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

Pancake @ Bubby’s, Shiodome City Centre

Agh… I am already tired even after a good night’s sleep!
This is the result of the physical exhaustion due to the increase in my daily fitness regime. Why am I upping the ante? Because my old hockey team may be rising from the ashes and I maybe joining training soon. In order to improve my stamina, I’ve added an hour cycling which in return, to be an absolute killer. Therefore, I’ve been feeling like a wreck recently. As the consequence, my blog has been neglected…

Let’s get back to mum & I’s escapade in Tokyo in the mid January.
My mum visited NYC last October and one thing she had been on about often was how much she regretted about missing out the pancake at Clinton Street Baking Co. Coincidently, pancake was the one dish which I really wished if it were more readily available in London. Therefore, it was quite natural that we decided to have pancake at least once while we were in Tokyo.
The pancake boom started in Japan more than a half decade ago. The onset was from Bills in Shichirigahama (七里ヶ浜), the restaurant owned by an Australian restauranteur, Bill Granger, in 2008. It was followed by the opening of Eggs ‘n Things in Harajuku in 2010 which kicked up the real craze for pancakes with berries, nuts, chocolate and whipped cream. Then, Rainbow Pancake Meiji-Jingū joined the fever in 2011. A year later, overseas establishments, such as Sarabeth’s from NYC and Cafe Kaila from Hawaii, opened their doors at Shinjuku & Harajuku respectively and helped to complete Tokyo a heaven for pancake lovers. ‘Mum, we will have to queue for more than an hour if we wanna eat at Eggs ‘n Things!’, I consulted mum while checking the review of the place on my iPad. Tokyo was in the midst of an unusually cold spell then and we definitely didn’t fancy standing outside for hours no matter how heavenly their pancake may be.
Then, I came across a restaurant named Bubby’s in Shinbashi with good reviews. It was in Shiodome City Centre (汐留シティセンター),,adjacent to Shinbashi Station (新橋駅) and not far from Ginza Station. Since we weren’t that fussy about where to eat as long as their pancake was tasty so quickly decided upon Bubby’s.

It was another dry but wintry day in Ginza…

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We walked along Chuō-Dōri towards Shinbashi Station.
Then, we stopped at Ginza 8-Chōme crossing, being momentarily lost…

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Oh, I wished if I could use a Google map! Why don’t O2 (my UK mobile network) provide a data bolt-on like AT&T? Don’t we need our smartphone’s GPS more when we are abroad???

We even wandered along Shōwa-Dori for a few blocks and then turned back. The area was strangely deserted, no passer-by or local shop to ask for directions. The problem was that we had no idea how Shiodome City Centre looked like. Damn, I should have googled the images at the hotel before we left!
In the end, we reckoned that a towering green building across the road had to be the one. The green-glazed tower was surrounded by a cluster of buildings which were not as tall but impressive none the less…

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Once we were near the complex, we saw lots of office workers coming and going from all directions, sporting usual Japanese business people demeanour – walking quickly while looking at their smartphones intently.
Our destination, Bubby’s, was located on the B2 level. So, we took a down escalator, trying not to disrupt the brisk pace of our fellow passengers.
We alighted the escalator at the B2F and turned to our left and there they were, we found Bubby’s…

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Originally, Bubby’s started as a pie company, opening their restaurant in Tribaca NYC in 1990. Their battle cry is “Defending the American Table”…

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American style pies, they do look sumptuous, don’t they? Despite visiting the States more than a few times, I never have tried even a slice. Are they sweet? Are they eaten with cream or custard like they are in the UK?

Once inside, a smiley staff ushered us to the table by the window. Beyond the window, a sunken garden was spreading out which made us difficult to believe that we were on the below ground level.
The interior decor was dominated with bricks and wood, giving out a cozy & casual atmosphere…

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We studied the menu. Mum was definitely up for their pancake.
Mmmm…, what should have…

Together with two gigantic mugs of coffee, which were greatly appreciated after a long walk on windswept Ginza pavements, mum’s pancake was brought to our table…

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Sautéed Banana with Walnuts and Maple Syrup Pancake!
Mum went momentarily speechless when it was planted in front of her. ‘Oh my god, I should have skip breakfast!’, she uttered after surveying the size of the serving. Oh well, your wish was granted, mum.

Comparing with mum’s sizable appetite, mine wasn’t with that much gusto. Therefore, instead of ordering another pancake with different flavour, I opted for New Orleans Creole Soup…

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It was a very good soup, packed with vegs and aromatic spices. The hot broth warmed me up from the inside.

I also had a few bites from mum’s pancake…

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Oh my, it was delicious but also very sweet! A large mug of coffee was imperative to wash down this sugary treat.

Mum was very happy to fulfil her wish of tasting the treat from NYC. But for me, looking at her smile was the best treat of all…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Paper @ Saatchi Gallery, Chelsea

On Sunday, we decided to check out the Saatchi Gallery at the Duke of York’s HQ off Sloane Square. One of my favourite WordPress bloggers, Sequins and Cherry Blossom, reviewed the current exhibition “Paper” recently and I was very much intrigued by it.
So, there we were, having parked our car successfully on a single yellow line on Clivedon Place and striding happily towards the gallery. As we turned into Sloane Square, guess who we bumped into? Mr.Saatchi himself! He was standing in front of the brassiere, Colbert, chatting to his female companion.
Once we reached another side of the square, Hubbie joked, ‘At least, he wasn’t grabbing her throat’. Oh, what a thing to say! I was fascinated to see Mr.Saatchi in the flesh. Does he always dress in the same manner? A white shirt with a dark blue / black suit paired with super shiny brogues. Does he have a row of identical suits neatly displayed in a grand walk-in closet in his mansion? And a pile of neatly hand pressed identical shirts on the shelf?
Hmmm… It wouldn’t surprise me since he came across to me like a super control freak.

The exhibition “Paper” was an extensive affair. It occupied 10 gallery spaces.
As the title suggested, primary material featured in the exhibition was paper.
The exhibits which caught my attention as it follows.

“Fragments of Time” by Miler Lagos…

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Old newspaper was collated, shaped and coloured as giant twiglets. I thought the work portrayed time and decay poetically.

“Golden Arch Parkway McDonald’s” by Yuken Teruya…

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This artist utilized shopping bags from ordinary commercial outlets for his works.
A part of the bag was cut away to the shape as a tree.

The visitors were captivated by super minuscule bonsais in bags…

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The works put a smile on every visitor’s face.

“Nature Scene 2011” by Tom Thayer…

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Puppet-like cranes stood pensively in front of the image of the tree graced with birds in all shapes and colours.
The piece was adorned with coloured papers which resembled an elaborate embroidery.

“Love Nothing More” by Storm Tharp…

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“Window 2010” by Storm Tharp…

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The method employed on each painting depicted features of its sitter with surprising canniness. It was enchanting.

“Kite-Planes” by Marcelo Jácome…

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The work resembled a flock of colourful birds flying out from their waterhole in the African savannah.

“Floating City” by Han Feng…

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The delicate piece was made with tracing paper.
Each paper block had an image of building superimposed. And they were clustered together to have the look of a city block…

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Fragile pieces were suspended from the ceiling and created a dreamlike floating cityscape.

The present Saatchi Gallery is much more suitable for modern art exhibitions than the previous one at the County Hall, a former HQ of Greater London Council…

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Neutral backdrops and diffused overall lighting, as well as plenty of space to walk around and examine the works, they are essential criteria for any gallery which houses modern art, especially oversized sculptural works.
At the Saatchi Gallery, it was achieved flawlessly.

After satisfying our eyes, we decided to do likewise to our stomach.
‘Do you fancy Dutch pancake?’ ‘Oh yeah, please!’
We headed to My Old Dutch, Holborn.

Nursing latte, we waited for our pancake impatiently…

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We both ordered the same thing.
My Old Dutch – smoked bacon, chicken, ham, sweet pepper, mushrooms, sweet corn & cheese.
The pancake may appear massive at first glance. However, the dough is paper-thin therefore much lighter than pizza…

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Apart from their Amsterdammer – sautéed apple & smoked bacon with maple syrup, we’ve never tried anything else.
I know I should be more imaginative and adventurous.
Maybe I could order Chicken Curry (pancake with basmati rice?! Do they really go together?) or Chill Con Came (pancake with Mexican twist?) so I wouldn’t be such a food bore.
However, Dutch pancake appeals to me only when I want predictable & soothing fare.

Their Dutch apple pie is one of the best in town…

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A perfect amount of cinnamon! Yum!!
Damn, we should have ordered it one each, instead of sharing one like a goody two shoes…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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