Thursday, 28 November 2013

My Old Dutch restaurant in London: Delicious poffertjes (dutch-style mini-pancakes)

Did I mention that I love eating? Oh and I have a sweet tooth as well......

Overall I just absolutely adore how in London you can have almost any food and drinks people ever invented on earth, in just one single city. A continent at a time, my friends and I used to joke. African Nigerian sweet buns or Angolan funge with grilled tilapia on Monday. Japanese omelettes or sushi on Tuesday. Turkish Kebab or Persian Grill Plate on Wednesday. Brazilian feijoada or Spanish paella on Thursday. Traditional German pork knuckles *_* on Friday. Taiwanese Bubble Tea on Saturday. Aaaaand British Sunday Roast - obviously on Sunday ;)

This time I`d like to tell you about an amazing place in London, cheap but good food. And kind of a European classic, favourite and simple dish at the same time: Of all of my friends, almost everyone loves pancakes and this time I`d like to introduce you to particularly good ones: Dutch poffertjes!

I had mine in a My Old Dutch restaurant in London (the one in Holborn) and chose to have it with strawberries and cream *_* excellent choice, I still sometimes dream about it.

The restaurant itself is simple but cosy, no problem if you would like some tap water with your dish instead of paying for a drink, just ask one of the lovely waiters and you`ll get it with a smile and as quickly as the dish you ordered.

I went there around 1pm during the week and was quickly led to a table, it was pretty busy, people having coffees, lunch and snacks, I believe they also have free wifi, although it didn t work when I was there.

Pricing is fine as well, I paid around 5 pounds for a pretty filling, delicious and very authentic Dutch dessert-lunch-snack....

Here more information about the restaurant:

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Pink Dolphins in Porto Seguro: The Amazon River Dolphin

Now that summer has finally arrived in Porto Seguro, the sea water is getting warmer every day, especially the river section next to the port of the town. You can imagine my surprise when I saw something pink jumping out of the water. First time I have ever seen pink dolphins! They swim-travel to Porto Seguro together with the hot water streams and stay in the region until the water streams travel further.

Here they are called `Boto-cor-de-rosa` which literally translates to something like Pink Dolphins. On google they were referred to as the Amazon River Dolphin, but here they make a clear reference between BOTO and the Portuguese translation for dolphin which is GOLFINHO. To me it seems like the pink boto dolphin has a much longer mouth than the grey golfinho dolphin brother.

On another page I found out that Amazon River dolphins are becoming an endangered species due to overfishing: So hopefully it is a positive sign that loads of them are still to be found here in Porto Seguro.

I also found a sweet Brazilian Pink Dolphin Tale: The story says that the Pink Dolphin is the most playful of all dolphins and that`s why he particularly attracks women and children close to the river. According to the legend, he protects everyone in case of drowning risk. People also tell that the boto is also famous for being a conqueror of hearts. That he seduces girls who dance at the parties in town, who take a bath in the river and those who navigate alone in small canoes. The legend also tells that in the nights of the June parties, the Pink dolphin transforms himself into what?

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Chantilly Rose chocolate cupcake with melting toffee centre

YES! This cupcake IS as delicious as it looks like. (It was almost too late to take a picture as I was already ravishing the rose when I remembered that it might be nice to have a picture memory of it, but it is almost complete on the photo (well, at least at the front side of our view ;-) !

Where and how did I get it?

Well... Here I was sitting and working - my brain was pretty much fried.... when the prince of sun came in and surprised me with this lovely rose cupcake! Thanks love! :-*

Its rose and the white waves around are made of chantilly, the pink parts outside on the rose have a strawberry-ish taste and the rest just wonderful cream taste, outside a bit thicker texture and inside wonderfully soft melting. The lower part of the cupcake is made of dark chocolate cake with several soft melting toffee centres. *_*

This cupcake pretty much unites everything I love in cupcakes in one single piece. Absolutely brilliant job of the lovely tiny bakery around the corner!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Love parcels: Winter Wellness Parcel, mouth painter Ivanov and thoughts on Brazilian sense of time & space

Today I ran some errands in the centre and arrived at home in the late afternoon - totally tired (and sunburned :D aehem, but we'll get there later ;))! As if the post man had known that I was really needing a good amount of sweetness and love right now, a lovely surprise was waiting for me - tucked under our front gate:

A winter wellness parcel from my mum!

She had sent it in October, so the parcel and post service was quite punctual this time =) That's lovely news in addition to a wonderful surprise wellness parcel!

So, let's get to the lovely contents: My mum had sent relaxing camomilla bath packs as well as my favourite Ginger Lemon tea and Green tea that will both come into use in a just few minutes! She has also sent a delicious strawberry shower gel, a cherry wood nailfile set and last but not least high children sunscreen 30Spf.

(I have to admit that I am dangerously lazy with sunscreen and only use it about once a week or even less - although living in one of the hottest, sunburning-regions on earth. And I should really have used the latter today morning: during our usual rather early morning dog walk, the prince of sun wanted to show me something that 'é pertinho' (which translated means 'it's very close') so I thought that the sun wouldn't be too strong until our return and that we would be back in about 30min time but - as very often happens when Brazilians tell you that something is either 'pertinho' (very close) or 'rapidinho' (very quick) it actually isn't! So I thouroughly burned my shoulders, face and arms as I was only wearing shorts and a shield tank top.... hasn't happened in a long time as usually when we plan to continuously walk in the strong sun for longer than 30 minutes I make sure that I use sunscreen or at least shield my face and shoulders with a t-shirt and cap. Well, should have known better by now that the 'Brazilian very close' really cannot be compared at all to the 'German very close' ;)

Anyway, back to the lovely contents: The picture postcard my mum has sent this time is a beautiful painting called 'Wiesenlied' (German for 'meadow song') by mouth painter Aleksandr Ivanov. It`s a still-life of a flower vase with a mix of 'blue-purple centaureas' and 'white-yellow anemones blandas' ((as far as I google-searched the sorts, so no guarantee on that one!)). The painter himself was born in Astrakhan, Russia in 1956, studied painting and visual arts from his early youth on and then started working in the field until suffering an accident in 1990:

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Kyoto Garden in Holland Park & exposition of "Jane Austen generations" paintings

Check out the huge goldfishes!
Before heading to the Persian restaurant, my friend Honey Girl and I had a stroll through Holland Park and decided to have a short pick nick in enchanting Japanese-themed Kyoto Garden.
Kyoto Garden in Spring
Beautiful huge Magnolia tree
Paintings exposition in Holland Park's flower garden
We then went on exploring Holland Park and its flower garden and stumbled upon a beautiful exposition of "Jane Austen generations" paintings.

Here most paintings of the exposition:

At the beach with Will Smith in Porto Seguro, Brazil ;)

Yesterday I went to the beach with two of my nieces and one nephew. On our way we were passing a beach section by bus and suddenly saw a huge crowd staring from far to what seemed a small family surrounded by bodyguards.... "Is that Will Smith? No way..." my nephew said....

Coming closer, the family really looked like the Smith family...

Of course I could not resist googling this and voila, quick hits on the right topic:
Will Smith in Porto Seguro, Brazil

And later on, some facebook friends even posted pictures taken with the actor at the airport of Porto Seguro, so we thought maybe he is going to visit Beyonce in our neighbour town Trancoso ;)
Beyonce in Trancoso, Brazil

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Mahdi restaurant - delicious Persian cuisine in London

I love trying out new places and cuisine of different cultures, especially authentic Barbecue dishes, so I was thrilled when my friend Honi girl suggested a Persian restaurant near Ravenscourt Park. So off we went to try it out together. First impression: Amazing decoration, you really feel like you just hopped into a totally different country and culture, very detailed and just really overwhelming in the first few seconds.

The restaurant was very busy, but we did not wait too long and were quickly led to a free table where I sat down on a very comfy bank. I got myself some delicious mango juice and we went on chatting along, so time passed very quickly and voilá, our plates arrived. And wow, those were HUGE portions! I felt like my friend and I could have happily shared this plate and would have been very satisfied =) We had a warm starter first: "Steam-cooked Dolme Vine leaves wrapped around rice and fresh herbs". I actually asked for Persian nan bread instead of rice and was absolutely delighted, I really love both Indian nan bread and Turkish kebab, and I felt like the Persian nan bread was kind of a mix between both. As a main course, we both had "Chelov-Kabab-E-Bakhtyari: Grilled skewer of diced tender spring lamb, chicken fillet, served with grilled tomato, rice and salad". It was absolutely amazing, one of my favourite lamb barbecue dishes ever! We were totally happy and satisfied, and about half of our plate was still full... But it is quite common to take leftovers home it seems, as the waiter immediately smiled when we asked for it and went to get us some 'tupperware' to take our leftovers home.

More information, address, location and opening hours:

Okonomiyaki (Japanese Pizza-Pancake-Omelette) and Green tea ice cream

Miso soup and seaweed salad
Last time I was meeting Dance Girl around Leicester Square, I arrived about 1h earlier than planned and my friend even texted me that she would be late. So I thought I'd take advantage and check out a nearby Japanese restaurant called Abeno Too. It was my first time trying Japanese Okonomiyaki (Japanese Pizza-Pancake-Omelette-like dish) and I found it very delicious as well as pretty filling. Okonomiyaki is made of cabagge, egg and dough, with spring onions, ginger as well as a few options one can choose, I had the Tokyo Mix this time with prawn, pork and squid. All Okonomiyaki lunch options already come with miso soup and another side dish (mine was a salad (I believe it was a mix of seaweeds and cabbage amongst others).


 Tokyo mix: pork, prawn and squid
Fresh Green tea ice cream
The mixture was then prepared and fried right in front of me and the lady that was preparing it still added a few Japanese seasonings, sauces and mayonnaise after checking with me.

I then tried out one of their typical desserts, fresh Green tea ice cream, which was surprisingly yummy, creamy, very different but I would definitely have it again next time I get the chance.

View on the restaurant from the street
More information, address and opening hours of the restaurant:

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Crumpets - the most delicious bread-pancake-ish English breakfast invention

I had never heard of crumpets before staying in the UK for the first time. I stumbled over this amazing English tradition during one of my shopping trips at Waitrose and thought I'd just give it a shot. And WOW, it was the best shot I had ever given in terms of bread-ish English foods.

I have tried quite a few sorts, never a freshly made one, only those you can get in the supermarkets, but the one I most remember and bought is probably from Warburtons.

The taste is pancake-ish and the texture (as long as it is toasted before eaten) slightly crunchy on the outside and spongy and soft on the inside and top of the crumpet. I love it with a lot of butter on top (sometimes a nice jam as well, but in general, butter is the best and simplest option to keep me totally happy). The butter quickly disappears in the warm crumpet's little holes and when you take the first bite, you can feel the amazing mix of crumpet and butter taste effortlessly flowing into one perfect crumpbutter-taste. *_* It surely is the only English 'supermarket bread' I truly miss when I am outside London ;) - I always passionately indulge in my favourite of all English breakfast inventions when I am on 'the island'....

Luke, the hammock dog: It's me or the laptop! & Brazilian Fast Food Dinner

Luke with me on the hammock
Here I am - lying innocently on my hammock... when my puppy Luke suddenly decides that he is fed up of having to compete with my laptop and HOPPI DI HOPP, jumps onto my belly and lap right onto the hammock :D I managed to take a few pictures with my laptop while he was mumbling "listen - it's ME or the laptop! Decide now!" So I gave in, put the laptop on the table next to me to then give my sweetie the attention and tummy rub he thoroughly deserves =))

Coxinha, pão de pizza
and pineapple juice
Now the prince of sun just came in with a typical Brazilian (fast food) take away, a huge 'coxinha de frango com catupiry' (delicious fried chicken croquettes with cream (kind of-mayonnaise-ish, just better) sauce) and a 'pão de pizza' (pizza bread: sweet-ish bread with a mix of tomato pieces and tomato sauce, ham, chicken, cheese, corn (maize) and other goodies)...

Mmmhhhh, having these now together with freshly made pineapple juice mmm-yummmyyyy....

And Luke is meditating next to me - but this time under the hammock :D

Monday, 11 November 2013

Luke's first beach trip: My puppy at Taperapuan Beach

Playing 'catcher'
Yesterday we went on a beach trip, walking the whole distance of about 1h from our borough to the beach, had two short breaks for Luke to relax and drink some water and around noon, we took the 'lotação' back home (lotação is kind of an unofficial cab/taxi service, a union of normal car or minibus drivers that pick up random people on bus routes charging the same bus fares, but often take you right until your doorstep. If you are a group of people, it is fine to go with the lotação, but I guess if you are new in town, it might be best to stick to the buses to be on the save side...

The prince of sun, Luke and I (swimming in the background)
It took us about 40minutes to find someone willing to take a dog on board so that was quite a challenge to be honest....and we did pay 2 bus fares extra for Luke's place in the car but that's fine I guess... ). Unfortunately dogs are not allowed on buses (at least those that don't fit into bags...) and Luke is still too young to walk the whole way back. Maybe next time we will rent a car instead...

It was Luke's very first time on the beach. We left very early, about 7:30am in the morning and had the beach almost for ourselves. A few chuvas passageiras (which means 'really quick and light rain showers) came around in our first few minutes at the beach and then the sky cleared up totally.
First break on our way to the beach

The water was fresh but not too cold and the waves mildly-friendly-wild, I had a few mergulhas (run ins and outs plus dips and short swims) but we did not introduce Luke to the water and swimming yet, we want to get him used to the beach and sea step by step and he was still very sceptical and we want to avoid that he gets afraid of the sea, he only got close to the breaking waves about 4 or 5 times running along when we were playing 'catcher' so his being careful told us that we still needed to wait a bit - although he seemed veeeery curious when observing me in the water swimming... =)

Enjoy our 'photo love story' - loads of pictures of yesterday's beach trip and our puppy Luke ;)

Love parcels: River flows in you - "Bella's Lullaby" piano sheets by Yiruma

Today morning a wonderful surprise parcel was sitting on my doorstep, carefully packed into protective waterproof foil. (It actually looked like someone had opened it - again... must have thought it was a secret plan or something, who knows ;) ....

Inside my own personal often-dreamed-of flowing river was waiting to be discovered and mastered: The beautiful piece 'River flows in you' by Yiruma.

So I spent the whole last few hours training this amazing song - I believe it is one of the famous Twilight songs as well, Bella's Lullaby to be precise and I had often listened to this song, either when watching the movie or most often just on youtube, dreaming along the beautiful melody. Many thanks to my dear mum who has sent over the piano sheets along with other great sheets plus a correction roller for future changes during training and my good old antique wooden books and sheet marker. <3

Here Yiruma playing his song during a concert:

Friday, 8 November 2013

Brazilian beef loin ribs with potatoes, rice and beans: Costela de gado com batatinha, arroz e feijao

Cooked beef loin ribs
My absolute favourite among meat cuts are beef loin ribs, I love them either soft just falling off the bone - cooked in our pressure cooker
with potatoes and tomatoes, but also crunchy - grilled on our stove-top barbecue pan after being bathed in a mix of soy oil, garlic, salt, vinegar and corante powder.

Today we had our costelinha cooked in our pressure cooker with potatoes, tomatoes, (no oil as the loin ribs already have a high amount of natural fats), corante powder, salt, garlic, a bit of black pepper powder and fresh parsley/coriander. We had it with our dear couple `feijao com arroz` (beans with rice) and our before freshly(-plugged) made acerola juice (go to Acerola Juice recipe.).

Luke hypnotizing acerola juice

One of Berlin girl's favourite Brazilian juices is ACEROLA JUICE. She is absolutely right, I also adore acerola juice, especially freshly made.

Today the prince of sun, Luke and I went to visit the prince of sun's brother and his family plus two dogs, one adult German Shepherd mix and one puppy, pitbull mix. Luke loves playing with the puppy and together, they run and jump and dig and play around the large 'sitio' of the prince of sun's brother (sitio is kind of a huge backyard-garden mix). His wife is a declared plant lover and takes care of about 100 different trees, bushes and smaller herb plants, all on their property.
Acerola tree

Every time we go to visit them, they offer us some of the fruits or herbs growing in their sitio, this time it was fresh pitanga while watching the dogs play and then the prince of sun plugged about 300g of fresh acerola fruits from the medium size tree.

Arriving at home, we directly started making the juice, it is pretty simple, especially now that we bought a new mixer (our old one broke down, just too much juicing during the last couple of months :D hopefully the new mixer (ours is from Philips Walita and is quite sturdy) will last a good while.
Acerola juice & our Philips Walita mixer

Making the juice is quite simple:

Brazilian beef liver with rice and beans

How to prepare Beef liver 
It is probably one of the things I am most hesitant to prepare although I thoroughly enjoy it: Cooked or fried liver.
When I saw the ad for fresh beef liver on the supermarket's meat counter for a pleasing 30% discount today morning, I decided that I really wanted to try it out again and thought I'd quickly describe how I made it this time.

First I rinsed the fresh liver thoroughly under hot water. Then I cut it in small pieces (about the size of half a cream cracker) and went on to quickly boil it, before I washed it out a second and then third time, until the water left in the sink was totally clear. (This is probably one of the reasons I rarely cook this dish: A looooooot of washing out and boiling involved, it takes much longer to prepare than normal meat and cutting fresh liver is even worse than cutting fresh meat ;) it is so slippery ….).

It was almost totally cooked when I finished to wash it out, put it in the pressure cooker and added the rest of the ingredients: Finely cut onion, garlic, salt, fresh parsley (or coriander, I honestly don t know if there's a real difference - it's called coentro here in Brazil), corante powder, soy oil, a bit of butter, a bit of water and tomato puree. 

I then left it 40 minutes on the highest stove heat setting in the pressure cooker and then separated about ¼ of it to separately fry it. We had both the cooked and fried liver with our alltime-classic 'feijão com arroz' (beans with rice). And as usual, froze the rest of the liver for future quick, liver meals.

Mmmmh, delícia!

In memory of my little angel Amie

Amie <3
In memory of my beloved first dog and her huge fluffy oversized paws...  

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Delicious, strong Brazilian coffee '3 corações' made in our Italian moka pot

I've always loved fresh, strong coffee. Sometimes with milk, sometimes without, almost always with sugar and sometimes with cream. But I am quite picky when it comes to the taste, I have to admit.
My favourite European brand has always been Lavazza, but it was quite difficult to find Lavazza coffee and espresso here in Brazil, and the places that sell them, know how to charge a fortune so I had to go and search for a new favourite Brazilian brand. I tried quite a few sorts until one day I was sitting in a restaurant and had one of those cafezinhos de cortesia (meaning there is always a full coffee can on the counter and you are more than welcome to have a (free espresso size) coffee on the house.
My 2 favourite coffee brands:
European 'Lavazza' vs. Brazilian '3 corações'

One day while having one of those cafezinhos, I suddenly had kind of a deja vu experience that only a real coffee lover will truly understand. I HAD to know the brand of this coffee. The lady behind the desk smiled and said that it was '3 corações', the favourite coffee brand of the restaurant's owner. He would never accept any other brand, she told us, once they bought the wrong brand and he already knew it wasn t 'the right coffee' before he even tried it.

'3 corações' means '3 hearts' and this espresso style Lavazza-ish gourmet coffee literally hit my heart ;).... And off I went to find what my heart was longing for ... ;)

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Cosy 'Candid Café', Candid Arts Trust in Angel, London

On quiet Friday afternoons, I often turn to my favourite study and reading resort in Islington: Tucked away down a shy side street just next to Angel tube station, Candid Café and Courtyard is by far the cosiest café that I have come across during my student years in this area. This rather small café-restaurant is backed by the Candid Arts Trust which promotes the arts and arts education.

I usually have a strong, steaming hot Ginger tea and throw in one or two fat, brown sugar cubes that leave that amazing caramel taste on your tongue. Although I brought a book with me with me last time, I just started day-dreaming. Not sure why, but this place always leaves me in this state - quite lovely state I have to admit, and probably one of the reasons I would describe the café as my magical secret London gem.

It can get quite crowded at times, but if you arrive before the usual 'rush hour' afternoon tea, you can almost always get a place on one of the cosy sofas (next to some excited arts students discussing their latest project maybe ;)) or on one of the romantic candle light tables next to the windows - just for your own pleasure or to share it with a good friend or loved one.... It's the favourite hangout when reuniting with my London-German friend Seyfried Girl (she really looks a lot like Amanda Seyfried, sometimes it is almost scary!) and I once had lunch there, they do simple, but delicious and filling dishes and rather mediterranian cuisine.

Future London projects: The first gigantic River Garden bridge worldwide

Planned location of the Garden bridge
How awesome is that! I just listened to the Vanessa Feltz Show (or well, the collection of her latest podcasts) and heard about a probable future London project: A garden bridge next to Temple underground station! Direct link of the city with the Southbank through a pedestrian bridge which at the same time is a beautiful park! An absolutely brilliant idea! Some might say that well, there already is a pedestrian bridge in the neighbourhood (a bridge that I'd rather avoid during windy weather as it tends to swing a tiny bit :D - yes, it is the dear Millenium bridge linking the Globe theatre, Tate Modern and Bankside Gallery on the southern end with St Paul's Cathedral and the City of London), it really cannot be compared, especially due to its wonderful combination of being something very useful and convenient (connecting the two riverbanks and often cramped tourist points) with something so peaceful and yet serene as a park. Definitely something to look forward to in the next few years, of course just in case it all works out. In case they get planning permission, the project could start in 2015 and take about 2 years to complete.

The brilliant inspiration comes from actor Joanna Lumley who was being interviewed on the Vanessa Feltz show and whose initial dream was that the Garden bridge would turn into 'a place with no noise or traffic where the only sounds are birdsong (...) bees buzzing (...) wind in the trees, and below the steady rush of water'. OK, I have to admit that I am getting quite excited and all bubbly inside right now while I am imagining this, I really hope that it will work out and as the horticulturist promises, it will hopefully soon be another natural London source of 'peace, beauty and magic'!

Oh, by the way, just a little bit of information about the technical and gardening architects for those who are interested:

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Cuddle Session with Luke after first long (rainstorm) walk

YAY! Luke had his first successful long walk today and absolutely loved it. Of course we came into a heavy rain (almost storm) and ran the last 100 meters. Arriving totally happy and exhausted, wet and dirty, we resolved taking a warm shower (Luke was the first to have his shower :D) and now we are sitting together in the living room, cuddling on the sofa and sipping warm Camomila tea and eating the prince of sun's birthday vanilla custard/pudding cake *_*....

More Luke pictures:

Why were houses in Brazilian town Porto Seguro restricted to a max of two floors? And what does Beyoncé has to do with it?

When I was landing in Porto Seguro, Brazil for the first time, the breathtaking traditional skyline captured my attention from the first few seconds. What most impressed me, was the sight of the church that one could see from almost everywhere, even the big supermarkets and shopping centres were not obtrusing its sight. 

Porto Seguro Skyline - with its church right in the middle near the harbour and sea

Let's play a little quizz game and see if you guess right concerning the reasons for this fascinating fact:
A) The church was being used in times of heavy flooding, the roofs of the houses were connected in a way that one could reach the church from whatever borough you lived in by climbing onto the houses and getting to the meeting and rescue point which was the church near the harbour. The church was built higher so that everyone could see it from far and orient himself easier when trying to reach it.

B) In earlier times the town's church was used as a Guardian tower and therefore, it was necessary that it was the highest building so that one could see, search and find enemies or criminals from the top without obtrusing views through other houses.

C) The church had to be the highest building in town as an honour to God with nobody trying to get "higher" than him.