Monday, April 30, 2012

NKOTBSB Concert

There’s only one thing that induces hysterics in thirty-something year old women.

As surprise compensation for a soggy weekend, I got a free ticket to NKOTBSB at the O2 arena. Fate brought me and my teenage idols together at last!

The concert was filmed for screening and if you haven't seen the movie yet, you are in for an exhilarating relapse of NKOTB mania. 

The boy band members are still in top form. (Special thanks to Donnie Wahlberg's shirtless torso.) Notable performances were Please Don’t Go Girl from the only-gets-cuter Joey McIntyre. And Jordon Knight with his replay of If You Go Away, hitting those high notes oh so fine. 

The first few notes of the groups' most famous songs triggered instant frenzy throughout the audience. NKOTBSB live forever!

This time it's not too inappropriate to throw your underwear at Joey on stage.


Chilling Out In London

I'm still waiting for my visa extension to come through and it's been three months. Meanwhile I'm spending my weekends stuck in relaxing in London. My passport is AWOL and I have flights to Gdansk this weekend. Surely I'm not asking too much to have my docs back within the next four days???

At The Diner and discovered this tasty wheat beer from The States. 

Hampstead Heath in spring. 

Took The Beast out for a paddle...I mean pedal.

The Spainards Inn is immortalised by Dickens and it's one of the oldest pubs in London. It's one of the rare places where I could hit my head on the ceiling. Its like an ancient ship inside. Their beer garden is lovely in summer and they have a grooming center for all the hip designer doggies.

Found a working class pie and mash place in Camden Road. It was English retro and regretfully the worst pie and mash I've tasted, if tasting anything was possible. See the translucent green speckled sauce? It's called liquor and they drown the pie with this bland stuff. 

Pie and mash shops also sell stewed eels (and jellied if you like them cold). I like seafood but this was foul. On the tables were bottles of brown vinegar which you're supposed to add a few dashes. It did'nt help.

Now to get rid of that unpleasant memory, I give you a heavenly brownie from The Clifton in St Johns Wood. They do the best burgers too. I pig out and cluelessly sit in on quiz night Wednesdays. 

It wouldn't be a traditional English pub without dead animals mounted on the walls.

London dusk.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Why My Cake Sinks After Baking

Nothing baffled me more than pulling a good looking cake out of the oven and it deflates before my eyes.

My oven uses gas and I've never had such bad luck baking. Even when I preheat the oven and get the heat conversions right, why oh why does my banana cake look like this:


It was supposed to be done after 45 minutes of baking. I stuck a chopstick in the centre and there was gooeyness. It went back in and I gave it a temporary blast of extra heat to bring it back to cooking temperature.

It was still not done after 20 mins and smelt overcooked. It was a lost cause.

When I put my ear close to it, I heard air bubbles collapsing. The cake sank and resembled a brick.

After some research, I did a test. I whipped up a lemon cake (because I ran out of bananas) and baked at a higher heat by two gasmarks. The banana cake cooked at gasmark 5 (roughly "180 degrees"). The lemon cake went in at gasmark 7. Here it is when I took it out:


A bit overcooked on one side but I did'nt want to risk the cake collapsing by turning it during the cooking process. The insides were firm and when I listened to it, there was silence. (Am I the only person who does this?)  Here's what the cake looks like inside:


So the problem was my oven's heat settings. With a little trial and error, I'll bake a cake to be proud of!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Happy Easter/Passover/SUGAR TIME

Last Sunday's visit to The Diner in Camden spurned a junkfood rampage.

I had a Lumberjack's breakfast, which is a short stack of pancakes with bacon, maple syrup (the best flavour combo), and fried eggs. Also had a side of Mac & Cheese. And a chocolate milkshake. With peanut butter.

Finished with unlimited coffee, a la diner style. I was riding the sugar and caffeine rush of a lifetime.

Throughout the week, I had urges to hit that sweet spot again. That blissful, energising, delicious sugar high. It makes you want more. Just one more choc caramel hob nob, I'd say. By mid-week, I was bargaining with myself to do anything for sugar. eg, get out of bed.

Sugar has it's evilness. I felt harrowing lows when the buzz ran out. I needed to regain my strength desperately. Did I say strength? I mean SUGAR!!! (Salivating here.)

It's a vicious cycle and there's only one way to drop the habit. COLD TURKEY. Believe me, I've tried everything else.

Anyway to start the beginning of this long weekend I went for a bike ride and had lunch at Bar Centrale in Chalk Farm.

Bar Centrale is authentically Italian from the staff chatter, Italian memorabilia (ie, vintage vespas and coffee maker) to Peroni on tap. And their pizzas are good too.

Since it was sunny, we sat out on the rooftop terrace. I had a Marinara which is a Margherita pizza with garlic oil. Chewy (fresh mozzarella) and crispy (wood fired crust) in all the right places. Simple is divine.

I was sugar-free all day until my Lithuanian flatmate presented a cardboard box and said, "close your eyes and pick one." I pulled out a bag of Easter treats from his home country. The packets are dark chocolate coated orange fondants. The eggs were handmade marbled with white chocolate and filled with praline. I say YES!!!

It would be rude not to enjoy them.

Happy Easter/Passover everyone!