Tuesday, June 29, 2010

ADDICTIVE SHOPPING

I'm terrible at multi-tasking, but in the best way. I spend ours, if left untended, perusing the internet with the telly on, cruising around websites doing imaginary shopping, sometimes with the radio shouting too. It comes in many forms: ebay imaginary cars; flat searching along with imaginary mortgage plans; and my biggest weakness of course being homeware. And I've just found a really good site called CSN. It's got everything from ceiling lights to hand mixers. Right now I can't decide between a Kenwood and a good knife. If I concentrate hard on Gok and the TV, it might stop me spending more money! If anyone has any ideas on what I should get, give me a shout. xxx

THREE TIMES A HOTTY

Today has been pretty humid, so I've made a spicy salad for supper. Sweet from the nectarines (from North Cross Road), creamy from some standard inexpensive feta, refreshing from the lambs lettuce and spicy from a combination of CHINA ROSE RADISH SPROUTS (I've vowed to learn more about these exciting things. There's loads out there to play with), finely sliced CHILLI and homemade CHILLI OIL. I'm banking on it being pretty KAPOW. It's super easy to make and only depends on preparation, so you can whip it up in no time. It'd make an ideal picnic addition, so here's how you do it...

a couple of handfuls of lambs lettuce
1 nectarine
150g feta
20g organic china rose radish sprouts
1 whole big mild chilli (test a slither first)
2 tbsp homemade chilli oil (recipe in my next book...!)
1/2 a lemon

















Lay out the lambs lettuce on a large flat serving dish, and then core the nectarine, slicing it into slithers. Scatter these around the plate and then crumble on the feta, draining any excess water in the pack. Take a few pinches of the radish sprouts (these are peppery and hot) and decorate over the plate. Now really finely slice the chilli and also scatter over the salad. Finally, carefully pour over the chilli oil and squeeze over some lemon. A grind of pepper will complete this.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

THE POUNDSHOP / GLASTONBURY CAPSULE

I really love the pound shop. But when it comes to Glastonbury, it's just essential. Here's my capsule to get me through, what is always, an ordeal! For the grand total of £10 I'm going to be sorted, and so are my girlfriends. There'll be enough Alka-Seltzer to go round, and if there isn't then we are really beyond the pale.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

THE FINAL CHAPTER. Tokyo Times

Sitting in my office, looking out onto my garden in SE5, Tokyo seems like a million days away already. It's amazing how quickly time warps and memories fade. This is definitely one of the benefits of the blogging world, as it forces you to recount and recall and re-enjoy it all.

The last note on Tokyo is the party time we had. It couldn't have been more whirl wind. We arrived and immediately met Ricki and headed straight for Dommune where Matthew Herbert was interviewed and then played a set. Dommune is a tiny bar by a beautiful cafe that streams music related fun and it was certainly that. We squished into this little dive bar, drank Umeshu sodas and the whole things was aired as we did so. The dog was dressed to match the girl that ran the place and the enthusiasm was electric. They are doing a really cool thing and hopefully this sort of stuff is the future of media. And Matthew even played my favourite song at the end "The Audience".




Now, the whole reason we went to Japan was because Raf of The 2 Bears was booked to play a festival called The Big Beach. What a brilliant excuse for the odyssey. We arrived at the festival which was seriously sweltering, having driven all through Tokyo, across futuristic bridges and strange industrial landscapes. And it was mad. The back stage area was full of models, all the usual humourous Japanese mini food and Johnnie Depp lookalikes. We goofed around with Jaymo and Andy George, and Raf and Nathan played a wicked set to screaming girls. Then we were on to the after party with The Chemical Brothers. Pow! We got home at 9am, having watched the sun rise over the city, whilst listening to Luther Vandross 'Never Too Much'. We drew down our black out blinds and for just a moment, Tokyo had been ours.

Now all I have to do is pack for Glastonbury and pray for good weather...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

MY FAVOURITE DAY IN TOKYO

One of our best days in Tokyo was when we had finally arrived. Properly. The first few days of a long haul are always pretty wierd. Everything is exciting and new and you feel like jumping in the deep end, and yet exhaustion dominates. That is, until about the third day and then everything begins to settle into place. We started the day with a trip around Tsukiji Fish Market. I never knew tuna was so massive, varied and most of all, expensive! And it's not just the tuna. There's a million kinds of prawn, clam, octopus and every other fish on view here. Knee deep in fish water, we waded around, marveled at what we saw and salivated at our potential sushi breakfast. The atmosphere in this market is electric, not half because everywhere you stand or walk you are in the way. The market workers all career around on little gas fueled tanks that they stand in. And they go at quite a speed between the overflowing stalls, shouting and tooting as they go. They whiz, wiggle and do quick 360 turns with an urgent abandon and it feels more like Mario Kart!


So the day had started brilliantly. I can't really remember what we did after that, but all I do know is we were quite drunk by sun down. We found a lovely bar in the Shibuya district and felt suddenly very at home in Tokyo. The climax of the evening was finding this wicked and quite down at heel 'pub'. This is where things got messy. It wasn't any old bar, it was Dancho's Inards bar. Most of the stuff that he served was from the inside of pigs, cows and chickens. THIS is why I went to Japan. As you can see, we made friends quickly, they ordered for us (as all the signage was in Japanese) and I peered over the bar to see the handiwork and got more and more excited as the dishes got sent out. Behind the bar, Dancho smoked, as did the bar maid and everyone seemed pretty drunk and most of all to be really enjoying the food. Our friends ordered sake and dishes for us and explained this it was 'labour food', as in, simple food for worker, I suppose. And finally I saw what I'd been looking for... raw cows heart and liver, sliced like sashimi with a sesame oil and salt dipper. It was so exciting. I can't claim that I loved it, but it made me feel fantastic, like a rush of blood to the head. I think adrenaline was at full pelt by this point. More sake. And then the finale. Most good sushi places you get a leaf of Perilla or Ohba with your fish. It's a leaf that looks like a knettle, but has a fine and aromatic flavour, a little kick, somewhere between mint and basil. Dancho didn't just serve up the sea bream with perilla, he lay over it the perilla flowers. I have never been more excited in my whole life. Honestly. And he was so cool and nice and dishy. If I ever go back to Tokyo, I don't even know whether I'd know how to find this place but it is simply the best. And I think it might have been the cheapest meal we ate out there

Sunday, June 13, 2010

THE WOMEN'S INSTITUTE, should be a hoot

I'll be doing something very new to me: a demo with the Borough Belles. It's a bit nerve making but I think it will be a blast! More to follow...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

MOOLI JAPANESE SALAD?

This is my first attempt at a Japanese Salad: Shredded Mooli, Seaweed and Pickled Ginger with a Sesame dressing....

Thursday, June 10, 2010

TOKYO-TASTIC. Mind boggling and fantastic. Part 1



It's really hard to know where to start when talking about Tokyo. We've just got back from a week in this extreme and confusing city. It is full of contradictions. We stayed in Shibuya, which is like Leicester Square, busy, young, a bit seedy and full of food. And yet Tokyo is actually quite calm at the same time. All the Japanese people we came across were quiet and polite and massively accommodating. It's expensive, and yet what you get for your money is always worth it. An acute sense of design is everywhere. Whether it's the packaging (extensive, to the point that if you leave your parasol in a hotel, they package it for you, lock it up and return it pristine), the signage, each bit or architecture which blows your mind or all the beautiful and extensive tableware. Everything works too. You meet the train and it actually comes. And the rules are stuck to. It seems like a place that functions on a really high level because of just this. People walk on the right side of the underpass and smoke in their designated areas. I loved it.

Each take out eatery, whether a food hall in a department store, or a chain coffee shop does it to the limit. Here is a doughnut shop. They don't just do a few things ok, they do just this, and it is the absolute best. Everything is like this. It really does bend your mind. And because bread is not a massive part of their diet, the sandwiches look more like sushi: they are tiny, and packaged in a tube, with crusts cut off, showing perfect cross sections on the filling. Again, a beauty and an extreme precision reigns over.

Snacks in foreign countries are always exciting, but never more so than in Japan. Partly because we couldn't understand a thing (which meant that we spent pretty much all of our trip, exhausted and confused and reading maps upside down) and partly because their tastes and staples are very different. When abroad I spend a lot of my time worrying that I am not eating enough. Three meals a day is not enough to taste a nation, so I try and ram in as many snacks as I can in between. These little treats seem to me, to show as much about national tastes are the high brow meals. This is a picture of one of our midnight feasts. On the left are some sweet crisps, the texture a bit like Wotsits but dark and chocolaty. They were delicious. Next round up top was an odd sesame flavoured frozen desert that had more in common with a trifle than an ice-cream, with layers of finely sliced sponge, but an almost potato texture. The yogurt drink was ace, but just like ours and the chocolate "Ghana" was very like our unctuous galaxy. So we have more in common than we may realise?

And the games. Kids everywhere go to booths and play computer games and karaoke. It's obsessive and you can stay in these places all night. You see them emerging, knackered and cross eyed, or you see them snoozing in the morning in cafes, totally relaxed because they wont be robbed (you could leave your bag at a table unmanned and it would be there when you returned. Sadly this is not something us Britons can say we share. ) But when you are in these places, you begin to understand why they are addictive. Noisy, bright, anonymous and wierd, they dull your senses and they are genuinely fun.

It's a funny place Tokyo. It hits you in the face, and in a really good way.