Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Halloween in Haggerston - Las Maravillas

Last night I had dinner plans with my friend I but instead we hopped on the bus to Haggerston for a spooky themed evening hosted by The Dreamery. Arriving at a rather 1970s looking building on a residential street it was clear that this wasn't going to be a regular Tuesday evening. We checked in our bags and were told we'd have a bit of a wait until our group was called in but that there was a bar area. No complaints! Once our group was called we were ushered outside and into the basement for a trip to "Las Maravillas", an Aztec "Day Of The Dead" inspired art installation.

My invite didn't give away an awful lot - other than that "those of a nervous disposition" wouldn't find the event suitable (do I have one of these, I wondered). Without wanting to give too much away, parts of the experience were genuinely quite scary, the performances were intense and you really do lose all sense of time and perspective while probably only moving between a few small rooms underground. Las Maravillas is a mix between art gallery and performance - the actors interact with the audience and guide you through the "maze" of rooms. Every room is decorated differently and its clear that a huge amount of effort has gone into the project. The rooms have quite a "homemade" charm to them but it was the performances that really stood out and made it scary.

Despite the darkness, my friend managed to snap a few pictures (with permission). We headed back to the City and popped into Yard for a quick dinner afterwards (toyed with the idea of ordering a yard of pizza, decided that was unwise), in agreement that it had been a really fun and different evening. We're definitely in the Halloween spirit now (haha).

The installation is running until 1st November and tickets are available here.

How are you celebrating Halloween?


Tuesday, 28 October 2014

A (Gaga) Weekend In The City

The clocks went back this weekend so it's now officially Winter Time. Boo. Although the first weekend of darker evenings wasn't too bad... Mummy Lipstick came to stay with me in London:

Friday morning = pre-work run. I'd forgotten how much I liked starting my day with an outdoor run - definitely a good antidote to a day inside in front of a computer. (Also I am running a half marathon soon and need to run whenever I'm not sleeping / working / being social and when it's not raining). I spotted these buses on the Thames Path. My inner child loves things like this... They are part of TFL's Year of the Bus.

Friday evening. Mummy Lipstick met me outside work and we headed to Pho at St Pauls for Vietnamese food - super tasty and super quick. Then after another bus sighting we went to see Gone Girl at the Barbican cinema. I'd finished reading the book earlier in the week and found it to be one of the few films I liked equally to the book, Mummy Lipstick had not read the book and was literally on the edge of her seat throughout.

Saturday was spent having breakfast at Workshop Coffee, exploring Upper Street and having afternoon tea at The Modern Pantry. But more on that soon...

Then it was time for Lady Gaga at the 02 (Mummy Lipstick's not a regular mom, she's a cool mom!). The show was amazing, I just wish I had 1% of Gaga's energy and body confidence. The costumes were amazing despite there being not much of them and the many wig changes were pretty impressive!

My attempt at Symmetry Breakfast in the Barbican food hall.

The Curve gallery at the Barbican to see the snappily titled A Partial Disassembling of an Invention Without a Future: Helter-Skelter and Random Notes in Which the Pulleys and Cogwheels Are Lying Around at Random All Over the Workbench.

Gingerbread Men for tea. Because this is the correct sort of man to be spending Sunday afternoon with.

Taking advantage of having a real adult around to help me carve my Halloween pumpkin. The mini ghost candle is from Waitrose.

Back to work on Monday morning with a new outfit founds in my wardrobe. I can't even remember when I bought this Banana Republic dress (similar) and jacket (similar) but its always nice to having a spot of "shopping amnesia" and find something new to wear.

Dark evenings? More free (or cheap) fun:

1. Miro / Calder / Dubuffet at Opera Gallery is a lovely bright and colourful exhibition (free entry).

2. The Barbican cinema does £6 "Monday Madness" screenings .

3. Drink Shop and Do have some fun craft nights (some are free) and do great cocktails to counteract the winter blues.

4. The Year of The Bus sculptures have three trails around London to explore.

5. The Curve gallery at the Barbican is free to get into and the Barbican centre itself is great to explore (and has free wifi).

6. The Lord Mayor's Show is on Saturday 8th November and will hopefully be drier than last year's - the parade is really fun and there's a fireworks display in the evening. And it's all free.

7. The Museum of London has free entry and is currently hosting a Sherlock Homes Exhibition (although this is ticketed.

8. I am giving away free tickets for the Foodies Festival here.


Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Paris in the Autumntime (Veggie Friendly)

Another Saturday morning with no lie-in, but it's ok - we're off to Paris! My friend P has been working in the city and I couldn't not visit.
Eurostar essentials - speeding through France and Gone Girl on my Kindle.
Getting pale for the winter.
Arriving in a sunny Paris at 10am was so worth the early start - the Centre Pompidou in the sunshine.
Hotel de Ville. (It's a town hall, not a hotel. But I knew you knew that).
Street Art.
The lake behind the Pompidou.

I met my friend P for brunch at Bob's Kitchen - from the outside it is totally miss-able, not even a name above the door! I would have walked past it if P hadn't been inside calling my name. Bob's is well worth seeking out (two minutes from Arts et Metiers metro stop) for its famous for its LA-style cold pressed juices and delicious vegan food. We shared the fukomaki and I had a macha cookie - so good! The prices are really reasonable for Paris and they do take-out, too. I wish I had been feeling hungrier as the bagels and veggie stews looked so good! Bob's definitely doesn't feel very Parisien but its a little piece of LA freshness in the city and definitely worth a visit.

After brunch we headed towards Place Vendome as we'd heard there was an "interesting" sculpture there - sadly it had been deflated by vandals, quelle horreur!
After a wander we headed to our hotel at Porte de Versaille for some spa and pool time - bliss! My school friend C lives in Paris so we headed out for a night on the town planning on stopping by her house party. I felt a bit bad about taking P along to a party where she wouldn't know anyone until we realised that my friend C lives with one of her school friends - its a crazy small world!

Dinner was at Cafe Ginger, a teeny tiny vegan restaurant by Bastille. There is no menu as only two options are offered each day and they change daily. This was such a good meal - everything tasted so fresh and so healthy. P and I both had the enpanadas - South American pastries filled with roasted vegetables and vegan cheese. These came with the trendiest salads ever (quinoa and kale on the same plate - so 2014!). I normally skip dessert or eat it while feeling guilty but the desserts at Cafe Ginger just had to be tried and are all vegan and free from nasties - P had the raw mango cheese cake and I had the spiced chocolate. Cafe Ginger is very different to Bob's despite them both being vegan - Bob's has a much more Californian vibe with bench seating and minimal decor while Ginger is a proper restaurant but definitely one with a vegan hippie vibe!

Bastille at night.
After a post-party lie-in, Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny. Breakfast at our hotel was a bit pricey so we hopped across the road and sat at a pavement cafe eating croissants in the sun.
Back to the pool for swimming - well, I mainly floated on my back and looked out the skylight, trying to fix in my mind what "blue sky" looks like.

Everything is shut in Paris on a Sunday - but not the Marais, traditionally a Jewish area but now home to cute boutique shops, tiny cafes and the best falafal ever. Really (no, really, I sampled probably every falafal stall at Glastonbury this year so think I'm qualified to say that). I visited L'as Du Falafal last October and remembered how amazing it was - P and I made it to the tiny cafe at around 4pm, thinking we'd missed the lunchtime rush but there was still a massive queue. Starving after a hard morning at the hotel spa we waited as the line crept slowly forwards - finally we were at the front and it was so worth it. Really, it's a good thing I don't live in Paris as I would literally turn into a ball of falafal as I'd be here every day (apart from Saturday when it is shut).

Looking for other things to do in Paris? Past visits here and here and here. Non-vegan food here and here, and the cat cafe here (cats to make friends with not to eat).


Sunday, 19 October 2014

Lunch At Langan's

September is an exciting month for my family - Daddy Lipstick and I have our birthday's and it's mummy and daddy's wedding anniversary (32 years this year!). I disappeared to China for most of the month so we didn't get around to celebrating until last weekend - oops! 

The Wolseley is our usual "celebratory meal" venue of choice but feeling like a change I booked us a table just around the corner at Langan's. The menu is traditional British brasserie food, nothing mind-blowingly new but the restaurant is London institution for a reason - everything was well-presented, tasted amazing and the service was spot on. We'll probably be back! The setting is less grand than the Wolseley but I loved the art adorned walls and references to the owners (Michael Caine and Peter Langan). The restaurant is relaxed but definitely a celebratory sort of place with most of the tables occupied by families lunching and chatting.

Daddy Lipstick snapped some outfit photos of me before we left - it was a surprisingly sunny day in the end and we walked off lunch with a wander through the busy streets of Mayfair and Soho, places that I usually avoid on weekends but in the autumn sunshine it was lovely to have a wander, pointing out my favourite haunts to my parents while we walked and chatted and making the most of not wearing coats and carrying umbrellas!

Oh Hai, Mummy Lipstick!
Crochet jumper, ASOS (similar); Pencil skirt, Spitalfields Market (similar), Denim jacket, Henry Holland (similar), Bag, Mulberry; Shoes, c/o Duo
I had the burger which came with red onion rings. Optional cheese or bacon can be added but I had it plain, medium rare - one of the nicest burgers I've had for a while! Mummy Lipstick and I shared a portion of fries as we wanted dessert too - definitely a wise move as the portion was huge!
Mummy Lipstick tucking in in the background!
For dessert it wasn't hard choosing when there was something on the menu named "chocolate platter". Our waiter suggested that this was a good dessert to share. Mummy Lipstick and I ordered one each - what's a celebration without your own dessert? Dark chocolate mousse, white chocolate cheese cake and milk chocolate ice cream - yum!
Have you visited Langan's?
© Lillian Zahra | All rights reserved.
Blog Design Handcrafted by pipdig