Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Stoked on bacon

I love sunny Sunday adventuring.  Last weekend's Sunday adventure was based around a photo that a friend of mine posted the previous afternoon - of bacon peanut brittle.  Once I got the idea of this snack into my head, I knew I had to try it....

We actually managed to get up and out the door at a decent hour, for once, and headed across town for a day filled with lots of walking around Stoke Newington.  The sun was out, and it was not too cold, so we were finally able to abandon our winter coats for a few hours!   In retrospect, this was probably not my wisest move, as by the time we got home, I was feeling rather chilly!  I think I'm just going to have to face the fact that London is still in the midst of winter.  Sigh.

Over in Dalston, Rita's Bar and Dining are currently running the kitchen at Birthdays, and that's where we headed for the bacon brittle.  It's a modern, minimalist venue, which really reminds me of the types of brunch places you would find in the Dog Patch area of San Francisco, or even Portland.  We only stayed for long enough to grab our sustenance for the day (which was long enough to have a little smooch and dance to Howlin' Wolf...and probably put everyone off their fried chicken and waffles) and spent the rest of the day trying not to break our teeth on said sustenance.

These little crunchy pieces of sweet and salty, caramely, bacony, peanut deliciousness had hints of rosemary and sesame, and I liked them a lot.  That said, I was constantly cautious as although they were good, they were not good enough to sacrifice a tooth for.

With snacks in hand (and mouth) we walked over to Church Street, which is one of the main streets in Stoke Newington, lined with cafes, pubs, vintage shops, boutiques and lots of beautiful architecture. 

After you have made your way down the long winding street, you reach Clissold Park.  We had a wander around....*quack, quack*...

Loverboy made friends with this little fellow....

On our way back, we had a little look around Abney Park Cemetery Trust, which was full of really beautiful and ornate headstones - works of art in themselves - and unruly foliage. 

A lovely afternoon spent with my sweetheart, exploring a part of town that I rarely venture to, but really should visit more often.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

From Palm trees & Pineapples to PJs & Pancakes

Boo it's cold and a little bit snowy again.  Hard to believe that on Saturday I was transported to a Tiki oasis, complete with palm trees and pineapples (even if they were made of paper)....and today, it's back to wearing boots and my furry hat.  I'm definitely ready for Spring to...spring.

But back to Saturday...loverboy and I went along to a Hawaiian themed birthday party, with live music from the Union Canal String Band (featuring the birthday boy on bass!) and the Piccadilly Bullfrogs.  DJs The Big Kahuna and Moose also kept everyone dancing throughout the evening.

It was the first time that I have had the chance to see the Union Canal String Band, and I must say, I really enjoyed them!  As the name suggests, the band features all string instruments, and their style is very country bluegrass, with a bit of a rockabilly edge.

A little dancing, a little chatting, good friends, a hint of Hawaii and hey presto - a super fun Saturday night!

Now, you may be aware that this week plays host to not one, but TWO fun annual festivities, which are both firmly marked on my calendar.  Valentine's Day is approaching this Thursday, but first things first, today is Pancake Day (or if we're going to be technical, 'Shrove Tuesday').  In honor of both, I got a head start on the festivities and lovingly made a pancake brunch on Sunday.

I opted for American-style pancakes, and made two kinds: savoury, with cheddar cheese and spring onions, and sweet with blueberries and bananas.  Yummmmmerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrssssss!

I felt like a domestic goddess, taking to the frying pan whilst still in my pjs, and whipping up a batch of warm, fluffy pancakes, as sustenance for an otherwise lazy day.

Now whilst this yummy turn of events does not necessarily assist me on my pre-Viva Las Vegas healthy diet, that does not mean that I shall be refraining from pancakes today.  After all today is pancake day - so it would be rude not to partake.

Tonight's cakes du pan will be more of the traditional English style, i.e. crêpes.  Again, we will go for a mix of savoury, with ricotta and spinach, and some sweet, with apricot jam.

Funnily enough (to me), it appears that one of my most read blog posts, which has had a resurgence in the past couple of weeks (according to my stats), is one that I wrote for Pancake Day 2011...very random that out of all my posts, this one seems to get read the most, but reminds me that I must revisit those chocolate pancakes....

Happy flipping!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hula Hot Club Boogie!

After months of anticipation, January finally heralded the night I've been waiting impatiently for - Hula Boogie's 10th anniversary celebration!  Boy was it worth waiting for!!!

With a full house and enough Jive bars to feed an army, Miss Aloha was ready to host the best party in town - with Ray Collins' Hot-Club, Big Jay McNeely and Sister Cookie taking to the stage...

Mama Aloha handing out the Jive bars!

Photo by Tony Nylons

Rev Boogie and Aaron looking dapper!

Red hair, red lips!
 A full house!

All dolled up for the night!

It's taken me a couple of weeks to write this post, as frankly, I just don't know where to begin!  The atmosphere was electric, and the opportunity to see such talented musicians all on one bill in such an intimate venue, was just awesome.

The lovely Miss Aloha!

Ray Collins' Hot-Club played two sets, with house DJ the Reverend Boogie along with Pat da Kat spinning tracks in between.  During the first set, the legend that is Big Jay McNeely parted the crowd and took to the stage, proving that he is very much the King of the honking sax!  The crowd went wild, and he played a few of his songs, including the classic Nervous Man Nervous, which has been playing in my head ever since that night...

To put things in perspective, Big Jay is EIGHTY-FIVE years old!!!  If you consider that he has been making music since the 1940s, and is still globe-trotting, showcasing his rhythm and blues talent to audiences in nightclubs across the world (he went on to play Paris following this gig) - the man is a total superstar, and I hope that I still have as much oomph as him when I'm an octogenarian!

During the second set, London's very own Sister Cookie joined the band - and owned the crowd.  The moment that she opened her mouth and the first note came out, you could feel the whole audience take a step back with a deep intake of breath - this lady has a powerful, soulful voice, and she knows how to use it!  It was almost impossible not to exclaim 'Sing it girl!  YEAH!' which I'm sure I heard coming from loverboy's direction - and yes this does sound better when pronounced with an American accent...

Sister Cookie is definitely one to watch, and I shall look forward to seeing her at more gigs in the future.

Of course, Ray Collins' Hot-Club are one of the best live bands around, and whilst I initially felt a little sad that there was no space to dance (because their music is just so damn fun to dance to), I actually really enjoyed being right up front, singing along, and watching them do their thing, as they have such a brilliant and infectious energy.  Apart from being top class musicians, they are also very entertaining to watch, and clearly love performing.  How many members of Ray Collins' Hot-Club can you squeeze onto South London Pacific's tiny stage, I hear you ask?  All of them!!!!!

The last time I saw them play was back in 2010 at the Verdi Club in San Francisco - luckily, I won't have to wait that long to see them again, as it has been announced that they will be playing the Rhythm Riot this year!  You can also catch them at Hep Cat's Holiday next month.

This was, without a doubt, the best night out that I've had this year, so far - happy birthday Hula Boogie, and here's to many more!!!!

Check out Hula Boogie's 9th birthday celebration which featured another excellent German band...