30 November 2013

John Lewis Secret Santa: The Reveal

A few weeks ago the John Lewis PR team were kind enough to contact me and invite me to participate in their Blogging Secret Santa, and matched me up with Heather, a proper photographer and Foodie who blogs at Breakfast by the Sea.

Disclaimer: We received gifts for participating, but no positive reviews were requested in exchange. My (many) opinions are only ever my own.


You all know that I'm a card carrying, silver fern wearing, flat-white swilling Kiwi, and I am proper fussy about my coffee. So, I can't tell you how stoked I was to receive my own kitchen-top flat-white producer - a Bosch Tassimo Charmy.

Commuting hasn't ever looked so rosy, as done clutching a hot cup of proper joe of late. I've been playing with a variety of flavours and cheery warming spices from the nearby spice rack as well as the flavours on offer with the coffee capsule thingees {that's the technical term}.

It's a great little machine, and well sized - it doesn't take up much room in our very London-kitchen sized benches.
I've always been a little dubious about Secret Santas but I think I've been converted. Thank you Heather, and John Lewis. You're both ace and are contributing significantly to keeping this blog fuelled with essential caffeine supplies over the festive season.
I've even caught Mr Kiwi red-handed getting sneaky evening caffeine fixes in, not offering me one as it's so quick to use he thought he'd get away with it. Cheeky.
Just a small note for any one who gets one of these for their families on Christmas Day - get them a few coffee capsules as well or they won't be able to use it for a post-Cake digestif until the next day.
Oh, I hope Heather likes hers!

Foodie Penpals: The early and festive Dutch edition

My Foodie Penpals package this month is festively tinged. Very sensibly the Dutch don't start celebrating Christmas until the end of November - unlike our UK business corporations who consider any time after October 1st to be fair game - as the day of Sinterklaas is celebrated by Dutch children on the 5th of December with a small gift, whereas the grown ups shift their present giving to Christmas Day.

Sinterklaas, is the Dutch granddaddy of Santa Claus. Yet another fact I wish I had known before. Thank you blogging, again I bow my head. My match, Kim, sent me a deliciously decadent package.

I was really hoping my next Foodie Penpal would be a European one - there is something extra special about opening a package of foodie love from another country; exploring from the confines of a medium sized cardboard box. 

Kim sent me the festive kruidnoten (small spiced biscuits), butter almond speculaas and delicious Stroopwafels (wafer biscuits with a toffee/caramel inside - delicious left on a cup of tea for a minute). Honestly, how do Dutch ladies keep so svelte with these to wink at them from the supermarket shelves?

My parcel also included Applechips - dehydrated apple slices which are scrumptious and lasted about 20 minutes, Whilhemina peppermints, and Hagelstag.

Hagelstag are awesome. Chocolate sprinkles (and in this instance tiny chocolate houses) that are eaten on toast.

Chocolate sprinkles. On Toast.

Why did I move to England where the favourite is Marmalade (yuck)? In the brand Kim sent me, the pack contains tiny green chocolate houses called Zaanse Huisjes, houses in Holland.

Thank you Kim, it was an absoloutely smashing box!

My parcel this month went to the sweet Kristina, a Gluten Free blogger in Germany so keep your eyes peeled for her thoughts.
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29 November 2013

Friday Figments and Fotos

The last fortnight has been a whirlwind of delicious organised chaos.

Scone & brioche classes,

Doctor Who 3D screenings
A visit to the blokes who make the best Hog Roast sarnies in Waterloo, nay, London

A week of proper Doctor Who Geekery (prizes to anyone who gets the below reference/item) 

Spent 6 hours in the same day eating, laughing and behaving myself at the self-same table in Aubaine  
Learned about the medical and murderous history of Whitechapel
Visited a centre for scientific discovery and learning
Swooned over the tea service in a sumptuous hotel with two gorgeous Kiwi ladies
And sang the Kiwi version of 12 days of Chrismas - a Pukeko in a Ponga Tree
And this is just the tip of the iceberg - I need to sleep instead of blogging. I think I'm going to need a holiday!

28 November 2013

Blog Guilt

Ok, I'm going to hold my hands up to the invisible blog inquisition and admit that the festive season merriment has overtaken the blog schedule. It's also overtaken life to the point that the cat doesn't recognise me any more, Mr Kiwi has to accompany me on walking tours in order to catch up and I'm not really sure what my home looks like in the daylight.  
The quandry is; does one write a more than usual blathery filler post, or does one concentrate ones efforts on finding a gluten free bacon sandwich and writing some stonking posts (and work on using the third person tense of 'one' less)? Well, you've kinda got both. Enjoy - it's Christmas!
In the meantime however, here are a few I prepared earlier because I love you guys;
It does mean that there are fun blog posts coming up for your lunchtime, commuting and downtime reading delectation.

Viva la Christmas/Thanksgiving/Leaving drinks/Baking Classes/Mischief! 

Oh man, I need a Timtam.

(Ps. Don't forget to enter my Christmas Expat Hamper Giveaway sponsored by the team at Seven Seas Worldwide)

Do you ever get a case of the blogging guilts?

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27 November 2013

Tower Hotel Brasserie - Restaurant Review

It's a tough job to match one of the best views of London with a menu that stands up on it's own two feet. Nestled in a rather brutalist shell, when we were invited to the Guoman hotel chain's Tower Hotel brasserie to try the new "Goanut" we weren't sure what to expect. It was delicious. And the view was as beautiful as it could be for this permatourist..
Disclaimer: We were invited guests of the Tower Hotel Brasserie, but my (many) opinions are only ever my own, and I would never recommend anywhere that I wouldn't happily visit, and revisit on my own dime.

The international Foodie news has been abuzz of late with the latest patisserie concoctions; New York Chef Dominique Ansel's "Cronut", a hybrid of croissant-doughnut hybrid that has New Yorkers queueing for hours in the cold, the David and Goliath struggle of Bea's of Bloomsbury and Starbucks trying to claim trademarking of the "Duffin" a marriage of doughnuts and muffins, and the latest metamorphosis of gourmet Eclairs in Paris.

Amuse Bouche/ Goat’s Cheese Doughnuts
Caramel Mousse, Beetroot Compote, Caramelised Pecans, Cress Lettuce

The Goanut, a savoury twist on patisserie, is the brainchild of Guoman’s executive chef, Christian Rozsenich and his passionate team and is a savoury riff on the traditional doughnut. Two goats cheese balls, one with a soft sweet doughnut texture contains a delicate goat cheese and mascarpone centre, and the other has a stronger goats cheese flavour with a crunchier shell. They are fun and very playful - the texture is a really interesting talking point, and has been counterpointed with a salted caramel mousse, marinated beetroot and crunchy maple coated pecan nuts.
Starters/ Scallops
Braised Fennel, Coconut Mash, Malibu Butter
Duck Two Ways
Smoked Glazed Duck breast, Duck Rillette, Red Pepper Tapenade, Garlic Cream, Caraway Seeded Brioche
Delicately pan-fried, the scallops were simply divine. It was the first time Mr Kiwi has ever tried scallops, and he was very lucky as they were the best I've ever sampled whilst living in London. And it's tough to please this Kiwi girl when it comes to seafood. The accompaniments were prefectly light and matched to the scallops without overwelming them with big flavour. The duck was scrummy, and brioche was delightful, though I possibly could have done with something to slightly sharper to pop, matching the richness of the duck.

 Mains/ Barbary Duck Breast
Slow Roast Red Cabbage, Almond Dumplings, Clementine Foam

Baked Broccoli & Montgomery Cheddar Bonbons
Truffled Cauliflower Gratin, Sweet Pepper Veloute, Wild Mushrooms

If there is an overriding theme to the Restaurant menu, it's simple, good food (with a slight Bavarian twist owing to the strong influence of Austrian chefs in the team) and flavour combinations that interest the palate but don't confuse them by being conflicting and brash.

The combination of beautifully cooked duck, red cabbage and clementine is a nice twist on orange and duck, and the dumplings were delicious. A surprise for us was Mr Kiwi's vegetarian Baked Broccoli & Montgomery Cheddar Bonbons. Now, Mr Kiwi is a die-hard meat-eating Englishman but his foray into the vegetarian world was scrumptious - and it's hard to find a decent vegetarian main that can satisfy as well as a meaty one, whilst still being fun, tasty and playful. This definitely ticked the boxes.

Dessert/White Chocolate Tiramisu
Kahlua Infused Biscuits, Summer Berries

Feeling very, very full, we were talked into trying our waiters favourite dessert; the White Chocolate Tisamisu. It's a perfect sharer - rich, delicious and a perfect way to end a delicious meal. The menus will be changed over the New Year to reflect the new season, but I hope that the White Chocolate Tiramisu makes the cut.

(Kind courtesy of the hotel)

The service was great - attentive without being overwelming (and the staff are big fans of the dessert menu which is always nice to see, instead of just recommending the most expensive dish). We will definitely be back for a nice celebration meal and it will possibly our new summer drink venue. And those scallops, oh those scallops. For further details, prices and the menu, check out their website.

26 November 2013

12 Days of Christmas - Morgan of Peaches Please! E-book Review

Earlier this year I met a crew of passionate Foodie Bloggers at the Food Bloggers Connect conference. Amongst the bevy of London bloggers, I was lucky enough to meet Atlanta-born Morgan who gives me the most serious case of foodie photography envy, documenting her favourite recipes on her blog Peaches Please!
Fellow Whovian fan, Morgan kindly guest posted earlier in the year with her Pumpkin Coffee Cake Cake, which gave a taster of her delectable recipes. When she told me about publishing an E-book with 12 Christmas Desserts, I wanted in.
To be quite serious I mostly wanted in on tasting them, but alas with Morgan on the other side of the Atlantic, I had to settle for the beautiful recipes and my own cooking of them instead.
That's the beauty of a cookbook though you see - and I'd seriously recommend this one for the scrumptiousness it contains. At only $5.00 (about £3.60) it's a steal. The recipes are divided into  4 categories: Child Friendly, Potlucks, Dinner Parties and Cocktail Parties, so you know exactly where to look when you need a dessert for one of these occasions.
Why did she write it?
I love Christmas. I love the lights, the smells, the music, the hustle and bustle, sitting by the fire, the whirl of parties, festive office lunches, wishing strangers “Merry Christmas,” seeing family and old friends…I even like the craze of shopping malls and streets. And yes, I listen to Christmas music all year long. I know, I’m a little nuts.
All the measurements are American/Metric (Cups etc.) but are super easy to convert. I'm still a firm lover of baking with Cups, but then I'm a Kiwi and we're always done things a little differently to our English forefathers.
If you fancy a little slice of Morgan's Christmas deliciousness, check out the e-book 12 Desserts of Christmas here. Oh, and to celebrate, Morgan is doing a little giveaway for her US readers here. Tell her I sent you!
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25 November 2013

Trafalgar Square, an unusual measure of London

There is a secret hiding in plain sight at the world famous Trafalgar Square.

Normal tourists hit Trafalgar Square to see the national treasure that is Nelsons Column, to get a photo sitting on the back of the Lions, and if time permits maybe a wander around the iconic National Gallery.

The key word here is Normal. The last time I was in Trafalgar Square was for International Pillow Fight Day then for Diwali (the Hindu festival of lights) with a very good friend. Little did I know that literally beneath my feet, a bastion of the English World is recorded for posterity.

23 November 2013

Christmas Hamper Giveaway for Homesick Expats: NOW CLOSED

One of the hardest times of the year for expats can be the holidays. Far away from your original home, it's sometimes the hardest as you would usually be catching up with your family and friends, imbibing a little too much, eating way too much and arging over watching the Queens Speech or the Snowman. Again.
Whilst sadly I can't offer to fly you or your family home, (oh how I wish I could) I'd love to create a little corner of home in your kitchen. Seven Seas Worldwide have kindly sponsored a personalised, handpicked Christmas hamper for one of my UK readers. You don't have to be an expat to enter though, you just need a corner of your kitchen that wants a little international flava.

We've had to narrow the choices down a little, and you'll be able to choose from a single;
  • Kiwi Hamper or;
  • Australian Hamper or;
  • American Hamper or;
  • Canadian Hamper or;
  • South African or;
  • Polish Hamper 
As I'm biased, I personally would vouch for the Kiwi Hamper (Onion Soup, Mint Slices, Toffee Pops and Burger Rings, just sayin') but equally as much love and festive cheer will go into any other parcel. Your chosen hamper will be delivered to an UK address of your choice. It will take food allergies into consideration (as much as possible) and contain £40.00 worth of hand picked goodies, unique to you.

In the interests of clarity I haven't personally used Seven Seas Worldwide, but they have a range of products, and their MoveCubes look pretty awesome. Everything can be done online (bar the physical packing of the boxes obviously) and they'll give you a free instant quote.
(Editors note: A good friend of mine HAS used Seven Seas Worldwide to ship an extreme excess of clothing from the UK to New Zealand and had a great experience with them.)

One of my recent parcel winners (worth £25) was a health-food fiend, so her parcel centred around healthy treats I thought she'd like (which it sounds like she loved which is fantastic!).

How To Enter:
  • Simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below to verify your entries
  • Entries can be via blog comment, Bloglovin' Twitter etc
  • Leaving a blog comment is mandatory and failure to do so will void any other entries
  • Closing date -  midnight 8th December 2013

*Terms and conditions
  1. One prize winner of one hamper only to a UK reader.
  2. The winning entry will be verified and if not correctly actioned the prize may be redrawn.
  3. Adventures of a London Kiwi will post the hamper via courier to a UK address, but is limited to the reliability the nominated courier company and can accept no liability of a lost parcel.
  4. The winner will be contacted by email within 36 hours of the end of the competition with and the gourmet parcel dispatched within 72 hours of the winners reply.
How Entries and Rafflecopter works:
  • You will need to complete the mandatory entry first by making a blog comment. Click 'leave a comment' at the bottom of the post and leave your reply. The comment won't show immediately as it needs to be moderated, however rest assured it will appear on the site, so carry on with rest of your entries.
  • Go back to Rafflecopter and click the green button to tell me you have made a comment, this will unlock all the other options. All entries are checked to see that the mandatory question is answered, if its not all bonus entries will become void.
  • Rafflecopter will tweet, like and follow on your behalf.
  • For information on how to find the URL of your tweet click here.
  • For bonus entries you can return to this page and enter the daily bonus entries.
  • If you are still unsure as to how Rafflecopter works please do check out this short video.

22 November 2013

Why Doctor Who?

What is it about Doctor Who that has captured the imagination of the world for 50 years (with a wee break in the middle)? Is it the space travel, the up-to-the-moment special effects, the scary monsters, the friendships, the pretty, fiery travelling companions or the exotic travel destinations that are literally out of this world? Is it because the Sci-Fi series is embued with a childlike curiosity, optimism, and love for adventure?

For me in addition to all of the above,  I think it's also the quintessential British humour dappled throughout the episodes. From Peter Davison's leek button hole (the fifth Doctor) to Donna Noble's cracking one liners (travelling companion to the tenth Doctor).

"Rose: If you're an alien, why do you sound like you come from the north?
The Doctor: Lots of planets have a north."
From what I gather, people are either lovers or haters or Doctor Who - much like Harry Potter.

Many of their adventures revolve around London. Practically and logistically it makes sense with the BBC studios being here for many years, but as London is on of the coolest cities in the world, it also makes sense. Who wouldn't want an adventure here? (refer to blog name if confussled).

There are many sets around the UK as well though;

Follow LondonKiwiEmma Dr Who Travel on Pinterest

They have dreamed up some amazing worlds, settings and scenarios over the years it's impossible to pick a favourite. I've tried. One question that haunts me is, if you're faced with the option to travel where ever, when ever you wanted go, how do you pick?

What time period and destination would you travel forward or back to given the chance?

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20 November 2013

Fish (Fingers and) Custard - Doctor Who Foodie-In-Training

As an alien, (I never thought I'd start anything with words like that) the Doctor has a slightly different taste palate to us humans.

Whenever the Doctor regenerates to a new persona because he's hurt beyond repair, (or I suspect possibly sick of his wardrobe) to a new version of himself and new actor, it's a complex business taking a lot of effort and energy, as you can imagine. It's no surprise then when the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) wakes up after his regeneration ravenous and politely rampages through the contents of Amelia Pond's fridge, settling on Fish Fingers and Custard for his first dinner of choice in his new visage..

I do many things for this blog, and based on extensive tasting I can personally vouch for the complexities of flavour found in 'Fish Custard' (or for my American readers, Fish Sticks and Pudding). The golden crumb of the fish finger perfectly complimenting the soft cod inside, but when you pair it with warm custard, a whole new taste sensation implodes. It's certainly more complex than our boring Sweet vs Savoury Palates, and you almost get a hint of... hahaha, who am I kidding - even I couldn't eat that.

As an aside, I do wonder how the travelling companions digestive systems cope with all the extraterrestrial fare, but that is a question that may never be answered.

Matt Smith cheated on set - he ate breaded coconut cakes, dipping them into the warm custard. I've seen a few sweet recipes around t'internet but I would rather roll with a savoury recipe, more suited to the ethos of the thing. And, why does a custard have to be sweet? The definition of a custard is "a dish consisting of milk, eggs, flavoring, and sometimes sugar, boiled or baked until set." Chefs such as Heston Blumenthal take something modern and twists it back to their origins, for instance many of the Georgian ice creams were more often that not savoury - it's only our modern palates that think they are more suited to sweet.

In many ways the Hollandaise complements the Fish much like squeezing lemon on a freshly fried piece of Cod from the chippie, dipped in in Mayonnaise and it's blimmen delish.

Who says you shouldn't play with your food?
Fish Custard
Aka Blender Hollandaise 'Custard' This isn't an original recipe, but a tried and tested quick and foolproof one I found on Simply Recipes.
Homemade Fish Fingers:
1/2 cup flour
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 eggs
1 TBS milk
4 fresh Cod or Haddock fillets
1 cup of panko breadcrumbs
(Optional: Frying oil)
  • Cut fish into 1 inch thick strips. 
  • Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Beat the eggs with the milk in another bowl. Mix the breadcrumbs and coconut in a third shallow bowl. 
  • Coat each fish piece in seasoned flour, dip in the eggs mixture and then roll in the panko breadcrumbs. Set aside until ready to cook.
  • Either, Grill under a hot grill until golden on a non-stick surface - no oil needed - or Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. In small batches, fry the fish sticks until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

19 November 2013

Doctor Who - the Museum and Shop

Look away now if you're not a Sci-Fi fan (you might like to see Mr Kiwi feels about living with a Kiwi geek). I've never read any Doctor Who books - with the TV series being so captivating I've never really felt the need to.
I have however graced a Doctor Who Museum. Will that do instead? Museums are hallowed places full of learning much like books. Just think of it as a living book.
The first ever Doctor Who Episode "An Unearthly Child" was filmed in the East End of London, so it's a nice echo that the shop & museum are here too. One rainy Saturday afternoon (the same one we discovered the Cockney Cash Machines and attended the Blogger Afternoon Tea - totally unrelated but a fantastic day) we hopped on the miraculously working tube and ventured to Gallifrey Upton Park for a morning of who-licious-ness. (Sorry.)

(Being a good prepared stupid blogger, I didn't take my camera.
Thank you RunawayKiwi you are a legend.)

The shop was set up by two dedicated Whovians in 1984, and is a treasure trove of memorabilia and things you never thought could possibly exist. The front of the building is a shop filled with every piece of Kit you could want. Tom Baker Scarf? Done. Sonic Screwdriver TV Remote? Done. K9 Christmas Tree Decorations? But of course. It's almost a consumer temple itself to the weird and wonderful.

Much like the TARDIS, the shop is much bigger than it seems, and also contains a Museum, full of actual props, costumes and memorabilia. It's a treasure trove for Whovians (and part of the £3 entry fee goes towards a charity. This means you're worshipping at the temple of Who for a good cause.)

There are also life size Daleks. Do I need to say anymore?

I loved wandering through, marvelling at everything - even Mr Kiwi loved it as we ran across the Maggots, a baddie that made him cower behind the couch as a kid.

('scuse the retro tint, a) I couldn't resist b)the light was horrendous)

Directions? Turn left (here).
Well - kinda! For further better directions and essential info the website is here. They don't know who I am, or why I'm writing this, just sharing the love.
So, what do you think are the best Doctor Who Monsters? An old or a new one?
And Daleks can now fly. Thoughts?

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