london1967: (knocker)

We spent Adrian's birthday in Rovinj.


First we walked up to the church of St. Euphemia, which dominates the town





Here I climbed the tower to admire the views.




I found walking down the stairs rather difficult as because I have big feet I had to walk backwards and they kept getting stuck in the gaps between the wooden steps!


We then walked down to the harbour. Rovinj is very beautiful but very hard to walk around not only because it is steep, but also because it is paved with very slippery stones. We both had a couple of near misses!


At the harbour we went on two sightseeing trips by boat.
The first lasted for 90 minutes and was around the islands



A popular spot for newlyweds!









Then we had a fish 'picnic' on board

before setting off on a cruise to the Limski kanal, a 10 km estuary that, because is very narrow, resembles a fjord (in fact it was used as such in the 1958 film "The Vikings" starring Kirk Douglas).
The trip lasted 4 hours with an hour stop at the end of the fjord (where we had ice-cream!) and another stop to visit the pirates' cave (I had a look at the amount of people up those narrow steps and decided to stay on board!)




Back in Rovinj,


we had time for a short rest before climbing up to the restaurant I booked for Adrian's birthday dinner



Monte appears to be the 'top' restaurant both in terms of location and fame in Rovinj, and it was simply fantastic.
A piece of theatre and the food was amazing. (It cost an arm and a leg, but it was worth it).
We first had a Martini rosso under a canopy opposite the restaurant. The maître d' and co-owner look a bit like Robin Wright: elegant, poised and very welcoming.
We chose the 5 course tasting menu accompanied by 5 matching Istrian/Croatian wines and it was all superlative! (We also had 3 amouse bouches, a pre-dessert and some chocolates at the end).
I only have a few pictures as I was too busy enjoying the food, the atmosphere and the company.





("tartar of filet of beef - panko egg - wild mushroom cream")

("tortelloni with nettle - summer mushroom sauce - pine cone seeds - parmesan cheese")

("suckling pig 24h - lentils with pancetta - apple and horse radish")


("pear metamorphosis" - or as we called it, pear 5 ways, and it was out of this world!)
london1967: (knocker)
It is a tradition that every year we invite neighbours and friends to a Christmas gathering.
This year we decided for a lunch party: we provided (a choice of) 4 starters, 3 main courses and 6 desserts.
And we waited till the last Sunday before Christmas, so that it was also our own Christmas lunch (of sorts) as we always spend the holiday apart.

It was hard work to prepare all the food: we made 2 tarts on Friday night, and the rest on Saturday and Sunday morning, and finished about 5 minutes late.
But it was worth the effort as everybody really seemed to enjoy themselves. Many of our guests are also performers in the upcoming panto so that came up often in conversation.

Adrian had decorated the house beautifully but that will be the object of another post.

For now let's only concentrate on food... (main courses did not get photographed)





















Our 27 guests arrived just after 2 pm and the last 3 left at 11 pm!
london1967: (knocker)
On Thursday evening, I met Adrian at the Oxo Tower on the South Bank.



The building is in a great position and there are 2 restaurants on the 8th floor (run by Harvey Nichols)  with great views over the river.


We had a booked a table at the brasserie


for their 3-course set menu with a welcome cocktail for £30 each



The food was really good.

I have to confess that I'm not a great fan of fancy food (maybe it's because I'm Italian but I like my food to be rather straight-forward) but I really enjoyed it as it wasn't too pretentious (said that, I had to look up a couple of words!)

Soutzouki sausage, sesame hazelnut labne, cumin pickled cabbage, glazed fig, fried artisan flat bread

Chilled gazpacho, Manchego albahaca, sourdough crisp


Goat’s cheese tomato tatin, grilled asparagus, mustard seed dressing

Coconut Thai yellow curry duck leg, lemongrass jasmine rice, shrimp sambal

Dark chocolate orange pave, tonka bean ice cream

Vanilla brûlée, strawberries, melting moments

After the meal, we had to rush back to the London Wonderground at the Southbank Centre "a playground for the people, leave your real life at the door and step inside..."


Among the attractions there is the 1920 Paradiso Spiegeltent - Wikipedia informs me that a Spiegeltent is "(Dutch for "Mirror Tent", from spiegel+tent) a large travelling tent, constructed in wood and canvas and decorated with mirrors and stained glass, intended as an entertainment venue".
It is used as a performance venue for a number of acts.




The one we went to see is 'Briefs' an Australian group of acrobats and drag artists, burlesque with balls as the website says!

The website warns that it "Contains adult content and some nudity. For the fun-hearted, not the faint-hearted!" and it was certainly right! LOL!

I enjoyed the show


especially the acrobats and the contortionist who were rather easy on the eye too. A couple of the acts were a bit too crude for me but then I guess I am a bourgeois these days!

I'm always quite fascinated by performers who go out on a stage and really expose themselves (in this case, on more than one level LOL!)
I guess part of me would love to do that, if I had any talent and the personality.

And talking of performances, our panto is now only 5 months away and I'm busy writing it (at times, it's a bit of struggle).
The postman yesterday delivered part of Adrian's costume and of course we had to try it on and take a couple of pictures!


london1967: (knocker)
When I look at the pictures taken during the last few weeks, I see a lot of food. But I'm positive we did so much more than just stuffing our faces!

The last Friday in April we went to Roberta and Gianfranco's for dinner. Roberta is Adrian's Italian teacher, but needless to say we didn't speak much italiano!
I got there straight from work and when I took my coat off we all laughed because both Adrian and myself were wearing the same M&S shirt (I had bought mine first, but as Adrian really liked I bought him one too). The children were rather amused by our 'uniform'!

On the Sunday, we went to evensong at Southwark Cathedral.
The service was rather long (and at one point I nodded off slightly); when the service was over we gathered outside to witness the internment of the ashes of our neighbour Jo. Both Adrian and I thought that the place was anything but peaceful with the constant din from the trains passing on the nearby viaduct, the noise and the smell from the adjacent Borough Market, and the people eating on the benches but it probably suited our late neighbour.

May started with a book launch. Bobby, a neighbour of ours, launched his book "Seeing Sodomy in the Middle Ages" at the "Gay's the Word" bookshop. It was packed.
Before the launch Adrian and I had dinner at a nearby Strada:


Then we had the 'excitement' of the general election (LOL!) and the first get-together for the Residents' Association's Panto (I decided to write another one: "Cyril the Squirrel and the Magic Nut").

The following week was very busy:
- Paul, an old friend of Adrian's, coming for the afternoon and then dinner on the Tuesday
- dinner and theatre on the Thursday
- exhibition at the National Gallery on the Friday
- gardening all week-end (lifting the bulbs and planting dahlias, lilies and a number of seedlings)

We went to see "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown - The Musical" which was excellent and very funny:


We had a pre-theatre set dinner (tapas serves à la afternoon tea) at Salvador and Amanda's in Covent Garden:




The exhibition we visited at the National Gallery was 'Inventing Impressionism': "the UK’s first major exhibition devoted to Paul Durand-Ruel, the entrepreneurial art dealer who discovered the Impressionists".
We both really enjoyed it.





After the week-end of gardening, we went to the local garden centre/cafe' on the Sunday evening for a 'meet the neighbours' event. I baked some macarons to take round.


Last week was somewhat quieter, although we both had dentist appointments and Adrian had to go for laser treatment on the eye which had undergone cataract surgery a few years ago. The treatment went well and now he can see clearly again!

It was also Eurovision week and our friend Richard arrived on the Friday to stay for a few days.
We also had the great pleasure of meeting Gregory ([ profile] isledemoi) on the Saturday.
As Richard was visiting, we invited Gregory round for a cuppa on the Saturday afternoon, rather than suggesting meeting in town.
I'm afraid the 'spread' wasn't quite as abundant as on previous occasions (no scones!), but we had sarnies, a chocolate cake made with Old Speckled Hen (a 'fine ale'), lemon curd macarons and orange natas.
We were all in agreement that Gregory was a very charming guest!








In the evening we watched Eurovision with Utku, a neighbour of ours. It was fun but we were disappointed that Sweden won (quite a boring song, in my modest opinion).

Sunday was spent finishing planting the dahlias, etc. and Monday (which was a Bank Holiday) was spent at home again for me (Adrian and Richard went shopping - when they got back they found some freshly baked scones waiting for them).
And now it's all back to normal, although tomorrow evening we have another meeting re the Panto (meeting the actors to discuss their involvement, so that I have an idea when writing it. This time we have 2 professionals in the cast - no pressure! LOL!) and on Friday we're invited at Mike and Alex's in Streatham for dinner.
london1967: (knocker)
My sister-in-law and nephews left yesterday morning and after a sofa/TV watching day, today we had a day of culture, shopping and food.

First stop this morning was the National Gallery


for "Rembrandt: The Late Works" exhibition.



Call us Philistines if you must, but we are not Rembrandt fans (over 10 years ago we went to see an exhibition consisting entirely of Rembrandt self-portraits and that finished us off! LOL).
But since we received a gift membership to the National Gallery for Christmas, we decided we would go and have a look around.
We were there for 35 minutes: it was crowded and well - as Adrian said - all very brown! LOL!
Rembrandt certainly knew how to capture on canvas/paper human emotions but I love colour.

We then had a stroll in Trafalgar Square which - like Covent Garden - is full of street performers.


And some caught our eye more than others! LOL!


Then visited a few shops down the Strand and in Covent Garden.

(This are the headquarters of Coutts on the Strand, decorated as an advent calendar. It is a private bank. If you have an account there you have made it - or inherited it! - as you must have at least £ 1,000,000 to invest).

We had lunch at "Big Easy" in Covent Garden. The giant shrimp basket with chips and coleslaw was delicious (the giant applies to the size of the shrimps).




Last stop of the day was the Victoria and Albert Museum for the Horst exhibition which closes this coming week-end.


We both loved it!! Very well set out and not crowded: we looked at and read everything.

Of course we needed a cuppa and a slice of cake to complete the outing at one of my favourite museums!



(Modern Christmas tree?)



And now an evening of telly (the new "Mapp & Lucia") and food to see the new year in.

Happy New Year everyone!
london1967: (Default)

I love grapes. Adrian today bought me some 'grangos' which are a new hybrid: grapes that taste of mango!

First the 'papple' now the 'grango' at M&S launches new hybrid fruit

I wonder what will be next!

Anyway the grangos are rather nice! (and almost gone - Adrian says!)
london1967: (Default)
Last night I met Adrian at the Crypt

for a quick dinner

Outside the Crypt, I made Adrian pose next to one of the many 'themed' Olympic mascots that seem to have appeared all over London

I don't think he was pleased!

(I believe its name is Wenlock - although I keep calling it Wedlock)

A very short walk 

and we were at the BB Bakery Covent Garden where we indulged in tea and cake (Black Forest for me, Mille-feuille for Adrian)

This was a madeleine moment; a bite and I was back to the Italian summers of my childhood when we sometimes had ice-cream cakes with amarene... 

Adrian enjoyed his mille-feuille too

It was soon time for the evening's entertainment

(Is it a bird? Is it a plane?)

"What the Butler Saw" is a Joe Orton's farce performed for the first time in 1969. 
The review for this production haven't been very good at all, but we still enjoyed it.
A woman in the row behind me was laughing all the time and so loudly a noise and nuisance officer should have been called in.
We were much more restrained.

It was all rather racy and I expect it must have been rather controversial in 1969 with its many references to lesbians, gays, and sex.
Perhaps in 1969 the policeman would have covered his family jewels with its helmet but last night he just didn't bother and was quite happy to run naked across the stage (he was rather blessed in his nether-regions department!).

Talking about what the butler saw, the 'Metamorphosis - Titian 2012' exhibition at the National Gallery is putting together works by the old master with some contemporary art installations. One of these allows the user a peeping Tom experience.
According to The Independent:
"Mark Wallinger's Diana is customarily wonderful. In a darkened room, he has built a sub-room into which we cannot quite look through a louvred door and frosted window. It seems to be a bathroom: blurred shampoo bottles stand on the window's sill. As you ponder these, something moves. It is a woman, seemingly naked – one of seven chosen by Wallinger, all genuinely called Diana, who will occupy the room in turn throughout the show."
london1967: (Default)
The Jubilee 4-day Bank Holiday week-end has been so far a washout. 
As the weather is grey and rainy, I didn't really mind not going to see the river pageant - it would have been a different story with a blue sky and the sun. When it's grey, the Thames is even greyer. 
Call me a fair weather subject! lol

At least the rain is good for the garden, after almost 2 weeks of dry and hot weather.
This is the back garden yesterday before the heavy rain started

Last night neighbours Peter and Sim came for dinner.

We toasted HM the Queen with a bottle of Fortnum & Mason Jubilee champagne, courtesy of my friend Franco (he sent us a Jubilee hamper for Christmas).

I made bread sticks with 3 different toppings (garlic, sesame seeds, sea salt)

(I was very pleased with my baked goods, and they all went)

Starter was a simple pasta with a sauce made of capers, mint and tuna - and olive oil and lemon juice (a recipe from the Aeolian Islands, off Sicily)

which was remarkably good.

Main course was a Golden Jubilee Salad with a side of Jersey Royals

The salad was good but perhaps there was a just a little too much lime juice or coriander.

Adrian made a fantastic panna cotta variation with rum and coconut milk to create a superb pina colada panna cotta!

I could have eaten a second one! And perhaps even a third.


May. 17th, 2012 01:09 pm
london1967: (Default)
The other night we had pistachio ice-cream while we were watching 'Shakespeare in Italy' on the telly.

My goodness! The gelato was so good that I'm surprised it is not illegal. 
I love gelato and I haven't had one this creamy for a very long time. And the flavour was amazing: I've never had such a fantastic pistachio ice-cream.

It was only when I googled it, that I realised that Antonio Federici is the company which had some adverts banned because deemed offensive to Catholics.
Well, I'm not offended at all, so here they are.

In the freezer, there is a tub of their Panna Cotta gelato.
Will it live up to my now very high expectations? 
london1967: (Default)
Today I skipped the gym and went out for lunch to Jamie Oliver's Italian on St. Martin's Lane.
It was a lunch to celebrate the end of a project which terminated last year. Unlike us, poor developers, the business analysts have budgets for such things. I was invited because I was the technical lead on that project. 

For the antipasto, I had "FAMOUS CRISPY POLENTA CHIPS with rosemary salt and Parmesan" which turned out to be very substantial cubes of fried polenta and a gigantic " JAMIE'S FAVOURITE - TRUFFLED TURKEY MILANESE
Bronze turkey stuffed with fontina cheese & prosciutto. Topped with a fried egg and shaved truffles" which I couldn't quite finish.

I could probably power San Marino for the evening with the amount of calories ingested!

Love him or hate him, I must say that I'm quite impressed with the food in Jamie Oliver's restaurants.
london1967: (Default)
The broccoli and almond soup that we had tonight at The Stockpot is repeating on me.

The Stockpot near Haymarket is a cheap restaurant and a strange place, full of taxi drivers, and lonely and slightly loony customers, some talking to themselves or to some imaginary friends, some reading the paper and some drowning their dining companion in a flood of verbal diarrhoea.

We dined there after a trip to the cinema to see "Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang".
The film was mindless fun, but not as good as the first one but still enjoyable.

The bird in the film (Mr. Edelweiss, I believe) is a crow and for some reason reminded me of the hat I wore during my military service.

The Alpini  (according to Wikipedia the 'oldest active mountain infantry in the world')

sport a single black feather on their not-very-fetching headgear.

Adrian saw pictures of me in my uniform and hat but. as they are all at my parents', you'll be spared such unbecoming sight!
london1967: (Default)
We spent the morning coooking, and the afternoon eating with Lynne, Gary + Luca, and Luca's Mum.


Click here for food porn! )
london1967: (Default)

How lazy of me! I haven't posted the pictures of the huge lunch that my Mother prepared on Boxing Day.

A little morsel of Insalata Russa (Russian Salad)

The end of a grissino (breadstick)

Were all the portions so dainty? Not at all: it was a feast.
Being January a month of diets, I have hidden all the culinary excesses behind a cut!

Click here for some serious food porn! )

Spud love!

Sep. 16th, 2008 11:16 pm
london1967: (Default)

Adrian cooked a lovely dinner for us and[info]williamthebruce.

When he went food shopping, he bought me this
to say "I love you"! (Hey, it's the credit crunch: potatoes are the new diamonds).

And another food of love were the scrumptious raspberry and marzipan tarts:

london1967: (Default)
Lynne and Kim are coming round for dinner tonight: it’ll be Kim second “leaving do” (BBQ/party last Saturday, dinner tonight and final drinks at Lynne’s tomorrow evening before Kim leaves on Thursday).
We have known Kim for only 9 months but we’ve grown very fond of her. We’ll be sad to see her go (and we’ll have to keep an ‘eye’ on Lynne as I’m sure she’ll be missing her too).
Tonight I’ll be cooking a summer vegetable risotto, and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m almost salivating now just thinking about it.
Maybe it’s part of my northern Italian DNA but I love risotto much more than pasta. Unfortunately Adrian’s not too keen on rice so we seldom have it (L +K liked it too).
I often joke with Adrian that he married the wrong Italian as there is a number of ingredients which are key to dishes from my part of Italy which Adrian cannot bear. Polenta for instance, and not to mention anchovies essential for the Piedmontese speciality ‘bagna càuda’.
Don’t get me wrong it is not that I am not allowed to eat what I like, it just makes life easier to cook the same food for the two of us.
london1967: (octopus)
We all have different ways of making us feel better. For most of my new countrymen (and women) it’s reaching for the bottle, in my case it’s food.
I eat to fight boredom at work, and – despite trying to go for low fat snacks most of the time – it’s not a healthy habit. I think about food often: sometimes I might even panic if I believe I don’t have enough food to see me through the day.
I’ve decided to go “cold turkey” today (mmmmmm… did anyone say turkey? LOL)
I’ve done it before but my resolve doesn’t last long.
A few months ago, when I went to the self-hypnosis classes, the tutor suggested that my over-eating is probably caused by an emotional void.
I think she’s right. There’s definitely an underlying cause to this and to my lack of concentration and motivation, occasional anxiety, etc.: it’s not just simple boredom.
I wonder whether I should undergo hypno-analysis. But I’m not sure I really want to go back to my childhood!
Have you ever had therapy? Does/did it work for you?


May. 26th, 2008 10:33 pm
london1967: (Frangella)
Nigella's star shone on Eurovision night. Her chocolate pistachio fudge to be served straight from the freezer was quite simply unsurpassable and so easy to make. 
One of our friends had 11 pieces, because well you just cannot say no to it.

We have a few pieces left and thought that they deserved a photoshoot.

london1967: (Default)
Just like last year (oops, actually the year before last I should say) we decided to have a party on Dec 30th.
We picked the 30th as we figured that most friends would probably go out on the 31st (XXL mainly!) or already had other engagements.

The party was fun! We had 14 guests but were expecting a few more (8 cancellations: 4 due to stomach bugs either directly or indirectly, 2 to colds, 2 never turned up) so the food preparation was hard work!
I did most of the cooking starting with the Russian salad on Thu night (it tastes so much better after a couple of days), baklavas and some minor preparation on Fri night and cooking all day on Sat from 7 am (the party kicked off at 4 pm).

Here's the menu:
- Nuts & crisps & Bombay mix & olives
- Parma ham rolled on grissini
- Manchego and smoked cheddar cheeese
- Parmesan cheese cubes & 2 types of salami
- Garlic sables
- Russian salad
- Spicy prawns and tzatziki / smoked salmon & creeme cheese croutades
- Mushroom en croute
- Ham & pineapple pizza wheels
- Tortilla squares
- Mini tuna & chilli kebabs
- Home made lamb tikka
- Mini sausages
- Baklavas
- Frozen banana bites covered in chocolate
- Strawberries & chocolate
- Madeira cakes
- Torrone
- Lots of Italian chocolates!

Adrian surpassed himself with the food presentation:

the table looked lovely and so did our home all dressed up for the Christmas season.

Most people left around 10 pm, apart from lovely David & Richard who stayed overnight as planned (they travelled from Cardiff) and Carlos who left after midnight.
Lots of drink, chat and laughter: it was a lovely evening (though I'm sure that there were a few sore heads the following morning!)

Click here for more pictures )
london1967: (Default)
The last few days have been hectic.

On Sunday we had Enid (our next door neighbour) and Miranda (opposite) round for Sunday lunch, with our good friends Gary & Ron.
It was a very pleasant afternoon.
We had:
- Tomato, cheese and onion tarts
- Baked mushrooms stuffed with blue stilton and wrappend in Parma ham, with home made focaccia
- Pistou chicken with roast potatoes, broccoli and peas
- A divine Panettone bread & butter pudding (recipe by Nigel Slater) with fresh fruit salad.

Being the greedy person I am, I over-indulged in some lovely candied fruit that Enid gave us for Christmas, and as a consequence I was sick in the night!

So on Monday I felt quite rough but had to go into work. And it was the day for the Christmas team lunch which didn't help my stomach. We went to a Greek restaurant. The food was OK (Greek food is not my favourite!) though the moussaka kept repeating itself for the whole afternoon and I struggled to stay awake!

Yesterday, it was my last day at work before my Christmas holiday and I was very busy trying to complete my assigned task.
I finished with a little time to spare and was looking forward to leaving the office on time... but of course, at 5:26 pm I got an e-mail asking for something else to do... and then when I was finally about to leave the fire alarm went off! Luckily it was a false alarm but it meant that the lifts were out of order for a while, not a good thing when you are in a hurry and you are stuck on the 27th floor!
london1967: (Default)
It almost feels like the week-end has never happened, as it just went so quickly.

On Saturday we went to see "The holiday", the new Christmas romantic holiday.
I must have left my old cynical self at home because I just loved it. Predictable? Corny? Yes, probably... but who cares?
I came out of the cinema with a big smile on my face!

The holiday

The sweet little cottage in the film

was just lovely and, if it had been a couple of years ago, I would have come out of the cinema longing for something similar... but not now, as we're happy in our very own little (semi-detached) cottage! OK, it's not in the country and the surroundings are not as idyllic, but we love it!


Yesterday we went to Ross & Jim's for lunch. It turned out to be a bear lunch, as there were also a couple of German bears (Ralf and Wilhelm)!

It was a lovely meal but then being Jim and Ross it was no surprise!
They even remembered that one of us didn't like offal, and so their steak and kidney pudding was instead a steak and mushroom.
And that was just one of 4 courses!


london1967: (Default)

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