Monthly Archives: June 2014

PeanutPimpMama’s London Yum Yumzz 2014 – (Day Six) Hummingbird Bakery,The Searcys Champagne Bar, The Heron Tower Private Member’s Club, Barbecoa

(Day Six) PeanutPimpMamaI woke up at The Blakes and had to rush off to my hair appointment at Mad Lillies in Hampstead. I set my alarm pretty early but the snooze button got the best of me once again. I was going to lose out on the opportunity to try the Blakes’s coconut chili porridge…How amazing does that sound?! Essentially it is oatmeal (Goldilocks) boiled with coconut, lemongrass, caramelized lime with chopped banana stirred in. It’s like English-Thai fusion breakfast. Sadly I had to give up on this dream and pursue other caloric intake. Time was of the essence, so a pop-in to the Hummingbird Bakery had to suffice.

Pictured Here: Hummingbird Bakery London

I visited the one on Old Brompton Road and grabbed a red velvet cupcake. It’s a cute little shop that fancies itself as the Magnolia of London “providing authentic American baking” with their cupcakes and overgrown cake stands. While their flavors might not be so adventurous their product is available at 6 locations which clearly shows some level of serious demand. Their rainbow cake and giant cupcake-cakes are wicked cool and worth a gander.

Pictured Here: A red velvet cupcake by Hummingbird Bakery

The Cupcake Experience: I took a bite and couldn’t figure out why (for the life of me) it tasted so buttery and yet the cake part was less moist than most. One of my favorite things about red velvet is the pillowy cake combined with rich cream-cheesy icing. I’m not sure what was going on here… Maybe Red Velvet is best left State-side? Look at the twee little carrying case I received! They sure do “twee” well, don’t they?

Pictured Here: Hummingbird Bakery Carrying Case

I arrived at the salon in a timely fashion since I was excited to get my “hairs did.” It has become a London tradition for me to come back to NY with some funky Euro-hairs. Back in 2008 I nearly gave my mom a heart attack. I decided that since Agnis Dayne was rocking white hair that I should too. The only issue was that everyone made insulting Eastern-Euro references at me instead of appreciating exactly how chic and à la mode I actually was.

Pictured Here: Two fools and a magnum of DomI’ll never forget the night I missed my Eurostar train to Paris and finally christened facebook with the very first pictures of my new hair. Pictured Above: London-bestie Linda and I breaking-in The Champagne Bar at Kings Cross St. Pancras circa 2008. It too was brand new back then.

54492338_9X2pooULRuMKIT11oPYPxXE4BmbdTx14et9OgXfaS-UA whole six years later and many natural white hairs…I was still in recovery from the asymmetrical bob from my 32nd birthday. That said, we had a little evening out to do. The final London-do touches included an undercut and fringe trim.

Pictured Here: Cocktail Hour All dolled up and nowhere to go… I met Linda in the city for a light nosh and a cocktail.

Pictured Here: Drinks at The Heron Tower

I was able to get the royal tour of The Heron Tower and The Private Members Club. It is a gorgeous building with a lovely clubhouse space! They make a mean mudslide too. wink*

Pictured Here: IPAG 2005 Reunion @Barbecoa

That evening I had one of many IPAG reunions (this year) near St.Paul’s at Jamie Oliver’s Restaurant- Barbecoa. Their concept: As the UK’s first BBQ Steakhouse is to combine the four elements to create a sensory and satisfying experience. Well done Chef Oliver!

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It offers an incredible view of the city and St. Paul’s Cathedral, an open kitchen (pictured below) to watch all of the magic happen, solid cocktails aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand they pass out a feeding!

Pictured Here: The Kitchen @ Barbecoa

For my starter I chose the Tandoori Wild Prawns. These prawns were served over lime and pickled yoghurt with tomatoes, garlic crisps and chestnut smoke. Fingertipkissperfection*

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Along with this amazing prawn dish we shared two other starters which included the Scallop Crudo and the Smoked and Coal Roasted Beetroot.

Pictured Here: Shared starters for the tableAll of these dishes had an interesting play on hot and cold temperatures, consistencies and flavors with a hint of smokiness to remind you of this very “original” BBQ concept.

imageIt was time for my main course. I ended up having their Cod special of the day. Those are sprinkled bits of bacon on my main, it’s true. This may be a meat-heavy restaurant but I would say a “Pescatarian” would fair quite well. You need to be cool with people sneaking bits of mammal onto your plate as garnish and tasty side orders of starches and vegetables (and they are quite tasty).

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Not sure how I left London without putting on 20kilos. We went all-in and had dessert too. This was the second oblong chocolate log I consumed in less than 72 hours. Here we have the Barbecoa Brownie with salted caramel ice cream and honeycomb bubble sugar. (A chocoholics dream and a diabetic’s worst nightmare!)

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On the way out (when I wasn’t running late or literally) I was able to take a look into the kitchen. It’s open and visible to a good portion of the dining room which creates an energetic vibe. We sat a bit further away but since the entire restaurant has floor to ceiling windows we still had a great view and plenty of ambiance.

Good Food, drinks, company and a view of this… You just can’t beat it!

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This guy…

~PeanutPimpMama

For More Information Please Visit:

hummingbirdbakery.com

madlillies.co.uk

barbecoa.com

Questions, Comments, Concerns please email to: PeanutPimpMama@aol.com

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PeanutPimpMama’s London Yum Yumzz 2014 – (Day Five) The Blakes, The Café at Bluebird

By the time I made mPeanutPimpMamay way up to the tube and tried to catch a taxi, I was in amazement at how all of my baggage suddenly felt as though it had multiplied. It was impossible, yet I felt it was so much harder to fold my belongings into my case than it was leaving NY. I hit the road like a trooper with the remaining cuppies in hand. I arrived at The Blakes a bit tired and weary. Exactly what I didn’t want to happen happened. I spent the majority of the morning in transit and now I was just settling in without a plan or knowledge of the immediate area. So I asked for some advice at check-in and ended up at The Café at Bluebird located at 350 King’s Road, London.

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I was hesitant to try this place out because my hotel had described it as some sort of a one-stop-shopping venue of spa/cafe/boutique. The mental image I had in my mind’s eye was not good. Maybe I thought it would have more of a commercialized feel? I never went to see the spa facilities but the café was clearly adorable and the boutique had a lot of off-beat hipsterlicious and upscale merchandise. It was exceptionally beautiful outside and that meant that everyone wanted terrace seating. I had envisioned enjoying a salad in the open-air myself. I was minus a pair of aviators though, and this made me sad to sit amongst all of these über cool kids with their bug-eyed reflective frames.

The Experience:

Well it all started with a Pimm’s Cup… Even that took a year and a day to arrive.

Pictured Here: A Pimm's Cup @ Cafe Bluebird

While I’m all for lounging about on a sunny day, it took Bluebird’s staff twenty minutes to properly regard my presence before I was given a less than desirable table in the shade. Brrrr! At this point I was so hungry I was about to have a hypoglycemic attack and that would not have been cute. To be fair, the Pimm’s cup put me in a better mood. Those Brits are good at this sort of thing.

Pictured Here: Haloumi Skewers

I was so starved that I decided to go for two courses. The first course I selected was the Grilled Haloumi Skewers. (Featured Above: Grilled Haloumi, courgette, red onion, pepper and Romesco sauce) Besides the fact that I now had to wait another half an hour for these to come out, they were acceptable. You can’t really go wrong with chunks of salty grilled cheese and vegetables can you? They hit-the-spot but I was scared to think of how long I might have to wait for the second course.

Pictured Here: The Cafe Bluebird

Post Haloumi: It was already about 4:00pm and my attempt at a late lunch was now about to turn into dinner. No excuse Bluebird! At least there were less and less sunny-seated patrons to be jealous of.

Pictured Here: Rose at Cafe BluebirdI made an attempt to cancel that second course of salmon cake. However, I was promised that it was coming out- straight away! Knowing full well about public faux-pas and our extreme differences in customer service (no doubt you’ve come a long way baby) I just requested that they bring me another drink while I patiently awaited my deep fried fish ball. I will assume the glass of wine they forgot to add to my bill was for the less than attentive service I received. Wink*

Pictured Here: A salmon cake at Cafe Bluebird

Well there it is, the moment I had waited nearly two hours for. My main course of salmon cake with mixed leaves, saffron and chili aioli had finally made it all the way out to the table. My guess was that the chef  must have left for Canada to swim against the river currents (both ways) in order to catch some Salmon before presenting it on my plate.

Pictured Here: Chelsea, London

After my lunch, I decided to walk it off by shopping for some shades and a spa treatment. My long stroll down Kings Road led me to Kurt Geiger where I found a pair of reflectors. I figured with only two stores in the US they were way more novel as a mid-range pair of sunnies than if I purchased a designer pair I could get anywhere. Done deal.

Pictured Here: Cafe Nocciola at Ca' Puccino Chelsea, London

With about thirty minutes left of daylight, I decided to have a coffee as my post-purchase-celebration beverage at this café called Ca’ Puccino. (Some of you might recognize this from real-time on Insta.) The Nocciola was dessert in a little glass: Espresso, hazelnut syrup fresh whipped cream with hazelnuts sprinkled on top. It was the perfect end to a beautiful afternoon in Chelsea! 

Pictured Here: The Blakes

I made my way back to my humble accommodation where I was pointed in the direction of the Rembrandt Hotel. Since I spent the majority of my afternoon waiting on a salmon cake, it dipped into my spa-time leaving few business hours left for any massagey. Frown*

Pictured Here: Hotel Sign Selfie @ The Blakes Hotel Chelsea, London

I made the best of my evening with a trip to The Rembrandt Hotel’s Pool and Sauna. For fifteen pounds I was able to enjoy all of their facilities including the gym, baby-free pools, sauna, and steam room. I thought that was a pretty good deal for some relaxation! As nice as The Blakes Hotel is, they are sadly short of these options. For 140 pounds and the cost of some greasy sheets, you can have a massage therapist come to your room and sort you out.

Pictured Here: Dinner @ The Blakes After taking full advantage of the spa facility at The Rembrandt, I came back to my hotel quite late. I showered and changed for dinner downstairs at the hotel’s bar. They were closing and I had no interest in being “that last customer” expecting full service. I had a pretty late and heavy afternoon of indulging so I looked at the enticing menu of foodies and drink and then pondered over the daily specials. The hostess spoke highly of their artichoke soup. I went for that and a side of their truffle fries, so not to put anyone out. The soup was outstanding! It was a light meal and a half representation of what I feel this restaurant could turn out. I would love to come back for the full sha-bang.

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The bartender was incredibly hospitable. After I switched from cocktails (all of his designs) to wine, he gave me my own private tasting so I could make an educated selection. We had a long conversation about travel, his journey from France to London and forming a successful career as a competitive Mixologist. The comparison of people that seek out a career in hospitality in Europe versus the people that just fall into it in the USA is astounding. I’m glad there is magic in it still for some.

Pictured Here: The Parisian @ The Blakes Hotel - London

It’s clear that as one of the first boutique concept hotels in the world they draw quite the international crowd and provide quality service along with fantastic food and drink. My only critique is that my room could have used a little love. Some of the wall paper was a bit tattered and worn. For the price you pay in an establishment like this, it’s all about details details details! I am my mother’s daughter… I will find them.

Pictured Here: Mews in Chelsea

 I notice all of the nooks and crannies of every place I stay.

London Yum Yumzz 2014 TBC…

<3 PPM

For More Information Please Visit:

www.bluebird-restaurant.co.uk

www.blakeshotels.com

Questions, Comments, Concerns please email to: PeanutPimpMama@aol.com

Click Like* and Share* with your Friends! Also follow my foodie adventures on Twitter and Instagram!

The Banoffee Cuppie ~ Available for Orders (inquire within)

peanutpimpmama

 Introducing: The Banoffee Cuppie

By day four I was inspired to do some baking. I decided I’d make some use of the kitchen in the flat once more. The only thing standing in my way was the lack of (real) oven and some baking utensils. One of the really awesome things about Highbury-Islington is all the ways you can dispense your dollars. I decided that I would head on over to Gill Wing Cookshop on Upper Street and fill my void. There I picked up a French whisk and small cupcake pan along with some beautiful cupcake papers that had assorted patterns and floral designs. It was quite the inspiring container.

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What to bake…I suddenly had this genius idea to make banoffee cuppies. What could be more English? I had yet to run into any banoffee pies in the last couple of days and it’s the one type of pie that doesn’t require actual baking. Not to mention the ingredients are simple and inexpensive. (PeanutPimpMama likes that.)

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I started with some McVitie’s digestives. (Don’t even get me going on sweet biscuits!? These get a pass since they have grains in them.) I picked the chocolate backed ones because, why not? The truth is I’ve always had a major weakness for these and I can plow through a pack like a total monster. I found a tidy way to smash them up in a plastic bag and stirred the crumbs with melted butter in a small pot.

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I then lined my cupcake tray with my new found decorative wrappers and smushed this mix into the little compartments. Within a half an hour I had mini floral papered pie crusts. I let those sit in the fridge while I worked on the cuppie filling.

Pictured Here: Condensed Milk for Dulce de leche

The caramel: I never realized how easy this would be! I literally poured the condensed milk into a small pot with brown sugar to create this magnificent sauce. It caramelizes and you stir in banana bits and voila. C’est tout!

Pictured Here: Home made caramel

 Mmm Cream-A-Licious caramel.

Pictured Here: Banana Slices

Oh yeah, just like that…

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This part is not rocket ship science… The mix above was poured into my McVitie’s biscuit crusts which were patiently awaiting my attention in the fridge.

192Then it was time to put my brand new French whisk to use. It helped me create the fluffiest whipped cream you ever did see!

Pictured Here: Fluffy whipped cream

Oh la la! Don’t you just want to jump in there and make whip-cream angels??

Pictured Here: The Banoffee Cuppie

Basically my recipe only yielded enough cuppies that would equate to one pie. I guess I had about ten of them in the end. I had one (of course) Then I gave a couple to the Airbnb host Ziya for being such a doll. Lastly I took a couple on the road with me to my next destination, The Blakes in Chelsea. My taxi driver really seemed to enjoy his “tip” of Banoffee cuppie and his PeanutPimpMama business card. I told him he could get more where that came from! One by one I shed Banoffee cuppies here and there for the next couple of days… I would say they were a major success.

(PeanutPimpMama Cuppies: The British Addition)

~PPM

Questions, Comments, Concerns please email to: PeanutPimpMama@aol.com

Click Like* and Share* with your Friends! Also follow my foodie adventures on Twitter and Instagram!

PeanutPimpMama’s London Yum Yumzz 2014 – (Day Four) Gordon Ramsay’s Maze & The Bree Louise Pub

PeanutPimpMamaDay four was so much fun. I decided some physical activity was in order to allow myself more foodie-freedom. I heard through the grapevine (and then by adverts in the tube) that a new Bikram studio had opened in Highbury. It’s actually a lot closer to the Holloway Road tube. My Bikram days started back in 2007 when I was studying in Paris. During this time it became a ritual. I tried to convert others to my new religion as I practiced daily for an entire academic year.  With 700 calories burned per session, I haven’t been in such great shape since. I needed something to burn off all of the buttery croissants and fromages.

 

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I was pleased with the studio. For saying the class was quite large there was enough space for everyone and the lighting was great. Nothing better than assuming the Dandayamana-Dhanurasana in a nice and airy space. Also, I got to eavesdrop on “American Bikram habits the locker room”. No matter how hard we invade this country we still fascinate the locals. Glad to know we haven’t lost our novelty and charm. (PeanutPimpMama winks*)

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Later that day these shoes almost happened by recommendation of my friend Erica who said I had to go visit Irregular Choice (the amazing shoe store). After I made a visit to the one on Carnaby St. I realized this has been a big brand locally for some time now. All of the shoes are made in China and pretty much look like they’re straight out of Alice in Wonderland-on crack. Something comes over me when I’m in Soggies where I believe the craziest things actually have a place in my wardrobe. Someone above was watching out for me as I desperately paced the store trying my hardest to give them all of my dollars. Well, not all of them, but with the conversion nearly $200.00.

Pictured Here: Grosvenor Square I was saved by my reservation! I moseyed on over to Grosvenor Square to meet a friend at Maze for dinner. He has earned himself a reputation as quite the gastronomy bargain hunter, and I had been warned we would receive a fair amount of “tucker” and was encouraged to manage my appetite accordingly.

Pictured Here: Doggy Waste Bin at Grosvenor Square Park

I arrived a tad early so I decided to take some pictures of the park and the amazing London weather we were having.

Pictured Here: Gordon Ramsay's Maze Grill

 There it was spotted in the distance, with a very serious door man… Gordon Ramsay’s Maze.

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We had such STAR treatment at Maze. My friend is such a loyal patron that they sent out all of these beautiful canapés for us with a complimentary round of champagne! PeanutPimpMama was delighted. Clockwise: Assorted root vegetable Crisps, potato crisps, arancini, pickled mackerel, and little pan seared tuna bites with avocado cream goodness.

Pictured Here: The Gastronomy Bargain Hunter

Here the “Gastronomy Bargain Hunter” selects our wine for the evening by iPad. (The technique is all in the pinky. It picks up wine selecting signals like antennae.)

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They sat us in the corner of the dining area where PeanutPimpMama had a fantastic view of the entire restaurant.

Pictured Here: A giant bun @ Maze Grill in London

This was a sizable-bun served on a piece of slate with un peu de beurre. Normally I try to save my appetite for the actual meal. We had four courses on the way but my friend really seemed to enjoy breaking it. Never let a man break bread alone.

Pictured Here: Broad bean velouté, salt pollock and lemon yoghurt

The first course I selected was the Broad bean velouté, salt Pollock and lemon yoghurt. Good thing we still had some extra
roll left to sop up the invigorating viridescent potion.
Pictured Here: Smoked Mackerel with beetroot, horseradish and citrus vinaigrette

Oh yo oh yo catch this! Pictured Above: (Second Course) Smoked mackerel, beetroot, and horseradish, with citrus vinaigrette. This was another refreshing and light course. I went a bit fish-heavy with my selections but no complaints here!

Pictured Here: Steamed sea bream, enoki mushroom and dashi

For the main I selected the Steamed sea bream with Enoki mushrooms and dashi. The Enokis are hiding out under the sea bream with a little camouflage from their neighboring buttons. Enoki are the really long and stringy mushrooms with the little heads. Funny that this dish should be presented almost as though the fish was chillin’ it its natural habitat. The sea bream are indigenous to the waters on the coast of my beloved state New Jersey (among other places) and often found in swamps or muddy vegetated bottoms. Is someone “taking the piss” here?

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Then this dessert happened: A chocolate peanut bar with caramelized banana. It’s like they knew I would be in town! I was elated by this moussey peanutbutter-filled tetragon, its banana companion and creamy halo of ice cream. Clearly it took a while to get my camera (somewhat) in focus.

Pictured Here: A server pours hot water on lemons, dry ice and mint

Just when I thought we had our 30-quid’s worth of entertainment, the show had only just begun.

Pictured Here: PPM enjoys the aromatic experience

Suddenly the table smelled lemony-fresh. Forget about cleansing the palate, this cleansed my soul. I need not go to confession for another year.

Pictured Here: Lemon Raspberry Tart

 This little lemon raspberry tart wasn’t bad either.

Pictured Here: Petit fours @ Maze Grill London

Alas, our petit fours arrived.

Then the coolest thing happened…Our server invited us into the kitchen for a behind-the-scenes look at where all the magic happens. Pictured Above: The chef shaves some Tête de Moine into flowers. Sadly I did not get one.

Pictured Here; The Kitchen at Gordon Ramsay's Maze GRILL

This kitchen was like a museum. It was so clean you could eat off of the floor. (No lies) Check out the line, no one was cursing or swearing or calling each other foul names. They make working in a restaurant look so civilized. All my peeps who served time in the hospitality industry and have made careers out of it…You know what I’m getting at.

Pictured Here: An empty half pint at the Bree Louise Pub

Afterwards, my friend took me to one of his all-time favorite pubs which prides itself on “The Best Real Ale in London”. Coming from many years of experience bartending and selling all kinds of beer in NYC, cask beer never fails to impress me with the pumping technique, luke-warm temperature and interesting after taste that only a Euro/Brit could appreciate. The Bree Louise is a special venue with its beer coaster adorned walls and the very eclectic crowd it draws. It is a cozy and unpretentious environment and a great place to sit back and relax with your pals. It was an interesting twist to such a culinary extravaganza and I’m sure I will return for another cloudy cider one day soon. I’m looking forward!

Stay tuned for more adventures in Soggies. <3

~PeanutPimpMama

For More Information:

www.thebreelouise.com

http://www.gordonramsay.com/maze/

Questions, Comments, Concerns please email to: PeanutPimpMama@aol.com

Click Like* and Share* with your Friends! Also follow my foodie adventures on Twitter and Instagram!