Bone & Broth

Brrrrrr, isn’t it so bloody cold?! I am moanng because I am being punished for my presumptuousness. So, what did I get wrong this time? Well, I made the mistake of swapping my winter wardrobe to the spring’s straight after the Easter holidays. The weather was truly lovely at the beginning of the April, warm sunshine and the temperature soaring to mid-twenties, etc. However, the cold air from the Arctic decided to return over the British Isles and the weather had turned to wintry again. The sad thing is I make the same error every year and find myself having to suffer for a week or more in inadequate clothings. But who can blame me? My desire for wanting to shed all those heavy woolly outfits at the first sign of the Spring is so strong and it simply overrides my common sense! I sincerely hope the present weather system will be shooed off by the warm Mediterranean cousin very soon so I can turn off central heating and cast away my Uniqlo fleece jacket which seems to have become my second skin at home…
This cold spell also influences my choice for what to eat when I am out and about. Instead of reaching for a box of salad, I yearn something warm and comforting. 
And I had been intrigued by the pop-up shop near Exit 1 at Old Street station for quite a while…

Old Street underground station is definitely not one of those modern and smart show-case stations like London Bridge or Westminster. It is rather grey and even a little neglected. The passage walls sport calcified water damage marks and the tiles are missing from them here and there. And the state of the damages indicates that those defects have been left to decay for years. However until 10 years ago, the station was even more depressing and grotty. A mixture made up with revellers to the clubland of Hoxton/Shoreditch, aggressive ticket touts and drug addicts used to loiter around the ticket hall. And it did not make an attractive sight. The forbidding atmosphere definitely made me quicken the pace so I could get away from the station which resembled a den.

Then came 2011, the neighbourhood around the station metamorphosed into Silicon Roundabout – a hub of Tech industries, thanks to Google which open Google Campus on nearby Bonhill Street. The transformation also became a catalyst for cleaning up the antisocial activities within the station and energising the retail area. Now, decorative shrubs are placed in the ticket hall and the retail units which used to be vacant are being let out to host various pop-up shops. 

Bone & Broth is a typical pop-up shop which depicts the undertone of the Tech City tribe – their desire for being innovative and wholesome. The information savvy crowd are no longer excited by freshly press juice or low-carb muffins, but very much intrigued by this special “broth”. The people behind the venture claims their broth is made from slowly cooked roasted bone and packed with nutrients such as vitamin, collagen, amino acids, keratin and minerals. Sounds great, doesn’t it? So I decided to try this elixir of wellness myself.

On the shelves, there were three gigantic thermos flasks which kept  three different kinds of broth warm. ‘Would you like beef or chicken? Or vegetarian broth?’ I explained to a smiley staff behind the counter that it was my first visit and I wanted to sample their beef broth.

She filled up a small cup with ivory white liquid and handed it to me. ‘You can add some flavour to it too. We have chilli, spring onion and ginger’.

Slowly, I sipped the broth with ginger and a pinch of sea salt. The broth had a distinctive cooked beef smell, similar to roast beef. The flavour was surprisingly delicate and some may say it was a little too bland. The additional ginger gave a kick but chilli would have been a better choice as the stuff recommended. In the end, I opted for a cup of beef broth with ginger, spring onion and sea salt.

Wrapping my hand around a warm cup of broth was definitely agreeable on a cold afternoon. And if the broth was to do a load of good to my wellness, what not to like about it? 

By the way, the pop-up at Old Street station is gone but their branches can be found at St Pancras station and also at Natural Kitchen on Marylebone High Street!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Flat White Face-off @ Old Street

It was the biggest dismay and disappointment of my recent days! A wholesaler who had been supplying yarns for my work informed me that one of the particular yarns I loved to work with was discontinued. It was Rowan’s Drift range and they were gorgeous! How could this happen?! The phone call left me speechless. I still don’t know what the range is replaced with nor what they look like. I am just praying they will not be garish and bilious…

I am still cowering behind closely shut windows and doors most days of the recent weeks due to pesky pollens drifting in full force. Even though I am limiting the time I spend outside when it’s sunny and taking antihistamine diligently every morning. my nose is still partially blocked and my eyes are easily irritated. I am very sorry to moan incessantly like this but I do hate spring & early summer!!! Next year, I will give a local honey therapy a shot instead of dosing myself with drugs, sprays & drops…

By the way, a cup of exquisitely brewed flat white is one thing which lures me out of this self-imposed seasonal exile. If a tasty treat is ensured to accompany the palm-size velvety froth with brown ripple, I am willing to come out of my den, clutching a pair of sunglasses!
Since the area around Old Street is reputed to be the Silicone Valley of Britain, the number of coffee shops, with well-trained baristas, aiming to cater for those tech-savvy folks have surged like islets of daffodils in the springtime. Shoreditch Grind, OZone, Salvation Jane, Look Mum No Hand, Timberyard, Fix…etc, you name it. There is a cluster of seriously good coffee places in my neighbourhood. And amongst them, my particular favourites are Shoreditch Grind and Timberyard.

Flat white at Shoreditch Grind

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I must say, Shoreditch Grind’s flat white is the smoothest and the tastiest for me. Rich yet devoid of bitterness. The aroma envelopes my nose like a dream. I just love it.

As I savoured this amber coloured concoction, Old Street Roundabout was jettisoning cars like a pinball machine…

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I also enjoyed a small pastry filled with chocolate….

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The flavour of the filling was intense without being too fatty or sugary. The right amount of bitterness was there to complement the sweetness of the biscuit.

Can I taste it too?

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I am afraid not, sweetie. Chocolate is no-no for doggie.

A coffee break at Timberyard with Hubbie. I had flat white and a giant cookie…

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Hubbie & I both agree that our favourite flat white has to be Shoreditch Grind’s,. A counterpart at Timberyard comes very close but the aftertaste of each swig leaves a touch of bitterness on our tongues which we don’t find favourable. Therefore, it has to be our runner-up. However, their cakes, which are piled up around the serving counter, are absolutely divine though….

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A slab of their breakfast cookie. I used to be not so keen on cookies. However, their scrumptious discs have swept aside my lifelong reservation.

Another coffee & cake moment at Timberyard one Saturday afternoon. We had flat white with raspberry almond slice and chocolate cherry square…

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As usual, Hubbie grumbled that he was not a big fan of chocolaty treat but he was obviously lying. Because his fork was constantly landing on my chocolate cherry square and curving out a substantial morsel each time! Oh, the cake was delicious. The tangy cherry bits helped to enhance the flavour of the dark rich chocolate batter, creating this disarmingly regular-looking cake an absolute star.
I don’t think they bake their sweets on site but must have a very good supplier.

Can I have a bit of almond slice?

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I shall remind Hubbie to leave some for you before he cleans the plate…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Pale (but tasty!) Nosh @ Sedap, Old Street

The weather has turned, hasn’t it?
Sadly, I miss a whole spell of the recent warm weather due to having to recover from a minor operation which I underwent last Friday. Still, I am an optimistic kind, hoping for another Indian Summer’s return.

After my aforementioned visit to Best of Britannia, I met up with Hubbie for a quick supper before heading home together. He suggested Carluccio’s Smithfield and we drove around the square to find a parking space. Yet none was available and we gave up after circling the square twice. Being crestfallen and unsure what we could have for supper, we headed home.  Then, we saw a familiar green façade of Sedap, glowing in the night on Old Street.
“Let’s eat at Sedap!” Yay!!

Sedap is a restaurant specialised in Singaporean / Malaysian cuisine and established itself at the current location since 2009. The restaurant is situated very close to our home (less than 10 minutes away on foot), therefore, their home-delivery is lightning quick which we find it very handy.

For starters, we shared vegetable spring rolls…

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The spring rolls were crisp on the outside yet its stuffing was moist and flavoursome.
By the way, about this orangey sweet chill sauce in the photo, is this a standard sauce for this particular dish in Singapore & Malaysia too? Apart from UK, USA and Spain, I have never encountered the sauce, not even in Japan.
I am kind of curious if the sauce is a westernised version of something else.

The spring rolls were followed by our No.1 favourite starter, pork dumplings…

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Behold these plump beauties!

Their pork dumpling is different from Japanese Gyoza. The texture of the skin is much more robust than its Japanese counterpart. Also, the filling is different. While the Japanese version contains finely chopped green leafy vegetable, such as cabbage or Chinese chive in a mixture of seasoned pork mince, the Sedap’s dumpling is more or less pork mince only.
The  dumplings were accompanied by soy sauce based dipping sauce. A hint of vinegar was detected in the pale brown sauce with tiny ginger sticks. The dumplings were so tasty and we ended up succumbing to a second helping!

For the main course, I ordered a bowl of Singapore Laksa. And for forever spice-shy Hubbie, a plate of vegetarian fried rice with egg was recommended.
I love my Hubbie to bits, however his definite shortcoming is his inability to ingest any spicy food. When I am with him, we can never eat Thai, Indian, Mexican, Korean, etc, unless we order the dishes which are free from chilli and wasabi. As soon as he feels even a slightest tingly sensation on the tongue, he complains bitterly, “It’s too spicy!” He reacts the same to even Japanese curry which is definitely on the moderate side. In order to mitigate the spiciness for him, I have to garnish the curry with omelette or fried egg with runny yoke. *SIGH*

Here comes my Singapore Laksa…

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Just looking at rich coconut based curry soup, my heart was filled with glowing warmth. And of course, tasting the first mouthful was a heaven on earth! It was just so tasty!
Being intrigued by my ecstatic countenance, Hubbie asked if he could have a mouthful as well. I did give him a plenty of warning about how spicy the soup was but he didn’t listen. He gulped it heedlessly and then a cough or two followed immediately. Red-faced & wide-open eyed, he groaned, “My god, that was fiery!” Well, what did I tell you? Were you not paying attention?
A tiny, tiny, objection I have towards their Singapore Laksa would be about the thick vermicelli they used for this dish. I found the vermicelli was too slithery for that lovely creamy soup to cling to. I will definitely request them to make mine with yellow wheat noodle next time.

The dinner in all looked short of colour but certainly was not lack of flavour. In fact, my mouth is watering again by just looking the photos…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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