Friday, 30 December 2011

The Castle, Walthamstow


Aberdeen Angus burger at the Castle
It's that quiet strange time of year between Christmas and New year's Eve. Luckily I don't have to go back to work until January 3rd so I am free to spend a few relaxing days at home eating up all the leftover chocolates and  playing computer games before the reality of the new year kicks in. What better time to treat ourselves to a leisurely long afternoon pub lunch in Walthamstow? More local pubs are starting to offer food options now, with regular food nights on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at the Rose and Crown plus roast dinners every Sunday from 1-3pm. I've also been told that the Nag's Head is starting to serve up small plates from a bar snack menu in the evenings.
We decided to head for the Castle, just set back from the main village high street on Grosvenor Rise. They have rebranded themselves as 'Walthamstow's first gastropub', and offer up a tempting looking menu of classic main courses, light bites and the popular roast dinner on a Sunday. We went for the delicious homemade Abberdeen Angus burger, which came with coleslaw and a neat stack of huge chunky chips, priced at around £10. It's definately a child-friendly place, in fact you might find yourself fighting through the buggies to get to the bar on a Sunday afternoon.

You can find opening hours and a sample menu for the Castle gastropub on their website here: www.thecastlegastropub.co.uk

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

New Blog: Baby Steps in Walthamstow

As you may know, I am currently 5 months pregnant, expecting the new arrival around April 9th 2012. I imagine that life in 2012 will be very different for me, and I'm really looking forward to my 10 months off work to discover all the fun daytime baby friendly activities that E17 has to offer. I'm sure that my non-parent friends don't really want to read endless posts about pregnancy yoga or where to find the perfect pushchair, so I have decided to launch a sister blog, BabySteps in Walthamstow, for all my baby-related thoughts. Click the link below or the BabySteps tab near the top of the page for my pregnancy diary and updates on how I am getting on preparing for the springtime pitter-patter of tiny feet! I will also continue to keep this blog for all the other cool non-baby related stuff going on in E17!
Baby Steps in Walthamstow

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

London Prepares Series - Handball cup

Handball action!
It's an exciting time for East London as preparations for the London 2012 Olympics get into full swing. The shiny new Westfield shopping centre is already open and already packed full to the brim with frantic shoppers seven days a week. High-rise apartment blocks are springing up all over Stratford, and the new transport links are starting to take shape. As for the Olympic park itself, the progress on the various sporting arenas has been obvious every time I drive down the A12, and construction seems to be remarkably on schedule according to the official reports!  The main stadium was completed on time and under budget in March, with work on the other arenas being finished throughout the year. Throughout the winter and next spring, the arenas are being opened up for various test events as part of the London Prepares series, and as a resident of Waltham forest, we were lucky enough to get 4 free tickets for the Handball cup which took place this weekend! Now I don't know too much about handball as it isn't a massively popular sport here in the UK, in fact in 2007 we barely had a national team and had to recruit a load of athletes from other sports and send them on an intensive handball training programme in Denmark. The scheme seems to have been successful as both the GB men's and women's teams have earned the right to compete in London 2012. (We are offered places automatically as the host nation, but can be prevented from taking part if the teams are not competitive enough). I have tickets to the Olympic men's handball quarter-final next year, so now seemed like as good a time as any to figure out what the sport was all about, and a good excuse to get inside the Olympic park for the first time.
The Olympic handball arena
As well as testing out the handball arena, the London prepares series is being used to train some of the many thousands of staff that will be needed next year. When we arrived on Saturday, we had to go through airport-style security screening, where our bags were scanned and we had to empty our pocket contents into little plastic bags. The staff were all very chirpy and happy, and hopefully these test runs will help them iron out any issues before they have to deal with the massive crowds flooding in next summer. We walked past the aquatics centre and over the huge sweeping bridge past the impressive main stadium towards the handball arena. Even the normally green dingy canals had been totally cleaned out and looked sparklingly clear. The park itself is still a bit of a building site for now, but as soon as the grass and plants are in I can imagine it being quite something. The handball arena is one of the smaller looking venues, a compact black cube of a building with a capacity of around 7,000. Inside, brightly multicoloured seats are packed in over two floors, ensuring everyone is close to the action. The handball floor can be easily taken up to allow the floor to be used for other sports like badminton or basketball. 
We were there to watch the two semi-final games of the women's handball cup, featuring Angola v Poland and Austria v China. Team GB sadly hadn't made it to the semi-finals, missing out only by goal difference from the earlier group qualifying stage. For my first experience of handball, the games were really exciting! Loads of end-to-end fast paced action, plenty of goals, and we even had a handy little leaflet to explain the rules (kind of a cross between basketball and 5-a-side football!). I don't even remember who won the competition - for me the day was much more about getting a taste of the Olympic experience, and I cant wait for next year!
Tickets are still available for other London Prepares events on the Ticketmaster website here: London Prepares series tickets. I managed to get myself some more tickets for February to watch Tom Daly in action at the diving World cup!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Alex and Salim's E17 Supper club

Jon enjoying his sparkler!
I've mentioned before on this blog how I discovered the secret world of London supperclubs and have been working my way round some of the most recommended hidden gems over the last couple of years. There is a thriving underground foodie scene springing up all over East London, with Love Leluu and The Secret Ingredient among my favourite local supperclub venues. So it was surely only a matter of time before our own trendy little corner of East London got in on the act. A couple of months ago I started to hear on the grapevine (twitter!) about a brand new E17-based supperclub, and I knew I would have to go along and check it out for myself. 
Last Friday evening, Jon and I went along to Alex and Salim's house in Walthamstow. We were greeted at the door with some lovely masala popcorn beautifully wrapped up in big green leaves, and several glasses of refreshing Mojito's from the fridge (non-alcoholic for me due to my ever-expanding baby bump!). Around 20 of us came along for dinner that night and we all sat around one long table in the living room, chatting away and greedily munching our way through the plentiful food that kept arriving from the kitchen. One favourite dish for me was mutton sagwalla, tender slow cooked chunks of meat in a vivid green spinach sauce. Another dish I really enjoyed was moong dal, I love eating all kinds of dal dishes but have absolutely no idea how to recreate them at home and get everything tasting so creamy and delicious! Luckily, Salim also runs cooking classes so I can always go along one day to learn all the secrets. After we were completely stuffed with our selection of main courses, we managed to find a little more room to squeeze in some chocolate cake before finishing off the night with some sparklers to add to the festive Diwali celebration theme. 
We all had a great time chatting to and mixing with the other like-minded E17'ers, so why not pop along one night and give it a try?
Alex and Salim currently run the supperclub on the first Friday of the month, check out their website for more details:http://pardes.posterous.com/ They also offer cooking classes and can deliver a weeks worth of home-cooked suppers to your home (which Jon and I tried out a few weeks ago when we didn't feel like cooking - much healthier than your average takeaway and tastier too!).
Also, check out Sonia's review on her blog here:

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Sushi competition at Tsuru

The final five contestants
I've mentioned before my search for a new regular good-value sushi joint in London after my previous favourite, Zipangu on Little Newport Street, closed down a few years ago. Recently my favourite place to go has been Tsuru, originally with one branch near London Bridge but now expanded to open new branches at Mansion House and Bishopsgate. Tsuru is a hugely popular lunch spot for city workers, with its sleek wooden benches and beautiful sustainably sourced sushi on offer. As an out-of-town worker, I always visit in the evenings, where the lunchtime fridges are pushed back and the lights dimmed for a much more relaxed evening menu including hot dishes such as the gorgeous katsu curry. 
Recently, Tsuru held a competition to find a new idea for a sushi roll to add to their menu. Inspired by their katsu curry main dish, I suggested a chicken katsu roll, with a chicken and red pepper filling and a tempura flake coating to give the sushi roll a bit of added crunch. Jon decided to enter too, and went for a more korean-inspired recipe of slow cooked pulled pork with pak choi and ginger filling, and a black sesame seed coating. We thought nothing more of our entries until a few weeks ago when we were delighted to hear that both of our recipes had been chosen for the final! We were invited along to Tsuru Mansion House for the somewhat daunting task of making our recipes for the restaurant owners and other judges to see who would make it onto the menu.



The finalists assemble our creations
The evening was really good fun, with the guys at Tsuru having gone to a lot of effort to make sure all our different ingredients were sourced and ready, including some amazing pulled pork for Jon's recipe from Pittcue. One of the chef's demonstrated how to roll our sushi, before we nervously presented our creations to the judges and waited for the results whilst we tucked into our lovingly-made dishes. In the ended, the judges decided on two joint winning recipes, one of which was Jon's slow cooked pork dish! His recipe will be on the menu to buy at Tsuru for a month starting from now, and whoever sells the most sushi rolls will win a magnum of Bollinger and the honour of a permanent place on the menu
My crispy chicken katsu rolls!
You can find Tsuru at London Bridge, Bishopsgate or Mansion house, and online here. Please give the slow-cooked pork a try! Thanks to Emma and all at Tsuru for a great night.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

ferdiesfoodlab

 I've been a fan of London supperclubs for a couple of years now, with my favourite one from the past year being the excellent Fernandez and Leluu in Hackney. Uyen (from leluu.com ) still runs the supper clubs and Vietnamese cookery courses from her flat as I previously mentioned here . Simon, the other half of what was Fernandez and Leluu, is about to launch his own dining venture, ferdiesfoodlab, from next Saturday. Jon and I were lucky enough to be invited along for the soft launch night last weekend for an evening of foodie fun.
About 30 intrepid food lovers from across London congregated at Toynbee hall in Aldgate, a beautiful historic building with a spacious main hall set out with a long banquet table. We were served 6 courses, all beautifully presented on large serving platters to be shared with the people around you which made for a great informal and sociable atmosphere which got the whole table talking to each other. One highlight for me was a course of King Crab and samphire, the huge crab legs looking particularly impressive as a table centrepiece. Another fantastic dish was huge slow-roasted shoulders of lamb served in antique copper pans, we were practically fighting each other to carve off the chunks of tender meat and perfectly crispy roast potatoes.
All-in-all a great night out for food lovers looking for something a bit different to your usual Saturday night restaurant meal.  
You can find out more information and dates for the upcoming ferdiesfoodlab nights here.
Liquorice marinated beef fillet
Seville zebras and chocolate olive ganache
ferdiesfoodlab on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Walthamstow Short Film Club

Over the past week, I had spotted several posters around town and the village advertising a short film night at the Rose and Crown, so Jon and I went along on Friday night to check it out. These events have been running on the last Friday of the month since March and are held in the red room at the back of the pub.
On Friday we saw about eight or nine short films, covering a huge variety of styles from horror to comedy, with a couple of heartwarming and thought provoking documentaries thrown into the mix too. At the end of the night we voted for our favourite film, with this months winner being 'Billie' by Ana Pinheiro, the tale of an eccentric and charismatic Big Issue seller who told the story of her life on the streets and how she managed to turn her life around. You can see a clip of the film here. At only £3.50 each with sweets or popcorn thrown in, I would definitely recommend going along to the next film evening at the end of August.
Walthamstow short film club runs on the last Friday of the month at 7.30pm. You can find more details on their Facebook page here.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Walthamstow Farmers' Market

Walthamstow Farmers' Market

Every Walthamstow resident is familiar with Walthamstow market, the long bustling street full of 'paaand-a-bowl' fruit and veg stalls which sprawls all the way from Walthamstow Central station down to St James' Street, making it apparently one of the longest street markets in Europe.  Every Sunday since September 2007, the high street has also been home to a rather smaller but in my opinion more enticing selection of stalls that makes up the farmers' market. Every week, a group of farmers and producers come to show and sell their wares, everything from wild game, vegetables, organic meat, cakes, pastries and fresh herbs. Here are a few of my favourite stalls:
Seriously Italian: A fantastic selection of homemade pestos, gnocchi and other Italian dishes. Seriouslyitalian.com
Lincolnshire poacher cheese: Their signature poacher cheese is wonderful, as well as their fresh butter and raw milk. The also do gift boxes around Christmas time - a perfect present for that cheese lover in your family lincolnshirepoachercheese.com/
Radwinter Wild Game: Ideal for picking up those neglected British favourites such as rabbit, venison, pigeon and partridge. Today I picked up some Venison+mushroom sausages plus a pack of pheasant legs from these guys -can't wait to get cooking!  Radwinterwildgame.com
You can find the Farmers' market every Sunday from 10am-2pm in the square outside Walthamstow library, and more information on the full range of producers here: London Farmers' Markets - Walthamstow

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Lunch at Sketch

Beef carpaccio
I like to think of myself as a foodie, I love trying all kinds of exotic foods, discovering new flavours and unusual ingredients. Sadly I don't have an unlimited food budget so I normally have to limit myself to the more affordable end of the London restaurant price scale, however, it is definitely good to push the boat out every now and then! So I didn't take much convincing to use my recent birthday as the perfect excuse to book a day off work and try out some Michelin star dining. We went to Sketch, on Conduit street, a quirky and unpretentious place with a fantastic reputation for fine food. On arrival, we were given a quick tour around the various rooms including the impressive gallery room, described by our host as a 'video art installation dining experience', but what I can only describe as a huge, all-white room filled with white sofas and tables, with a giant psychedelic pacman-style video running all around the upper walls of the room. We were then led upstairs where the doors were opened to the magnificent Lecture room, run by head chef Pierre Gagnaire. The decor was at all times modern and unusual, a fascinating mixture of antique furniture and modern abstract art. The service was incredible, but unaccustomed as I am to fine dining, I did feel slightly ridiculous when I returned from the bathroom to find my napkin re-folded into an origami sculpture and a waiter rushing over to help tuck my chair in under me. The bathrooms by the way were equally crazy, a darkened chamber full of floor-to-ceiling mirrors and crystalline spider webs.
Sea trout and shrimps with samphire
Now I must move onto the food!. We went for the gourmet lunch menu, which presented each person with four starters, a main course, two desserts, 1/2 bottle of wine and coffee for the very reasonable price of £48 a head. Everything was exquisitely presented, with the utmost care and attention to detail showing through in every dish. The photos here really don't do the food justice as I tried to hastily snap away without anyone noticing. My sea trout main course was amazing, a wonderful balance of the sweet fish with the salty samphire and the bitter Guiness jelly cubes. We left feeling full to the brim and very happy with the world.

Sketch Lecture Room and Library on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Thoughts on turning 30

 Today is a very special day for me. Today is my 30th birthday. For the last couple of years I have been slightly apprehensive about this moment, about leaving my twenties and my 'youth' behind, but as the fateful day grew closer I started to reflect on everything that I had experienced and acheived in the last ten years and began to feel a lot more at ease with the whole situation. I think if you can fill your life with as many happy and interesting experiences as possible then you don't need to fear the passing of time, just look back and think of all the good memories that you have created and the connections that you have made.
So here, in no particular order (apart from number 1!) are my top 20 memorable moments from my 20's.

1) Marrying the man of my dreams after five wonderful years together.
2) Buying our first flat together in Walthamstow.
3) Watching the sunrise over the Masaii Mara from a hot air balloon, peering down at a herd of giraffes galloping elegantly across the plain and a solitary lioness crouched drinking water from a stream.
4) Bathing in the plunge pool at the foot of Angel Falls, Venezuela, feeling the spray from the breathtaking kilometre-high cascade behind us.
5) Graduating with a first class honours degree in chemistry, the culmination of four years hard work and a lot of fun times.
6) Being offered my first proper job after graduation (The company where I still work!)
7) Watching mountain gorillas in Rwanda, scrambling up the side of a volcano to emerge onto a clearing where we watched in awe the majestic male silverback chewing on bamboo shoots while the baby gorillas swung on vines and tumbled in fluffy piles down the hill.
8) Spending four weekends at Barretstown, a beautiful and magical castle in Ireland, where children with terminal ilnesses and their families come for a weekend of theraputic recreation. Each time I have been there as a volunteer child carer has been a humbling, moving and heartwarming experience which I will never forget.
9) The spectacular view of Mount Fuji from our onsen spa on honeymoon in Japan.
10) Moving to London for the first time in 2004 and realising that I could never go back to live in some sleepy town or village.
11) Starting my own blog and discovering that people are interested in what I have to say!
12) Discovering a love for food and gastronomy, trying sushi for the first time, finding new restaurants, visiting secret supper clubs.
13) Buying my first car at the age of 22, a J-reg Ford Fiesta which I loved dearly but broke down on numerous occasions, most notably when the tyre blew out when I was driving up the M11 at 70mph.....and a few months later was broken into for someone to steal the radio.
14) Running a 10K with Paula Radcliffe. OK, so it was a charity run and Paula 'jogged' round in 40 minutes, but I still got to chat to her for a few seconds before she strode off into the distance. For me the real acheivement was getting my normally rather unfit self to the stage where I could happily run 10K without stopping (or dying).
15) Riding camels into the sand dunes of Morocco and spending the night under the stars.
16) Getting our cat Milo. When Jon and I went to the cat rescue centre and saw the fat grumpy cat  in the back room that no-one else wanted we knew we had to take him home.  Two years on he is a tiny bit less fat and still pretty grumpy.
17) Hiring a car and driving down highway 101 from San Francisco.
18) Staying best friends with Gemma + Kirsten throughout the whole decade and knowing that your best friends really will always be there for you!
19) Walking along a deserted beach in Thailand, riding elphants, rafting on bamboo rafts, learning how to make proper Thai green curry.
20) Spending the night in a buddhist temple at the top of a mountain near Kyoto, watching  geishas rush along the ancient streets.


Yep, its been a pretty good 10 years, I wonder what surprises the next 10 will have in store!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Vietnamese cookery class with Leluu

For the past couple of years, as part of my mission to seek out new and interesting dining experiences, I have been going to supper clubs in London. This is basically where someone opens up their home and transforms it into a mini restaurant for the night, and in exchange for a donation you are thrown together with other like-minded intrepid diners to enjoy a meal in a complete strangers living room. You get to hear about these places mainly by word of mouth, the best places flourishing though their good reputation and ending up over-subscribed every night. 
Beef Pho
The first supper club that I went to, back in late 2009 was Fernandez and Leluu in Hackney, shortly after they first started running. The food was fantastic, with the two chefs showcasing the best of their Vietnamese and Spanish heritages. I have tried several other supper clubs since, but always kept coming back to F&L every few months for the reliably excellent food. Uyen, the Vietnamese half of the pairing has gone solo now and still runs the supper clubs from her flat, along with numerous other projects such as a Vietnamese cookery class, that I persuaded Jon to try out with me yesterday. 
Summer Rolls
We spent the afternoon in Uyen's kitchen preparing and eating some of my favourite dishes such as Beef Pho, Bo La Lot (spicy beef in Betel leaves) and braised pork belly in cider and coconut juice. We learnt the proper way to balance all the elements of our dishes, and how to wrap the perfect summer roll. We also took a trip to the nearby Vietnamese supermarket, where I was able to stock up on all the essentials to recreate the dishes at home. It was a great afternoon, lots of fun and I definitely feel confident enough now to cook Vietnamese food for my next set of unsuspecting friends who come to visit! You can find out more about the cookery class and the supper club here: Love Leluu

Monday, 27 June 2011

Lloyd park redevelopment

Fences knocked down around the moat
When I first moved to Walthamstow, some five years ago now, one of the major persuading factors to choose my current Warner flat was the view. From my lounge windows I look out over Lloyd park, an expansive oasis of green and calm in an otherwise hectic town. Every time I make my way to or from the station (during daylight hours anyway) I wander through the park generally finding something to make me smile, whether it is families enjoying a sunny picnic, kids splashing through the muddy puddles or overly competitive friends taking their tennis game all too seriously.  I love discovering the first set of ducklings paddling around the moat in the springtime, and have to count them each time I walk past to make sure they are all still there and not been snapped up by some crafty fox or enterprising cat from Winns Terrace.
I have known for some time that the park was due to be redeveloped, after the Friends of Lloyd park group secured a substantial lottery funding a few years ago. All the central area around the current changing room gallery will be totally rebuilt, with major changes to the skate park, tennis courts and play areas. In the last week or two, work has finally begun in earnest, with metal fences appearing all around the park. The work is set to continue well into next year, with most of the park closed off apart from access pathways and some of the Aveling field area. I don't think the local residents have quite got used to the idea that most of the park is closed as most of the security fences had been knocked over at the weekend, with people going about their normal business and making themselves at home in supposedly fenced-off areas. I will definately miss my leisurely strolls around the moat for the rest of the summer, but the plans sound very exciting and I can't wait for the re-opening of the new and improved park!
Full details of the redevelopment can be found on the Friends of Lloyd Park website here.

And finally, one of my favourite images of Lloyd park, hastily captured on my phone as I battled through a minor blizzard earlier this year:

Friday, 17 June 2011

Kimchi sliders - Korean fusion food at the Rose and Crown


Slider order form
I'm a huge fan of south-east asian food, so when I saw that the Rose and Crown had a new Korean fusion food night starting up called 'Kimchi Sliders', I knew I would have to go and check it out. I had never heard of sliders before, but these were a type of korean street food, all kinds of hot fillings barbecued and served in bread buns.
Kimchi sliders is a new venture from Danny and Sarah at StreetFoodie.com, a couple who lived in Korea for 2 years and brought back their passion for food with them to share with us lucky Walthamstow'ers. We placed our food order on a cute little form which we handed in at the bar, everything on the menu looked yummy but I went for pulled pork with ginger coleslaw, and kimchi and bacon. The lovely Sarah brought us our sliders soon afterwards, and I have to say they were delicious! The slow cooked pulled pork was amazingly tender with zingy homemade ginger coleslaw. Also the kimchi in the bacon slider was great, very authentic tasting which I was impressed by as making kimchi at home seems a rather complicated process involving fermenting jars of spicy cabbage!
The street foodie guys are hoping to make a regular appearance at the rose and Crown on Thursday evenings from 6-10pm so make sure to pop in and check them out.  

Our sliders and cute burger-shaped sweets

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Girlfriends - Rose and Crown

The Rose and Crown on Hoe street ranks pretty highly among my favourite places in Walthamstow, now flourishing as a well established theatre pub. Their comedy nights have recently started to attract some bigger names, such as Richard Herring who will be appearing in July for a preview of his new Edinburgh Fringe show. The theatre-group-in-residence, All Star Productions, can also be relied upon to put on a great performance and I try and make it along to as many of their shows as possible.
On Friday, we went along to see the new musical offering, 'Girlfriends', originally a 1986 musical by Howard Goodall, following the lives of a group of female Airforce base workers during World War II. In this version we saw the story focus on two best friends involved in a love triangle with an RAF pilot 'Guy', in a mostly lighthearted show which also touched on the heartbreak of waving goodbye to someone each night, never knowing if they would return safely or not. of  The highlights for me were a masterful performance by Aaron Clingham on the piano and great all-round performances from the cast in creating a set of believable and engaging characters The lyrics, whilst cheesy, were deliberately so and laugh-out-loud funny at times.
You can read more about the theatre company All Star Productions and book tickets for their shows here: www.allstarproductions.co.uk  Girlfriends is on until 1st July 2011.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Walthamstow Book Club - 'The lost Books of the Odyssey'

As a child, i loved to read. My parents tell me stories of how I started reading at a very young age, at just under 3 years old I read my first 'book' called The Village with Three Corners (does anyone else remember these little books? The adventures of Roger Red Hat and the others, Billy Blue Hat was it?). I remember arriving at Infants school and having to read the books meant for older children, as all the ones on offer seemed like baby books to me. I remember the summer reading challenges at Braintree library, where you would go in and have to answer questions about the book to earn your reading badge. As an older child I discovered the sci-fi section and proceeded to read everything on offer, devouring contemporary works and the classics, working through the Hitchhikers guide series and the classic Asimov and Jules Verne tales.
As I moved into adulthood however, these simple pleasures drifted away from me as I found myself too concerned with studying for university exams or my social life to be able to devote the same amount of time to reading as I once did. A couple of years ago I thought that I would try and reignite this long-forgotten interest and I decided to join a local book club, which i have been going to ever since. We are a group of walthamstow book enthusiasts, from all kinds of backgrounds, brought together by our shared interest in reading. Over the couple of years that I have been going, I have seen many people come and go, along with a core of more regular members, and I have somehow ended up taking more of a leading role in organising our meetings. Each time we meet we will discuss the last book, then people will suggest their ideas for the next book to read, and we try to reach a democratic decision. One of the best things about the group is that we all have rather different tastes, which means I end up reading books that I would never have chosen myself, and often discover a few gems along the way! Which brings me neatly to the subject of this months book.
This month we are reading 'The lost Books of the Odyssey' by Zachary Mason. It appears to be a modern take on the classic Homer tale, retold from different characters perspectives and bringing new light to the old stories. I've never fully read the original 'Odyssey', but I hopefully know enough of the stories to get by. I'm looking forward to starting the book, I downloaded it last week only to turn on my Kindle and discover that the screen was quite badly broken! It looks as though someone has stood on it and fragmented the LCD screen, but the kindle has just been sat nicely on my bedside table in it's protective case. Thankfully AmazonUK have been great and have sent a new Kindle out in the post so I should be back up and running soon!
This months book

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Le Delice

I often hear Walthamstow described as an up-and-coming area, and having lived here for five years now, am starting to see some evidence to support that assertion. The village is already arguably the centrepoint of the Walthamstow revolution, with its series of wonderfully middle-class shops and restaurants ( I mean, even the Spar has an in house Sicilian pizza chef!), but the effect is slowly beginning to spread outwards towards the more run down areas. Hoe street has always been a particularly low point of the area for me, with its endless sequence of fried chicken shops, off licences and a suspicious looking 24hr sauna with frosted windows.
It was with some excitement then, that on my usual walk to the station one day I noticed the old Copycats printing shop on the corner of Jewel Road had been taken over. A sign appeared above the front door in ornate lettering bearing the words: 'Le Delice'. 'A new Deli!' I thought to myself 'Or a patisserie! And just around the corner from my house!' From then, each time I walked to the station I would look with anticipation at the whitewashed windows hoping for some sign that the refurbishment was progressing and that the place might be ready to open. And I waited. After one year had passed I assumed the plans had fallen through, and I abandoned my thoughts of lazy Sunday mornings reading the newspapers whilst enjoying a croissant after a leisurely walk through the park. It was not until earlier this year, just when I had given up all hope on the place, that I started to suddenly see some signs of life. The paper screens had been taken down to reveal a lovely little cafe with deli counter, and then finally in April, Le Delice opened.
Walking through the doors the first time on opening day, I was surprised to see how spacious the place is. Floor to ceiling windows all along one side give a wonderful light feeling to the place, which extends all the way down into a snug and cosy Moroccan inspired room at the back. For food you can choose from a range of tasty sandwich fillings, served on normal bread/paninis or the delightful homemade savoury pancakes (see photo) which I would highly recommend. The freshly made crepes are also excellent, but I have yet to work my way any further down the food menu! You can also enjoy a selection of enticing looking cakes from the front counter, and an ice cream bar. The staff have all been very friendly each time I have been in, especially the owner, who seemed delighted with the reception he was getting from the local community. All in all, Le Delice is another very welcome additon to Walthamstow and a great step in the right direction for the neighbourhood.

Here are the contact details for Le Delice:

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Save our cinema! Walthamstow EMD cinema protest

Last night marked an important milestone in the long-running quest to bring back Walthamstows beloved and neglected EMD cinema, as Waltham forest council met to decide whether or not to reject the UKCG's planning application to turn this historic venue into a church.



Shortly before 7pm the crowds started to gather on the steps of Walthamstow town hall, on one side local residents with placards and banners, and on the other side an equally large group of church supporters who were arriving in bus loads from other parts of east and north London. When the doors to the Assembly hall opened at around 7.15, the majority of the church supporters were able to rush inside, followed by as many cinema supporters as we could fit, leaving several hundred more cinema supporters including myself stuck outside!







And so began the agonising wait while the council meeting was called into session. Through twitter, facebook and texts we were kept informed of every detail of the proceedings inside. We glimpsed a photo of the Assembly hall interior, one side entirely full of UCKG supporters wearing matching neon yellow jackets. We were recounted tales from the pro-church speakers, describing how their lives had been turned around by the UKCG, we heard the rapturous applause and cheering from within when pastor Paul declared 'This cinema is OURS!'

Some enterprising individuals discovered an open window at the side of the hall, and we rushed round en masse, redoubling our efforts, chanting out our rallying cry 'Save our cinema!' as friends inside tweeted and texted encouragement: 'keep going! we can hear you singing!' I think it was around this point that we discovered that the social club bar was open, which only helped fuel our enthusiasm further. We heard statements from several councillors, who said that they had not heard a single word of support for the church from the many thousands of local residents that they represent.

At 9.15 we heard that proceedings were beginning to draw to a close, and we rushed back round to the assembly hall entrance, excitement spreading through the crowd as we waited for the crucial decision from the seven councillors. 'We've got the first 4 votes!' someone shouted, 'We just need one more to win!', as everyone stood frantically refreshing their phone screens for the latest update. And then: 'We've done it!'. A huge cheer erupted from the crowd as we heard how the councillors had unanimously voted to reject the UCKG's planning permission. Our supporters from the inside streamed back out to join the celebration as our chants (somewhat optimistically, I admit) turned into 'We saved our cinema!'.

So, what next? There is still a long way to go before we see a cinema open in Walthamstow, but last night really felt like a turning point. It was truly heartwarming to see so much community spirit on show last night with people of all ages coming out to support our cause. Here are a couple of clips to give you a flavour of the fantastic atmosphere.

The moment we heard the result:
video
More celebrations as people emerge from the hall! Now the crowd starts chanting 'We saved our cinema!'

video






To read the full story of the Walthamstow EMD cinema and find out more about how you can support the cause go to: http://www.mcguffin.org.uk/

Friday, 13 May 2011

Hoxton Salon Qype event



I was lucky enough to be invited along to Hoxton Salon in Shoreditch last night with about 12 or so other reviewers and bloggers for an evening of pampering organised by my favourite review site, Qype. The owner Paula and the staff were all so lovely and friendly and made us feel incrediblyHoxton Salon welcome.
First I went for a mini manicure where I was treated to a file, hand massage and polish in a rather funky mink colour whilst enjoying a girlie gossip with the lovely beauticians.
Next I went along for a styling session where my normally rather straight and boring hair was transformed into gorgeous voluminous curls in only 10 minutes or so - something I would never have managed to achieve for myself at home!
The hair and nails are still looking fab today - I can't believe how many nice comments and compliments I have had today from my coworkers. I would definitely like to come back some time for a cut or maybe try out the waxing that I am hearing so many good things about.
Thanks again to Paula, Sarah and everyone for organising a great evening!



Check out some more photos on the Qype does London blog here: http://london.blog.qype.com/2011/05/13/qype-event-hoxton-salons-pampering-event/

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Mondragone, Orford Road, Walthamstow

It was a real loss to Walthamstow village when Mondragone closed it's doors a few months ago. The pizzas were always great, not to mention the fact that it was the only place you could get a table on a Friday or Saturday night without booking.

So when it re-opened recently , under new management I believe, I had to go along and see if anything had changed. The menu appears pretty much the same as I remember,
with slightly cheaper prices -most pizzas are aorund £1 cheaper than previously. Apart from that, it felt like a welcome return for an old favourite, with attentive service and familiar tasting pizzas.

Two pizzas and two small glasses of wine came to £21 in total, so a great place for a quick inexpensive meal.
Mondragone Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Monday, 2 May 2011

In praise of Eat 17

Being something of a food enthusiast, I have always felt lucky to have so many great restaurants and cafes within walking distance of my home here in E17. Orford Road in Walthamstow village in particular has several such eateries clustered together along a short stretch of the village high street. When I ask my fellow Walthamstow'ers to name their favourite local restaurant, the most common reply I get back is 'Trattoria La Ruga' which is undoubtedly deserving of it's high reputation. In recent months however, I have found myself repeatedly returning to 'Eat 17', just across the road, which is rapidly establishing itself at the number one spot in my own personal estimations.


The past few years have been a rather turbulent time for this particular establishment; since I have been resident here I have seen it transform from Thai place to Waffle kitchen, then incorporating the East London sausage company in an adjoining deli, and finally into it's present incarnation where it hopefully seems to have stabilised. The present format seems to work well; the old deli next door has been opened up and converted into a beautiful bar area where customers can come for drinks or to wait for a table to become free. This modification has given so much more light and space to the restaurant and really changed the whole atmosphere and ambience of the place.


But the one thing that keeps me coming back here time and time again is the food! Every meal I've had here has been superbly cooked not to mention great value for money. I love all the quirky presentation details: the handcut chips come served in a mini chip-fryer basket (see photo), the bread rolls individually baked in little metal pots, starters elegantly arranged on black slates or wooden boards. The staff also have always been immaculately well presented, polite and knowledgeable. So, my advice, go to Eat 17 and enjoy! Just make sure to book a day in advance!




Eat 17 is located at 28-30 Orford Road, Walthamstow E17 9NJ


You can check them out here: www.eat17.co.uk

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Royal / Cat wedding festivities at the Nag's Head Walthamstow

A few more photos of the fun at The Nag's Head:








Royal Wedding celebrations in Walthamstow


Friday 29th April 2011 was a historic day for British people as we celebrated the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. I must admit having been a bit cynical in the run-up to the wedding, but watching the happy couple yesterday exchanging their vows amid all the patriotic pomp and pageantry of Westminster Abbey I found myself feeling quite emotional! As I was only a couple of weeks old when Charles and Diana got married in 1981 this was the first time that I'd really seen such a big royal celebration.

After the ceremony I decided to venture out to see how other E17'ers were enjoying their day-off in the April sunshine. First up was the Rose and Crown on Hoe street, who had closed off the side street next to the pub for a street party. They had gone for a family-friendly feel, with a barbecue, cupcakes and bunting decorating.






Later on we headed down to the Nag's Head who had been advertising a Cat's Wedding reception as their contribution to the wedding-themed festivities. The cat-loving owners had gone all out, and we saw photos of the happy feline couple, complete with veil for the bride and even a little dog for a best man wearing a tuxedo! The atmosphere in the evening was truly memCupcake at the cat's wedding reception, Nag's Head, Walthamstoworable, the pub overflowing with happy revellers crammed into every available space and spilling out onto Orford Road. We enjoyed some more cupcakes (this was not a good day for healthy food choices!) and sampled a couple of beers on offer at the Real Ale festival in the garden. By the time we left the wedding disco party was in full swing with plenty of impressive dance moves on show!

All in all it was a great day for the community, lets hope we can do something similar for the Queens Jubilee next year!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Lloyd park at Easter


What a difference a couple of weeks make! Just two weeks ago my usual walk through Lloyd park into town, I was wrapped up in my winter coat, watching the occasional hardy dog walker or jogger make their way across the muddy field. But not so today! Spring has definitely arrived, bringing with it waves of picnicking families, kite flying, and kids enjoying the new natural playground made from recycled fallen trees. Let's hope it lasts.







Location:Brettenham Rd,Walthamstow,United Kingdom