Simple things in life

2016 is behind us and 2017 is here.

2016 for me was a year of adapting to a new way of living, where this little most wonderful creature came into my life and took priority over ‘me’. Even the poor little parrot had to move over in bed and his neck rub count has significantly declined. However, I am working on improving that. In fact the parrot is learning to dance.

After being on maternity leave, my attitude to work has somewhat changed and despite really enjoying the independence and ‘me’ time that working now gives me, I know that family and doing what one loves is what give true joy.

So this year I hope will be more about enjoying the simple things in life. Such as cuddling my little one, literally exploring the world and developing our senses. Whether it’s learning a new word or demonstrating what happens if you push a pen into a balloon..

Considering the disruption of the status quo in the world, it’ll be better to ride through the storm whilst learning some calligraphy, writing more post cards, reading a book or two and simply being serene. Whilst exploring some fabulous places, trying out some tasty food and broadening my horizons on beauty potions and lotions.

Happy 2017.

 

Afternoon tea with Marie Chantal and M&S 

Recently I had the occasion to be part of a magical afternoon tea at Haymarket Hotel organised by Mothers Meeting for the launch of Marie Chantal’s new collaboration with M&S. For those of you who don’t know, Marie Chantal is a high end children’s wear brand. I only discovered MC randomly walking into their boutique on Ledbury road in Notting Hill where I discovered the cutest onesies for babies with angel wings. It’s funny how priorities change once one becomes a mom. I really tried my best to sneak out for an hour from the office to be part of his preview of baby clothes!

I couldn’t believe the stunning setting when I entered the room. The table was decorated with gorgeous balloons and there were pieces from the new collection to be seen – all 33 of them. With room full of inspiring and ambitious ladies, mothers, above all, I was somewhat surprised to hear that Marie Chantal, the founder, was there too. I did not actually realise, only until after the event, that Marie Chantal, the founder, is an actual princess. I call my daughter one all the time!

There was a magician attending to keep the children entertained, I was somewhat sad I couldn’t have my little girl with me. However, more of a reason to get to know other mothers. I was lucky to speak to Marie Chantal,truly an inspiring lady, who told me that the inspiration for her angel wings design was the birth of one of her sons, as his hair was silver and angel-like that the midwife was convinced he was an angel, or at least close to one.

Now the most important part was ,the revelation of collaboration between M&S and Marie Chantal. Meaning that the designs will continue to be as high quality, however they will be more affordable and my little girl will be able to have more dresses fit for a princess.

Like the one below, available at M&S from  1st November 2016.

Ramen cookin’ in London

I have always been a great lover of Japanese food, until the moment I arrived in Japan 6 weeks pregnant. Suddenly any food vaguely Japanese made me feel sick. Even a simple of thought of Japanese food made my stomach twirl.

Well, bit of a problem when you are in Japan, I tell you.

Anyhow, I felt like this period is now long passed me, so when I was given the opportunity to learn to cook Japanese dish ramen, I didn’t think twice.

Ramen in itself is very healthy, what makes it special is the broth, which is cooked for hours and hours, to bring out all the goodness. As we were explained, ramen for Japanese is almost equivalent to fast food (but it’s not), which you would have late night after a few pints of beer, or just for lunch.

The course I went to was at Sozai Cooking School, very conveniently located just behind Aldgate station. If you work on the city, it’s very easy to reach.

Our instructor Akemi was brilliant at explaining each step and involving us, students, in the process. For example by sealing the pork belly, as seen above.

To my surprise, we cooked ramen from scratch, which Japanese themselves very rarely do. With huge variety of fresh noodles available at supermarkets, wheeling patties of dough through a pasta maker, is not something an average Japanese person often does. Yet, it was so much fun and gave me a sense of achievement, without doubt.

In a couple of hours, we were to prepare three types of ramen – cold ramen, miso ramen and pork ramen.

All in all I would say that cooking ramen is a lot about mixing the right quantities and timing of cooking, so it’s in fact less complicated than I thought. However, it can always go wrong (which I will explain below).

We started by cooking the pork belly, first by sealing it and then adding it to the sauce consisting of soy sauce, mirin, sake, Chinese wine, star anise and sugar.

After that it was time to prepare the actual noodles. We made the dough out of flour, baking powder, salt, hot and cold water. After letting it set, we put the dough in cling film and kept it in the fridge.


Moving on to prepare the miso ramen. Miso in fact is fermented soy beans – did you know that, as I had no clue?  We learnt that each region in Japan have their own typical miso, like the Italians would have a special pasta sauce or dessert in each village.


By the end of the evening we were all sufficiently hungry. I was nervous to try out the ramen, having vivid memories of not eating ramen in Japan. However, it was delicious. Three(!) bowls of ramen went down as a treat.


So, after such a successful evening I tried to cook it at home. How did it go? I tell you one thing, do not put your baby to bed and leave the pork cooking in the pot unattended, as otherwise … it may not work. Another tip – make your own chicken stock, it will make a huge difference. 


And go on the course, to learn how to make these amazing photographable-instagrammable ramen eggs, which came out just fine.


I’ll definitely keep practising my new found skill of ramen cooking – happy egg-perimentig. 


Sozai Cooking School
5 Middlesex Street
London
E1 7AA

 

Port Eliot – truly a family festival

Going to festivals has been one of the top things to do over the summer for me and my hubster. However since the little baby A came along I thought things might get a bit more tricky.


That is until we heard about Port Eliot in Cornwall. As late night entertainment was practically ruled out for myself, I was very happy to discover that Port Eliot offers events, talks and activities from all kinds of spectrums. And to be honest, even around midnight I saw some other parents walk around with their children on the festival grounds.


My absolute favourite things to do were the workshops, and there were many, starting from golden calligraphy to sailor T-shirt making. Only downside – one had to queue to get your name down the list, which is not such an odd thing really at an English festival.


I managed to make myself a neckerchief and a paper flower, and even a tote bag for my husband.
What I found most inspring was the tent by Hush. Mandy Watkins, the founder gave a talk on how she set up the company, straight after being made redundant from her corporate role by starting to sell PJs. Have to say I am now absolutely in love for their PJs, wearing mine non stop, everywhere.

Dining in Tallinn: Von Krahli Aed

I seem to become more and more convinced that Tallinn is the most beautiful capital city of Europe. The Old Town, walks by the seaside and stunning sunsets to end the day. Stunning. Tallinn is peaceful, refreshing, yet full of surprise and novelty.

By the same token, there is a street tucked away in the Old Town, which must own the World Record for the best quality restaurant on one street. I’ve already written about Vegan and Rataskaevu 16, this time it was time to visit Von Krahli Aed. 

We managed to get a table without booking on a Wednesday night, contrary to Rataskaevu 16, where it’s always ‘busy.’

The menu looked outstanding and it gave the option to have all dishes either as veggie or non veggie.


We started with the landscape on a plate: A selection of Estonian flavors (Kalamatsi fried cheese, chicken liver paté, rabbit rilettes, Põltsamaa Kuldne jelly, smoked salmon mousse, beetroot hummus).

The description was pretty spot on and it felt pretty adventurous exploring different flavours.

The mains we went for were wild garlic orsotto with honey roasted carrots and rosemary-tomato ketchup and warm quinoa and plum salad with carrot cream and honey roasted carrots. Orsotto was delicious, would definitely recommend that dish.

The desserts, well, I love desserts and I have to say that their chocolate fondant was not great, dry in the middle and a little disappointing after such stunning dishes beforehand. My husband loved the magic mushrooms blackcurrant cream, yoghurt sorbet and chickpea meringue, but my opinion as the dessert expert would be that it had the wow factor for the presentation, but it didn’t deliver for the taste.

So all in all, it’s a fabulous restaurant, it wins my heart above Rataskaevu 16 at the moment and I would wholeheartedly recommend to visit. Maybe just skip the dessert and pop into Vegan for cake instead.

Stunner on a rock, Bonifacio

I’ve been coming to Corsica for the past few years and the city that immediately impressed me is Bonifacio – what a stunner. Old citadel high up on a rock is a beautiful little place where to spend an evening or even a day. This time we ended up staying at an airBnb whilst we went to see friends near Petit Sperone beach. Our little flat was right opposite a local dentist and the host even left us two bottles of wine and a little soft Corsican toy. Talk about hospitable people.

The city offers some stunning views like the one below.


And there are some lovely delicious dishes to be had. They seem very big on chestnut, so for my dessert I ended up having chestnut tiramisu in a jam jar, having had chestnut gelato only in the afternoon. 


Beautiful little restaurant to try out is L’Archivolto. It has been exceedingly difficult to take food photos with baby on my lap most of the time, however one can only imagine a beautiful dish with aubergine and local soft cheese and a huge knuckle of lamb.

For night life, head down the hill to the port and I hear of people talking about a local nightclub called B52.

A very French island to visit I must say, why don’t you have a read of my trip to Corsican eastern side last summer here.

Summer essential: Magic Organic Apothecary

I’m quite a fan of beauty products that have multiple uses. Mainly because I like being compact with my space and not carry unnecessarily large quantities of items with me. Hence its no wonder I’m quite keen on the MOA balm that was given to me at the recent Mothers Meeting. 


 It promises quite a few things on the package, so I was keen to try out it all in practice. And the truth is that it works. It works great for make up removal, got easily rid of the stubborn Urban Decay mascara. I have been unfortunate to have the 3xB – some burns, bruises and blisters and it has worked soothingly for all the three of them. It easily qualifies to the summer essentials list and works a treat for a summer festival, when one might get bitten by mosquitos and taking off make up is not on the priority list before crashing in the tent in the early hours. 

So what’s the secret ingredient of this green little balm? Yarrow. I didn’t put much thought into it initially, but yarrow is something my grandmother taught me to put on wounds when I was a child. Doh.


Turns out that Achilles, a mythical Greek character, used to carry it with him to treat his army’s battle wounds.

100% English product for 100% English summers can be bought on their website for £12.50.  Love it.