Monday, 21 November 2011

ray stitch haberdashery cafe, essex road, islington

Here is the second edition of my guest editor series, I shared a lovely Saturday afternoon with the other half and bessie mates in Islington. E wrote this fantastic review- thanks lady!

Essex Road has always been a bit grittier and way more eclectic than its counterpart Upper Street. Whereas Upper Street has become home to the mid priced high street shops and an over representation of estate agents whose monotonous presence is broken thankfully by one or two excellent theatres and theatre pubs. I make no commentary on the dining places, which are generally predictable and have been well documented. So instead my partner and I head down the Essex Road where we happen upon the wonderfully titled Ray Stitch Haberdashery Shop and Cafe. It is a warm day so everyone is sitting outside on the extended pavement. We are happy to sit indoors at the little window seat and savor the ambiance of the interior. Behind me there are shelves full of fabric rolls, quirky prints some reminiscent of 1950s or 60s patterns French or Belgian patters. There are knitting patterns, buttons and an array of design journals – all or sale. Oh and there is food. Really good healthy wholesome food, that just happens to also be very tasty. My partner had the coffee and said it was excellent and I had a lovely peppermint tea. In addition to our beverages we ordered a substantial butter bean salad - to share. Delicious! This is a smashing little cafĂ©, full of character, excellent food and drinks at very reasonable prices. Definitely worthy of a detour.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

wedding party london

After tying the knot in Northern Ireland with the family, we were all set for our London bash. Ireland was absolutely perfect, it was so important and romantic to share this with our nearest and dearest.

For the London do, we had a meal at Hoxton Apprentice for 35 guests and we were lucky to have close friends travel all the way from Dublin, Madrid and of course the folks that came all the way from Perth.

For our party we decided on a DIY vintage wedding and had been preparing for ages.

The venue was Shoreditch Town Hall, which was perfect. I'll let the pictures and captions speak for themselves...

We set up long tables and bought bird cages from eBay, as well as plenty of vintage tea sets and cake stands. Shell spent many weeks during the summer folding paper cranes with floral paper.

The flower vases were a collection of tins from the local shop, which were painted white with ribbon on the bottom. We got all the flowers from Covent Garden Flower market the previous day.

One of Shell's students made the little birds, we told her what our favourite birds were and she made them specially. We had sparrows, blackbirds, woodpeckers and the cutest bird in the world- a splendid fairy wren...Our local dry cleaner on Kingsland Rd started selling a few vintage items and when I collected our outfits on the day I picked up the little framed bird pic for £2.50.

The rooms looked amazing, it was everything I had hoped for....I was in heaven..all my closest friends, celebrating with my girl.

 Our friend's aunt made the bunting, it was amazing quality and set the room off perfectly. It was lovely to have people we know involved in the process.

We paid attention to every detail and tried to make and collect everything ourselves. This little suitcase was from our trip to Hastings and Shell made the little bunting sign. I adored the hydrangea flowers beside the case.

The bar was a highlight, we'd spent a lazy summer picnic brainstorming ideas with our friends and came up with 'The Bird's Nest Bar' We'd had a few last minute changes and we'd been ordering all our Majestic wine the week before literally as we were about to leave the house to fly to Ireland. We also ordered loads of gin and spirits and did a DIY bar, with a friends daughter helping to serve people. It was a huge success and we had no worries or problems... happy days.

To be continued...

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

first dinner in tokyo

I have had so many amazing things happen in the last 6 months and have many many many blog posts to share. But as I sort out my photos from honeymoon in Japan I wanted to share the first meal we ate in Tokyo...

Shibuya Crossing, busiest in the world
We arrived in Tokyo on Sunday morning and we were thrilled when we released the Nartita Express from the airport went direct to out hotel. After checking in and relaxing a while we explored the area. We were two wide eyed westerners in crazy Tokyo. There was music blaring and people everywhere. We found looking for somewhere to eat a bit intimidating as we couldn't read Japanese and had no idea what kind of food they served. In the end we stopped by a place, a waiter was outside and we asked if he had 'begetarian' thankfully he did. We took a seat at the counter, had some beer and consulted the English menu he found us.

We skipped the horse sashimi and ordered tofu, rice, miso and mushrooms

We've since found out that it was a Izakaya, which is a pub that serves food. I only took a couple of snaps because I was still feeling like a fish out of water!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

tea and cake with my bff

I had a perfect Tuesday about a month ago, my best friend forever collected me with her gorgeous daughter and we drove to her Summer Bay house. It was cosy and chilly outside but we had a beautiful view of the sea, and my bff's sister popped round with her adorable son.

We ate cupcakes, we ate Tim Tams, we had cheese toasties, we gossiped, we laughed and it really was a  perfect day. I miss you girls and your fabulous kiddies!!

Thank you very much for the special tea day!

figs and quilts

A trip home to Perth, Western Australia is not complete unless I have brunch by the beach with my best girlfriends. We usually head to the Wild Fig, as it's right by the beach that I love so much....

After our experience at the end of August I will rethink our usual spot, we arrived only to be told we could not have a walk it booking for 6 people, and the waitress was not especially helpful with our request. I 'm sure they have a reason for this, but I can't think what it was. My friend had the idea that we'd just try and get two tables beside each other, which is just what we managed. The next problem was they did not want us to push these two tables beside each other, but we did it anyway..

So, onto the food....I ordered the aussie classic coffee, a flat white, which was actually perfect.

For my brunch I ordered a vegetarian sandwich with avocado, we all waited and waited and waited for our order. It really did take forever. Was tasty when it arrived though.

photo courtesy of Miss Bettie
The best bit about the brunch was seeing my wonderfully close friends, I'm so happy to count these girls among my nearest and dearest, time and distance do not matter.

After lunch, I hung out at the beach for ages with Miss Bettie who had made me and my girl a very special wedding gift. I felt so lucky.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

oystralian vego breaky

I had a few culinary adventures back home and made a few dishes I'd always wanted to try out. The crazy thing is they were traditional British recipes. The day I arrived in Perth it was rainy and blustery so I stayed home with my step pa, watched the footy and made a roast (veggie of course)
Now, with the lack if Aunt Bessie's frozen yorkshire puds on hand I had to make my own...I think the trick was to whisk the batter and heat the oil before cooking. They were perfect (no pics though!)

We had a family dinner the Saturday before I left, and we had masses of roast vegetables left over. So I had the chance to try and make bubble and squeak. Talk about easy! Mash the roast veg into patties and fry.

Bob's your Uncle....Mate!!

The vego (that Australian for veggie) breakfast is good for a hangover!

blog blog blog

I'm so behind on this blog...I've been to Australia, had a wonderful civil partnership in Ireland, surprise guests from Australia and an amazing party in London where dear friends travelled from Dublin, New York and Madrid to celebrate with us. It's been a whirlwind and today is the first day I have been able to stop and think about it all!!

Entries promised very soon....


Friday, 5 August 2011

east london village fete cakes

A couple of months ago (yep, I'm a bit behind with the blog as usual!) we popped along to the Laureston Rd Village Fair. It was a lovely sunny Saturday and all the neighbours had bits and bobs out to sell. I was very restrainted from the vintage knick knacks, but I could not resist this gorgeous cake stall.

It was a very tough choice with so many bright and tasty cakes on display.  I'm a big fan of battenburg cake and this giant slices were so bright....but it was the purple glitter and big juicy blueberries that I just had to gobble a slice..

What a cake!! If only I could make light, fluffy, sweet cakes like this with glitter all over them...

Saturday, 30 July 2011

chewy cherry chocolate cookies

I woke up one Sunday in the mood for baking so ransacked the store cupboard to see what I could rustle up. After consulting with my favorite recipe book- Veganomican I had the perfect recipe- chewy cherry chocolate cookies.

measuring cups at the ready

First you mix the rapeseed oil with the jam ....

You separately mix the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa and sugar)

Oh I should probably mention here the recipe was for rasberry cookies but any jam works and the cherry was tasty! Slowly mix together the dry and wet ingredients.

Roll into balls, flatten and then bake...

Stick in the oven and take a few photos while they bake.. they are. They tasted so good I made them again the following weekend.

The cherry cookies are lovely and small, two are perfect with a nice cup of tea when you crave something sweet. I love that they are vegan and the cherry and chocolate are a fantastic combination. They also score 'brownie' points as you can make this with ingredients from the store cupboard....

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Royal Teas by guest editor Ms JD

I'm delighted to introduce my first ever guest editor Ms JD. This is hopefully the begining of a new phase for the blog as I welcome additions from my nearest and dearest. Lady J shares my passion for the sweeter things in life and supermarkets too. It's a beautiful friendship- what more common ground could you possibly need?

Ms JD has a flying trip to London and stayed in Greenwhich, which is lined with gorgeous independent shops.

Royal Hill shops, towards Greenwich Park

At Royal Teas Cafe Ms JD had Eggs Florentine with a cappuccino on a Friday late morning - when everyone else had to work - was very chilled and relaxing

Royal Teas

eggs florentine

The location is perfect - off the main road, in the quiet "Royal Hill" road towards Greenwich park - with cute little independent shops (cheese board, fish monger, a local butcher, tiny vegetable shop, flower shop)

Sunday, 24 July 2011

just over a month to go

Exciting news, we have a civil partnership on the horizon. Lots to do, lots to arrange, lots of fun, lots of love. Here's the invite....Shell took the photo which is a fusion of our two personalities and shot on our balcony. I love the invite. I love Shell. I can't wait to sign the important piece of paper and celebrate with family in Ireland and friends in London.

I've not been blogging so much on crockery and cakes and caffs, although I am still 'researching' but I seem to be spending all my mac time on ebay collecting decorative bird cages, vintage playing cards, tea sets and arranging specially made bunting. Roll on September!!!

up the effing- the morning after the night before

One thing about camping is that it is noisy, very noisy! We woke up the next morning not feeling like we'd had a good night sleep, but absolutely happy as Larry at waking up the 'great outdoors' 

The sun was shining very strongly, and we were listening to the Archers. Plus there was tea on tap. All the makings of a perfect Sunday morning if you ask me.

Plus we had poached eggs which had been freshly made by Beryl and Cheryl.

up the effing

One lovely sunny Saturday we packed up bags and bags of yummy food and headed the the Epping Forest for a night's camping trip. We had bunting, we had Pimms, and we had lots to barbeque. All the makings of a perfect weekend. When we arrived early in the afternoon and tried to find a spot with some evening. Once we'd put up essentials like the tent and bunting, I swiftly made us a jug of Pimms.

After quaffing back the Pimms and collecting wood for our fire that evening, we got started on the BBQ, we had vegetarian kebabs with vegetables and halloumi, plus mushrooms stuffed with blue cheese and chives.  We had a third quenching G & T to accompany the preperations. I insisted we include a slice of cucumber, as according the The Guardian's fashion pages this is was 'going up' on the measure.

BBQ prep 
The best bit of the BBQ for me was making up my Jamie Oliver sweet potatoes. You wash the spuds and in a bag mix cumin, chili flakes and sea salt and toss the sweet potatoes in the bag. Wrap up in foil and stick in the coals of the fire for 20 minutes.

sweet potatoes under the fire

the end result- a perfect BBQ
dinner smoking away

Saturday, 9 July 2011

strawberry muffins

One weeknight M decided to whip up a batch of strawberry muffins. I haven't much to say except they were light, fluffy and filled with English strawberries. Best thing was the birthday gift from my Aussie BFF got an outing...I adore the tea cup muffin bakers...

Sunday, 3 July 2011

seaside trip to see the pumpkins

Freaky window display
It was a terribly rainy day when we set off to St Leonards to see best buddies M and B aka 'The Pumpkins', we got stuck in traffic on route and missed our train. But the rainy weather suited our reflective mood and we were so pleased when we finally arrived at St Leonards. It's such a cute little seaside place, and I adore M and B. So we set off and had a stroll round Hastings and a delicious lunch, which I did not photograph, and I have no idea what it was called. I only know that the food and wine was good!

Hastings is packed with lots of fantastic shops like Rob's Rummages and we bought oursleves some lovely tea cups for our civil partnership evening do. Having a nosy around the shops is lots of fun.

bunting galore

After a fantastic stroll around we headed back to the boys place for some tea, cake and ice cream. Three of my favourite things. B had freshly made the ice cream and cake and they were both divine. The cake was light and fluffy, just like a Victoria Sponge should be. The ice cream was so tasty, I was convinced B had used an ice cream maker but it was all done by hand. YUM.

Lovely touch with the gingham napkins, dainty spoons and glass plates. Heavenly! And look at the tea- a perfect colour, and the most gorgeous little tea cup.

The ice cream was so tasty- must get the recipe.

So will full tummies and happy hearts we boarded the train back to London. Always lovely to see the boys, just always too short a time together. Must get another date in the diary to look forward to..