Wednesday, May 27, 2009

When the Sun is Out...

After going to the gym on Saturday, I was delighted to feel the radiant sun rays on my skin as I stepped out. I grabbed some food from Burger King's at London Bridge and trotted over to moreLondon to have a mini picnic and a view of the Thames.

moreLondon has plenty of open space and long benches. It is interesting how they have morphed modern architecture and blended it together with traditional structures like the Tower Bridge.

Cynthia joined me shortly after her shopping spree at Bond Street.

After sharing the Burger King meal, washed down by chocolate muffins, we hopped by Mark and Spencer's for a bottle to Rose and a pack of delicious crisps.

With Greek music playing in the background, great girly chit-chat over wine and crisps, sun rays warming up my face, the weekend can't be any better than this.

Bring on the summer sunshine!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Tate Modern - BodySpaceMotionThings

The Tate Modern in London is Britain's national museum of international modern art. Although I am not a big art connoisseur, I have somehow visited the Museum several times with different companions.

This time, I was keen to visit because of the various events happening at the Tate over the long Bank holiday. One of them is the BodySpaceMotionThings Exhibition by artist Robert Morris.

Apparently, this exhibition is a re-creation of Tate Gallery’s first fully interactive exhibition which took place in 1971. Back then, there was an escalated amount of media and public interest when the art gallery asked people to physically interact with an art work. The exhibition was closed just four days after opening, due to the unexpected and over enthusiastic response of the audience.

We were greeted by an enthusiastic crowd, whooping in encouragement as participants attempted to balance themselves on a large square plank.


There were people queuing to roll a large ball around trails of sandbags...

...people attempting to balance on tight ropes.

Inspired, we decided to participate in the art ourselves too.

There was the edging-against-the-wall stances...

...abseiling a slippery slope...

Cynthia slid down a wide plank merrily.

There were structures for the bold ones to climb up.

I gave a futile attempt. :p

Cynthia ventured into a narrowing tunnel...

and almost got trapped!

Others tumbled in cylindrical structures.

After an eye-opening adventure, we stepped into the bright sunshine, right onto the House of Fairy Tales - a series of workshops and activities in exploring material and process through activities such as sewing, drawing and sculpture.

Gardens in bottles

The Museum of British Folklore

We stumbled upon the Drawing Room and I got intrigued by the invitation to participate in painting the common canvas.


My art piece no. 1, titled "Mr OnionHead sends his love!"

My art piece no. 2, titled "Mr Fishy-fishy"

After some cajoling, Cynthia decides to take up the brush as well!

What's she drawing?

Awww... a picture of us!

Can you spot a '你好!' I have scribbled?

Attempting to draw a merlion on Cynthia's request (but failing miserably)

Other self-created postcards

We felt like newly minted artists already!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Mediterranean Desserts

I have acquired a rather regular habit of consuming a dessert after dinner everyday. When I was in Singapore, Mummy will usually cut a huge platter of healthy fruit and that will suffice for a dessert. A healthy one, too! Otherwise, I will just ransack the refrigerator for a piece of dark chocolate.

Over in London, desserts are the bane of every women, especially those with a sweet tooth. (That's me!)

Yesterday, I decided I had enough with my regular consumption of cheesecakes, muffins, cupcakes, ice cream ... and boldly decided to venture into untested dessert arenas - Mediterranean Sweets.

We were loitering around Waitrose after dinner, in search of suitable desserts.

I decided upon a choice of 3 types of sweets - a Baklava, a brazi-nut wheatroll and a Raspberry Namoura.

Baklava is a type of Greek pastry traditionally made of thin layers of flaky pastry , honey, nuts, and orange essence. Many other Middle Eastern nations have pastries which are very similar, thanks to a long running tradition of sweet desserts which feature flaky, delicate pastry.

I suffered some cognitive dissonance when I bit into it because in our asian culture, flaky, delicate pastry usually equates to savoury palates. It is a little odd to bite into a flaky texture, only to realize it is bursting with sweetness.

The Raspberry Namoura is a traditional Arabic Semolina Cake, tasting nauseatingly sweet. It reminded me of some nonya kuehs I had ages ago as a kid.

My favorite one is the brazil-nuts filled wheatroll - and I believe it is also a sort of Baklava. It was crunchy, nutty and doesn't make you feel like you are going to develop a bout of diabetics immediately.

Man, this is turning into a food blog.

Friday, May 15, 2009

La Clique London

La Clique is live at The London Hippodrome in Leicester Square, and my buddy Cynthia, has invited me to catch it with her 2 weeks ago.

The setting of the circus was apparently distinct from any circuses I have been to. The stage was small and the performers appeared to remind me of a nomadic freakshow circus participants, rather than silky-smooth acrobats. The ambience is boisterous and fun, giving a feel you are in a sleazy pub with a beer, cheering some drunkards on the table.

Dodgy lighting conditions...

The girls eagerly anticipating...

La Clique is touted to be a melange of cabaret, new burlesque and circus sideshow. It started with a freakingly large man, cross-dressed as a clown women in a green-Shrek-like costumes and dark pink faux fur, singing in mediocre voice. To be frank, I was more disturbed than entertained, as Mrs-Large-Man sometimes randomly chose audiences to sit on and made them grab his manboobs. I might need psychological therapy if he had sat on me.

The muscle-bound English Gents, as seen above, were slightly more impressive. However, being an ardent fan of Olympic Gymnastics and having watched hours of incredible gymnastic stunts during those competitions, I was not quite impressed by their stunts.

I was totally freaked out by Captain Frodo, an inhumanely flexible man with double-jointed physique, enabling him to twist and dislocate his joints at will. It was so painful to watch (although he frequently had to disclaim it was not painful at all for him) that I had to close my eyes several times to spare myself from the sight.

The rest of the acts were mildly entertaining. I think the audience helped amplify the atmosphere, adding a dose of fun into this overrated circus. Overall, 'twas a novel experience.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Going Greek

The first time I tried The Real Greek was when Rebecca brought me, after some drinks at The Union Bar near Baker Street.

I kind of like Greek cuisine because it seems to be the equivalent of a healthy dining option, like what sushi is to Singaporeans. Of course, this is not substantiated but I like to believe going Greek is healthy since the distinctive characteristic of Greek cuisine is the use of olive oil. Olive oil is healthy, right?

When I googled for The Real Greek and found out they have a 50% promotion going on Sundays-Thursdays, I cajoled Felix to dine there after one of his intensive CFA revisions.

There are a few branches of The Real Greek. One of the better franchises will be located at Bankside, near London Bridge, next to the River Thames.

We started the dinner with some mezedes. Mezedes or meze are the small plates of food served with ouzo (a kind of spirit, I think). There is a wide selection of cold and hot mezedes. Personally, my favorite appetizer is Greek Flatbread with Htipiti dip.

The Greek pita bread reminds me greatly of the sorely-missed roti prata in Singapore, except alot less oily. The Htipiti dip is described as a coarse purée of roasted red peppers, feta cheese and roasted red onions. Mmmmmm-mmm.

For the mains, we ordered 6 skewers of lamb, chicken and pork, served with two delectable dips of Smoked Chilli Relish and Sun-Dried Tomato & Roast Pepper Relish. Felix ordered an additional Lamb Souvlaki which comprised of a lamb kebab grilled over charcoal embers and wrapped in flatbread.

Looks similar to satay huh?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

To Market, To Market... in London (Part II)

Anytime a Singaporean has something to complain about the Mass Rapid Transit in Singapore, I would like to welcome them to London - the place where the tube malfunctions for all sorts of reasons, from union strikes to signal failure. Sometimes, the tube crawls at a speed at which the growth of my toenail exceeds. For some strange reason, the Jubilee Line is forever under engineering works during the weekends.

Being restricted to using the Northern Line from London Bridge, we decided to explore the markets accessible to that particular Underground service instead.

To Angel, we ventured.

There was a pasar malam going on, probably every weekend. It was a electic mix of fresh produce and not-so-appealing apparel. We had just finished 2 hour gym session and we needed food desperately.

We promptly decided to dine outside an oily kebab store - feasting on onion rings, fish and chips, wraps and many cans of coke. Mmm-mm!

Onion rings!

Humongous chunks of fish and chips

In essence, Angel is quaint but not so interesting. There is quite a selection of shops such as Marks and Spencers, Waitrose and Sainsbury and other restaurants we didn't quite sniff out.

We decided to proceed on to Camden.

Camden Market is extremely busy. It can get so busy, they apparently ban people from entering the Tube Station on Sundays - permitting only exits. The stalls sell crafts, clothing, bric-a-brac, fast food, and other things. Apparently, it is the fourth most popular visitor attraction in London, attracting approximately 100,000 people each weekend, according to Wikipedia.

The markets sell pretty outlandish outfits like this.

Anyhow, the Camden Market reminds me of a mini Chatchuchak in Bangkok, except the prices are probably 10 times higher. Give me H&M anytime.

If you managed to survive the crowd and trudge on, you will arrive at Camden Lock.

There are pubs and lovely restaurants at the banks of the canals. Since it was a sunny spring Saturday, there were plenty of buskers performing and there were grateful audience milling around with their food and drinks.

Camden Lock Market is situated by the Regent's Canal. You have to walk up the Camden High Street, make a left and cross a brick bridge over the canals. If you are up for it, you can even hire a boat ride to sail the serene waters in this canal.

And here we are, Camden Lock Market. I can smell the food already!

Yes, I know. We did have a huge lunch at Angels. But...

The stalls in the market hawks an assortment of products: handcrafted traditional and contemporary jewellery, designer clothes and accessories...

Bookstores that look like ones where you can potentially dig out a treasure find.

But of course, all we are interested in....

is really... "Whats for dessert?"

Yeah, so I was in a rather long queue for our dessert.

And here are our chefs preparing our dessert - Chocolate, Banana and Almond Crepes.


And finally, after much anticipation, we tucked into our biteful of yummos.

Keep Camden in mind when visiting London!