Archive for July, 2010

Tally ho chaps, it’s time to travel the old dart!

24 July 2010

We’re in London now and despite the jet lag, are extremely excited to be here! After checking into the hotel, we decide to have a shower and go exploring. The Rubens at the Palace hotel is situated directly across the road from Buckingham Palace on Buckingham Palace Road. It’s right around the corner from Victoria station, located within the city of Westminster. A very central location.

Farewell to the old guard

We step out the front door of the hotel to find bright, hot sunlight beating down. So very unlike the grey, drizzly weather that London is famous for. We have a map, but don’t really have any other clue about where we’re going. I’d been to London years before, but never stayed in this area, so this is all as new for me as it is for Mr L, who’s never visited. We head to the right, in the general direction of Buckingham Palace and are absolutely struck by the crowds of people that are flocking in the same direction as us. We’re not sure if this is normal or if something’s on, so we follow the population and end up right in front of the palace. Soon enough we see the Royal Guard marching out of the gates at Buckingham Palace – we’ve arrived right in the middle of the changing of the guard. What we’re seeing is the old guard leaving the palace as they’ve been relieved by their replacement soldiers – the new guard.

wpid-img_5074-2010-07-28-23-322.jpg
Changing of the guard – the old guard marches out of Buckingham Palace

wpid-img_5077-2010-07-28-23-322.jpg
Out goes the guard, followed by mounted police on beautiful horses

wpid-img_5078-2010-07-28-23-322.jpg
Those bear skin hats have got to be hot on a day like today!

Looking around, the other tourists are just as mesmerised as we are. There is a certain elegance that accompanies this old ceremony. Mr L tells me that the soldiers you see in the pictures above are in fact serving soldiers who, when not stationed on the Royal Guard, are stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere that the British Royal Army is serving. We remark how different that must be – switching between a life steeped in tradition, routine and ceremony to one ruled by adrenaline, fear and unpredictability.

St James Park

After the old guard has marched away, we follow part of the crowd and find ourselves in St James Park. It is green and lush and beautiful and we’re lured to the lake that is located in the middle of the park. We find beautiful geese, ducks and other birds. While we’re photographing some of the cute, brown geese, a tiny squirrel comes dashing out of nowhere and surprises us!

wpid-img_5087-2010-07-28-23-322.jpg
I think this guy is a goose! He was very cute. This is his front on shot.

wpid-img_5088-2010-07-28-23-322.jpg
Same guy – profile shot.

wpid-img_5081-2010-07-28-23-321.jpg
Squirrel! Crazy nut (eater) came dashing out of nowhere!

The next day when talking to PC’s cousin Sarah, we find out that these squirrels are the naughty ones – they’re not native to London and are responsible for scaring off many of the native ones. We didn’t see any of those, so I don’t have a pic for you – sorry! We wander through the rest of the park, past all sorts of beautifully well kept areas. In one, we find three enormous pelicans sitting atop a rock within a very japanese looking setting.

We emerge on the other side of the park, over near Winston Churchill’s War Rooms and near a great big square. On a tour later in the week, we find out that this square is where official guard ceremonies are held and that it is part of one of the palaces. Again, we fall into step behind other tourists and walk through a great big archway, where we find another guard. There are hundreds of tourists flocking to him to have their photo taken. He pays them little attention and continues to stand proud. He is not wearing the bear skin hat, but has a gold coloured, metal helmet on his head.

We walk through the cool archway to the blazing sun on the other side and I feel like a dork standing there in my opaque stockings and velvet jacket! (It felt cold when we walked into the hotel!) We find ourselves around the other side of the palace and find two other guards on horses (horse guards) again, surrounded by hundreds of crazy tourists, all vying to get a picture with them. Generally they’re pretty patient, but every now and then when a tourist oversteps the mark, one shouts “STAND CLEAR OF THE GUARD!” and the tourists are scared into keeping more of a respectful distance.

Lunch on the Thames at the Tattershall Castle

wpid-img_5251-2010-07-28-23-321.jpg
The Tattershall Castle, on the Thames

We walk further on and find ourselves staring up at Big Ben, the London (Millennium) Eye, and over to Westminster Abbey. I’m thrilled because last time I was in London, I really didn’t have time to have a good look at any of these world renowned landmarks. We take a few snaps before agreeing we’re both pretty famished. There’s a boat just to our left and we walk towards it to discover it’s in fact a pub. We decide we could use a pint with lunch, so after a quick, ceremonial selfie (below), we stop in at the Tattershall Castle (above), which is opposite the London Eye on the Thames.

wpid-img_5102-2010-07-28-23-321.jpg
Mr L and me in front of the Millennium Eye, on the River Thames

First thing’s first – we bought a couple of beers. Mr L then decided that since we were in London, it would be rude not to have fish and chips (and mushy peas) with his beer. I chose a burger and both meals were delivered reasonably promptly. When the fish and chips arrived, we wondered about the purpose for the two half slices of bread sat atop the fish. Are they there so that one can make a chip butty? Perhaps Pa might know, since he was born in London.

wpid-img_5097-2010-07-28-23-321.jpg
Mr L’s fish and chips with mushy peas, bread and tartare sauce

My burger was ok, but not great. The beef was juicy and the cheese tasty enough, but it wasn’t like the big fat burger that I’m used to receiving in Aussie pubs. That said, it did the trick and owing to a lack of items such as beetroot, egg and pineapple, I didn’t end up with burger oozed down my arm! Perhaps I ought to try to stick to these sorts of burgers more often – I may cause my husband less public humiliation!

I was interested by the wee salad of pickle, lettuce, tomato and onion to the side of the burger. I wasn’t sure if it was intended as side salad, garnish or burger contents, but I whacked it on the burger and that worked pretty well.

wpid-img_5098-2010-07-28-23-321.jpg
My burger, chips and side salad, come burger contents!

Am I on drugs, or is Australia just very expensive for food and booze?

We’ve been pleasantly surprised by how cheap the food has been in London. From my last visit, I recall it being really expensive. Certainly the exchange rate has improved since my last trip, but in conjunction with that, I wonder if Australia’s become very expensive? Certainly friends and family that have lived in the USA or UK have returned home and remarked how expensive things are. Why is that? Can someone enlighten me? Perhaps the quality of our food is vastly improved on the produce in the UK?

wpid-img_5104-2010-07-28-23-321.jpg
That famous clock and tower

When in London…

After lunch we wandered around Westminster some more and enjoyed spotting extra landmarks. It sure was hot in London on that first day and after we’d had enough of walking in the heat, we headed back to the hotel in order to cool down. We’d been up for about 36 hours (except for the few we’d slept on the plane), so were getting pretty tired. Somehow, on the way into the hotel, we caught a glimpse of the cool, dark bar and got enticed in.

When in London, having a Pimms cocktail seemed to be the right choice, so I took one for the team and ordered. Mr L (I’m sure you’re surprised), felt like a crisp, clean glass of white wine, so we and our drinks sat in the very beautiful, very British bar at the Rubens sipping our drinks.

wpid-img_5114-2010-07-28-23-321.jpg
My Pimms cocktail – refreshing!

wpid-img_5119-2010-07-28-23-321.jpg
The bar at Rubens at the Palace

A second wind and a third and a fourth…

It seems the cocktail / wine combo worked to help us work up a couple of extra winds, and we trotted around the corner to a cute little pub called The Phoenix. Once we got ourselves a seat, we were happy to sit in (and shoot) the breeze outside the pub and sip a cheeky wine or two. Though the Phoenix was on a little street (Palace Street) in the back of Westminster, the people watching was good and provided just enough action to tire us out, before we retired for a good, long kip, in preparation for another big day in London!

Advertisements

July 28, 2010 at 1:32 pm Leave a comment

Last day in London and lunch at Heston Blumenthal’s pub: the Hinds Head in Bray

27 July 2010

A most esteemed and exciting day – we’re off to Heston Blumenthal’s pub in Bray for lunch. To get there, we need to get a tube from London Victoria to Paddington and then catch the train. We’ve got some time to kill, so we decide to go and have a look at Harrods and Harvey Nics in the morning. The thing I love the most (I’m sure you’re surprised) is the food hall in Harrods. I’ve included some pics below – it’s amazing. Kind of like the David Jones food hall in Sydney on steroids. Phenomenal. When we come back to London, I will be stopping into Harrods for a spot of whatever I feel like at lunch time. If I feel like dumplings, I’ll have those. Or maybe I’ll feel like Jamon de Bayon. Or fancy pies. Or terrine. Or caviar. Or something fabulous from the Fromagerie perhaps (BF?) In any event, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to find something that takes my fancy in this food hall – it’s just a shame that on this occasion, Mr L and I have bigger fish to fry, so we’re conservative with our buying.

See some pics below and then read on to see and hear all about our lunch at the brilliant Hinds Head hotel in Bray.

wpid-img_5285-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Mmmmm… chocolates

wpid-img_5291-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Food hall

wpid-img_5295-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Dim sum anyone?

wpid-img_5297-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Beef wellington or lobster for lunch?

wpid-img_5299-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Hams and cold meat galore!

wpid-img_5305-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Double thumbs up says Mr L, who is pictured here in pie heaven!

wpid-img_5312-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Mmmm.. cheese…

wpid-img_5313-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
The iberico ham house (if you don’t mind!)

wpid-img_5314-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Fromagerie (BF – we need to visit!)

wpid-img_5317-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Tonnes of terrine

On our way out of Harrods, we noticed the Lauduree at Harrods shop. PC tells me she’s got the same pic as the one below from the Lauduree shop in Paris. Since we’re heading there shortly, I may just seek out a twin photo (and perhaps a macaron!)

wpid-img_5324-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Mmmm.. macaron towers – Adriano Zumbo would be proud!

Lunch @ Heston Blumenthal’s Hinds Head pub in Bray

wpid-img_5414-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg

My ears are back and my tail is wagging – we’re off for lunch to Heston Blumenthal’s pub in the Berkshire village of Bray, a beautiful little place near Maidenhead Station. Mr L is excited because on our way through to Maidenhead station we passed Slough, which is where the English series of The Office (with Ricky Gervais) is set. Once we’re off the train, we walk through the town of Maidenhead and make our way to a pub (the sun is over the yard arm) for a cheeky pint while we wait for 2:00 to come around. We spend some time laughing at the locals who are all seated at separate tables, but talk loudly enough that they (and we and everyone else) can hear every word they’re saying – chatter about the horse racing, talk of an upcoming wedding and disagreements over the bus timetable seem to be the topics of the day!

Soon enough the time ticks round and we walk back to Maidenhead station to find a taxi to take us to the Hinds Head. Three doors down from the Hinds Head we spot the Fat Duck – the molecular gastronomy restaurant that has caused a stir in the little village and across the world. Sadly, we couldn’t get into the Fat Duck, but Jacque suggested we visit the Hinds Head instead and as we were able to get a seat, well, here we are! The Hinds Head focuses on traditional, seasonal British food – and we’re itching to get a look at some, so we head through the door to the 15th century building.

Champers – yes please!

We figured it was the right thing to do to start with a glass of champagne, and were promptly delivered a glass of the Deutz Brut Classic which Mr L declared was better than the Dom Peringnon Reserve that we’d had during our Easter visit to Quay.

wpid-img_5349-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Us looking stoked with our Deutz Brut Classic champagne

The menu

wpid-img_5343-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
The menu

The very lovely waitress talks us through the options we have with respect to the menu. We could go for a two course or three course set menu, or order from the a la carte menu. We ask her what her favourite dishes are and she talks fondly of the crab toast, the mussels and the oxtail and kidney pudding. We decide to choose our own courses from the a la carte menu.

Mr L orders

Brixham mussels cooked with white wine, parsley and garlic (8.95 GBP for the entree size) and
Oxtail and kidney pudding (16.95 GBP) as main

and I order

South Coast crab on toast (9.50 GBP) as entree and (you’d better sit down in case you collapse in shock)
Pork belly with spinach and butternut squash (17.50 GBP)

wpid-img_5346-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Delicious bread

We nibble on some of the delicious bread and butter and look around at the other diners within the busy little dining area.

wpid-img_5345-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
The dining area within the Hinds Head

After a short wait, our entrees arrive.

wpid-img_5351-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
South Coast crab toast

My crab toast was really quite spectacular. A piece of white sourdough was toasted to perfection, slathered in salty butter and then topped with a mixture of mashed crab and herbs. The herbs made it really fresh and the textures all combined to create a simple, but interesting dish.

wpid-img_5354-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Mr L’s mussels

I was surprised that Mr L chose the mussels as although he likes them, he doesn’t usually find they rock his world. Well – I’m glad he did order them because these mussels were the best either of us had ever had. In the bottom of the large mussel vessel all the juices congregated and when Mr L made it to the bottom (and he did make it to the bottom!), he was then able to dip his bread into the juicy goodness. I’ve included a pic below so you can see how good the juice was!

wpid-img_5356-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Mussel juice – oh so good!

wpid-img_5358-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
I’ve never seen this man looking this happy about a bowl of mussels before!

The wine

We knew we were doing it all in the wrong order, but we ordered a bottle of wine after our entrees. Since we’d be heading to France soon, we thought we’d stick with the French theme and ordered a bottle of the Petit Chablis Domaine Brocard from Auxerrois (31.00 GBP per bottle). It was refreshing and crisp.

wpid-img_5374-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Brocard Petite Chablis

The main event

You know me. I love pork belly. So if Heston Blumenthal’s kitchen was happy to prepare it, I was happy to try it!

wpid-img_5365-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Pork belly with spinach and butternut squash

wpid-img_5370-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Cut away to the spinach below

I really enjoyed the pork. When it arrived, I wondered where the spinach was – then I cut away and found it hiding below. The little seedy thing you can see sticking out of the butternut mash was a kind of cracker – I’m not sure whether it was carraway or similar. It had an interesting texture, though I didn’t like the flavour very much. I’m pretty sure the waitress said that the pork belly had been slow cooked in a water bath for hours. The crackling was only crispy around the edges – like it had been charred with an oxy torch, but I suspect that’s what was intended for it.

wpid-img_5366-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Mr L’s oxtail and kidney pudding

wpid-img_5369-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Inside the pudding

The waitress had warned us that this was one rich pudding – as you can imagine the oxtail and kidney combination would be. I’m pretty sure this was a suet pudding too – which added extra dimension and richness to the pudding. The dark gravy that the pudding is sitting in was equally rich – we were glad to have requested some refreshing green beans to break up the flavour as suggested by the waitress. Mr L loved his pudding and when we were both finished our mains, we sat for a while and contemplated whether we really needed dessert!

wpid-img_5368-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
The green beans saved Mr L from richness overload

The dessert menu

wpid-img_5373-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg

We agreed to take a look at the dessert menu and while we had it open, a couple of glasses of dessert wine stood out, so we felt we’d better at least share a dessert to go with them! We went with the Banana Eaton Mess, which wasn’t as simple as it sounds. Lime zest was shaved onto the top and toffee brittle was scattered across it complementing the banana, meringue and cream perfectly.

wpid-img_5378-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Banana Eaton Mess

The Hinds Head

I ventured upstairs to stop in at the loo and took some shots of the place on my way – as well as a customary shot from the bathroom mirror. Shots below!

wpid-img_5403-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
One of the two fireplaces – brilliant for a cold day in London

wpid-img_5405-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
View from the area where we dined through to the bar

wpid-img_5406-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Board commemorating the Vicar of Bray from the 1500’s

wpid-img_5408-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Devils on horseback – pretty good for bar food!

wpid-img_5412-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Since the Hinds Head’s building is so old, the doorways and ceiling are very low!

wpid-img_5341-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Outside the Hinds Head in the little village of Bray

wpid-img_5398-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Bathroom mirror shot!

wpid-img_5388-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Food critic’s review on the wall in the ladies’ loo

Coffee and the bill

I was feeling a touch sleepy after all the good food and wine, so requested a coffee and the bill. We agreed that all in all it was a tremendous meal. It wasn’t the best pork belly I’ve ever had, but on balance, the whole meal was well worth the travel out to little Bray. We particularly loved our entrees and the approaches to the pudding, the crab toast and mussels. And you can be sure that the next time I make eaton mess, it will include banana and have lime zest on top!

wpid-img_5400-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg

Including an optional service charge, the whole meal came to 150.36 GBP – which we thought was a bit extravagant for normal pub food, but pretty good considering the quality of the meals that we had. We would be happy to return at those prices.

wpid-img_5401-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Le bill

A nod to The Fat Duck

Of course you know we went and took photos of The Fat Duck. Seems we weren’t the only ones with that idea as we heard another table commenting to the waitress “There doesn’t seem to be much to it!” to which the waitress replied “That’s what chef wants you to think. All the magic happens once you’re inside.” I’m sure that’s true and Mr L and I aim to return to see for ourselves!

wpid-img_5415-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Heston Blumenthal – Grand Chef’s The Fat Duck

wpid-img_5416-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Les Grandes Tables Du Monde

wpid-img_5417-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
The degustation menu

wpid-img_5418-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
Utensils – one with a webbed food – hang from the roof

wpid-img_5419-2010-07-27-02-49.jpg
The Fat Duck

The low down

The Hinds Head is located at High Street, Bray in Berkshire, SL6 2AB. Contact details are below:

Phone:        01628 626151
Fax:                01628 623394

Web:        www.hindsheadbray.com

To get there, catch the train from Paddington to Maidenhead Station and then hop in a cab for a five minute drive (about 7 GBP.) We went on a Tuesday, so it wasn’t all that busy, but it’s a good idea to book online if you want to secure a table. Apparently they do take walk ins, but tables are on a first come, first served basis for those without bookings.

July 26, 2010 at 4:49 pm Leave a comment

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!

23 July 2010

After about eight months of planning, Mr L finally found find ourselves on the big jet airplane on our way to London. This is the first blog post about our trip. And well, it’s a good time to tell you that Mr L and I are celebrating the fact that it’s eight years since we first got together. So it’s been a tremendously exciting few days for us! I’ve written this post over a couple of days in various timezones, so please excuse me if any of it sounds weird!

wpid-img_5038-2010-07-23-19-26.jpg
Mr L and me, sitting on the A380 – excited to be heading off on our big trip!

Sydney to Singapore – written on the plane

A380 heaven

I’m sitting on an Airbus A380 feeling decidedly stoked. Everywhere I turn technology impresses me. From his seat (next to mine) in the exit row, Mr L is watching a movie on his personal high-tech, touch screen tv/entertainment unit that cleverly unfolds from a small compartment between our seats. I’m listening to Michael Jackson right now, but have spent the last hour looking through the impressive breadth of albums that Qantas have preloaded onto the system and making a playlist (if you don’t mind!) so I am well and truly wired for sound.

We made the decision to upgrade to the exit row seats so that we could stretch out when we wanted to. I spend so much time on planes that I’m used to being cramped. When I do happen upon an exit row seat on domestic flights, I tend to enjoy the small amount of extra leg room that it affords, but I tellsya, that spot on a 747 is nothing like what we’ve got on this A380. We couldn’t even stretch our legs out long enough to reach the part of the plane closest to our feet. We’re not tall, but reckon even our tall bfs and taller bro and SIL would have be hard pressed to get frustrated by this space. We paid to secure these seats (I think it was about $80 per person per flight), but on a long haul flight like this, would strongly recommend it. See pic below of our outstretched feet, just to prove the point!

wpid-img_5047-2010-07-23-19-26.jpg
Stretching our legs – because we could!

I just have to tell you also (in the spirit of marvelling at all things around me) that as I type from this pleb seat, I’ve got my mac plugged into a powerpoint – because all the seats in economy have access to power. Also, there are USB sockets in the arm of my seat and all sorts of other fancy contraptions that I’m yet to properly uncover. I love the fact that I can pay an economy price and get access to power. (Yes, I know – geek on stingeo, but it’s pretty cool don’t you think?)

Food and booze at every turn

Just as I started typing this post, a trolley wheeled my way for the fourth time since boarding three hours ago. This time it was to offer me peppermint tea or hot chocolate. The other have been to provide us water; lay a cracking version of an economy class dinner on us with our choice of booze of course, and to offer us tea or coffee. Oh – and someone cruised past with frosty fruits to top it all off. Brilliant! Evidence outlined below.

wpid-img_5049-2010-07-23-19-26.jpg
All sorts of goodness: Mr L’s lamb with rissoni and peas

wpid-img_5053-2010-07-23-19-26.jpg
My dinner: teriyaki fish with rice and greens

wpid-img_5056-2010-07-23-19-26.jpg
Frosty Fruits – one of Mr L’s favourite fruits!

wpid-img_5055-2010-07-23-19-26.jpg
For MXG – the Wiggles on the big plane!

Shortly after we boarded, a chap came by to drop off menus. We had options to choose from braised lamb or asian inspired fish for dinner. My L chose the lamb and I the fish. Both dishes were enjoyable. Accompanying them were a green salad, a bread roll and butter, cheese and crackers and a tiny toblerone. We washed dinner down with a tasty little sauv blanc. More evidence below.

wpid-img_5051-2010-07-23-19-26.jpg
Wirra Wirra 2008 Sauvignon Blanc – don’t mind if I do

Also – there are snacks and drinks available for one to indulge in as desired. Help yourself people. I’m full – no need, but I am looking forward to receiving the duty free hand cream I’ve just ordered. Ahhhh.. the high life! (Get it?)

The Qantas Club phenomenon

Prior to climbing aboard we had a prolonged visit to the Qantas Club lounge at Sydney airport as our flight was delayed by an hour. That was lucky for me as I really wanted to get something out to a client before hopping on the plane and the extra time helped me get it done and dusted so I could fly with a less guilty conscience. Of course, the culinary and quenching options in the Qantas Club were appreciated also and Mr L and I had a glass of celebratory “Yay, we’re on holiday and have loved each other for eight years vino” and a few nibbles.

You probably already know this… (I’ve said it before – I can be a bit slow sometimes.) If you travel a lot, being a member of Qantas Club is a good idea. There, I said it out loud.

For the most of the past year and a half when I’ve been travelling at least fortnightly and quite often weekly, I’ve been hanging out in the pleb area at the airport. I had told myself I didn’t need a Qantas Club membership – I was only going to be at the airport for a short time on my way through anyway – why would I need to spend the money to join the Club? Surely it was overrated! Sound enough reasoning I thought.

When it came time to get ready for this trip, Mr L and I agreed that joining Qantas Club was a good idea as we could access it for our long haul flights and that would be handy. So we signed up for four years. It cost a lot. We winced. Then I started accessing the Club whenever I travelled. White bus trips to Brissie. A cheeky flight to Adelaide. Countless flights back to Sydney. Before boarding, each time I’ve visited the Club.

Again – a sad confession, but (along with the free food, booze, proper soy caps for early morning visits, comfy chairs, nice toilets, showers, priority check-in and luggage handling) the thing I appreciate most about the Qantas Club is the opportunity to plug my laptop power cord into an outlet and not have to fight some punk kid for it.

On a recent trip to Adelaide (prior to joining the Club), I had paced up and down Adelaide airport with sore feet and heavy bags, on the verge of tears, trying to find a bloody power point to plug my tired computer into so that I could complete an urgent work task. I finally found one (hiding in a stupidly obvious spot) but the memory of that tumultuous, stressful experience has stayed with me. I’ve experienced none of that since joining the Club. My most difficult decisions relate to whether to have a red apple or a green one; or if I should try the curry or make my own antipasto.

wpid-img_1078-2010-07-23-19-26.jpg
Good times in the Qantas Club – wine, cheese, olives and water

BTW – I should say, I know I’m blowing a lot of hot air in Qantas’ general direction today and no, I’m not sponsored by them or on commission – though if anyone were a good sponsorship fit for Qantas, it would be this all singing, all dancing, all touring blog! Qantas – if you want to make contact, you can reach me via myfavouritefruits@gmail.com!

Where to next?

So after Singapore, we’ll land in London and meet up with friends and family. We’re so looking forward to seeing all those kids! Stay tuned for another update.

Don’t expect to chew in Singapore!

Speaking of… on our descent into Singapore I had a pretty excruciating time trying to get my ears to equalise. I’ve had a head cold for the past week which is contributing to the issue. I didn’t have any chewy with me and the flight crew were kind enough to give me a few Vicks vapour drops. We made it through, but I was really worried about the prospect of my left ear perforating again like it had on a flight last year when I had a similar cold. When we got to ground in Singapore, I was determined to find some chewy so that I could chew furiously on the descent into London if necessary.

We raced around Changi airport looking for somewhere that looked like it would sell gum. Finally, we happened upon a stationer who was selling Mentos. We asked if he had any chewy and he said (of course!) that chewing gum is banned in Singapore! I had heard about the harsh penalties for throwing chewing gum on the street in Singapore, but I was sure that the last time I was there I was chewing! We ended up buying four rolls of Mentos and getting back on the plane.

Singapore to London

On the second leg, we’re feeling really pretty tired. By now it’s 2 am Sydney time and we’ve had little sleep the last few nights, so tiredness is starting to catch up with us. We both manage to get some sleep and are really grateful for the extra leg room so that we can spread out to get the sleep. Throughout the flight, the flight attendants bring around snack packs containing apples, Oreos, water, more toblerone and chewy lollies.

Tired and cold

Throughout the rest of the journey to London, we kip a bit, but are generally awake and tired. It’s really cold on the flight and although we’re wrapped in two blankets, it’s hard to get warm. There are lots of opportunities to sample great snacks – roasted almonds; gluten free cookies; apples, etc.

We land in London just after 7 am and after spending time in the customs queue, find our transfer driver and get on the way to our hotel. Exciting! We’re staying at Rubens at the Palace, directly across the road from Buckingham Palace in London Victoria.

A little note to a few favourites

Thanks to Nanna and Pa for taking us to the airport today and to T for chilling at ours in our absence. Also – thinking of bfs and TB; and Bro and SIL and the wee neph. We’ll check in with you all for progress reports.

London ideas

Big thanks to Natty B for suggesting some stops along our tour and to Jacque for the same! 🙂

Cheers!

July 23, 2010 at 9:26 am Leave a comment

Cheeky North Sydney lunch @ Viet’s Pho

I’m so thrilled to be working in North Sydney again – not just because of the food – but also because I’m close to loads of friends and family, so can have a cheeky lunch here and there when there’s time to escape the office. Last Monday, I had the pleasure of catching up with BF for a quick lunch before heading off to Brissie for a few days. After some wandering around Tower Square, we happened upon Viet’s Pho. It was an easy choice since there were lots of seats available (and seldom elsewhere), but this easy choice became a great one as Viet’s Pho was almost better than Pho that Mr L and I had in Vietnam!

Continue Reading July 18, 2010 at 9:23 am Leave a comment

Back in action! Dreaming of Greece and a long, lazy brunch at Xenos..

Bet you thought I’d fallen off the face of the Earth!  Never fear – here I am again with tail between legs… Why such a quiet period?  Well, frankly, it’s been a hard day’s night and I’ve been working like a dog.  Oh yeah – like a big dog – a Great Dane perhaps.  In any event, I’m back now and look forward to some more regularity in my life.  What’s more – Mr L and I are heading overseas in less than two weeks, so I’ll be able to share some magical food experiences with you.  Bring that on really.  In the mean time though, dreaming of Greece, I thought I’d tell you about a great Sunday brunch we had recently with BF, Commando and TB at Xenos Cafe Restaurant in Crows Nest.

The big dog here is a representation of how hard I've been working.. (pic from http://www.breederretriever.com)

The big dog here is a representation of how hard I've been working.. (pic from http://www.breederretriever.com)

A long, lazy brunch at Xenos

You know how people talk about long lazy brunches?  On this particular Sunday, that’s exactly what we had.  We met up at 10 am and had such a good time eating, chatting, laughing and playing with TB (BF and Commando’s gorgeous tiny wee man), that the time seemed to zoom by.  Before we knew it, the hands on the clock were pointing at 12:30 pm!  Time really does fly when you’re having fun.

Corn fritters of a different kind

I’m a sucker for a corn fritter.  Like my love for pork, I am somewhat renowned for this affiliation and of course Mr L knew what I was having as soon as he looked at the menu.  BF had the same idea and after a small amount of deliberating over Xenos’ extensive breakie menu, we ordered the corn fritters.  They were served with bacon, avocado and a tomato relish.  Unexpectedly, they also arrived with two poached eggs and a cheeky piece of roast tomato on the side.  A decent breakfast by any account!

The corn fritters were deep fried – a take on the corn fritter we’d not previously encountered.  With the relish and the bacon and avocado, they’re pretty good, but I’d probably prefer them less fried.  Everything else was delicious though – particularly the poached eggs and tangy relish.

Corn fritters

Corn fritters

The Cure

Mr L made his way through a number of glasses of red the night before, so when he found a menu item named “The Cure”, he wasn’t going to argue.  The Cure was comprised of bacon, steak, eggs (any way), a hash brown, five chipolatas (yes, five!) and a token piece of tomato.  The only thing that could have improved this breakfast was for it to be delivered by Robert Smith of the meal’s name sake band.  I’m not sure whether it’s due to rehydration, or the breakfast itself, but Mr L certainly has more of a spring in his step after breakie.  It’s quite possible that in this case, The Cure was better than prevention!

Mr L's Cure!

Mr L's Cure!

Tomatoey eggs

I didn’t note down the name of the breakie that Commando chose from the specials menu, but it was a special Greek breakfast, made up of poached eggs in a rich tomato sauce with loads of dippy toast.   When we’re in Kefalonia, Santorini or Mykonos in the next month or so, I’ll see if I can determine what Commando’s breakie was called and will let you know! 😉

Commando's tomatoey eggs

Commando's tomatoey eggs

The tomatoey eggs went down a treat, and BF and Commando shared a cheeky fruit plate for a breakie vitamin boost.

Fruit platter with honeyed yoghurt

Fruit platter with honeyed yoghurt

Good hosts

The people at Xenos were happy to accommodate us during our long, lazy lunch stay.  They brought us loads of drinks, lots of water and the cafe was warm on an otherwise cold day.  I’ve gotta say – in Crows Nest, Xenos is one of my faves and there’s little doubt that we’ll be back.

The low down

I’ve just been reading that Xenos Cafe Restaurant is now celebrating it’s 40th year of service.  It is located in a sunny spot at 7 Burlington Street, Crows Nest and trades over the following hours:

Breakfast: 7 days from 7:00 am
Lunch: 7 days from 12:00 pm
Dinner: 5 Days from 6 pm

Closed for Dinner Sunday and Monday nights

To contact Xenos:
Phone: (02) 9439 1748
Fax: (02) 9436 2477

Or visit the Xenos website at http://www.xenosrestaurant.com.au

What to expect from me…

It’s fair to say that the busy times at work are set to continue until Mr L and I embark on our holiday in two weeks, but I’d like to think I can blog at least a few times a week from now on.  Thanks for your patience during my unexpected hiatus!

Moving on, I think it’s unlikely I’ll be blogging daily –  a few times a week is probably more realistic and if I can manage more frequency, that’ll be a bonus! 🙂

What I’d love from you…

Soon we’re heading to London, several parts of Greece, Paris, Iceland and a few cities in the USA.  Do you have ideas about terrific little eateries, or fancy, flash restaurants that we should visit?  I’d love to hear them!  To provide a suggestion, add a comment using the form at the bottom of any of these posts.

Cheers! 🙂

Bet you thought I’d fallen off the face of the Earth!  Never fear – here I am again with tail between legs… Why such a quiet period?  Well, frankly, it’s been a hard day’s night and I’ve been working like a dog.  Oh yeah – like a big dog – a Great Dane perhaps.  In any event, I’m back now and look forward to some more regularity in my life.  What’s more – Mr L and I are heading overseas in less than two weeks, so I’ll be able to share some magical food experiences with you.  Bring that on really.  In the mean time though, dreaming of Greece, I thought I’d tell you about a great Sunday brunch we had recently with BF, Commando and TB at Xenos Cafe Restaurant in Crows Nest.

A long, lazy brunch

You know how people talk about long lazy brunches?  On this particular Sunday, the brunch lived up to its name.  We met up at 10 am and had such a good time eating, chatting and playing with TB – BF and Commando’s tiny wee man, that the time seemed to zoom by.  Before we knew it, the hands on the clock were pointing at 12:30 pm!  I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun.

Corn fritters of a different kind

I’m a sucker for a corn fritter.  Like my love for pork, I am somewhat renowned for this affiliation and of course Mr L knew what it was to be for me when he looked at the menu.  BF had the same idea and we ordered said corn fritters: served with bacon, avocado and a tomato relish.  Unexpectedly, they also arrived with two poached eggs and a cheeky piece of roast tomato on the side.  A decent breakfast by any account!

The corn fritters arrived looking deep fried – a take on the corn fritter we’d not previously encountered.  With the relish and the bacon and avocado, they’re pretty good, but I’d probably prefer them less fried.

The Cure

Mr L made his way through a number of glasses of red the night before, so when he saw a breakfast option named “The Cure”, he made the apt decision to receive help in that form.  The Cure was comprised of bacon, steak, eggs (any way), a hash brown, five chipolatas (yes, five!) and a token piece of tomato.  The only thing that would have improved this breakfast would have been delivery by Robert Smith of the meal’s name sake band.  I’m not sure whether it’s due to rehydration, or the breakfast, but Mr L certainly has more of a spring in his step after breakie – so it’s quite possible that The Cure worked!

Tomatoey eggs

I didn’t note down the name of the breakie that Commando chose from the specials menu, but it was a special Greek breakfast meal, made up of poached eggs in a tomato sauce with loads of dippy toast.

The tomatoey eggs went down a treat, and BF and Commando had a cheeky fruit plate to wash it all down with.

Good hosts

The people at Xenos were happy to accommodate us during our long, lazy lunch stay.  They brought us loads of drinks, lots of water and the cafe was warm on an otherwise cold day.  I’ve gotta say – in Crows Nest, Xenos is one of my faves and there’s little doubt that we’ll be back.

The low down

I’ve just been reading that the unpretentious Xenos Cafe Restaurant is now celebrating it’s 40th year of service.  It is located in a sunny spot at 7 Burlington Street, Crows Nest and trades over the following hours:

Breakfast: 7 days from 7:00 am

Lunch: 7 days from 12:00 pm

Dinner: 5 Days from 6 pm

Closed for Dinner Sunday and Monday nights

To contact Xenos:

Phone: (02) 9439 1748

Fax: (02) 9436 2477

Or visit the Xenos website at http://www.xenosrestaurant.com.au

What to expect from me…

It’s fair to say that the busy times at work are set to continue until Mr L and I embark on our holiday in two weeks, but I’d like to think I can blog at least a few times a week from now on.  Thanks for your patience during my unexpected hiatus!

What I’d love from you

Soon we’re heading to London, several parts of Greece, Paris, Iceland and a few cities in the USA.  Do you have ideas about terrific little eateries, or fancy, flash restaurants that we should visit?  I’d love to hear them!  To provide a suggestion, add a comment using the form at the bottom of any of these posts.

Cheers! 🙂

Xenos Cafe Restaurant on Urbanspoon

July 11, 2010 at 9:48 am 1 comment


Enter your email address to subscribe to My Favourite Fruits and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 7 other followers

Follow me on Twitter