Flapped & Whipped…

I am really chuffed to learn that two of my most favourite films had won the Oscars last night! I was having this conversation with Hubbie in a cab on our way to lunch at Cafe Royal on Regent Street last Saturday, ‘Which film would you choose, Whiplash or Birdman, if you were asked at gunpoint?’ Hubbie’s pick was Whiplash and mine was the latter. Why at gunpoint? Because both of the films were neck and neck when it came to impress us, and therefore, choosing one was an extremely difficult task…

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About Whiplash, I love the intensity of the performance and the twists in the storyline.
Do you remember the scene in which the Fletcher give hearty slaps to the poor Andrew? ‘Dragging? or rushing?’ The antics has become a playful tease in my household!

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And about Birdman, didn’t you love the camera work? It was mesmerising!
The protagonist’s mental landscape was magically (& sometimes, nauseatingly) integrated into the backstage of theatre and I loved the creativity which made the film so enjoyable in all fronts. And so many funny lines and moments!.Oh, it was truly a brilliant treat. Damn all gimmicks like 3D glasses! No gadget or special effects can save mediocrity!

By the way, my friends call some of the posts in my Facebook page as “food porn”…

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And I love it!
I am not at all good at selfies but taking pictures of what I eat, I can do much better…

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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