Tuesday, 13 September 2016

The 17th Century Coffeehouse Tour

When Pasqua Rosee brought his vile tasting brown liquid to the streets of London, in the area near Bank, it was going to change the city forever! If you care to step through time and take a walk in 17th Century London, Unreal City Audio's founder, Dr Matthew Green, has a magical story to tell you.


The Coffee House Tour, offers a brilliant insight into 17th Century London society and how coffee transformed business in London forever. Brewed with ground coffee beans, mustard (sugar was too expensive a sweetener) and egg shells, most likely to make it look more exotic and strange  than to provide additional flavour, what is now a daily pleasure for most of us had groundbreaking effects on London citizens as I came to find out. For the first time in ages, men started sobering up from all the daily watered down ale they normally drank and business took off!


Dr Green takes us on a tour of significant locations around the Bank area, sites of 17th and 18th century coffee houses and analyses topics ranging from the layout and behaviour of the patrons of coffee houses to the effect they had on the society that embraced the concept and made them popular.


With the help of Pasqua himself (well, close enough anyway) the empty streets of Bank on an early Saturday morning are filled with the sound of 'the Turk' advertising his magical elixir to approaching customers, reading excerpts from The Men's Answer To The Women's Petition Against Coffee (London, 1674), and more.


For those of you who have not read the petition, here's the main quote you need to know: Coffee collects and settles the Spirits, makes the erection more Vigorous, the Ejaculation more full, adds a spiritualescency to the Sperme, and renders it more firm and suitable to the Gusto of the womb, and proportionate to the ardours and expectation too, of the female Paramour. Basically, coffee is good for sex.


Dr Green does a magnificent job setting the scene of what a 17th century coffee house would look like on the inside and how its patrons behaved typically; this communal spirit of conversation and exchanging information has long since ceased and disappeared from modern day cafes.


The world of the 17th and 18th century coffee houses can only be seen in old iron signs and blue plaques commemorating what once was but coffee itself has survived the test of time and lucky for us now tastes so much better. Don't take my word for it, a sip of the coffee you will try at the start of the tour is enough to convince you (unless you normally drink black turkish coffee, in which case it was very close to that but with mustard and eggshells, which Dr Green does not include).


At the end of the tour Dr Green poses a question to us in the modern era, asking us to consider why we no longer use modern coffeehouses as a space where we can interact and encourages us to talk to a stranger next time we are in one; ask for some new information and be more social. It is worth a shot.


You can find more info on future Coffee House tours here; there is one every month. If you are busy and can not make it, there is the option to download an audio tour version of it, featuring more actors and cinematic sounds that create an immersive aural experience, which you can have at your own time.


I thoroughly recommend this tour to anyone who loves London, history or coffee. If you love all three then it is an absolute must. Dr Green manages to combine his passion for the topic, extensive knowledge and engaging personality to create what is probably the closest to time travel a tour can offer, making it a unique London experience that should not be missed.


Friday, 10 June 2016

Prague Trip: What To Drink!

Prague is a wonderful city, vibrant and full of people walking in the narrow streets of Praha 1. Now, a lot of them happen to be there on holiday, looking to party and have a good time. And as it happens, alcohol is usually a big part of their experience. If you are new to Prague and don't know where to start, this should be a great starting point with a few suggestions on what to drink!

ABSINTHE


Absinth is big in Prague. You will see the tourist shops and various corner stores stocking a variety of absinthe types as well as other absinthe flavoured items, such as absinthe chocolate. The proper way to drink absinthe is to slowly pour drops of iced water into it, as they pass through a spoon with holes with an ice cube on top. The water slowly melts the sugar and allows the mixture to blend properly. Also it looks really cool.

 

Hemingway Bar near Charles Bridge is a good place to go try that. The staff is quite friendly and they will help you select what absinthe you will enjoy better and explain the process. They also do good cocktails.


Sidenote 1: Hemingway has never been to this bar. They just named it after him because he liked absinthe.
Sidenote 2: Remember to be quiet when in Prague bars, as loud customers may be asked to leave. It is actually illegal to make noise after hours.


WINES


You will find that Czech wine is really tasty, so I recommend ordering some with your meal at a restaurant. I usually prefer red but the white is pretty good too. Alternatively, hot sweet wine is also available from numerous street vendors, much like mulled wine here around Christmas time. In terms of flavour though it uses apples instead of oranges so think of hot sangria instead.


BEER


Of course beer is on our list, as most people going to Prague are there to try its beer.


While you can order a beer pretty much anywhere you go, most places will only carry few brands, usually Urquell, Kozel and Staropramen.


What was unusual for me is that despite the brand your options will most of the time be light beer (lager), dark beer (kind of like sweet ale) or mixed (actually mixing the two apparently).


In order to try some more specialised beers the best option is to go to a brewery that makes its own or visit one of the numerous beer museums advertised on TripAdvisor.


One lovely beer surprise was this chocolate flavoured one that we found on the way to the castle. Very tasty and I totally recommend it.


There are also always non alcoholic options and very low alcohol ones like the lemon Staropramen.


BECHEROVKA & FERNET


These two traditional herbal liqueurs are more of an acquired taste. They can be used to create cocktails but since they were so different I decided to try them on their own. I have to admit it was a bit of a struggle drinking it and I'd probably not get the bottle but it's good to try them once. The John Lennon pub is a good place for a pit stop for some drinks.


BOMBARDINO


While originally an Italian drink, a lot of Prague bars will be offering this drink in their menu. It is a mix of Advocaat or eggnog with brandy and it's served warm. It tasted like a hot Cadbury egg and I liked it a lot. If you have the chance you should give it a try.


Whatever drinks you like, just wander around the city and stop at as many cafes, bars and pubs as you can. Since there's something to discover around every corner, Prague is not a place to go to one bar and drink all night. So, go out and explore with your legs, eyes and mouths!


Have you been to Prague before? What drinks did you enjoy?
Leave a comment to let me know.

buzzoole code
buzzoole code

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

London Kawaii And J-Fashion Meet

Hey guys!

If you are a fan of all things japanese including all the awesome fashions and would like to make some likeminded friends then you should definitely keep reading.


I used to be super into Japanese fashion styles but I thought they were only available in Harajuku and that it would not be possible to do that in Europe. Then, a couple of months ago, I discovered there's a good community here in the UK for all these different fashion styles and they are all super cute and creative and have a few facebook groups you can join and meet each other according to the style you want to do, share inspiration for outfits and photos of things you find in the shops that can be used for your target style.


Meeting up sounded great fun so I looked for the next meetup and I discovered this Meetup group run by Jojo (of LoveJojo.com) and her friend Aisha. I joined immediately and booked on the first meet that was to take place on April 10th.


We got together at the Royal Festival Hall in Southbank, had some lunch that we had brought with us and chatted with each other. It was great to meet everybody and I was greatly impressed with the variety of styles. You could see Fairy Kei, Sweet Lolitas, Gothic Lolitas, Visual Kei etc and everybody looked fabulous.


We took photos and played pass the parcel, a game where you pass a parcel around with music and every time the music stops the person holding it unwraps a layer. Some of the  layers have presents that you get to keep and I was lucky enough to win a cute Gudetama keychain.


After that we moved outside to take a nice group photo in the grass and then moved on to Biju in Soho for some bubble tea. I recommend trying the pistachio milk tea with the egg pudding. It's delicious!


Next stop: dinner. True to our group, we decided to have Japanese food at Eat Tokyo. The portions are very big and filling. I got one of the bento boxes and it was a bit of a struggle trying to finish it. It tasted great though so I want to go back for more now.


The final stop of the night was karaoke! As I found out, a lot of the restaurants in China Town offer karaoke rooms upstairs, even if they don't advertise them. It's definitely a case where you have to be taken there to know it exists. Getting a room for 2 hours was about £150, which you can spend on drinks. Mind you, that's about 6 cocktail jugs so be prepared to drink a lot. Amazing value for money in my opinion. Here's a clip of us singing. It's not the best quality but you get the point.

video

I have to say, I met so many awesome people and had a brilliant time. If you are into j fashion this is definitely something to look into and find a meet to join. And if you want to read more about the meet  and look at some amazing Lolita outfits you can read my new friend Katy's post about it too.

Best
Kristine

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Brasserie Blanc Review - #XmasGame Menu

A leader amongst high street restaurants, Brasserie Blanc has always been adventurous with their menu, challenging the limits and making new flavours widely available at high street prices.

After the success of adding rabbit to their menu, their new challenge for the holiday season is to incorporate game meat into their winter menu, be it pigeon, pheasant or venison. At their #xmasgame night they showcased a variety of dishes and provided information about game, how it is produced, handled and cooked.

Wild Wood Pigeon Salad - click here for recipe
As part of the introductory talks, Tim Weston, Development Officer of the National Gamekeepers Organisation told us a bit more about the process of raising game animals, making sure there are enough birds and deer for hunting, but also enough left to reproduce for the following year. As these animals are free to roam openly, part of the gamekeeper's role is to feed them out in the open, only the best natural food is used, and also make sure they stay in their designated area, as the last thing you want is all the animals to run away. It is a year long process that leads up to the hunting season and then starts all over again.

According to Simon Smith from Aubrey Allen, 80% of game meat produced in the UK is exported, as most restaurants shy away from adding it to their menu, due to the special cooking requirements, the high skill level game chefs have to possess and the fact that there can be no steady supply of game; restaurants will have to introduce a separate menu of specials only available on specific nights and changing seasonally.


On the special #xmasgame night we were presented with a selection of game dishes, all very well prepared and delicious. The starters were mouthwatering, both the terrine and pigeon salad would be excellent choices if you would like to try something new. Trying pigeon for the first time, I found it particularly gamey, much closer to beef in taste than other poultry like chicken or duck. Having said that, I did really enjoy it and I can now understand the appeal.

The venison dish strongly reminded me of venison pies, which I believe are relatively common and felt equally warming. I can not decide if it is something your mom would cook at home on a cold winter's night or a perfectly cooked fancy dish as both statements were be simultaneously accurate. The meat just melted away in your mouth and the vegetables went perfect with it.


The second main dish, roast pheasant, was used to get two main points across. Not only did Clive Fretwell, Brasserie Blanc's Executive Chef Director, emphasise that there is no need to shy away from picking it out as our choice of meat for a roast, particularly Christmas dinner, but also held a small demonstration showing us how to properly season the bird and recreate perfect roasting conditions at home just by tying it up inside a plastic bag, so as to reproduce a steam oven effect.

The recipe, which can be found on Brasserie Blanc's website, proves that it would not be that difficult to bring game meat not only in high street restaurants, but also in our homes. Roasting a pheasant hardly seems any more challenging than your average Sunday roast chicken and can be a real treat for your family during special occasions or even just because. 

Roast Pheasant In A Bag - click here for recipe
During the meal we also tried the wine, white for the starters and red with the mains. Due to the nature of the meat, I would say that white wine can easily go with the terrine, pigeon and pheasant dishes and the only one you may want to consider red is the venison, however due to the nature of the game meat, keeping to white can make the meal feel less heavy and bring in more fruity notes that red wine may not have.

To finish the meal we had an assortment of chocolate based desserts all delicious and designed to satisfy any cravings for something sweet that we may have had. The way dessert was presented makes it suitable both for one person and as a shared dish along with a nice cup of tea.


The whole meal in general was spectacular, so I would definitely recommend checking out Brasserie Blanc for your Christmas meal or other special occasions.







Monday, 26 October 2015

MCM London Comic Con 2015

Are you a massive geek? Do you have an unhealthy obsession with a particular movie or tv show and wished you could meet the characters in real life? Do you know nothing Jon Snow?

Well, there is one place you can go and geek out for a couple of days: Comic Con! It's the time of year where cosplayers gather at ExCel London to meet, buy rare merchandise, meet actors and youtubers and show off all their hard work recreating costumes from their favourite films, anime, manga, games and books and pretend to be someone else. It's kind of like Halloween, but way more hard core.

Cercei and Ygritte - Game of Thrones

The quality of the costumes is always exceptional and it is very easy to see how much effort everyone has put in creating them most of the time from scratch. Variations of certain characters (like the Jokers shown below) often appear with the most popular ones where different costumes have been used in different mediums and incarnations through movies, tv series, comic books and games and they always make great photo ops.

The Joker - DC Universe

Other times characters from different movies of the same franchise come together for the ultimate fan service as we all have thought at one point or another that it would be really cool if all of them were together in a story. Whether you turn that into the Avengers or a few Disney princesses chilling together the results are always pretty awesome.

Merida, Belle and Peter Pan - Disney

This year Attack on Titan was the most popular anime for cosplayers and I assume everyone got lots of photos of them, however I decided to enjoy the day and only take photos of well made costumes of my favourite characters. 

Giselle and Prince Edward - Enchanted

Giselle and Edward's costumes were incredibly well made and just like the movie and I was very happy when I saw Regina from Once Upon A Time, as it is one of my favourite tv shows. Regina's costumes throughout the series have been amazing and this one is one of the most iconic ones. Plus it came complete with a glowing heart so how could I not love it? I do want to do that cosplay at some point too so I will be looking into it.

Regina - Once Upon A Time 

I decided to go as Susan Sto Helit from Terry Pratchett's books, particularly Hogfather which I love very much. I will have a more detailed post about my costume on my fashion blog. I also found a Dalek so I had to take a photo with it. Doctor Who is always quote big in Comic Con with people dressed up as one of the Doctor incarnations, the Tardis, or Daleks. I like Daleks.

Dalek - Doctor Who, Susan - Hogfather

Another quite impressive things for me is when people use stilts to make their characters taller. I have no idea how they balance on them and manage to walk around the crowds in full costume, with masks and everything on. It does look pretty cool though.

Oogie Boogie, Lock and Jack Skellington - The Nightmare Before Christmas

Imagine how hot it must be inside that dragon costume... I bet the guy would breathe fire if he could. Bad jokes aside, I do like Toothless so for me that was a great effort.

Toothless - How To Train Your Dragon

Apart from creating your costume, having the relevant props can be quite important and take your costume to the next level. For example, my friend Rob created his own Whiskey and Ginger Nuka Cola and Gin & Tonic Nuka Cola Quantum for his Fallout 3 costume.

Fallout 3

Apart from being a great chance to cosplay, Comic Con is great for shopping. Apart from the usual comic books, plushies, replica characters and cosplay wigs, you can get a wide range of handmade steampunk and gothic accessories like the ones below and discover new vendors you would not have normally come across, so make sure to bring money or ask for their website where you can find the items online later. These particular ones were from Diamantequeen Designs


So if you were thinking of going to Comic Con but were not sure, just go! It is awesome and you will have a great time. And if you do not have anyone to go with you can always have a look on facebook for groups who arrange to go together and do a specific theme costume or you can even create your own group on Meetup or citysocializer.

Whatever you do, make sure you pick a character you love and have fun being them for a day!

Love,
Kristine