How things used to be

This lunchtime, I took Bella for a walk around Hoxton and Shoreditch before heading off to Heathrow to pick up my mum.

Let’s grab a quick bite at Friends of Ours on Pitfield Street…

On their menu, there was lemon Ricotta hotcake which would come with caramelised banana, raw cacao brittle, passion fruit purée and creme fraiche. Ohhhh, lemon! It sounds a bit like Harry & Meghan’s wedding cake, I wavered momentarily.

No, eat properly!

I opted for mushrooms on toast instead. The dish was very wholesome – consisted of oyster & portobello mushrooms, baby kale, chickpea hummus, Jerusalem artichoke on top of a slice of organic sourdough bread.

Is there anything for me?

Sorry, Bay-Bay. I have nothing to offer other than a bowl of water.

Next to the eatery was a pub, the George & Vulture, and it was very busy with lunchtime crowds who seemed to be impatient for the weekend. Who can blame them? It’s Friday!

After lunch, Bella and I strolled towards Shoreditch High Street. As we walked down Rivington Street, I reminisced about the time when there were decent fashion boutiques around Hoxton Square. There were two prominent shops such as Hoxton Boutique and Start and I used to look forward to checking what they had on their rails. Where have they all gone? I felt sad as we walked past the spots where they used to be.

On our way back, we found another new development on Bevenden Street…

I hope this is nothing to do with the Kardashians!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Doggie X’mas Market @ Netil Market

Shoreditch is a fun place to live, and one of the many reasons is how dog/-friendly the area is. Especially on weekends, we see many people on the streets, enjoying their day out with their four-legged pals.

Look, even a dog is on the hand rail!

So when there was an announcement that a Christmas market for dogs was coming to London, it had to happen in Shoreditch, naturally.

Netil Market was the host of Santa Paws – A Christmas Market for Dogs and Their Owners…

It was soooo coooollldddd! The forecast was 9°C but the biting wind was so bitterly cold, it felt more like 4 or 5°C.

Bella the Social Butterfly was in her element, regardless the weather…

‘Hi! Hi! Hi!!’ Bella, they don’t know what make of you.

She just dashed towards anything four-legged and started to flirt like there would be no tomorrow…

It didn’t matter if the receiving ends of her attention appreciated her open friendliness or not, she just advanced to them with her tail wagging manically.

I call her Bella the Serial Flasher…

I don’t know why but she flashes herself to all the dogs she encounters. Yes, she is very friendly and submissive which everyone finds cute. However, she does this gesture all the time, regardless how wet, how muddy and how grubby the surface she is rolling on. No, Bella!

Stalls at the market was a pure retail heaven for doggie lovers.

This stall offered personalised soft furnishings for furry pals and their owners…

You can send an image of your four-legged friend to the designer and she will customise it to a plush cushion, etc. The end result will be a very special seasonal gift, won’t it?

How about doggie themed Christmas decorations for your tree?

Unfortunately, we can’t have them because we have decided not to have a proper tree this Christmas. Do you know why? Because I can visualise how Bella will trash the decoration, eat some bits and pieces of the tree and end up on a vet’s examination table. I will have to keep our seasonal decorations beyond her reach on the window sills so she won’t do any harm to them and to herself. *sigh*

Now, this was one thing I really loved…

A beautiful handmade dog lead by HIRO + WOLF. The main colour was turquoise blue and the effect would go very well with her neon orange harness as well as her neon pink one. I will love to use it during the summer, I thought.

The leads on display were for larger breeds and I asked the seller behind the stall if they had any option for small dogs…

She gave me a business card and suggested me to forward the details so she could customise a lead for Bella. ‘I will drop you a note as soon as I get home!’ I waved and left the market.

‘Too cold here!’ Hubbie, Bella and I hurried to Market Cafe on Broadway Market…

Despite it was after two o’clock, the place was still very busy and a manager told us that we would have to wait for about 15 minutes if we wanted a table. Still, we didn’t dither and agreed to wait because we just wanted to be indoor!

For late lunch, we ordered the same dish…

Ham hock hash with a fried egg! I had a glass of rooibos tea & apple ice tea. Hubbie had cold pressed juice of carrot, orange & ginger with his lunch.

For pudding, we shared apple & spiced plum crumble with cinnamon ice cream…

We found huge juicy plum chunks underneath the crunchy crumble top. It was very good.

At home, I measured the length of the lead…

So I can commission HIRO + WOLF to make us a new lead. Oh, I can hardly wait…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Case to be considered

Oh bliss! I took a sip of mocha at Paper & Cup and let out a sigh of satisfaction, feeling happy and content. The first sip always tastes the best, doesn’t it? I’m also treating myself with a slice of gluten-free chocolate and walnut cake. Ahhh, I’m in seventh heaven…

Where is my cake?

I am ignoring Bella’s accusing stare.

The recent weather in London up until today has been absolutely impeccable. It is so warm and springlike, a kind of weather, which pulls you out of a chair and propels you on to the street. But who knows how long this meteorological pleasantness lasts? The British weather is well known for its unpredictability. Therefore, I put a lead on Bella’s collar and hit the pavement so I wouldn’t regret for not making the best out of the sunshine even if it rained the next day.

Shall we walk towards Shoreditch High Street?

There was a hint of chill in the air every time the wind blew. The weather forecasters must be right about the change in the weather system. They predicted this weekend’s weather wouldn’t be as nice as the past few days.

The spring blossoms of St Leonard Church…

I hope this spring won’t be as wet as last year’s. Wasn’t it the wettest and coldest in the recent history or something?

While I was flicking through the pages of the latest ES magazine, I came across a column by Laura Craik…

She was on about the latest trends in designer phone cases, and I was very much intrigued as I had placed my order for a designer iPhone case through LUISAVIAROMA recently. Before switching my iPhone 6 to 7, my old case was by Givenchy, the one with an angry Rottweiler.  I would be happy to carry on using the same case with my new phone, but the camera position on the latest handset was different from the old one. Therefore I had to ditch the Givenchy one and find a replacement.

So which phone case do I want? There are so many on the market. I thought about it for quite a while. Then I decided that I wanted a case with the rainbow.

You know the poem about Rainbow Bridge?

I wanted a phone case, which would be by my side all the time, to remind me about Mr.B and Rainbow Bridge. Looking at the case time to time would comfort me when I became sad thinking about his absence, I reasoned.

So this is the case I ordered…

A case by Marc Jacobs. The case has liquid glitter which moves over the rainbow. The sparkly glitter is Mr.B’s beautiful soul, floating in the air. Oh, how I miss him…

The estimated delivery date is 30th March. And I can hardly wait!

Hubbie may frown upon me spending £80 on a mere plastic phone case because he is a design purist and doesn’t see any point in masking his iPhone plus’ beautiful piano-black with a case. However, I want him to know that there are even more expensive ones on sale! Like the one by Louis Vuitton which is £210, or the one with crystal embellishment by Dolce & Gabbana which is £475. As Laura has pointed out in her column, the sum which is spent on a phone case may be justified as a mobile phone is the one gadget which is never far away from one’s hand 24/7. I would rather have my phone protected by a case in my favourite design than any practical but ugly one.

Having said that, I have concern about the case by Dolce & Gabbana. Are those crystals attached to the leather robust enough to withstand daily knocks and bumps? The case goes though a lot, like in and out of a bag, being dropped onto the floor, etc…. I am voicing the issue because I have had a bad experience with Karl Lagerfeld’s crystal embellished gloves in the past. One of the crystals fell off after just a few hours of wearing them. To my horror and indignation, I discovered the crystals were secured by glue only. No wonder it came off! I sent the pair back to NET-A-PORTER with a very very angry note.

After finishing an afternoon treat, we headed home…

Let’s go home, Bella. I have a kabocha squash to cook in the fridge!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen

‘How about Fifteen? We haven’t been there for a while.’ So we booked a table one day and off we went.

Before Jamie Oliver decided to establish his first standalone eaterie on the present location, there was an airy cafe with an exhibition space. Then, the cafe was gone and the place was turned into a building site. The renovation took quite a while, and the process had been aired as a TV documentary, Jamie’s Kitchen, in 2002. For the first few years, the restaurant served Italian-style menu, the upstairs was a trattoria and the downstairs was a dining space for a six course tasting menu. Hubbie and I liked the place as we loved Italian food. I even bought bread from them time to time as they had delicious house baked rustic breads and didn’t mind selling them to me if they had any excess stock.

Over the years, the place kind of disappeared from our slap-up meal choice list. It was a result of accumulating tiny doubt and dissatisfaction we were left with after each visit to the venue. For example, I didn’t like it when they decided to replace Baffalo mozzarella with goats’ cheese, etc, etc…

So how are they doing now? I was curious. The place seemed to be busy. Despite our table being booked for an early dinner at 7:15, the restaurant was filling up with diners rapidly as we studied the menu…

Hmmm, what am I gonna have?

We decided to share short rib croquettes with sour cherry ketchup as a starter…

The portion was small, but we knew the main dish would be large so it was fine by us. The croquettes were tasty and the sour cherry ketchup tasted ok.

For a main course, I opted for venison haunch, swede, turnip top, pickled blackberries…

Well, the dish turned out to be very very heavy. The seasoning was strong and everything was far too rich for my liking. I thoroughly regretted about not choosing vegetarian option as I transferred the food to my mouth!

Our side dish of charred cauliflower, smoked anchovy, dill…

and crispy potato cake, Marmite & black truffle mayo…

Even though I found the dill with cauliflower was a refreshing idea, again, the dish was far too rich for my liking. I expected the side dish to be a compliment to a main dish, not a competitor!

The potato cake was like hashed brown potato. The portion was generous but the texture was too greasy for me. I had to threw the towel in halfway through my main dish and ask Hubbie some assistance which he gladly volunteered.

For a dessert, I picked coconut panna cotta, roasted pinapple, coconut crumble…

Mmmm, the panna cotta was rather watery and tasteless. Another disappointment.

We also had to wait for ages for out bill. All in all, my latest experience with the restaurant was 3/10. Oh well, there are a plenty more eateries to satisfy my tastebuds in Shoreditch, therefore, it is not the end of world…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Sunday roast at Eagle N1

What a difference a mere week makes!  

The temperature felt like it had stepped back to the March’s and I ended up donning my oversized Uniqlo fleece jacket all last week. To make the matter worse, the work on my walk-in shower room ran on much longer and while the builders were working in there, they preferred to have the space well ventilated. Therefore, the French doors had to be kept wide-open despite plunging temperature and infrequent rain which left my flat very draughty. Time to time, there was a moment I just hated all the noise, the smell and the dust. Especially the dust, it went everywhere. I wouldn’t know how I could have dealt with them if I didn’t have well supplied Pledge’s Fluffy Dusters. 

Anyway, the end is in sight at last. Once a broken macerator is replaced tomorrow morning, my brand new shower room will be up and running. And the first person to enjoy it will be Mr.B. He might not welcome it but the matter is very urgent because his coat has lost its lustre for quite sometime.

It’s Sumday and the sun is shining…

Hubbie had been snowed under with designing e-book for a poet this weekend. ‘Sorry for being holed up’, he apologised. Oh well, how could I get annoyed with him since he was earning the dough. So I suggested Sunday roast at our pub. The idea cheered him up greatly and once the clock hit 2 o’clock, we headed to our local pub. 

The first pub, William IV, we tried didn’t have Sunday roast. ‘Sorry guys. Our chef left recently and we haven’t found a replacement yet’. What a shame. So we walked to another pub at the opposite end of the street. 

Please bring my roast chicken soon because I am STARVING…

There are a few pubs named “The Eagle” in London. However, this is the only pub whose name is included in a nursery rhyme: Up and down the City road, in and out The Eagle. That’s the way the money goes. Pop goes the weasel… The actual pub stands next to Shoreditch Police Station and therefore here must be a waterhole for local bobbies too?

Yippee, my Sunday feast!!

Behold my roast Shropshire half chicken, gingerbread stuffing and chicken gravy!  Hubbie had roast pork loin with red wine jus. Both dishes were accompanied by Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes and cooked greens. The chicken was very moist and tender. The stuffing was tasty and the vegs were done perfectly. It was 10/10.
When we left the pub, we noticed the sun had definitely took the edge off from the chilly weather we had been experiencing since last Monday. Let’s hope the weather will continue to improve and we can ditch coats and bomber jackets for good…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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