Thursday, 24 November 2011

5 Things I would really love to do in London

So I recently bought a book by Time Out called ‘1000 things to do in London’, for no reason really, just needed some inspiration. Well this book is full of great ideas! I will share the 5 top things that caught my attention, and that I will hopefully end up doing in my remaining year and a half in LondonTown

             1. Visit the Crystal Palace dinosaurs 
Opened in 1854, the Crystal Palace dinosaur Court, is a series of life-sized dinosaurs and extinct mammals within Crystal Palace park, and is also a  great example of science failure. At the time, dinosaur anatomy wasn’t that well known, so the statues look like huge deformed lizards. Still, I think it would be pretty cool to walk through a beautiful park and run into these gigantic beasts, definitely a must!
Thicket Road SE20 

2.     Have vodka in a Polish Bar
The thing I love most about London is of course its diversity of cultures. My neighbourhood is mostly Turkish, but I have seen some Polish restaurants and supermarkets around town. I’ve never actually had anything Polish, so I am quite curious to try, as I’ve only heard good things. Bar Polski is described as the ‘real deal’. With original home-cooked food and fridges full of vodkas divided in categories, why not make my way over there for a shot?
11 Little Turnstile, WC1V 7DX

3.     Visit the Horniman Museum
I always love going to a good museum, and usually the weirder the better. The Horniman specializes in anthropology, natural history and musical instruments, with a collection of over 350,000 objects on display. Divided into sections, its most famous is the stuffed animal part, or natural history. The first thing that catches your attention is supposed to be a 12 ft tall stuffed walrus. When reading about the museum I was attracted by the Apostle clock on the gallery above the Natural History collection; when it strikes four o’clock, 11 apostles come out and bow to the central Jesus, while the 12th, Judas, turns away. Stuffed with weird things, an aquarium, concerts, workshops and gardens, the Horniman museum sounds like a fun place to spend an afternoon.
100 London Road, SE23 3PQ

4.     Visit the London Coronet in Notting Hill on a Tuesday
Supposedly one of London’s finest cinemas, was originally built as a theatre, it was also the last cinema in London to allow smoking inside. On Tuesdays, movies are half the price, costing only 3.50 pounds. Being a student, this sounds like a good bargain, also, it’s in the beautiful Notting Hill.
103 Notting Hill Gate, W11 3LB

5.     Have a cup of coffee with a cabbie
Apparently, there are  bunch of green ‘garden sheds’ all around London, which are not actually garden sheds but Cabman’s Shelters. It’s a place for taxi drivers to have a cup of tea without disappearing in the nearest pub. There are about a dozen left in total, and they say that if you ask nicely, they might let you in for a cup of tea and a friendly chat. Maybe a big Italian smile will do it.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Pickle Heaven at Nour Festival

By now you must have all figured I really like food and cooking, I most probably got that from my mother, and this is another post about food, pickles specifically.

Today I had the pleasure to meet Anissa Helou, a wonderful woman who has a catering company, teaches cooking classes in Shoreditch, gives food tours, and has written 5 cook books. The Nour Festival has been taking place at the Leighton House Museum, and goes from October to November 2011, two whole months. the location is beautiful and because Anissa was the chef-in-residence, she was able to give three different discussions accompanied by cooking demonstrations relevant to the Middle East. 
Today, it was all about pickles. I personally love them, but you either hate or love pickles. After having visited Istanbul (and having loved it), I had noticed and loved all the different kinds of pickles on display, some restaurants only even served pickles, a true heaven for pickle-lovers like myself. Today I learned how to pickle different vegetables in three different ways: the Turkish, Persian and Lebanese ways. Lemons were stuffed with salt, stuffed aubergines swan in olive oil, and a rainbow of vegetabeles floating in cider vinegar coloured a plain jar. ‘Pickelling’ is really quite easy and anyone can do it, no cooking skills required.

I loved all the colors and smells, and Anissa was truly a great teacher. I am definetly going to pickle some stuff up myself, pickled vegetables and toasted bread still remains one of the best snacks ever.
mini-aubergines ready to be stuffed

You really can layer any vegetable you like

Turnips with a couple beetroots

The museum itself was actually really beautiful and worth going all the way there!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Borough market

Almost everyone goes to Borough market when in London, and it's also London's most known food market. I never get bored of it and make a stop there whenever I find myself to be in the area on the right day.
The market is one of my favorite places for lunch, with vendors selling almost everything you can think of and desire, most stands are pretty expensive but most times it's worth it. Open thursday, friday and saturday, the best day to go is on thursday so you avoid the tourists. My personal favorite is the oyster stand, with someone there to open them right in front of you, and you can sit down on the sidewalk next to the nearby church and slurp them down!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Sunday traditions in Rome

This weekend I was not able to explore London because I was back home in Rome. Even though I love London, there are some things I miss terribly, one of these being Sunday breakfast with my dad.
Ever since I can remember, me and my father have had our own little tradition of driving every Sunday morning all the way to a neighbourhood called Prati, just to have breakfast. It takes us a good 20 minute drive to get there, but there is something so peaceful about Sundays in Rome, that it makes the drive very enjoyable.

The bar where the breakfast actually happens after the drive is always the same one, Antonini, one of my favorites because of it’s old fashioned looks and its large selection of sweet and salty foods.       
I would say that their specialty is cakes and their ‘tartine’, small salty pastries with all kinds of  flavours; topped with things like lardo di Colonnata, truffles and bottarga, a salted dry fish. But my favorite is their tramezzini, a special kind of Italian sandwich, very similar to a toast.

On Sunday mornings the bar fills up with people, some having breakfast, some reading the newspaper at the the tables outside and some buying pastries for after lunch (another Italian tradition). So if you ever happen to be in Rome on a Sunday, this is definitely a must; in the meantime I will continue  having English breakfast until the next time I go back home.