Monthly Archives: May 2014

PeanutPimpMama’s London Yum Yumzz 2014 – (Day Three) VIVO & Ottolenghi

PeanutPimpMamaDay Three- I wanted to sleep in so badly. I woke up at 6:00am with the sun blaring in my eyes after only being able to hit a cycle of REM by 3:00am. The next four-five hours were just plain torture as I had an alarm set for 10:00am and kept insisting on hitting the snooze button. PeanutPimpMama never has been a morning person and with jetlag she’s a nightmare. So day two was all about plotting purchases and by day three I pretty much had it nailed. I ended up with a gorgeous vintage opera scarf purchased at Annie’s Vintage in Islington. No buyer’s remorse here… I’ve wanted one for ages!


So I left my sunglasses in NYC and figured I’d be okay. Ironic enough the notoriously rainiest city in the world decided it was going to have a week of bright sunshine leaving a serious hole in my accessories collection. While I don’t typically need an excuse to buy new shades, It seemed silly to spend all my dollars on something I could get at home. So, I suffered for the afternoon as I was teased by countless passersby rocking their reflective Ray-Bans.

Pictured Here: Vivo's Storefront

I had this idea that I was actually going to blog while I was in London (imagine that) so as to prevent all of this backup of foodie-information I tend to collect. With this amazing weather I thought it would be a good idea to take my blog outside for extra motivation. As I was prancing along Upper St. (because that’s what you do on Upper St.) I passed this sign that said “Rooftop Open” at VIVO. I decided to peruse the space for a seat close to a vacant electrical socket. I scored.

Pictured Here: Vivo's Rooftop

This corner of the rooftop terrace was super convenient and cozy until these two loud customers showed up. Their mimosas only made them louder and more annoying. I had to vacate after my rosé was finished. We’ve all been there.


A little about my experience @ VIVO: After checking out my seating situation I went back downstairs to observe their dining system. It wasn’t very obvious at first sight like you might think… There was definitely a bar (check*) but it was clearly a service bar with no stool-age. There was a glass case which ran the length of the resto filled with delectable foodies of all Italian-inspired sorts. After lingering for a bit I was told to order my food near the glass case as well as my wine where it was tallied up and paid for with a credit card. The next stop was at the service bar area to pick up my wine before heading upstairs. The staircase was a bit intimidating with a tray of sliding objects. It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen, or it would be in the US.


Check out my salad: Pumpkin & ricotta -roasted pumpkin, ricotta, mixed leaves and balsamic vinegar. Where did they find pumpkins in April? (no idea) I had them put a little olive oil on there as well and made sure to request a salt and pepper mill. It was a great choice but pretty darn naughty for a salad. I love it… Let’s take some calorie free lettuce and put about 300 calories of cheese and oil on it and then throw in another hundred calories of nuts. Voila! Totes yum yumz though, and this was lighter fare here at VIVO. The delicious things went on for days.


Speaking of delicious things for days, I had a sweet tooth as I was leaving. I decided to make my way over to the Ottolenghi for a look at the desserts they pile high in their window. On a weekday afternoon you’ll find a couple of “Mums” with strollers and not the usual bustling crowd. I felt like I might have been bothering the girl at the “till” by asking her to explain the desserts. Oh well, who needs customer service when the desserts speak for/sell themselves?


I’d have had better luck being blind folded and spun around three times. It was like a diabetic’s dream or nightmare. I was overwhelmed with choices. I ended up with a hazelnut cheesecake.

125There you go.


Then I saw this and I had a moral dilemma in spite of the pressure. I went in for sweets…Why did I want more savory things? I can’t be the only person Ottolenghi does this to. Sorry shop girls!

Pictured Here: Aubergines

Pictured above is the product of my eyes being bigger than my stomach. It made for a nice way to economize and save on another dinner out. I decided to keep the theme Mediterranean and light so I could splash out on my cheesecake dessert in the evening. My aubergine salad (Grilled aubergine with with what tasted like a walnut goat cheese bread crumb topping) was out of this world. I finished off that bottle of wine from the “down under” before attending some pub theatre at The Hen & Chickens. I was always so curious about the shows there! (Only 5 pounds to attend)  It was nice to enjoy this garden finally… It was actually very peaceful.


It Instagram’d well too.

Pictured Here: Silly Dog

Here’s a picture of this dog I saw on Upper St.. Just because… It’s my blog and he’s cute.


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PeanutPimpMama’s London Yum Yumzz 2014 – (Day Two) Shamineh’s Art Gallery & Cafe, The Drapers Arms and Maison d’être

PeanutPimpMamaSometimes the best ideas happen at 3:00am, especially when they are bubble-fueled. I decided instead of going home to Highbury-Islington after St. Pancras that sleeping in Colindale was the smartest idea. After all, no one should taxi home alone and it was Palm Sunday. I had ambitiously scheduled “Church” on my London itinerary before meeting a friend at The Drapers Arms for brunch. In spite of our devout religious efforts the morning went a little differently than originally planned. We made it to church alright… I’m surprised the roof didn’t cave in when we stepped on premise.

Pictured Here: Christ Church Road

My friends have two adorable little boys, and they will be attending Christ Church School in Hampstead soon. They have been attending this church for a while now as a family. Since I have always loved Hampstead (me and every other American) I figured a nice morning in the area was in order.


 The architecture was certainly impressive from the outside.

It was such a glorious day out that we decided to recover bask in the sun at a local coffee shop down the road called Shamineh’s Art Gallery Cafe.


One Chai Tea Latte and bottle of water later and I was a new(er) woman.


I saw this dog while sitting there. Why don’t they make dogs this obedient on our continent?

Pictured Here: Obedience

I tried my hardest to make it on time for my brunch plans but that was an epic fail. If only London wasn’t so sprawling. I ended up heading to The Drapers Arms alone. Normally I never have issues dining solo, but for whatever reason that day I felt super awkward. Perhaps the-hang had heightened some anxiety issues and jet lag wasn’t helping my cause.

103Well, yep there it is… This is the front of The Drapers Arms. (I feel my photographer friends cringing over this pic already hehe) Behind it is the bluest London-sky I ever did see! After I walked in and surveyed the dining area hoping to see a familiar face, I gave up and perched at the bar. It was Sunday lunch and the place was packed to the gills with Londonites “Too cool for school”, with their jumpers (translation: sweaters) tied around their shoulders and ray bans rested on their foreheads. The space was so airy and the sun was shining right through the tall open windows as I gazed at the pink shower of cherry blossom petals outside. I felt like I was in a movie.

Pictured Here: Seasonal Asparagus and Quail Egg

My bartender was good people…He was attentive, not overly chatty and honest about the menu. (Sometimes you just don’t want to be spoken to.) When I asked what they were known for he pointed out their shared roast for Sundays. (True story, they come out on amazing ornate platters that could turn a vegetarian into a carnivore with that massive puddle of skinned gravy and potatoes permeating the room.) For smaller options (dining solo, and yes he asked) he recommended the seasonal special of Asparagus with quail egg to start. He also suggested the braised venison with pistachios and home-made pappardelle, or the slow roast Blythburg pork belly with roast potatoes, seasonal vegetables & apple sauce as main courses. Evidently the Asparagus was a really big deal to my bartender as he couldn’t push that plate any harder with his OTT excitement about England’s Asparagus high season! (Really? You do learn something new everyday.) It’s just not a vegetable that gets that much hype/thought, except for its association with less than desirable smells it has tendencies to cause. Poor Es-pa-rrra-gooose!


I didn’t listen to my suggestions and paid for it. As I chose the whole brown crab (served chilled) with an herb salad and mayonnaise, I got that look of uncertainty from the bartender. He told me it would be a good choice if I didn’t mind “fiddling around with utensils and that sort of thing”. Of course that was British for: “RED FLAG! DON’T DO IT! YOU’LL NEVER HAVE THE MAN-POWER TO CRACK THE SHELL ON THIS BLOODY CRAB.” So what did I do? I had the pretty woman moment except I was at a bar and all alone with a crab and not escargot. I think I got about two bites of meat out of that giant crab. Sad story.

 As if I wasn’t already fazed by the hardware. #slipperycrabproblems?

So Sunday was pretty chill after my frustrating run-in with Mr. Crab. I walked around the shops and began plotting purchases. With so many cute coffee shops in the area day two’s caffeine-fix consisted of a trip to Maison D’etre Cafe for an iced mocha. I really wanted an affogato, but they ran out of vanilla gelato. T’was a sad moment for PeanutPimpMama since she really wanted an ice cream. What better way to justify unnecessary dessert in the middle of the day than mixing it with your espresso?


This coffee shop sits caddy-corner to the Highbury-Islington tube. It had a nice buzz each day I passed by with its fair share of lap-top loungers. I dig the vintage paper straws they use.


The evening brought me to my first live improv show ever (by invitation of my friend from the Paris days in 2007). Afterwards I wound down at the flat with the vino pictured above (what you get for 8 pounds) and a home cooked meal of gnocchi with mushrooms, sundried tomato and peas in a creamy Stilton sauce with fresh cracked black pepper. Ingredients were all purchased at my favorite Waitrose Express. Not too shabby for impromptu home-made yum yumzz.

imageWARNING: This is not fat free. I’m still paying for it a month later.

Bloated and yours,


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PeanutPimpMama’s London Yum Yumzz 2014 – (Day One) Little Gem, Borough Market, Neal’s Yard Dairy, Chin Chin Labs, Mighty Fine Chocolate & Fudge Kitchen and Shrimpy’s Pop-Up Mexican Resto!

I have been a naughPeanutPimpMamaty blogger. While I know that this is something I should be doing on the daily (as it would help with my entry-constipation) I’m lacking discipline. It doesn’t help that my laptop is a dinosaur and it has actually come to the point where I don’t like to upload my images to it in fear of crashing. I have been working from the same one since 2006 when it was the hot-rod of computers. Recently it was pulled out of the bin at airport security for “looking suspicious”. Smaller in diameter, it has the weight of about ten MAC-books in one. I never fail to amaze the genius bar. Now I just use it to catch up on Gossip Girl Netflix. (Yeah I just said that.)

A Vintage MAC

Who really looks forward to spending 3k on a new computer when they spend their entire work day glaring at one? I can think of a lot of things to do with three thousand dollars: Return to Euroland, buy some Loubuotins, hit up some celeb chef restos… If only I could blog at least half as fast as I can eat, I’d be in good shape (writing-wise). Bear with me as I find some time to share with you my tales of international foodie travels at a leisurely pace.

Day One Soggies:

Welcome to London

I had been planning to head out to London for a while now. Unfortunately I missed the tail end of a couple friends staying or living there. However, I feel like the city has become the “6th borough” in a lot of ways which is amazing. Or, maybe I’ve just had enough life experiences at this point (I’m now old) and there seem to be ex-colleagues and classmates spread all over the globe making “trotting” quite the easy experience.

Pictured Here: Landing in London on InstagramFirst and foremost I’d like to draw some attention to this wicked-cool Instagram I took while landing. London is quite an attractive city from the air. I give credit where it’s due.

Pictured Here: Flat on Highbury Place When I arrived I bought my Oyster straight away and headed to Highbury-Islington Station, a.k.a. home for the next four days. After nearly 1.5 years it seems it has become an even more ideal location for PeanutPimpMama’s habits like eating the delicious foodies, drinking and hunting for the vintage & designer bargains. I’m not sure what I would compare this area to in NYC. It has the quaintness of the West Village, but some qualities that tie in some East Village maybe even Billy-burgh points (dare I say). The flat I stayed in (pictured above) is located right on Highbury Place which is steps from the tube and now featured on All I can say is that I have really good taste. I approve of the host (Ziya) as he was super cheerful and welcoming. I can’t speak highly for his taste in drapery however. It messed with my pristine vision.

Pictured Here: The Garden

This flat offers a garden where you can sit and enjoy the London Fog sun and prepare a meal on the terrace, or perhaps sip a spot of tea while taking in the lovely scenery.

Pictured Here: A Purple Flower

These purple flowers live here.

Pictured Here: White Door and a Brick Wall

And this door…Tell me you don’t want to know what’s behind the door. Little door in the middle of a giant brick wall…You know you want to open it.

Pictured Here: Corsica St.

I hit the ground running. Thanks to the likes of facebook facilitating “getting in touch” at the blink of an eye, I had my first London hang out planned within twenty minutes. First it was time to grab a coffee to ward off any oncoming jet-lag. My first stop (by recommendation) was Little Gem on Corsica Street which is located right around the block. This is one of many quaint coffee shops in the area.

Pictured Here: Little Gem Storefront

It’s a tiny hole-in-the-wall but super cute and gets the job done, kind of. There are a couple seats inside where you can sit and nosh, or you can place your order for “take away” and head outside. Their pastry cases look a bit lonely, but you can order some light fare from somewhere in there. (The London accent on the barista was unexpected.)

imageI decided to go for the Green Tea Latte. Little Gem needs to learn how to use the steamer. My latte had a nice flavor but it was less than warm and I sucked it down in 2.5 seconds. Granted I do tend to drink beverages on the quick side. I need the heat as a deterrent!


After I chucked that cup in the bin, I decided to take a short stroll while waiting for my friend to arrive. Highbury Fields was in full bloom and the green leaves were so pretty. It was a shame the sky was a tad overcast…No use for a sunny London anyhow. Ironic enough, I had nearly 8 days of a rain-less Soggies. That’s not very soggy.


My friend Biggles (whom I met in 2006 at Parsons Paris) picked me up on his Triumph! It was super cool zipping around London via motorcycle. I have heard this is the way to see the city. I guess there’s a first for everything.


We ended up at Borough Market where I got a sick view of The Shard. They’re quite proud of that building you know…It’s right up their with their Gherkin and their Walkie-Talkie. This place brought back memories of my cousin’s visit in 2006 when we hit up Vinopolis. Edu(m)acational wine-tasting in London, who knew? I swear I still have one of their over-sized souvenir t shirts kicking around my pajama drawer at home…Evidently I earned that shirt through my diligent studies.

021As I walked among all of the food concessions, everything was so tempting. I went with some delicious salt & pepper chilli squid, and got my Fish & Chips out of the way. Deep fried seafood was the theme of the afternoon as my fat cells expanded.


On the way back to the bike we popped into Neal’s Yard Dairy where I plotted my cheese fondue selection for a long standing tradition with my dear friend Linda. I could stand in there all day sampling les fromages. We almost did.


Eventually I had to purchase something and off we went. It was time for ice cream in Camden Town.

Linda and I met up at Chin Chin Labs which was on my list of “to-do’s.



Chin Chin found a way to create the freshest ice cream known to mankind by blending the ingredients in the laboratory-like white Kitchen-Aid mixers with Liquid Nitrogen. It creates a fascinating vapory-spectacle to watch after you select your treat and pay. They switch up their flavors frequently, so you’re sure to have a different experience every time.

035This is what you end up with. The mix I had was titled something along the lines of “Easter Egg.” It was a Madagascan Vanilla(r) ice cream with heather honeycomb, pistachio & cardamom powder and (what tasted like chocolate magic shell) Valrhona chocolate. When I selected my concoction I had the approval of the Ice-cream scientists to ease any chance of ice-cream buyer’s remorse that might set in. It was delightful and I’d totally go back or recommend this to a friend.


Sitting in Camden is always such a surreal experience. In all of the markets I’ve been to in my life, the Lock is something special and will never get old. It is pure over stimulation of the senses, a visual explosion choc full of the things. Anyone can find something there to eat, drink, or buy.


After I had my ice cream, I couldn’t help but notice the sign next door advertising the “Mighty Fine Chocolate & Fudge Kitchen”. That is exactly what they serve in all forms (solid, smushy and liquid) including 100 different flavors. To tell you the truth I was a bit underwhelmed. Their website is worth a visit since they make their concept look so fun! A return might be in order.


Anyhow the chocolate man was really sweet and quite the conversationalist. I bought a sympathy hot chocolate since Chin Chin seemed to be stealing all the customers that day. (It was hot by London standards, a whole 65 degrees Farenheit) My chocolat chaud was banana flavored with honeycomb and whipped cream. Evidently the owners of both Chin Chin and MFC&F played “football” together and go way back. (translation: soccer)


By the time we wrapped things up at the market and it was time to get ready for dinner, the sun was about to set. I took the prettiest pictures at sun-down.


For my welcome night in London I was surprised with a ladies night out by Linda (Mum of two) for which I was really grateful. (Thank you Dominic!!) We were trying to figure out where to go for dinner (last minute) which is always a challenge in the land of planning. My plane arrived late that day so we missed a culinary extravaganza at Nathan Outlaw. I wasn’t in town 24 hours and was already giving me a “talking to” about not taking my reservations seriously, hence blacklisting me. I wonder if there is a probationary period or if I’m banned forever. They take reservations seriously in Soggies!

softshell crabEverything worked out for the best as it always does. We landed a reservation at Shrimpy’s which is a pop-up Mexican restaurant located in a filling station (translation: gas station) at King’s Cross St. Pancras. Suddenly the Brits have a new found love for Mexican cuisine and I am absolutely over the moon about this! We sat at the bar where service was super attentive and they kept our margaritas at appropriate levels. (Much respect for The Habanero Margie: Tequila, Lime Juice, Agave and Hot Habanero Sauce) We kept the meal simple and straightforward starting with some “chips and dips”- guac and salsas, later moving on to our mains. I ordered their Soft Shell Crab Burger: soft shell crab, rouille, provolone and avocado. It originally came out with bacon and I have to say the bacon would have been great left on. (Poor me the pseudo-veggie) This PeanutPimpMama-safe burger was off the charts. Feeling extra naughty? You can double your crabs for an extra five pounds! Okay enough of that…


I can’t seem to wrap my mind around how much that area has changed since 2006. It actually has venues that are quite posh. Speaking of POSH, our evening ended with a couple bottles of vintage bubbly at the St. Pancras hotel. We probably should have had one less than a couple… But hey who’s counting?


We <3 bubbles!


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Sprinkles Cupcakes- PeanutPimpMama Cupcake Diaries

HaPeanutPimpMamappy Thursday from NYC! I’m finally back (in one piece) with no foreseeable travels in the near future. I’m not going to lie…It feels kind of good. Some down time will allow me to update my library with all of the delicious foodies I’m so excited to share with you. With London and Montreal behind me, I’m now officially backed up on two amazing international experiences. I appreciate your patience as I learn to process all of this information and grow as a blogger and your international foodie informer. Hey, eating is a lot of hard work.

It’s not the nicest of New York City days today. The cloudy blob of mist is less than motivating to trudge through as the week comes to a close. Since I brought a lovely viral souvenir back from Canada, I spent about 72 hours on liquids, 24 on mushy foods and finally got my appetite back this morning (hard-core). I don’t want to bore you with my run-of-the-mill breakfast and lunch tales. I want to talk about cupcakes. I need some light and fluffy material for a day like today. (wah wah)

Pictured Here: Sprinkles THE BAG

The first time I experienced Sprinkles was during a sun-shiney Summer day in Chi-town last year. I had just nailed an interview and was in search of a celebratory snack. Bopping along the Gold Coast I ran into THE CUPCAKE ATM. I stopped dead in my tracks from pure shock. (You must be thinking…Obviously by now this is old news PeanutPimpMama!) However this Godly-creation hadn’t yet made it to New York. I was instantly jealous I wasn’t responsible for this genius technology.

Pictured Here: The S'more Cupcake @ Sprinkles

BAM~! There it is…My first Sprinkles experience ever. The S’more cupcake is pretty self explanatory: Graham cracker lined Belgian chocolate cake filled with bittersweet chocolate ganache and topped with toasted marshmallow frosting. I was blown away. The bottom was a bit of a led sinker, but the cake was so fluffy and all of the different consistencies made for a sticky project for which their mouth-splintering utensils came in handy. (Hahahah you faithful Sprinkles fans know I don’t lie about the mouth splintering.) Sadly this one was served over the counter and not out of the ATM. I needed the freshest of fresh for an honest assessment.

Pictured Here: Banana Dark Chocolate and Triple Cinnamon Minis @Sprinkles

Faithful PPM readers know about my love for the non-committal mini. What woman doesn’t love a miniature cake with a third of the guilt and 100% of the taste? It totally suits my only-child-syndrome which leaves me in constant need to try all-of -the-things in fear I may never see food again. While I know I don’t have a base of comparison to grasp the scale of these little do-dads, they’re about an inch and a half high and wide with a generous pillow of icing to cure your mid-afternoon crash. My only complaint: What is with the the bizarre little space-like orbiting disks they use for decoding their flavors? Every time I go in for the kill I know I’m going to hate the way that thing tastes and I eat it every time. Ah!

I get it Sprinkles- Spacey, Technologically Bound, Forward Thinking, Environmentally Aware, Green Cupcakery (Let’s hope those awful forks are recycled)… I’m so glad you had a Strawberry cake/Strawberry iced cupcake for me during Lent when I gave up chocolate. You kept me human! Keep on keepin’ on wit-chyo Batteries-Not-Included cupcake self. One day, I expect them to fly off the shelf and into my mouth.

I <3 U.


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