Archive | June, 2013

Top 5 Things Of The Week (June 24th -30th)

30 Jun

I’ve decided to launch a regular rundown showcasing the Top 5 new things I have discovered or experienced each week. It always amazes me how many moments there are in my day where I find and enjoy something new. This week was full of some amazing discoveries, from food to workshops, and blogging about them gives me a chance to remind myself of all the wonderful little things in life that are there to help us through even the worst or most mundane days or weeks. Here are my highlights from the past seven days:

#1 Pork Pie By What The Dickens

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The dapper trio that form ‘What The Dickens’ have managed to do the unthinkable; make me eat – and like – a pork pie. Read my separate blog post about my newfound love of pork pie for the full explanation of my bias against the traditional British grub and how a delicious, Christmas-spiced variety bought from these gentlemen has revolutionised my summer picnic menu.

#2 – Ethical Canapé Workshop with Ian Ballantyne at Made In Hackney

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A full workshop review will follow soon but, suffice to say, learning to make canapés with ethically sourced local ingredients under the guidance of supperclub extraordinaire Ian Ballantyne was fun, educational, inspirational and a great way to meet new people.

#3 – Cupcakes by Rebel Bakery

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I love anything which takes the normal and turns it on its head and the guys at ‘Rebel Bakery’ do this brilliantly with their range of sweet treats made with vegetables. A vanilla sponge has courgette in the mixture, while chocolate is made with carrot. Try both flavours in the stunning Rebel Burger cupcake; fun, delicious and different.

#4 – Ceramics Glazing With Doodle Designs

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Who knew that painting quirky porcelain shapes could be so much fun? North London based ‘Doodle Designs’ offer classes for all the family and there’s nothing more satisfying than making your own ceramic ware – from brooches to ornaments – before getting to paint them in a range of pretty colours: I can’t wait to see what my pieces will look like after their final firing!

#5 Doughnuts By You Doughnut!

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Why did no-one tell me about these guys before? Their freshly made, airy doughnuts with a delicious choice of toppings including nuts, sugar strands, marshmallows and chocolate or caramel sauce are sinfully good!

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INTERVIEW: Filmmaker Zal Batmanglij Talks New Film ‘The East’

28 Jun

Eco-espionage thriller The East was released in UK cinemas this weekend – the second critically acclaimed movie from director Zal Batmanglij. He co-wrote the script with lead star Brit Marling, who portrays an intelligence agent sent to infiltrate an anarchist group led by Alexander Skarsgard and Ellen Page.

The Upcoming magazine sent me for a chat with the filmmaker to learn more about the unusual inspiration behind the film. Watch the video here.

REVIEW: Icon – Stones & Sushi at Gordon Ramsey’s Maze Restaurant in Mayfair

28 Jun

There were fishy goings on with legendary rockers The Rolling Stones this week, following a visit to chef Gordon Ramsey’s Maze restaurant for an unusual launch party; Icon – Stones & Sushi. It’s not often I get to eat under the watchful eye of Mick Jagger! Read about my experience here.

Homemade Greek Bread for Church Offerings

22 Jun

There are many things about my Cypriot culture to celebrate and partake in. One of the nicest customs is the baking of bread for offerings at church services. Depending on if you are making an ‘offering’ or mourning your dead, the type of bread made will be different. Here’s a look at a plain white round, stamped with traditional Christian Orthodox emblems. It’s lovely served warm with butter, halloumi and watermelon but tonight we had to make do without the melon. Ah well, you can’t have everything!

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REVIEW: Jewellery Week Free Workshops

22 Jun

As an Arts and Crafts enthusiast on a limited budget, I always keep a beady eye out for free workshops in London that will allow me to try my hand at new skills. Jewellery Week is one of my favourite events in the annual calendar because aside from showcasing the amazing work of up-and-coming young designers, the organisers always ensure a mixture of workshops and tutorials are offered as part of the schedule.

This year, I was able to partake in no less than three workshops – at no cost. Previously, I’ve had to travel to Islington or further inwards but the action finally came to the heart of North London as part of Open Studios and Art Trail events which were incorporated into this year’s Jewellery Week.

Over a single weekend (June 8th & 9th), the trail led me on a wonderful journey through the multicultural areas of Palmers Green and Southgate, hopping from coffee shops to high street retailers showcasing local jewellery designs and handmade wares. Space Gallery, on Southgate High Street became my second home for the weekend and was where I tried out three new experiences.

Workshop #1 – One of the things on my Bucket List happens to be Glass Forming so you can imagine my excitement when I saw this listed as part of the program. I signed up immediately and counted down until the day. Unfortunately, due to a difficulty with insurance (it was unobtainable!), the workshop ended up being a demonstration rather than an interactive class. That said, watching Ruth Berenbaum of Fyrbox turn tubes of Pyrex into marbled ornaments using coloured crushed glass and a fearsome looking bunson burner was spectacular.

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Workshop #2 – A Ceramics workshop hosted by Doodle Designs offered the chance to make both ornaments and brooches from porcelain, which looked and felt very similar to slabs of clay. Feeling like a kid with a new Play-Dough kit, I had my own area to roll, shape and stamp this putty into a range of pretty designs which I eventually handed to tutor Christina Stavrinides to be fired for free. There’s even the option to paint my creations before a second firing next weekend (for a £5 fee) which I will, of course, partake in.

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Workshop #3 – I’ve tried my hand at making metal jewellery before but the Silversmithing masterclass by Steve Wager FIPG of S.E.W Ltd was one of the most interesting and exciting workshops I have ever attended. Listening to him explain the history of the trade and the reasons behind its decline in the United Kingdom was genuinely fascinating. Plus, I got to try my hand at making a spoon which involved a wonderfully cathartic session with a hammer! Of course, I managed to whack my thumb, but that was all part of the fun! It was amazing to see a tiny, thin piece of silver repeatedly bashed, heated and cooled (a process known as ‘annealing’) to transform it into a spoon. I’ve already resolved to try more Silversmithing classes and can’t wait to have another try. Steve is one of the UK’s last remaining fully-fledged silversmiths/goldsmiths/jewellers. He was made a Freeman of the City of London and of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths upon completion of a five year apprenticeship served under his ‘master’, Algernon Asprey. Yes, Asprey, as in the Crown jewellers on Bond Street! Take a look at some of his mesmerising work:

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A tiny piece of silver turns into a spoon in three stages

The benefits of funded Arts and Crafts initiatives are multiple; community driven, they bring people from all demographics together in creative environments to learn, socialise and discover.

I feel passionately that more free workshops for both adults and kids will have a positive effect on society. Learning to create something is calming and stress-busting as well as keeping your brain and limbs active, helping with coordination and concentration. And let’s not forget the satisfaction generated by producing something original by hand – it’s confidence boosting and creates a sense of self-worth. Furthermore, the social barriers that are broken during a class where everyone is embarking on the same creative endeavour can only be a good thing. My experience is that you end up conversing with, and helping, all kinds of like-minded people who wouldn’t necessarily have the opportunity to socialise together elsewhere. It’s not often that you see strangers in every age group – from child to pensioner – laughing together outside of a family circle.

I hope that Local Authorities will invest more into the Community and Arts sectors but I fear government cuts will render this difficult. Still, it’s not impossible and it’s time Council representatives had a look at how best to create more opportunities for families and adults to develop new skills. I hope to get back on the Open Studios and Arts Trail next year, with lots of family and friends who have enjoyed hearing of my recent experiences, so let’s hope Enfield Council and Jewellery Week both have the vision to support it and keep up the good work.

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Hush Brasserie in St Pauls

20 Jun

This week, The Upcoming magazine sent me on a special pilgrimage to St Paul’s Cathedral, in search of eaterie Hush Brasserie and its hopefully magical food. Was it a life-changing visit? Read my experience here.

REVIEW: Afternoon Tea at Kettners in Soho

18 Jun

It was a busy Saturday afternoon in London town, with a rare glimpse of sun illuminating the dusty streets. While others hauled shopping bags and rushed to and from retail outlets in search of sale bargains, I was languishing in the Pudding Bar of Soho landmark Kettners, letting the world go by as as I indulged in the most sacred of all British institutions; afternoon tea.

It was my belated birthday celebration and I wanted to do something special with my girlfriends but, as not all my party was fond of tea and cake (no, I don’t understand it either), I had to find an establishment that could meet all our needs: somewhere clean, reputable, not too expensive, happy to cater to dietary restrictions, is centrally located and can offer an extensive choice of beverages other than tea.

After much research, we decided to book a table at Victorian themed Kettners which has gone through several guises, including shabby pizza parlour before being restored to more lavish glory. Traditional Afternoon Tea is priced at a mere £18.67, in honour of the year the historical venue opened its doors – a steal in a city where afternoon tea can cost the same price as a two beauty treatments!

Kettners’ waiting staff were brilliant in dealing with all our individual requirements and even provided a separate food stand for my friend who doesn’t eat pork. They took particular care to keep her items secluded from the rest of our feast and offered to substitute her tier of finger sandwiches with any combination of fillings she preferred from their menu. She opted for extra Egg sarnies which they dutifully provided.

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Separate tea stand provided by Kettners

The rest of us tucked into finger sandwiches of Ham and English Mustard (delicious, buttery and very flavoursome), Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese (moist and fresh), Egg and Cress (ever so slightly dry) and Cucumber (a tad dry but buttery and light).

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We moved on to Homemade Scones with Clotted Cream and Strawberry Jam: the scones were nicely golden, moist and wonderful. The jam was suitably sweet and we spread it greedily over lashings of thick clotted cream – perfect!

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A selection of tarts and desserts inspired by childhood classics followed. Tucking into a Bakewell Tart, the almond flavour came through despite a slightly burnt pastry bottom while
Millionaire’s Shortbread was beautifully baked and topped with a dense, fugde-like chocolate layer that was so rich some of us couldn’t eat more than one bite. I had no such trouble; with a naturally sweet tooth, I was in sugar-high heaven.

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Bakewell Tart

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Millionaire’s Shortbread

Bread and Butter Pudding, served as a bite sized square in a shallow pool of Creme Anglaise on a ceramic spoon, melted in the mouth and was beautifully balanced.

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Bread and Butter Pudding

A Violet Macaroon was soft and sugary but the flavour was too subtle to stand out and was sadly a disappointment but Granny Smith Apple Jelly, Rhubarb Panna Cotta was flawless. The flavours were beautiful and balanced nicely to combat the sharpness of the fruit. Served in a slim shot glass, my only gripe was that it was challenging to scrape out the wonderful apple base, even with a teaspoon. Trying to down it as a shot was also futile – and looked very undignified within such stylish surroundings.

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Violet Macaroon

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Apple Jelly and Rhubarb Panna Cotta

Throughout the afternoon, I had sipped on my favourite tea blend; English Breakfast. Kettners’ variety has a slightly floral undertone, which was exceedingly pleasant. My friends opted for fresh Mint tea, which was fragrant and refreshing.

The abundance of sweet treats meant that we couldn’t finish everything and for less than £20, Kettners offers a generous and tasty Afternoon Tea that you’d be wise to partake in. It’s not the most innovative tea you may find in the Capital but, if you’re looking for traditional fayre in traditional surroundings, Kettners is definitely worth a visit.

Kettners, is located at 29 Romilly Street, London, W1D 5HP. For bookings call 020 7734 6112 or email: reservations@kettners.com – afternoon tea is served Friday to Sunday from 1pm – 4pm.

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