Monday, 30 May 2011

Tex Mex Tuesday: Lupita & a Bank holiday in Wales

Our Mexican Monday adventures could no longer happen on a Monday due to the time constraints of getting to FHE on we had to pick a new day and for the sake of alliteration it had to be one that we could add a Mexican term too so Mara cleverly came up with Tex Mex Tuesdays! 

Last week we found ourselves at Lupita, in Charing Cross Road area, they were 4th in the top 20 Mexican restaurants so we were expecting big things.

It was crazy busy when we arrived at around 7ish, they didn't have any tables free so we sat at the bar area where you could watch the chef's cooking everything right in front of you.  We could also watch the screen where all the orders came in on and we should have known then how the evening would progress but we were hungry for Mexican so we stuck it out.

I had a delicious mango and honey juice and Mara had a Horchata - a traditionally Mexican almond and rice milk drink. 

The service was absolutely terrible, we had to wait at least 20 minutes before our order was even taken and the drinks took a long time to arrive too.  My starter of tortilla chips never arrived, well they were going to try and give it to me after I'd had dessert but I politely declined! 

Luckily for us, the food was amazing! 

Mara had the namesake 'Lupita' Tortas - a Mexican sandwich filled with a chicken escalope, ham, chorizo, avacado and refried beans...

and I had the pork and bacon Taco, that had been cooked on a rotating spit served with pineapple - it was delish! 

and we had the most amazing Churro's I've ever tasted! The Churro's were that good that they made the whole terrible Lupita experience worth it! 

Having said that they definitely need to up their game for service, the staff including the manager (who was the one who forgot my tortilla starter) were running around like headless chickens and seemed completely out of their depth - they are not going to win any awards running a restaurant like that! 

On the way home we stopped off at Cyber Candy in Covent Garden, because we couldn't not grab a root beer! plus they had loads of amazing new chocolates and sweets like Coconut Twix and Dairy Milk mint filled Rolo type chocs! 

On Thursday night I had a late night baking sesh in preparation for our weekend in Shropshire, if you want to try your hand at baking Mini Coconut Cream Pies, Key Lime Pie Cupcakes or Coconut & Banana Bread you can find the recipes here

We headed to Shropshire on Friday night with all the family descending to have a double celebration of Mom & Dad's May birthday's.

Here is Mom opening her hamper of goodies, with a cheek full of Biltong!

and here she is showcasing her Key Lime Pie Cupcakes - one of her favourite flavours! 

and my coconut loving Dad didn't miss out, he got a Coconut & Banana Birthday Bundt cake which he was pretty pleased with.

We decided to give the boys another shopping free weekend and so we headed to Stapeley Water Gardens.

The flowers were quite incredible! have you ever seen a pink and orange bougainvillea? my mom was quite amazed! 

We saw some Meerkats, which pleased By greatly since they're his favourite animal.  I love that we snapped this one in his little lookout position.

By got involved with the spider holding action...

it was a tarantula but apparently it was the least scary kind! 

We heard a few stories about snakes and what great 'pets' they make, and then the cockroaches came out and that's where I draw the line.  I had more than my fair share of them in Turks and Caicos so I wasn't about to hang around and listen to what fantastic creatures they thanks! 

We finished off our Bank holiday weekend by visiting the quaint little railway town of Llangollen.

It was really picturesque, and just to please my Gran in South Africa we managed to drag Alli (my photo hating sister) into the picture! 

That cute little church and rolling green hills made for a very pretty scene.

and we snapped a pic sitting on the station benches.

Back to the 3 sister shot again...

and we even managed to catch the old steam train in action!

and ended the day perfectly with some ice cream and shakes!

Now it's back to! Hope you all had fun filled Bank holiday weekends too!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Tacuba: a mini Mexican feast!

This past Monday we ventured to South London for our Mexican.  This is because we attend Family Home Evening in Clapham and we didn't want to miss it so we googled a good Mexican nearby and found Tacuba.  It is currently 20th place on Trip Advisor for the best Mexican restaurants in London and we figured it would be a good idea to start by touring the top 20 to begin with! Loco Mexicano where we visited last week was ranked 15th

The first thing about Tacuba is that it is small! and has a very limited seating area.  It is really just a bar, and can probably seat around 20ish people at max.  The tables are also tiny! Mara and I had just a narrow plank of wood between us for a table and we were wondering how both of our plates would fit on when the food arrived, but as you can see from the photo above the plates are quite tiny too so that's how they manage it! 

I get the feeling Tacuba would be a fun place to go to with a group of friends and you could all order different dishes and feast away.  Mara got 5 mini pork Taco's and I got 5 mini chicken enchilada's so we did a bit of swapping, the food was delicious and reasonable priced too.  We were also impressed with their range of fruit juices, I hate when restaurants only offer apple, orange and pineapple so our mango and passionfruit juices made a welcome change! 

So if you're ever in Balham and in the mood for some cheap yet tasty Mexican, I can recommend Tacuba! 

On Thursday night we went to an awesome 20% off night at Carnaby Street.

It was absolutely buzzing and there was so much fun stuff going on! Check out the super cute popcorn machine outside Tommy Hilfiger, they were giving away free popcorn in awesome stars and stripes cups...needless to say I was loving it! 

The queue for Mac was ridunculous and everyone was loving their discount shopping! We went back later in the evening when things had calmed down a bit for a spot of shopping!

We also got 20% off when we ate at Carnaby Burger Co, which is very similar to Gourmet Burger Co but has the added bonus of serving hot dogs so I indulged in a chilli cheese dog with bacon fries! and one of my all time favourite flavour of milkshakes - the Oreo! 

By chance, because Las Iguanas was full to the brim and we would have had a 2 hour wait for a table, we ended up at Gourmet Burger Co in Milton Keynes last night for date night! and as luck would have it our waiter had gone to school with Byron so he gave us some discount vouchers and also made our Oreo shakes with extra Oreo which I appreciated greatly!  They also have a new menu with some great little gems like 'The Jamaican' burger with mango and ginger salsa so I tried it out as a little throwback to our Caribbean days! 

...and after a week full of indulging and of course eating far too much cheesecake we went bouldering today at Big Rock Climbing to work a little of it off! and it was a much harder workout than anticipated actually! I think it's going to become our new summer hobby, and I have a feeling it's going to have to be  so that I don't put on 2 stone by the end of our summer with my new job!

Friday, 13 May 2011

Mexican Monday Adventures!

The beginning of the week was Monday which marked the start of my life in London, and the start of our Mexican Monday adventures! We have taken it upon ourselves to visit a different Mexican restaurant every Monday for the time I am here in London…because as you well know I LOVE Mexican!

This past Monday we decided to try out a Mexican close to home here in Westbourne Grove, and we were also won over by the fact they gave you your own Sombrero to wear!

Loco Mexicano is a fantastic little restaurant and cocktail bar, I can imagine it does really well in the evenings.  We went in the late afternoon because we were too excited to wait and I was starving after my busy day at work! So we pretty much had the place to ourselves and our service was great!

The food was great, I had Spicy Chicken Tacos – corn shells which got a thumbs up from me, too often these days Mexican’s only offer soft shell Tacos and Mara had a Chicken Chimichanga.  I also got a rather delicious ‘mocktail’ with a snazzy curly straw and everything!

For dessert we shared a Banana and Nutella Chimchanga, with some yummy vanilla ice cream too.

All in all a good start to our Mexican Monday challenge and I can’t wait to see where we end up next Monday!
Since we were just round the corner from the lovely delicatessen Ottelenghi it would have been rude not to pop in! so we did and picked up a rather yummy lemon and raspberry cupcake! It was one of the best we’ve had in a while!
On Wednesday after finding out about The Hummingbird Bakery’s new range of fruit cupcakes we just had to try the pineapple offering, so we stopped by their store on Portabello Road.  The cupcake was alright, lacking a little in the pineapple department, but we found some other great food to compensate….

Banger Bros! Mara was more than happy with her polish sausage and the double dip chips were a welcome after work treat! We even sat on these cool little grass covered stools out on the street just watching the hipsters walk by. 

How I love this London living! My job is going great, every day as I walk into the freezer surrounded by the biggest amount of delicious looking cheesecakes you’ve ever seen I have to pinch myself! I’ve been baking up a storm in the new product development kitchen, I’ve made a whole variety of different cheesecakes so far and today I baked a Hummingbird Cake and yesterday I worked on some mini coconut cream pies, it is hard to believe I’m getting paid for what I love!
At around 11am each day they have taste testing where a sample of the cheesecakes that have been made that day ‘have’ to be tested – everyone gets involved! It's a hard job but someone has to do it...jokes, it's not really hard at all! the hard part is just picking which flavour you're going to try that day! 

Saturday, 7 May 2011

A sunny Bank Holiday...yes, another one!!

So we managed to fit in two festivals last weekend! On Saturday we headed to the local 'Sausage & Beer Festival' in a little village called Sherington.  It was full of local charm, sitting on hay bales in a big marquee, listening to an acoustic guitar and singers rendition of Mumford and Sons chowing down on some delicious English sausages (how I've missed them!) I can't obviously comment on the beer, but the rest of the day was fun filled! 

The weather was so lovely that we couldn't resist popping over to Willen Lake, taking Byron's dog Obie for a walk and getting a Mr Whippy ice cream from the local van! 

On Bank Holiday Monday I had heard of a Street Food Festival that was happening in Southbank, London.  I was desperate to go and when I heard there was even going to be a little Churros stall, there was no question and even By was up for it too! 

There were so many cool little trucks selling unusual food, this one was especially colourful and was selling 'Bhangra Burgers' - Indian spiced burgers! 

We tried some Caribbean Curry from this stall and it didn't disappoint...

but we couldn't just try one thing! so we also had a delicious pulled pork burger from a little American stall and here is Mara with our cupful of Churros! yum!

This guy was making Indian food out of the back of his truck and then wrapping it up in newspaper, fish 'n' chips style! 

We snapped a pic of the South Africans by the Statue of Nelson Mandela! 

and then took a lovely Sunshine stroll along the Thames, apparently they had the longest set of bunting set up ever! It certainly added to the fun and you can see all the colourful beach huts too that had little things going on in them.

Not a cloud in the sky! 

We walked all the way down to Tate Modern, but couldn't quite face the walk back so we thought we'd try out a little bike ride, thanks to Boris! 

I've got to say I'm so impressed with the scheme! Each bike only costs £1 to hire for a whole 24 hours, if we hadn't needed to get home we would have just cycled around London for fun! 

It was a bit tricky meandering through the crowds but luckily we had bells to alert people we were coming!

Once we broke away from the crowds it was just a lovely ride and good for saving our weary feet! I think in the future, once I've braved the crazy London traffic, this bike scheme might be the way forward! It's tons cheaper than buying a travelcard for the underground and a much nicer way to get around!

...and I might be getting to use these bikes alot more in the future since this week I got offered the most amazing job! I will be working for The English Cheesecake Company for the summer on a top secret project! which I can't let slip right now but it's pretty much going to incorporate 3 of my very favourite things to do so as you can imagine I'm ridiculously excited! I will be living in London during the week with Mara and I foresee lots of cupcake and Mexican eating! and I can't wait!!!