Valentine’s Day 2017

‘Did you receive a delivery?’ Hubbie enquired me as soon as I walked into his office. I was like ‘???’ Was I supposed to wait for any delivery? Did he mention it last night?? ‘So you didn’t receive roses I arranged?’ He looked very disappointed. Apparently, he ordered flowers for me and paid an extra so they would be delivered before 1pm. Oh dear, I would have waited for it if only I knew about it. ‘Well, that wouldn’t be a surprise, would it?’, Hubbie shrugged his shoulders. I felt bad about him having to divulge the secret…

Before the delivery incident, I gave him a card and chocolates in the morning…

The missing delivery was looked after by one of my neighbours. Despite being left in a hallway with no water for more six hours, the roses from Bloom&Wild were in remarkably good condition. I was very impressed.

For our Valentine’s Day dinner, we tried to book a table at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen. Since the restaurant was a stone’s throw away from our home, and it meant we wouldn’t have to leave Bella alone too long.

Unfortunately, they were fully booked until 10pm. So we decided to eat at The Eagle

Cider & burger! It may not be the most romantic food for Valentine’s Day, but we felt like it.

Bella was crashing out, wedging herself between me and a cushion…

She was curling up like s fur ball…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Boxing Day 2016

So my post-Christmas 2016 – 2017 went like this. Christmas Day was a quiet affair. I cooked fish pie and Hubbie opened a bottle of vintage white wine. After the dinner, we carried on grazing on Christmas cake and cheese while we kept on topping up each other’s glass. By the end of the night, I was properly drank, drank, drank. God knows how I managed to tuck Bella and myself in beds without any accident!

On Boxing Day, I woke up with no headache but felt lots of booze still left in my system. Oh dear, I’m gonna stick to non-alcohol drink for the foreseeable future, I thought with my fuzzy head as I sipped a mug of tea. Then, Hubbie declared that he needed some fig leaves for a photo shoot. Finding fresh fig leaves at this time of the year?! ‘I’m not 100% sure but there might be one along Goldsmith’s Row.’ So we were off to Broadway Market for lunch, a stroll to burn off calories and harvesting fig leaves.

‘Enjoy your lunch, you lucky people!’

A six months old bulldog pup we met at Market Cafe. Our Bella had also become six months old on Boxing Day too!

Our Boxing Day outing plan fell apart as soon as we arrived at Market Cafe. The pub was fully booked, and we walked out of the place, crestfallen.

It’s so cold! What we gonna do now?

No place except Artwords Bookshop and Market Cafe was open for business, and we were forced to move on because it was too cold to just stand and ponder.

About the fig leaves, we didn’t find any fig tree along Goldsmith’s Row. We craned our necks right & left and up & down in an attempt to locate one along the street, but the effort was futile. We then crossed Mare Street and continued our hunt on eerily quiet Columbia Street. ‘Where is everybody?’ Sadly, there was no fig tree there either. We were starving by then yet there was no restaurant or cafe open in Hoxton. ‘Let’s catch cab and go home. I can’t feel anything on my toe anymore!’

Later on, we decided to have dinner at the Eagle. Who said no more booze this morning?

Their mulled cider with brandy was crazy moreish.

Bella was fast asleep on a pile of cushions…

For food, I opted for chicken katsu curry burger. Yup, you heard it right, katsu curry burger!

Ta-dah! The burger was eye-popping huge. Instead of mayo or BBQ sauce, curry sauce was drizzled over the meat.

The chicken was more like fried chicken than a traditional breadcrumbed one, but it was tasty and succulent. The size of my burger made Hubbie, who ordered a normal beef burger, very envious. ‘You see. Who dares win!’ I teased him as I munched on the katsu.

The atmosphere at the pub was chilled and at home. It’s so nice to have a cozy pub at a stone’s throw distance, Hubbie and I agreed as we rubbed our full bellies.

It’s time to go home, princess…

Bella being so relaxed, she refused to get up voluntarily…

*A quick recap on the fig leaves. We located them in the square near Euston Station. Phew!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Homing instinct

After taking a gulp of cider at my local pub, the Eagle, I uttered with a sigh, ‘This was what I needed the most!’ The time was around 9pm and I had just arrived back home from a very long weekend. 

My past two days were spent in Sheffield, a city in South Yorkshire, participating in a sporting event. Driving between two cities with a distance of over 320 miles (515km) did not go so smoothly as this particular weekend being a bank holiday weekend. The journey was riddled with long bottle necks and sections of much slower speed-limit which did wear me out a little, especially on my way back to London. Even though the landscape spread in front of me on M11 during I was passing through Cambridgeshire was idyllic and even picturesque, I was overjoyed when I spotted the Shard in the distance with another high-rises of Docklands. Yipee! I am coming home!!

The tournament was exciting and we came home with medals…

Despite our fridge being well stocked up by Hubbie during my absence, I fancied a glass of cider and a burger so asked Hubbie if we could eat out at a local pub.

My chicken burger and chips…

My homing instinct becomes intensified when I think of these two very important men of my life…

I missed you two very much even though I was away only for a night…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

P.S. This was taken after the match!

BOBO Social @ Charlotte St W1

Ugh, I am sporting a huge zit on my face right now and the location is so awkward!
A bump the size of a peppercorn is sitting between my left upper lip and my nose. The spot is one of those really angry looking kinds and sooooo visible. I try to hide it by applying extra layers of mineral foundation but the bulge is impossible to disguise. Putting back a concealer brush in my make-up box and I sigh ‘The same mistake every bl**dy year!’ This ugly zit is the result of scoffing too many chocolate truffles during the Christmas holiday. Yes, I do it every year without fail and as the result, I end up coming face to face with the predicament in the mirror. I hope I will remember this while I’m shopping for food next Christmas so comes next January, I will be less embarrassed…

Do you remember the public uproar a few summers ago which was caused by George Osborne the Chancellor by ordering a burger from Byron rather than opting for a quarter pounder from McDonald’s while he was working on the budget? Since then, a posh burger craze in London is still going strong and new artisan burger joints keep on sprouting here and there around Central London. And BOBO Social on Charlotte Street is one of them…

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This smart burger bar is a stone’s throw from Hubbie’s office and it is rather a handy place to resort if he and I are at loggerheads over what to eat, for example, between fish & chips and sushi.

The interior of the dining room is done in shabby chic style…

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While the mainstream upmarket burger restaurants tend to deck themselves out in masculine decor – dark wood panelling, soft furnishing in navy or British racing green and sports memorabilia, BOBO Social spruces itself up with clean white walls, light wood table tops and soft dove-grey cushions.

Being true to their principles, BOBO Social’s menu offers burgers only…

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Hubbie was tempted by Peanut Butter and I was attracted by Capsicum. ‘Do you think it is too naughty?’ ‘Will it be too spicy for me?’ We asked to each other. In the end, we came to our senses and opted for Bobo with a fried egg for Hubbie and with jalapeño for me…

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For sides, we ordered sweet potato chips with truffle salt and apple slaw with toasted pumpkin seeds…

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Their sweet potato chips is our all-time favourite. The sweetness of the spud is perfectly enhanced by deliciously scented salt crystals.

Apparently, BOBO Social holds an experimental burger creation session every Monday evening. If you fancy having your hands deliciously dirty with exotic minces while sipping on cocktails, this place is where you should be. I would be happily shaping a burger patty if I didn’t have a hockey practice on Monday evening…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Burger @ Byron, Hoxton Square

I definitely share one thing in common with George Osborne, the Chancellor – a sudden urge for a gourmet burger. Once the urge takes hold of you, it is near impossible to kick this culinary fixation off – the urge swells like a rapid growing vine and its creeper locks you in a vice-like grip. Until you raise your hand (imaginary, of course) and admit defeat, the image of a towering burger keeps on flickering in your mind, switching between torment and plea.
While your good conscience fights by throwing buckets of cold water over the burning desire, reasoning how unhealthy and calorie-laden a gourmet burger is – full of fat & bad carb, plus 1000 kcal per a meal more or less, the badass craving chips away a citadel of your self-control. Eventually, a white flag is raised above the fortress and you head to the nearest gourmet burger joint.

So here we were, finding ourselves being tucked away in the cozy nook of Byron by Hoxton Square last Sunday…

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As a child who grew up in Far East, my encounter with the food called “burger” came rather late.
I was about 11 years old when I first sank my teeth into a bun with a patty in the middle.
A man in a paper hat behind the counter handed me a burger which was wrapped in a translucent paper. The small parcel was still warm in my palm and the orangey yellow of melted cheddar cheese was just visible on the side.
I unwrapped the burger, prising it off extra carefully around the melted cheese and ferried it to my mouth with both hands, staring at the top of the bun approaching…
My very first mouthful of the burger struck me with its blandness. Meat, ketchup and cheese… that was it. This utter simplicity was somehow very new, refreshing and exotic. It tasted very “foreign”. I was impressed. It was my first taste of the world beyond…
Then, the booming economy opened the floodgates to imported  foods & culinary cultures.
Pizza, fried chicken, donuts, crepe, French fries…any fast-food, you name it. The outlets materialised almost overnight, like bamboo shoots after spring rain. As the consequence, the burger became just one amongst many and eventually lost its lustre for me…

‘What do you fancy?’, Hubbie enquires…

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Hmmm… Byron, perhaps? How about you? Mmmm… I fancy Byron too. How about a drink? Oh, I fancy something warm! The weather has turned, hasn’t it? I’m gonna have Americano. Well then, I’m gonna have iced tea. Are you sure? Aren’t you cold? No, I’m fine. I’m a man. Oh well, good for you…

Gourmet burger as a concept is a fairly recent phenomenon.
I am jogging my memory recalling since when I’ve noticed the term. Perhaps during the past 5 years, it has become more prevalent? Apart from the chain like Byron, Gourmet Burger Kitchen is another chain which is a well-known face on Britain’s well-off streets.
The ascendancy of posh burgers seems to be unstoppable. At Burger & Lobster, a cool score (£20 note) is commanded for the pleasure of champing on their concoction. After all, where a grown man can order a glass of strawberry milkshake with twin straws and a dash of whipped cream on top without raising the eyebrows in the vicinity? A posh burger joint is the answer.

After a while, our order was brought to the table…

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Two Byron burgers, onion rings, French fries, iced tea for Hubbie and coffee for me.
The burger was sandwiched with a brioche. I personally prefer a traditional burger bun though. The bacon was perfectly streaky and crunchy. The cheese was a little on the mean side and a little too demure in flavour. I suppose we are encouraged to part with another £1.25 for extra sauce (BBQ, blue cheese, American cheddar, etc) so we can jazz up the burger. Oh well, maybe next time.
The onion rings were crispy, well-seasoned and moreish. And their French fries, it was a tad too salty for my liking. Frying brings out the sweetness of potato. It was a shame that the flavour was spoilt by overzealous seasoning.

We left the restaurant, utterly stuffed.
Now, shall we make a long detour before heading home? So we can burn off some calorie and feel less guilty…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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