Archive for October, 2009

Homemade Ham and Potato Wedges

October 17, 2009

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It’s so nice having housemates who love to cook. My friend Alex, for example, makes a particularly good ham. Being a country boy from Wiltshire, I wouldn’t really expect any less. However, I was a bit skeptical about the whole ham thing as I have never really liked that type of meat. I’ve only found it tastes really fatty and processed, even the fresh stuff you get from the butcher’s.

But wow, Alex’s ham blew me away. We bought a joint of gammon and he boiled it in red wine for 2h15 (how long you cook it depends on the weight) with red onion, star anise, peppercorns, and I’m not sure what else. He then created a glaze with red currant jelly and covered the ham in it. It was then put in the oven for about 30mins and wow the result was amazing! The smells reminded me of Christmas, mulled wine and mince pies. We had already had dinner so just had a cheeky taste of it and it was so succulent! Properly meaty, a beautiful pink with a sweetness from the glaze. So tender and satisfying!

Last night we had the ham cold with Carole’s home made potato wedges and salad. What a treat that was! Homemade food really does taste so much better. As I said to Carole and Alex yesterday, meals like this one make life worth living!

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Marie Antoinette

October 12, 2009

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Just watched Marie Antoinette again, directed by Sophia Coppola and starring Kirsten Dunst as the famous Queen of France. What is so amazing about this film is how it portrays the royal court as approachable and realistic- a bunch of teenagers gambling, drinking and choosing nice shoes and fans, spending France’s budget without realising. The acting is first class, the portrayal of Marie Antoinette’s life as far from perfect is moving and convincing and the clothes are to die for! Here are some of the best bits:

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I also found these Christian Louboutin heels which were inspired by this fantastic French woman:

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Gorgeous aren’t they!!! As for the real thing…well, these are some of the spats Marie Antoinette actually wore:

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What a trend setter!!!

What the film also manages to convey is not only how decadent and two-faced the court of Versailles was but also how extravagant and trend-set. Marie Antoinette changes her hairstyle several times during the film which meant literally hours in the hair chair for Kirsten Dunst and enough hairspray to power a space shuttle probably! They also didn’t scringe on the food and flowers- fresh bouquets and Laduree macaroons every day! That’s the kind of film set I would like to work on.

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This pastel candy-coloured triptych is not for everyone. Some think the American accents of the actors ruins the depiction of French history, others believe the limited dialogue and modern music take away from the authentic representation of the era. But whatever critics may say, Marie Antoinette is moving and really makes you re-consider all you thought you knew about this strong tormented woman. Let them eat cake indeed!

Poncho Chic

October 8, 2009

So I finally gave in and bought a poncho. My mother would be ashamed. She has always been completely against them and I can understand why- they are soooo comfy it would be easy to let style go out of the window and just cover up all those wobbly bits you’ve been meaning to work on in the gym. But I am being careful. The poncho is navy, polyester (I know I should be going for cashmere or something but a)my bank balance wouldn’t be too happy and b)much easier to wash) and has a cowl neck. I teamed it with some little black shorts, ribbed grey tights, and biker boots the other day for a cosy, day look. Check out the Poncho Chic look I created on ShopStyle.

Pierrot -Pierrette

October 8, 2009

For Halloween I am considering being Pierrot, the sad clown character found in the French nursery rhyme ‘Au Clair de la Lune‘ created by Jean-Gaspard Deburau in the 19th century. The character of the tragic fool first appeared in the Commedia dell’Arte under the name Pedrolino. Whether Pierrot or Pedrolino, both characters pine for their love Columbine, who leaves Pierrot for Harlequin. That is why Pierrot is most often depicted with a black tear running down his face, as a sign of the tragic loss of his love. He is love’s fool and because of this, he is also in another world, a world of tragedy and what-if realities.

The traditional Pierrot character usually wears a large white blouse with black buttons and a black cap. However, I would like to go for a more feminine and high fashion look, transforming Pierrot into Pierrette. Something like this:

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[siXandXnancy]

As for the makeup, the traditional look is very pale/white face with dark eyes and a single black tear:

So, what are you dressing up as for Halloween?

The September Issue

October 7, 2009

How could I forget this was coming out TOMORROW !!!! So excited! ‘The September Issue’ is a sort of fly-on-the-wall documentary following famous American Vogue editor, Anna Wintour, during the making of the September issue.

Now for all you non-fashionistas out there, the September issue of Vogue is the most important of the year because it predicts what we are all going to be wearing the year after! So it’s BIG and IMPORTANT people!

The film itself seems like quite an entertaining watch. After all The Devil Wears Prada was inspired by Anna Wintour herself: ice queen, control freak, genius…these are all labels which have been attributed to this mysterious woman. So it will be interesting to see what she is ‘really’ like.  And even if it’s rubbish, it won’t matter. Because a) it only lasts 88minutes and b) it will feature (surely) lots and lots of lovely designer clothes/bags/shoes…fashion porn! I’ll gladly pay to see that!

Feminism: yay or nay?

October 7, 2009

Apparently Margaret Atwood, the woman who practically invented feminism, is now declaring she isn’t sure if she is a feminist or not. This has sparked an interesting debate: is the idea of feminism out of date?

A friend of mine admitted she didn’t know where she stood. Yes she agreed that women are still mostly stuck under the glass ceiling but then it doesn’t apply in her personal life. She has a very lovely fella who looks after her pretty well, which is nice :)

Anyway, I responded with ‘I’m not a feminist, I’m a woman, is that not enough?’

There have been some very interesting books written on women trapped under the male gaze, such as John Berger’s Ways of Seeing. And it’s true that most things in a woman’s life are influenced by what she thinks men will think of her. Women try to look their best for men, they interrupt them during conversations to show they are listening and interested (even though men hate this), and they talk about men when they are not there.

Historically, women were keepers of the nest and men were hunters. And up till recently, women’s roles were still to stay at home/bring up the children/create a nice home the man wouldn’t want to leave.

Feminism was a reaction to this situation. It made women burn their bras, make a stand and say they weren’t interested in what men thought of them anymore, and that they would not be ‘controlled’ and stay at home. These women wouldn’t be limited by the male gaze, they would do as they pleased.

Men looked at each other blankly at this stage as most had no clue about this ‘male gaze’ thing. Some on the other hand, knew exactly what was happening and they weren’t too happy about it. Since then equal opportunities for both genders has been a major issue in all types of industries, hoping to be politically correct.

So what is the situation like today? Well, it seems that women have managed to gain financial independence through higher paid jobs, whilst still keeping up all the girly things like pearls and cocktails going. Just because we don’t care what men think anymore about what clothes we wear or perfume we wear, doesn’t mean we don’t! Women now dress for themselves first, then their friends and then their other half/men.

Let’s face it, whether ‘feminist’ or not, women today don’t need men. We just want them! Always have, always will

October 7, 2009

Since watching Scrubs, I have wanted to try an apple martini. Or as J.D. calls them ‘appletinis’. They just sound so delicious! Perfect for a pre-going out cocktail with the girlies. Appletinis are sickly sweet, bright green and delicious! Oh and did I mention they are very strong? Here are the 3 best Apple Martini recipes, found on applemartini.co.uk:

#1 – The Classic Apple Martini

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 part of Vodka
  • 1 part of Apple Schnapps
  • 1 splash of dry Vermouth
  • Garnish: Apple Slice

METHOD:

Shake these ingredients in a cocktail shaker (if available) with ice. Now strain into a chilled glass and garnish with the apple slice.


#2 – (Alternative) Classic Apple Martini

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 parts of Vodka
  • 1 part Apple Schnapps
  • 1 splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish: Apple Slice

METHOD:

Shake this apple martini ingredients in a shaker with some ice. Now strain into a chilled glass and garnish with the apple slice. Serve immediately.


#3 – Sour Apple Martini

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 parts of Vodka
  • 1 part of Apple Schnapps
  • 1 part of ginger ale, or use a splash of Midori Liqueur
  • 1 splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish: Apple Slice

METHOD:

Shake these ingredients in a cocktail shaker with some crushed ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with the apple slice.

Priceless

October 7, 2009

So I was re-watching one of my favourite French films: Hors de Prix aka Priceless in English. It stars the gorgeous Audrey Tautou and a famous French comedian, Gad El-Maleh. It’s one of the few rare good French romantic comedies. And of course it takes place on the glitzy Cote d’Azur.

The plot en bref:  Irene (Audrey Tautou) is an opportunist. She seduces rich, slightly elderly men and sponges off them a long as she can. They buy her designer clothes, shoes, bags and champagne all day long. She sleeps with them in their luxury suites and she gets to live a life of luxury. But all goes wrong on her birthday. She goes to the bar and parties with a guy she thinks is rich and sleeps with him. But turns out Jean (Gad El-Maleh) is only a barman. He of course falls head over heels for her, quits his job and stalks her (in a sweet romantic way of course!) He’s about to give up when he is actually picked up by a rich older woman! So Jean and Irene end up in the same hotel, with the same ‘occupation’. Of course they hang out together in secret and Irene shares tips and tricks of the trade…I won’t tell you how it ends but goodness what fun it would be to do that for a bit! Forget the commitments, responsabilities,…just find a wealthy old man and turn into a proper gold digger! I could get used to sipping cocktails all day :) The only downside being you completely depend on some snob’s whim which can make you go back to nothing…Think I’ll stay where I am for the mo but it’s fun to dream of decadence!

My Favourite Drink

October 7, 2009

“Happiness is finding two olives in your martini when you’re hungry.”

Martini is my drink of choice. I don’t mean James Bond style martinis but just Martini Bianco on the rocks or in a lovely martini glass with an olive or slice of lemon. It’s so funny because in England, martini bianco on the rocks isn’t really known as a drink. The number of bar people who ask me ‘would you like soda water or lemonade with that?’ No I wouldn’t thanls! What’s the point of watering down this beautiful, delicately flavoured liqueur! martini Bianco is quite strong though so you shouldn’t drink it like water. Or wine for that matter though I tend to. Hehe.

Caponata, Delancey Street, Camden

October 7, 2009

My boyfriend and I had not seen each other for 24 hours, due to our conflicting work and play schedules. So, Saturday night we decided to out for dinner for a nice catchup meal which meant no home distractions or washing up involved. I really fancied some hearty Italian food as I was still fragile from Friday night work drinks and needed carbohydrates. I decided to take my boyfriend to an Italian restaurant I had walked by a few times after work called ‘Caponata’, which is a typically Sicilian dish made of aubergine, capers and olives.

Situated on Delancey Street, just off Camden High Street, Caponata is a little gem of a restaurant. This Sicilian Ristorante, Osteria and Bar looks sleek yet welcoming, with lime, white and deep plum coloured tables and chairs. The restaurant is situated upstairs but we decided to stay in the bar area, where other people were dining. We were actually seated in ‘The Courtyard’, a charming extension to the bar area, with a leafy wall and high ceiling with retractable roof.

Our table was small and round but created an intimate feel and it was nice to be able to reach across it and hold hands with my other half. After all,this was the whole point of this meal!

A friendly (Spanish) waitress served us and was very nice and accommodating. The menu was simple and very Italian, with the traditional Antipasti, Primi, and Secondi courses. Having been to Naples and tried eating all the different courses, we had decided it wasn’t for us: way too much food for one meal. So we narrowed our choice down to one dish each. I had the Risotto Balls – an interesting concept where the risotto vegetables/cheese are surrounded by rice and then the ball is coated in breadcrumbs. The 3 balls had different stuffings: ham and mozerella, beef and pea stew and spinach and mozerella. An interesting mix! The boy went for the Butcher’s cut which consisted of liver, beef and lamb bits, seared and served with roasted aubergine and carrots. It was amazing! (luckily neither of us mind sharing which is good because I always want to try what other people have chosen!)

The portions were just right, the food, beautifully presented and the meal a success. Caponata offers affordable, beautifully presented food in a setting which gives you a sense of occasion.

Since being there I’ve found more wonderful things about this charming venue. It offers live classical and jazz concerts most evenings of the week in their courtyard as well as Jive, Samba and Swing lessons every Friday night, followed by dancing with a live band! How cool is that? Must check it out on a Friday next time :)

Caponata also offers a hearty brunch menu so it’s really worth a visit on weekend mornings when you need some filling food to soak up the night before’s alchol!

Caponata, ti amo!