Category Archives: Food

Happy Birthday Maria @ Cigalon, Chancery Lane

The reason I am posting this is because I really like my team. Not sure how many people can say that, but I can 🙂 It might be due to the fact that most of us are not from the UK (South African, Irish, Pakistani, Malaysian) hence we are more tightly knit and occasionally hang out outside work. Now that I think of it, I know their partners too. So we are team mates and friends, which is great!

Surprise lunch for the birthday girl at Cigalon! It was a very quaint and cozy new French restaurant very close to Aldwych. The service was superb, we even got our own private room! Had warm bread with sardine for starter, pork belly and veg cooked in butter for mains, and creme brulee for dessert. A very sinful but satisfying meal.

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Back to the team.

I like how we are all relatively young. There is just so much energy, new thoughts and random ideas going around- I learn something new everyday. Everyone has their own strong traits. There is also lots of banter in the team- it’s funny how you show someone your “affection” by “insulting” them. This is something I have learnt to get used to (receiving, not at the initiating state yet).

In contrast, the culture was so different in the IB- where work is work and I’m running the hell outta here (and from you) after work. Even now, it is so difficult to schedule something with their half-hearted attempt to actually meet up.

Anyway, I am really thankful to be in a team where people care and engage with each other on a non-work basis as well. If I were to be a manager in the future, I’d like the dynamics of my team to be something like this! 🙂

 

 

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Girl’s Brunch @ The Montagu, Hyatt Regency

Although we live together, we hardly get time to properly catch up due to work, study and bf. Hence, my housemates and I decided to go for a nice lunch together. It was a good sharing session 🙂

Food wise..

The bread there was pretty good. They served a small loaf with raisins in it, which tasted pretty homemade but I asked for another plain one so that I can have my usual butter combo. The crust was slightly crispy, and it was soft and a bit chewy on the inside, super yums with butter! I think I’m the only one who is so crazy over bread and butter, so forgive me!

My starter (scallop mousse and prawn) looks fancy, but it was alright. I had lamb chop for mains (they came in 2 small pieces and were okay- not as good as the lamb shank I had the first time). Hui Ying had chicken while Suki had hake; we all have different tastes!

The dessert certainly saved the day- I had the strawberry tart in fresh cream with ice cream! It was light and refreshing, perfect to finish the meal!

In general, I was very happy with the toptable deal (3 courses + half a bottle of wine for 21 pounds), service was good and polite. I liked the atmosphere as it was pretty chilled.

Some pictures! You can see that I have turned quite red very quickly from the wine.

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After lunch, went shopping for a few hours before heading to Maria’s pre-bd session at Guanabara. It’s been ages since I have been there and the place was super lively!

One thing I have noticed today (disclaimer: this is not from our lunch session), is that everyone has their own problems. You might not see or know about it, but it’s there, and it exist in various shapes and forms. So if you ever feel down/ think that your life sucks due to x problems and issues, just know that the rest of the world is with you on this! 🙂

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Clos Maggiore.. and of Lousy Snogging Spots

Had a lovely dinner at Clos Maggiore, which was voted as the most romantic restaurant in London by Harden’s 2012. Our friendship is anything but romantic, though that didn’t stop Robert and I from marveling at the internal decor. I went here once late last year, but did not manage to get a seat in the conservatory room. We managed to reserve it today, and it is beautifully decorated with flowers all over and dimly lit with warm, yellow lights.

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We had a starter and main each, with one dessert and half a bottle of red wine. The bill came up to about 20 pounds each, very value for money, but only if you dine before 6pm weekdays!

Starter: Pressed smoked salmon
Main: Lasagna with  marinated mushrooms (R) Roasted pork neck (Y)
Dessert: Creme Brulee

The menu is definitely more sophisticated than what I have simply described. That said, the food was good (though not like oh-my-gosh-great) but the atmosphere is totally the deal maker! Definitely one of the restaurants in London to visit! 🙂

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On a totally unrelated note, is it just me, or do couples make out at the weirdest places in London? It’s an affair which makes me go “Whyyyy?” everytime I see it. I am totally fine with PDA (Public Display of Affection), but next time just pick a better place, and not places like…

Awkward Snogging Place #1: Near to or at the entrance of a tube station
I get it, his place is up North, hers is West and it’s time to say goodbye. BUT PLEASE: a tube station is where typical Londoners like us rush in and out like a mad person, and you hogging that spot there isn’t going to make our journey easier. Also, if you can’t get enough of each other, just head home together and voila, an extra 10 hours of kissing etc for you.

Uncomfortable Snogging Place #2: On the bridge, during winter
I get this too, the bridge can be pretty romantic as you are overlooking the Thames River and possibly Big Ben etc. BUT PLEASE: even during fwinter? It is fzero degrees, the cold is biting into your face, the wind is howling (especially so on the bridge) and your hands are freezing despite the gloves. Normal people would quicken their pace so that they can reach their destination asap and be out of the cold, but you stand still with your loved one being all loved up. When it gets so cold, I just lose whatever lust and passion in me, desiring only warmth for my body. And won’t your lips be cold and clammy anyway? Okay going to stop right here.

Gross Snogging Place #3: At the stairs
Not just any stairs, but dirty, wet and dark ones. I guess a dark/hidden area is ideal, BUT PLEASE: this is a place where drunkards piss all over, the walls are dirty and there are gums/ cigarette butts on the floor. I feel turned off just thinking about it.

This feels like a rant now. I guess everyone has their own right and reason to kiss wherever they please, and I will respect that. So yes, I’m not sure about you, but you definitely won’t spot me kissing at these places.

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Pub Crawl: 12 Pubs of 2012 in London Bridge

A pub crawl is like pub hopping, ie going to multiple pubs in a day/night and getting a drink or two at each pub. Do you know there are different themes for pub crawls? There is the Monopoly pub crawl (go to the bar at all the landmarks on the monopoly board), Waitangi Day aka Circle Line pub crawl (done by Kiwis in February) and also the 12 pubs of Christmas (according to my Irish colleagues a very Irish thing to do every December).

Maria, my teammate from Dublin missed her 12 pubs of Christmas and couldn’t wait for Dec 2012, so she enthusiastically organized a 12 pubs of 2012 with her friend and kindly invited me along!

Who says you need a reason to drink hey?

The aim is to complete all 12 pubs- we will start at 12pm, have a drink (no more, no less) at each of the 12 designated pubs, stay for a max of 0.5 hours and boom, off you go to the next.  It was all planned very thoroughly, and we were notified the names of our 12 pubs (from Borough to London Bridge) 2 days before. Before 12Po2012 (cool acronym eh), I was to be honest a bit apprehensive as I know my own alcohol tolerance and no way can I last 12 drinks and still be sober. The thought of drinking with the Irish, British and South Africans (all known to be very good drinkers mind you) was slightly intimidating.

But I was worried for nothing. I joined the group at Pub 4 and lasted all the way till Pub 12!! Very proud of myself! It was a very good experience as everyone in the group was open and friendly. It’s hard not to after a couple of drinks I guess 🙂 You can tell that our expressions get more jolly as the day progresses.

Nacho with cheese and jalapeno dip, and chips after a whole lot of drinking is GOD.

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Disclaimer: I only lasted until the end as I drank only at every other pub. That did not stop me from having a splitting headache as I made the grave mistake of mixing my drinks, ie wine-vodka-malibu etc. All I can say is that I am a wiser drinker now.

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Double Date at The Balcon, Pall Mall

Random fact: Pall Mall is in Monopoly! I know that because we played it recently!

I had a great dinner session at The Balcon on Vday + 1. I loved everything about that night- good great friends, good great food, good great service. The Balcon is located within St James Hotel, and the interior is amazing.

Friends: It is nice to have a casual catch up with old friends. I have known Wyng and Clarence since Year 1 of university and we were housemates for 2 good years. Wyng and I are similar in many ways, in terms of our values, beliefs and we love to dress up for no reason! I met Robert through Wyng, a very determined and decent guy who has had his share of experiences 😉

Food: The Balcon serves British-French food and a whole basket (or 2) of bread. Those who dine with me will know that I am a sucker for bread and butter in French restaurants. The breads are always just the right level of softness and they often have different types of butter, eg salted/unsalted/butter with herbs etc. Mmmm.

The 2 boys and I had lamb for mains while Wyng had fish. The lamb was stewed with herbs, apricots, nuts, shallots and served with couscous. I devoured all of it. And we had blackcurrent crème brûlée for dessert which was equally as good.

Service: Not too forward, but always attentive to our needs and a service with a smile can never go wrong.

Some pictures!

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So, a lot of people have asked me what I did for Valentine’s day. To burst the bubble, I did not celebrate it at all. I went out on the 13th and the 15th, but not the 14th. Without a special someone, Vday is just like any other day.

However, I did noticed something. Valentine’s day is associated with bears, chocolates and flowers. Marriage is associated with diamond rings. I have read somewhere that the diamonds-marriage combo is actually one of the best advertisement in the world, and this is so true. You can’t have a marriage without a diamond ring (you might disagree if you are a male, but you need to marry a female anyway so your opinion don’t matter in this case). In fact, the bigger the better for most people.

What’s the point of spending so much on a stone? Yes, it is the strongest element which cuts through glass, and it is shiny and glittery and reflects light the right way. But so? (If you watched Blood Diamond, you’ll realize some of the hardship and torture endured to obtain this special piece of carbon in Africa.) This is why I think it’s one of the biggest marketing success of all times.

I am a practical woman, buy me a house anytime 🙂

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7-Course Meal By Oliver Choi.. and Homemade Cheese Baked Rice

Since I can’t fatten myself up for CNY back home, I am doing it here instead. Oliver has oh-so-kindly hosted a Jamie Oliver themed dinner event at his last Saturday.

It was f’awsome. Period.

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Menu for the night-

Snacking: Olive-oil biscuits, baguette with olive oil and balsamic vineger
Appetizers 1: Tomato Gazpacho
Appetizers 2: Chorizo & Tomato Salad
Mains 1: Lamb Fricassee
Mains 2: Prawn stuffed in Fish with Vermicelli
Dessert 1: Red Wine Sorbet
Dessert 2: Creme Caramel w/ Roasted Nuts.
Dessert 3: Chocolate Bday Cake

These dishes were accompanied with 5 bottle of whites, 2 reds and 1 champagne (maybe a bit more). Most people were full after the Chorizo & Tomato Salad, but the food was so good that we kept on going till the last dessert!

Happy Birthday, Amresh and Xiao Yan 🙂

On a side note, I think my cooking has improved and I’m really happy with that. I was the kind of girl who couldn’t cook Maggi Mee Goreng properly, but I made my first very own Cheese Baked Rice with Pork on Sunday. Without a recipe. So proud of myself. Maybe I still have some characteristics of a housewife after all 🙂

If you are interested in trying out in 5 simple steps, here you go. I just used whatever I have in the kitchen and I don’t measure the ingredients. Just agak-agak (approximate).

Cheese Baked Rice with Pork Recipe ala Yvonne’s random creation
(pic on top)

1) Marinate pork chops with salt, soy sauce, white pepper and black pepper.
2) Cook rice. Add butter to cooked rice for taste and moisture.
3) Mix buttered rice and raw pork chop. Add mixed herbs (goes well with cheese) and cloves.
4) Microwave, 150 deg for 15 mins.
5) Add generous amount of cheese + more mixed herbs + a little bit of salt, 200 deg for 10 mins.

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Chez Bruce

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I have heard good things about Chez Bruce, and I have not had French food in a while, so I was definitely looking forward to try this Michelin starred restaurant with the bf.

An interesting observation about this place is that they only serve in 3 courses instead of giving you the choice of dining ala carte. They update their menu daily, though I am not sure if they change all of the choices. For lunch, the set would range from £27-35 per person while dinner goes up to £45 pp. With Toptable you get 3 courses for £25, but the catch is that the deal is only available Mon-Wed. It was packed with the upper working class that Wednesday afternoon, I wonder where they came from as it was quite far from the city in Zone 2/3.

The food certainly did not disappoint, even the bf who does not usually enjoy such restaurants praised the quality and taste of the food.

These were what we had, I’d recommend all of them equally (I thought the cod was a tad bland, but wy liked it):

Starter:

YV- Foie Gras & Chicken Liver Parfait  (I enjoyed it as much as Heston Blumenthal’s meat fruit) WY- Buckwheat pappardalle with braised hare (Very unique taste and juicy meat)

Mains:

YV- Beef bourguignon (One of the better ones I have tasted) WY- Roast Cod with Olive Oil Mash (Well, I liked the crispy skin)

Desserts:

YV- Tarte Tatin (All desserts should taste as heavenly and sweet as this) WY- Mont Blanc (Again a very unique dish which is best to be tried yourself)

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Gaucho, Piccadilly

It was the boyfriend’s 23rd birthday last Sunday, and since he loves steak I thought it’d be nice to try out a popular Argentinian steakhouse called Gaucho (Piccadilly branch since it spans 4 floors).

My first impression of the restaurant was that it was rather posh. They certainly went all out in terms of decor, with intricate interior and cow furs on the wall. It was also dimly lit with chandeliers, so you get that romantic feel although it was in the afternoon.

Every customer will be served these amazing cheese buns called Pao de Queijo. It was soft, warm and cheesy, so good that we asked for a second helping! Also had the sausage platter which consisted of 4 types of sausages for £20- quite good but overpriced. £5 for a piece of sausage is nearly a con job, maybe that is how they financed their interior designs.

For mains, we decided on medium raw Rib Eye and Sirloin (in that order in the slideshow). The Rib Eye was definitely more tasty, but it was also more fatty as well. Daniel also chose this red wine -Colome Terruno- to go with our meat which I thought was pretty good. And later I found out why: it was £50 per bottle!! Totally did not realize this until I had another look at the bill at home.

All in all, a good lunch with good company. I also made a successful Oreo Cheesecake (taste wise, still more work to be done in terms of presentation) as dessert for the boy. If you are a steak lover, I would suggest that you stick to Hawksmoor. Gaucho is above average but it is still not as good as Hawksmoor imho in terms of flavor and cut. Both does equal damage to the wallet so be warned. It’s been a while since I had Goodman, but the last time I remember my Rib Eye being too fatty as well for my liking!

Now some pictures!

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Sushi Whore: the way to a woman’s heart is through her stomach

Fact: I am a huge fan of Japanese food, especially salmon. Imagine my delight when I found out about Rob’s sushi making capabilities; of course, I then seized the opportunity (and talent!) to organize a sushi party. Decided to have a small one at mine at last due to unavailability of bigger locations.

It was, wait for it…. awesome!-I’ll let the pictures be the judge! We had fresh salmon, soft shell crab and prawns from Billingsgate Market, and Rob skillfully transformed these into hand-rolls, battered prawns, battered chicken etc. Not forgetting his specialty- Dill Salmon. It’s basically raw salmon marinated and self cooked in vinegar, then seasoned to taste with various sauces.

To all the single ladies out there, Robert is single, available and ready to mingle. The situation has been reversed- the way to a WOman’s heart is through her stomach 🙂

No doubt all of us had a great meal, thank you Robert!!

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you’d think i was cooking for an army

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Wednesday, Thursday and Friday lunch settled. I am a lazy cook, so I made 3 lunches at a go.

Who cares about garlic? Too much work.

The Yvonne’s-as-easy-as-possible-dishes are:

  • Turkey breast, cupped mushrooms, egg and carrot fried with chilli oil, white pepper and soy sauce with rice
  • The same ingredients as above minus egg, fried with 3 types of curry powder + herbs with rice

Easy right!

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