My favourite place

Especially during the ongoing heatwave, one place I really look forward to visiting is an ice rink in Streatham.

Jimmy, who organises ice hockey practices, kindly invites me to his scrimmages when ice time are available, and yesterday was one of those weekend days.

Before setting off to the ice rink, Hubbie and I decided to have brunch at Ozone Coffee Roasters…

We found no customary queue at this popular eatery and a smiley staff ushered us to a table in the basement…

For my pre-scrimmage food, I opted for gluten-free pancake with smoked pear custard, hazelnut meringue & rhubarb ambrosia. I also ordered extra strips of crispy bacons…

The pancake was divine! It was fluffy and the topping was delicious.

Envious Bella, staring at my pancake…

Sorry, Bay Bay!

After the brunch, I headed to the ice arena with my friend who wanted to watch me playing hockey.

What a bliss! It’s so cool and comfortable on ice!!

Unfortunately, there weren’t enough players to play a proper scrimmage and Jimmy set up a few drills for us and it was fun.

Only one goalie turned up but he was a really good one – very mobile and aggressive with his stick! One of the drills was we, forward players, were to receive a pass from the defencemen standing by the blue line and to shoot at the goal. My turn came so I sprinted out, received a pass and I was about to shoot. However, before I knew it, a huge wall in the shape of a hockey goalie was right in front of me and I had no choice but simply crashing into him. Because I was such a light-weight midget with less than 95lb, I ended up flying away like a deflected bullet while he stood still, like a bloody bank vault wall! How embarrassing…

Another thing I kept on doing during the drills was losing my footing every time I tried to do tight turning.

What are wrong with my skates today?

I took my gloves off and ran my finger on the blades after skating to the end of a queue. The edges of the top halves were noticeably dull and it was clear that they needed sharpening.

After the drills, we did a 3 on 3 scrimmage using the half length of the rink. Despite my skates skidding on the surface instead of biting into it, I somehow managed to stay on my feet and enjoyed the game enormously.

‘Wow, it’s so hot and sticky!’, my friend and I moaned when we walked out of the arena.

Then, we drove by my place first to pick up Hubbie and Bella, and then drove to my friend’s to rink up with her husband.

My dinner at Andi’s on Church Street, Stoke Newington…

Pulled pork bao! A post-scrimmage protein fix.

It is a shame that I can’t come to a Monday’s practice because my skates are left in the skate shop and they won’t be ready before Thursday. Oh well, I shall work on my shooting at home then…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Poisoned by ESH?

I am gutted this morning. Do you know why? Because I am not well enough to attend the anti Trump march in Central London this afternoon.

Did Emperor Small Hand, aka Donald Trump, tampered my Victoria sponge at Albion on Boundary Street? Or all those BBQ chicken wings and nachos I grazed during the England’s 123 minutes nail-biter did the damage already to my normally clean-eating digestive system and the cake was the last nail on the coffin? Oh, I still feel my stomach being not very happy as I recall what I had during the past 36 hours.

Come to think of it, the cream tasted a bit off…

I was dying for cake and latte then so I cleaned the plate pretty quickly.

I haven’t been giving up about joining the march yet. If my condition improves during the next few hours, I will make my way to Piccadilly Circus.

It’s gonna be a spectacle!

I am raising my fist to the giant Trump with a nappy in the sky!!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Tourist trap @ Avignon

Yes, we were conned and we had learnt our lesson, “Never never eat anything near tourist spots!” How we managed to make such a basic mistake? Well, let me explain…

Our first afternoon in Avignon was very summery – hot and humid. ‘Mum, do you fancy ice cold beer?’

Around Place de l’Horloge, there were many cafes and restaurants which offered alfresco dining. May be we can have beer and dinner at one of them, we thought.

‘I fancy paella because I haven’t eaten rice for a while.’, mum pointed at one of the eateries which was displaying a large menu with photographs. As soon as we stopped in front of the menu, a middle aged man with an apron around his hip appeared and started chatting in English. ‘Two of you? For dinner? Ok, ok, sit here. What do you wanna drink?’ He ushered us to one of the tables and handed us laminated menu.

While we contemplated what to eat, our beers were brought to the table.

Cheers, mum!

What the he** is that?, you may ask. Apparently, this was my seafood “noodle” paella. The noodle turned out to be just broken up spaghetti and apart from single very limp mussel and a couple of squid rings, the dish was devoid of any “seafood”. I was disgusted because it was nothing like the image on their menu.

Mum’s seafood paella did marginally better by sporting slightly more fillings. Still, it tasted mediocre and could hardly justify the price of €15.

Probably, the “noodle” paella was the worst food I had ever tasted in my life – too greasy and too salty. I ended up leaving more than half of the wretched crusty spaghetti on the plate.

Then, the guy reappeared and he had the cheek to ask me if I liked the dish. I replied, ‘Pas du tout.’, giving the thumbs down.

He shrugged his shoulders and cleared our table. Allez, M.Thickskin, I silently swore to his back. What a tourist trap!

In front of the city hall, two guys were busking…

We would have enjoyed their performance more if our meal wasn’t a rip-off and the guy wasn’t so cocky! Mum and I left the place, feeling very very annoyed.

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Enchanté, Monsieur Trenet!

After the break we continued on A61 then changed on to A9 at Narbonne. It was around noon when we saw a sign for l’aire de Narbonne-Vinassan and decided to pull in for a quick lunch.

As we alighted from the car, we were greeted by a strange sight…

What the heck?!

A huge bronze head with a manic grin was looking down on us from the top of a small hill…

I had no idea what the sculpture was for and uploaded this image to my Instagram, asking about the meaning of it. Later days, thanks to one of my Facebook friends, the mystery was solved.

Enchanté, Monsieur Charles Trenet!

He was a French singer and songwriter who was born in Nabonne in 1913. He had many hits throughout his long career and the most famous song must be this…

“La Mer”, what a lovely song.

However, I still don’t understand why his statue was so bizarre though. A gigantic head sticking out from the mound, what was it all about? I showed the picture to Hubbie but he shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘Well, that’s French for you.’ What do you mean? I still don’t get it!, I persisted as he walked toward a kitchen to make himself a cup of tea.

Anyway, mum and I shared spaghetti carbonara and mozzarella and tomato salad…

The kitchen seemed to specialised in Italian and they offered various pizzas as well as pasta and lasagna.

Oh if only Bella were with us…

I missed you very much, Bay-Bay!

Ok, on y va a Avignon!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Bonjour Tropézienne

Our next destination from Toulouse was Avignon, the ancient Papal city. The distance between the cities was about 331km – Google estimated 3hrs 13mins which would meant the actual driving time was going to be around 4hrs.

The journey was one of the longest ones during our road trip, therefore, mum and I decided to take it steady.

We took our first coffee break at Aire de Toulouse Sud on A61. ‘Shall we have a cake as well?’, I asked mum as I placed a tray with our cups of café latte on the table.

Mmmm, which one am I going for…

I decided on a Tropézienne, aka ‘La Tarte de Saint-Tropez’.

As legend has it, Brigitte Bardot loved this pastry so much when she and her then husband, a film director Roger Vadim, were filming “…And God Created Woman” in St Tropez and she came up with the name, tarte tropézienne.

The appearance of the cake was deceptive…

At first glance, the cake resembled a sugared doughnut because of the pearl sugar on the top. However, the pastry was surprisingly light, thanks to the airy texture of the brioche and the lemon flavoured custard filling. ‘Oh wow, this cake is divine!’, mum and I really enjoyed this sweet treat.

While we were at the cafeteria of the service station, a large group of nuns had arrived and they soon formed a long queue for the cakes.

‘Do you remember the nuns in your school?’, mum asked me as she ferried cake to her mouth. ‘Of course! How can I forget them?!’, I retorted. Those nuns buzzing around the cashier like the Minions in Despicable Me, reminded me the nuns I had to put up with when I was in high school.

‘I am very sorry but I don’t have a very high opinion of nuns in general.’, I shook my head and mum nodded in agreement. ‘Yes, they were a bit too silly and vindictive sometimes, weren’t they?’ Yes, most of the nuns I met in my school were cruel, cynical and narrow-minded! ‘Look at them. They are all middle-aged yet acting like a bunch of school children!’ The nuns were still clamouring at the cake counter, each of them demanding their treat impatiently.

Oh well, after sacrificing most of the pleasure the life offers, eating is the only fun left for them, I imagined…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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