Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Dreaming of houses in Kensington

I don't go to Kensington that often as I generally prefer other areas more when it comes to choosing for places to eat and drink, but I can't deny the area has a pretty strong architectural game. I think if I was given unlimited funds to buy a house for myself I would definitely want to either go for the number-on-a-pillar white dreamy ones, or, even more likely, a cute house on one of those tiny little Mews that are dotted around London, and especially in this area.

Me and Jim had a long overdue date night planned for last Saturday in an Indian restaurant called Zaika of Kensington which I cannot praise enough - it was definitely one of the better dining experiences I've had in ages. However, blogging is off limits on date nights so I didn't take any pictures in the actual restaurant, but I did manage to snap a few before going to eat.




Dreamhouse number one...







As I mentioned earlier, if there is something I love more than those numbered pillar houses, it would have to be all the cute little Mews that are hidden away in between bigger streets and buildings. I know trying to move into a house in a Mews is pretty much impossible nowadays due to their price tag but what I like about them is that they're not too grandiose in any way - they're more picturesque and feel very approachable (if you can say that about a house..).

As far as I'm aware, Mews are a very British thing - although, as always, correct me if I'm wrong! They used to be stable houses but as the years went on they changed from something that was "hidden" in the back streets to the most coveted streets in London - you know where I'm moving to when I get that lottery win!




The mews and the church courtyard right behind them really felt like stepping back in time - we walked through them and aside from seeing a few other curious people lurking around there was this amazing air of history all around. There was no traffic or noise, and it was just very easy to imagine the street looking pretty much the exactly same 200 years ago. Although maybe with a few more horses hanging about...



Something a little bit more modern than the Mews, but still pretty vintage. I love the colour!




Where is your favourite place in London for some ultimate house spotting? I really like Primrose Hill and Angel too - I might go there with my camera next if the weather stays this lovely!

Saturday, 23 July 2016

(Vegan) What I Eat in a Day - Sunday edition

My blog has been very food-oriented lately, sorry (not sorry), but I'm going to continue with that theme for one more post as all the exciting things in my life lately have been somewhat food related..

I've always loved reading these posts by other people and so I finally thought that I should give one a try too. It was surprisingly difficult to remember to take a picture of everything you eat, especially as I'm usually so hungry that I devour what's in front of me before anyone can even say the word 'camera'. I also struggled with making all of my portions look "picturesque" but maybe that's besides the point here.

Let's start with breakfast, shall we...



This is my typical weekend breakfast: avocado on Finnish ryebread (which I keep stocked up in our freezer just for these lazy Saturday and Sunday mornings) with a sprinkle of black pepper and salt with some sliced tomato on top - yum! I often also can't help but having a cheeky piece of toast with some peanut butter on it - it kind of acts as the dessert!

Lately breakfasts (and lunches and dinners and... you get the gist) have been accompanied by the amazing TV series The Good Wife. I am seriously obsessed with this show - it's ridiculously good. It's one of those shows that slowly pulls you in and makes you so invested in each and every character - whether or not you love or hate them. The main character, Alicia, is one of the greatest female characters since Buffy: she's a strong woman, but she's also flawed, sometimes has her weak moments and says the wrong things. Basically, she's a full fleshed human being and I love her. Anyway - this post is supposed to be about food so let's get with the programme!





We were too lazy to make lunch ourselves (this often happens on weekends, whoops!) so we headed to Brixton and went for Asian food in the lovely Satay Bar. I've been there a total of three times now and the food has always been incredibly good - even Jim said that it was the best Asian food he's had in ages! What I also love about this place is that they have vegan dishes clearly marked on the menu with a little sign and that there actually are quite a few different options to choose from!

I went for the Vegetable & Tofu Red Curry to get a bit of a change to the Green Curry I always go for here (and in most other places to be honest..). The red curry was really tasty, but I have to say it didn't beat their green curry in my eyes. That's just me being green curry obsessive though - if you're more of a red curry person yourself I would totally recommend this one too! I also ordered edamame beans for starters and they were very good too - served steaming hot with a generous sprinkle of rock salt, yum!




Sunday was one of the first days of the ridiculously hot heat wave (not complaining, I swear!) so refreshments were in order. I've been craving lemon sorbet since last summer so I finally decided that it would be about time to get a (massive) tub of it. Nothing obviously compares to the real stuff bought from an icecream parlour in Italy but this Tesco stuff isn't too bad either. I accompanied the ice cream with some sparkling water with half a lime squeezed in - so refreshing!



As we had had such a big lunch, we didn't end up having dinner until about 8:30, but it was well worth the wait. Jim prepared us some black bean taquitos with tomato sauce and they were so yummy! The filling was a bit like in my recipe here in case you're interested in making them yourself!

Hope you enjoyed spying on my food habits! As it was a Sunday it was a bit more indulgent and unhealthy and I do try to be a little bit better during weekdays! Maybe next time I do one of these I'll choose a workday - although I might feel little bit self conscious taking my DSLR to work and taking food pictures in the office kitchen.. But we shall see - maybe I'll conquer my "fears"..!

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

London Eats: Brixton

As I really loved doing my Helsinki Eats post a little while ago, I thought I should start a little series of similar posts about all the amazing restaurants dotted around London. I'm a South-Londoner myself so many of these post will probably focus on this area, but I will try to venture north of the river every now and then too to keep things balanced! As I live close to Brixton it felt like a natural starting point - hope you enjoy and feel inspired to try some of these out if you ever find yourself in South West London!

THREE EIGHT FOUR

384 Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8LF, Brixton, London



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This is a restaurant I've wanted to try out for a few years now but for some reason didn't get around to doing until now. It's quite a tiny, cosy restaurant with exposed brick walls and a bit of bric-a-brac decor. The menu has a kind of a tapas theme - the idea is to choose a few different small plates to share (or not..) with the recommended amount being about three portions per person. I was very happy about most of the things that I ordered and their drinks menu was on point as well - that chili mojito was to die for!

What did I eat? Crispy avocado wontons, chicory, beetroot & goat's cheese salad and sweet potato fries

And did I like it? I loved almost everything - especially the wontons were amazing. They came with this lovely little pot of sweet chilli sauce and were really nice and crispy - I'm definitely going back for them! The sweet potato fries were good too, as can be expected, but I was slightly disappointed in the goats cheese salad, although only because I was expecting to get a bigger chunk of goat's cheese and less of the actual salad... So technically that's not the restaurants fault!

Overall verdict: 3.5/5 - Loved most of my food and drinks, but the service, though very friendly, was really slow.

MAMMA DOUGH

354 Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8QH, Brixton, London







Unlike Three Eight Four mentioned above, I hadn't heard about Mamma Dough until a few months ago when we moved into our new flat. It's on Coldharbour Lane as many other Brixton restaurants are, but it's a little bit further along the road which makes it feel a bit more like a neighbourhood restaurant - albeit a very trendy one. As the name suggests, the food here is pizza, sourdough to be exact, and they've got quite a few veggie options as well which definitely gets thumbs up from me!

What did I eat? Beatrice - a tomato, mozzarella, butternut squash, feta, pine nuts & rosemary pizza

And did I like it? I loved it! The crust was crispy and the toppings were something a little bit different - I though it all worked really well together. Butternut squash & feta turned out to be a great combination!

Overall verdict: 4/5 - Really good pizza in a really nice and rustic setting - recommended!

KAO SARN

Brixton Village Market (entrance on Coldharbour Lane), SW9 8PR





Kao Sarn is one of the many Brixton Village restaurants I've been meaning to try out for ages and I finally made it a few weeks ago - and I'm so glad I did! It's quite a small restaurant with a little seating space both inside and outside (the outside area would be perfect for a sunny day like today!). I was boring and went for what I always go for in Thai places - Green Curry - but all the dishes I saw looked really good as well so I would definitely go back and trial something else as well.

What did I eat? Veggie spring rolls and vegetable green curry

And did I like it? Yes! The spring rolls were super crispy and came with my favourite, sweet chilli sauce, and the curry was very yummy too - it's one of my favourite dishes in the world and I didn't have to disappointed!

Overall verdict: 4/5 - Good food and really fast service. As it's in Brixton Village market there's also a really great atmosphere all around.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Mini recipe post - Tomato based veggie sauce

This is one of my favourite things to do when I'm in a hurry or can't be bothered to cook anything elaborate but still want a super nice and hearty meal. The ingredients usually change depending on what I have in the fridge, but the below combination is definitely one of my favourites. Hope you like it!



First thing to do is to peel and cut your sweet potato into little chunks. Then sprinkle them with some olive oil, salt, pepper & chilli flakes and place them on a baking tray. Bake them in the oven until they are nice and crispy but soft on the inside. Usually this takes me about 20 minutes but it completely depends on the settings and power of your oven!




While the sweet potatoes are getting yummy in the oven, prepare the rest of the veggies. Cut your peppers, tomatoes, chilli and sun-dried tomatoes into little chunks and take the sweetcorn from the freezer (unless you're being really good and using the fresh stuff that is!). Peel your garlic cloves and get them ready to be squeezed into the pan with the rest of the ingredients.



Add all of the ingredients in the pan. Sprinkle them generously with salt, pepper, cajun spice, oregano and basil and stir well. Maybe try the mixture at this point to see if you need any more spice, and, if you do, add a bit of hot chilli powder in the mix (or whatever else your heart desires!).



Once the vegetables are nicely spiced, add the chopped tomatoes into the mix. Let the mixture simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes in order for all the flavours to get nice and strong. After the sweet potatoes are done baking in the oven, add them to the sauce as well. Keep tasting the mixture (this is my favourite part of cooking...!) and once you think the flavours are just right, serve the sauce with rice or pasta.

I hope you enjoy - this is one of my favourite weekday meals!



INGREDIENTS:

1 medium sweet potato, cut into little chunks
2 x bell peppers (I used orange & red)
Half a cup of cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
A good handful of sundried tomatoes cut into little pieces
1 red chilli
A cup of sweetcorn
3 medium cloves of garlic
Cajun spice
A pinch of chilli powder
Salt & pepper
Dried oregano
Dried basil
Can of chopped tomatoes

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Snippets from Finland: June Edition

After each (longer) trip I always have a lot of pictures I really want to share, but unfortunately all of them don't always really fit into a specific post of their own. This is where these "snippet" posts come to play - although if I was still looking for theme for this post, I would maybe call it The Finnish Summer. The greenery, the light and eating BBQ food & pancakes outside just screams childhood summers to me.

Looking at these pictures make me ridiculously happy as I'm actually lucky enough to be back in Helsinki again this weekend to celebrate my friend's engagement party. This trip won't be a long one, but I think a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of London will do me a lot of good. And I'm sure I'll come back with a lot of new pictures to share with you as well, but, in the meantime, I hope you enjoy these ones from last month!





Grandma's pancakes made in the garden are the best pancakes!




I actually wrote more about these sort of buildings in my Architecture in Helsinki post previously - go take a peek!



Helsinki sunsets are pretty hard to beat - this one was taken around 11pm.







The last five pictures above have been taken in the beautiful city of Tampere in Southern Finland where I went to visit my lovely friend Nelli to celebrate her son's 1st birthday party. It was a beautiful day in all different ways - I got to see my good friend who I see way too seldomly and was lucky enough to walk around a different, sunshine filled city for a change too. I can't wait to go back!

What words would you use to describe your perfect summer?