Sunday, 13 April 2014

Le Weekend



This week was marked by exhaustion coupled with wild dreams that kept me waking up in the middle of the night. The weekend couldn't come faster.

I had a super girly weekend planned up in Birmingham. As I went to uni there (Aston), I have good friends still living in the area whom I was dying to see. 

The Saturday started with Miska and I meeting up for a delicious lunch at Pizza Express. We only had a few hours with each other before she flew back to Bratislava for the half term,  but we both talk at a million words per minute, so we were able to catch up. We also came up with cool and exciting plans for my wedding & portrait photography business- www.caterinalay.com - that I can't wait to start. 


In the evening I headed over to Ellie's. She's got two super cute cats now, who were pestered all Saturday-long for pictures on my iphone. 

Again it was all catching up, cooking a nice meal and lying down to watch a film and do our nails. We saw stranger than fiction, followed by j. Edgar. We fell asleep halfway through the second film. 

Sunday morning was sunny, and Ellie took me for a ride in her new convertible! It was a short-lived affair as we drove back to hers and said our goodbyes. 
All in all, a cracking weekend. I'm now exhausted back in Lower Clapton where half of East London has gathered at my local pub, The Star, for pints and park games. I want a pint badly but have a feeling I have developed an intolerance to alcohol (I get headaches as soon as I drink a pint). So I'm sitting on my bed writing this and getting my things ready for a new week :)




Tuesday, 25 March 2014

It's Vienna, Baby!


Vienna, Austria. One of those places that are not quite on top of you average must see list. But a gal in London; correction - a poor gal in London - must find ways to change the airs, even if she can't afford a full-blown trip to the Caribbean. 

So here you have me and Vienna it is.

We arrived late at night, full of excitement and with no beds booked. Not a problem, though, a good old google of "hostels" in the area and we've found our place for the night: Wombat's Hostels: The Lounge. It's conveniently located near the train station, so we don't walk far to get to it and finally drop our bags.

We're tired but we only have a day and a half (speed-travelling!) and we want to see it all. So we head out into the night with a 24 hour travel pass and we take a train to the absolute city centre.

Here we walk and walk. Past buildings, parks, historical sites, churches. Through all the rushing, we take a solemn break at the Heldenplatz, where Hitler once stood to announce the Austrian connexion to Nazi Germany. The place is desolate this late, and it's hard to imagine the square full of people - supporters, of such radical thinking and the atrocious subsequent events it lead to.

We walk away from the are feeling a little bit listless, so decide to stop at a "cafe" (it was a live music pub!) called Tunnel (Address: 39 Florianigasse) and sample their white beer selection as well as their pizzas. Whoa! The pizzas were an incredible surprise - hand on heart, the best pizza I have ever had. Not even in Italy. And I'm half Italian. Best pizzas ever.

The night ended when we got a bit pissed and had ordered far many more pizzas than we could eat.

The next morning we headed to the flea market, which turned out to be a food market. We were full from breakfast so we didn't buy anything. We then moved on to Sissi's Palace (Schönbrunn Palace), which is the former summer residence of the imperial family. The palace is decorated in Rococo style, and features no less than 1,441 rooms!

We didn't dare take a tour. Instead, we wandered through the back gardens, observing people, and even paid to go in a maze! Five minutes later, when we had found our way out of the over-priced maze, we stumbled upon the Vienna Zoo. Why not?

Vienna Zoo (Tiergarten Schoenbrunn) is the oldest existing zoo in the World. I have been to many a museums, but this one was incredibly huge and really good fun. They had plenty of activities laid out on a schedule at the entrance, so you knew where to head to in order to see a spectacle. We saw the sea lions perform tricks and jump into the air to catch fish that were thrown at them. See if you can spot a bat we found randomly hanging from a fixture on one of the walls - his willy is all out too! EEk!

Eventually after so much walking, the Zoo was closing down. It was the end of the day and the end of our mini, super speedy trip!

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Banana Bread Recipe Using Oil: An Easy and moist loaf, every time!


I live in East London with my family. In this case, my family consists of my husband Chris, friend Leon (whom Chris met when we lived in Oz), Leon's little sis Yassie, and redhead ever-busy Rebecca (childhood friend of Leon and Yassie).

Rebecca often cooks up a storm in the kitchen. She's creative as hell and is always telling us these random facts about food. She makes banana bread often. And so, when she announced she was moving out, I decided to perfect this recipe before the chance of getting it right was gone forever.

It only took two ruined loaves to make this perfect one. I took notes and amended recipes along the way. Here's what to do to get this spongy bit of heaven:

ingredients

- 3 bananas, mashed
- 250g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarb soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 100g golden syrup
- 100g vegetable oil
- 1 tsp vanilla essence

optional

- 3 tbsp cinnamon
- 3 tbsp chocolate chips

method
  1. Preheat on full whack
  2. In a medium bowl combine the dry ingredients
  3. In a separate, larger bowl, mix the eggs and golden syrup, stir in mashed bananas, vanilla, oil and cinnamon
  4. Stir in flour mix, one third at a time, until combined
  5. Plonk batter into loaf tin, lower oven heat to 180C (gas mark 4) and pop in the oven
  6. Resist the temptation to open the oven. Bake for 45 minutes, turn oven off and leave for another 10 minutes
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to rest on wire rack
Voila!

*recipe adapted from the food network.



Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Lunch catch up at Bodean's BBQ


When Kasparas told me he was working a few minutes' walk away from my office in Soho, I jumped in at the chance for a quick lunchtime catch-up. I asked him to meet me at Bodean's, a decision he silently questioned when he saw the queue to order. All prejudiced opinions were quickly put to rest when the lovely American waitress dropped these bad boys.


Bodean's is an American-style diner with two levels. The ground level, the deli, features high tables and stools, lots of noise from the waitresses shouting order numbers, and TVs showing live games of hockey, football and basketball. The basement is a more restaurant kind of style, with booths a-la-TGI Fridays.

At under a £10 for a Pulled Pork sandwich and chips (or should I say, fries), Bodean's is still one of my favourite little places to just walk in and chomp on a coma-inducing sandwich.