“He’s just a man named Gatsby.”
- I will change for myself, not for other people
- I will have the courage to risk something big for something good
- I will make sure every single person in my life that I love and cherish will know exactly how wonderful they are
- I will not let the actions of others disturb my inner peace
- I will do the things that enrich my life
- I will find time to read for pleasure, even during the school semester
- I will learn to be happy alone, because if you can’t enjoy time with yourself, why would you expect other people to be happy to be around you?
- I will learn to use BOTH my head and my heart, not just one or the other
- I will have the self-respect to never settle for less than I deserve
- I will learn to accept responsibility for my faults and learn how to improve on them
- I will forgive… myself and others.
A haven from the hustle and bustle of central London and the surrounding high streets, The Grove on Oldridge Road plays a quaint but substantial little part in the foodie backdrop of Balham. Standing out from her surrounding pubby counterparts, this is not your typical English public house. A quirky Victorian haunt with a menu to match, The Grove makes for a great dinner date spot or a casual round of drinks with the mates.
Last week, a friend and I ventured out of South Kensington and across the river to test the waters on this one. Escaping from the bitter cold that’s now upon us, we rushed into the decadently designed hub. With old oak kitchen tables, plush leather couches and draped curtains, the atmosphere was cozy and casual but with an air of scandalous grandeur. Seduced by the aroma of mulled wine and skin-on chips, we were lead to our little table by the bar, by the host.
A gastronomic masterpiece with a menu not to fault, The Grove this season lets you drink in the stunning brasserie dining room while enjoying dishes inspired by the team’s travels up and down the East coast of the America, cooked with a British twist. A food lover’s haven, we surveyed the menu with wide eyes and watering mouths. With season starters such as clam chowder and goat’s cheese, walnut and fennel quiche, to bourbon sticky ribs, ale battered haddock and a 21-day aged rib eye steak with parmesan fries; we weren’t quite sure where to start. With full knowledge of the belly bomber dinner ahead of us, we dove right in starting with the smoked rainbow trout and roasted chilli fish cakes and the rope grown mussels with smoked bacon drenched in Meantime Pale Ale. For my pescatarian dining partner and I, the fish cakes were cooked to crispy perfection with a spicy kick, and the moules offered a sweet and savoury opener for our mains. The accompanying pale ale, too, made a perfect dipping sauce for the sourdough bread provided.
Following in quick pursuit, perfectly timed with our next glass of Pinot Grigio, our waiter swept in with the main courses. Shelby decided on the three bean vegetable chilli with goats cheese dumplings; a delightfully flavourful stomach-coating for the big night out to follow. The goats cheese dumplings melted in your mouth and the accompanying chilli went down with a kick of cinnamon and chilli; a perfectly hot bowl of comfort food to combat the negative temperatures outside. I went with the pan-fried market fish of the day, which happened to be Sea Bass. Presented in its entirety on a bed of on the vine and juicy roasted tomatoes and pearl onions, the fish was cooked wonderfully; very tender with just the right amount of salt and sweet from the vegetables. Very true to my fashion, I demanded a side order of the courgette fries that proved a masterpiece in their own right with a garlic aioli for dipping; sinfully naughty yet nice. My only regret with this meal was that I didn’t try the famed Balham Burger. A juicy tower of prime beef, cooked in dripping bacon served with American cheese, mustard mayo and, the special ingredient; peanut butter.
The colonial yet contemporary laid back spot transports its diners to a bygone period with its simply majestic interior, but lends itself as the unpretentious spot for a chat over a pint with friends. Truly a jack-of-all-trades, I highly recommend it!
Written By Eden White
The Graduate, 1967
Such a classic.
Holding back homesick tears, I threw back my Cinnamon Bellini with gusto as the crowd cheered Vivek Singh and the launch of his fourth cookbook. Master of theCinnamon Kitchen restaurant family and back by popular demand, the culinary creator introduced his latest venture, for you to take a whack at at home, with a launch party at his Devonshire Square hotspot last week.
Warmed by the flowing champagne and heat lamps, party guests gathered under the mirrored Indian tents that draped across the restaurant’s outdoor terrace, creating an atmosphere that was quintessentially Indian (with a hip and modern twist). Enjoying my Cinnamon Bellini with Gold Schlag and Assam Tea, I was transported back to my childhood days in India (perhaps, sans booze). Not without haste do people assume that during my seven years there all I ate was curry, chicken tikka and buttered naan. It was quite the opposite in fact. While I enjoy Indian cuisine on the rare occasion, I often find the consistency far too heavy and the dishes overwhelmingly creamy. But Cinnamon Kitchen’s modern take on traditional Indian flavours and dishes made both my heart and my tummy miss home. Adapting classics such as lamb kebabs and lentil fritters, the flavours spoke for themselves rather than being enveloped in a vat of ghee.
Similarly in his cookbook, the foodie entrepreneur takes famed dishes from different regions of his India, and cooks them with a twist. Leading the blind, Singh’s new guide allows hungry guests to replicate a collection of his modern Indian restaurants’ recipes in the comfort of your own home. With orders such as Aromatic Spiced Welsh Lamb Kebabs (my personal favourite), a Lobster Soup from Kerala, Lucknow-Style Chicken Biryani and Hyderabadi Duck Pao with Apple Chutney, you don’t even have to wander as far as east London for a spot of Indian.
The beautifully presented publication matches the plating genius at each of Singh’s restaurants, with easy to follow text and step-by-step photography for each dish. Singh includes a cocktail section that draws on influences from Cinnamon Kitchen’s recently re-launched bar, Anise, including spice-infused combinations such as Kachumber Lemonade and a mysterious concoction known as the Red Dragon.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and I left the party with hundreds, having purchased two books. Known as one of Britain’s best Indian chefs, Vivek Singh is giving foodies the chance to transform their own kitchens into a cave of Indian wonders. Though the outcome probably won’t be as good as Singh’s creations (I can near promise you this), we can sure as hell try. See you at the finish line.
Written By Eden White
We’ve all hoped for a Christmas vacation pulled straight from the film The Holiday; trading houses with Kate Winslet only to fall in love with Jude Law in a snowy little cottage in the English countryside. There’s no harm in dreaming big is there? While we can’t promise you Jude, there’s no doubt that the wintery wonderland outside of the capital this time of year can spark some holiday cheer, and maybe even a little bit of romance. Cue your Cotswoldian escape to the Old Swan & Minster Mill. With misty, snow-kissed knolls, roaring log fires, and a cornucopia of festive fall colors, this countryside haunt exudes a seasonal and old world charm, perfect for a Christmas holiday.
For those looking to escape the big city for some traditional holiday cheer, the Old Swan is offering a three-night Christmas House Party package starting at £1150 for two. Serving up a champagne reception with canapés followed by a traditional five-course Christmas lunch as well as daily breakfast, dinner each night and a farewell gala dance, you’re sure to get every sense of a holiday bang for your buck.
Following quickly in the footsteps of Christmas and Boxing Day, the inn is also offering a New Year’s party package for two starting from £450 for one night, £775 for two, and £1150 for three. This includes daily breakfast, dinner each night, champagne reception followed by a gala dinner, and breakfast brunch followed by the New Year’s Day Annual Fishing Competition. Regardless of your fancy for the fly-fishing sport, ringing in 2013 with the Old Swan & Minster Mill promises to begin your new year with opulence, style and a bloody good time, no doubt.
Alternatively, if you can’t miss Christmas in the capital, the inn is putting on a selection of special festive menus for those who want to pop out to the country for a day drive and a hearty meal. For £24.50, you’ll receive a three-course meal with a complimentary cup of heart-warming mulled wine, coffee and mince pies.
Big Blue Giveaway
We’re teaming up with our friends @ the Old Swan & Minster Mill and are offering a lucky winner and guest a chance to win one night’s stay including breakfast.
Just answer the below question and respond to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Old Swan’ in the subject header.
In what Cotswoldian town is the Old Swan & Minster Mill located?
b) Minster Lovell
** Prize valid from 2nd January 2013, subject to availability and must be taken by 30thNovember 2013.
Written By Eden White