At one point, the tagline for my site was “this is not a food blog, but most of it is about food”. I think at one point, I might give up on pretending it’s not a food blog and just turn it into one. Until then, I will continue to stubbornly insist it’s simply a personal blog because sometimes I buy expensive shoes and write about them.
Still, everyone’s talking about Halloween and here I am posting about food. Really, I haven’t changed, lol! Ah well, I can’t help it if I just so happen to eat a lot and thoroughly enjoy doing it.
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” – Virginia Woolf. I guess I need some other excuse because lately I have dined embarrassingly well.
Back in July, I went back to the UK on a half-business, half-personal trip. The primary purpose was to spend time back at our London HQ office for a week, but I was able to extend my stay, giving me more time to get to know new colleagues but also visit my family and attend a friend’s wedding.
I spent about 2 weeks in London in total, during which time I more or less met up with different friends every day (night). When catching up after work, there is only one rightful place to do it: over dinner. Sorry for the terrible photo quality in some of these; I only had my iPhone 5S and was much more excited about the idea of stuffing food into my stomach than photographing it to perfection #glutton #fat #sorrynotsorry.
Lisa W and I started off with a 2-course set meal with bubbly at The Red Fort, an Indian fine dining restaurant in Soho, which I recall being a very nice experience, but perhaps that was primarily to do with having such great company? I can’t quite remember how good the food was, but I think that’s a sign that I wasn’t blown away.
The set meal was a good deal though. Afterwards, we were pretty stuffed, but were so engrossed in our discussion about Pokemon Go (at this point, I was still highly addicted, she hadn’t started playing it and I got her into it that night) and Asian ginger babies (her boyfriend may or may not be ginger and I may or may not have Google-Imaged the term for her) that we decided to get pudding. All women have a separate stomach for dessert, right? Except for me, I’m a cow so have 4.
I was craving chocolate lava cake or something with pistachio, and a place right opposite our restaurant happened to have both. Win! I had to Google where we went because I honestly wasn’t paying attention to the name, only the menu, but Lisa said she’d been there before for dessert as well and recommended it. It’s also a restaurant, so if you like, feel free to give them a visit – Quo Vadis.
We ate a week’s worth of calories as we caught up, and ended up taking a short stroll afterwards to catch some Pokemon (London is crawling with Drowzee, which were pretty much non-existent in New York!) and ended up having a chat with other Pokemon ‘trainers’. It was such a fun night and so good to see you again, thank you for hanging out, Lisa! P.S. I just realised we’ve known each other for, I think, 11 years now. Ohmygosh I feel old.
As you can see, we are both incredbily mature, so Pokemon and pudding matched us perfectly.
The day after I met with Lisa G, whom I’ve been friends with since day 1 of Uni too many years ago, but we are so closely connected by mutual friends that it’s insane. When I say closely connected, I mean, her primary school best friend is a girl I’ve known since we were 6 years old and became best friends with in secondary school. I think when one has been close friends for that long, one has made a friend for life, right? Here’s hoping, at least :)
We hadn’t seen each other in months and wanted to treat ourselves a little, so Lisa booked us a table at Tredwell’s from Marcus Wareing. She booked via Bookatable for a “3 courses & a cocktail for £26 per person” deal. I have pictures of these!
For starters we both had the salmon, which was simply melt-in-your-mouth divine. The flavours complemented each other well, the crunchy carrot and croutons helped to balance out the texture, and we both loved it.
The main course is literally a piece of meat, and if you wanted some quality cuts or more expensive meats there was a surcharge on top. This wasn’t surprising given the low cost of the set menu, but it did mean that our bill went up by about £10-£15 each (inc. tip) after ordering chips, greens, and steak for me, pork for her.
I think the chips had either been sitting out for a while, or they were an older portion from earlier that had been refried. Unfortunately too greasy and a bit hard/chewy (you can see they don’t look very appetising from the photos too) but I saw the same chips being delivered to another table later on that looked crispy and golden. Unlucky!
My slab of chocolate dessert was very rich and sweet. The sharp, crisp flavour of the raspberry did help to cut through the richness a little, but I found it too heavy to finish. Lisa had salted caramel soft serve with honeycomb, which I only have a blurry picture of so didn’t bother uploading. If I recall correctly, I had one bite and didn’t want anymore. It was way too sweet.
I personally wouldn’t return since there are so many other fantastic restaurants out there in London! This place may be nice for a fancier date that doesn’t break the bank, or a special occassion though. Anyways, again it was the company that made the evening that much nicer. We caught up about anything and everything, although my only complaint would be why she couldn’t have gotten her kittens earlier, then I could have gone to pet them.
She taunts me frequently with pictures/videos of her and her housemate’s two newly-adopted, adorable kittens. Our joke about becoming spinsters and crazy cat ladies one day wouldn’t really work on her since she has a long term boyfriend unfortunately (however, her kitten is white and ginger with blue eyes called Rainbow. Her boyfriend may or may not also have ginger genes. Seriously, what is it with my Chinese Lisas and their ginger babies).
I am determined not to get a cat.
Two days later, because presumably I needed a break from all this gluttony (that’s not true – our company summer party took place inbetween and I ate myself into a food coma. I kid you not, everyone else played games and I fell asleep on a picnic blanket, but let’s not go into that), I met up with one of my Uni seniors. For – you guessed it – more food!
I booked us a Wine & Steak for £19.95 special via OpenTable at 28-50 Fetter Lane, which is both a wine workshop and French restaurant. She went for the steak & chips with wine, but as much as I loved steak I don’t think I could have handled more in the same week. I ordered the lamb, which came with vegetables (so it’s basically a health food, right?!) and was cooked perfectly. So tender and juicy and now I’m salivating. The bed of ratatouille was a little salty for my liking though.
I also kept on stealing Mimi’s chips because they were yummy and I love chips.
Then, as if I wasn’t enough of a pig already, I got dessert while she looked away, secretly disgusted at my ridiculous appetite (did I forget to mention? We shared a starter as well. No pics, was too hungry) while the restaurant’s soft light from above bathed her in a gentle glow that made her look simply angelic
Well, partially anyway. I don’t think she was disgusted? But at the same time, she didn’t eat my pudding. I ate my pudding. And that’s probably why she’s beautiful and slim and I am… uh, not. Also, of course she looked gorgeous because she was semi-posing for this pic so I could send it to a friend I was hoping to set her up with.
But, alas! It was not meant to be as she is currently floating between London and Paris after living in Australia and Hong Kong. I was super lucky to have caught her since she was only in town for a short time. I hadn’t seen this woman in years so it was such a pleasure to see her again. She is effortlessly feminine and ladylike. Maybe one day my friend will have the pleasure of meeting her too, hehe.
Then began 10 days at home, where my family thankfully recognised I’d been eating out way too much and spoiled me with home-cooked meals of home-grown, organic leafy greens, which was pretty much exactly what I needed.
Except for our visit to Wing Wah, of course. It’s somewhat become a family | tradition. (Hilariously, that’s where I first documented my desire to get a pair of Stuart Weitzman Highland boots online, which is the exact pair of expensive shoes I was referring to at the start of this post. I recently purchased them at Saks Fifth Avenue along with a pair of Stuart Weitzman Nearlynude sandals as Saks were having a huge discount with spend deal, but more on that some other time. We’re talking about food here!)
^ We pretty much always order the 皮蛋瘦肉粥 (meat with century egg congee) and it’s always the first dish to be brought to the table, which ends up immediately wolfed down and a sad sight for photos. But hey, it shows we enjoyed it. Yum yum.
We also ordered:
Top Left – shrimp dumplings (a staple) and some sort of deep fried shrimp dumpling in soup (I think we just wanted to try something new, but now that I read this, it doesn’t even remotely sound like a good idea. I don’t recall this being amazing)
Top Right – calamari (I was craving the salt & pepper garlic squid from Mien Tay, so this somewhat satisfied that craving, but it wasn’t nearly as good. Still tasty though)
Bottom Left – egg custard tarts (another staple)
Bottom Right – assortment of our family staples – pretty much anything with shrimp in it, chicken feet (for my sis) and some funky Thai-spiced tripe (I think. My mum loves it and polishes off the entire dish herself)
Shrimp Cheung Fun | Zha Liang (cheung fun with fried dough sticks) – both delicious. I was pleasantly surprised at how clean and tender the shrimp was since it can be hit and miss sometimes. Both are family staples. Yum yum yum.
The day after, my sister craved sushi so the Bobbie-family ladies headed back into Birmingham – into the city centre this time – and sought out sushi & shopping. We Yelped some reviews online and settled on Sushi Passion.
I remember not liking the dragon roll very much. Or the california roll. Salmon sashimi set was tasty but also not the best salmon I’ve ever had at that price. That said, I’ve been spoiled by the likes of London sushi joints. The placemats and tableware, tea pots and decor were really cute though.
On one side you can sit in very traditional Japanese fashion – cross-legged at short tables with seat mats on the floor, on the other side you had Western-style tables and chairs, or you could choose to sit at the bar and watch the chefs at work. We went on a Monday lunch time when it was fairly quiet but the restaurant itself is small so I can imagine you may need to wait a while if you tried to go at peak dinner times.
The rest of the week was filled with family-time that I’ve kept to myself. My auntie and her family came to visit England for the first time ever and took a detour in their pre-planned road trip to come and see me. We all then visited Oxford together and had a wonderful time catching up and seeing the magnificent historic architecture that Oxford and its colleges had to offer. It was so good to see them again and take them around my neck of the woods (sort of) this time!
Back in London, I stayed with a friend/colleague and wanted to treat him to a meal, so we went with Chai-Ki. It’s part bar & kitchen, part restaurant, and the menus are different for both sides although you can order some items from each, kinda.
We started off at the restaurant because I initially thought that menu looked nicer, then realised I wanted to eat most of the stuff from the bar & kitchen menu, so we moved.
The above is a full spread of veggie dishes for my veggie friend & some to share (I love veg!), with an additional lamb curry for me. Personally I found the vegetarian dishes more enjoyable than the meat. The curry & accompanying bread was too heavy and greasy for my liking. The meat was more or less blended in and almost had the texture of baby food, which I didn’t dig. I had major food envy of Chris’ tofu salad.
The vegetable curry was packed with favour, and the lentil curry was rich and tasty too. I kinda wish I didn’t get my lamb curry to be honest haha. It’s a very vegetarian-friendly restaurant and I’d recommend it if you’re a herbivore!
Ann is a sister from Southampton that I first met at a ministry outreach camp in Milton Keynes. She’s like a little sister to me and we’ve been in touch ever since. She came to visit me in London (last time we met was for brunch at Beagle) the following day and we decided to go for pizza. (“When will you ever stop?!” you cry in despair. Never.
Please don’t be scared off.
Hello? Still there?)
Franco Manca is one of my favourite pizza places (that, and Natura, but it’s so far! Franco Manca have multiple branches, one by Liverpool Street Station and I worked in Shoreditch, so Franco Manca it was) and is exceptional value for the price, and the pizzas always taste divine.
Normally I get the oregano, capers, olives & anchovy pizza but this time I was feeling adventurous and created my own veggie mix with ham. I didn’t quite like the blend of flavours as much and I’ve never been a massive fan of ham (I wanted meat on it. Ann had ham on hers and I was too easily swayed) so this time I didn’t enjoy it as much, but Franco Manca still remains firmly top of my fave-pizzas-in-London list.
“Sourdough pizza for £7, where else does it get that good?”
“No where. That’s where.” Well, in central London at least. Unless you know a place? In which case, send it over.
Three weeks passed in a blur.
This was my last day in our UK office, which was also a Friday where colleagues normally do drinks in a local pub, plus an ex-colleague who’d recently left was dropping by for some leaving drinks. He had the coolest sunglasses ever that gave the world a warm glow when you put them on, which felt like wearing a permanent Instagram filter, but also looked freaking epic. Genevieve tried to photobomb my selfie so I have no decent selfies with just me and the sunnies. So I decided to just get her in the pic too :p
You’ll notice I have a drink in every one of these meals, but I haven’t written much about them. It’s actually because I’ve mostly forgotten about them, although I recall the red at Franco Manca being too tart for my liking. I took a photo of the wine list from 28-50 London because I really liked the red wine I had, but I totally don’t remember which one it was anymore.
Not that it matters, since, after an incident last month involving me drinking myself into a state of uncontrollable vomiting followed by the worst hangover of my life, I have genuinely been put off alcohol and never wish to drink again in my life.
After recovering the hangover, at first I wanted to stop drinking completely because I never wanted to go through that again, but I was thinking of all the drinks I’d miss – red wine with steak, white wine with fish, plum wine or soju with yakult just because, and especially mimosas and bellinis at brunch.
A few days later, I had a sip of my friend’s Long Island Iced Tea and realised I didn’t enjoy it at all and now even the thought of me drinking makes me feel a bit sick. It’s been over a month and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed drinking lemonade or water with colleagues and at networking events.
Last December I had been worried about how much I was drinking that I went sober for a month in January. That month was super tough for me and I desperately missed my booze. This time it’s very different and I’m really thankful that I went through this traumatic hangover (okay it’s probably normal for some, but ohmygosh that morning I thought I was dying) and that now my body and brain both reject even the thought of me drinking. Anything to make me healthier – and think of all the money I’ll save!
Plus I now feel a lot better about my obscene caffeine addiction (which I shall also maybe tackle one day. Baby steps).
At this point I will mention that a) this post is getting too long and b) I have one final restaurant that I went to in London with another friend that I’d always intended to blog about properly, so I will put that post up separately.
Sorry about the mega-long blogging hiatus. I’ve been trying to sort out some things on the back end of my site (i.e. change hosting providers since Servage completely screwed me over) and now, I’m thrilled to say I’ve finally migrated my blog to a new server.
When I say “I”, I actually mean a massive thank you to Karol, who helped me move my blog over. I’m not sure how long it took you, but I really, really appreciate it! It’s been for-freaking-ever since I did something like that myself and would have taken me at least a good solid day or two to figure it out myself and then probably even longer to troubleshoot, so thank you so much!
Karol was also the one who recommended the new hosting provider to me – Webfaction. They’re much more expensive, but presumably also a lot more stable and the last thing I would want is to lose all my content for 2 domains + 50% of this one again, so the premium is worth it for me. So far I’ve had a good experience with them.
I always say this, but hopefully I’ll start posting more moving forward. There are a lot of updates that I’ve been meaning to give… Thanks for sticking with me.
Cookies and hugs to you if you’ve read this far.