Monday, 11 May 2015

Hunting Trip

I am currently searching for a new job which is filled with numerous trials  from tedious applications, misleading job descriptions and fruitless or disappointing interviews, to worrying about how long it will take for my supply of tea bags to run out, a deadly scenario - possibly for myself, but most definitely for anyone nearby when my internal caffeine gremlin stirs. However, there are some perks to having extra time on my hands and when I had three hours to kill in North Kensington I decided to stalk down some more appetising prey.

Although there are a seemingly endless supply of great places to eat and drink in the area, including Bluebelles Cafe, Lowry & Baker and Pizza East, I popped into an establishment next to Bluebelle's Cafe, whose name I cannot recall (bad blogger moment!) Do not let my faulty memory be an indication on their food. They offered an excellent selection of Italian paninis, deli food, creative salads and deserts. I chose a fresh salad which combined rice, chicken, seasonal vegetables and a light herby dressing which was the perfect accompaniment to the other ingredients.

My next stop was Kipferl, where authentic Austrian and Viennese cuisine is served in simplisticly stylish settings. This is their second site, another is located in Angel. Specialities range from Viennese coffee varieties and beverages, freshly baked cakes, to Frankfurters and Pierogi, an insanely satisfying savoury dish which I first tasted on a long weekend in Poland, and have been missing ever since. I ordered a delicious Topfentorte (a fluffy vanilla cheesecake) and a Velangerter (Americano). I was very happy as the coffee was paired with a small sachet of Milka, a chocolate variety which I believe beats any other confectionary competitor easily peasily. All the cakes can be ordered for take away - good news for tastebuds, bad news for my bank accounts and waistline. Although I wasn't expecting the wΓΌrst, the cake, coffee and relaxed atmosphere were more than great and I'd gladly return to explore their menu further.

Let's hope I find a new position before my funds run out and I am unable to bankroll any other treats or trips!

Friday, 8 May 2015

"I have a heart like the sea, a million dreams lie in me" - Miss Saigon Review

The last helicopter leaving the American Embassy, Saigon (30 May 1975)

During the bank holiday weekend I was lucky enough to secure tickets to see the award winning Miss Saigon at the Prince Edward theatre. The musical premiered in the West End in 1989 and completed over 4000 performances before relocating to Broadway and numerous other subsequent cities. On its return to the West End this adaptation smashed all records for opening day ticket sales with good reason. 

Miss Saigon is adapted from Puccini's Madame Butterfly and relays the tragic romance between an American GI (Chris) and an orphaned Vietnamese prostitute (Kim) in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh city during the 1970s. It is principally centred around events relating to the fall of Saigon to the communist Viet Cong, which celebrated its 40th anniversary recently (30th May). A slick production whose performers, costumes and set design convey the vulgarity of Dreamland and Bangkok emotively, as well as the terrifying, violent maelstrom of war which consumes and scars all participants and bystanders. Eva Noblezada (Kim), delivered a phenomenally impressive performance, especially considering that this is her West End debut.

As well as focusing on the evacuation of personnel off of the roof of the American embassy, which culminates in a spectacular, highly technical, visually absorbing and highly emotional scene, the production engages with the aftermath of the destructive conflict and the desperate sacrifices which were made during and following the fall. In addition to the millions of Vietnamese and thousands of Americans who died during the conflict, a complex legacy endures. The war irrevocably damaged America's self-confidence and political position within the world. Vietnamese civilians continued to perish in the Communists brutal "re-education" camps. Even today many Vietnamese remain exposed to destructive artillery shells, the deforming effects of chemical weapons employed during the war (such as Agent Orange), the obliteration of communities and the psychological scars carried on by civilians and servicemen/women throughout the following years.

For me, this production effectively communicated the humanity of all the characters, as you could criticise but also sympathise with every single person, irrespective of what they did. Instead of vilifying individuals (even those you initially disliked), it emphasised the horrifying nature of war, a phenomena which never produces victors, only damaged victims. 

I would highly recommend getting tickets for the show, but make sure you bring lots of tissues, you will need them.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

New Blog, New(ish) Blogger - Fruity Quinoa Porridge Recipe

The last five months have been characterised by excesses of brilliant memories, new friends, mountainous landscapes and a comprehensive range of Alpine cuisine - I am not exaggerating when I say that I consumed my body weight in cheese regularly! Following the completion of my ski season I have decided to 'spring clean' my life. Recent adjustments have included tweaking my diet, exercise routine as well as experimenting with new, wholesome and yet completely delicious recipes.

Quinoa porridge is a dish which has become my current breakfast of choice. It is brilliantly versatile, filling as well as being suitable for gluten free, vegetarian and vegan diets. Although cooking the quinoa is not for the time poor, or reluctant early risers, you can cook a large batch, separate into regular portions, freeze and reheat when required. For this recipe I used a combination of water and almond milk, then topped the creamy porridge with a plum, banana and grated cinnamon. Depending on personal preference the ingredients can be substituted for any nut, soy or animal milk (if they take your fancy) and whatever combination of fresh or dried fruit you have to hand.

Serves: 1
Preparation time: 15 minutes

1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
1 cup almond milk
1 plum
1 banana
1/2 tsp cinnamon (grated)

  • Mix the water and almond milk together in a pan and bring to the boil.
  • Reduce the heat until simmering. Add the quinoa. It will take approximately 15 minutes for the quinoa to soak up the liquid and transform from opaque bullets to translucent, readily edible grains. Stir regularly to prevent the quinoa from sticking to the pan.
  • After 10 minutes add half the chopped plum to the mix. By cooking the plum the porridge gains a natural sweetness which negates the need to add sugar or sweeteners.
    Suggestion - you could add a handful of blueberries at this stage. The potent berries make the dish acquire a gorgeous purple hue, antioxidants and a brilliant flavour
  • Once the quinoa is cooked, sprinkle the remaining plum, banana and grated cinnamon onto the porridge and enjoy!