‘Dead’ good Afternoon De-Light at the Met Bar

27 10 2010

Afternoon tea is all about cucumber sandwiches (with the crusts cut off), a warm pot of tea and a nice scone and jam.

Right?

Wrong.

At least at the Met Bar it’s wrong. Very wrong. Because in honour of Halloween and the Mexican Day of the Dead (on November 2nd), they’ve put together a very different menu to their usual Afternoon De-Light (which, thankfully, doesn’t consist of cucumber sandwiches either).

Cocoa nib chocolate cupcakes topped with sugar skull decorations sit next to coffin shaped chilli-chocolate mud pies and traditional Mexican tea cakes filled with dark cherries. And let’s not forget the gorgeously gory-looking vanilla and strawberry cupcakes with pink icing and strawberry sauce bleeding over the edge.

If all this sounds scarily unhealthy – fear not – for the Met Bar prides itself on its afternoon tea being the exact opposite.

Their famous famous no-bread sandwich pots have been re-vamp-ired for the spooky season with Mexican themed fillings, including a jalapeno foam, crayfish and tequila jelly, and chicken fajita with sour cream and re-fried bean mousse.

Each element is a gorgeous, kooky work of art – so it almost seems a shame to take a great big bite out of it.

Well, i did say almost…

[nom nom nom]

Happy Halloween or Dia de los Meurtos peeps
x

Day of the Dead De-Light afternoon tea is taking place at the Met Bar (19 Old Park Lane) until the 2nd of November.
Reservations to be made in advance – 020 7447 4757. £25 per person.

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Narrowboats rock!

3 12 2009


With this year’s flakey economy, and a growing alternative lifestyle movement, the appeal of boat-living seems to be on the increase.

I moved aboard over 3 years ago, at a time when i wanted more independence but within the realms of affordability. The romantic notion of heading off into the sunset, a beer in hand and a Jack Russell at the helm were also mixed up in my vision of a boating future.

This year i’ve been along the Thames, up the River Lee, down the Grand Union and across the Regent’s Canal. I’ve learnt about oil filters, engine mounts and fuel pumps. I’ve got stuck in the mud, driven over my barge pole and waded the canal in ill-fitting Wellingtons.

And with every experience and story – i’ve grown to love it even more (although there are some things i’ll just never learn to love)…

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Dustbin Dinner – Freeganism

9 08 2009

George Donnelly - Flickr

This week i met author and historian Tristram Stuart.  I was interviewing him for the BBC World Service and it’s particularly exciting for 2 reasons –

  1. This is my first report for the BBC World Service
  2. The theme of the package is Freeganism – something Tristram partakes in and something i (for some time) have been keen to learn more about
  3. Now although this activity took me to the leafy Sussex countryside and NOT the London streets – this is certainly a movement rippling through the capital and not an opportunity to be missed from Hotspotting to talk about…


    Dustbin Dinner – My adventures in Freeganism

    Tristram met me at ten past one, on Wednesday afternoon, at a train station in Sussex. Instantly recognisable from his Googled publicity shots we drove into town and chatted about what we might find.  He was keen to point out three things –

    1. There was no guarantee what would be in the bins
    2. He wasn’t advocating us all plundering the bins for our food – instead he was doing this to highlight a problem
    3. The car was not his usual form of transport – it was either that or sit on the handlebars of his pushbike!

    After a brief 10 minute drive we pulled up at the supermarket.  We had a quick recorded chat in the car (whilst we waited for a delivery van to leave the loading bay area) and then, with the coast clear, we headed over to the 5 wheelie bins at the back of the store.

    With Tristram’s latest book entitled ‘Waste – Uncovering the global food scandal’, it’s hardly surprising that he wasted no time in getting stuck into the fullest bin.

    Lifting up boxes and ripping open plastic sacks, Tristram expertly identifies the morsels that take his fancy.  Now i realise this may sound a touch repulsive – I certainly wouldn’t retrieve my evening meal from the depths of my waste bin.  But this is where it gets interesting…

    What’s in-store?

    Unlike the bottom of a conventional home rubbish bin – with coffee grounds and eggshells, potato peelings and mouldy cheese – the food that Tristram pulled from the supermarket dumpster was indistinguishable from that which you would pluck from the supermarket shelves.

    As Tristram puts it “It’s like someone went round the supermarket with a trolley, picked what they liked off the shelves, put it in a bag and then just threw it in the bin.”

    We found organic ham, expensive cheeses, smoked salmon, organinc seeded loaves, yoghurts, green beans, sweets and cut flowers.  These products weren’t mouldy, their packaging was (in the majority of cases) intact and although some were past their prime – some things were being chucked away even BEFORE their best before dates!

    A word of warning

    Now obviously things like meat and fish need to be stored in a cool environment and there was no way of knowing how long they’d been in the bin, but Tristram believed they had only recently been taken out of the store and still felt cool to the touch.

    He also made of point of mentioning that smoking/curing meat and fish (as the ham and the salmon were) was  a commonplace method of extending the life of those products.

    He wouldn’t say on record whether he would be eating those particular products and when i suggested we eat some of the salami – during the interview – he advised snacking instead on the vegetables  (as it would be ‘less controversial’).

    Milky Milky

    Interestingly, a carton of milk was pulled from the bags which certainly wasn’t fit for consumption (looking more like something you’d spoon onto a jacket potato than pour onto your cereal!)  This, i said to Tristram, was justified in being in the bin but Tristram’s response was to ask ‘why’ had it been allowed to get to that state in the first place?

    Surely it was the responsibility of the supermarket to manage its stock more effectively?  They should have ordered less or discounted it in advance of its decay.  Certainly an interesting point and an argument well made.

    Waste

    Reading Tristram Stuart’s book you get a clearer picture of the waste at every stage of our food supply chain and as he says during our interview “this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

    All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my adventure in freeganism and whilst i’m not quite up to the task of loitering round the back of Asda’s aright at this moment (which Tristram isn’t even encouraging) –  i have become more conscious of my own part in avoiding unnecessary waste.

    • This evening i wrapped up my leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch
    • and i ate two eggs that had passed their sell-by date

    Simple.

    Extra info

    Look at Tristram Stuart’s own website to learn more about him and his Liber-ate movement

    The London freegan scene is currently quite disjointed with only a few meets advertised.

    Alternatively – let’s try and arrange some freegan fun, a dumpster dive or a backstreet bin raid in London – whatever we call it – who’s up for joining me?!  

    Either email (info[at]nataliebarrass[dot]com) or comment at the end of the post.

    Picture at top by George Donnelly CC 2.0 on Flickr





New Rubicon – Watermelon flavour!

12 07 2009

guitavares - Flickr
I LOVE Rubicon drinks. They’re brilliantly sweet and sickly and refreshing and fruity and basically just yum.
I live in a mostly Indian part of London and Rubicon seems to be sold in all the shops, restaurants and take-aways.
A few years back, desperate to find out if others shared my love of Rubicon, i had a look on Facebook and joined the Rubicon Appreciation group [click here to find it]
This is an unofficial page but the smart guys at Rubicon were using it to communicate with their fans and asked for taste-testers.
I signed up and now once in a while i’m sent a new product to try and give my feedback on – BRILLIANT!
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*Video* – Eco Fashion

10 07 2009

_thor_ - Flickr

Between 20-24th April 2009, Spitalfield’s Market was host to the London Alternative Fashion week.

With a strong eco flavour, passers-by got to witness catwalk shows of ethical, recycled and/or sustainable fashion.

I covered the event for Strawberry Earth and spoke with designers Wilfried Pletzinger and Holly Dutton.  We got some great shots of the event and some interesting answers from the designers – have a look at the video from the Eco Fashion event at Spitalfields
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