Monday, 27 March 2017

mandarin street

When Sophie and I were 16 we travelled to China with our school art department. Looking back it was quite an incredible experience and something very few might get the opportunity to do. In between visiting the Terracotta Army,climbing the Great Wall and riding bikes around the old walls of Xi'an, we also ate rather a lot of Chinese food. Therefore when we arranged to meet for dinner last week I was somewhat tentative when suggesting going to a new Chinese restaurant in Wandsworth. Were we still sick of the cuisine, even after 8 years?! Well thank goodness Sophie wasn't sick of it because my goodness we have found quite the little spot!

Mandarin Street is located on the Old York Road, an area of Wandsworth which is experiencing something of a food renaissance. I walk past every day and have been dying to give it a go. Its hand-painted mural and golden knocker have been winking at me since Christmas!

Although very small inside, Sophie managed to bag us a table (they don't take reservations but if you arrive and find no table they'll take your number and give you a call when there is space. I recommend you head to The Alma for a drink.) slap bang in the middle of the action. She'd already ordered a bottle and some spring rolls to nibble on whilst we decided how to tackle the menu. 

A bit like tapas, it's recommended you order 4-6 plates between two people. We settled with 5 as everything sounded delicious and we were feeling piggy. 

Pork belly bun, chicken dumplings, salt 'n' pepper squid, green beans and bang bang chicken salad. All were delicious and beautifully presented on Japanese ceramics. However, it was the green beans which we could have eaten bowls of - surprising for two girls who go weak at the knees for a good steak, sausage casserole or BBQ. But my goodness, they were incredible! In fact, I'm drooling just thinking about them now! 

These bad boys ^^^ will need replicating at home. I can't recommend them enough!

I'm having a bit of a bao moment right now and have been dreaming of the soft pillows since eating the best one in Berlin over the summer. I'm making my pilgrimage to Bao in Fitzrovia next week to get my next hit.. 

We gossiped the night away and caught up on each other's news, all whilst getting a little worse for wear. Safe to say we both felt a little heavy the next day!

I went to York this weekend to celebrate Ana's birthday - it was a glorious time and I can't wait to share some tales with you soon. 

Enjoy the sun!


Thursday, 16 March 2017

february heat

I had packed for snow so when a week of mid-20 degree heat came along I was somewhat stumped for clothing. My dungaree dress and the single navy t-shirt I had has never been worn so much before. And dread to think I had to get my pale winter legs out in February! I pitied everyone who had to witness the anaemic white little things. 

Clothing aside, experiencing a heat wave in Maryland whilst the UK was being battered by Storm Doris was a joy to behold. Much of my time was spent reading in the garden whilst the poor American revised for exams. I have recently joined a book club (though am yet to go to the first meeting!) so spent happy hours reading The Circle by Dave Eggers - not normally something I'd pick up and read but thoroughly reccomend it to everybody my age; it is a terrifying glimpse into a future governed by companies like Facebook, Google and PayPal. In between reading and revising we made the most of playing sports outside. Basketball, baseball, catch, hockey, roller balding, you name it, we did it! 

We ate ice cream sandwiches from the local creamery, drank apple cider from my favorite fruit shop, Baugher's (this is actually a really sweet apple juice, not alcoholic cider as we know it) and we even had a BBQ one evening. It was quite extraordinary, especially seeing as the trees were still bare of leaves. 

Returning to London was always going to be hard, but especially considering we had enjoyed such great weather and London was sitting under a rain cloud. But, and dare I say it, I think Spring is finally here! The daffs are out and the crocuses aren't far behind them. Perhaps now is the time to start getting those anaemic white legs out, ready for the summer (failing that, I'll just find a good fake tan). 


Sunday, 12 March 2017

away with the amish

We set a deal; The American stayed with me for Christmas and we would go over to the States for two weeks in February. It was a no-brainer; February is perhaps the bleakest time in England so the prospect of being away for the majority of the month was very tempting. 

In between reading, revising for exams, playing sports and eating the greasiest food we could find, we found time for exploring the area. A short drive to Pennsylvania and we found ourselves in Amish Country. I've always been totally fascinated by the Amish- from their no-zip policy to their iconic bonnets and straw hats. Pennsylvania is alive with the Amish so a trip to the local farmers' market was in order to see more of their wares and spot a pony and cart or two. 

I was a little wary of taking photos in the market, somehow I felt I was being watched the whole time so thought better of it. But, it was in a tardis-like space, brimming with meats, cheeses, baked goods (oh myyyy the baked goods were good - the apple fritters were a glorious mass of fried dough mixed with apple and sultanas and drizzled in some sort of wonder glaze) and fresh produce. It was also home to some very sad looking toy and book stands which gave us the creeps as well as traditional Amish crafts. We picked up some hex signs which are traditional Amish decorations for the home - decorated with birds and simple floral detailing. 

Waving goodbye to the farmers' market we made our way over to Strasburg, a really sweet main street town. We popped into the creamery but seeing as the weather was a little on the cool side we gave the ice creams a miss. I can only imagine it does a roaring trade in the hot summer months. My choice would be strawberry or pistachio. Simple but the best. We spotted some horse and carts which is a sight I'm not sure I'll ever get used to - it seems so outdated and quaint. Mind you, a quiet life in the country never harmed anyone. The rest of the main street is dotted with taverns, antique shops and bakeries all in brick and wooden houses - Strasburg is certainly worth a visit for the architecture alone!

Our time in Amish country was short but sweet, I would think the summer is a better time to visit, perhaps next time we'll even hop on the train for a trip through the countryside. 

All aboard!