Ironically, our visit to The Happenstance was nohappenstance itself but I can understand how people could easily stumble upon it. Just a stones throw from St Pauls and Fleet Street offices, this would be a haven for both well walked tourists and desk slaves. It’s part bar, part restaurant, part deli and florist?! That’s a lot of hats to juggle but on this particular evening, we were only concerned with what they can manage with their restaurant hat on!
We were guided through the bar, which was full every which way you look, to the dining room at the rear. I was immediately taken aback by how huge it is, and though it may be a little done to death, I loved that painfully engineered rustic interior, the high ceilings, and open kitchen combination. The kitchen is big too, which is understandable when you look at the variety of dishes it promises to churn out – in my mind, more dishes equals more pressure so I had my fingers crossed for the kitchen team.
I looked up from the table and over at a certain someone. He had done the same thing as me: knife and fork down, paper napkin placed politely over his plate, hand reached out for another piece of bread. Even without words, I knew exactly what he was thinking as those same thoughts were bouncing around my head too. I’m not sure I can finish the rest of it, I still hate cumin, and whose bright idea was it to come to Morocco?
That was the first tagine we ate at the start of our visit to Morocco and it was such a disaster, it almost became our last. Where were the intense spices and aromas which were supposed to assault our senses? Not in the bowl in front of us, that we were certain. A friend with Moroccan heritage had warned me that the best food was probably served in people’s homes as the country doesn’t traditionally have a huge dining out culture, so maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised by our shaky start. Continue Reading
As we were nearing the end of a 45 minute taxi ride which probably should’ve taken 30, had it not been for the road closure, backtracking, and detour, I thought, ‘jeez, we go to great lengths for dinner’. The taxi was the final piece of the puzzle too; months before that there was the restaurant reservation, hotel and train bookings, and the actual journey from London to Bristol the day before. When we eventually arrived at the restaurant, the driver was in a state of disbelief because our destination looked like any other country pub, and not the Michelin star restaurant we were describing.
However we know that not all pubs are created equal, and we assured our driver that The Pony and Trap was one of the exceptional ones. It first came onto our radar during last year’s Great British Menu – one of the few tv shows we actually watch and one of my favourites for providing dining out inspiration across the UK. As soon as I saw Josh Eggleton plate up a pie that wasn’t really a pie and a dessert that paid homage to the Calendar Girls, I decided his restaurant was one I wanted to visit. The chef himself was confident (maybe even portrayed as a little cocky through crafty editing?) and his food equally so, which was enough to convince us.
When did cruises become a cool holiday choice? Recently, I’ve had a few cruisers in my company – people who have either just come back or gearing up to set sail; they’re always really excited and, here’s the true shock, they have all been under 60. I know it’s a total cliche, but I kind of thought cruises were reserved for those in their golden years. That stage in life when one is less enthused about their hotel being a euphemistic, brisk away from anything of note, and the thought of someone planning your days is a godsend. Don’t lie, you were thinking it too.
Honestly, the idea of a cruise makes me a little nervous… being on a gigantic boat out at sea doesn’t really appeal to someone who is scared of deep water. On a more pragmatic level, I have other reservations – is there enough to keep me occupied while we’re at sea? Can the cabins really be as big as any other hotel room? Does the food stand any chance of being decent? All the shiny brochures will say a resounding yes, but that’s their job… I wasn’t quite convinced, so the only thing to do was to jump on board and see for myself!
What’s so special about pizza? It’s nothing but a bit of dough topped with a handful of ingredients, sometimes even less, then baked in the oven. That’s it. No tricky cooking techniques, no fancy kitchen gadgets… when done right, a good pizza is oh so delicious… and satisfying… and addictive. Its simplicity makes it accessible; it’s food for the people – why else would it be so well known and well loved all over the world?
Italy does them the traditional way, New York has the huge $1 slices, Copenhagen like theirs organic, and there’s even no shortage of hole in the wall pizza vendors in Havana; pizza is everywhere. Here in London, pizza seems to be enjoying a moment in the limelight and as a result there are decent pizza restaurants popping up in every nook and cranny of the city. No complaints from this end because I bloody love pizza.
Long before I acquired a certain someone as my regular dining and travel buddy, I had some other partners in crime. Throughout my high school and university days, I was mostly a single lady and I did what other footloose and fancy free ladies did… hit the town with my girls! Back then, the travel destinations were not as extensive or exotic but there were still plenty of road trips, beach holidays, shopping days, and always lots of eating and drinking along the way. We laughed, we cried, we did things we would never ever do now… but it was always fun.
I still see many of these ladies regularly (by London standards anyway)… a few I have known since the tender age of 11, some since university, and others I’ve met more recently; but all I’m happy to call my friends. As everyone’s work lives and social schedules get busier and busier, it gets harder and harder to fit in quality girl time so I was super excited when a group of us booked in a weekend away to Bordeaux; no boys allowed, this was a girls only weekend!