Archive | February, 2012

Homage to the Pancake!

21 Feb

Hoorah!  Today is pancake day!  I’ll skip the history which details how it all came about, simply because you probably already know all of that great information.  What I WILL DO is join you in salivating over some of our favourite pancakes from our past brunches and some delicious pancakes and crepes which were made today.  YUM!

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I have a love affair with pancakes and I’m not afraid to say it!

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For Ladies Wot…. Ahhh! It’s Games Night!

18 Feb

Saturday 11th February was the evening on which we had our very first Games Night: Hoorah!  As Ladies Wot Brunch, Dine and generally like to have a good time, we’re always looking for new and exciting things to do.  And given the fact that this year, the month of February is spectacularly different and hosts an extra day, we decided to switch things up too and have a catch up with a twist.

We all really enjoyed the impromptu games played at our last meeting and so it was decided that a chillaxed Games Night was the way to go.  Our lovely and bona fide hostess with the mostest Feyi welcomed us into her home and ensured we had a fabulous evening.  And what a barrel of laughs it was!  We chatted, laughed and ate way too many sweets, chocolates, biscuits and savoury nibbles and washed it all down with copious glasses of wine and soft drinks.  To make sure we didn’t lose our foodie element, we also ordered a whopping… Chinese takeaway!  YUMMY!

Here are some of the evening’s highlights:

Not one, not two, BUT THREE engagement stories!  Alas, we are amidst a wedding frenzy and the evening welcomed three beaming brides-to-be who had us all oohing and ahhhing at their romantic stories.  Awww!  Check out the bling bling action!

Taboo Teams Rock!  It’s inevitabe that whenever games are played, competitive streaks begin to emerge and the Ladies show their true colours.  We played several rounds of Taboo, each one highlighting descriptive prowess and very loud voices!  Hilarious!

Supporting the cause: The evening was also dubbed a Show and Tell opportunity and the Ladies were invited to bring along their business ventures.  From sexy jewellery to glamtastic hair extensions, there was lots to see and even more to buy!

A huge thank you goes to Feyi for hosting us and to each one of the Ladies Wot Brunch who attended and made our Games Night the enjoyable evening that it was 🙂

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8 Feb

Check out Remi, one of our Lady Wot Brunch’s review of the popular Nigerian spot 805!

Low Radio FreQ

If you are Nigerian reading this blog and you have never heard of 805, to be quite frank, you should be ashamed of yourself! 805 is pretty much in a league of its own in delivering good quality Nigerian cuisine. Tucked away on the Old Kent Road, south London, this place is a sought after restaurant for some good food. The annoying thing about 805 is that it likes to revel in it’s own pomp in being the most popular Nigerian joint in London. This can be seen by the questionable customer service by the waiter (experiences of haughty waitresses who take their time to attend to your needs), to the questionable pricing structure – you actually get charged a bit more for the same dish if you decide to eat it within the Executive room which to be honest is not that much of an upgrade to the ‘regular’…

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Ebony’s Wedding! Ring Wars

6 Feb

Hi, hope everyone is having an amazing start to the week so far.

When I got engaged, lovely Debs asked me to write blog posts about what it feels like to be engaged and I wondered what I would possibly blog about until this incident occurred.

My lovely fiance bought me the perfect engagement ring and I absolutely love it. The thing is, before I got engaged, even now, I knew/know nothing about diamonds or rings. I just wanted something that was timeless and that was what I got, although I must say it is a rock!

Most people who have seen my ring love it and say he did a great job picking the ring himself. But I have never heard anyone say to a newly engaged person “Oh boy, that ring is foul! What was he thinking?” Everyone oohs and ahhs about the ring and yes, I am guilty of doing the same to other women too. Like I said, I had no idea what an expensive ring looked like or what the 4 c’s to a diamond meant physically, so every engagement ring was perfect and beautiful to me, and well sometimes, I lied! 😦

So obviously, every girl says they have the perfect ring and I have no objections to that. However, what I do not appreciate is picking on my ‘pinkie’.  YES! My ring has a name! I think it is very distasteful and simply low of a lady!

So the story goes like this:  My pinkie was sitting gently, sparkling away and causing no trouble, when this newly engaged lady started blabbing about her ring and how her fiance got it perfect… yadeyah. Now, I’m sitting there genuinely thinking “aww that is sweet”, despite the fact over the course of the time I have known her, she has ermmm… For lack of a better word, rubbed me up the wrong way! Basically, I won’t be calling her my friend any time soon.  Anyway, she went on to guess how many carats the diamond on my ring was. I was genuinely fascinated because she was only 0.05 of a carat out. I asked her how she knew and she said she had always been particular about rings and her fiance got her a smaller stone but it is perfect because he had a budget he was working with and he had to compromise between getting her a flawless stone or more carats… Blah blah BLAH!

At this point I am thinking… “who cares?” Plus she doesn’t know whether or not my ring is flawless, but I am not going to sit down and discuss my pinkie with her because I don’t think it is a good use of my time. She went on to say “…anything bigger would have been excessive, it would look out of place… etc etc…” Hello!!! Because pinkie is bigger than yours, you’re saying it is excessive?? *sigh* I made no comment, I let it slide because I know that my pinkie is beautiful and compliments me just fine!

Word to the wise: if you don’t have anything nice to say about someone’s engagement ring, don’t say anything at all!  This is war!  RING WAR!

Ebony’s Wedding! The Proposal

5 Feb

So for those of you who follow this blog, you will know how much I have yarned about my lovely friend and fellow Lady Wot Brunches who will be getting married this year.

After lots of persuading (psych!  She’s such a good sport!) Ebony has kindly agreed to update us on her wedding plans.

For those of you who want the full scoop on the engagment story, click here!

More to follow…

For Ladies Wot Brunch… At Hawksmoor Spitalfields

5 Feb

Saturday 21st January was the date of our first Ladies Wot Brunch meeting for 2012!  Whoopee!  As it had been a while since I’d seen the Ladies together, I was looking forward to catching up with them all, seeing their beautiful faces and hearing the latest news.  The venue chosen was Hawksmoor Spitalfields, a British Steakhouse and Cocktail Bar in East London.  On their offering, they state “We don’t just do steak feasts. We feel that we shouldn’t do anything new unless we can try doing the best version in London” and they go on to proffer the best Brunch at their Spitalfield’s restaurant,  one of three Hawksmoor branches.  And so of course, we had to check it out!

Booking

The restaurant, like many establishments, has an OpenTable online booking system, which is easy to navigate and provides a confirmed booking in a matter of minutes.  Although the system suggests bookings can be made for up to 20 people, the reality is that they only accept online reservations for tables of up to 6, and for larger parties, a phone call or email is required.  In my opinion, this defeats the purpose of the self serve function 😦  I spoke with a member of staff, who confirmed that the Spitalfields’ arm was where the breakfast action was at.  Unfortunately due to logistics, the maximum number the restaurant could seat at one table was 14.  However, in comparison to the other restaurants I had previously called, they were very enthusiastic about hosting such a large booking and so I went for it.  A day before our visit, I was given a reminder phone call and the opportunity to amend the booking (which on this occasion was not necessary).  For ease and if applicable, the intuitive online booking system is the way to go.  However, if like me you need to discuss details, booking over the phone is not a bad alternative by any stretch of the imagination.

Gist!

Gehn Gehn! (please excuse this outburst of Yoruba exuberance, but it’s the only word that sums up the giggles that erupt when I remember the afternoon!)

Our meeting was packed with information on what’s in store for the Brunch Club, welcome greetings to the new faces and ice breaker games led by Adaeze to introduce everyone and test memories (some of you guys may want to up your cod liver oil intake…! tee hee heee!)

Given the number of wedding ceremonies which were attended in the prior weeks and proposals which shook inboxes and instant messaging accounts across the group, it was only natural that marriage was a focal conversation topic.  Whenever you get a group of women together, and the subject of marriage is broached, talk is likely to go deep and there were very passionate opinions and observations shared.  If you are an odd male, or a random non-marriage enthusiast, your best bet is to take off your spectacles and stop reading NOW!  And if like us, you love all things fruitcake and confetti, here are some of the things which were said about the M word:

Prada Primark wedding shoes: SOOO we return to one of the blog’s favourite TV shows, BBC Three’s Don’t Tell The Bride, where on this particular episode, the groom, who had run out of money, decided to buy his bride-to-be a pair of Primark flats.  This caused a lot of controversy and the group quickly reported to one of two camps: Camp A was comprised of those who believed it was an absolute FARCE!  The argument was that it was highly irresponsible for him to buy her a pair of £8 shoes and flats for that matter (insult upon injury!), especially since he spent A LOT more than £8 on his own shoes. They believed it was rude and a very poor decision.  Camp B on the other hand, believed that this was not as heinous a crime as some thought.  The lady did not complain about the shoes but instead, accepted them with glee.  Not only did she support the decision her husband-to-be made on her behalf, she also appreciated the thoughtful decision to buy flats which would ensure she had comfortable feet all day long!  We did not conclude on who was right or wrong as both camps had equally strong arguments.  We did however agree that men planning weddings isn’t a bad idea at all (so long as it’s not broadcast on Don’t Tell the Bride!).  We also agreed that the act of bridesmaids wearing different heels is an OFFENCE!  Why would you do that?  Why?!?!  No matter where they’re from, even if they’re Primark’s finest, they must match unless you want the wedding photos to punch your eyes like Ike punched Tina.  NO!

The sanctity of marriage is definitely being defiled of a daily basis!  We were told about one wedding at which a recently married man showed up, but not with his wife and not one piece of arm candy; The man decided to rock up to the place with TWO hotties decorating each arm!  And to add salt to the wound, his mother who was also in attendance, didn’t seem to bat an eyelid, all the while his wife was at home none the wiser.  It is sad to see how vows are easily laid to one side in pursuit of a bit of frivolous fun and no one is correcting this irresponsible behaviour.  And it’s not a sport exclusive to older men; young men nowadays are also engaging in the same reckless behaviour and extra marital activity.  On a lighter note, we were also told about a Sugar Momma who was parading her toy-boy barely in his twenties around town.  She’s older.  She’s hot.  And she’s SINGLE!  Kudos Ma!

How many people should you invite to your wedding?  Now I belong to the 100-or-less attendees’ camp, and want an intimate ceremony, filled with only my nearest and dearest.  But this is not everyone’s dream.  We were told about a wedding recently held which had over 1000 guests.  YES!  1000 GUESTS!  You would be forgiven if you mistook it for a circus!  People were hustling seats inside and there was a marquee erected outside for the latecomers.  Snooze and you lose bebe!  What causes people to have such huge, lavish weddings?  Is it a status thing?  I can understand if you’re marrying royalty and have to satisfy political protocol, but otherwise, surely 1000+ guests is excessive?  We had a mixed bag of responses to this story: some people love big and bashy weddings; some have to please their large families; some want a huge party that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives and some, between them and their partner, actually know 1000 people!  ‘Tis true!  These Ladies are a sociable bunch!  I guess the most important thing is that the day is special and exactly what the couple want, whether it’s big or small.  And I will happily be one of a thousand attendees for my lovely friends’ weddings!

And remember folks: Marriage is for life, not just for Christmas…!

Food and Individual Reviews

When I previewed the menu I knew I was in for a carnivorous afternoon.  We were offered both the breakfast and lunch menus which were packed with different meat options.  As there was so much to choose from and I am currently battling my inner greedy pig which tries to convince me that ordering everything on the menu is alright (it really is NOT alright), I’ve asked the Ladies to share their reviews on the various dishes that were ordered on the day and their overall experiences –

Feyi

Food score 9/10

I had the traditional lunch burger and triple cooked fries with a side of peppercorn sauce. I must say being the only one in the group that had this I was a bit sceptical, but to be honest I was quite impressed. I requested for the beef to be well done, and I got just that; the bun was soft and fresh, and the meal itself was quite filling. I was very satisfied!

Besides the food, I loved the atmosphere in the restaurant, and most importantly, the service from Ned. He won the entire group over, his patience and attentive nature was well appreciated, as he took the time to explain each dish to all, as requested.

 Esther

Food score 6/10

I arrived at another fabulous rendezvous a la Ladies Wot Brunch with high expectations and an empty tummy. The venue had a very warm and homely ambiance, and actually reminded me of Christmas, with the layout of our table and the merriment of the people. We laughed, debated and finally ordered.  Our waiter was very informative, friendly and always had a smile which is always great to see.

First we all ordered our drinks, to ‘whet the palette’ as they say. I ordered a very yummy virgin mojito with an apple juice base.

Then, I opted for The Hawksmoor Breakfast (for 2 to share). Looking at it on the menu, I was overwhelmed by the variety of that particular selection, it included;

Smoked Bacon Chop

Sausages (Pork, Beef & Mutton)

Shanagans Black Pudding

Short Rib Bubble & Squeak

Grilled Bone Marrow

Trotter Baked Beans

Fried Eggs

Grilled Mushrooms

Roast Tomatoes

Unlimited Dripping Toast and

HP, Onion and Bone Marrow Gravy

Needless to say I had no doubt I’d be full afterwards.  When it arrived, I couldn’t help but notice the size of the bacon chop, it was huge! Either way, we tucked in to this traditional English breakfast. I was very excited; the Trotter baked beans were delicious, very different to Heinz or any other brand of baked beans I have tasted.  I’m not a fan of black pudding and I haven’t changed my mind on that either! Haha! The toast, mushrooms, fried eggs and bubble & squeak were just how I like them. However the bacon chop proved to be extremely salty and simply unbearable to eat. Overall I really enjoyed the meal, it didn’t exceed my expectations but it was good. I would definitely visit Hawksmoor again, to try the other selections on their menu.

Tolu

Food score 4/10

I had the sausage HK muffin. I was eagerly anticipating it as I was starving and I was also looking forward to trying their breakfast menu. I didn’t think there was a huge selection to choose from but having made my choice, I waited in deep anticipation for my meal. Disappointment!!! It was overly salty and though I devoured it due to starvation, I don’t think I would have been able to eat it otherwise. On the upside, I also ordered the cornflake milkshake and that was simply divine. The texture, the smoothness the dairy goodness – yum!

Adaeze

Food score 7/10

As usual, an afternoon with the Ladies Wot Brunch was a great time. The atmosphere and company were both amazing, the stories and games with this very eclectic bunch always brighten up my day!

Now for the food, myself and Esther opted for the Hawksmoor Breakfast to share. It looked great on the menu but when I came to the table it exceeded both our expectations… It was huge! It arrived in one of those sizzling dishes and had sausages, roasted mushrooms and tomatoes, a bacon chop, black pudding, eggs, bubble and squeak and dripping toast! I enjoyed the most part of my meal, especially the bubble and squeak, eggs, sausages mushrooms and tomatoes. This was my first time trying black pudding and I must say I most likely won’t be trying it again! I was disappointed with the bacon chop, it looked very juicy on the plate so I was excited to dig in. I even saved it till last, but as soon as I took the first bite it was like someone had given me a table spoon of salt to eat… Not good!

The next time I visit Hawksmoor, I’ll definitely try the Lobster and roasted sweet potato.

Gabby

Food score 8/10

I ordered the Hawksmoor take on Surf n’ Turf: The lobster perfectly cooked, beautiful! And the rump was good; nothing against the way it was cooked but I will definitely go for the fillet next time (which is what Nana ordered).  Fantastic!  The fillet beats the rump hands down!

Buky

Food score 2/10

I ordered the toast, bacon and eggs – classic breakfast/brunch food, so for a place that serves this you would expect it to be good!

How wrong I was!

Dripping toast – Yuck! But that’s just a preference thing. (If you don’t want your toast covered in fat then it’s definitely one to avoid!) What made it worse was that by the time I got the food in front of me it was already cold and so the fat had started to solidify on my toast! That white wax looking stuff! – I still tried it but it wasn’t for me. Oh and on top of that the toast was burnt! Cold, burnt toast covered in fat! (Sound appetising?) Toast – no go!

Bacon – Also burnt and rock hard as it was cold by the time it was placed in front of me.

Eggs – Ok, nothing special, and definitely the best thing on the plate, but again these were cold!

Nothing else to say!  Oh except my white leaf tea was LUSH Hurrah! And the tea selection was nice and slightly different.

I (Deborah) also shared a Hawksmoor breakfast and echo the comments in the reviews above.  It was a lot of food, a definitely enough to feed a hungry pair.  The beans were very tasty and were the first to go.  The sausages and bubble & squeak were also very flavoursome and you could tell they were made by well seasoned meat connoisseurs.  I could have eaten the bubble & squeak alone 🙂  I was really disappointed with the pork chop, which without sounding melodramatic, tasted like meat seasoned with 10 kilos of salt!  The toast was also quite charred and I usually like well toasted bread, so perhaps a minute less on the grill might have been mitigated the problem.  The bone marrow was also very strange: by the time I got round to eating it, it was simply a load of congealed, cold fat, which after a little nibble did NOT tickle my taste buds.  I asked what the purpose of the bone marrow was, and was told that it was usually used to spread on hot steak, which begs the question “what was hot?” and “where was the steak in the breakfast we ordered?”  Seeing as neither returned an answer in the affirmative, I think they might want to reconsider the marrow inclusion in the Big Breakfast selection.  That aside, the mocktails, cocktails and milkshakes on offer were spectacular.  I’m not a fan of banana based mock or cocktails, and so a special mocktail was mixed for me.  Unfortunately, I cannot remember what it was called and to be honest, I don’t think it even had a name.  OR MAYBE they’ll name it after me!  If you visit Hawksmoor and you see a “Deborah” on the menu, do not be surprised!  The drink was extremely refreshing, bursting with fruit and was surprisingly wholesome.  I was on the one drink and an accompanying glass of water during the entire afternoon.

For those who like a bit of a kick in their drinks, Hawksmoor also have an extensive wine and cocktail list as well as a selection of hot beverages.

Service

A HUGE shout out goes to Ned, who was our waiter for the afternoon.  Ned had the tricky task of catering to a group of demanding women with a million and one requests and he did it with such professionalism and charm.  Once we were all seated, he introduced himself, before taking our drinks ordered.  He came up with solutions for everyone: from those of us who didn’t like certain fruits in our mocktails, to those who wanted a beverage which married something fruity, refreshing and something warm together.  Once the time arrived to order our meals, we were given a mini talk about the types of steak on offer, what they would look like, taste like and how they were weighed and subsequently priced.  Very informative!  And for those few minutes we all became eager students listening attentively!  Although the food was not to everyone’s taste, and unfortunately one meal was brought out cold and long after everyone else had been served, overall Ned did a very good job!  If you can, make sure you request him when you visit!

Overall

“To be fashionable nowadays we must ‘brunch’. Truly an excellent portmanteau word, introduced last year by Mr. Guy Beringer, in Hunter’s Weekly, and indicating a combined breakfast and lunch.”

Punch, August 1 1896

This quote was stylishly included on the breakfast menu, to remind us that there was no crime in eating a hearty steak early in the afternoon.  As a group of fashionably blended Ladies, it also was a nod to our Brunch journey, which on this occasion veered us away from the usual pancakes and scrambled eggs.

Going forward, we decided it would be good to award aggregate group scores for each of the venues and the following are what we awarded Hawksmoor Spitalfields:

Menu selection 6/10

Service 9/10

Overall Experience 7/10

The general consensus is that although Hawksmoor Spitalfields may not offer the best Brunch as promised, they do offer great service (although good service on top of good food will tip the scale) and good quality meat (when not over salted!).  We believe that the menu could be expanded quite a lot and for example, the seafood offering could include prawns. The  shabby chic gastropub-esque decor gives the restaurant it’s own smart-casual ambiance.  Given its location in the heart of London’s business district and trendy E1 postcode, I’d recommend it for lunch or dinner and just skip Brunch altogether.  That way, whether you’re after a hearty slab of meat to take your mind off the day’s trading or low key meaty nibbles before you peruse the quirky market stalls, Hawksmoor should have something to offer you.

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