Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dingwalls celebrates 25 years of rock n roll!

I went along to Dingwalls on Sunday for an all day rock n roll party celebrating the 25th anniversary of the club.

Throughout the day and night, various djs (Mouse, Little Carl, Tall Mark and Jerry Chatabox) played jivers, boppers and strollers. Cheeky hep cat quartet, The Caezars, kicked off the live musical entertainment before headliners Big Sandy and his Fly Rite Boys took to the stage.

This Camden-based club is a London institution, and it showed, by the sheer amount of people who tuned out the celebrate at the Dingwalls 25th anniversary rock n roll dance. The place was packed!

The Caezars were bounding with energy - it's brilliant to see such a fun and charismatic British band, who are so young, take to the stage with so many well-established musical greats and wow audiences. I shall look forward to seeing them again at Viva Las Vegas next month!

Who doesn't love Big Sandy and his Fly Rite Boys? Certainly, everyone at Dingwalls on Sunday did, and this was reflected with a lot of audience interaction (and shot taking - did someone mention tequila?) throughout the show. Good to have 'em on UK shores again.

As with The Caezars, Big Sandy will also be playing at Viva Las Vegas!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring has sprung!

After a freezing cold winter, I am glad to say that it seems as thought London is over the chilly hurdle, and we are enjoying more sunshine and pleasant temperatures.

Walking through the streets near my house, I noticed that the trees are starting to blossom, and springtime favourite, daffodils, are popping up all over the place.

I was reading the other day, about three young children who were playing in the park and plucking the daffodils....until someone called the police on them for vandalising public property! There have been criticisms that this was too harsh an action, given that the kids were aged 4, 6 and 10 years old. However, it is said that they had picked around 70-80 flowers, and their parents (who were with them) failed to take responsibility by not teaching them that the flowers are there for everyone to enjoy. A word from the coppers most likely means that they will not do this again, and it prevented any arguments occurring with members of the public who may have advised the parents, or indeed, the kids directly. After all, would you approach them, knowing that you could face a hostile reception, or indeed, end up in a heated situation for daring to 'stick your nose in'?

Imagine, if everyone plucked the flowers planted for the community to enjoy, I wouldn't have been able to take these pictures...

I love this time of year, the lead-up to Summer, when you can shed the multiple layers of clothing that weigh you down and enjoy the longer, brighter days. Oh! Talking of longer days, don't forget to put your clocks forward for daylight savings time on 27th March 2011. Likewise, talking of daffodils, don't forget Mother's Day is on Sunday 3rd April 2011.

So look around you, enjoy the flourishes of Spring....and pack away that winter coat!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pancake Day!

Today is Shrove Tuesday, or as it is more commonly known...PANCAKE DAY!

What a flippin' brilliant custom (pun intended...), having a day dedicated to the consumption of pancakes! Ok, so there is some tradition behind this, as Shrove Tuesday actually marks the day before lent starts (Ash Wednesday), which varies from year to year, depending on where Easter falls in the calendar - and what better way to start 40 days of resisting temptation, then to use up the produce in your fridge and stuff yourself with rich, stodgy food made of dairy, sugar and eggs?

Whether or not you participate in lent, I expect that most people in the UK participate in scoffing pancakes on this festive day. Now whilst the English pancake tends to be more of the crepe variety, as opposed to the thicker, fluffier Scotch and American kind, I was not really in the mood for this today. In fact, the standard crepes with lemon and sugar are not really my thing in general.

When it comes to crepes I prefer them savoury. In France, when you buy crepes they are always perfectly crispy and stuffed with cheese or ham (there is also a great crepe cart in San Francisco called Crepes A Go Go which is the perfect late-night snack destination and has the crispiness down to a tee). But for some reason, all the other crepes I have tried, have mostly been of a more rubbery consistency.

In Hungary, one of my favourite dishes is hortobágyi palacsinta, which is made by stuffing savoury pancakes with stewed minced meat, rolling them up, covering them in a paprika sauce, and baking them. These are topped with sour cream and are absolutely delicious.

But anyway, in the end I decided to make chocolate pancakes this afternoon. I made them quite small-ish and instead of being flat (as a pancake!) they were a little thicker and fluffier.

Putting together the ingredients was easy, although perhaps a little more time consuming than the average crepe, as it required whisking egg whites into a meringue and folding them into the other ingredients, which included ricotta cheese, making it quite a thick mixture to blend together.

Well, I have to say - they came out perfect! Sooo yummy, and although they were chocolate pancakes, there was not much sugar in them, so they were not too sweet.

The original recipe called for the addition of a chocolate sauce and chocolate ice cream, but I simply topped them with a little icing sugar and freshly whipped cream. Divine.

There are lots of ways you could add to this recipe, for example, I thought it might be nice to add in some fresh blueberries or raspberries next time. You could even throw some chocolate chunks into the batter....

Do you have any yummy pancake recipes to share?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cutting a rug at Porchester Hall

Porchester Hall opened its doors to the London Swing Dance Society on Sunday night, where they hosted The Rug Cutters' Ball.

This beautiful venue, which dates back to 1929 was the perfect choice for a night of charleston, jazz and glamour. Complete with a very spacious sprung dance floor and chandeliers, it was a treat to have the opportunity to dance in this ballroom.

I had a fun time, although, unfortunately something about the night still just didn't feel right. I felt like the atmosphere was slightly flat - perhaps because it was a Sunday night and attendance was a bit lower than I expected, maybe the music didn't excite me enough, or was it just because not everyone made an effort to dress up smart? I don't know, there was just a certain je ne sais quoi that was lacking for me.

That said, I still stayed right until the end at midnight (when I turned into a pumpkin), enjoyed my dances and had a good time socialising. There were a few Charleston performances by dance troupe, The Bee's Knees as well as dance lessons (which I can't comment on, as I didn't check them out) and a couple of competitions throughout the night.

I had some good laughs, one being when trying to have a photo taken with a couple of friends and a completely oblivious guy persistently wondered in front of the camera, ruining our picture-taking attempts! Never has there been such a palaver when trying to take a simple snapshot!

I actually liked the fact that the event was held on a Sunday night, as there's not always that much happening on Sundays, especially with a central location that's easy to get to and get home from. However, I think that it would be fantastic, in the future, to hold a dance at Porchester Hall on a Friday or Saturday night - with an enforced dress code!!! - when people didn't have to worry about getting up for work the next morning and hadn't worn themselves out on the previous nights!

As the online booking had closed by the time I tried to purchase my ticket on Friday afternoon, it was £15 on the door, which I suppose was reflective of the grandness of the venue....but, to me it was a bit too expensive, considering that there was no live music. For this one-off event, I didn't mind putting my hand in my pocket (and I guess I should have booked online sooner, when the tickets were £12) but I think that in future, 15 squids needs to procure me a band...

All-in-all it was fun times, but if there's a next time, it needs a little tweaking to make it more jumpin'!