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Smushi Royal Cafe Copenhagen

‘Smushi’ at Royal Cafe Copenhagen

I think I’ve bored everyone silly mentioned in the past a) how much I LOVE my job and b) how much I ADORE absolutely everything Danish.

An all-expenses-paid trip to Copenhagen you say? Did I mention I LOVE my job?

Relae Copenhagen restaurant michelin star

Relae, Jaegersborggade, Copenhagen
http://www.restaurant-relae.dk/en/

I flirted briefly with the idea of reading Scandinavian studies at university but alas it was not to be. Mistake. Big Mistake. Huge. Why? Well, I spent years of my life learning Italian but no matter how immaculate my accent or how many colloquialisms I mastered, no one ever, not even once mistook me for an Italian.

Thanks to my blonde hair and English-rose complexion, for the year I spent in Florence, I was given English menus in restaurants, greeted in English in shops and cafes and even catcalled in English. It got a bit annoying to be honest. I just wanted to be able to blend in. I would have made the world’s worst spy.

However, if MI5 has an imminent posting to fill in Copenhagen, may I humbly suggest that I am the girl for the job? Everywhere I went in Copenhagen, people addressed me in Danish. A little awkward as I don’t speak any Danish – but refreshing. Here, I belong.

liquorice

Learning how to make liquorice at the Liquorice Festival, part of Wondercool Copenhagen http://www.wondercoolcopenhagen.com/

pork marinated in liquorice

Pork marinated in liquorice, at the liquorice festival – part of Wondercool Copenhagen, http://www.wondercoolcopenhagen.com/

The food is incredible, the interiors delicious. It’s all just so damn cool (and not just because it was snowing during my visit in February).

Mussels, gastro cruise Copenhagen

Mussels from Brussels on the Gastro Cruise, part of Wondercool Copenhagen http://www.wondercoolcopenhagen.com/

Gastro cruise Copenhagen

A chic stop on the Gastro Cruise
http://www.wondercoolcopenhagen.com/

The minute we get a new house, I am straight back on a plane with an empty suitcase – the shopping is out of this world. Special mention has to go to Illum (http://www.illum.dk/) and Hay (http://hay.dk/) where if I hadn’t been on the damn budget, I would have seriously abused my debit card.

Extra special thanks to Visit Copenhagen for inviting me – I had such a ball. Now, when do I move in? http://www.visitcopenhagen.com

Copenhagen Royal Copenhagen

Lust objects at Royal Copenhagen’s concept store http://www.royalcopenhagen.com/en

Copenhagen

Hygge in action at the Royal Copenhagen concept store

Room set up in the Royal Copenhagen flagship store

Copenhagen Danish pastries in the covered market

Danish pastries in the covered food market, (Torvehallerne), Israels Plads, Copenhagen

Copenhagen Nyhavn

Nyhavn, Copenhagen

Cambodian curry prawn amok

 

I actually wanted to photograph this bowl empty, as it’s so very beautiful. My favourite-ist newlyweds in the whole wide world gave it to me, along with a fabulous selection of exotic ingredients (some of which are pictured) as a thank you for performing my matron-of-honourly duties. I have been desperate to show it off ever since.

But then, thought I, I’m more of a bowl-half-full person (well, full-to-brimming, if truth be told). So I shall appreciate it daily, and fill it with all sorts of goodies so you can appreciate it too.

This is a lazy, slightly adapted, version of Gordon Ramsay’s fish amok. To turn this into a proper amok you’d have to follow his instructions—and his ingredients list. As you’ve probably noticed by now, I’m not the world’s greatest fish-lover. That is, I love fish but I don’t like to cook it in a small flat and I prefer to eat it by the ocean. But prawns are the exception. God, I love a prawn.

Serves: 6

1 pack king prawns (shrimp) – cooked or raw

1 pack of prawns (shrimp) – cooked or raw (I use these tiddlers to make up the volume as King prawns are pricey)

2 cans coconut milk

2 tbsp fish sauce

2 tbsp palm sugar

Coriander (cilantro) to garnish

Vegetable oil for frying

Assorted vegetables (I used sugar snap peas, baby corn and a finely sliced carrot)

For the curry paste:

4 shallots, peeled and quartered

2 tsp turmeric

1 bulb garlic, cloves separated and peeled

3 sticks lemon grass

6-7 kaffir lime leaves

2 tsp galangal paste

4 inches ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2 tbsp shrimp paste

2 red chillies (seeds removed)

4 dried chillies

Whizz all the curry-paste ingredients in a blender. Heat a drizzle of vegetable oil in a wok and flash fry the paste for less than a minute, stirring constantly so it doesn’t catch and burn. Pour in the coconut milk, then add the fish sauce and palm sugar. Stir and leave to simmer and thicken (approx 20 minutes).

If you are using raw prawns (if you’re anything like me, it just depends what’s on offer!), you’ll need to fry them separately. Add the cooked prawns to the curry sauce and leave to heat through for a couple of minutes, then add the vegetables, simmer for another two-three minutes and serve with rice or noodles and coriander to garnish. I like my veg crisp and crunchy for a nice contrast, but if you like yours soft, add with the prawns.

Thank you Mr and Mrs Smith – welcome home and I hope you had an incredible honeymoon!

 

 

 

 

 

Friday

Wake up with: £80 + £28.86 (from last week)

Go to bed with: £80 + £28.86

At 6am, I am pacing in paradise. I watch the rosy glow of dawn spread across the lagoon from my hotel window, it’s going to be a scorcher today. And suddenly, there it is; the news I have been waiting for all night: my wonderful, clever, brave sister has given birth to a little girl. And so the waterworks begin…

The day has a dreamlike quality to it: breakfast with the client, a last wistful wander around Hotel Cipriani’s kitchen gardens, then an hour to get lost in the streets behind Piazza San Marco before I have to jump on the vaporetto to the airport. I get home to an immaculate house, and the husband has even bought me flowers. Did I mention how much I love the husband?

Saturday

Wake up with: £80 + £28.86

Go to bed with: £80.04

Can there be anything better than the utter decadence of a Saturday morning with nothing to do and no one to see? I laze in bed, conducting a multi-media, cross-channel campaign to get my poor beleaguered brother in law to send me photos of my new niece. Then transfer to the sofa for full Olympic immersion.

I was going to offer to take my long-suffering husband out to dinner with the £28-odd pounds I somehow have left from last week, but the Olympics coverage is too exciting and we settle on a takeaway instead so we don’t miss a second of the Gold Rush. Go Team GB! I am really not accustomed to this winning lark but I could certainly get used to it: three golds. THREE GOLDS!

Sunday

Wake up with: £80.04

Go to bed with: £64.31

I have a date with my younger goddaughter to check out her new tooth today. I know it’s a cliché but I just can’t get over how quickly babies grow. I see Tiz at least once a month, but I’m amazed how much she changes in that relatively short interval. She’s now at the delightful shuffling and gurgling stage. Heart-meltingly cute — it makes me ache to see my niece. In a mad moment, I almost get on a train to Lancashire on the way home, then I remember they are still in hospital; so I return home via the greengrocers and cook a tomato shorba soup for the week. I will have to be patient.

Monday

Wake up with: £64.31

Go to bed with: £45.62

Supper Club is back on now we have the full complement of facilities, but we’ve no food in the house and I was too distracted by the Olympics to plan a menu at the weekend, so I cycle home via Sainsbury’s. Monday night is definitely the night to pick up a bargain in Dalston. I get 12 sausages for £1.50 and can’t resist a rack of lamb reduced from £7.99 to £3.29; the freezer will have a field day. I use half the sausages to make enough sausage and roasted pepper cannelloni to feed four hungry boys and the husband and I for the rest of the week. Yum!

Tuesday

Wake up with: £45.62

Go to bed with: £45.62

Tuesday is a whirl of meetings and emails so I’m exhausted by the time I get home. I spend the night relaxing in front of the Olympics, whittling down the enormous ironing mountain.

Wednesday

Wake up with: £45.62

Go to bed with: -£19.08 (oops)

My sister and niece have been given the all-clear and are on their way home from hospital. I promptly break the cash-only rule and order her a Sainsbury’s delivery online so she can just concentrate on her new family of three and not worry about the shopping.

Tonight I’m booked in for dinner with the girls. Despite the fact that I spent all my remaining weekly budget at lunchtime on my sister’s surprise, there is no way I am cancelling an evening with some of my bestest girls in one of my favourite restaurants, so I peddle off to Gallipoli Again for gossip and mezze: at £17.70 including wine, it’s reasonable—I’m not going to lose any sleep about blowing the budget this week.

Thursday

Wake up with: -£19.08

Go to bed with: -£19.08

I am supposed to be meeting a friend for drinks tonight, but she is unwell – and the budgeting side of my brain breathes a sigh of relief. We re-schedule for next week, when hopefully I’ll be able to comfortably afford a glass of vino or three.

I end the week £19.08 down, but one niece up, so on balance, I think I must be the richest person in the country this week. Welcome to the world our little Golden Girl, I cannot wait to meet you. X

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“I saw from out the wave of her structures rise / As from the stroke of the enchanter’s wand”

I have yet to visit every city in the world, but I have no compunction whatsoever in declaring Venice the most beautiful of them all. Here’s a little taster of what 24-hours in Venice looks like, as long as you don’t count the meetings, that is…

1300h Speeding towards The Cipriani

1900h A passion fruit cocktail on The Cipriani’s terrace

2000h Sunset at The Cipriani Dock

2100h The moon resplendent over the lagoon

0900h Breakfast with a view

1000h A tour of The Cipriani’s kitchen garden

1100h Attempting to hide among the grape vines in The Cipriani gardens (I don’t want to go home)

1300h Off the beaten track: a quiet back street in Venice

1310h A gondola floats by…

1330h Drooling over biscotti at Fuori Menu

1340h Buying a souvenir from Italy: Parmigiano Reggiano

Friday

Wake up with: £50

Go to bed with: £41

Another £50 week, to account for the purchase of wedding presents this month. I am very much looking forward to next week, not only because it will herald the return to the full budget, but also the return to normality on the home front: the DIY project is scheduled to finish on Monday. Phew.

The week starts on a real high, a drink and a gossip with a former colleague at The Book Club Basecamp, a pop-up outdoor bar, kitchen and playground that is screening the Olympics everyday until 12th August. It’s awesome, but unfortunately everyone else thinks so too. We finally manage to secure a bottle of rose, (£18) and a nook to drink it in (free) and so the gossip begins.

As the wine peters out, I check in with the husband who sounds unusually strained for a Friday night, so I decide that I’d better head home to ply him with some food and cuddles. Plus, I’m really looking forward to seeing our newly-installed bathroom floor…

When I get home, I discover exactly why the husband is tense. The tiler we have drafted in, the self-same tiler who promised it would take just a day to lay our new bathroom floor is still there. The toilet and sink are disconnected and there is precisely one tile on the floor. We try to cajoule the tiler into calling it a day: surely he wants to watch the opening ceremony? Apparently he doesn’t.

I walk into the garden, take a deep breath and resolve to put on my happy face. I am zen personified. The husband and I retire to the sitting room to watch the show, which is enough to banish all DIY stresses. It’s amazing, transporting us to another world where London is a dream city and the UK a utopia of all things lovely and wondrous. And I really want a pair of those glow-in-the-dark wings. Good job Danny Boyle.

The husband has bought us steak for tea and, when the tiler finally leaves at half ten (curiously, no noticeable progress has been made), we sit down to enjoy it on the balcony.

On this night, I am proud to be British, at least until Paul McCartney starts warbling, anyway! 

Saturday

Wake up with: £41

Go to bed with: £41

On the plus side, this DIY business sure is cheap. I’m so busy sanding, painting and cleaning today I haven’t got a second to spend any money—as long as you don’t count all the pennies I have to spend in the local pub; our loo is no closer to being connected at the day’s close, although we have at least got a few tiles on the floor now.

Looking on the bright side, at least I’m here today to remind the tiler not to smoke in the house, use my kitchen worktop as a tile-cutting bench, or to wipe up excess adhesive with my shower curtain. Honestly, I have spent more time over the last few weeks desperately fire-fighting after spectacular carelessness than I have actually doing DIY. It took an hour to pick the paint off my jute chair covers (they were in a room where NO DIY was taking place!), I have washed, dried, ironed and folded endless amounts of towels and teatowels that have somehow leapt from the serried ranks in the airing cupboard into a bucket of plaster. Not to mention the irreplaceable and precious fabric I was using as a window panel in the sitting room, which is now liberally daubed with white gloss paint and consequently ruined forevermore.

Humph!

Sunday

Wake up with: £41

Go to bed with: £32.90

I am no longer zen. At 3.45pm on day three of the bathroom floor debacle, there is no sign of the tiler, ergo sum, the bathroom floor is no closer to being completed. The tiler said he would be here between 11am and 12pm. So far, so four hours late. I am not impressed. He finally turns up at 3.52. Grrrr.

I try to distract myself with a trip to the greengrocers and a bit of kitchen therapy, but it’s an ask with all the bathroom appliances and several toolboxes underfoot. Still, we’ve got to eat something this week so I persevere. I make a couple of moussakas (one for now, one for the freezer), a dame blanche cheesecake and some quesadilla filling, as well as a pot of chicken stock. By the time I have shopped for and made that lot, the floor is no closer to completion.

I should point out at this juncture that our bathroom floor is approximately two foot by six foot; I could have taught myself to tile and plumb in the amenities by now. The clock ticks on, the floor is grouted but the ‘conveniences’ remain in the kitchen. Curious. Eventually, at ten pm, when I am ready to weep with frustration, the tiler decides he is going to come back tomorrow. It takes every single ounce of willpower I have to nod and smile, and not punch something (or someone). As soon as the door closes the floodgates open. I can’t take this anymore.

Of course I am grateful that he worked through the weekend to finish the job. Of course I appreciate that you can’t have good, fast and cheap. But: builders please note: if you think it will take three days, say so. But don’t tell me it will take one day and then drag it out to four.  And yes, that is a newly-painted wall you have just smeared with grout. Thanks. I’ll just repaint that before I go to bed then.

Monday

Wake up with: £32.90

Go to bed with: £28.86

I’m not the greatest fan of Monday mornings, but boy is it a relief to be at work today. There isn’t dust on every surface and I don’t have to leave the office to relieve myself. Bliss.

One big shout out has to go to the husband, who got up at 6.45am to clean the bath so I could wash for the first time in three days. The husband is amazing. FACT.

It’s lucky I’m feeling buoyed up because the carpet fitter calls in sick. Oh joy! On the plus side, the husband tells me the tiler is on his way at 11am. All he has to do is re-plumb in the loo and sink… When I get home from work at six-thirty, guess who’s still there? Yep, the tiler. Oh joy! And neither the loo nor the sink are plumbed in. How is this possible? What has he been doing for six and a half hours? Reader, I am baffled – and furious. This is beyond a joke now. Maybe I should stop feeding him? The tiler eventually leaves at nine-thirty pm (after I’ve cooked him dinner), so another night ruined, but at least we have a working bathroom now. Thank god.

Tuesday

Wake up with: £28.86

Go to bed with: £28.86

Hurrah! The carpet fitter has been and I am going to sleep in a proper bed tonight. The husband and I spend the evening re-assembling the bed, and gradually shuffling the furniture into the right position in the right room.

At just after midnight, I climb into an actual bed, in the actual bedroom and delight in the clean sheets. This is the definition of bliss.

Wednesday

Wake up with: £28,86

Go to bed with: £28.86

To say I have a humdinger of a day at work would be an understatement. Luckily, I have the perfect antidote up my sleeve: we’ve been invited to cuddle the brand new supper club baby this evening over dinner. The tiny one is utterly gorgeous, and I scoop him onto my lap, apparently just in time for his evening ablutions. I quickly try to hand him back to his dad but it’s too late; he’s christened my dress. I mean, really, really christened my dress. His mum and I are so busy crying with laughter that we can’t even wipe it up. Luckily, it doesn’t put me off my dinner (I’m not sure what it would take to put me off my dinner!)—delicious chicken satay—followed by my dame blanche cheesecake.

On the way home, I reflect on the day: there has to be something wrong when the high-point of your day is being poo-ed on! Luckily, I am escaping from everything tomorrow: I’m off to Venice for a meeting with a client. No more DIY, no more ‘challenging’ work situations: just me and Italy. I need this, reader, I need this.

 

Thursday

Wake up with: £28.86

Go to bed with: £28.86

My sister has gone into labour. MY SISTER HAS GONE INTO LABOUR! It’s a huge surprise when I get a text telling me that her waters broke yesterday as she isn’t due until the 27th. I rise at 5am to catch my flight to Venice, frantically checking my phone every 30 seconds for news. I know this giving birth business can take a wee while, but I can’t stop myself.

There is literally nothing in this world that can rival the feeling of arriving at Piazza San Marco from across the sparkling lagoon. Venice is just magical and I feel my spirits soar instantly; now, I remember why I love my job. Our client is waiting for us at The Cipriani dock, and immediately ushers us poolside for lunch and a bellini—that’s what I call a welcome. We retire to the bar to brainstorm contents for the next issue, followed by an aperitif on the terrace and a tour of the hotel. After a magnificent dinner, I’m ready to sink into my five-star bed. It’s ridiculously comfortable, like  sleeping on a cloud, but I toss and turn, constantly glancing at my phone in case my new niece or nephew has made an appearance… To Be Continued.

Had any DIY dramas of your own? Dreaming of escaping the daily grind? Get it off your chest, or simply divulge your dream destination in the comments box below… Thank you, as ever, for reading.

 

Jean-Michel Folon food banks London 2012

Reader, today I am Disgusted in Stoke Newington and you will have to excuse the departure from normal programming while I have a little rant.

At the weekend, I visited the Folon Foundation. There are a few pervading motifs throughout Folon’s body of illustrations; notably that of a lone, shrouded figure, and an outstretched hand. Those two symbols were at the forefront of my mind this morning as I read a Guardian piece on the rise of foodbanks in the UK.

I am horrified that the same government that is granting huge tax breaks to corporate sponsors during the Olympics is cutting off income support from the poorest members of society, forcing them to turn to charity for food. Is this 2012, or have we travelled back in time to the Victorian era?

I know there is very little—beyond making my feelings known in the general election and signing each and every petition out there—that I can do to change government policy. But I can do one thing: I can help these poor people—and not just by paying my taxes.

Tomorrow is new budget day, and I will assign a portion of next week’s cash to putting my money where my mouth is. My local foodbank needs people to donate the following:

Milk (UHT or powdered)

Sugar 500g

Fruit Juice (carton)

Soup

Pasta Sauces

Sponge pudding (tinned)

Tomatoes (tinned)

Cereals

Rice pudding (tinned)

Tea bags / Instant coffee

Instant mash potato

Rice/pasta

Tinned meat / fish

Tinned fruit

Tinned vegetables

Baked beans

Jam

Biscuits / snack bars

Find your local foodbank here. I wonder if Jimmy Carr would be willing to donate?

Leonidas chocolate, Brussels, Belgium and Magritte

I’ll be frank, there isn’t a whole lot of cooking going on in the LoveRichCashPoor household right now. We’re in the middle of re-painting, which means that everything from the sitting room is currently in the kitchen, while the bedroom is filled to the brim with all the elements of the husband’s former playroom study (think wires, decks, multiple pairs of trainers, computers, mysterious black boxes with lots of knobs on, camera equipment, records… you get the picture). Getting into bed is a veritable feat of balance and gymnastic ability.

Leonidas chocolate, Brussels, Belgium and Folon

In fact, it’s a good job I came back from Belgium loaded with chocolates (thanks dad!). Belgium is renowned for its chocolates and there are artisan chocolatiers on every street corner but I was reared on Leonidas and Leonidas remains my chocolate of choice: specifically truffes speculoos.

At Leonidas, chocolate-making is an art. So how better to show off each tiny creation than by photographing these beauteous bites on famous Belgian works of art?

Leonidas chocolate, Brussels, Belgium and Magritte

A visit to Leonidas is an event in my family. We each have our chocolate of choice: at the moment, my sister and I are obsessed with the truffes and coupes. We’ve been through phases of cerise emballee, manons and irresistibles., we’ve branched out into orangettes and mendiants. Heaven knows where our chocolate journey will take us next, but it will no doubt be delicious.

Each of us takes it in turn to voice our request, then we stand back and watch the lady behind the counter leap into action; her gloved hands deftly selecting the gleaming ganaches and laying them in one of Leonidas’ signature gold boxes, lovingly protecting each layer with a sheet of foil. Then the box is wrapped and beribboned and carried home to savour. Yum.

Leonidas chocolate, Brussels, Belgium

Leonidas choclates, Brussels, Belgium

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