Monday, 25 April 2016

Tasting menus at Michelin Restaurants - Moments in Barcelona

They say never say never so I won't.

What I will say is that I will most likely not go through the gastronomic version of a Stalinist North Korean march and parade that we call a tasting menu ever again.

Mind you like hangovers and some say childbirth
I have said this before,
 but forgot the digestive drudgery and booked a table at the Moments Restaurant on my recent trip to Barcelona.

But I made an exception because Barcelona has a foodie culture and I thought I might experience something different than that from other restaurants elsewhere.

This is nothing against this restaurant that has two Michelin stars nor is this a review specifically on this establishment which was rather pleasant in itself.

Long time readers will know that the only other time 
I wrote about a tasting menu was the one I had at Noma in Copenhagen which is considered the #1 restaurant in the world.

The tome that my husband is flipping through isn't the latest government tax laws and codes but the wine list.  

I am not that into wines and I really only have it for effect. 
I find that not having wine is the foodie version of someone wearing a huge puffer jacket in front of a roaring fire - 
people will constantly comment and ask if you are okay. 
Gets rather boring.

One of my best friends was a chef in the top restaurants in Melbourne and she has always told me that the best value is to get the tasting menus as the amount of work and the ingredients is almost at cost.  
These restaurants make their money - if at all - on alcohol.

El Bulli which was always voted the number one or at worst number two restaurant before it shut never made any profit in all!

I do as I am told so we decided to do a world gastronomic tasting menu which I was a little disappointed with as 
I wanted a Spanish / Catalan menu but it's not always about me.
The most Spanish dish I got was the anchovy with strawberry puree on toast.

This dumpling was very good but I can get that 5 minutes from my house.

I don't eat foie gras anymore but I made an exception and tried the macaroom with foie, apple, celery and armagnac.
You know how couture of food and fashion filters down - well get ready for your nearest deli to do ham and cheese macaroons.

They then brought out a freshly baked loaf of bread and sliced us a piece but without any oil or butter. It just seems disjointed but 
I rarely say no to food.  
But this made my husband question why this arbitrary loaf of bread was presented.
It was handy for sopping up the remains of this Spanish stew.

The prawn with zucchini and a saffron jellied medallion with basil sauce was nice.
But I won't dedicate a poem to it or anything.

The dish that was to transplant us to Turkey was a hors d'oeuvre sized gyro / souvlaki.
But oddly it tasted just like a miniature version of a really good regular one.
There was nothing that was elevated for a Michelin restaurant bar the portion on the pretty dollops of sauce around it. I was disappointed at their lack of high brow interpretation.

I started to wonder if the chefs have travelled and been to a cocktail party in America where these sliders are the norm. 
Only thing I didn't mind was the fondant potato French fry with pretty colored savoury sauces squeezed on top. Much ado about nothing and in a blind test McDonalds's chips would have won.

The token Japanese dish was nice but it was like wet falafel.

Okay not I am not being rude.
I must repeat I am not being odd but this next dish is a Thai dish called Clitoria Thai rice, monkfish and coconut.
If you don't believe me, look at the menu they handed out above.
Ping pong ball was not included.

Most disappointing dish was this duck and friend veggie tempura dish.
I have had better fried veggies at Japanese airports.

The ode to England was the Stilton, pear, and almonds.

But this dish depends on produce and raw ingredients not the skill so while nice I want to eat something at a restaurant I can't recreate myself.

By this time, my husband and I were experiencing so much discomfort and we were having a hard time not commiting the social faux pas of elbows on tables because we wanted to bury our face in our hands.

But as I am getting bolshier as I get older, I had to apologize to our waiters and ask them to skip the next two dessert courses.

This was turning out to be one of those unsuccessful Man v Food episodes.
She then said that we should have a light portion of a refreshing and digestive that was a vodka cocktail.  
We both enjoyed the theatrics.
But I liked the flamingo swizzle sticks more.
Then as we asked for the bill, we forgot about the petit fours that are de riguer.

Except in this case, the petit fours were humongous four cookies!
From left to right was a coconut cookie, white chocolate evil eye, chocolate cookie, and a ganache shaped like the Eiffel Tower.
Normally I would have devoured this but all we could do was take pictures and tell the waiters to convey to the chef how amazing everything was.

Even though I missed out on Miami and Marrakech stop on the tasting menu, I still got the stamp in my passport!
But the next morning at breakfast,
 I turned to my husband and said that unless circumstances dictate otherwise that I never want to do another tasting menu again and 
I think us both agreeing to this just saved our marriage!

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Chairs and Their Anthropomorphic Personas - Part 1

I'm a homo sapien so I can't help but have the tendency to anthropomorphize objects.

I do this with clothes, art, and furniture.

Plus I like making scenarios up in my head which I do all the time while waiting for things so I did this while scrolling on Pinter-est.

You may not like these chairs but you know these chairs.

1950's Emerald Velvet Armchair
The high functioning alcoholic.

Retro Vintage 50's Armchair
This chair is like that friend you have a mundane conversation with almost everyday about what you ate and what you dreamed about last night.
This is nourishment in minutiae but non-negotiable.

The Midas Chair
This chair is like that friend you made at work 3 jobs ago but there is less and less you have to talk about every time you meet up once a season and now you repeat the same old anecdotes.
Might be time to just like each others' posts on Facebook and leave it at that.

Upcycled Suitcase as Chair
This chair is that smug, suburban friend you have who always thinks they came up with something new but is so Martha Stewart Living 2006.
She also starts every other sentence with,"You are never going to believe this!"

Fur upholstered director's chair
This chair is like that person who says that they are so chilled out and so relaxed and they are so zen and that yoga has changed their life but they freak out that there is lemon instead of lime in their room temperature,crystal infused, new moon marinated Emoto water.

The Bright Floral Upholstered Louis Something or rather Armchair
This chair reminds me of the person who gets all the initial attention when you walk into a restaurant, club, and past the building site but never gets called for the second date.

Edwardian Chippendale style chair
This chair embodies the curmudgeon.
This chair wouldn't use a mobile phone unless it's an emergency. They hate the internet and thinks it is a conspiracy for Big Brother to track your every move and will ultimately be the downfall for the human race that most likely deserves it anyway.
And they are probably right.

Quaker Farmchair
Not necessarily the best value at dinner parties nor are they your most amusing friend but they are the ones who will bring you soup if you are ill, they are the ones who actually answers the phone, and they always keep your extra set of house keys safe.

Whether you liked it or not, you are getting a part 2 next month!

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Chanel cardies, Sotheby's Art Highlights, and Gardens of the Royal Academy and Shoreditch and more

I'm still going to Shoreditch once a week to babysit Millie.
I now am documenting all the fun and witty graffiti in the area because every week it seems there is a whole new batch that gets taken down and sprayed over.

This TB one above is no longer there which I am sad about.

I went to wander around the Nomadic Gardens of Shoreditch.
My brother volunteered here for a while before there was some major internal politics and egos played their hand which was odd from an outsider like myself. 
It made me think that actually Parliament isn't so bad considering all that power and money on the table.
But it is an interesting place which is sadly going to be redeveloped at the end of the year to be turned into what London is in dire need of...
Yes, you guessed it - some more over priced housing!
But in the meantime my brother has adopted a few beds ( the ones pictured are not his.)
It also is a place where people sit around at night or have coffee during the day.
It helps the local children learn about planting and gardens and basic food growing.
On Pinterest, I would have rolled my eyes at this 3 tier tire planter 
but in this setting it doesn't feel smug at all.
Back in west London, this is one of the most sculpted garden vignettes and gives respite to so many city folk.
Last year I heard rumours about a black swan in the Serpentine and did even see it in a hidden covey bit of the lake but finally saw it up close doing some bad synchronized swimming.
The tickets for the Painting the Modern Garden exhibition at the RA was ridiculously tedious to get so I became a "friend".
So glad I did because I have now seen it 3 times and got a free bag out of it.
I am happy I was a fleeting friend of the late Zaha Hadid via the RA.
I had coffee at the Serpentine cafe the day she passed.
Being a friend of the RA gives you the benefit of going to the internal courtyard that is only allowed for "friends."
Check out these 250 year old Aussie ferns they flew over!

Monday, 4 April 2016

My Version of Urban Gardening

This planter I bought at auction sparked something in me...
The planter is crudely holding the potted cutting of Shropshire lad.
I live in a permanent mental state of flux.
It was only 7 years ago ( before the iPad) that I finally got my first magazine subscription which was crazy BC I've been a magazine fiend since I was single digit age.
I got married the same year too.
Psychoanalyze that.
So while I liked flowers as much as the next person, I couldn't put down my literal and figurative roots.

I always thought I'd move again which I did on a biannual basis like when I was single.
Marriage has brought a certain static energy to my life which was probably needed but I got an extra dose because I'm married to a Taurus.

Most of my plants I have in front of my house has been jettisoned by moving neighbors or gifted.
My jumbled up stream of consciousness compilation of pot plants as of last summer.

So even though we built the second floor I left the terrace bare with the exception of a lemon tree. 

Oh we will sell anyway soon one day I thought, maybe this year or next year -
testing the theory of time and space.

But I just realized it's been almost 3 years since we did the building work and not doing something because I just might do something else didn't make any sense at all.

So I went through the Royal Horticultural Society plant catalogue for some hydrangeas and herbs and David Austin for his roses using my RHS membership discount.
We had to go to the gardening center three times because we miscalculated soil requirements. 

I was so confused with which plant goes in which pot.
I don't have a garden so I can't just dig in anywhere.
I unpacked in the rear courtyard as I have never ordered plants online before making a mess which LSH wasn't too pleased with.

I hope I have a thriving relationship with these roses.
 I have a great relationship with my yellow roses. 
But my relations with this red rose is a bit more tempestuous. 
The said defendant.
It didn't bloom for three years in a row then in the spirit of talking to plants as told to me by my grandmother who was a huge believer in this practice, I had a very stern talk with the rose and basically did a botanical house of cards ultimatum on it. 

I threatened to kill it even if it didn't perform.
 I explained it was taking up prime real estate in my few planters available and I was having no dissent on my watch.
You're in or you're out.

As if on cue, it bloomed that year.

But it's been stubborn again the past two years.
Of course, science will tell you that I haven't spoken to it in those very two years.
I think this rose takes the stick approach rather than the carrot sadly.
Must be a rep from the rose union or something.

I am still not done re-potting and will update you over the year but then in the world of gardens, 
are you ever done?