Friday, 25 December 2009

Gotta love the irony of eating Reindeer on Christmas Day!

I've had a fun Christmas season this year.  Whilst not as manic as previous years, there have been good friends and fun nights for which I'm very thankful.

This photo was taken in Oxford Street after cocktails with BoyWonder at Molton House.  I love the London Christmas lights, though not the crowds!  Glad I got the iconic taxi & bus in this shot.

I took a couple of days off work to organise the food for Christmas Day.  After visiting Neals Yard Dairy for our Christmas cheeses, I did a mammoth shop for the bulk of our food for the day - while the venison & pates were brought at Taste of Christmas (see previous post).  I spent the rest of the time baking shortbread.  Whilst shopping I took the opportunity to do some BookCrossing, dropping the first book in the oil & spice aisle, one I left in the trolley (suitably bagged to avoid the snow) and one in the coffee shop, where I enjoyed a festive hot chocolate!

Our Christmas Day started with Skype calls to our families in Australia - it was lovely to see them all and we even got to "show" them around our house!  We then kick-started the meal with smoked salmon, philly-cheese, rye bread, drizzled with lemon and cracked pepper, accompanied by the first of three bottles of Champagne for the day!  Our next course consisted of pigs in blankets accompanied by a very spicy Bloody Mary.  BoyWonder then did his amazing Champagne Prawns (accomanied by more Champagne of course!)...  Time for a nanna-nap before the "main" of saddle of venison, this stood for 12-hours in olive oil and a white peppercorn crust.

Our wine of choice for this course was Black Tempest Sparkling Shiraz which was delightful with rich blackberry & liquorice tones... a great combination.

The venison was absolutely delicious, with the "fillet" melting like butter in our mouths.  It was coated in duck-fat and basted every 5 minutes for approximately 35-40 minutes - due to the lack of fat in venison it cooks very quickly.  It sat while the jus (gravy) was made from the venison juices deglazed with brandy and white wine, mixed with stock and reduced before adding double cream... this is not a low-fat day after all!!!  Our meal was completed with roasted duck-fat potatoes that BoyWonder cooked to perfection, along with Brussel Sprouts (don't tell my Mum!), spinach, pumpkin, sweet potato and carrots.

We have yet to tackle the Christmas Pudding with a choice of Brandy Cream or Cointreau Butter nor the cheeses and pates, let alone the mince pies and shortbread... there's always tomorrow!
Happy Chrisnukkah to all!
Cheers, KangaRue

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Food, wine, books, song & good friends...

Having handed in the last of my uni papers for the term - one a week early I will boast - I have breathed a sigh of relief and can now enjoy the Christmas season.

Thanks to the London Evening Standard, BoyWonder and I won tickets to Taste of Christmas, which was a lovely day out tasting food and wines, picking up a number of selections for our own Christmas feast.  Not only did I blow the top of my head off with some chilli selections (we bought some of the seeds to grow), had some great pates, we also found nice wine to enjoy at home.

To be honest, the first thing that caught my eye was the name Chat-en-Oeuf (Cat on Egg) a great play on words with Châteauneuf depicted brilliantly on their logo... the wine is actually made just outside the Châteauneuf-du-Pape region and is aged in Châteauneuf-du-Pape barrels.  While it won't be an award winner, it was a nice wine that we'll happily quaff at home.  And I'm still giggling over the logo!

Taste of Christmas also offered a great opportunity to do some BookCrossing.  Having done one wild release at a bus-stop on the way to my Osteo on Friday, I took a couple of books along with me, releasing one outside a cooking theatre and another at the dining tables.  I did this last one after enjoying a delightful pie from Roast, a great texture and taste to the meat encased in a fantastic pastry.  I was sorely tempted by the food at L'Anima but really want to go to the restaurant for the whole experience.

The evening saw me head off to see some friends perform in the London Gay Men's Chorus production of
Singderella.  The singing was absolutely superb - well done guys!  Not sure about the panto and dancing that went along with it - it just didn't compare to the standard of singing.  Having checked my diary, I'm disappointed that I can't see the carol concert the Chorus is singing in a couple of weeks, so will have to wait to the 2010 season to see the LGMC perform again.  And how pretty does Sloane Square look with the Christmas lights up...

Cheers, KangaRue

Saturday, 28 November 2009

BoyWonder's Kryptonite?!

Some of you may already know that BoyWonder and I are renovating our home... well, he does the work and I either make tea or stay out of the way!  And to date, he has done a spectacular job: replumbing downstairs, stripping back and varnishing the Victorian floorboards, installing new plumbing for upstairs, cutting a trench through cement for the new waste, putting up a stud wall, not to mention the lighter touches of painting etc...  and at some point no doubt there will be some before and after pictures.

But that won't be today.

No, today's job was installing a loft ladder in the master bedroom.  He did all the prep work before needing my help getting it into the loft and adding some support to the plasterboard as he fitted it.  So far so good.  He's up in the loft, when I notice that something looks a little strange...

Me:  Babe, where's the handle?
BW:  In front of your face.
Me:  Um, no it isn't...
BW:  [Tut] of course it is.... oh crap, it's behind the plasterboard... I'm stuck and can't get down.

Yes, the handle is behind the plaster that he'd left to add support - not realising that once the ladder contraption is wedged in place, it also blocked his exit.  So stifling giggles, I hunt down the dry-board saw to hack out the remaining plasterboard; in the process getting completely covered in plaster dust.

But did he thank me for rescuing him?  No, he dared to complain that one corner was down too low from the directions I'd given... I should have left him stuck up there!

Cheers, KangaRue

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Lots going on...

Work has been insane, but I've still managed to have some fun!

Firstly, there was the opening night of The Parlour the first of half a dozen new restaurants/nightspots sorely needed in Canary Wharf.  I met two couples, Caroline and David, Joanne and Darren before BoyWonder turned up.  It was very loud, but the free drinks and occasional canapes sweetened the mood!  It's very different - read more funky - from any of the current venues, so very welcome.  Lunch a week or so later with the girls from the office lead to mixed reviews - my confit duck was great, as were the veggie lasagnas - though the risotto was a miss.
Next I went to visit my lovely and talented friend Patrick - hairdresser to the stars - and me of course!  So I started that Friday as a blonde, but ended up a red-head; with a dose of purple thrown into the back for good measure.  We went for drinks afterwards at our club Molton House which is a high-fashion bar with a good wine list (the South African pinotage-viogner blend was lovely) - I'm looking forward to going back for cocktails and to try out the restaurant... and when work gets less nuts, to go for a boogie in the nightclub.

Last night BoyWonder and I met up with half of the Parlour Pals again to check out Lower East, another new opening at Canary Wharf.  The plan was to have dinner there, then head to Mile End to introduce them to a great East End pub, but we never made it.  Dinner was good, with some mixed results.  Good cocktails, wine, organic oysters, crab cakes and venison; but overcooked, under-seasoned steak and tasteless half-pint of prawns let it down... the friendly service may be its saving grace.

While I was there I also managed to do a Wild BookCrossing Release.  Leaving the book behind at the bar stool, was easy - and it wasn't there when I checked later, so fingers crossed that some kind soul found it, will post it's find online and I'll get to know about its travels.  I've also done a couple of "Controlled Releases" and Exchanges so once those have come to fruition there will be more news.

Other than that, I spent today shopping for an angle-grinder and blade with BoyWonder - tres excitement... then we went to the garden centre to appease me... when did we become middle aged?!  Study tomorrow...

Cheers, KangaRue

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Let me introduce you to my lovely shop boy, George...

There is a shop on the end of my street, yes, a actual corner store, where I can grab the newspaper and a pint of milk on the weekend.  But the best thing about it is the sunny smile (and occasional cuddle) I get from the shop boy, George.

So, for my latest BookCrossing, I let him into my secret as he was uploading my monthly tube pass, and he happily posed for a photo.  Here he is...

Cheers, KangaRue

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Do I need a 12-step programme?!

I once heard that girls fall into one of four categories: shoes, handbags, underwear or bathroom products...  WHAT, you mean I have to choose?!!!

But yes, I do have a thing for shoes.  I've always loved my heels, and have built up a sizeable collection.  Amongst the current house renovations, will be shoe shelves, so I will - eventually - be posting photos of those...  However, for over four months now I've been suffering with a bad back, so I decided to assist the weekly physio & acupuncture by not wearing my beloved heels.  Not as easy as it sounds, other than trainers and flip-flops I didn't own flat shoes.

So I have bought myself a few pairs... OK, seven pairs, yes: 7!  I didn't think this was excessive, but my fellow Twitterer @chickenruby thinks I have a problem... what do you think, do I need a 12-step programme?

Cheers, KangaRue

Fingers crossed...

A friend dropped around a stack of books last night, so I went through to sort out the ones I've not yet read, and the ones ready for BookCrossing.

So off I went today to do the lastest two "wild releases", the first in a bathroom at work and the second was at my physio therapist... fingers crossed they get logged on my "bookshelf".  I'll keep you posted!

Cheers, KangaRue

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Does anyone out there NOT know I'm a Fag-Hag?!

Today is International Coming Out Day.  An inspirational way to support equality, raise awareness of the difficulties and celebrate the courage of LGBT people.  It was a simple effort to change my Facebook status, join the Facebook event and post a couple of updates on Twitter to show I was an ally (others chose gay/bisexual/lesbian/transgender as appropriate).

There couldn't have been better timing to see the cabaret group of the London Gay Men's Chorus perform "Far From Kansas - Oklahomo".  It sold out at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, and I understand why.  The story of 18 lonely, gay cowboys looking for love at "Dick's Halfway Inn" was brilliantly entertaining, with some deliciously wicked rewriting of some classic show-tunes.  Laugh-out-loud funny, I'd recommend checking out the video of "Brokeback meets Broadway in the heart of London".

Oh, and there was "Karaoke" in the bar afterwards - but with a lot of the LGMC who were in the audience taking part, there was no way I'd be embarrassing myself, with my distinct lack of tune.  However, my lovely friend Mikey got up to sing "Fame".  The party went on without me - well, I did want to get this blog out ;)

Can't wait to see Singderella this Christmas!

Cheers, KangaRue

Friday, 2 October 2009

Behind the - Dark Knight - times

OK, I'll admit I'm at least a year behind everyone raving about how great Heath Ledger is in "Dark Knight".  I've been a fan of Ledger's since "10 Things I Hate About You" (I'd obviously stopped watching Neighbours before he was in it).  And yes, it almost goes without saying that he blew my mind in "Brokeback Mountain".

But I had little expectation about his portrayal of the cartoon-esque Joker character in "Dark Knight".  I'm also a fan of Jack Nicholson, and I'll be the first to say that Nicholson absolutely rocked the role of The Joker ten years earlier. However, Ledger freakin' kicked arse in "Dark Knight", his presence completely blew me away.

Morgan Freeman is absolutely gorgeous as Lucius as is Michael Caine.  But it is Lucius' quote that sums up the movie for me:

"Let me get this straight:  you think that your client – one of the wealthiest most powerful men in the world – is secretly a vigilante who spends his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands… and your plan is to blackmail this person.  Good luck."

Heath Ledger's untimely death is a loss, as is the demise of too many people who come to an untimely end due to mental health issues.  His ability and charisma should be an inspiration to others.  Rest In Peace Heath.


Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Canary Wharf, blinkers on - will anyone discover my BookCrossing?!

Ooh, how exciting!  After a ridiculously long day at work, pain shooting through my back, I got a total blast out of doing my first BookCrossing wild release.

I've known about BookCrossing for years, but was finally inspired to get involved after reading one of Tattooed Mummy's tweets.  The idea behind BookCrossing, is you set books free to have adventures of their own, it's earth-friendly, allows a unique way to share books and clear shelves.  Released books have a code that finders can enter on the web so its journey can be tracked.

So, I dug out my copy of "He's Just Not That Into You" by Greg Behrendt & Liz Tuccillo, the same writers that bought us THAT scene in Sex and City, which was a complete eye opener to me!  Amusing, provocative and occasional just a little bit painful (when you see yourself reflected in the characters), it helped me to realise not to waste my time on men who aren't worth it - leaving me open to the possibility of meeting a good one... enter BoyWonder!

Canary Wharf seemed the perfect place as it's filled with lots of great single girls (I know a lot of them, and I was one of them!) who have dated lots of really crappy men.  So platform level on the Jubilee line, I left the book at the bottom of the escalators.  Before my train arrived I surreptitiously watched loads of people pass it by, so I'm wondering if anyone can get beyond the Canary Wharf blinkers to see it and pick it up. The gauntlet has been thrown! 

I've got a stack more books boxed in the attic, so will dig them out and look forward to having my books discovered, read, reviewed and hopefully travelling the world!

Cheers, KangaRue

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Anyone for Bugs?

Bugs Bunny that is...

Lulu and Hermes are posh cats - they get fresh food: rabbit four ways as well as fish and chicken.  Rabbit is not something I've ever eaten before, but I was inspired by Browner's Hare Three Ways.  So when doing my last order of rabbit I decided to order some for BoyWonder and me to eat for a change.

Bagging up rabbit offal surprisingly didn't turn me off cooking dinner!  I'll spare you photos of that. ;)

I'm happy with the results, though I forgot to include both our home-grown shallots, and the yorkshire pudding - well, it is a Sunday roast after all.  But the home-grown potatoes were delicious.  I wrapped the rabbit in prosciutto to keep it moist after stuffing with garlic and basil.  Next time I might try thyme.  Corgettes (zucchini) and carrots finished off the meal which was well complemented with a South African pinotage.  I won't be swapping beef or lamb for rabbit in a hurry, but I'd definitely try it again.  Would you be game?!

Cheers, KangaRue

Friday, 18 September 2009

Indulgence - what's your guilty pleasure?

It's funny what you miss when you're away from home... family and friends obviously, but the junk food that you can't get ahold of when you're living in a different country is somewhat more banal.  Besides a monthly desire for TimTams, what I really miss is Cheezels.  Sure, they're bad for me; have very little nutritional value; I've had better meals etc., etc... but they taste so good!
Reading Eatlikeagirl's blog on Guilty Pleasures I realise I'm not the only one.  So what's your guilty pleasure?  Perhaps BoyWonder & I will even host our own Guilty Pleasures dinner party with some of your suggestions.  Though I can pretty much guarantee there won't be any Cheezels left by then!

Cheers, KangaRue

PS. Thanks to Sue for utilising luggage space to supply me with both Cheezels & TimTams!

When Friends Do Awesome Things….

you should shout about it! Yay Jeffrey - here's hoping that your new role will lead to worldwide equality. Read the press release here: When Friends Do Awesome Things….

Cheers, KangaRue

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Friendship and Food

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have a few friends that, no matter how long it's been, when I do eventually see them again we click; Sue is one of those friends. We met years ago through work; and though our lives have taken us to different companies, countries and directions, when we get together we have such a great connection. We laugh, commiserate, share tales and generally have a whale of a time.

On this occasion Sue was in London for only 24 hours... so after meeting her at the airport we shared news of the last 7 or 8 years over a bottle of wine into the wee small hours - she also met BoyWonder for the first time! The following day was planned for glamorous swanning around...

We started the day trying on jewellery, discovering some lovely handmade pieces by designer Andrew Geoghegan and then headed over to the 5th Floor Bar at Harvey Nic's for Champagne, then downstairs for make-overs. After a spot of shopping for Sue's girls (OK, I bought some "snow" for Christmas too), we headed to lunch.

Le Café Anglais is an elegant restaurant, with magnificent floor-to-ceiling windows and tables that are a discreet distance apart - I'll be sending my boss here in the future - and good for our catch-up without annoying nearby diners. I'd missed our long weekend lunches in Sydney where a few of the girls would get together for discussions and debates over the broadest range of topics - there were some pretty eye-opening exchanges!

One thing I learnt from this lunch is not to expect to do all this catching-up and actually remember to take pictures of the dishes or even what they were called... I do however remember the hors d'oeuvre that was recommended to me by Essex Eating, the Parmesan custard with anchovy toast was out of this world! I must mention that our waitress was lovely and knowledgeable about the menu - we wanted a Pinot Noir, and rather than pointing us to the "safe" and higher priced Bourgogne she recommended the lovely Nittnaus from Austria, not something I would have felt confident choosing.

Thankfully I did take a photo of the weekday lunch menu so I was able to check back on most of the other dishes we had. Our starters of the creamiest & buttery Burrata was a great combination with the smoky aubergine. Both my plaice with brown butter and Sue's choice of lamb were lovely, though I'd be interested in sampling the more adventurous a'la carte menu, which is where we headed for dessert.

This proved to be an exceedingly tough choice. I pondered having the chocolate soufflé, but wanted something a little more refreshing. I can't remember what it was called (nor for the life of me what Sue had!) but I went for this spectacular concoction of vanilla mousse encased in raspberry sponge roulade. We each enjoyed dessert with a glass of Monbazillac.

A mad dash through the rain ended our day of glamour somewhat unceremoniously, as did the epic traffic to Heathrow. And while in the future I may forget exactly what we'd eaten, it's the experience with my friend that I'll remember.

Cheers, KangaRue

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Lots of projects on the go

Well, I've been working on this cork table for months, and though it's a little bit further on from this photo, it's still not finished!  A lot of the wine we've had recently has been screw-topped which is not helping...  Once the top is covered I'm also going to go around the edge too.

I've also been working on decoupaging a pair of shoes and a canvas... I'm collecting vintage pin-up and burlesque pics, and I'm cutting around them, but waiting until I'm sure I've enough before I start glueing.

The two pairs leg-warmers and snoods I made from a couple of old jumpers have added to my holiday deeds.  Oh, and I joined - so once I get the boxes down out of the attic I'll be leaving "deposits" all over town!

Cheers, KangaRue

Just a few of my favourite quotes

So many projects and so much to say (!) so will just start this off with a few of my favourite quotations:

"Learn how to live & you'll know how to die; learn how to die & you'll know how to live." ~ Morrie Schwartz

"Pain is weakness leaving the body!" ~ Roland, Outward Bound instructor

"The fact that men make the best cooks and hairdressers is a sign that women are meant to rule!" ~ Sidney Sheldon

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." ~ Albert Einstein

"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That's relativity." ~ Albert Einstein

"It's a fact that no woman has ever shot her husband while he was vaccuuming." ~ Kathy Lette

"Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much." ~ Oscar Wilde

I once heard that girls fall into one of four categories: shoes, handbags, underwear or bathroom products...  WHAT, you mean I have to choose?!!!