Bahhhhh!!!

Martin the electrician’s assistant brought a replacement extractor for one of my loos which was out of action for sometimes and I was overjoyed. However, the initial euphoria was quickly extinguished as I found the new unit remained silent. ‘Well, it must be to do with a transformer then’. He sighed as he climbed down the ladder. There was nothing we could do other than commiserating each other. He promised he would come back with appropriate parts ASAP and off he went. Bah!

Then I was off to West End to run a few errands. A light shower came down but it did not last very long….

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The blueness of the cloud-free sky against the redness of the brick walls along South Molton Street.

Then I grabbed a quick lunch at Benugo on Hanover Street. In my opinion, Benugo serves the only flat white worth paying money for amongst all the fast-food outlets in London.
Inside the deli counter, a guy was carving a great looking chunk of roasted pork belly and I was smitten…

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Mmmmm… DEEEEELICIOUS!!
The hunk was juicy and the fat melted on my tongue like butter. The apple sauce enhanced the flavour without being too tangy.
A perfect fuel stop for an increasingly wintery afternoon!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Feeling Most Portly…

2015 has arrived after a raucous firework display, which scared the hell out of poor Mr.B, and I feel most definitely portly this gloomy grey wintery morning.
All those indulgence passed through my lips during the festive season definitely have taken up permanent residences here and there around my body! Eek!! How am I gonna do with this emerging muffin top? Well, I have a strategy – eating less & exercising more. And I must stick to it so my face won’t change into a muffin. Ahh…

These following exhibits were some of the sins consumed since last week.
A crazy cute Battenberg from Albion with my new headphones before disappearing into oblivion…

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And another banana & walnut cake with my copy of Magnum Contact Sheet…

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A gigantic chicken escalope with salad in a bap which was ordered at Shepherdess the greasy spoon. I did order it with salad, not with cheese. A small brownie points to be noted…

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A pan full of homemade meatballs pasta. Mmmmm…

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This murky concoction in the pot was actually lamb stew which I decided to make on impulse in order to keep my sleepiness at bay yesterday afternoon…

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I felt so sluggish and would have succumbed to the temptation of stretching out on a sofa for a leisurely nap. However, there would always be a risk of a short nap turning into a serious slumber and it would sap my will to go out in the evening. I was invited to my neighbour’s party and it would be a mighty shame if I missed it.
As I peeled and chopped carrots, celeries, onions, leeks and parsnips, the smells released from freshly prepared vegetables did help me to perk up.

Look, what I saw at my friend’s New Years’s do…

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Isn’t her headdress fabulous?

And at last, my belated greeting.
A happy new year to everyone! Wish 2015 to be happier, more successful and prosperous for all of us!! XXX

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Benugo @ Hanover Street

I was just about to have a large bite out of toasted sandwich at Benugo, off Regent Street.
Next to me, a trio of Italian ladies were seated, chatting animatedly and having a hearty laugh. I wished if I understood Italian so I could participate in their fun!
West End seemed to have calmed down. People on the street were pushing suitcases which must be stuffed with the gifts for loved ones or sauntering with smiles on their faces. No longer, anyone was zooming around with a sense of urgency edged on its forehead. Just quiet expectation and satisfaction were sailing in the air.
My final task in London, apart from packing a suitcase for Japan trip, was a visit to a hair salon. My hair was to be highlighted, tinted & cut, therefore, I must have a proper sustenance before sitting down in front of the mirror or my stomach would ramble like a roaring lion!

Amongst many chain sandwich places in London, I single out Benugo for their more than passable coffee and good quality food. And today, I had egg Florentine and latte…

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I love their toasted sandwiches…

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They are even more agreeable when the outside is cold and windy.

Once my quick bite was finished, I was off to my hairdresser’s.
Highlighting and tinting took ages. The time was spent with chatting, reading magazines and looking the world went by through the window…

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Then, off to home to change for dinner. London was winding down for Christmas at last…

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And people were heading home too…

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Are you ready for Christmas too?…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Polo Bar @ Bishopsgate

Argh, what an unpleasant noise! Someone is using a bandsaw, making horrendously loud sound in the courtyard. It reminds me the drill of dentist…
I woke up with yet another head full of cold this morning. While being assaulted by a torrent of sneezes every now and then, I contemplate my next move. Since Hubbie is still in NYC, I have to perform Mr.B’s morning duty. With the hair resembles a bird’s nest, am I gonna pull on a hoodie and pray for the best that I won’t bump into anyone I know?

Anyway I was out and about last Tuesday around Liverpool Station.
The time was nearly lunchtime and I was getting peckish. Around me was a wave after wave of city workers, striding to all directions at a brisk pace, apparently wanting to waste no time during their precious lunch break.
I stood at a pedestrian crossing, wishing if I knew where I was heading like they did. Then, I saw a sign of Polo Bar across the street…

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Even though I walked past this part of Bishopsgate countless times, I completely failed to notice this small eatery.
The patch the cafe opened its door to was probably the busiest part of the street, facing the main entrance of Liverpool Street Station. This mainline station was the terminus of two main lines: the West Anglia Main Line to Cambridge and the Great Eastern Main Line to Norwich. There were also local commuter services to parts of east London, Essex, and Hertfordshire. Plus, Liverpool Street was the terminus of the Stansted Express, a link to London Stansted Airport. The station was also a gateway to one of the most popular weekend markets in London, Spitalfields Market, therefore, the area was awash with ceaseless pedestrians 7 days a week.

I stuck my head in the cafe and asked a staff if any table was available for lunch…

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Even though the ground floor was full up, a friendly waitress ushered me to their basement dining area.
The shape of the cafe resembled an eel – oblong and narrow. Their decor was simple but warm & cozy…

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The brick wall was adorned with a family crest…

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The menu was mainly consisted of sandwiches and burgers…

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I opted for their salt beef sandwich with skinny latte.
Shortly afterward, my sandwich was brought to the table…

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It was rather shame that the  sandwich was not exactly what I had in mind.
The bread was not rye bread and the gherkin was mixed into the filling. Still, the sandwich itself was tasty and I was very hungry. So I polished off the plate in no time.

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The cafe is one of the very few independent eateries around the Bishopsgate area in where any available scraps of land are eagerly taken up by large chain stores and restaurants.
Even though their food doesn’t have much to rave about, a properly cooked food which is free from a cardboard & cling film packaging is available 24/7.  And I would happily recommend them to anyone who happen to be in the area with empty stomach. Long live Polo Bar…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Lunch @ Photographer’s Gallery Cafe

One lunchtime, I stepped off from No.55 bus at Great Titchfield Street near Oxford Circus and all the sudden felt a pang of hunger. I was on the way to my hairdresser’s and had a half un hour to kill until my appointment. Where should I go? What do I want to eat?
Then, a review of the Photographer Gallery done by one of my favourite bloggers, London Unveiled popped into my head. Yes, they have a cafe there!

The gallery is located at the corner of Ramillies Street and Ramillies Place.

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In order to access Ramillies Street from Oxford Street, pedestrians descend a substantial number of steps.
Because of this level change, the tonal landscape around the gallery is significantly calmer than forever busy Oxford Street’s.

The cafe was located on the ground floor with large windows which provided a 180 degree view…

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The interior was decidedly monotone like a crisp B+W photograph.

The predecessor of the cafe was on No.5 Great Newport Street near Leicester Square. It was opened in 1980 as an additional gallery space of the existing main gallery on No.8. The cafe was located in the back of the premises and relatively obscure, therefore, it was a little like a handy hideaway amongst the hustle & bustle of the West End.
Behind the entrance, there was a reception, a staircase to their office and a narrowish corridor leading up to the cafe. The cafe sported a double-height ceiling with translucent glazing which flooded the space with light and created an intimate & uplifting atmosphere. In the middle of this oblong space, there was a long table with backless benches.
I remember how good-naturely we all behaved when a guest or two wanted to squeeze in with drink & cake in hands. There was definitely a sort of comradely feeling between the guests. The surrounding walls were painted in white and used as exhibition space. While the diners sat at the table, the visitors for exhibition quietly circulated around the gallery. The ambience of the place was so perfect therefore I was understandably gutted when they announced the gallery’s relocation to Ramillies Street in 2008.

At the counter, I found the menu on offer was surprisingly similar to the one from the former cafe’s.
It made me feel much better already…

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I ordered tuna panini with sun-dried tomato and skinny latte…

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I sat at a counter by the window overlooking Ramillies Street,
The sandwich was toasted to perfection. The filling was generous and the bread was crisp on outside and fluffy in inside.

It was a fleeting visit for a quick bite at the cafe only.
Next time, I shall definitely allow much longer time to spend at this unique institution…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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