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Saturday started well, with brunch in a local cafe.

Best breakfast ever )

We wombled around the independent record labels' fair in Spitalfields - and bloody hell was it busy. It seemed also to incorporate all of London's independent brewers (beer is very like records) and the place was heaving. And then we moved on...

New Bedford Rising )

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I promised, a few days ago, that I would do a separate post about the food I ate at Glastonbury. In some ways, this wasn't a great year to do it. Hot weather and a slightly dicey stomach meant I probably ate rather less than usual - in ordinary years, the net effect of being surrounded by amazing food stalls is that I have about five meals a day.

I endeavoured to take a snap of everything I ate, but be warned! They really are snaps. Food photography is hard, and due to feeling like a massive idiot taking photos of my food, I tended to get it over with as quickly as possible. There are also a few where I only remembered half way through a meal, and it's pretty much impossible to make a half-eaten dish look nice.

To The Food! )
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Sometimes, of a evening, ChrisC and I leave work at similar times and walk towards each other with the intention of meeting up for a beverage. The obvious way to do this is down Oxford Street, but that's so crowded it's easy to miss each other (not to mention the acrimonious "but why would you even be on the north side?" argument). Accordingly we've evolved a wiggly route through Soho.

We usually bump into each other not far from what Google maps calls Denmark Street and everyone else calls Tin Pan Alley. Around there is a restaurant called Flat Iron, which we'd had recommended, but which has always has a waiting time of over two hours when we've enquired. But early on Monday, we walked in and found empty tables.

Flat Iron )



Unrelatedly, courtesy of this morning's 6music trailer for a programme about Kevin Rowland, I have the opening riff from Jackie Wilson Said firmly wedged in my brain[*]. What's more annoying is that I can't actually remember how the rest of the song goes.

[*] Now you do too? Don't mention it. All part of the service.
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Thursday and Friday at work this week were a bit of a horror. On Thursday, a public API[*] that an important project relies on abruptly stopped working, resulting in 12 hours of slightly panicky attempts to (a) work out why, (b) work out whether it would start again, and (c) come up with a plan B to achieve the same results without using it. All the unrelated things that I absolutely needed to get finished by the end of Thursday got pushed over into Friday.

On leaving work on Friday, I crawled to a pub, met ChrisC and fell face-first into a pint of Whitstable Bay Pale Ale (would recommend to a friend). I also managed to utterly nonpluss [livejournal.com profile] shermarama, who was trying to buy beer in the same pub without being pounced on by people she'd never met. Sorry about that :)

Dinner at Amico Bio )

[*] Note for non-geeks )
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When I was little, conversations about Easter eggs tended to happen in our house around August. They tended to start with the mother demanding whether I was ever going to get round to eating them, or whether she should throw them out[*]. As a result, the parents habitually give me a present at Easter rather than an actual egg. It is, of course, still referred to as an Easter egg. This year my Easter egg was a cookbook.

I noticed a month or two ago that Itsu had produced a cookbook, and requested it for Easter.

Itswho? )

Trying it out )
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At the weekend, I headed into town to meet up with some university friends who had parked their kids somewhere and run away to the big, wicked city. After extensive quality-checking of Thwaites' Wainwright golden ale in a handy pub (it was lovely, thanks) talk turned to a dinner destination.

Dave had requested "spicy food", and Jamie weighed in with a recommendation of a nearby Chinese restaurant. The recommendations I'd managed to come up with had been a bit vague[*], so we followed Jamie in a small procession to Ba Shan.

Mao Tse Tung said... )
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So, for some time we've had the concept of the burger league tables. There is a Premier League, for quality burgers, and a Vauxhall Conference[*] for the also-rans. The likes of McDonalds aren't even allowed to play.

I thought I'd written up more of the investigative burger-eating trips here, but it seems that to date I've only had one post tagged "burger league". This surprises me. At present there's a bit of a backlog of recommended new burger bars in London to get through; I need to eat more burgers.

I don't think the league tables have fundamentally altered since that last post - though I'm fairly sure that we permitted Haché (recommended by [livejournal.com profile] phlebas) to join the Premier League. GBK has of late rewritten its menu in such a way that it sells almost all the same things it used to, but in a way that seems much less exciting; the burgers are still good, but I don't hold it in quite the same affection these days. It's the most convenient quality burger emporium for where I (now) live, but I'm actually not sure when I was last there.

A new entry... )
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Saturday was planned to be the sort of busy day with weird timings where you're never quite sure where the meals are going to fit in. The only sensible way to take on a day like that is to start with a really hoofing breakfast.

My reaction would usually be to cook one, or to head up to the pizza restaurant which (slightly unexpectedly) does decent eggs Benedict of a Saturday morning. ChrisC insisted we should head to The Walpole, a small, scarlet-painted greasy spoon at the other side of Ealing. We've been meaning to investigate rumours of its greatness for some time but... well...

Don't tell anyone, will you? But I'm not that excited about fry-ups. )
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Yesterday evening I was sitting on the sea-front at Ramsgate, eating fish and chips. They were pretty good fish and chips, actually. However, the menu bewildered me...

A pickled wally? )
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Here is a useful thing I just came across. At least, it is useful if you are planning to go to Japan and are not omnivorous:

Cut-out-and-keep cards explaining various dietary restrictions, in Japanese

I think these are a great idea, particularly for countries in which your average foreign person is all at sea with the language. It occurs to me that I haven't bought a phrasebook in a long time - maybe these days they have a handy set of stock phrases for common allergies/intolerances/choices?
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At least once a week, I trundle straight from work onto a train and head off to a dance practice. Being the sort of person who likes meals at nice regular intervals, I pick something up in the station as I pass through. A few years ago, that basically meant Burger King or Upper Crust. These days there are the heady alternatives of M&S Food and Subway. My default choice for some time has been Subway, because it's hot (ie more like a meal, in my book), made from something at least resembling real food, and inexpensive.

For ages, I've been wondering why stations never sell proper, reasonably healthy, takeaway meals - a bowl of rice and curry, a bowl of pasta, a plate of noodles... sometimes you can get soup, but the UK's highstreets are mostly very low on decent street-food options.

Step forward Stewed! )
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So... in a few weeks, I am partly responsible for organising a hen night. A couple of you know who the hen is, so no telling her what we're planning, ok?

Anyway, we have a weekend planned, and were intending to go out for a nice meal on the Saturday night. Accordingly, the other bridesmaid and I sallied forth to our chosen restaurant, Richmond's Rock & Rose last night to test it out.

Which was nice )

Rock & Rose was, in fact, exactly what we wanted: great food, interesting menu (which caters well for non-meat eaters and non-dairy people), fabulous cocktails, funky decor, nice atmosphere. Sadly, other people have noticed this too, and they were completely unable to squeeze in a party of 12 on the day we want :(

Accordingly, we need to come up with an alternative venue, sharpish. I usually choose my restaurants exclusively on food (my favourite Ealing eatery has melamine tables, and a TV on the wall - usually showing football), and I've very little idea how one goes about locating somewhere with a suitably exciting ambience. I can think of lots of "nice" places to eat, but nowhere particularly cool and girly to fit what we were planning.

So, the internet! I need you. Can anyone recommend a restaurant easily accessible from Ealing which is suitably funky, whose menu will stand up to a bunch of pescetarians and someone who's badly dairly-allergic, isn't too bank-breaking, and might be able to fit a party of 12 in mid-April? I imagine we're going to be a reasonably respectable party of 12 rather than the sort of shrieking hen night you'd cross the street to avoid (at least, I hope we are...)
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Still frantically busy[*]. In lieu of actual content: a poll!

[Poll #1711426]

This is a very conventional restaurant, by the way, which doesn't let you do unorthodox things. And you know you're only getting two courses, so opting for starter, main doesn't mean you might have an option on pud later.

There is a restaurant near us run by a very lovely lady called Lisa, who is perfectly happy for a three course meal to go starter, main, starter. I imagine she'd let you go pudding, pudding, pudding if you wanted, though I've never made the attempt.

[*] Organising this. Are you coming?
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Well, following discussion on [livejournal.com profile] ar_gemlad's LJ last week, ChrisC and I learned about a new posh-burger chain. We have been vaguely questing for quality burgers for some time, and have thus far developed the opinion that practically nothing lives up to GBK's standards. However, when [livejournal.com profile] secondhand_rick recommends a joint, you take the recommendation seriously...

The Fine Burger Co. )
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Wandering around a rather damp West London on Sunday (judiciously avoiding the worst of the downpours by hanging out in cake shops and bus shelters), ChrisC and I found a rather nice Art Nouveau pub. It's somewhere in the Maida Vale area, and is called The Warrington Hotel. Both inside and out it's graced with the sort of OTT decor that would be sudden death in your own front room, but looks fantastic in a pub.

But it had a scary, scary menu )

Later research on the interweb revealed that The Warrington Hotel was recently taken over (and, according to many reviewers ruined, rendered atmosphereless and had its drink prices upped to ridiculous levels) by Gordon Ramsay. That might explain a lot.

Mind you I rather liked it, and I didn't think £2.40 for a Coke and a decent half of Broadside was all that pricey for London.

In irrelevant news, tonight I'm going to party like it's 1977 :)
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Some time ago, [livejournal.com profile] snow_leopard offered me some vouchers from the Times which entitled the owner to a meal for £10 at a participating restaurant. I guess she must read the Times assiduously, as she'd collected more sets than she could use.

I took the tokens with the condition I'd review wherever I went. So, here goes...

Madison's Restaurant, at the Washington Mayfair )

Despite grumbles, it was an enjoyable evening out and Snow_Leopard is Designated Hero of the Week for providing the wherewithall.

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