The Folly Bar

Walking pass The Folly Bar is enough to capture your attention. It is a great change to see such a green bar and restaurant in the city. No wonder they call it 'The City's Secret Garden'. The moment I spotted The Folly, I knew it will be one of my favourite restaurant / cafe / bar, even before I tried the food or drinks. Yes, I was judging the book by its cover. Don’t most people do that anyway!?





One day, I decided to prove my assumption accurate so arranged to meet a friend for brunch. As expected, as soon as I walked in, I thought what charming space to have brunch on a late Saturday morning. I was seated at the table very promptly by a lovely staff and I could not stop soaking up the ambience that I admire so much. It was really pleasant to be welcomed by fresh green plants at the entrance and then feed the senses with wooden tables, cosy seating, hanging chair and mix of my favourite Eames DSW chairs dotted around, plus vintage cups and plates.


Eggs Florentine

The Fully Loaded @ Full English breakfast, Folly style

Very big portion of roast chicken with chips, vegetables and yorkshire pudding. This could have fed four instead of two.

I have been here for many occasions; for brunch, late lunch, after work drinks and I must say it is spacious and very versatile. It is great for friendly catch up, less formal date, small or large gatherings of after work drinks, even great for birthday parties.
The space downstairs. I like the round tables with seats scooped around it.

A more cave-like experience in a slightly more enclosed space.

There is even a private room with screen and long table for private meetings or for intimate private group dinner. Please read my guest post entitled 'Summer focus group: Strangers turned Eduranto friends' which I was gladly invited to, at The Folly Private Room. There was a good selection of finger food and sharing boards, all very well presented and tasty.
Beautiful and cosy private room with long wooden tables

Interesting decoration in the private room

Trio of fries. My favourite was the Cowboy fries (honey, chilli) although it got a little soggy underneath because of the sauce. The other two were chunky and crispy.

Chicken satay with prawn crackers and peanut sauce. This is no where near an authentic Malaysian / Indonesian satay, but they were decent chicken skewers with slightly diluted peanut sauce. 

Juicy and tasty Puglia marinated olives

Mediterranean flat bread 


The Folly Bar is definitely on my 'to return to' list.

THE FOLLY BAR

41 Gracechurch Street
London, EC3V 0BT

Tel + 44 (0) 845 468 0102

The Folly on Urbanspoon

Barrica Tapas Bar

Sometimes, I have the urge to order multiple starters in a restaurant so I could taste more various food and flavours. Tapas is a brilliant way to do that, without being the weird one who orders only starters and dessert, with no mains. Although I have not done that before, it has always been part of my thought process browsing through menus in restaurants. Who knows, I might do that sometime soon.

We ordered only four plates of tapas plus a dessert to share between two and that was actually filling. I would say, it was just right. It is surprising because I am a big eater so it must have been the bread that filled me up. Otherwise, this will not happen in a million years, judging by the portion of the food, even for tapas standard. My theory is that the food came one by one at its own pace which we then have enough time to digest in between so we do not over eat. This is a good way to enjoy food with good company, especially when the small plates of food were very flavourful.
White asparagus - This was juicy sweet with its natural flavour and the sprinkle of sweet paprika was subtle and not over powering. I wonder where they got the white asparagus from. As far as I can remember, I am sure they are out of season. They are probably imported from Spain. 

Oak-smoked duck on toast with cherry butter - The first comment when the plate was placed on the table was, 'This must be the smallest toast I have seen.' Very cute indeed. Luckily it was well cooked and the cherry butter made a lot of difference.

Clams - Well, I am not sure how this clams were cooked nor do we know what they taste like. It took me one photo to realise that was not what we ordered. 

Sea trout with mushroom - 

Braised veal with pedro ximinez - This is definitely a must have. That piece of meat has been carefully braised for hours in Pedro Ximinez, the dark and sweet sherry. The fatty part on the side tasted the best.

Freshly baked fig cake with pine nut ice cream - Last but not least, dessert! Fantastic! This is how a meal should end.

Barrica Restaurant clearly has very delicious food. So far, it is one of the best Tapas I had in London. Perfect restaurant for a small group, also great for a date.

BARRICA

62 Goodge Street
London, W1T 4NE

Tel + 44 (0) 20 7436 9448

Barrica on Urbanspoon

Pan con tomate (Spanish-style toast with tomato)

Tired from work and cannot be bothered to eat out or cook a proper meal? I know the perfect no-fuss, fresh and healthy food to make! It is the perfect mid-week quick and light dinner. Ingredients used are very basic so most likely, you already have them in the fridge so no shopping needed. Better yet, if you have a herb garden, freshly plucked basil is always a plus.



PAN CON TOMATE (SPANISH-STYLE TOAST WITH TOMATO) RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • 5 slices of baguette

  • 1 clove garlic cut in half

  • 2 vine-ripen tomato (grated)

  • 5 basil leaves (sliced)

  • 1 tbs olive oil

  • sea salt & ground black pepper



  • salad leaves


Method:

  1. Slice the baguette, as many as you please but the ingredients above are for about five slices.

  2. Toast the baguette.

  3. While the baguette slices are being toasted, grate the tomatoes into a bowl.

  4. Mix the grated tomatoes with basil leaves and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, then set aside.

  5. Cut the garlic clove into half and rub on to the toasts.

  6. Spoon the seasoned grated tomato onto the toast and serve with salad leaves on the side.


Tips:

  • Use good  quality olive oil and tomato.

  • You can always add some ham on the toasts if you cannot live without meat.


Hot & Sour Soup with Vermicelli

Hot and sour soup


These days, I try to stock up on lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves when I shop at the oriental store, making sure I never run out of them. Lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves freeze well so it is great to have them at hand as it is a staple in most south-east asian food. Lemongrass itself has multiple benefits. This natural ingredient has anti-cancer properties, high in anti-oxidant which also helps prevent cancer, reduces cholesterol, helps rid of cold and fever, and many more benefits. The juice of lemongrass is also used as insect repellent. I know this because each time I visit Tropical Spice Garden in Penang, the staff there would have us spray lemongrass juice on our bare legs and arms. There are lots of mosquitoes hidden between those tropical bushes so to prevent from leaving the garden with dozens of mosquito bites, bare with the smell and spray them all over you if you are going anywhere near a tropical forest or garden. It does help you enjoy the beautiful surroundings than to be annoyed being bitten by those tiny evil creatures.

HOW TO MAKE LEMONGRASS TEA:

Boil about 4 stalks of lemongrass in a pot of water. Make sure you bruise and split them in halves so the lemongrass will infuse a lot faster. I have not measured nor timed this process so depending on how strong you would like the tea to be, add water accordingly. Let it boil and simmer for about an hour. Once ready, pour into teacups and serve with honey or sugar.





HOT & SOUR SOUP WITH VERMICELLI RECIPE
serves 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 3 stalk lemon grass (bruised)

  • 5 kaffir lime leaves

  • 2-3 bird's eye chilli

  • 15g shallots

  • 5 cloves garlic (peeled & bruised)

  • 2 inch ginger (peeled & sliced)

  • 2 stalks celery

  • 2 large carrots

  • 2 large tomato (cut into wedges)

  • 250g mixed seafood (prawn, squid, mussels)

  • 1 litre boiled water

  • 1 chicken bouillon cube

  • 2 large lime (juice only)

  • 1 1/2 tbs palm sugar

  • Salt & ground white pepper to taste

  • Coriander (as garnish)



  • Vermicelli



  1. Heat the pot with some oil and partially cook the seafood. Remove from pot and set aside.

  2. Saute the onions, garlic, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, chillies and ginger in the same pot until fragrant.

  3. Add in water and let boil for a few minutes, turn the heat down to let the lemongrass flavour infuse into the soup.

  4. The celery, carrots and tomato is then added into the pot, together with the bouillon cube.

  5. Let the soup simmer on medium to low heat fora bout an hour and until vegetables are soft.

  6. While waiting for the soup to be ready, cook the vermicelli in hot water for 1 minute and drain.

  7. Divide the drained vermicelli in separate bowls.

  8. Squeeze some lime juice into the soup. Add sugar, salt and pepper to taste.

  9. Tip the seafood into the hot soup to heat them up.

  10. Ladle soup over the noodles and garnish with coriander. You can add a few slices of red chilli if you like, just to give some colour and contrast.


Mechanical pencil of my teenage years

Lately, I have been reminiscing my teenage years and the collection of stationeries I used to have. To think about it now, I was a very lucky nine year old girl with one of the best stationery set in class. My pencil box was filled with the most advanced Pilot mechanical pencil that was ergonomically comfortable, coloured pens, metal ruler and eraser that rubs off any pencil marks leaving no trace. Some of my mates had wooden pencils with sharpener, Papermate ball pens, plastic ruler and 10¢ (2p) eraser that left the paper with black marks.  I am glad I was pampered.

Pilot Shaker H 1010 Mechanical Pencil


This was and still is ‘The One’ – Pilot H-1010. Shake it and the lead sticks out on its own! Shake shake, Lead’s out!

I was very particular with how it felt in my hands. The circumference of the body, the weight and built quality was all very well considered when I chose my favourite mechanical pencil. It still is my favourite, almost two decades later.

Anya Hindmarch's Bespoke Ultimate Box


I love stationeries!! Now that I am an adult, I have moved on to something new, the Anya Hindmarch Bespoke Ultimate Box. In actual fact, this is the greatest jewellery box but I will refer to it as the Ultimate Keepsake Box. The box to where I shall keep my well-loved Pilot H-1010 Shaker Mechanical Pencil. I wonder whether daddy will be pampering me with this now. Most likely not.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/sZURxKYMCo4]

Do you have any favourite stationery and stories to tell?

Arcadia Restaurant

After hours of admiring fantastic work at Victoria and Albert Museum, both of us hungry people were about to set foot into the french chain restaurant Aubaine. Lucky for us, we caught a glimpse of a quaint looking restaurant with paintings on the window. We curiously went to sneak a peek and immediately smiled, nod our heads and went in for a table.



This restaurant is hidden on an alley off High Street Kensington. It is an authentic Italian restaurant decorated with bright, quirky murals. The staff were very attentive and friendly. Even the menu is so pretty.
The restaurant interior

The pretty menu

When we were told there is Lobster Spaghetti on the special's menu, both of us lobster lovers could not get any more excited. We did not even blink; closed the menu without browsing any further and decided that was for lunch. Easy choice. The spaghetti was home made, cooked al dante. It was well flavoured with the tomato sauce and lobster was cooked well, not over done. Just so you know, the lobster meat has been peeled and the shell was for decoration only.

A good portion of well cooked lobster spaghetti, we did not have enough room for the seemingly delicious dessert. Next time, then.

Something else that I would like to highlight is the non alcoholic drinks from Juiceology that has no artificials or preservatives. They served these artistry beverages in Arcadia Restaurant which was the first time I came across it. These drinks use complex ingredients but subtly flavoured, which makes them so interesting to drink. I also like how they have a flavour map at the back of the bottle. It gives the beverage the unique touch and that the brand takes great importance in great flavours.


This is the restaurant I will be returning to when I am around the area.


35 Kensington High Street
Kensington
London, W8 5EB

Tel + 44 (0) 20 7937 4294

Arcadia on Urbanspoon

Tea Towel Mania

A simple kitchen can be beautify by the simplest ways. For someone like me who has been dreaming of the perfect kitchen which is still a visual image at the moment, something lovely and simple to enhance the kitchen will prolong the dying urge for that dream kitchen.

Here are some of my favourites for this week's 'Obsession Week' that I would like to share with you.

Moxie in color Mélange by Miscellanyway via Etsy



Mexico by Sara Parker - via Etsy


Botany in Mint by Miscellanyway via Etsy


I love you like a fat boy loves cake by Dusty and Lulu via Etsy


Dark linen tea towel with recipe by Pilosale via Etsy


Woww by Mae Engelgeer via Leif



Colour fest tea towel by Mae Engelgeer via Leif



Multi stem tea towel by Orla Kiely


Tea towel by Sholten & Baijings for Hays Denmark


Do you have any favourite tea towel?

Beef Pot Roast

Supermarket has always been my go to place for meat in London. That is because I have not seen any decent butcher near where I live, at least I used to. Recently, I found one. And this was the first time I bought any form of meat so early in the morning!! It was actually very pleasant being at my local butcher, Mr. Bull. It feels more personal chatting and buying meat there than at a supermarket.

Beef joint for pot roast, TICK!!


On the very same day in the afternoon, after an enjoyable rendezvous of breakfast, museum, lunch and shopping with Nz, we ended our day at Whole Foods! It was like heaven. Food Heaven! There was almost everything there. There were vegetables I have never seen before, or knew about; like black mooli, a dozen species of squash, even yellow beans!! This is definitely how two girls have fun. Shop for food!! We had similar fun doing that in Spain and obviously it did not stop there. Was there just for fresh bread but we ended up with an over flowing basket.

Bread to serve with pot roast, TICK!!




Now after a happy day of shopping, the work begins in the kitchen.., kind of. Beef pot roast must sound like something that is really difficult to make or a dish that requires lots of attention. It is actually the opposite. The most attention needed was to buy good ingredients. The rest is up to the slow cooker. Well, I have not told you this, but I bought a new toy, the Tefal 8-in-1 cooker. What I love about this new gadget is that there is an in built timer.

All the fun effort put into making this almost no sweat 'Beef Pot Roast' is to welcome back my sweetheart from his partial holiday / partial medical leave where dental treatment is a lot more affordable. Yes, poor thing had to go through a root canal surgery and I have seen his swollen face the day after the dentist visit. Not very pleasant. So I think he needed some comfort food that is delicious yet easily edible. Nothing that will hurt him chewing.

Delicious melt in your mouth pot roast, TICK!! Mission accomplished!




BEEF POT ROAST RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg beef joint
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tbs flour
  • 2 cubes beef bouillon
  • 300ml hot water
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 tbs worcestershire sauce

  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cloves unpeeled smoked garlic (prick with a knife)
  • 1 red onion (sliced)
  • 3 celery (an inch)
  • 4 carrots (wedged)
  • 1 tbs cranberry sauce
  • 1/2 tbs of butter

  • Bread (*The baker at Whole Foods recommended 'Beer Bread' to match with this dish. You can use any bread you like, of course.

Method:

1. Melt the beef bouillon cubes in hot water and set aside.
2. Heat the pot with olive oil. While waiting for the pot to heat up, season the beef with salt, pepper and flour.
3. Brown beef on hot pot. When both sides of beef are brown, transfer it into the slow cooker bowl.
4. With the pot that you have browned the beef, add the wine and worcestershire sauce into the pot to deglaze.
5. Let the alcohol evaporate and stir in about a cup of beef stock to combine into a smooth sauce. Make sure you stir out any lumps.
6. Now pour the liquid from the pot into the slow cooker bowl where the beef was resting, and the rest of the beef stock into the slow cooker along with the garlic, celery and carrot.
7. Caramelise the onions on a separate pan and tip them in to the slow cooker.
8. Let the beef braise in its own juice in the slow cooker for about 6 hours or until beef falls off easily and vegetables are soft.
9. When it is almost ready, melt that tiny knob of butter and stir in cranberry sauce to give it that extra flavour.
10. Serve in a bowl with some bread on the side.


Tips:

  • While beef is browning, try not to toss it around as it will not brown well.




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