Staycation 2014: Isle of Wight, in photos

Monday, 18 August 2014

Just a few snaps from my trip to the Isle Of Wight earlier this month. I've visited the island every year of my life as much of my maternal side of the family live there, and have always enjoyed the quaint beaches, cliff top walks, the piers, the olde village in Shanklin for buying sticks of rock and fudge and the amazing vintage and charity shops. I got some brilliant finds this year, that I'll share in separate post. I have such brilliant memories of fun activities and family fun on the island, it's definitely a brilliant place for a UK staycation!

Eat: The Blues Kitchen

Friday, 8 August 2014

Sometimes you choose a restaurant. And sometimes a restaurant chooses you, a bit like fate.
Last week, the boy had some good news so I wanted to take him out for a celebratory dinner and he decided that he wanted Drunken Monkey's so we headed off to Shoreditch. Only there had been a power cut so after the novelty of drinking cocktails by candlelight wore off, we headed off in search of food. I'd mentioned Red Dog Saloon has been on Men vs Food so we went there but there was a 45 minute wait time and I get rather hangry ( hungry/angry) so we needed food. Immediately.

The Blues Kitchen is the home of some great Texan BBQ, situated on Curtain Road in Shoreditch. Only having opened its doors 4 months ago it was previously Bar Music Hall, it is already buzzing and on a Saturday evening we rocked up, with no reservation, and tried to get a table in a packed restaurant. Someone had just cancelled. Like i said; fate.

With a buzzing bar in the middle of the cavernous building, it is an example of shabby chic dining, perfect for Shoreditch hipsters and city guys alike. Larger booths line the walls, with smaller wooden tables closer to the bar area which is where we were seated.

Now the food. Well. BBQ and Southern food are a fave of mine and they do it well!
Served on wooden serving slabs, they are absolutely HUGE. I went for the pan fried fillet of catfish marinated in Cajun spices served on a bed of rice with a butter and crayfish sauce. The creamy sauce complimented the melt in your mouth fillets even if there was too much rice for me to finish....that could have been because I was gorging on Mac 'n' Cheese, the crumbly and crispy top giving way to a gooey cheesy middle and perfect pieces of pasta.

The BBQ and Burger choices are extensive, but the boy went for burger of the month: The Captain America, two 7oz patties of ground brisket topped with cheese, onion rings and fried green tomatoes, served with two pots of fries and slaw. He also cheekily switched the bacon for a side of super soft cornbread!

We thought we had room for dessert...

Until the biggest piece of Banoffee Pie I've ever seen this side of the Atlantic rocked up at our table with two spoons. A slither of a biscuit base, smothered in masses of banana cream, sprinkled with chocolate flakes and a slice of banana and finally drizzled in a butterscotch sauce....this may be the best Banoffee pie, I've ever eaten. And we couldn't even finish it!

Almost though!

A bustling atmosphere, excellent food and blues and rock blaring, The Blues Kitchen is one restaurant you should definitely check out. I'm also hugely impressed by their cool social media presence across all platforms from Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and even Soundcloud with their own radio station and playlists.

The Jerk Off 2014!

Monday, 4 August 2014

With the sun still shining down in London town the last thing you want to do is a) waste time in a hot kitchen cooking or b) sit shivering in a restaurant blasting AC while you eat. Solution? Al fresco dining! The Queen of Hoxton in the East End hosted the Jerk Off 2014 in the blazing sun yesterday...but even the sun wasn't as hot as the jerk!

Situated on the gorgeous rooftop of the Queen of Hoxton, 4 restaurant/pop-ups battled it out to be crowned London's best jerker: Portobello Roads' Boom Burger vs Brixton Village Trini's Fish, Wings & Tings, White Men Can't Jerk and Mama's Jerk Station.

Sooo for a tenner plus booking fee everybody was given a scorecard with 4 'I want jerk' slips and two drinks tokens, which entitled you to two Wray and Nephew rum drinks with any mixer (there was lots of apple juice or Ting with rum in our corner). You collected your paper plate with two sides and then hit each jerk stand to sample their chicken...or in my case, I'd brought along my own portobello mushrooms as I don't eat chicken. Very resourceful I am! Each stand gave you a little coloured flag in your chicken that corresponded to their colour on the scorecard. I would have liked a choice with the sides as I ended up with rice and cous cous and friends who arrived later had coleslaw and potato salad which I would definitely have preferred.

"Will you jerk off my mushroom?" Got a good response from the guys at the jerk station I found!
Jerk sauce, jerk mayo, jerk rub....all the jerk you could hope to burn your mouth off! I mean just look at the way my mushroom is being handled...

My faves were Mama's Jerk station for flavour but they were a bit slow with the chicken for my mates, followed by Boom Burger who I gave my actual vote to. I mean jerk mayo guys! But the winner was Fish, Wings and Tings, a bit too spice for me personally, I had to drink a lot of rum to cool my mouth down. Ahem.

OG Normski presents the winners of best Jerker with champers seconds before they sprayed it all over, well, everyone.

Perfect Sunday on a sunny rooftop eating food and drinking rum. Does it get better?