Thursday, 22 December 2011


I LOVE LONDON. I'm well aware that I romanticise it but I can't help it. I'm convinced that once I move here I'll be filled with this feeling of belonging and not caring about anything because everything will be PERFECT and I'll be able to live the life I want with the people I want. With any luck, my moving to London will coincide with the last of the teen angst being exorcised so I won't be disappointed. Encouraging the romanticising is the fact that I've spent the last week hacking in exchange for overpriced lunches, wine and cigarettes. I don't even smoke. The one down-side is all the hacking I have to do. 'Hacking' is a word used to describe self-promotion: 'God, she is such a hack with that blog.' Even putting links to this blog on Facebook kills a little bit of my self-respecting self. I am still complaining about nothing because this job has given me relevant experience in the field that I want to work in with someone who happens to know all the 'big dogs' in the industry. So, where is this preamble going? Nowhere really. I think I'm just bragging. Hey, at least I'm not posting on Facey about 'classic' London moments. Although I am finding it hard to stop myself. I love how there are so many places with so much character. Three such places didn't quite merit a post of their own so I thought I'd condense into one.

Stick and Bowl
One cold Thursday afternoon we fancied Chinese food for lunch. And there was somewhere cheap and delicious just around the corner. This would never happen in Birmingham. The place was called Stick and Bowl. I thought everywhere in the vicinity (it's on Kensington High Street) would be very expensive and perhaps not good enough to justify the expense but I was proved wrong on both counts.

This place reminded me of the little Chinese restaurants you see in films set in New York where everyone eats out of those cool little cartons and the food seems really moreish even from the other side of the screen. It was reaaaally small and jam packed. You sat on stools sharing tables with people you don't know and the service was incredibly quick. They also expected you to eat and leave incredibly quickly. It was just charming. It even managed to look quirky rather than shabby because the walls were painted with koi. I assume they're koi. I have no basis for assuming so. There was also a curious bell which reminded me of Bangladesh (as so many things do). My grandparents' house is full of bells which chime with a little melody every hour. A similar chime sounded in Stick and Bowl but much more frequently than every hour. And whenever it did, someone went and pulled frantically on a rope. I initially thought they were resetting the clock. Then I thought maybe it was part of some religious ritual? But finally discovered that the bell signified that some food was done and the rope worked some sort of pulley system. COOL.

You can lunch for less than £6 and the food is the best 'typical' Chinese food I've had to date. I had the Stick and Bowl rice: chicken, pork, seafood and vegetables with its speciality sauce. The sauce had the heady strength that one expects from a Chinese without the headachey MSG hangover. It was mellow and light and just the right consistency, not that sort of sticky which you can imagine lining your arteries but not watery either. The rice was well cooked, the meat was moist and the correct texture. The mangetout was fresh and still had a little bite to it. A nice addition was slivers of bean curd within the sauce which had absorbed the lovely, light flavours of the sauce. There will be photos of all this when I can get hold of it.

One night after dinner, despite having totally filled up on curry, we decided to get bagels from the 24 hour bagel shop on brick lane. I had the best apple turnover I've ever eaten from here. The pastry was perfectly flaky and crisp. The filling hadn't been sweetened so the apples were still tart, a lovely contrast to the sugary coating entirely covering the pastry. I only had a bite of the  bagel but that too was delicious. Almost spongy and a little sweet with fresh, smoky salmon and cream cheese. Oh baby.

Japanese Food in Kingston
Whilst staying with my musical friend with the warm house and good shower, I went busking for the first time. Except I wasn't busking. I was sat next to the buskers. The minority of Musical's friends are not-musical and I'm in that minority. So my inability to sing and sight read with my VOICE precluded me joining in. But it was lotsa fun all the same. Anyway, I went for a little walk around Kingston town centre while the busking was occurring and found a little market stall selling Japanese food. I picked up some incredibly cheap (£4.90) prawn tempura donburi. The batter was light and not too salty. The prawn it encased was so fresh and that beautiful pink that perfectly cooked prawns are. The rice was sticky, the salad was fresh and the teriyaki sauce was a little headache inducing but still tasty. This meal was a little bit nicer than the last meal I had from Edamame's yet it cost half the price.
That's all for now, folks.

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