Bella & snow

It is snowing in London!

And my girl Bella had experienced the snow for the first time this morning…

I am jogging my memory but I can’t recall if we had any snowfall in the city during last winter. Even if we had, it probably wasn’t very much. Not as much as to turn the pavements to white.

Bella seemed to be not very sure-footed…

 

But soon, she found these white flakes falling around her fascinating. ‘Where do they come from? What are they?’ She looked up quizzically as she chased after them.

Let’s warm ourselves up at the Pret…

Hubbie had an almond croissant and I had my recent favourite, a praline cookie, and latte…

I shall take Bella to Regent’s Park if we still have a decent amount of the snow left on the ground tomorrow morning…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Water baby!

Bella nearly had another skinny-dipping at Granary Square, King’s Cross last Sunday…

She was itching to dive into the mini-fountains. However, the weather was not as warm as the day we visited the Royal Academy. Therefore, she was only allowed to dip her front paws…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Photo London 2016

Hubbie had been unwell with a dodgy stomach since Friday. ‘Do you think you will be OK by tomorrow?’ I asked him as I handed him a glass of coconut water. ‘I’ll do my best’, he answered feebly as he rested his head on a pile of pillow and stared at the ceiling morosely. Oh, I feel for you, you are so unlucky…

Hubbie was so pi**ed off with himself because we were supposed to visit PHOTO LONDON the next day and he was not at all ready for it health-wise. The exhibition was designed to showcase the créme de la créme of photography from all over the world, and therefore, the scale of the show was massive – occupying almost all of the Somerset House, Strand. ‘Well, we shall assess the situation tomorrow morning, OK?’ I closed the bedroom door.

Then came next morning, Hubbie was significantly better, hence we set off for the exhibition by cab.

The venue was a lot busier than last Wednesday…

Each room was dedicated to a single gallery and the walls were covered with framed photographes in all sizes and shapes…

There were so many things to take in. The volume of visual stimulation we received by walking in and out of the galleries one after another was overwhelming and even a little mind numbing. In the end, I decided to focus on exhibits which grabbed my attention first and foremost in each room and to dismiss the rest.

Following images were the ones which caught my eye.

Ciels du Seine by Floriane de Lassée…

The images were created by giving the originals a 180 degree rotation. The idea and execution were simple. However, I found the results stunningly beautiful and they reminded me the film, Inception.

Abdulahi Mohammed with Mainasara, Lagos, Nigeria by Pieter Hugo…

Is this a dog?! Then I realised it was a hyena. A beefy black man with his muzzled beast in a very raw urban landscape, the combination created a very powerful image.

Prints with acrylic paint by Chloe Sells…

I just found the artworks irresistible. Again, the technique was simple yet the results were vibrant and otherworldly.

There were also some classics from commercial photography too.

Girls in the Windows by Ormond Gigli…

One of the main attractions of this year’s exhibition was the show by Don McCullin

He is one of the most revered war photographers of our time and his career spans from the start of Cold War to the present. Some of his most iconic images were from the Vietnum War period and this was one of them…

The picture reminded me a book I read sometime ago. It was Band of Brothers by  Stephen E Ambrose.

– Although the men lived in constant danger—a direct hit from the railway gun would destroy whole buildings—they were in a sense spectators of war. Glenn Gray writes that the “secret attractions of war” are “the delight in seeing, the delight in comradeship, the delight in destruction.” He continues, “War as a spectacle, as something to see, ought never to be underestimated.” Gray reminds us that the human eye is lustful; it craves the novel, the unusual, the spectacular.-

What effect does happening to be in the midst of armed conflicts to a normal sane individual, I asked to myself. The image was powerful.

One definite grudge Hubbie and I felt towards PHOTO LONDON was not giving Don McCullin enough space and instead, dedicating too much room to Craig Horsfield…

We were very sorry to be judgemental but we found his works mediocre and wished if his exhibits to be swapped with Mr. McCullin’s.

The staircase of West Wing was a delight to climb up and down…

The staircase was an epitome of the charm which made visiting Somerset House so special. Histric remnants of aristocratic household were everywhere and it made me feel like I was a time-traveller.

The building started its existence as a Tudor palace by the Thames and it was repeatedly redesigned and extended as it changed hands. 

I hope this snapshot I took would depict the colossal scale of the structure…

Networks of the staircases and walkways were there to make the daily machinery of the complex to run smoothly. Don’t you think it resembles M. C.Escher’s artworks?

One more image which I found charming was “For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness” by Julian Germain…

Both of us were completely exhausted by the end of the exhibition. It was so much to absorb and digest in one go. We staggered out to the street and hailed the first cab we spotted. ‘To John Lewis, please!’

We had to buy a super-king size fitted sheet but at first, we needed to refuel ourselves…

A burger and chips at Ham Holy Burger. They tasted great after a lengthy trekking at Somerset House…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Kanada-Ya @ St. Giles High St

Suddenly, a tyre pressure warning light lit up as I was cruising along Blackfriars Road on my way to the ice rink. Oh no, has it not be checked out and was given all clear by RAC last Friday?? I had exactly the same problem the previous Monday at exactly the same stretch of the road. This is a deja vu, I sighed.

So this morning, I took the car to a garage in order to investigate if any of the tyres had a slow puncture. After leaving the car at the dealership, I headed back to West End, thinking about only one thing. ‘Why don’t I have lunch at Kanada-Ya?’ 

Kanada-Ya is one of London’s newbie-ish ramen noodle bars which specializes in tonkotsu style soup. The owner served his apprenticeship at the Kanada-Ya in Fukuoka,  Japan and was granted to open a ramen bar under the same name in London.

The bar is also famous for a long queue of eager diners who wait in line for more than 40 minutes on their busiest days. Intrigued by all those anecdotes, I wanted to sample their ramen to find out if they were Just another hype or for real.

When I arrived at the bar on St Giles High Street near Tottenham Court Road at 11:40, there was a couple standing by the entrance already and a spontaneous queue started to form around ten to twelve…

  
At noon, a maître d’ ushered us into their dining room and started to take orders. I opted for a bowl of Chashu noodle with a  boiled egg marinated in soy sauce as an extra. I also asked the maître d’ if I could have my noodle to be cooked “hard” – semi undercooked. 

Voila, my Chashu-Men!

 

It took me by surprise because the bowl arrived at my window side table very promptly. In the ecru tinted broth, there were seven large Chashu slices, chopped spring onion, thinly sliced cooked brown mushroom, a seasoned soft boiled egg halved and underneath them all, hand made noodle. 

I sipped the broth first. It was creamy and delicately flavoured. It was in fact a little too light in seasoning so I added a few teaspoons of Hatougarashi – spicy Japanese pickle and Benishoga – shredded red ginger in the soup to make it more zingy. How was my verdict regarding the noodle? Mmmm…, it was 6 out of 10. Don’t get me wrong. The noodle was fine. But for me, it was too fatty and rich. 

The majority of Londoners seem to perceive tonkotsu as a typical ramen broth. Tonkotsu was introduced to the city by ramen pioneers, such as Shoryu, Bone Daddies and Ippudo, and their choice of flavour was pork-based tonkotsu soup. One thing most of the British ramen enthusiasts aren’t aware is that Japanese ramen flavours differ depending on the regions. Tonkotsu is a quintessentially southern Japanese flavour and for someone like me who is from the northeastern region, pork-based broth is not at all familiar as I associate light soy sauce flavoured chicken stock or fish stock (or a blend of both) with a typical ramen broth. My first experience with tonkotsu ramen was in my late teens. A new ramen bar opened near my aunt’s local area in Tokyo and they were specialized in tonkotsu. In there, I learnt about “kaedama” – adding an extra helping of noodle to the remaining broth if so desired. And adding Benishoga to ramen soup as an addition flavour was another surprise I experienced on that day. 

The environment I grew up was not very pro-ramen. My mum was not very fond of the dish. And my dad preferred soba noodle to ramen. Therefore, I didn’t eat ramen as often as some had done. One episode I still remember vividly occurred when mum took me and my sister to a new noodle bar in downtown. The noodle bar offered Dosanko style ramen from the furtherest northern region of Japan, Hokkaido. Their broth was typically a miso (soybean paste) based one. Tan coloured soup was opaque and it tasted robust and flavoursome. However, mum was mortified because she detected garlic in the broth. ‘Oh no, you must keep your mouth closed during our bus journey home!’ Mum was so concerned if our garlicky breath might offend fellow bus passengers and forbade us from chatting on the bus. So my sister and I ended up eyeballing each other while suppressing a sudden urge to giggle about this whole situation. Every time our cheeks puffed up as we resisited a fit of giggle, mum threw a reprimanding stare to our direction, reminding us we shan’t disappoint her…

By the way, the garage found two punctures on the tyre. They were sorry that they had to replace a tyre but I was relieved to find the cause.

On my way home, however, a sudden loud noise startled me. An intermittent noise sounded like two men making conversation. Then, I realised that a mechanic left his walkie talkie on my passenger seat! 

  

I didn’t know how to turn it off and it kept on hissing and crackling every time the car passed  some walkie talkie hotspots. I called the garage once I parked the car safely, explaining the situation. The radio had no obvious on/off switch and hissing didn’t stop. And Hubbie resorted to removing a battery. Oh dear…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

 

Discord In The Omelette…

Three eggs omelette and salad at Shepherdess the greasy spoon is one of my weekend staples.
My No.1 favourite filling is cheese and eight out of ten times, I order the omelette and eat it with brown sauce.
By the way, my Hubbie is truly a creature of habit when it comes to ordering his breakfast / brunch / lunch at the Shepherdess. ‘Two fried eggs on two brown toasts and some cooked tomato, please!’ Sometimes, a waitress with a small pad and a pen in her hands asks him if he wants the usual so he doesn’t have to recite what should be on his plate. ‘Isn’t variety a spice of life?’ I tease him every time but he never heeds my suggestion.

Mmmm…, I fancy other than cheese in my omelette, I thought one Saturday morning as my index finger scrolled down the menu. Then, my wandering eye locked on the word “Greek Omelette”. Being intrigued, I asked a passing waitress, ‘What is Greek Omelette like?’ She replied it had olives and feta cheese filling. Sounded interesting so I gave it a try…

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How did I find it?
Meh, it was not as great as I expected. The flavour of the chopped olives in the omelette was a little too overpowering and the tanginess of the brine in where the olives were kept was very present in the egg mixture which I found a bit off-putting.
However, all was not lost for this dish. I found an omelette with morsels of feta cheese was quite a winning combination. The sharpness of feta cheese was softened by the egg and the saltiness added by it made the omelette enjoyable to eat without any additional sauce or seasonings.
‘I shall order it without olives next time!’ I declared cheerfully as my fork excavated olives which were embedded in the omelette. Hubbie, our in-house food conservative, looked at my plate warily and said ‘I knew it wouldn’t be good’.
Well, I would rather choose to be daring than a food bore (like him). Life is too short to be timid, don’t you agree?

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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