Archive | June, 2012

For Ladies Wot Dine… At Rhodes W1

19 Jun

May 25 2012 saw the Ladies Wot Brunch switch it up for the second time, and on this evening, we became Ladies Wot Dine.  The venue chosen was W1, Gary Rhodes’ Marble Arch Brasserie located in the trendy Cumberland Hotel.  After our encounter with him at the Taste of Christmas event in December last year, I thought it would be great to pay the restaurant a visit and see just what Mr. Rhodes had up his sleeve…

Booking

Making a reservation was a bit of a kerfuffle (oh dear!)  As their online reservation system takes bookings for up to 6 people, I reverted to what I knew best and I called up.  However, after several attempts and several minutes waiting for someone to pick up, I employed plan C: email.   Hoorah!  They responded and after a brief email trail to confirm time, party and prices, the reservation was complete.

Gist!

It had been a while since we’d had a dinner date, and so the catch up conversation was fun and varied.  Amongst the group were brides and bridesmaids to be so the wedding and dating topics were popular.  Here’s a snippet of what we gossiped about –

Let’s get hitched…  Oh wait!  I’m already married!  Sadly, this story is not as surprising or uncommon as it used to be and amongst the group there were several stories of friends and acquaintances who had met the guy of their dreams, courted, accepted proposals only to discover the so called Prince Charmings were either already married or about to become betrothed.  A particularly nasty story about a beautiful young woman who met the man of her dreams, was whisked on luxurious holidays and finally got the big fat ring was shared.  We ooh’d and ahh’d until we heard the climax – the young woman whilst preparing for her own wedding, received a wedding invitation to her said fiance’s other wedding!  She never heard from him again.  It’s a strange situation: if it seems too good to be true, does it become a nightmare?  Or as women, can we afford to believe and trust in men who propose just like that?  As a traditionalist and a woman of faith, I think it’s still safe to believe in love and the sanctity of marriage.  And if in doubt, get on your knees and pray!  Bind such devilish, lying monsters out of sight!

Three strikes and you’re out!  OK ladies, how many of you have a 3 strikes and you’re out policy with guys?  I didn’t before but I do now!    I shared a funny story from my archive: I met up with someone, who on paper seemed like the business – fit, cute and well dressed, and he took me out for some sumptuous cocktails and delicious dinner.  As the evening and conversation developed I soon became aware of the three strikes which would eventually render him out of the game! 1) Lack of ambition.  This may not be a big deal for some, but it’s mighty important to me and all the women I know.  A man who is constantly finding excuses to be distinctly average is sooooo underwhelming!  Urrrgh!  2) A certified alcoholic.  Can I just say, as a lady I never get drunk: only wavy(!)  Anyhoo, as we swapped war stories, for every PG rated experience I had, the guy had an XXX rated story to compete!  Bearing in mind that the guy was not a spring chicken, an old drunkard is just disgusting for goodness sake.  Urrrrgh!  3) Mama’s boy.  Need I say more?  *pulls hair out* Urrrgh!

We debated over which was the worst strike to try and get over: some said they could deal with a Mama’s boy (although my personal opinion is that of you accept his Mama’s boy status, you are therefore consenting to a life either in the kitchen in front of the stove or in the bedroom on your back!), whilst others said that perhaps he just needed a steer in the right direction.  Either way, when you’re out, you’re out.  NEXT!

Rastafari sex slap!   How far this is true, I don’t know (please enlighten me if you know more) but we were told about the alleged Rastafari belief that sex is a strict act for the purpose of pro-creation (OK, correct) so much so, that women are not supposed to express their enjoyment (whaaaattt?!)  Apparently, if a Rasta’s woman makes the mistake of moaning or groaning during the act, she’ll receive a resounding slap to reward her audible efforts.  Yikes!  If this is true, this is sooooo strange!  And if it’s not, well it’s still a funny fib!  Hehehe!

Food

I’ll keep this brief because for the very first time EVER, I don’t have anything very nice to say!  Overall the food was really average (with the pointer violently tilting towards sub-par).  I was really disappointed as I expected so much more from the charismatic chef’s kitchen.  My lamb thingy was just yuk – tasteless and chewy.  The papardelle and pork cheeks smelled really bad and the fish of the day was so bland it was not funny.  On the other hand, all starters – salmon, scallops and squid – were ok but nothing to right home about, and I was also informed that the pan fried salmon and chorizo sausage risotto were tasty, although the chef was given specific instructions to make it extra spicy which ultimately influenced the taste.  The ice cream trio was nice, but then again, it’s just ice cream.  Meeeh!  The overall winner for me was the Pimms cocktail, however I don’t know if the credit can be attributed to the restaurant or actually the hotel’s bar staff.

Service

Again, nothing much to say here apart from POOR!  I was shocked and outraged at how bad the service was.  During dinner, we received minimal attention and the staff only came over when asked to.  The food was not nice, and some of the Ladies had to send their meals back to the kitchen and settle for fat fried chips.  When the bill arrived, with a hefty £60 servce charge and the “service charge is optional” note at the bottom, I requested a new receipt without it.  The waitress, Laurie’s response was short and rude – “it is not optional,” she snapped “as we have dedicated many members of staff to your large party.”  Except, they had not.  So why was she talking crap?  She proceeded to quite openly report us to her manager, all the while pointing her finger and pursing her lips in disgust at our table.  On further inspection of the receipt, I noticed we had also been charged for the food sent back to the kitchen, and again I requested some assistance.  This time from the manager.  He wasn’t much help, and quipped “the chef says the food was alright so we cannot remove the charge”.  What a numbskull!  Of course the chef would say the food was good, but who cares what he thinks?!  He is not a paying customer.  We are!  And it was not to our taste.  We reverted to the point about the staff not attending to our party during the meal, which if they had done, they would have realised how unsatisfactory we found our meals.  Eventually, we managed to negotiate the service charge being waved, but it meant that some of the Ladies around the table ended up paying in excess of £40 for chips, a few drinks and rudeness.  Can I just add that Laurie made sure she snatched our cards to stuff into her card machine, and once complete, threw them back at us.  Seriously.  She is the epitome of everything that is wrong about the service and hospitality industry and writing this is making my blood boil all over again.  Grrrr!

Overall

Hey hey!  You’ve guessed it!  I will NOT be encouraging anyone to return to W1 – Brasserie or restaurant.  The food could have been so much better, but it’s the service which completely destroyed what would otherwise have been an ok meal.  Luckily for us, we had lots of cocktails and conversation which ensured the evening was not a complete wash out.  Gary Rhodes, if you are reading this, can I make one itty bitty request please?  Don’t worry about offering us a free meal, or even a discount for another day.  Can you please just get rid of Laurie?  She is really going to give your restaurant a bad rep!  The end.

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Chin Chin Labs… Unadulterated Fun in the Sun!

12 Jun

A few weeks ago, you would have been right to assume that summer had arrived in the British Capital.  London was awash with sunshine, smiles and stunner shades and we loved it!  But alas, the sun has since disappeared 😦 however, the memories live on!

While the sun shone, and the weather was sweet I discovered Chin Chin Labs, an ice cream parlour which creates weird and wacky frozen flavours using liquid nitrogen!  The parlour located in the eccentric Camden Lock, North London welcomed us after a spot of shopping and did not disappoint on the refreshment front.  The ice cream making process looked like a science experiment and I can’t lie: co-founder Ahrash Akbari-Kalhur resembled a nutty professor!  The lab was alive with the sound of humming machines and the smell of pop flavours!

My fellow Brunch Clubber Bami and I played it safe and went for raw vanilla pod ice cream but we jazzed it up with the toppings – Bami with chocolate sauce and hazlenut sprinkles and myself with raspberry coulis and candy poppers!

My sister was a bit more adventurous and went for the flavour of the month – mango upside down cake, topped with salted caramel sauce and honeycomb.  Divine!!!

We ate our fast-frozen creations in the seating area outside, listening to old skool jams being played by the dj-cum-market stall owner, and mused on the popular Gilgamesh and Shaka Zulu restaurants which are located directly opposite the parlour, all whilst basking in the unadulterated sun.

Sigh!  The sunshine memory lives on, although the ice cream taste probably needs refreshing so you can find me at Chin Chin Labs: it’s going down!

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Jubilee Weekend!

5 Jun

Hi folks!

This weekend we have been celebrating the Diamond Jubilee, which marks 60 years of the Queen’s reign in United Kingdom.  It’s been a joyous bank holiday and today is the last of a 4 day weekend! Wah wah waaaaah! 😦

There have been street parties up and down the country and I got involved in a little outdoor celebration myself.  Check it out!

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Finally, I’d like to send my condolences to the 153 people who lost their lives in the tragic Dana Airlines plane crash on Sunday 3rd June 2012 in Lagos, Nigeria.  This has hit especially close to home as I am of Nigerian descent and know people who have lost their nearest and dearest in the accident.

May the souls of the departed rest in peace and may the cuplrits responsible for this tragedy be brought to justice.

Food Haul!

5 Jun

I’ve become a fan of youtube vlogs: video blogs which talk about any and everything!  My favourite vloggers including Britpop Princess, Fabulasity is Me and Lover4 Fashion (I’m slightly obsessed with her) always do themed hauls, short videos showing you their latest shoes, summer garments or make up purchases.  And I became inspired!  They love all things fabulous and fashion and I love food.  And so the Food Haul was born!

So what have I been obsessing over and scoffing of late?  Well the following have made the list!

1. Innocent Juices and Smoothies

Delicious, thirst quenching and they contribute to my 5 portions of fruit and veg a day!  Fantastic!  The smooth orange juice has become a firm staple in my fridge, both at home and at work.  But on a recent love yourself late day (whenever I miss my train on my morning commute, I’ll treat myself to Starbucks 🙂 ) I decided to try something new and picked up the orange, mangoes and pineapple bottled smoothie.  I’ve been hooked ever since!  Unfortunately, they do not sell this particular variety in bottles in the supermarket and you can only get the kiddie sized cartons(!)  But so long as I have my morning smoothie burst, I’m a happy bunny.

For those of you who don’t like banana based smoothies, you should definitely check out the kiwi, apple and lime variety, which not only tastes yummy, but looks gross-green enough to convince people watching you drink it that you’re on some super healthy liquid diet!  Hahahaha!

2. Border Dark Chocolate Gingers

Someone brought a packet of these into work and I believe I was partially responsible for the box being finished by the end of the day!  They’re so moreish!  The ginger packs a punch on the palette and the chocolate is truly bittersweet.  Yummy!

3. Automat Mixed berry pancakes

Since the first time my lovely friend introduced me to Automat, I’ve not been able to stay away…  One of the hardest decisions of my food life was which pancake should I go for?  Strawberry or Blueberry?  I was torn: it was a war of the berries!  But this decision has since been eradicated from my life by the introduction of the mixed berry pancakes, with the usual generious lashings of maple syrup.  They’re so good!

4. Paul Raspberry Macaroons

I’m not claiming they’re the best BUT they really did the trick the other day when I had an hour to burn in Notting Hill.  Juicy and huge!  For the Holy Grail of macaroons, you’ve gotta try Pierre Hermé but Paul Macaroons come in as a close and accessible second.

5. Indomie Noodles

This is my final guilty pleasure.  Oh my word where have these noodles been all my life??!!  While many of my friends stocked up on these and similar noodles during university, I stayed away from the cheap, fast food.  I’d never been a noodle fan, and not even a limited student budget was going to change that.  However, I recently had a plate of Indomie cooked up for me.  As the fork full of the stuff approached my mouth, I began to imagine how disgusting it was going to taste and closed my eyes to help soften the blow.  But surprisingly, the first, second, fifteenth and finally the last forkful went down an absolute treat!

Indomie noodles can be found in most major supermarkets in the world foods section (although it’s a lot cheaper in Asian/Afro-Caribbean food markets), come in a variety of flavours (well it comes with satchets of flavouring) and can be bought indivually or in bulk (bulk buy in the market only!).  My favourite and the most popular is the chicken flavour.

After my first encounter, I approached with caution and bought four packets to test the product again and see if it was a fluke or if I really had changed my anti-noodle ways.  It wasn’t a fluke.  A week later, my boot was full of noodles.

And I’ve been cooking them ever since!  For something quick and easy, get creative and experiment!  My favourite concoction thus far is mixed vegetables, onions, prawns and eggs.  But my sister makes a mean seafood and vegetable indomie mix.  Mmmmmmmm!

And that’s it!  What’s been tickling your taste buds of late?

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