Archive | November, 2011

5 Things

22 Nov

TEA CUPS

Now, I don’t know whether it’s my love for the dated tea party: dainty, beautifully baked cakes accompanied with tea, served in delicate china tea cups, along with immaculate table manners and coy conversation…  An enthusiasm instigated by Grandmother (‘The Don’, or GrandDon as I shall henceforth refer to her); or alternatively, the strangely endearing fashion made famous by Gaga… Either way, something has my brain programmed to ‘OBSESS’ when it comes to tea cups (and other related tea ware- teapots are not immune), also stemming my passion for baking.

I have been collecting tea cups for a few years now and believe me- I’m not fussy! For me, tea cups, and in the same vein- tea parties, are not all about the antiquity. I really only care about aesthetics and, at the risk of sounding cheesy, the ‘feel’ of them (don’t really know what that constitutes as either). I mean, I’m the one who’s going to be looking at, and/or drinking from them! So yeah, my selection may not all be bone china or preciously salvaged artefacts from the 1940’s- who cares? Additionally, this also means that I’m not really the kind to buy a whole identical collection… Oh yes, I am such a rebel. Anyway, I love each and every one of my multicultural selection of tea cups equally… How diplomatic of me.

 Here are 5 of my very own, personal selection of tea cups…

1. My first ever tea cup, Rosie Brown’s Boutique, around £10. I think it may have been a Christmas present from my mum after I began taking baking and the whole concept of the old-fashioned tea party seriously. I absolutely love the hypnotising pattern, and somehow it makes me feel all regal and whatnot, and want to start dropping the word “daarrlingg!” out of context, into random, cackling conversations. It was this tea cup which encouraged me to begin collecting.

2. Genuine antique (or vintage, depending on your poxy word-preference) tea cup, bought from an old antique shop in Arundel, Sussex, around £6.99. Despite what you may gather from the photograph, this tea cup is tiny! This seems to make each dainty cuppa drank from it feel all the more sacred and special.

3. “The Momma” Candy Pink tea cup, again Rosie Brown’s Boutique, around £10. I like to call this one the “The Momma” (and I’m not even American!) because it is actually the largest of my tea cups… I did toy with the name “Whopper”, again quite American-sounding, yet wasn’t sure I could promisingly pull it off (that would have definitely been a step too far). It may be one of the plainest of the tea cups, with minimal design, yet I believe this is what makes it one of the most pretty.

4. Old English rose- style tea cup, Rosie Brown’s Boutique (again!), around £10. Although this one gives off the appearance of being a classic, genuine antique, it’s actually not. However it’s the cup’s classic, very feminine design which inspired me to buy it. It seems like it may have just dropped out of another era, and somewhere, somehow, the Bennet family are one-short of a tea set and very unhappy about it, whilst Lizzie happily and carelessly prances off  into the sunset with Mr Darcy (Yes, I read the book before watching the TV series, and before the film even came out. No, there will never be a better Darcy than Colin Firth, thank you).

5. Lime Green tea cup, Sunshine Garden Centre (amazingly!), around £7.99. Rather than lime, the colour actually reminds me of mushy peas, but I didn’t really think that would be an appropriate title for the tea cup, poor thing. Actually, it almost resembles the colour of the strange, “not-ice cream” palate cleanser Anne Hathaway noshed on in ‘The Princess Diaries’… No? No-one else? AwkwardI watched it when I was a lot younger, people.

 And there you have it! 5 of my favourite tea cups, although I still willingly admit that this whole collection of/obsession with tea cups, etc. is maybe just a tad strange…

Ah well! Here’s to next month’s ‘5 Things’. 

Night all.

Music to My Ears

17 Nov

Personally, I’ve always fancied myself as having quite an eclectic music taste, as I pretty much listen to anything in all different genres, so long as it’s good. Therefore, seeing as I’ve pretty much had the same string of songs on repeat on my iPod for the last couple of weeks, and am thus very much in music-mode, I thought I’d make this a sort of random, irregular post on my musical obsessions of the moment!

Anyone heard of Maverick Sabre? I hope so. Not only because his name is in actual fact awesome, but his bluesy voice is hypnotizing and his refreshingly soulful music resonates nostalgia to a male early-days Amy Winehouse. I had vaguely heard of Maverick Sabre a while ago, however I only really listened to his music recently when sitting in a restaurant. It literally made me drop the conversation I was having and lulled me into some sort of pleasant, catatonic, auditory state. The song in question (which is in fact his most recent) was ‘I Need’. It’s beautiful, and demonstrates a mix of soul and R&B; a common characteristic of  Sabre’s music; which sets him apart from many other contemporary artists… Selling him much?! Anyway, that lapse in judgement aside, I’d definitely recommend a listen!

At the risk of sounding ridiculously mainstream, I’ve also developed a sort of fondness for Rihanna’s new single ‘We Found Love’- featuring Calvin Harris. Before I’d even heard it, despite the fact that Calvin Harris is an awesome Brit artist and much-appreciated on this side of the pond (need I even bother mentioning the amazing on-stage Jedward/pineapple stunt of 2009 which resulted in Harris’ life-long ban from the UK X Factor?), I had decided that I didn’t want to hear the song and refused that I would like it… Simply on the basis that Rihanna’s been a bit of a ‘new single’ hoe this year (I mean, how many ‘new singles’ can one woman release in a year alone? Come on!), and I pathetically wanted to resist from following the crowd …Hello! If I hadn’t done that when Cher Lloyd’s ‘Swagger Jagger’ was released, then where would we be?! For all we know, that monstrosity could have actually reached the number 1 spo-

Oh wait…             Dammit!

However, when I did find myself listening to the song I was pleasantly surprised, as I mostly always am with Rihanna’s music (I’m sorry for ever doubting you Rihanna! I understand that the days of ‘Rated R’ are behind us now!). Also, the fun and gritty video really sells the song, which is of course a bonus…

Finally, the last (I promise!) song which has also taken my fancy recently (excuse the twee and slightly sickening expression), is Labrinth’s team-up with Tinie Tempah. What is it with all these contemporary rappers putting some sort of reference to height issues in their names? Yes Tinchy Stryder, you too! The song ‘Earthquake’ is actually great- it’s bound to be special with sophisticated and mature lyrics such as “throw bombs on it” and “just smash something”… Perhaps not, but don’t let that turn you off! Labrinth’s a really good artist, and listening to ‘Earthquake’ made me wonder why I hadn’t paid enough attention to him from the start.

Yes, yes, I understand that my reviews of these songs are all completely subjective! However alls I knows is they are awesome tunes, and are winning like Charlie Sheen’s tiger blood. Trust a brother.

Night all!

Crouch End Tiger, Hidden Cake…

10 Nov

Yup, I’ve been out and about, cake-stalking again.

This time I visited my favourite Crouch End cafe and bakery (as its name obviously implies)- Coffee Cake.

I feel Coffee Cake is special, not only because of their lovely baked goodies, homemade smoothies and fresh salads (oh, and they sure do sell a good cup o’ coffee), but because every time I go there the atmosphere is lovely. It seems that in the land of Coffee Cake, everybody is friendly and at peace, and; unless you visit at the peak time of lunch, when everything is crazy and manic- a testament to their popularity really; you’re free to relax and have a calming intermission from your busy life outdoors.

During this visit, I bought a walnut and carrot cake, which tasted interestingly herby, whilst my friend had this miniature victoria sponge.

Anyway, all of this is not to say that there aren’t any other nice cafes/bakeries in Crouch End, because believe me, if anything there is a serious over-population of them…

No, I have visited others in the area, but some haven’t honestly been able to match up against the wonderful-ness of this one ( *ahem* The Haberdashery, I’m looking at you! NB: your popular selling point of serving tea in vintage teaware only works if they’re clean and not chipped! Also, quit serving me hugely overpriced muffins in bloody plant pots! Yes, I get it Haberdashery- you’re arty and alternative, but that doesn’t allow you leeway on cleanliness, thank you very much).

Finally, I only have one thing to say against Coffee Cake. Seeing as I like it so much, last year I actually applied for a job to work there (imagine the free cakes and cups o’ coffee!), but after handing in my CV they never actually got back to me!

Oh the shame! Coffee Cake– it could have been the start of a beautiful friendship, but alas you let me down! Needless to say, it genuinely hasn’t put me off…

Night all!

Fancy a Cuppa?

7 Nov

Not one to break the British stereotype, I confess I love tea.

I may be alone in this, but as I passed this tea house in Covent Garden I was absolutely captivated. And I guarantee you, when I entered I wasn’t disappointed…

I’m not talking a few boxes of PG Tips here and there, oh hell no (and let’s not joke about PG Tips either… the topic of ‘tea bag’ is a serious one). No, the inside of The Tea House is a haven of all tea-related business; with an array of original and unique tea blends on sale, and also a wonderful selection of teapots and other important tea equipment (yes= tea is important, no= any person caught drinking my tea will not live). 

I also came across a selection of miniature, intricately patterned Gaiwans, which are basically handleless tea cups/pots- so cute. Believe me, I would’ve been on that, except I’m very old-fashioned when it comes to my tea- drinking, and prefer my tea cups (or mugs- let’s be honest, I don’t have the time to sip tea daintily every day daarling), or pots to have handles.

This shop was a treasure trove to behold, and epitomises everything tea-loving. Thank you Tea House, for reminding me why I love tea so much, and for bringing tea to the people!

Spoiler Alert! In true Brit and tea-obsessive style, my next ‘5 Things’ post is going to be tea inspired, so watch this space! And no, I’m not going to just photograph a bunch of tea bags! Well, not really…

Goin’ Down to Chinatown

6 Nov

 Visiting Chinatown is an amazing cultural experience… I don’t get to go there often, but when I do I relish it! It’s mainly the endless streets of food shops, restaurants and bakeries that keep me coming back (I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of the strung-up chicken window displays within many a Chinatown restaurant, however alls I knows is it can never put me off!).

First on my travels, I visited the fantastic sweet shop in Chinatown, selling all sorts of bizarre and interesting treats, and picked up some of these chewy White Rabbit Cream Candy sweets. After opening the first wrapper of the candy, there’s actually another thin layer of rice paper around the sweet, which just dissolves in your mouth! The White Rabbit itself has a creamy, almost milky taste and is scarily addictive!

Next, my friends and I went to eat at the Royal Dragon, a restaurant we hadn’t yet visited, and my friend ordered this monster of a drink…

I know right? What the hell is that?! Well, it’s actually a melon and honey smoothie, with coconut juice and some weird little jelly raisin things floating around. For the record, the smoothie had a really strong taste of melon and was lovely. I can’t speak for those floaty fruit whatsits though… I didn’t have the guts to try them!

After a delicious lunch, we went walkabout and came across one of Chinatown’s many awe-inspiring cake shops. The cakes were huge, and the decoration and detail of each one made them very appealing and tempting, I can tell you! Oh Lordy, just look

 

 

I myself bought a slice of a gargantuan- seeming chocolate gateaux, and believe me, it looked to die for!

 

 

 With cake and sweets in tow, we found ourselves de-toring from Piccadilly Circus, and instead took a trip to Brick Lane. It was immense. I’ve never been to Brick Lane before but the boho vibe hit us on the way in. I absolutely loved it. There was a warehouse sale on at American Apparel, so we queued (all the way along the side of the street!), and eventually got in.

All I have to say is: not impressed. At all. Since when is an “up to 90% off” sale such a scam?! And to be honest, I’ve never been particularly enthused by AA’s clothes so it was pretty boring. My friends and I got split up in all the commotion, and so after trailing around the rails for about 20 minutes, my (thankfully sane) friend and I escaped from the stuffy, pretentious warehouse and instead waited outside for the others.

Sitting on the kerb opposite the exit door like tramps (because we are), we opened our cake boxes and cheered ourselves up with the frankly glorious– looking cakes we had bought in Chinatown earlier. However, as much as it pains me to say this (and I hate to drop a bombshell), my cake really wasn’t that nice! For all of its hypnotizing appearance, it lost out on taste and just wasn’t very special; unfortunately leaving something to be desired. I couldn’t believe it!

Subsequently we reunited with the others, so picking myself up from the grief of cake-gate, we moved on to Spitalfields. Sadly, the market wasn’t around as it was quite late by that point, but I have to say- again a first time visitor- I loved it. The shops were great, and I even passed a Las Iguanas- a restaurant where (on an occassion prior to this) I have eaten the best Latin and Mexican food of my life, and have been served a Long Island Ice Tea cocktail without it being realised I was underage… Home.

We also passed a fun novelty costume and joke shop where I found this…

Great stuff!

On the way back to the tube station, this hilariously-named bar caught my eye (the shakiness and blurriness of the photo reflects the amount of uncontrollable laughter I had as I was taking it).

Awesome day.

 

Happy blogging y’all!