Tufnell Park

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There’s been lots of little glimmers of sparkly shiny stuff in my life recently that I don’t want to let just trickle out of my brain without being recorded, and hopefully you won’t mind reading a mishmash of life lately. I noticed that everything has had pink or purple hues lately, so at least there’s random theme tying it all together.

My magic 3 adventurer Craig & I were born a week apart. I don’t know why I can’t seem to retain this information, but every year I am surprised all over again. This year we we decided to have a VIP party for two bam-smack in the middle of our big days. I snuck home early enough to prepare a kids party table of treats and covered Craig’s eyes as he walked in. There was all the classic 90s faves; cold pizza slices, cheesy shapes, hula hoops, cucumber & ham sandwiches cut into triangles (no crusts!) and of course… cheese & pineapple on sticks! I’m not sure if it was all the E numbers or the orange food power but we chatted away for hours until we basically exhausted ourselves, like cranky toddlers. We were planning to watch a Ryan Gosling movie but even the prospect of topless Ryan action couldn’t tempt us into staying up and we crashed out at 11.

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My work had its annual Bake Off last week. I really enjoy baking but usually opt for cupcakes over big decorative cakes – my current favourite being Rolo Cupcakes where you bake an entire rolo into the middle creating a molten caramel sensation. As a result I ended up stood in my kitchen at midnight, with one cake in the bin that resembled jammy scrambled egg. I have no idea what went wrong (actually I blame the recipe! Surely 3 eggs is excessive…?) and the whole house stank like a greasy spoon cafe fry-up. Luckily the second attempt came out a little less yolky, but still had a soggy bottom that Mary Berry would have destroyed me for. Luckily I had planned for this eventuality and woke up early, donned my pinnie and covered the whole thing in cream, jam, edible petals and my secret weapon… popping candy! The cake crackled the whole bus ride into work and scooped a prize for “most attractive bake” – note that it didn’t get a mention in any of the flavour-related categories but I’m still so chuffed to have won something and now have some nifty silicone spatulas & kitchen tools to play with.

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Blossom is making me so happy. Even though temperatures seem to have plummeted again (on the bus this morning every single person was in a winter coat and I counted 4 pairs of gloves and 2 scarves, including my own – WHAT is going on?) I’m happy that natures confetti seems to be indestructible and surviving the rain showers. I also found my first dandelion clock yesterday. I know it’s childish but they fill me with absolute glee. I still love working out the time with giant wolf-blows, although these days I do then get an attack of the guilts over the garden I just spread weed-seed all over. Sorry North London!

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In Tufnell Park, directly opposite the underground station, is a very average looking corner shop. You could even go into the corner shop, grab something quickly, and leave NEVER knowing that you have in fact stepped foot in the shop of dreams. The reason it’s the shop of dreams that lurking through a narrow doorway, at the back of the shop, is the worlds largest biscuit collection. It is an entire AILSE dedicated to every cookie, biscuit, digestive, creme  and cracker you could think of; most of the imported from exotic lands and packed with unusual ingredients. This is just a third of the offering so if you are a fan of something to dunk in your tea, you really need to hop on a tube to this promised land!

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& Finally. Yesterday my (social media) LIFE PEAKED. It will never, ever get better than this! I’m a huge fan of Simon Reeve, he is one of the many brilliant things that wise-owl-Nick has introduced me to. He is a British writer/presenter of the best travel documentaries where he visits little-known areas of the world and as well as reporting on the treasures to be found, he also shines a light on some of the murkier goings-ons. He is incredibly brave, risking life and limb over and over in order to publicise stories that others have been too scared to approach. He has also written books on international terrorism, modern history and about his adventures. If you haven’t had the joy of experiencing Simon Reeve (although a deserved 2.7million tuned into his new Australia show on BBC2 last night so I don’t think he’s exactly obscure) then I really recommend the Tropic of Capricorn / Tropic of Cancer series for a starter. Frustratingly so much of his series are barely available on DVD or download so you need to do a bit of digging, but these are both currently listed on amazon. His books are also all well worth investing in, particularly The New Jackals where he basically prophesies 9/11 in spooky accuracy. An extremely savvy, smart man and my number 1 pick for that “who would you invite to a dinner party” question. Anyway yesterday as we settled down to watch episode 1 of Australia with Simon Reeve (on iplayer here), I sent a cheeky tweet about him and he REPLIED! And he complimented me! I’m not really one that goes in for tweeting celebs but to have one of your idols respond directly had me absolutely shell-shocked. I feel like I need to shout it from the rooftops but the moment has passed in twitter-land, like most things. So please indluge me in dorkily sticking the screengrab here for posterity.

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After my recent days as a nil by mouth, struggling sickly type hiding away in Yorkshire, coming back to London was quite the shock to my sore system. Despite living here for 5 (or is it 6?) years, I found the noise and bustle and crowding and big smoke chaos almost impossible to handle and had a really wobbly first week back at work as a the new frankengirl version of me.

One thing I fixated on eating most when I was too poorly to eat was ICE CREAM. My boyfriend must have picked up these brain vibes and in my second week back as a fully functioning member of society, he surprised me with tickets to Ruby Violet for a night of festive menu taste-testing… also known as getting locked in an ice cream parlour and eating ice cream for my tea. It was as dreamy as it sounds!

There was a group of about 10 of us at the tasting, sat at the large wooden bench and quickly plyed with wine whilst learning some fascinating facts about Ruby Violet (named after owner Julie Fisher’s grandmother, a stern but sassy looking lady from the photos of her that adorn the walls). Then it was time for the good stuff! First we sampled scoops of every new flavour on offer over winter which ranged from mulled wine and elderflower & prosecco sorbets to gingerbread, baileys, Christmas pudding and marzipan ice cream. Then came their very special arctic roll, officially known as antarctic roll as arctic roll is a trademark. Who knew! Then it was revealed this was only the starter… and next arrived a bursting ‘Christmas bombe’ which looked beautiful, but less so once we’d devoured it and created a sloppy mess. Perhaps wine & ice cream was always bound to cause a sticky situation? Then came my very favourite course – Ruby Violets special baked alaska. A steal at a fiver a go, these perfect clouds of raspberry ripple ice cream cased in perfectly browned meringue are something I now get regular tummy rumble cravings for.

Last up was a bit of a shocker. We had been warned, but even still my hands quivered as I was handed STILTON ICE CREAM. I am a huge cheese fiend, in fact the first thing I did after getting my post-surgery appetite back was discover Alex James (of Blur fame)’s Blue Monday cheese. I’d always been a bit sniffy about him getting all welly wearing and rural and making lame cheese rather than epic music… but I take it all back. It was the nicest cheese I have ever tasted ever, and I managed to devour 85% of a block in about 15 minutes saying just one more slice lots whilst gobbling. So I was thinking I like cheese and I like ice cream, so surely I will like stilton ice cream. And I did. A few people made yuck noises, but I liked the fact it was served on a cracker too. It was sort of like eating a cold marscapone. Not sure I’d buy it by the tub but it might be a  nice sloppy addition to a cheeseboard if I ever am fanceh enough to host a dinner party.

 

 

I had such an amazing evening. Sugar high, brain freeze, wine rush and the wonderful hosting from the Ruby Violet team of luscious ladies made it a really memorable step back into socialising. Not that I need an excuse to go in and purchase ice cream more often, but the fact they made us feel so special and patiently listened to all our feedback (mostly ‘more baileys in the baileys ice cream’, ‘more rum in the rum & raisin ice cream’, ‘more wine in the mulled wine…‘) makes me want to buy everything for everyone for Christmas. Who wouldn’t want a Christmas bombe to unwrap? I just need to invest in a really cute freezer bag and enough willpower not to ‘sample’ everything en route to delivering it.

 

 

 

Talking of festive foods, it’s nearly December! Which means it’s time to eat a Christmas sandwich for lunch every day. If you are a Christmas sandwich novice, or in a quandary over which to sample first, go read my Christmas sandwich show down. It’s very scientific indeed.

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My time is getting munched up by a few pesky things recently. I say pesky, I actually mean AMAZING! First up is a boy I have a certified addiction to, and despite the fact he has lots of writing and tapping at the laptop to do too, we never quite seem to get around to it. Especially when we have so many important missions to complete such as finding London’s #1 cheeseburger (therefore eating at aLOT of good and bad burger joins) and watching seasons 1-5 of Friday Night Lights! The second thing is the fact I now have a cineworld unlimited card. I’ve spent a large portion of my life working in various cinemas, so moving to London and suddenly have the joy of free or remotely even affordable movie-watching snatched away was pretty rough. But now with my unlimited card I am making up for lost time and spending aLOT of time lurking in the dark and watching anything & everything, sometimes multiple times (I even went to see Wanderlust).

Three things made me smile a watermelon slice sized grin this week, and they are…

1. My Mickey Mouse Skirt

When I saw this skirt winking at me from Lazy Oaf’s shop in Carnaby Street, I knew it was going to be coming home (and going out dancing) with me that very day! The general theme of my style effort tends to be items that straddle the ‘acceptable‘ and ‘basically just a fancy dress costume‘ line. I ditched the ears for my first public debut, which made for a fun night as people checked out my outfit and you could see this glazy-fog of vague recognition but actually VERY few people really twigged on, although when they did I had such nice comments. You’ve got to love a skirt that can evoke hugs off complete strangers!

2. Feeling Gloomy

Do you live in London? Were you alive in the 1990s? Do you like indie pop music? If you answer one or all of these questions YES, then you have to go to Feeling Gloomy! It is probably the only clubbing I have done in the last year (discounting a random week in Ibiza where that’s all I did, but that’s another story) and because I am no longer  a spring chicken I like it because a) the drinks are cheap b) the people are super friendly (no scowling hipsters!) and c) I know every song they play, and it’s the type of things you’d have got on mix tapes from your friends in school (interpol, blur, pulp, supergrass, echo belly) and on Saturday I danced so much that I actually brought on a STITCH and had to take myself off for a sit down and a pint of water.

Feeling Gloomy takes place at the O2 Academy in Islington every Saturday night, but on 11th August it is the LAST ONE at this awesome venue. Then it is being relocated to The Pheonix, every second Friday of the month, which is harder to remember so I’d give it a whirl whilst its still oop north.

Here is my best friend Lol doing her best Feeling Gloomy faces, even though that’s the last thing we felt.

If nothing else, the fact the two boys who run it met at Costcutter should entice you to at least give it a go once.

 3. Ruby Violet

It’s a gourmet ICE CREAM parlour and it’s under a MINUTE walk from my house. Every birthday and Christmas and lost eyelash wish I’ve ever made has come true with the opening of Ruby Violet. Mutterings around Tufnell Park were rife with rumours of the worlds best ice cream coming to Fortress Road, and this weekend the dream because a reality!

With a menu that had my mouth drooling and imagination whirring in the torturous few days pre-opening, Ruby Violet is taking ice cream consumption to a new level. Ben who? Jerry where?! Including amazing and unusual flavours such as salted caramel, cherry chocolate, Damson, Quince, toasted coconut and peanut butter (my obvious choice) you can eat in or take away and go laze on the heath as you munch your cone or cup.

All information here… Well worth a trip to Tufnell Park if you aren’t fortunate enough to live rolling distance away like me! And look out for a post on top 10 flavours – this way I have a very valid excuse to keep going in and sampling again, and again.

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