Cafe Route – Dalston, London

One of my favourite foodie groups (Fiona, Maria, Danielle, and James) invited me to one of their weekly brunches. One very sunny Saturday, after a morning gym session, I headed up to Cafe Route in Dalston Junction to be a part of the brunch club.

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Although it is based on the ground floor of a complex of new build apartments, it still has a rustic feel to it with its tiled floors, red brick walls, spices hanging from the ceiling and mismatched antique-looking chairs. It is a family run business and has a mini health food store at the back and in the front is a deli with a daily selection of freshly made salads, meats, etc and bakery with fresh breads from The Artisan Bakery.

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They let us know the food would take 40 minutes to an hour, which was appreciated as not many restaurants let you know if they are going to take a while. We each chose a personalised juice and a coffee to sip on while we had a good old catch up. I went for a carrot, apple and ginger, which was very refreshing, and a cappuccino.

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Danielle and I went for the eggs royale £6.75; a personal favourite brunch choice of mine. The poached eggs were perfectly cooked and even though I didn’t dig into it straight away, the yolk still spilled out when I cut into it. The hollandaise sauce James went for the eggs benedict £6.75.

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Fiona went for the crushed avocado, poached eggs, and grilled chorizo on artisan bread £7.50.

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And Maria had the same, but with a grilled portobello mushroom instead of the chorizo.

Overall a very good catch up with the ladies and gentleman (thank you for letting me join the brunch club) and a very good brunch. I will definitely be coming back to try out the salads.

With our bellies satisfied, we headed back out into the sunshine. Fiona and Maria made their way to the Rolling Stones concert (amazing!) and Danielle, James and I made our way to London Fields to bask in the sun.

http://caferoute.co.uk/

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East West – A Warung Away From Home – Soho, London (now closed down)

East West is an Indonesian restaurant hidden away in London’s China Town that my girlfriends and I love to go after work when we are missing a bit of Indonesian spice in our lives.

After moving to London, I tried many different Indonesian restaurants, looking for one that tasted like home, but they all tasted very Westernized and seemed to try to cater to the English palette.

From the moment you walk into East West, on the other hand, you no longer feel like you are in London. From its decor, to its warung-like (street restaurant) feel with only 3 tables to share, to the delicious, authentic food – you feel like you are back in Indonesia, surrounded by people speaking Indonesian. Its our little piece of Indonesia in London.

Firdaus Lanyau owns and runs this restaurant and he has many fans of this home away from home for many of the London-Indonesian community. He also runs the mini supermarket at the front of the restaurant where I buy my sambal (Indonesian chili sauce) and my spices.

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After a very long day at work one Wednesday, Charlotte, Kate, Emma and I decided on a catch up dinner at our favourite little Indonesian eatery.

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Every time I go, I always say I am going to try something else, but the nasi campur always looks too good to resist. ‘Nasi campur’ literally means ‘mixed rice’, which is a dish that consists of white rice and a mixture of different dishes that have been cooked that day.

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We got fried chicken, pan fried fish, beef rendang (curry), a vegetable stir fry, and my favourite fresh green chili sauce.

After a good long and very girly catch up, some krupuk kampung (a type of prawn cracker) and some Teh Bottle (a brand of sweet tea), we left with our tummies very satisfied. For only £5, you really cannot go wrong.

Until next time, Firdaus!

http://www.eastwestoriental.com/

http://www.timeout.com/london/restaurants/east-west

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2013/02/17/london-based-indonesian-warung-feels-home.html

Running for Cardiomyopathy – The British 10k – 14th July 2013

To those who helped to support and made a donation; thank you so much for your help. We have been able to raise £805.00 so far and £968.75 with gift aid. This is an amazing achievement and every single one of you have made a difference.

The money that we have raised will go towards their vital services, which include a freephone confidential helpline (0800 018 1024, 8:30am – 4:30pm Mon to Fri) with specialist cardiomyopathy support nurses, a range of publications and a website full of useful information, online forums where those affected by cardiomyopathy can share experiences, information days around the country with leading medical cardiomyopathy experts, volunteer-led support groups and a network of affected people who provide one-to-one support to others.

They solely rely on the generosity of their supporters to meet the costs of delivering these essential services. For them, every penny received makes a vital difference to those affected by cardiomyopathy.

If you would like to find out more about the organisation, please go to http://www.cardiomyopathy.org

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So, I had my run on the 14th July – The British 10k. I met up with some of the other runners running for The Cardiomyopathy Association and it was good to meet other people who also were affected by this heart condition and were running for a close friend or family.

It was the first time I had run a 10k (or any race ever) and I really enjoyed it. Although the race is over, I will continue running and hopefully run a couple more races for the charity this year.

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Thank you again to everyone who donated and if you are still yet to, please click on the link below. Its never too late to help.

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/StephanieWhiteley

Le Relaise de Venise – L’Entrecôte – Canary Wharf, London

After a long week of hard work, Thomas, James and I went for some post work drinks in The Wharf (As I work there now and they are my only friends that work there too). We sipped our drinks in the sun on the square and watched the Wimbledon Men’s Semi-Finals, which was showing on a huge screen on the square.

When we were done sipping, we decided we were extremely hungry after this very long day at work, and Thomas recommended we go to L’Entrecote.

I had heard about the legend of L’Entrecote and its steak-frites-ONLY ways. This restaurant shows that the new age pop ups without menus – are not so “new age” – in fact, L’Entrecote have been serving JUST steak and french fries for the past 50 years.

They have a couple of restaurants in London – we went to the one in Canary Wharf as we were already in the area (I believe they also have one in Marylebone, The City, Paris and New York). We were seated straight away and the waitress explained to us (in a French accent), “We only have steak here – You can choose for it to be done blue, rare, medium… well done… etc”. Of course I ordered mine blue.

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First they brought us a leafy salad, with a french dressing and walnuts. It was a nice refreshing start to the meal.

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Then came the star of the meal; the steak. It came with a “secret sauce” on top, which was delicious and had a pesto-like flavour to it, and a large portion of french fries on the side. They just bring two thirds of the steak to start with so that they can bring the other third of the steak to you warm afterwards.

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My steak was cooked just how I like – still moo-ing. It was not tough or chewy what-so-ever, in fact it was very soft and tender.

When this portion of steak and fries was done, they came over with the second portion for each of us. I did not finish my first portion of fries, so I just accepted the steak and very happily finished it off. The boys, of course, devoured it – fries and all.

We also shared a bottle of red wine between the three of us and the menu came to £28 each.

We left with very happy bellies. Excellent choice, Thomas!

http://www.relaisdevenise.com/

Dishoom – Shoreditch, London

One Thursday evening a couple weeks ago, straight from work, Julia and I decided on Dishoom in Shoreditch for a catch up date.

Firstly, I must say, I love the way the restaurant is set up – its got a Bali-Island-type feel to it with the canopy space outside, the tropical plants and the wooden decor inside, and I love that it is hidden away on Boundary Street.

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We got there for 7pm and were shown to our seat straight away, even without a booking. We sat on the chef’s table where they were making the wonderful Indian breads and grilled meats.

We decided on some spiced calamari (£5.20), which was very nice. It was nice heavy battered and oily as per a usual calamari, but instead it tasted very light and was well spiced.

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For our mains, we decided we wanted everything on the “Grills” section of the menu; but as there were only two of us, we then decided to just share an order of Roomali Roti (£1.90), Mahi Tikka (£7.90), Paneer Tikka (£6.90) and a Kachumber Salad (£2.70), as opposed to trying to eat everything there.

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The fish was very fresh tasting and was cooked perfectly. The paneer had the perfect amount of squidginess for its texture (yes, you read that correctly – and yes I possibly did make up that word). The roti was very thin but still has some good chewiness to it and the salad was a great addition to everything.

Plus, they give you three little pots of sauces to go with your meal, which are an absolute delight (even if they do serve them to your table on a plate that is too small to fit all three pots).

Overall it was all very well spiced and nothing was greasy or felt too heavy.

It was a great evening of catching up with Julia and we left sans the usual lethargic-food-coma type feel you usually get when you leave a curry house.

http://www.dishoom.com/shoreditch/

And as tomorrow morning is my run (The British 10k), I bid you adieu. Goodnight!

Running for Cardiomyopathy

Every little girl grows up thinking the world of her dad. He will always be the first man you ever loved. And I am no different from any of those little girls.

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Its been 3 years and 10 months now since my Dad passed away from Cardiomyopathy and I still miss him and still think of him. And I always will.

There is not much you can do for someone you love that has passed away. No matter how much you wish, there will never be any last kisses, last hugs, no last laughs, stories, or “I love you”s. It feels like they have just disappeared out of your world – poof! And there is nothing you can do to bring them back. Not even for just one last day.

So, I decided to do something in memory of my Dad and to help others that suffer with this heart condition. This Sunday I am running The British 10k to raise money for the Caridomyopathy Association and in memory of my Daddy. I haven’t ever been a runner but just started in January this year in preparation for this run.

http://www.cardiomyopathy.org/

http://www.thebritish10klondon.co.uk/

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In memory of my Daddy, for this race and for this evening, I’ll share with you just a little handful of why he was such a special person in my life:

  • The bad dad jokes he would crack and then burst out laughing about by himself until he turned bright red – which would then make us laugh… at him.
  • He would be so silly it would make me giggle so hard – like when he used to pretend to give birth to a baby out of his t-shirt (which was my teddy bear) and acted so shocked when it came out and it was a teddy bear instead of a baby – I was only 4 years old but I still remember that one as I found it hilarious at the time.
  • The bedtime reading I would look forward to every single night right up to my teens – I think I remember Enid Blyton’s Bedtime Stories for Eight Year Olds being one of my favourites… although he did make up some great stories too.
  • The way he was such a good listener to me when I would cry about my problems and then he would tell me “chin up” because everything will always be okay in the end.
  • Our imaginary friends that we used to create stories about and giggle about together – Yep! Jelly and Rosenkranz were their names!
  • The way he always believed in me no matter how big my dreams were – Even when I wanted to be a princess at 4 years old and a famous rock star at 13 years old.
  • The love of food we shared together as a family – Sunday brunches and Saturday night dinners were my favourite. Yes, my love of food started at a young age with my family meals.
  • Being my tooth fairy and leaving me the greatest gifts – I remember finding Betamax videos of Walt Disney cartoons and big bags of sweets under my pillow; BEST TOOTH FAIRY EVER!
  • When my Daddy was ill, he had a big medicine box on a shelf in the living room, and on random mornings, I would leave him notes or a little present that he would find before he went to work and he would leave the same under my door that I would find before I went to school – Just to say “I love you” and to have a good day.

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It makes me smile when I think about the great memories we made and this is how I remember him.

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Our imaginary friends will live on forever, Daddy. I’ll always be your little girl.

For my Daddy, for The Cardiomyopathy Association, for others out there suffering, and for their families, please make a little donation: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/StephanieWhiteley

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This blog post and my run on Sunday are my way to celebrate his beautiful life.

Flat Iron

If you don’t like steak, then Flat Iron is not the right place for you. There is no menu here and all you can order is… yep you’ve got it… Steak.

I felt like a steak one night so we wondered into Soho to find this little gem that I had heard so much about. It happened to be full when we arrived and so we took a vibrating token from the gentleman at the door and made our way to a near by bar for a couple pre-dinner beverages.

After about 30 minutes, the token vibrated and we made our way back to the restaurant to be seated.

On the wooden picnic-like benches that filled the restaurant we were asked whether we had been here before so that they could explain to you what and how to order. So there is steak and you can have it cooked the way you like. Then there is a chalk board on the wall that shows you the sauces and the sides and you are provided with a drinks menu.

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So, I went for the steak (£10) and asked for it blue with bearnaise sauce (sauces are £1 each) and we shared some dripping cooked chips and a Sophie’s salad (approximately £3 for sides).

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A flat iron is the type of cut, which is just above the shoulder. The meat was cooked perfectly for me – my Uncle Harry and I both say we like the steak to come out still moo-ing – and it was done perfectly rare.

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And for dessert they only have one choice; a cold, caramel, chocolate mousse, which was sprayed out like whipped cream into a small glass. Very light and not too sweet. A very good end to the meal.

http://flatironsteak.co.uk