Tuesday, February 27, 2007
This morning I sat on the Tube beside a man whose breath whistled through his nose. He wasn't old, and he was married. The poor wife. I felt like saying, "Stop whistling."
Then on the Tube on the way home I overheard two girls talking. It was quite enlightening. One of them talked about how her mind wanders when she interviews people...
Since yesterday I have probably twisted my right ankle about 6 times - in both directions. The real sprain came tonight as I was descending some steps, pointing my toes straight forward, and my ankle went again, bigtime.
Anyway. It's been hurting more and more as the evening wears on. At least I could walk tiptoe earlier, but now I can only hop...
Do I have to go to the doctor? I don't think I should go to work tomorrow...
Ow ow ow...hurts
Reminder to self: don't blog during PMS.
I've got something that will cheer things up. Yep, it's not all Mozart and Beethoven around here. Crank up the volume and have a listen to Muse. I love what they do with sound, it's often spine-tingling.
Take a Bow
(what got me into them in the first place)
Sing for Absolution
You can also see the video on YouTube, if you like.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
This morning I have been watching New York City (Les Halles) chef Anthony Bourdain. He is right out of a page from the beatnik biker 1960s. Tall, tanned, lanky, weathered, curly grey hair, an earring, black leather jacket, and he smokes.
He's on this gastronomic world tour. This weekend I saw him in St Petersburg, Russia, eating smoked dried fish, coulibiac, caviar, lots of vodka with radishes, washed down with cucumber juice...
Then Oaxaca, MEXICO. I wanted to EAT ALL THE FOOD (except for the toasted crickets, ant eggs and fried worms). All sorts of mole' sauces, fresh pico de gallo, chorizo, soups, ices, enchiladas...OK, all these things in this list don't look outsdanding, but with Mexican food, it's the preparation and the resulting flavour explosion that matters. When I tell you what they put in the mole sauce: charred avocado leaf, roasted chipotle peppers, chocolate, salt, other spices...cooked up with turkey or goat...to see these things being prepared in the outdoor kitchens, everything with fresh hot tortillas...I just can't convey it here.
Last weekend I saw him in Thailand and Vietnam. I've already raved about the Hairy Bikers cooking in SE Asia, so I won't repeat myself here. Yes, of course, they all ran into unwelcome surprises, such as the Bikers eating dog when they thought it was duck, and Bourdain feeling a bit off after eating the busiest birds' nest soup you ever saw (not as basic as the Chinese one)
And right now he is in a red 1968 Mustang convertible, leather jacket, sunshades, cigarette - saying that is the car he wants to die in, let it be his funeral pyre...
Speaking of food, I have a few recipes that it would be fun to share with you. First up, if I can find the crinkled piece of paper I wrote it on, I will give you a Butter Tart recipe from Canada.
BUTTER TARTS - very addictive.
For 12 Tarts:
1/2 cup seedless raisins
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup golden corn syrup (or in UK, golden syrup)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
Heat oven to 450 degrees F (~ 230 degrees C). Pour boiling water on raisins to cover completely. Let stand about 5 minutes. Drain but do not dry. Mix raisins (still warm) with butter, sugar, salt and syrup. Stir to dissolve sugar and melt butter. Add slightly beaten egg and vanilla. Fill tarts. (Add a pecan on top of each tart?)
Bake in very hot oven for 15-20 minutes - filling should still be bubbling, but lightly browned on top. Don't overbake or filling will be too thick.
Remove tarts from oven. Loosen edges of pastry with the point of a knife. Let tarts remain in pans for about 10 minutes to give them a chance to set, then remove them from pans to cool completely on cake rack.
(Olivia adds: Enjoy eating them, then put them away so you don't eat them all in one go! Seriously, my aunt baked them for my cousin's baby shower, and I just kept coming back for "another one...and another one....oh, and one more....ok, this is the last one...")
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
First I have to get an old Tag out of the way, from Moody Minstrel:
What does your desktop look like?
Bernini's cast bronze baldacchino in St Peter's Basilica. Personal holiday pics are my favourite wallpaper.
As you can see, I also have Google sidebar.
I tag all of you who blog!
I have been:
Temping at a law firm aaallll the way out in Putney. It takes an hour at the least, assuming there are no delays on the Tube and there is enough room to get on to the first train that pulls in. It is only 3 stops away from Wimbledon. The work is easy, thankfully, so the pay is much lower than I got in the City. Jeans are de rigeur, and they seem to waltz in whenever they like - unlike the City, where I was the last to arrive at 9.30, here I was just right. The guy who sits next to me came in at nearly 10 and no one batted an eyelid...
There is a nice little cafe in Wandsworth Park that I've been going to across from the office. Today I bumped into two of the girls from the next floor down and sat with them for lunch. At one point they were talking about how it was when they first started there, and how much younger the new employees are - you know how it is, when older people talk about "the youngsters"...
I was dismayed and threw out the challenge, "How old do you think I am?
"Twenty three," spoken with confidence.
I shook my head.
She gave a look of surprise. "Twenty five."
I shook my head again.
Eyes widened and she grudgingly ventured, "Twenty seven?"
A third shake of the head.
Throwing all caution to the wind, she exclaimed, "Thirty?!?!?"
Yep, in a few weeks I will be...
Same age as they are!
I mean, really, if a guy my age thinks I'm just out of college, he is not going to want to go out with me, is he? I am tired of taking it as a compliment...when I'm 50, fine, but here I am trying to make my way in the world. I have often said I am about 10 years behind my peers career- and relationship-wise. So watch out, in a few years, I might finally get my dream job and meet the man of my dreams, and have kids after 40. *sigh*
A few people here and on my other blog have asked if I saw any celebs at Home House on Sunday - well, if I had, I would definitely have aired it!
I've seen a couple of familiar faces right here in St John's Wood. There is a guy who looks a bit like Bill Nighy, but isn't - he was ahead of me in the queue at the bank round the corner, opening a new account.
Then tonight as I left my local Tesco, Don Warrington went in, but I've seen him before.
Of course, everyone knows that Sir Paul McCartney lives here - well, he can't stray far from Abbey Road studios, can he? Joining him are Noel and Liam Gallagher. I hear Kate Moss has been spotted, and if you were to go to the local kosher cafe round the corner, you are likely to see George Michael, Minnie Driver, Roman Abramovich, or Sir Paul.
They are all next door to their fellow slebs, the Primrose Hill set, a short walk away through Regent's Park: Jude Law, Jamie Oliver, Sienna Miller (who has now moved to this side), Jonny Lee Miller, Ewan McGregor...
Off to bed for me now
Sunday, February 18, 2007
I went to Sunday luncheon at Home House with a pleasant group of people. Yes, Home House, where the monied let down their hair and celebs rub elbows with royalty. (What you wouldn't guess is that it is only a few years old.)
I was invited by a pleasant young lady I met a few months ago at a political Party, um, party, and of a ruling family. It turns out she is a member of my old place, the Arts Club! So I know more than enough people now to be a guest there.
The guests were all from various mideastern countries (Ms R and Mr F from Kuwait, twins from the Emirates, a pair of French-Lebanese cousins) and one Indian, and all educated in Europe, the UK or the US, and mostly quite beautiful. So many nice teeth. All of us have been mistaken for something else. The twins look Greek. Ms R has been mistaken for Indian. I've been Indian, Lebanese, Italian, Egyptian, Greek...Well, I do have two, maybe three, of those.
The champagne flowed first in the bar, after which we moved upstairs to the dining room. Ms R had assigned our seating, which I liked because we alternated boy and girl. For starters, I chose a delicate crab spring roll on a fresh mango salsa. Following this I enjoyed grilled seabass on celeriac. Ms R had recommended the roast beef, but as I had some yesterday and it gave me grief, I passed. She did, however, give me her Yorkshire pudding because I like it and she doesn't. There is always room for dessert, so I had pear and almond tarte with berry coulis and cream, and a very delightfully mild and aromatic Earl Grey tea.
The big serious topic was racism in East versus West. The fact that one guy was a lawyer, and there were 8 people to contribute their thoughts, meant that it turned into a long discussion. We joked that next time we meet up, we will discuss ID cards.
Although everyone had impeccable table manners, for some reason they referred to me on a few protocol questions. I only dug my hole deeper by ordering Earl Grey, and then Mr F said that was just what is supposed to be drunk in the afternoon, isn't it? (I hadn't thought of it at all.)
I have also been encouraged to brush up on my Greek and Icelandic for next time. Ha.Ha.Ha...
Four and a half hours at lunch in good company. That is the best kind of Sunday.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Speaking of shots, I had one in the middle with everyone else; I couldn't choose what, so I told Amy to surprise me. I had a chili lemongrass martini, and...something else. Possibly an Oriental Garden martini...We all only had about 2 or 3 drinks each and went home after 10pm to have cake and tea, after which Diva was back to normal. ;)
Now on to more drinkies. I went to Detroit bar in Covent Garden with my friend Neil to scout it out for my birthday. They have a wonderful array of cocktails, in fact they were serving cocktails in London before they were cool.
Before 7pm we had 2 for £7. I had a carribean (coconut rum, cinnamon liqueur, banana syrup, cream) and Neil had a sing song (vodka, mango juice, lemon juice, sugar syrup). They do really yummy little spring rolls, and the olives are nice too. Second round, he had a paquita (tequila, passion fruit, lime juice, elderflower cordial, sugar syrup) and I had a rose petal martini (gin, rose vodka, lychee juice, topped with a red petal). It was deeeeeeelish. It seems I usually get most excited by floral drinks. And we then had some scampi with lemon mayo.
As to the setting itself, it's very underground, as though in a space age cave with large alcoves and intimate nooks. The lighting was low and the music was chilled, and not once did we have to raise our voices to be heard. I know there was more to be found. Apparently there is a restaurant there as well, somewhere in the labyrinth...!
Alright my lovelies. My head is telling me that I did indeed drink gin (although G&T doesn't do this!), so I am off to bed with a glass of water. Not all at the same time, of course.
(P.S. That is a photo of my rose martini. I held the candle to the stem to light the rim. Cool eh?)
For those of you who can't see Flickr pics, I hope Webshots works.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Selfridges no longer stocks Pierre Marcolini, which really is one of the best in Europe. Marcolini is Belgian and holds the official title of chocolatier with boutiques in Brussels, Paris, and Tokyo, but is based in London. Possibly some of you remember me going on about it last year. Actually, I can date the fall-off in chocolate consumption from then. If I ever get around to visiting the boutique on Kensington Church Street...
There is Rococo on Marylebone High Street, but you can find various selections of their chocolates at a few London stores now, such as Liberty and Waitrose. Valrhona is another good brand. I prefer it to Green & Black's, but it's not as widespread. I have found Valrhona at Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges, Waitrose, and even spotted some at our local Tesco today. Carte d'Or is also supposed to be good, but I haven't tried it yet even though I can find it at Waitrose too. I haven't looked at the chocolates at Harvey Nichols or Harrods 101 because I get carried away with other foods there!
Green & Black's Maya Gold versus Dove Organic Citrus Spice
1) 55% cocoa solids
2) bittersweet chocolate
3) self distributed brand from London
4) made in Italy
5) wrapped in gold foil
1) 61% cacao
2) semisweet chocolate
3) distributed by Masterfoods USA, a division of Mars, Inc
4) made in Italy
5) wrapped in gold foil
Dove smells like a spice market, giving an idea of cinammon, some clove, maybe even nutmeg. On the tongue it is silky smooth, round-edged, fast-melting, slightly bitter with no tartness, and has a delayed zingy bitterness with an exciting chili-like tang.
G&B gives an immediate pleasant orange bouquet, but then feels more gooey, is more overwhelmingly bitter, has a rough texture, and leaves a bitter aftertaste and heavy coating on the tongue.
If only we could get Dove in the UK...
Monday, February 12, 2007
As usual, we laughed more than anyone in a 5-mile radius. Laughter IS the best medicine :) It is impossible to hang out with that lot and keep a straight face. I love 'em to bits.
I didn't take any pictures because I didn't take my camera, and I didn't take my camera because I knew Diva would want to exercise her brand new camera, but once she puts up one of her outstanding photo shows, I will link to it.
And then this morning I woke up to this:
A box of exciting goodies from Nikki all the way on the other side of the world!
It was a bright spot in my rainy day. I got:
Some dainty green earrings which make me feel thirsty because they look like grapes. A maze puzzle on a valentine heart. A smooth bar of the very excellent Dove orange spice dark chocolate. A pouch of 3 delicious Burt's Bees tinted/shimmering lip balms. Mmmmm, mintyyyyyy.
Oh, and a card entitled: Red Rover, Red Rover, send cute, financially stable, emotionally mature men right over!
(Ain't that the truth.)
Friday, February 09, 2007
The transport system was paralysed: crews worked overnight to clear the snow off the rails because tube trains won't run if they cannot make contact with the electricity, but still many tubes struggled to pull out.
London lost £100million yesterday in business owing to the snow and people not being able to get in to work.
They stayed home and spent the day sending photos in to the news to be shown during the weather bulletins. There were photos of snowmen, snow robots, snow dogs, snow bears. Who knew that people who rarely see the stuff could get so creative with it?
It wasn't that cold yesterday, so even though the snow stayed in most areas, I could have gone out without being so muffled up. The ground became wet overnight, and today it's so much colder. My toes aren't warm at all.
We talk about global warming and how we will all melt, but I am watching a program about the Supervolcano, in this instance at Yellowstone. I have blogged about this before, right here.
Planet earth is due a major eruption. If it happens, the world will plunge into a mini Ice Age.
You can't win either way.
Anyway, I'm off out of town this weekend for Diva's b-day party and not looking forward to wearing party clothes in this weather...It's more acceptable to go to a dinner in Canada wearing a polar neck, than to go to a club in the UK.
P.S. If anyone can improve on that grammatically lame last sentence, please do.
P.S.2 Sorry to say, I have yet another headache today.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
In Orangeville last month
Today, before dinner, I was looking through some job listings at one of those all-purpose community sites. Then I found myself looking at the personals. Quite a few looked interesting and I was tempted to answer. But then I had dinner, and when I came back, they all looked awful.
I was supposed to go out with someone this week, but haven't heard from him.
Continuing the moodiness, I have been very untalkative for the past couple of weeks.
I think my landlord and landlady (henceforth Mr and Mrs L, as I am fed up of typing their titles) have picked up on that, for they haven't asked me too many questions about anything.
Although, a few minutes ago Mrs L did need help with her TV/AV buttons. She came creeping up the stairs to my room saying my name in a piteous voice. So I went out to the landing, and she poutily said she couldn't get the TV to work. It's funny, do you know what I instinctively did, to someone more than double my age? I bent down a bit, patted my legs and said sweetly, "Come on, then." As you do when you take a child by the hand to go get cookies and milk...
In slightly better news, my consultants are already putting my new CV through for a few things, and asking me to cross my fingers, so you had better join in.
And to round off the better-news section, my dear friend Jia Li in Newfoundland has made me a cool London Underground logo:
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
And my Performancing Firefox won't work since I switched to the new Blogger because I can't figure out how to change my name and password.
Then I tried calling the specialists in some departments at a certain auction house to ask why, exactly, I can't get an interview despite having an MPhil in art history. I was referred to a few but they were all out of the office.
Then I tried to call Internal Revenue but their lines are all busy.
Maybe I could go to the Post Office. I have some things to do there...
And I pulled out my training pack so I can practise my voice overs again. I wish I hadn't done my demos last year. I sound a lot happier now.
This is what I really wanted to blog about today:
Seen on Cute Overload:
Or here: Brave Bunny
There were over 200 comments - most people on the side of "Go bunny go!"
Others, whom one commenter said shouldn't be exposed to the real world, decried it as cruelty and not cute at all.
In turn, people hailed it as a great thing to see the tables turned for once.
One commenter came up with this priceless dialogue:
Bunny: Oh, what's this?
Snake: RAH, I bite you!
Bunny: No! *hops away* Comes back and bites tail
Snake: Ha, I really showed that-- OW! Hey!
Bunny: Get out of here! I bite YOU!
Snake: Augh, leave me alone! *climbs up tree*
And so I say, "Go bunny go!"
Art following life in the classic killer rabbit scene from Monty Python:
Or here: Killer Rabbit
"You tit! I soiled my armour I was so scared!"
"Manky Scots git! What's he do, nibble yer bum???"
Thursday, February 01, 2007
I'm watching CSI. It's amazing how little DNA they need these days for an ID.
I used to want to work in a crime lab. I even took a criminal justice class to start a minor in it and searched for post-grad programs, but then CSI swept onto the scene, and I could just see the wave of wannabe forensic scientists flooding the market. And then my psych degree came to completion so I didn't need to stay enrolled, and I eventually came back to London to start the art history studies.
Odd, that I started in biology AND worked in a lab - should have stayed in it, since halfway through my psych degree I knew it wasn't for me. But unlike someone I knew who changed major 9 times, I wanted to save time and stick with it. By the way, that guy who switched nine times was my admissions counselor when I started uni, and is now the associate director of admissions.
My dad kept suggesting I be a profiler. This was after my degree when I was looking at jobs in DC. One of my friends and I were going to join the CIA and he used to call me Q. Another friend and I actually took the State Department security services test. It lasted all afternoon - I got to the last stage and was disqualified - and found her waiting for me in the lobby coz she hadn't got past the first test! Go me!
After working at the Houston school district psych services department, I started looking at jobs in NYC, discovered I wanted to own all the art history books in publishing, and then it slapped me in the face.
Since high school I had owned The Art Book, spending hours poring over it on the floor until my legs went numb from sitting on them, lying on my elbows until they got carpet burn, then sitting up again. Even at university, I remember envying my friends who took art history as one of their art electives. (I didn't have to, as I had transferred in my Humanities course from college.)
Art History. Why hadn't I thought of it before?
Probably because I considered myself to be a scientist all the way through. But then a few years in biology and the right side of my brain started feeling neglected (talk about thinking like a psychologist). Psych was a nice balance between right and left hemispheres, but I hated, I mean really hated, statistics. Give me chemistry any day...
Finally in art history I found my balance. It is not all right brained. Paired with aesthetics and visual immersion is a heck of a lot of analysis and methodology and technique and science (qualitative, rather than quantitative, fortunately).
I have no idea why I thought you would be interested in that. When I started this blog, I was going to say I had nothing to talk about today.
Oh wow. The suspect in CSI tonight is a chimera. A twin within a twin - one person made of two, with two conflicting sets of DNA from when, in the womb, the second twin is absorbed by the first.
Well, that's me shutting up for today.