy on Urbanspoon

Friday, 22 February 2013

VooDoo Doughnut: Yes I did

My best friend got married in Portland and Instead of going a million miles just for the wedding, My BF and I went on a whirl wind adventure through Idaho, Portland and Seattle.  This is about my food adventure in Portland.

So, from my point of view, the main things to take away from Portland are:  There are loads of homeless people on crack/bath salts, hipsters and seriously awesome doughnuts.  I also lit my hair on fire in a bar when leaning in for a bridal party picture 2 days before the wedding, so I was talk taking away a little less hair than I came to Portland with.

I saw an episode of Simpsons (coincidentally) right before I left where all these hipsters came to Springfield and this guy was making weird doughnuts and I was all like, wouldn't that be amazing?  And then my BF was like, it's a real thing and we go there next week.  So the whole trip all I could think about was how, between all my bridesmaids duties, was I going to be able to wait in line for 3 hours to eat a doughnut with bacon on it.  I honestly didn't think I'd make it, but thanks to jet lag, I was up stupid early on Saturday morning, the day of the wedding.  I went to the gym in a vain attempt to preempt that 8 zillion calories I was about to eat and then got so excited, I left early and ran to VooDoo Doughnut at 730 in the morning in my work out gear, sleeveless in barely above freezing weather.  Worth it.


I only had to wait in line for 30 min and when I was almost at the front some obnoxious woman with her 25 kids let them all go individually.  Listen, I love kids.  I like to entertain them, that's why I work in kids TV.  But, when there is a line around the block to get something, please don't make said line a million times longer just because your kids wants to hand the lady a dollar.  You and your children are not the only people on earth and the group of yummy mummies with their kids in front of you were nice enough to get their s^&t together and order as a group.  Rant over.

Needless to say when I finally got to the register I was presented with this:


I basically had my small order in my head and was planning my run back (because at this point I was running half an hour later for my hair appointment, but come on, bacon doughnuts.  Priorities.) when I suddenly wanted everything.  So I ordered:

  • A cock n balls - huge phallic doughnut filled with cream. (with the brides name artfully written across the shaft).



  • One covered in Fruit Loops because in University the bride and I made a regular habit of eating dry cereal pretty much all the time.
  • One covered in Oreros because... well it was covered in Oreos.
  • Two little ones that looked like boobs because it was funny.
  • A Wookie, which is their signature shape (a VooDoo Doll, see what they did there?) but decorated as a Wookie.  


I ate it's arm.


  • Two Maple Blazer Blunts.  One was for my BF, and was my second favourite (after the bacon doughnut, obviously).  They cost $4.20.  See what they did there again??.
  • A Portland cream, which is exactly like a Boston cream but they paint two little white eyes on it.
  • And finally, a maple bacon doughnut.  It was definitely the best thing I'd eaten in Portland.  It was just a regular maple glazed bar.  WITH BACON.  I can't emphasize enough how awesome it was.  We had bacon and eggs that morning as well (so in total, I basically ate 7 pieces of bacon in the space of about an hour) and it was the first doughnut gone.


Our wedding day spread

I think I may have over estimated how much seven girls will eat right before they have to get into fancy dresses because there were a few leftovers which I delivered to the groomsmen.

In total I spent about an hour getting them and $20.  It's a must if you are in Portland, along with going down to the cost and seeing The Goonies beach... but heads up, don't wear wedges because you have to hike down and your boyfriend might get mad at you for having to carry you.

Goonies beach

Info all right here, they have 3 locations:  www.voodoodoughnut.com

Heads up, they only take cash... hipsters for ya.


Voodoo Doughnut on Urbanspoon


Monday, 28 January 2013

The Delaunay

BRUNCH!!! My favourite meal. Ever.  It's breakfast, but you don't have to get up stupid early to eat and it's not only expected that you drink, but the drink should be sparkly or contain vodka.  Best thing ever in life.  So, it has been my mission to become an expert on brunches wherever I go.  The reason there aren't many brunch posts on this blog is because, if I'm honest, most of the time I scarf down my food and forget to take pictures.  You'll just have to trust me on this, I've had brunch pretty much everywhere.

So, where does The Delaunay rank?  Well, it's not bad actually. I have two rules when it comes to brunch:  Order Eggs Benedict/Florentine/Royale/Whatever they decide to call eggs on a muffin covered in hollandaise sauce and accompany that with prosecco/Champagne.

I met a group of my girlfriends on a snowy Sunday and I have to say, I love the location of the Delaunay.  It's not too close to Covent Garden to be annoying and full of tourists, but it's close enough to still have that busy hub vibe.  I also walked by this awesome place on my way, so it got extra points.

Happy Go Lucky Funeral Parlor   Seriously.  

The bubbles were great, but let's be honest, it's not hard to get decent Champagne in London so i'll move on.


The girls ordered lobster rolls which I am never eating again unless it's at Burger and Lobster and we were having brunch so I had to stick to my rules.

I felt that I needed some iron after a relatively late night out, so I went for the Florentine.  If you want eggs Royale, they call it Arlington at The Delaunay.  I don't know why and when I asked, they just explained what it was, not why they decided to change the name from the accepted convention.  I didn't order it, so that's all I can really comment on.



My Florentine  however, was actually quite good.  not too soggy (which can happen due to the wilted spinach) but I will say the hollandaise wasn't quite tangy enough for me.  to much buttery, not enough tang.  It was also a little thick for my personal preferences   But to each his own.  I still ate the whole thing.


I also had an excellent cappuccino props to the person who made it, excellent presentation.

My only criticism would be that it's a little stuffy in there.  The atmosphere isn't super welcoming and it felt like they were putting on airs as if they were The Woseley   They aren't, although they are owned by the same group who also do Colbert in Sloane Square.  They also make an excellent Florentine.  But If I had to rank out of this group, it would be The Woseley, Colbert (amazing Atmosphere) and finally The Delaunay.

The Delaunay is about the same price as the Woseley, so I would go to the latter if you have a choice, but either way, both are going to cost you about £30/head with a drink.

If you're interested in The Delaunay you can book through their website:  www.thedelaunay.com
The Delaunay on Urbanspoon