Archives for category: Eat

freaky toys at brooklyn flea market

daisy, daisy, give me your answer do…

a magically alluring twig terrarium…look closer…

sunshine and lemonade at cafe habana outpost

…and don’t even think about leaving without trying the ‘famous corn’.

one of the many pieces in the pratt institute’s famed contemporary sculpture garden in clinton hill

a random scene along the walk to williamsburg

result: a well-deserved vanilla milkshake from relish in williamsburg


on christmas day 2009, i arrived at my parents’ house in tulsa jetlagged and relatively catatonic after an intense year filled with as many highs as there were lows.

but after a week of eight-hour sleeps in a bosomy cloud of pillows and posturepedic bliss, a daily martini hour at 5pm sharp (expertly created by the world’s leading cardio-mixologist) and three square meals so nourishing and delicious they could revive a donkey after a tsunami, i was back in action. colour in my cheeks. a spring in my step. and a big, fat smile on my big fat face.

here are some of the culinary highlights…

the christmas feast: turkey with cranberry-orange compote, honey-glazed ham, stuffing balls, brussels sprouts, roasted parsnips and carrots and chipolatas

boxing day delight: a majid tradition after any lengthy journey – shrimp shumai and turkey shumai on a bed of wilted pak choi

new year’s eve hors d’oeuvres: smoked oysters on cucumber medallions, cheese balls with a basil pesto centre rolled in pine nuts…accompanied by martinis, of course

new year’s eve starters: traditional shrimp cocktail

new year’s eve main: fondu requires no explanation

new year’s eve dessert: a little cracker treat found the sherry trifle shooters irresistible – he had a very happy new year indeed

and this is what my mum can do with indian takeaway leftovers – pan fried cod on a bed of saag paneer with pilau rice and asparagus 

sunday night roast just as it should be – tender roast lamb, yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes, cauliflower cheese, roast sweet potatoes with rosemary and peas

and this is just a little something she threw together: madras shepherd’s pie with peas

thanks to my cardio-mixologist (aka dad) and gastronomic therapist (aka mum), i am now fully rehabilitated and ready for the world again.

BRING ON 2010!

“by seeing london, i’ve seen as much as the world can show” – samuel johnson

old sammy boy may’ve been slightly biased–what with the whole ‘tired of london, tired of life’ diatribe (clearly he never had to take the 43 bus home from old street on a rainy monday night)–but he had a point. if you can’t find a way to amuse yourself in london, you may be beyond pleasing.

try, for starters, the vibrant, bustlingly dickensian borough market for brunch with a limitless menu of sarnies, salads, raclettes,  paellas, mezzes, cakes and more (with plenty to sample)…

borough market

go for the smoked toulouse sausage sandwich with rocket and mustard and a flat white coffee (a bargain for six quid as it’s a three-mealer, i.e., breakfast, lunch and dinner all-in-one)

smoked toulouse sausage from borough market

then follow it up with a clove-filled mulled wine (three quid) served up with a smile (free)…

mulled wine at borough market

if you’re up for stroll, venture down the south bank and catch a free concert along the way under blackfriars bridge

blackfriars tunnel quartet

brave the crowds at the tate modern or hop on a bus down to shoreditch to check out some galleries for something completely different. like PETROL, a show of painted car bonnets, at signal gallery on curtain road…

curtain road gallery

or just walk around to see the art on the street.

curtain road grafitti

cordy house

total cost for all that food and culture = 11 quid.

see a trend here? either i have really bad luck traveling or i have superhuman meteorological powers. i like to think it’s the latter.

so i’ll keep this short and sweet. apparently, london had one of the hottest, sunniest weekends ever. in sydney, it was rainy and cold. to that i say feh! you can still have a great time! try this:

1. shop like mad. i ❤ the boutiques of william st. especially the corner shop, which stocks label lovers’ marc jacobs, alexander wang and opening ceremony but also quirky accessories from emerging designers.


2. eat sushi. try toko after a marathon shop up oxford street in paddington. simple, fresh and uncomplicated. just like it should be.


3. take a stroll in sydney’s hyde park. the trees are so lush they’re like umbrellas (even in winter).


4. take the ferry to manly. great views even if it’s pouring.


5. climb the sydney harbour bridge. or just watch the insanity from afar. why you’d want to climb 400 feet in the air in pouring rain is a bit beyond me.


6. go sailing. loads of people do it rain or shine.


7. or just kick back and watch the view.


8. have a late lunch at manly ocean beach house overlooking the surf.


9. read the paper overlooking the surf.


10. take your time finishing lunch overlooking the surf.


11. enjoy the journey. even if it is just a ferry. 



this one’s for the lovely cybele, who’s been helping me get settled in the sydney office and is heading to london on holiday. here are just a few of my favourite bars and restaurants in london:

angel / upper street

the albion 
perfect for warm summer evening, this gastro pub has a beautiful garden to dine in
10 thornhill road, N1 1HW

the angelic
gorgeous gastro pub for brunch or just a pint
57 liverpool rd n1
+44 20 7278 8433

breakfast club
some of the best brunch in town, but get there early or late because there’s usually a wait
31 camden passage, N1 8EA

elk in the woods
my absolute favourite spot for brunch and pre-upper street shopping
39 camden passage, Islington, N1 8EA

low key but sophisticated thai restaurant with lovely intimate courtyard in the back
119 upper street, N1 1QP

le mercury
romantic candlelit french bistro with cheap as chips gourmet dishes worth three times the price
140A upper street, N1 1QY

s+m = sausage and mash. plain and simple comfort food that’s like a warm blanket for the day after the night before…
4-6 essex road, N1 8LN

feng sushi
this is a sushi chain but the best location is the borough restaurant by far. go on a saturday as the front of the restaurant is open and you can watch the bustle of the borough market…good people watching, good sushi
13 stoney street SE1 9AD

if you like fish, this is your plaice (har)
cathedral street, borough market SE1 9AL

gorgeous restaurant over the borough market—does what it says on the tin
the floral hall, stoney street, SE1 1TL


edinboro castle
my cousin used to run this lively place—best on a sunny day for a pimm’s in the beer garden
57 mornington terrace, NW1 7RU

jamon jamon
chilled out spot for tapas before a night out; also good for brunch if you like a good tortilla and café con leche
38 parkway, NW1 7AH

dim sum restaurant that’s perfect for lots of little tasters of absolutely delicious chinese foods
29-31 parkway, NW1 7PN


gordon’s wine bar
one of my favourite spots in london, especially on a warm summer evening—it’s the oldest wine bar in london. have a glass of wine in the romantic, dark catacombs downstairs or grab a plate of cheese and bread and share it outside on the grass or at the tables in the alley
7 Villiers St, WC2N 6NE

notting hill

aphrodite taverna
by no means a scene, this is a family restaurant with delicious greek food and warm hospitality—the owner will most likely come over and have a chat
15 hereford road, W2 4AB

beach blanket babylon
this spot, on the other hand, IS a scene…but fun for the alice in wonderland type vibe and great cocktails (be sure to check out the one in shoreditch too)

primrose hill

the hill
slightly pretentious but fun gastropub with good wine
94 haverstock hill, NW3 2BD


beach blanket babylon
good way to start a night out in shoreditch…good food but even better scene
19-23 bethnal green rd, E1 6LA

big chill
a shoreditch old faithful, this is a great spot for a drink after a day at spitalfields and pre-brick lane curry
the truman brewery, dray walk, off brick lane, E1 6QL

vibe bar
one of my favourite bars, either sit outside on the picnic tables or lounge inside in the dirty gritty den
the old truman brewery, brick lane E1


my favourite tapas restaurant in london—sophisticated and reminiscent of a catalan tapas bar. go early in the evening, because there are no reservations and there’s usually a line (worth it)
54 frith street W1D 4SL

absolutely delicious and very noisy—you share tables with others—another one you have to line up for (but worth it)
106-110 wardour street, W1F 0TR

crown and two chairmen
my cousin manages this place—the best pub in london! go in and say hello to craig 🙂
31 dean street, W1D 3RZ

red fort
i haven’t been yet but I hear this is some of the best indian in town

 south bank

oxo tower
head here for an elegant drink or dinner and one of the best views of london
OXO tower wharf, barge house street, SE1 9PH

and last but not least…

st johns
my absolute favourite place for a date and truly wonderful meal–not the prettiest area but worth it for the atmostphere of this beloved gastropub (call for reservations)
91 junction road, archway, N19 5QU
020 7272 1587

enjoy! x


host: table for two? it’ll be about 5 minutes. let me just take your name and mobile…
me: it’s a UK number, is that ok?
host: oh no that won’t work…just need a way to find you then. (looks me up and down)…ok (writes) ‘reallly…white…legs’

and so went my first dining experience in sydney. seemingly unintentional insults aside, it was a most excellent dining experience…not to mention, a most excellent first few days in this chilled out, stylish, diverse and strangely familiar ‘city of villages’. here’s how day 1 and 2 went:

sunday 25 may

arrived at 6am after a superb 22 hour flight on qantas (highly recommend requesting exit row upon check-in, even though they’re going to start charging 160 AUD…so worth it)

breakfast (lunch? dinner?) of poached eggs, sausage and toast at a restaurant in the centre of brunch mecca on macleay st in potts point

quick hop on the subway two stops to bondi junction to spend the afternoon watching the surf at bondi beach






back to elizabeth bay around 7 for a dinner of fresh salmon at gazebo wine garden (see ‘really white legs’ incident)

monday 26 may

give in to the jet lag around 6am and go for 10 laps in the indoor pool of the building where we’re staying (bliss!)

coffee and a poached egg al fresco at the charming and quintessential sidewalk cafe fratelli paradiso off macleay street

stroll up paddington’s enticing oxford street to check out the array of vintage, local designer and high end label boutiques…nice. i’ll be going back to belinda, shag and the paddington markets on saturdays

taxi (about $20 AUD – lazy but worth it for the nice view on the way) to sydney harbour to tick the tourist box that is the sydney opera house


next, a lavish seafood lunch (and martini) at wildfire overlooking the harbour – we shared the wildfire selection with king prawns, sydney rock oysters, pacific oysters, blue swimmer crab, balmain bug, mussels, tartare of ocean trout (about 30 quid) and then a ‘decontructed’ banana split. wow.

then back to potts point to meet lovely friend liz for a glass of prosecco at gazebo wine garden (i’m a sucker for punishment)

it’s safe to say i’m going to like it here…


you booked two months in advance. the city break twinkles on your calendar…a shiny, flickering beacon getting you through the arse end of wet, cold, grey winter. then what happens? you get to barcelona and it rains. all weekend. and it’s an average of 5°C colder than london.

but fear not, intrepid traveler! barcelona is not all beaches, park strolls and sangria in the sun. i would take a million rainy days in the catalan capital of culture. this little agenda only scratches the surface of what you can do.

8-10:30am: sleep in

you’re in barcelona, just relax. it’s not going anywhere. in fact, no one’s up and nothing’s open anyway.

11am: pre-culture caffeination

head to the plaça dels angels in raval, home of the MACBA (museu d’art contemporani de barcelona) and the CCCB (centre de cultura contemporània de barcelona), for coffee and a bite to eat to tide you over until lunch. the catalans don’t really do brunch or big breakfasts with the exception of tortilla and the odd pastry. any of the cafes opposite the MACBA are good for a café con leche. try l’original, which is a lovely experience in itself with its creative interior and friendly service.




noon: get your contemporary art fix

walk across the plaza to the MACBA. it’s only about 7 euros for access to all the exhibitions. i just saw the MACBA’s latest exhibitions — joan rabascall, thomas bayrle and cildo meireles — which i’ll review in my next post. the main floor holds the ‘collecció’ but the next three floors are worth it if only to experience the light and air of this stunning white building.

placa dels angels, 1






3pm: time for tapas

next stop: cerveceria catalana. the absolute most authentic, high quality, dream-about-for-days tapas in barcelona. i would move there just to eat at this restaurant once a day. the crowd’s a combination of sophisticated catalan couples and families, local ex-pats and tourists wise enough to take the rambla (slightly) less traveled.

cerveceria catalana
carrer de mallorca 236
tel   +34 93 216 0368          
hours: 7:30am-1:30am every day


if you’re not sure what to order, here’s my usual: una tortilla, pan tomaca, pimientos de padron, brochetas de gambas (shrimp skewer on a piece of bread) and a solomio (small piece of succulent steak on a piece of bread). and of course, una cervesa. if you have any room left, go for the crema catalana and a cafe con leche after. you won’t be sorry.


5pm: art fix, part 2

take a taxi up to montjuïc to the fundació joan miro. the ride’s no more than 6 or 7 euros and is a stunning journey winding through magical gardens and lush green parks (save a walk through the area for a sunny day). the museum is relatively small so you can see both the permanent and new exhibits in about an hour (approx 8 euros)…but if you like miro, you’ll want to spend several hours pouring over every detail of his masterpieces.

fundacio joan miro
parc de montjuïc s/n
tel   +34 93 44 39 470



6.30pm: birds-eye view of barca

if you’re brave enough, take a left outside the museum and walk 5 minutes to the teleferic de montjuic (cable car) for a 15-minute ride that gives you a sweeping perspective of the the city and the harbour. if the view doesn’t take your breath away, the height will. gave me palpitations, but in a good way. very worth it. the teleferic closes at 7pm, so get there at least 5 minutes before.





8pm: dinner time

right across from the teleferic station is one of my favourite restaurants in barcelona — montjuic el xalet. beside the view, the food, wine and service is superb. it doesn’t open until 8pm, so if you need to kill some time, pop over the equally spectacular hotel miramar for an aperitif.

montjuic el xalet
avinguda miramar 31
tel 93 324 92 70

10pm: nightcap

end the day with a nightcap at the super chill hotel omm just off passeig de gracia in eixample. the lobby has a modern fireplace, bed-like sofas, well-crafted cocktails, attentive staff…what more could you ask for to zone out after all that culture.

hotel omm
roselló, 265