Archive | December, 2011

The Ultimate Dinner Party – Christmas Day!

26 Dec

Yesterday was Christmas Day!  Hoorah!  Or as I like to call it, the ultimate Dinner Party of the year!

Families and friends across the globe gathered together to stuff their faces with delicious meals, followed by a vigorous round of competitive games on the Wii OR a very savoury snooze…  You know which category you fell into(!)

As lil’ foodies, amongst the group there was a whole host of food cooked up – from traditional Nigerian dishes such as jellof and fried rice, to western roast turkey, roast lamb, sprouts and potatoes.  The more adventurous members had delicious menus comprised of tempura and  prawn balls, roast duck, crab gratin in shell and succulent marinated chicken…  YUMMY!

Here are some of the breakfast, lunch and dinner spreads we had on Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.  We luuurve our food!  I guarantee your mouth will be watering by the end!

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And from all the Ladies Wot Brunch, we’d like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year to come!

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Crème Brûlée: Je t’aime!

8 Dec

Being a suitcase kid means that I travel quite a bit.  Over the last few months I have been up to Edinburgh and usually opt to stay at the Dakota Hotel, founded by Formula 1 race driver David Coulthard.

The hotel itself is amazing: a little piece of modern heaven on earth with its plush decor and ridiculously cool vibe.  The best thing about the hotel (apart from room service!) is the restaurant, which has won several awards.

Unless there is something SERIOUSLY wrong with me, whenever I’m in the Dakota, I MUST order a crème brûlée just because it is oh so special.  Now, I’ve had many a crème brûlée in my time – from Drambuie infused to sultana spiked.  But I am yet to find one which touches my soul as much as the Dakota special does (YES!  It is THAT deep!)

The top layer of caramelised sugar tastes like what I imagine a sugar coated ice rink would be like.  And I turn into a giggly little girl when I attack and puncture the top coat.  What lies beneath is an oozing concoction of crème custard and a series of secret spices.  Thinking about it now makes me want to risk adverse weather conditions, travel up North and gobble one all up!

If you’re ever in the area, you MUST TRY IT OUT!

Taste of Christmas 2011

6 Dec

Saturday 3rd December was the crisp afternoon on which the Ladies Wot Brunch embarked on their first day trip – Yippee!  Over the past few months we have met for Brunch and a few weeks ago, we even threw in a dinner date for good measure.  So when the opportunity arose to get together and eat as usual, but do so in a totally new way, we jumped at it.

Taste of Christmas saw some of London’s best restaurants, bar services and entertainment come together under one roof to offer the public samples of their award winning cuisines and beverages with a Christmassy twist.  There were several celebrity appearances including Jamie Oliver, Rachel Allen, Mary Berry and Gary Rhodes ready to sign cook books and give master classes and tips to thousands of visitors helping fine tune festive menus in preparation for the dinner party of the year.

There were also several local businesses showing off and selling their produce, giving avid foodies even more Christmas gift options.

The Brunch Club highlights were –

  • Feature in a Jelly Belly promotional video:  Yes!  We were that energetic and enthusiastic about the product that the salesman asked to record us!  Look out for our cameo appearance coming soon…
  • Gary Rhodes: I don’t know what it is about the Ladies Wot Brunch, but we seem to give off good vibes any and everywhere we go!  During a very busy book signing event, I simply raised my camera (bearing in mind I was standing about 6 feet away) and the Michelin chef actually stopped what he was doing, paused the eager foodie who was next in line for a photo opportunity and boldly and candidly posed for my camera and then sealed the deal with a cheeky grin and wink.  Ha!  The fact that the lemon tart with chocolate and mandarin sauce (the best thing in the expo), came from his Rhodes W1 kitchen, makes the experience even sweeter!

We had a delicious afternoon, sampling the free food, drinks and cocktails and spending our crowns (Taste of Christmas currency) on the more exquisite mini meals on offer.  We’ll definitely be going back next year, but perhaps with looser fitting trousers as the tasting opportunities are NOT to be missed!

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For Ladies Wot Dine… At Shaka Zulu

1 Dec

So that time of the month came round again, and on Saturday 19th November, a group of fabulous ladies got together, broke bread and had a great time.  Only this time, we decided to do it a little differently.  At our last meeting, in between the drinking and gisting, the Ladies suggested it would be nice to meet up in the evening, and as a true Brunch Club facilitator-cum-hostess, I was happy to oblige…

Booking

As I had been to Shaka Zulu before, I was familiar with the booking process, and as booking processes go, it was pretty straight forward.  A telephone call was made to a seemingly friendly booking manager and Voila!  C’etait fini!

Shaka Zulu have many promotions, encouraging non adventurous diners to experience a night in “South Africa” so it’s worth mentioning any offers or discounts you may be using when making your reservation.

Gist!

Although this time we were fewer in number (ladies, you were missed!), whenever we get together, there’s always something to laugh about.  Always an update to share, a joke to tell and tears of laughter to shed.  The entertainment provided at the restaurant kept us amused in between our conversations, which were fuelled by a combination of rich rioja and rosé.

Here are some of the topics that gave us the giggles that evening:

White boys can get it!  OK, so let’s be frank – as a group of predominantly non Caucasian women, the race of the men we date and marry is a popular topic.  Amongst the group,  we have a decent amount of experience dating outside our cast.  And more recently, have shared stories about blond haired, blue eyed hotties.  There is nothing wrong with having a preference and sticking with it, but it is equally important to respect other people’s decisions.  Aside from being 21st Century women understanding that the world is constantly evolving, and with this evolution comes development of ideas, tastes and desires, we at The Brunch Club are very REALISTIC!  Whatever rocks your world and floats your boat is what you should go for.  Black, white or otherwise.  The tale shared on that particular evening recounting how a dashing young Englishman swept one of our members off her feet in a very debonair fashion, coupled with sexy specimens like Gary Barlow and Matthew McConaughey confirmed that white boys can indeed get it!

Wolves in sheep’s clothing aka Young Pastors:  *Disclaimer* Not all pastors fall into this category!  But the experiences we collectively have, makes me question what these young disciples are really focusing on nowadays.  I recently bumped into an old acquaintance, who told me that he’d answered the Lord’s call and was pastoring a congregation.  Well done!  Good for you!  I was genuinely happy to hear this and so when he asked for us to swap numbers and catch up, I didn’t think anything of it.  Weeks down the line, the calls began.  When they became overbearing, and I stopped answering, the text messages followed suit.  And when I stopped responding, the prayer points/visions/prophesies/attempts at mental manipulation took root.  This man actually believed that if he could see into my life and predict the great and marvellous things I was going to experience, then I’d be more inclined to speak with him, share my inner most fears and aspirations and eventually fall hook line and sinker, head over heels in love.  Mr Pastor Man – the man who saw into my heart(!).  Except, I have seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears several stories of women who fell into this same dogged trap and dated and married MONSTERS!  Pastors by day and wife beater beasts by night!  Olorun maje!  *clicks fingers over head*  GOD FORBID!  I will use the same Holy Ghost Fire to rebuke you to the pits of hell and I suggest all women out there who may find themselves in a similar predicament do the same!

Abokoku Babes!  People please help me!  A VERY significant part of some of the ladies’ evening was spent outside on the phone with their better halves (you know yourselves!), which lead to a conversation about how far some women are willing to go for their men.  An Abokoku (woman who will do anything to keep her man “till death do them part” in Yoruba dialect) is willing to surrender all for her partner and will happily annihilate anyone or anything that may stand in her way.  Although none of our Ladies Wot Brunch illustrate these extreme tendencies, it was pointed out that God helps those that help themselves and even the Bible says possess your possessions!  So the advice which followed detailing how a very zealous and scandalous office PA would be finished if she even tried to come near the narrator’s boyfriend was listened to attentively.  Yes, I even took notes!

Food

As well as taking you on an authentic South African lounge experience, Shaka Zulu also promises to tickle your taste buds with its Taste of Africa menu .  To be honest, we were not very focused on the food, instead diverting our attention on the live entertainment and our conversations and so we didn’t realise when we all ordered exactly the same starters and mains.  And being so caught up in the afore mentioned, I kinda failed with the pics too (sorry!)

The starter of deep fried soft shell crab with rose harissa and lime was quite nice.  It was definitely flavoursome and crunchy but I found it a little messy and wasn’t too clear on what to do with the excess shell(?!)

By the time the main of spit roasted Kariokor beef with dry rubbed spice and peri peri fries came round, we were all so spent from chatting, no one finished the meal!  The meat was thoroughly cooked (we had been assured that it had been roasted for 7 hours!), but I thought it could have been slightly more moist and not so chewy.  Trying to chew chewy meat after chatting is a chore!  Tee hee hee!  The peri peri fries on the other hand were lovely, excellently seasoned and cooked to perfection to ensure they were crispy and light.  I ate every last one!

The dessert selection was very interesting.  Between us, we opted for the Koeksisters – deep fried braided doughnuts dipped in honey sugar syrup; Melktert – baked vanilla custard tart  with roasted cinnamon and; Coconut crème caramel and passion fruit.  The Koeksisters were yummy, but very rich and after several glasses of wine, I found it difficult to finish them.  The tart and the pudding however did not pack as much of a punch on the palette, infusing their milk bases with several familiar and some not-so-familiar dessert spices.  If you like rice pudding, cheesecake or ice cream, these would be the desserts for you.

Service

 As we were running a little late *ahem* and were finally seated an hour after our booking was made for, we did not have as much time at our table as originally planned.  However, despite our party’s tardiness, our table attendant, who by the way was a tall, black and burly, cockney, dread-locked man, was very polite and paid attention to detail ensuring our beverages and food were served promptly.  We ended up having our desserts in the lounge in order for the next party to be seated, but as the whole restaurant is party central itself, this was not an issue.  The staff, who each had tailored ankara outfits, were very friendly and rendered their service with a sunny South African smile 🙂

Overall

Due to the size of the venue and the hubbub generated by the diners, clubbers, staff, DJs and live entertainment, it was quite difficult to key into the intimacy which is often desired during dinner and if you are looking for the next date restaurant, unfortunately, Shaka Zulu is not it.  However, if you are looking for a party go-go dinner, then you may well have the perfect spot in Camden.  The venue is quirky and the décor is lush.  It is reminiscent of typical western adaptations of Africa, but still maintains an authentic charm and sleek finish. We happily dined, drank and danced in the same place, which is not something you can often say you’re able to do in London.  Given the fact that Shaka Zulu is also very trendy at the moment, you’ll find that the general vibe is nice n’ spicy.  We clocked several sexxxay mamas in even sexxxier ensembles and gents dressed so immaculately, they left with their girlfriends and several admirers in tow.

It’s a young venue: both in establishment age and target audience.  But it’s also a place where you can have some good grown up fun.  We will definitely be going back, even if it’s just for a midnight boogie!

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