Friday, 12 October 2012

The Mexican Mania....

So, I ventured over to the Amazing Sparkles house. Mrs Amazing sparkle was not feeling so well, so we decided on a plate in the comfort of a house. I also wanted to drive my new sexy car over so they could both see. 
One of the sexy beast and his lovely ears!!

The journey over there was not fun, lets just say Friday traffic is rubbish, but I did get to wave at another red mini, or several, who all thought I was a nutter, but hey, that's not new news. 

Arriving, Julia was already preparing refried beans, which I have to say is a total speciality of hers. She had been drinking champagne with a friend when I arrived and was a little tipsy. We chatted about weddings for a while and then the friend went home and Julia and I prepared the plate. 

The homemade salsa was quite an interesting experience. Julia spent the best part of an hour cutting and chopping, dicing and slicing, and then discovered no rock salt, and proceeded to add quite a large amount if regular salt to the salsa. She tasted, and I could tell by the face it had not achieved the desired affect. So, many things got added, including : - 

  • Lemon
  • Sugar
  • chili
  • smoked paprika
  • jalepano peppers 
  • garlic
Eventually it worked and a very nice falvoursome, slightly salty salsa was produced. 

Next we refried the beans and made quesadillas with cheese and beans and salad and salsa. There were plenty to go round and the meal was delicious. I have never eaten this particular dish of Julia's before but I have to say I was thrilled with the decision. 

The evening was not as loud and silly as usual as I had to drive back home for an early start with work the next day. Luckily I rarely have to sacrifice my weekends to work so I was not too annoyed. 

The evening was spent reminiscing about our childhoods, and I spent a long time educating Dave on the old TV programmes Julia and I used to watch, and luckily You Tube was well up to the job too.

I then got to drive my wonderful beasty back home in style after another fantastic meal with amazing company.....

..... Mexico, Ala Amazing Sparkles, ticked off. 

Friday, 28 September 2012

Ever wandered what Fennel Tastes like......

..... Well according to Dave, Sambucca!! The fourth night brought with it an air of expectation as well as a planned destination and area to be sampled. Tonight, Matthew, it will be Barrafina, representing Southern Spain.  The plates have now become a serious topic of discussion between the three of us, opening up the richness of opportunities that London holds within her street. This evening was special for many reasons, but the greatest feeling I came away with it was one of happiness.

So, why was this evening so special?  Well it started as most Fridays my end do, me getting on a bus leaving plenty of time and realising its never enough. The drama that unfolded as the bus driver negotiated the stage that is London on a Friday rush hour was captivating; it deserves its own blog, but I don't have the time to write it now. But as the show drew to a close, it was apparent that yet again it had over run and I was late for the 'date' and had to march swiftly down the Oxford road, dodging and darting my way through the endless stream of people that were also journeying to their destination. In fact the soap opera journey had played into my hand, as Julia and Dave had done most of the queuing, and all I had to do was drink a welcomed glass of what I though was wine. Half a glass later I plucked up the courage to question to grape and its origin, only to be reminded that it was off course sherry in my glass. This explained much of the taste combinations that were rolling across my tongue, and in fact the second half of the glass was by far the best :). 

Confusion over what this was..... it was the totilla, tasted amazeballs (its in the dictionary now so heck I am using it as a word)
Dave and I were entertained greatly by Julia's constant surveillance of the food as it passed and her desire to eat everything on the menu. We were soon given a wonderful spot at the end of the bar, and I only embarrassed myself slightly by mocking the waiter, and had to make up some rediculous story to cover my back about me having tourettes. Any way, the meal began with selection of a range of food, we each chose 2 dishes and decided to share them. The food was 

  • Bread and oil to start 
  • Ham Croquettes 
  • Prawn and pepper totilla
  • Potatas Gambas
  • Grilled quail
  • Something in spanish that I could not pronounce
  • fennel and tomato salad with radish 
  • mussels 
So the food arrived and it was epic. Everything was delicious, the mussels were divine and brought with them much amusement as Julia drank most of the juice afterwards as a 'soup', only to be offered more bread by the waitress, which hastily stopped the consumption amid a flash of red cheeks (on both sides). The exciting spanish dish turned out to be black pudding with fried quails egg and, although it arrived when we were all full to the brim, but was by far the best dish and was licked clean. The evening was a total success and the sherry was a perfect partner. The only down side was the £35 extra that was wacked onto the bill by accident but prooved quite hard to get taken off. I could see a potentially heated argument between Northern Dave and the feisty waitress and made a quick escape to the loo. On my return all had been settled and Dave was left with the puffed out chest and the winning hand. 

The unpronounceable dish of deliciousness
As we were all feeling rather fuzzy from the sherry we sauntered through China town and sang a few ridiculous songs, upsetting the locals and tourists, (but who care's) and made our way to the only non oriental bar in the area, Waxy O'Conners. A round was bought and a table found and the talk turned to finding me a man who can endorse 
fund my expensive habits, and we deiced next weeks destination would be centered much more around Canary Warf!! Ha ha! Dave foolishly left me and Julia alone to go to the loo, and we decided to play a mean trick on him, as he gets embarrassed easily, and so we would pretend to put our legs behind our heads as he was returning to the table. The only flaw in our mighty plan was that pretending to do this, actually looks a lot more like actually doing it and resulting in a red faced Dave and whoops and cheers from some of the surrounding tables, which Julia and I realised was because we were both wearing skirts. Ah well, no serious harm done. 

If your going to make huge M an M's, I a going to try and lick them 
So after yet another smashing evening, we went our separate ways a while later at Leicester Square. I have never been disappointed with any time spent with Julia, she has been one of my greatest and truest friends, and Dave is an extension of her excellence. They make me remember what it is about live that is so important, that it is not about the destination, but the journey, and the laughs you have a long the way. This evening banished seriousness and enveloped laughter, happiness and just doing it because its fun. 

4 plates down 76 to go and I can't wait for the next one......

Friday, 21 September 2012

Some Dim Sum

The third evening began with a tricky situation and indecision on all parts. I eventually met up with Julia at Oxford Circus and we decided to walk to Leicester square and hopefully meet Dave. On the way we saw the queue for the iPhone 5, lots of men standing in the rain, although happily, waved for a picture. 

A decision had to ben made relatively quickly on where to eat as I had not bought an umbrella, convinced the persistent rain was just going to be a passing shower. Walking up through the delights of China Town I spotted Dim Sum Palace, and having a soft spot for Dim Sum we decided to make this the third meal. The lady on the door asked us if we wanted buffet and I said no, and we were ushered to a table and given menu's. Dave soon joined us and with Jasmine tea and oriental beer flowing the night began. 

The waiter helped us order a selection of Dim Sum, noodles and some Pak Choi, and within minutes it arrived. Everything was delicious, the Dim Sum was some of the best I have eaten. The noodles were not so special but the Pak Choi was delicious. We soon realised that were were the only White English table in the place, and took that as a sign of fantastic food. 

After a wonderful meal and me only getting told of once by the waiter over confusion on filling up my water glass, we moved on to find another Frozen Yoghurt place Julia said was really yummy. The rain had stopped and walking past all the restaurants bought interesting aroma's and visionary food art to our journey. We wandered through the streets of London, narrowly avoiding being hit by cyclists as we dashed across the road, and held off the temptations of out of date giant Hershey's bars, left over from last Christmas. 

Our journey ended at a Tutti Frutti Frozen yoghurt bar just outside Soho. We spent several minutes perfecting our pudding selection with added extra bits, flavoured yoghurt mixtures, sprinkles and loyalty bonus cards and then sat and mused over the differences between this company and the one sampled before. 

The evening was brought to a close and all who took part headed their separate ways. The journey to the bus stop was uneventful and again I managed to get home before the Amazing Sparkles. Unfortunately, I did wake up the next day with a salt related hangover, and regretted the unlimited tea deal, which I had clearly taken too much advantage of. However the Dim Sum palace did mean that we could tick Southern China, Guangdong Province, off from the culinary world journey. 

3 plates down, 77 still to go, with plenty of choice left ahead....

Friday, 14 September 2012

The random second plate.........

...... well the story and quest to 80 continues. However the challenge was met head on with further illness from Julia and so I changed the plan and drove to her house for a 'quiet night in', or so I thought. The journey was easy, and despite the tempting smell of Hoo Hing as I passed on the North Circular, I managed to arrive at Weybridge unscathed and hungry. Julia was verbally challenged, but the evening was set and the wine began to flow. French wine from Julia's recent trip to France. Yummy.

The dinner was a simple and yet tasty meal of burgers and chips. I am still not sure if we can count this as American or just British Gastro pub food, or wether I should re name the meal entirely to 'The Weybridge plate'. Any way, the meal was as always when Julia cooks, delicious. However the wine was beginning to flow thick and fast and before I even realised I was rather passed the stage on no return and decided to video a knife on my phone. The evening progressed into me singing and dancing, badly I must say, giving the rabbit so Amoretto and then late night facebook messaging people with silly questions. The final nail in the coffin for me was Dave deciding a needed to taste some whiskey. I carefully showed all who cared the art of whiskey tasting, with some extra added moves of my own to make sure it really is of the right callibre, only to be denied my drink at the crucial moment. 

The evening was a resounding success, the plates of food left on the table, forgotten in all the evenings entertainment, mainly I found out in the morning me acting like an idiot, and finally sleep beckoned. However I was awoken in the middle of the night with a fear of not locking my car. Still slightly under the influence, I ventured outside in nothing but a teeshirt and pants to check if the car was in fact locked. I spent quite a few minutes pressing the wrong buttons on the key fob, getting quite confused and waking up not only Julia and Dave but quite possibly the neighbours, however not caring I proceeded to madly button press until I locked the car, which was in fact locked from the start. 

The morning was not such a good one and I only had myself, and quite possibly the French to blame. And the videos and pictures to remember the evening by. 

2 down, 78 left to go and the Royal area of Surrey ticked off the list. 

Friday, 7 September 2012

Italian - were the challenge began

The idea was to just meet the Amazing Sparkles in London for a catch up. I, as usual was late, because I walked to the wrong tube station. By the time I managed to get their Mrs Amazing Sparkle had nearly digested her stomach, so we quickly moved to finding a place to eat. As we were in Trafalger Square, the local Pizza Express seemed a good a place as any. I asked for a table for 4, Dave, had brought his suitcase and it seemed appropriate to give it a place at the table, and luckily the Waitress obliged. We ordered a mediocre bottle of red, buts lets be honest its not really a wine connoisseur place, and each had a pizza. The food was quick and tasted, well like Pizza Express pizza, nothing special. It was during this evening that the challenge was proposed. The idea, 80 plate of food representing 80 parts of the World. I am not actually sure wether Pizza express counts, although having travelled to Italy with Mrs Amazing Sparkle many years ago and eating a metre of pizza in Vico Equense, I am sure that Pizza does count towards this area of Italy, and at least brought up memories for us both and ridiculous stories of jumping in the pool from our bedroom window in the small hours of the morning, sleeping on tables after drinking a bottle of amaretto and being public enemy number 1 with the other guests in the hotel. 

So with the challenge accepted, we ventured to find a Frozen yoghurt place as I am addicted to the stuff. Snog was the place of choice today and enjoyed by all.

All in all a good venture for the first evening. However no crazyness really had as Julia still not 100% well from her sickness. 

1 plate down 79 to go, this meal representing Naples, Italy.