Why we can’t be trusted in the Chinatown bakery anymore, and pickles

15 Mar

During the week I try to eat healthily, with lots of oatmeal, vegetables, and lean proteins. But the weekend? Let’s just say I’m “working out for the weekend,” because all the calories I burn running all week are likely eaten back up.

In continuing with the awesomely bad ’80s tune themes, “sweetness is my weakness” (Dead or Alive, anyone?). Particularly Chinatown sweets. At my normal Monday grocery stores (yes, plural, because I go to at least 3 different grocery stores during my big Monday shop), I never even go down the cookie (“biscuit”) aisle. But in Chinatown we can’t help ourselves. It started with “the cake,” then Hello Panda, because, hello, I can’t not buy it if it has a panda on it, then Kittyland, because they were 3 for 1, and then our favorite chocolate-covered gummies were by the register — and there were 2 new flavors! — and suddenly we’ve spent way more than anyone ever should at a Chinese bakery and all this is in my kitchen:

london chinatown sweetsWe should be good for weeks now, “should” being the key word.

Take a look at the English phrases on the Kittyland cookies:

kittylandWho decided “My dad bought it for me” and “It’s lonely sleeping alone” were the best ones to use?

In other food news, I had a lengthy text message conversation with my dad the other day regarding pickles. I sent him this photo of some pickles I bought at Waitrose to prove that they’re the real Kosher deal.

london kosher pickles

Apparently “kosher” pickles in the US just means they’re made in the traditional manner of Jewish New York City pickle makers and may not have been prepared in accordance with Jewish dietary law. These British bad boys, however, were. I’m not sure how that affects the taste though. They are sweet, like US-style bread and butter pickles. But most pickles in the UK are sweet. To get dill I had to buy these imported from Poland.

dill pickled cucumbersThey’re good, but they’re not US deli (like Izzy’s) dill good. Also, for whatever reason (probably this crap), pickles are not called pickles in the UK, they’re either “pickled cucumbers” or gherkins, not to be confused with my beloved Vlasic sweet gherkins. But I believe I blogged about this pickle issue before. I’ve just recently been digging pickles as a relatively low calorie snack since, well, SEE PHOTO ABOVE.

Day seats, Mädchen lieben die pancakes, and interesting library people

10 Mar

Last week it hit me — how is it already March? And, perhaps more importantly, how is it already March and I haven’t seen a single play in 2015?

I decided I needed to do something about that, and queued for day seats for The Nether. It was my 24th show in London and 13th time queuing for day seats. People occasionally ask me what my favorite show is, and I never seem to have an answer. They’re all so different, it’s hard to compare. However, there are a few things that made some of my favorites, like Chimerica and 1984, stand out: impressive and surprising set design, and a theme or story that stays with me long after the curtain closes. The Nether checked both boxes and was an amazing show. It’s one you have to see for yourself — I did not do myself any favors trying to explain to Stephen how amazing a show about pedophilia was.

There were only three people ahead of me when I joined the queue, two of which were young German students. They spent the entire time talking in very animated German. At one point I heard the girl say “pancakes” 5 different times. Is there no German word for “pancakes?” Or maybe she just prefers the English? Either way, it was weird to hear “wedeln ja dran einfrierenden rennende PANCAKES die rase einrennendes in vor soll PANCAKES dran winden verworrene versessenes PANCAKES denn weis an da reinen PANCAKES.” (no, that is not real German so don’t try to translate it)

stewie click click bloody click pancakesAfter I got my front row center ticket for the matinee, I went over to the library with my laptop to get some work done. The computer lab of a public library, for lack of a better word, is an “interesting” place with “interesting” people. And with that, an “interesting” smell that comes from said “interesting” people. One such interesting person plopped himself next to me and proceeded to play music loudly on his phone. Then he decided to play with one of those apps that repeats what you say, so he would say a phrase in Russian (most likely obscenities), some animatronic animal would repeat the phrase back to him, and he would laugh hysterically with his friend. Keep in mind that this is going on in the computer room of the library, usually a quiet zone. Never mind the fact that we were also in central London and it was a gorgeous day — didn’t these guys have anything better to do than to play with their phones in the library? Luckily they left after 15 minutes, my guess is they were killing time before their hostel would let them check in. Still, I was surprisingly productive, reminding me that even though waking up early sucks, queuing for day seats is always worth it, especially when I can still get my work done.

Spotted on a German hotel’s website

27 Feb

fitness centerreI can just imagine the thought process:

Hanz: Should we spell Fitnesscenter with an -er or -re?

Franz: Well, are we trying to cater to Americans or Britons?

Hanz: Both, I guess.
Close_Enough

Thoughts on the airplane class curtain

24 Feb

bridesmaids curtainAs a shameless rule follower, I am always torn about the airplane curtain. The general rule of airplanes is that your cabin’s toilets are behind you, and you should never breach a curtain to go to the bathroom. However, on my recent flight back to London from Shanghai, my Premium Economy seat was 3 rows from the Upper Class (business) loos, and about 20 rows from the economy potty behind me. So virtually everyone in my cabin passed through the curtain to use the closer and superior toilet cubicle (it even had lotion!). On previous flights I’ve seen flight attendants get upset over this, but on this flight no one seemed to care. Stephen, however, cared, because every time he started to fall asleep in his business class pod, someone would tramp by and leave the curtain open, letting the bright light shine through. What are your thoughts on this? Do business class passengers deserve a better experience because they paid 5 times as much, or should the curtain be open because “it’s civil rights and the nineties?”

bridesmaids help me poorSo this is my third version of this blog post. The previous two rambled on and on and I’m not sure anybody really cares about my thoughts on how it’s weird the Virgin Upper Class flight attendant says a very sincere “thank you” when taking away your glass or plate since you didn’t really do anything. I also lamented about the melted ice cream bar I let sit on my arm rest for 6 hours because I was in the dreaded middle seat on the way back and it just appeared when I got back from visiting Stephen in business class and I wasn’t sure if it was mine or not, since neither of the arm rests are really yours when you’re stuck in the middle. Like I said, you didn’t really miss much.

I am happy to report that ::knock on wood:: I am fully acclimated to UK time and no longer waking up at 4 a.m. craving xiaolongbao. I could go for some now, however.

This is your brain on jet lag

17 Feb

Brain: Hey, it’s noon, let’s go get some xiaolongbao for lunch!

Me: Um, no, it’s 4 a.m. You’re in London, not Shanghai. You can have oatmeal in 5 hours. Let’s kill the time by going back to sleep.

Brain: No, it’s cool, let’s check Facebook.

Me: If you want to stare at a screen, let’s get out the laptop and do some work.

Brain: Oh no, I’m way too tired to do work now.

Me: Then let’s go back to sleep!

Brain: How about we just take a 3-hour nap later this afternoon?

Me: No, the series of long naps sleep strategy only works when you’re in China for 5 days and on holiday. You’re in London now and have to work tomorrow, not to mention run, Skype mom and brown the pork chops before putting them in the slow cooker.

Brain: Did you say pork? Pork xiaolongbao sounds so good right now.

Me: Why do you seriously not have an off switch?

DinTaiFung XiaoLongBaoStephen and I got back from China on Sunday night. It was a quick, but amazing trip, despite the insane amount of time, effort and money that went into getting my passport renewed and a Chinese visa within a three-week period. But now my body is back in London, but my brain is still somewhere in Xintiandi, apparently craving soup dumplings, and I can’t help but wonder if I will ever sleep normally again, or if writing blog posts in my head for 3 hours in the middle of the night is going to be the new norm.

What does the fox say?

25 Jan

So it turns out, Ylvis, that the fox does not say “Wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow!” or “Jacha-chacha-chacha-chow!” In real life the fox screams like a child being murdered outside your window at 2 a.m.

Photo courtesy of The Guardian

Photo courtesy of The Guardian

The first time I heard the strange noise a few weeks ago I was convinced it was the screams of a child in trouble. The second time I realized it was probably an animal of some sort. And then after last night’s ruckus I found myself googling “London animal screaming” this morning. The first result? “Foxes make really loud screaming noises like someone’s being murdered.”

Bingo.

And then I googled “foxes London” and this was the first result:

Londoners call in snipers to shoot dangerous urban foxes

I can see it now: Coming in 2016 — English Sniper: The Most Lethal Fox Sniper in U.K. History.

fox sniper

Why does this photo even exist, Internet?!

In all seriousness, I’ve read about London’s fox problem, but since I’m not out and about at night too often, I haven’t experienced it first hand. But now I cannot unhear their screams. January is apparently the height of fox mating season, but thankfully, according to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s website, “The problem of fox noise is seasonal and lasts for just a couple of weeks.” Please, please let that be true.

Life lately through pictures

23 Jan

I thought it’d be easier to discuss life lately through a series of photos, many of which are about food.

Last weekend Stephen and I celebrated our 9th anniversary. NINETH, as in 1 away from 10. Insane.

We decided to go to lunch at Gordon Ramsay’s Petrus, because I have high hopes of someday visiting all of his restaurants and lunch was reasonably priced … for a Gordon Ramsay restaurant in London.

I knew the place was classy because the first thing the guy did after seating us was bring over a little stool so my precious purse would not have to touch the ground.

purse stool

At first I felt silly (like an Instagram cliche) taking photos of every dish, but then I realized people at the tables around us were taking photos too. The food was just too pretty! This was my starter, ham hock terrine with crispy quail’s egg, pickles and grilled sour dough on the side. I may or may not have just copied and pasted that from the menu online.

petrus ham hock

My main was rump of lamb. I can’t give you any more detail because apparently the online menu has already changed since last weekend.

petrus lamb

Desert was a chocolate sphere with milk ice cream and honeycomb. It came out as a perfect chocolate sphere and the waiter slowly poured chocolate sauce over it to melt it. Unfortunately I only got a photo of it in its sad half-melted phase.

petrus chocolate sphere

Here it is after I ate the top.

petrus chocolate sphere inside

When I made the reservation a month ago I wrote that it was our anniversary. Apparently they actually remember and take note of that stuff, because they brought us these ice cream truffles on the house to celebrate. We were both pretty full, but one cannot not consume free ice cream truffles. They were amazing, as was all the food.

petrus chocolates

On the way home we noticed this car parked in our building’s garage. How is this even a spot? And more importantly, how did this car get itself in there?

austin powers parking

“Lots of Austin Powering,” Stephen and I both agreed.

austin powers car

The other night I saw Harold and Kumar Get the Munchies was on, and I got all excited thinking it was a new movie. Nope, they just changed the name since British people probably don’t know what White Castle is. They don’t know what they’re missing!(“Those tender little White Castle burgers with those little, itty-bitty grilled onions that just explode in your mouth like flavor crystals every time you bite into one!” … and the subsequent stomach ache)

kumar munchies

Perhaps this should have been my lead story, but I saw a corgi in Hyde Park yesterday! Can I start a new style of race that strategically places cute dogs along the course? Because nothing makes me run faster than thinking I spot a corgi ahead. I then tried to slyly take photos as the corgi’s owner eyed me.

corgi hyde park hyde park corgi

I’m slowly getting back into a healthy eating and running routine after being corrupted by the American diet for a while. I’m still obsessed with sweet potatoes, but not this one that fell behind the slow cooker in the back of the cabinet months ago and was just discovered:

sweet potato old

You know what I just said about healthy eating and running? I had a really nice run this morning and a healthy breakfast, and it all went to crap when I stopped at Tesco and bought this:

tesco bourbon cream spread

Cookie spreads that are basically just sugar and oil that I say I’m only going to buy to put a tablespoon of which on my oatmeal occasionally but then end up eating 600 calories worth of which in front of the TV with a spoon are my Kryptonite. Tesco bourbon biscuit spread isn’t even as good as Nutella. When I finish this jar in, let’s face it, 3 more 600-calorie servings, I am not buying it again.

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