As I have got older I tend to celebrate birthdays less and less, but this time I planned myself a great weekend.  It started with staying at the Town Hall Hotel for a couple of nights.  See the Room 101 post for details of the stunning room.

The Friday night started with the Mrs Smith.  This time I had left her to make the arrangements for the evening, after all it was my Birthday 🙂
After chilling out in the room I made my way through Bethnal Green and walked up to Hackney and to Oslo, a new bar, restaurant and club.  It amused me a few weeks back when Mrs Smith mentioned to me that she had heard of this great new place and wanted to go, she said that it was Oslo, but I had to confess I had already heard about it and it was on my list of places to go.  Needless to say I was pleased when she organised it for the birthday.
After meeting up and a glass of wine we ordered some lovely little sliders and fries and demolished the lot.  It was never going to be a late night as we were both knackered, but a few hours of chilling out, drinking good wine and taking in the atmosphere at Oslo made for a really great start to the birthday weekend.  The presents were lovely and thought out for me (a pet hate when I get something that obviously shows that someone does not know me), although I think the Psycle session may be a punishment but could be good fun.
An amazing nights sleep followed and a good long walk in the morning, starting with a stroll around my favourite park near to the hotel, Victoria Park, then heading off for a well deserved breakfast at Hackney Bureau and then on to various markets. Thanks to Mrs Smith for the London Market Guide which inspired the walk.
That set me up for another night out.  This time it was with the Younger Mrs Smith.  We met at the hotel mid afternoon, mainly so I could show off the room, then headed off on the adventure for the evening.  The Younger Mrs Smith was in her 4 plus inch pink heels so we grabbed a cab and headed to Sager & Wilde, my favourite wine bar.  The advantage of going to such a good wine bar you can ask for recommendations on what to drink, which is what I always do.  The Younger Mrs Smith was also in that mood and tried different things.  I know one was not to her taste, but you have to try these things.  The bar though did offer to change it if it was not something she liked but she is trying to learn different flavours and tastes so no chance it was going to be changed.
Next it was off to the last night of Hawker House.  I think that a few people had got fed up with me telling them how good StreetFeast is, but Mrs Smith loved it a few weeks back and The Younger Mrs Smith was very happy going.  I made sure we got there early so we could explore and taste as much as possible.
We parked ourselves at the StreetVin Wine bar, as normal, and got stuck in.  As normal everything was amazing and the only problem was that the Younger Mrs Smith knocked her and mince wine over, so wet trousers for a bit, but it did not out a dampener on the night.
It was sad ti be leaving Hawker House for the last time and the memories of some of the most amazing food will linger with me for a long time, but we had to leave.  The initial plan was to head back to the room for a glass or 2 of wine (just that and nothing else!), but on the way back I remembered a new bar that had opened near to the hotel.
I had spotted Satan’s Whiskers a few weeks earlier and was not really sure what to make of it, the outside is definitely not glamorous, but it has an appeal that draws you in.  I knew it was a cocktail bar but really did not know what to expect.  We arrived there after a few minutes walking and went in.  We were greeted as soon as we walked in and were shown to a couple of bar stools.  We found out that they have a policy that everyone has to have a seat and no standing.  We were very lucky as when we arrived they were the only free seats and others were turned away after that.  I personally think it is a great policy as it means that although busy it will not be crammed and you can enjoy a bit of space.
So we got stuck in to 3 amazingly good cocktails each.  They change the cocktail menu daily and I know that I will be going back next time I am at the hotel and I will make a reservation just in case.
That was the end of the night and I saw the Younger Mrs Smith off on the tube.  7 hours of wine, food and cocktails meant I crashed out really well, but before I did I made the decision to give myself the last birthday treat for the morning, which was room service breakfast.  I left the card out and went to bed.
I got up in the morning, feeling remarkably good, had a couple of cuppa’s and waited for breakfast to arrive.  When it did I was thinking that would do me for the day. The most amazing room service continental breakfast you can have, plus the pork belly and scrambled eggs.  I think the pictures will show how good it all was, a great birthday present!
After the horrid part of checking out I made my way home.  As soon as I got home I dropped off the bag and headed back in town to meet up with Mrs Smith No 2 in the pub.  We spent a few hours drinking wine, catching up and chilling out before the birthday weekend sadly came to an end.
It had been a weekend full of food, wine, a nice hotel and the Mrs Smith’s.  Not a bad birthday at all.
The first few pictures are from the London strolling and then a few snaps from the phone from StreetFeast and Satan’s Whiskers followed by an amazing breakfast, which are much better pictures
I won on the Whisky Roulette 🙂

Street Feast – Hawker House

For those that have not yet heard (where have you been?), Street Food is a big thing in London.  If you have not yet found it, make sure you do!  Street Feast pops up every now and again and this time round they created the amazing Hawker House with some resident traders.  This was in an old factory that they took over and created a great Hawker style food court.

I had been to some of the previous Street Feasts in Dalston at Merchants Yard and Dalston Yard so I knew it was going to be good.  The big advantage of Hawker House was that it was indoors, a blessing in the winter when it is raining.

Although I do not live in London I make a point to go to as many of the Street Feast events as possible so I get to try amazing food in a really relaxed and good fun environment.  This does mean I tend to get there early and leave early to get home.  I do not get to see the full on vibe later in the evening, but it does mean I get around as many of the traders as possible and sample as much food, and wine, as I can physically fit in.

I managed to get to Hawker House twice, plus #TwistedChristmas.  There was meant to be a third time, but sadly a crisis at work meant I had to work through until 7 and then had to head home.  Gutted was my reaction to that.

I was pretty much first through the door on the first night, as soon as I heard about it I wanted to go so first night was always on the cards.  There was a bit of a delay getting in as the final bits and pieces were being resolved and there was some issues with the electrics, but given how quickly they had set the place up that is not a surprise.  They had done a great job setting up the location and the fun with the electors did not dampen the spirits at all.

After taking a look round to get my bearings and checking out the various menu’s it was time for food! First up was @BOBs_Lobster
Decisions, decisions!  Lobster Roll, Mac & Cheese or Tuna Taco?
It was a cold and damp evening outside so I needed something comforting so plumped to the Lobster Mac & Cheese and I was not disappointed.
While I was digesting the Lobster Mac & Cheese I was playing with the camera to try and get a panoramic shot of some of the traders
After a brief rest and glass of wine it was time for some more food, this time it was a taco from +breddos Tacos @breddostacos I could have had loads of these but my approach is to order the smallest portions from each stall as I can then try lots of variety.  Almost like my own tasting menu
I have yet to try the Whisky Bar, I always get side tracked by @StreetVinWine, but the temptation is definitely there to sit at that bar for a long time
Anyway, back to food and this time I was up for an Indian and Baba-G’s drew me in with a great sounding selection of Biryani dishes
Meat was required so I went for the Royal Raj Rump which was stunning, great combination of flavours and spicing
As I had now got the taste for Indian my final food of the evening was with @RolaWala for one of their delicious Indian Sliders.  Oh my, I love them with the spicing and flavours.

So that was it for my first night at Hawker House.  What a fab evening and some amazing food.  The only downer is having to leave and take 2 plus hours to get home, but it was worth it and I was already looking forward to going back to try more great food and wine

Back for visit number 2.  It is all very sophisticated now it is indoors 🙂
There are less pictures of food this time round, although I did have the same quantity.  Had issues with some of the pictures because of the lighting.  This is not a good picture, but the ribs were stunning.  Smokestak’s food is full of flavour and these were deliciously messy!
I spent quite a lot of time going back and forth to @StreetVinWine going through most of Ruth’s wines by the glass.  There are some amazingly good wines and like my food I try as many different things as possible.  I also try and take a food and wine matching approach, deciding what I am going to eat next and then ask @StreetVinWine for a recommended wine to go with it.  Given the full on flavours of some of the food that is not always easy, but so far has given me lots of good variety and great combinations
Mmmmmm a 5 Chilli Cheeseburger (slider) from @SliderBar  These may be small but pack a punch.  As with everything I only go for the one even though you can get a plate of 3 🙂
Just in case you go lost you can always find your way to the bar
My first experience of Sorbitium Ices, no picture but if you read the Twisted Christmas post you can see the lovely dish I had from them
Three of my favourite places all in together.  @Yum_Bun was a regular lunch time haunt in their place near to Old Street and Rotary bar was a very regular place for drinks and catch up.  Both sadly now closed due to redevelopment of the site 😦
On my way out I can see one of the big advantages of getting there early

Well, that was my 2 visits to Hawker House.  They are having one last one this year, tonight for New Years Eve. Wish I was there but public transport prohibits it tonight.  I thought that would be it for me but I have just seen on their website that they are trying to open again in January.  I will have everything crossed that they can and I will be back as many times as I can.

A #TwistedChristmas with Gizzi Erskine

Firstly, apologies, this is a long post, but it was a great day

After having to miss out on the last #HawkerHouse event due to work I was determined to get along to @GizziErskine #TwistedChristmas and have a damn good time, and that was achieved.

I went in the afternoon session, so it was probably #TwistedChristmas lite, but it was what I needed, and proved to be a good thing as the trains were not running well and it took 3 hours door to door to get home, but at least it was not too late.  I was also on standby for work, but they had been warned I would be on the wine from @StreetVinWine   Luckily no calls so I was able to chill out
As per normal I was one of the first to arrive, it had been a long time since breakfast, so needed to get stuck in to to lovely grub.  But first things first I had a to have a bit of a wander around and check out the menus and things for the afternoon.
Gizzi had a pop up shop, raffle and rum bola, which were just getting the finishing touches.  Purchases were made later
I was going to try and make my food as festive as possible, so to start the most traditional main course in England for Xmas day, and no it is not turkey!  It is Goose, which was the original traditional Christmas day lunch.  Having said that, the goose from +breddos Tacos @breddostacos was not your typical Christmas lunch, although it did have some great Christmas elements, it was a taco with Confit Goose, Pickled Pears and chestnuts and a great twist on Christmas, this was accompanied by a delicious 2002 Rioja from @StreetVinWine

After eating that delicious goose and having a break it was time to head off to Gizzi’s pop up shop to see what was on offer.  The proceeds from the shop and raffle were going to the Street Smart charity, so all in a good cause and hopefully they raised lots of money for them.

There was lots of great looking items either to be bought or as prizes.  I went for what I am sure will be 2 stunning items, Pork Rillettes made by Angela Hartnett and Orange Marmalade from Sartoria.  You can see front the jar it is not going to be like any other Marmalade, big chunks of Orange in it.  I could have bought loads, but not enough space to carry it home, but Gizzi did tempt me with the rum bola, so tickets bought and fingers crossed

After all the shopping it was time to carry on with the eating, this time from +RolaWola @RolaWola  I have had the honour of eating from them before, but this time I was going to have the modern christmas tradition, turkey.  This being my only turkey this christmas and I just wish that all turkey could be like this as it was stunning, beautifully spiced and tender and washed down with a perfectly matched Gruner Veltliner from @StreetVinWine

After that it was time for a good long sit down and chill out, so I took up position in the @StreetVinWine bar and listened to some chilled out music and then the Choir, the United Harmony Gospel Choir, who were amazingly good.  Gizzi also did round one of the raffle, but it must have not been done correctly as I did not win, but more chances to come later.

Sorry for the quality of the video, but just wanted to share the sounds

I know I already said my goodbyes to @Yum_Bun but  just had to have one more from them, especially as this is now my traditional Christmas lunch, Duck, but this was roast duck in a Yum Bun!

It was getting time to have the final main course, as I already knew what dessert was going to be.  Just for some balance it was time to go veggie from Laurdos, Beetroot tostada with spicy pumpkin & Guacamole.  Delightfully balanced level of spice in it, lovely way to end the main courses, or was it the end?

After some more chilling out it was time for the final challenge for @StreetVinWine with the dessert. I was going to have the bread and butter pudding and had challenged them to match a wine with each course so far, which had been a great success, so hats off on that front.  But sadly no dessert wines on the list, but with a quick think it was decided that a glass of a secret bottle of sweet sherry would do the trick.

Now, I know what people will think, sherry?  but you have to trust me on this, if you can get a good sherry they can be delicious and work really well with food.   Watch this space, I bet that Sherry will be the next big thing in a few years, but not the stuff most of us think about when you say sherry.  Think the Gin revival with all the artisan producers popping up and producing some amazingly good gins, I think the same could happen for Sherry when we get a taste for it

So for the pudding.  I deveated from what I normally do and had something I have had before.  Normally that is a no no for me, but the Panettone Bread & Butter Pudding from @sorbitiumices is stunning and served with whisky orange ice cream is to die for, and that comes from someone that does not really do sweet things

And that was it, or so I thought. I had one last wander round and got suckered in by the Chana Dal from @RolaWala I just could not resist and that finished things off nicely.  I knew I would not be eating again that day, but after nearly 5 hours of grazing, drinking and chilling out, then I should not be able to eat more 🙂

Got to say that this is my sort of Christmas and it was exactly what was needed for me, a good chilled out and relaxed time, I know the evening session would have been a lot more lively but the afternoon was spot on for me on that day, roll on next Xmas!

Yum Bun, I will miss you

After what was possibly the worst nights sleep ever I was in serious need of some nourishment at lunch and it just had to be Yum Bun.  I am really going to miss having them on the door step of work.  So much flavour packed in to something so small.  The question is to bun again or not at StreetFeast on Friday or try and sneak another lunch in next week before the end.  Hopefully they will pop back up again soon somewhere close by, until then it will be the markets and street food festivals for what I have to say are the best steamed buns I have tasted.

Today was a salmon bun and a pork bun
Lots changing around old street over the next week in terms of favourite places.  I will be saying my goodbyes to Rotary Room tomorrow as well