My First Meetup – Photographic Explorers, London

23 Jul

It took me a whole year to get my act together, but last last night I finally attended my first photo meetup. A few of us headed down after work to meet the group at Tower Bridge and we spent three hours wandering around the area, snapping away on our cameras, before heading to the local pub to share our photos and have a natter over a couple of beers.

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I have been interested in photography since I was a wee nipper but I didn’t get my first camera until I was into my 20s. I have to be honest, it doesn’t come easy to me and I find myself getting frustrated when I’m out and about, but the saying is true – practice makes perfect.

Last night I was shooting with two cameras – a Nikon 1 J3 and a Canon 600D and you can see the rest of my pics on my flickr.

Find out more about the Photographic Explorers meetup here.

Pizza Union – Super Fast 12″ Pizza

17 Jul

Where
Pizza Union, Spitalfields

Stagioni Pizza

What
The UK’s first Italian all-day Pizza Bar. Thin and crispy artisan pizzas, inspired by the thin and crispy pizzas found in Rome, baked in three minutes in a traditional stone pizza oven. Pizzas are ordered straight from the counter, while a host of long, bar-style communal tables help create a buzzy, informal dining atmosphere to fit with the Pizza Bar’s contemporary industrial look.

The experience
I have a problem. I can’t stop eating pizza. I ate a total of six pizzas last week – SIX!!!

Why is that a problem, I hear you say. Well it’s not the fact that I’m not getting the nutrients I need from fruit and veg and my waistline is expanding at a rate of knots just in time for my holiday in Ibiza, it is that I just can’t seem to stop.

I’m always up for finding new pizza establishments and quite frequently travel around the capital to find the best. I tried Pizza Union a couple of months ago and although this is a very belated post, I’m pleased to say that it stuck in my mind for a couple of reasons. I wouldn’t put it up there are one of the best in London, but I would recommend it as a very cheap and cheerful post work pit stop.

The range of quality toppings is impressive, with favourites such as fior di late mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes and hand-stretched dough. I opted the the Calabria, which had a healthy smothering of tomato sauce, mozzarella, mascarpone and the ever popular N’duja spicy sausage and topped with rocket. And as there is no table service (simply order at the counter, take a buzzer and collect when ready), prices are incredibly low. My Calabria was a complete steal at £5.95!

Cost
Pizzas range from £3.95 – £6.50. Italian beer from £2.80 a bottle, Prosecco £15 and wines from £3 a glass or £11.50 a bottle

Address
25 Sandy’s Row,
Spitalfields,
London
E1 7HW

Opening Times
Open all day (11am – 11pm), seven days a week, with takeaway option also available.

The Best Roast in London? Bacchus Sundays

10 Jul

Where
Bacchus Sundays, Hoxton

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What
Bacchus Sundays is the brain-child of the Bacchus Pub & Kitchen team. Formerly of 177 Hoxton Street it now resides as a weekly residency just down the road at the modern and distinctly characterful Hoxton Street Studios. Diners can expect traditional English roast dinners, honest prices and sleek loft style surroundings.

The experience
A Sunday roast isn’t the first meal that springs to mind in the summer months; but who can argue that a plate of meat, some amazing veggies and lashings of gravy isn’t good at any time of year? I headed to Bacchus Sundays last Sunday with my friend Roxane. She admitted how hungover she was as soon as I arrived and I could see her salivating just looking at the mountainous plates emerging from the kitchen.

Despite knowing the only option was a roast, I still felt incredibly indecisive when reading the menu, which included 12 hour roasted sirloin of beef, half a bantam chicken and Gloucester old spot pork belly; but my eyes lit up when I saw the ‘Undecided’, a combination of all three meats with an added Yorkshire pudding. Yes, I thought, and I couldn’t wave the waitress over quick enough.

The food took a while to arrive and I could see the excitement and disappointment on Roxane’s face as every plate exited the kitchen and made its way to another table. When it finally arrived, all frustrations vanished when we saw what was in store for us. The pile of food on my plate was literally as tall as my head and it was a moment of pure bliss. The condiment selection wasn’t the greatest and we both would have loved a dollop of apple sauce for our pork, but the amount of gravy more than made up for it, particularly as there’s nothing worse than being served a roast dinner without enough gravy!

The conversation stopped and we tucked in. Each of the meats was cooked perfectly – juicy, tender and bloomin lovely. I would even go so far as saying that it was the best roast I have ever had in London. The jealous comments from my male friends soon started flowing in on Facebook and I gushed with praise telling them to book themselves in sharpish.

We just about managed to save a bit of room for dessert and enjoyed a warm chocolate brownie with chantilly cream. It wasn’t the best brownie I have ever had, a bit too cakey for my liking, but it was a good little sweetener to finish off such an amazing lunch.

Cost
There are three options – roast course £15 (£5 supplement for the ‘Undecided’, 2 courses £25, or 3 courses £30.

Address
Hoxton Street Studio’s
12-18 Hoxton Street
Hoxton
London
N1 6NG

Opening Times
Sundays ONLY: 1pm – 6pm

Foodie Favourites at Westfield, Stratford City

28 Jun

A few months ago I was contacted by Westfield Stratford City and asked to join a bloggers cooking challenge. The idea was to choose a restaurant from a list of participating restaurants and recreate one of the dishes on the menu. I took the word challenge quite literally and chose the toughest dish on the menu. Big mistake and as a result I never ended up taking part in the challenge. Sorry, Westfield!

Rather than forgetting about it altogether, I have decided to do a roundup of my foodie favourites at Westfield Stratford. I was at a loose end this afternoon so decided to put a good chunk of my payday check to good use and go shopping… and of course I stopped for a bite along the way.

World Food Court

Franco Manca – the most incredible sour dough pizza. Cheap, tasty and 100% satisfying. I recommend the chorizo pizza with extra rocket, as above.

Comptoir Libanais – delicious Middle Eastern food at great prices. The meze platter is to die for!

Around the centre

Pinkberry – amazing premium frozen yoghurt with fresh ingredients and no guilt attached.

Searcys Champagne Bar – treat yourself to a glass of champagne and a few small plates to match.

Grind Coffee Bar – definitely the most delicious cup of coffee at Westfield Stratford City. Grind serves a 60/35/5 percent blend of Peru, Brazil & Papua New Guinea, roasted exclusively by London Coffee Roasters.

There are so many other offerings at Westfield Stratford City – head here to find out more.

Foods You Should Avoid To Keep Your Teeth As Healthy As Possible!

25 Jun

Let’s face it there’s nothing quite like having the perfect Hollywood-white smile to look and feel at your best in any given situation. Whether you are going to be giving a presentation, applying for a new job or looking to attract a good looking partner, the simple fact is that having your teeth in the best condition possible will always give you an advantage. However, little known to some people, does the fact that certain foods can seriously damage your teeth and rob you of your perfect smile without you even know it. Thankfully, once you know these foods, you can avoid them and keep your teeth as close to perfect as possible!

Here are the main foods you should avoid if you want to keep your teeth at their absolute best:

Diet Cola

In today’s hardworking society diet cola has become an acceptable drink to have several times a day as a sort of “energy-booster” type refreshment. With its caffeine content, zero calories and pleasant bubbly taste it’s easy to understand why. However, it is terrible for your teeth due to its extremely acidic nature which breaks down your teeth’s enamel. Over time this can gradually turn your teeth ever more yellow.

Dried Fruit

Most people tend to consider dried fruit in the form of raisins, dried papaya and pineapple and other such similar delicious delights as being healthy in every single way. What tends to be forgotten is that dried fruit has an especially high sugar content that is sometimes even higher than certain chocolate bars. That added to the fact that dried fruit tends to stick to teeth more readily than other foods, leading to more acidic corrosion of enamel throughout the day, means that dried fruit is not what you want your teeth exposed to. If you do feel that you want to eat it, then make sure you have a toothpick on hand to stop it getting stuck to parts of your teeth.

Coffee Ice Cream

Coffee ice cream is a specific food item rather than a broader food category to try and avoid, however, it has been chosen for this list to underline two types of food substance you need to avoid to have healthy teeth. The first of these is coffee itself which, when consumed over time in any form (not just liquid), can stain your teeth really badly. The second of these is extremely cold foods. Frozen fruit, ice cubes, ice cream and other similar foods can damage your teeth due to the combination of how hard they are and the massive different in their temperature compared with what your teeth are used to.

Conclusion

The best dentists in the world, such as those top dentists in the London area and in New York, all advise their clients that there are certain foods that are best avoided to keep your perfect smile as pearly white as it can be. The list of foods above is a good start and should go a long way to helping you avoid the damage most people do to their teeth by eating them.

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A Song and Dance at the Microsoft Apartment

18 Jun

Last week I attended a very exciting event at the Microsoft Apartment in Victoria – a panel discussion with music leaders from Deezer, the Music Managers’ Forum (MMF) and the Featured Artists’ Coalition (FAC), as well as Dave Rowntree from Blur and Nate James, who talked about how technology has changed the way he makes music before singing us a couple of songs to close the event.


I seemed to be one of the only people in the room who didn’t work in the music industry, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have an interest in it. Believe it or not I moved to London 9 years ago with the intention of becoming a music journalist when I finished university. But life’s rich tapestry wove a different path for me and I never ended up fulfilling that dream. Fast forward years and I’m quite happy with being a consumer of music, rather than working in the industry. It is still incredibly important to me and the event really got me thinking about how much the industry has changed even since I was a wee nipper.

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So, what was the first record I bought? I remember it clearly – Erasure, Always (don’t laugh). I was 4 years old and I had access to my brother’s Walkman and I would play the cassette, both A and B sides, over and over on my way to school. I remember the bright green sticker on the cassette so clearly. I loved it. As I developed, so did technology. Soon I was carrying a Discman around with me and a few CDs to change when I got bored of one, making sure I walked as smoothly as possible as I didn’t want it to skip. When I was a teenager I won an in car mini disk player, which my brother stole off me but mini disk never really took off. Then one day I discovered something called Napster. I spent hours and hours in my bedroom as a teenager illegally (unbeknown to me) downloading anything I could think of. I have to admit that my music taste was pretty appalling and I’m not willing to admit what files adorned my hard drive. That all went belly up and steaming sites arrived on the scene – ones that you had to pay for. And here we are. I have dabbled with 7″ and record players in my time, have owned an iPod Nano and countless CD players. But almost all of that has now disappeared and instated I live with the music player on my phone and a handy subscription to a streaming provider.

I was intrigued by the event as I wanted to hear the views of those in the industry and it was interesting to hear their thoughts on how it has changed and whether they think it has been beneficial, or not.

Key quotes from the event

‘The constant in pop music is that it’s a technology industry and always has been. Every generation has their own technological revolution. In my day compact cassettes were thought to be the threat to the future of music. The revolution today is streaming.’Dave Rowntree, Blur, on technology’s active role in the music industry.

‘There’s a challenge of a big amount of data being overwhelming. The great thing we can accomplish with technology is to connect people that curate music and find those jewels from around the world, making sure that artists are heard, so that we connect the right fans with the right music.’- Gerrit Schumann, VP of Deezer, addressing some of the issues that technology has thrown up.

 ‘I can just record a melody on my phone using Voice Recorder at any time, go to the studio, plug it into the system and press play and the producer has the chords there straight away’Nate James, singer-songwriter, discussing how technology has made the creative process more simple.

‘At this point in time, what’s very interesting is that the advances in technology are changing the ways in which musicians create and actually make their music. Now the tools are in their hands for producing what’s in their head, and allowing that to come into reality.’ - Paul Pacifico (Manager of the AllStars Collective and board member of the Featured Artists Coalition) 

‘Fans today want and expect direct relationships with their artists. All of those aspects of that relationship are facilitated by technology. Artists are able to engage with fans, and fans to engage with artists in a way that just hasn’t been possible in the past.’Paul Pacifico, manager of the AllStars Collective and board member of the Featured Artists Coalition.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts – have streaming sites such as Spotify and Deezer mean for the industry? What is the way forward? Do you think that technology has watered down the industry and is there now too much average music available for the masses? Does it mask the talented musicians that are making good music?

Photos by Paul Wesley Griggs

For more information on Microsoft music apps, click here

Bones, Kingsland Road

3 Jun

Where
Bones, Kingsland Road

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What
A new all-day restaurant from Joff and Simeon Goodman, the guys behind the fabulous organic and fairtrade store, The Grocery. Situated on Kingsland Road, the restaurant showcases dishes both off and on-the-bone, be it falling off, braised, racked, rotisseried, just picked, pulled or plucked.

The experience
For me, Kingsland Road has been a go to place for many things; whether that be a cocktail at Jaguar Shoes, a dance at Catch, or a delicious hearty Vietnamese meal at one of the many Vietnamese restaurants on the strip. But now, I shall remember it as an awesome place to go whenever I have a meat craving.

I visited Bones a few weeks ago and tried what felt like most of the dishes on offer. There are dishes to share and we tried an amazing Tuscan panzanella salad with tomato, roasted red onions, croutons and garlic and roasted aubergine with feta, pomegranate, chilli and tahini dressing. We also shared the amazing burrata starter with basil oil, chilli flakes and sourdough bread, plus pigeon breast salad with toasted hazlenuts and vegetable crisps and for main we ordered a range of dishes from the ‘Bones’ section of the menu, which features the signature Label Anglais free-range rotisserie chicken, rack of lamb, T-bone steak and confit ducks – basically ‘any meat on any bone’.

We started off the evening with an ‘Asian Provocateur’ cocktail made with vodka, lemongrass, lime, lychee juice and chilli and a few small plates. I then treated myself to a medium rare T-bone steak the size of my head and a few glasses of a lip smackingly good red wine – L’Orangerie de Luc Famillie Fabre, Languedoc.

As well as the food, I loved the decor of the restaurant. Set in an arch with exposed brick work and low lighting, the bright and airy naturally lit section at the front of the restaurant is a contrast to the cosy 45 seater room downstairs, which I thought would be just perfect for a private party. We sat next to the open plan kitchen and it was great to see a group of friends enjoying a few small plates and wine during the course of the evening.

Cost
A three course meal for two with drinks costs around £80

Address
52 Kingsland Road
London
E2 8DP
020 7033 9008

Bones on Urbanspoon

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