Monday, 29 September 2014

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red
This is a really difficult post to write for a number of reasons. So you will have to stick with me whilst I work my way through it. 

The intention of writing this post is not to make you sad but my hope is to remind you that life can change very quickly. 

It is important to not become complacent of this fact and make the most of every opportunity you are given and love and forgive the people around you. 

This is a very different post from my normal ones, I will share some things with you that you may not want to think about. So if you don't want to stick around for it I understand. I won't judge you, you can go away and come back when there will be a happy post that will follow this.   

September marks a very sad time for our family. It is the month in which we lost our dad to brain cancer. As this is a space that I share my life with you all, it would seem wrong to skate over this part of my life and not share it with you. 

This year as a family we decided to do something different on the 16th of September, to remember my dad. Our plan was to go and visit the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red exhibition at the Tower of London. 

As a foodie family unsurprisingly our morning started at the Breakfast Club at London Bridge.  

Breakfast Club
The Breakfast Club
The Breakfast Club
For drinks we opted for two smoothies. Slow Boy - apple, carrot, orange & ginger (£4.20).

Virgin Apple Mojito - pressed apple, mint and lime (£4.30). The Mojito is so wonderfully refreshing and a definite favourite. 
The Breakfast Club
The Breakfast Club
My dad used to enjoy a lovely cooked breakfast when he got the opportunity. So my choice was easy, I opt for the "The All American" breakfast - Pancakes, eggs, sausage, home-style fried potatoes, streaky bacon and maple syrup (£10.50).
The Breakfast Club
After breakfast we wandered along the Thames enjoying the fresh air and walking off our rather large breakfast. Tower Bridge is an iconic monument of London that I will never get fed up of seeing. 
Tower Bridge
The bridge is the guardian over the water, raising and lowering to allow ships in and out of the city.  
Tower Bridge
The architecture is so very beautiful. 
Tower Bridge

I don't know about you, but when I was a child probably around eleven or twelve I became aware that people don't live forever. It was a realisation at the time that greatly disturbed me, it was something as a child I could not imagine and did not want to comprehend. I remember my mum telling me that this wasn't something I would need to worry about for a very long time, drawing reference to my Grandmother who at the time was in her seventies fit and healthy.

I remember the months in which my dad became unwell like they were yesterday, it was June not long after I had celebrated a milestone Birthday. The year became memorable for all the wrong reasons. 
Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red
Having been previously fit and healthy (having the constitution of a cast iron ox), illness came suddenly to my dad and within three months of diagnosis he sadly went from a fit independent adult, to one that couldn't walk, feed himself or care for himself any more. I cannot describe those months, they were dark and horrendous, time went very slowly and watching the person that you love die in front of your eyes is truly awful. It changes you in a way I am not sure you recover from. 

Within three months of diagnosis my dad sadly lost his battle to brain cancer (Central Nervous System Lymphoma) on September 16th 2010. 
Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red
They were the very worst days of my life and yet I would live them all again, as it would mean I would have time with my dad again. Time. We spend vast amounts of time wishing it away but when someone puts limitations on it you wish you could have it forever. One second, a minute, an hour, a day, a week, a fortnight, a month, a year. Oh what I wouldn't give. 
Tower of London
I am not standing in judgement here I too used to get caught up in the moment, worrying about things that really in a couple of hours, weeks or even a year wouldn't matter. I still do, it is very easy to do and forget about what life is really all about. 
Tower of London
The exhibition was the perfect place for quiet reflection and remembering my dad. The exhibition is amazingly poignant.
Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

"It's difficult to understand the sum of a persons life... Some people would tell you it's measured by the ones left behind, some believe it can be measured in faith, some say by love, other folks say life has no meaning at all... Me, I believe you measure yourself by the people who measure themselves by you..." - The Bucket List (2007 Rob Reiner).

As my father's daughter I certainly measure myself by my dad, who was a wonderful unassuming man who if I can ever be half the person he was I will have done very well. 

 photo foodieforce_32.jpg

Friday, 26 September 2014

Cha Cha Moon Restaurant

Cha Cha Moon
Foodies love nothing more than trying new restaurants and especially when it involves meeting other Bloggers, who share their food passions.

So when Cha Cha Moon invited me to try out their new menu, I was excited to see what they had created. 

Based just off of Carnaby Street in Ganton Street LondonCha Cha Moon is hidden behind two giant red wooden doors.

Carnaby Street
The restaurant is authentic in design with bamboo ceiling, wooden benches and mood lighting. 

Cha Cha Moon
We were greeted by the lovely Sebastian who briefly explains some of the history of Cha Cha Moon. Originally developed by renowned restaurateur Alan Yau, the creator of Wagamama and Hakkasan, Cha Cha Moon offers authentic Chinese cuisine. 

Now some of you may well remember how much I love Hakkasan, having visited their restaurants in Abu Dhabi and Las Vegas. If you haven't read the post you can have a look here. Based on this visit I had high expectations for Cha Cha Moon. 

Having just run from work and being rather hot and bothered, I start with a cold non-alcoholic cocktail, "Guava Collins"(£4.50), made with Guava, coconut and Lime. It was wonderfully refreshing.  
Cocktails
The restaurant as part of their new menu, have introduced fourteen new dishes as well as three new juices to their South East Asian menu. Looking at the menu we are all in for a treat.

We kick the tasting off with Thai Crunch Salad(£8.50).
The salad has the perfect combination of crispy rice sticks and spice. The crunchy vegetables with the Thai lime and peanut dressing are so good. The addition of chicken makes this a mighty salad. 

It would be a perfect accompaniment to share with other dishes. I am not sure I would eat this as a main though.  

Next up is the Malaysian Chicken Satay (£7.25).
Malaysian Chicken Satay
Charcoal smoked chicken skewers served with authentic Malaysian satay sauce. The chicken on its own is delicious but mixed with the made in house sauce a smoky and wonderfully spicy peanut taste. This is the perfect starter to share or greedily eat all by yourself.  
  
In between courses we have a little pit stop break in which we busily talk about food. It is lovely to sit with other food bloggers who love their food and sharing their foodie passions as much as I do. 

All this talking is making me thirsty the next cocktail I opt for a Wen Wen (£6.50). 
Wen Wen cocktail
Mixed with peach, raspberry and Vodka this was a highlight of all the drinks. It combines two fruits I love and is wonderfully sweet and refreshing.

Next up on the menu is Malaysian Laksa (£8.50). 
Laksa
For those of you who crave the comfort of a steaming bowl of noodle soup, this dish will most certainly hit the spot. A popular spicy noodle soup from Peranakan culture. Perfect as the weather closes in and London gets colder. 

The Laksa for me was by far the highlight of the evening. The broth was so creamy with the coconut milk and just the right balance of lemongrass and chilli curry paste. Perfect. 

Next up Kung Pao Chicken
Kung Pao Chicken
Kung Pao chicken is a favourite of mine, I love the mix of sweet and sour flavours. This dish however did not match up, I have definitely had better. It could be that this dish followed the Laksa which had such strong seasoning that it knocked the flavours of this dish off.  

Next up was something that I had been looking forward to all night, Singapore Chilli Crab (£25) served with steamed buns. Served in a huge wok, the whole large mud crab takes centre stage. 
Singapore Chilli Crab
The sweet shallot, fiery ginger and sweet chilli sauce was divine. 
Singapore Chilli Crab
There is something immensely satisfying using crab crackers and devouring the meat inside.  

The sauce was perfect for dipping the sweet steamed buns in. This meal is perfect for sharing and was so delicious and satisfying. 
Steamed buns
At this point I am absolutely full, the highlights of the new menu definitely for me has to be the Laksa and Singapore Chilli Crab.  

Desserts consisted of Mango Pudding and Dadar Gulung. 
Mango Pudding
The sweet grated coconut in the pancakes was a hit for me. I am not a great fan of mango but someone who likes this would love the mango pudding which had a similar consistency to panna cotta.
Dadar Gulung
I had a wonderful meal and Cha Cha Moon is definitely now firmly on my restaurant list. If you are looking for an authentic South East Asian restaurant with a modern twist then this has to be it. 

Head chef, Le Kim Choong has worked his wonder here and with portion sizes slightly bigger than you would expect, definitely go hungry.  

What is your favourite Chinese dish?

15 -21 Ganton Street,
London,
W1F 9BN

Tel: 020 7297 9800

www.chachamoon.com

I was kindly a guest of Cha Cha Moon, however, this in no way affected my review of the restaurant which had wonderful South East Asian food. 

 photo foodieforce_32.jpg

Monday, 22 September 2014

Dulwich Village

Dulwich Park
I love the hustle and bustle of London, but every now and then I like some peace and quite. When I am in this mood, I love to visit some of London's best parks. London has some fabulous parks so living here we are spoilt for choice:

Hyde Park
Richmond Park
Dulwich Park is a favourite local park. The park is set in beautiful Dulwich Village. The village houses the Dulwich Picture Gallery and is a foodies paradise so I thought I would share some highlights with you. 

Dulwich Village If you are looking for cake and tea I have two suggestions:

1. Gail's Artisan Bakery: Is perfect for morning brunch on a weekend or cake and tea. They serve huge mugs of coffee too. 
Gail's Artisan Bakery
Gail's Artisan Bakery
Gail's Artisan Bakery
Gail's Artisan Bakery
Gail's Artisan Bakery
2. Romeo Jones: A quaint coffee shop with home-made cakes. 
Romeo Jones
Romeo Jones
Romeo Jones
They also have a lovely shop selling beautiful kitchen utensils and yummy Deli food produce. 
Romeo Jones
Romeo Jones
Romeo Jones
Romeo Jones
Romeo Jones
After a wonderful foodie feast I love nothing more than walking it off at Dulwich Park.
Dulwich Park
Dulwich Park
Dulwich Park
Dulwich Park
Dulwich Park
What is your favourite activity to escape? How do you relax?


 photo foodieforce_32.jpg