Tag Archives: Camden

North London Sundays (and eating WAY too much)

Twice a year, my husband and a bunch of other middle aged, not at the peak of fitness, mates play cricket in Regents Park. They love it, it’s literally the highlight of my husband’s year – I reckon, given a choice he would take two afternoons of cricket over an all expenses paid trip to, oh, I don’t know, Costa Rica. (FYI, if anyone wants to send me to Costa Rica, I’m well up for it).

One year, early in our courtship, I drove Marcel to cricket, and stood in the drizzle for maybe six hours watching them play and then went to the pub with some of the cricketers and listened to them reliving their every move from the cricket match. Whist I was stone cold sober because I was driving. Have I mentioned I find cricket quite tedious? Even though I’m a good Sri Lankan gal.

I’ve since learned that life’s too short to spend hours pretending to care about cricket, so this year, with the first of the two matches this summer approaching, I realised that my dear friend Alex was also playing, which meant that his girlfriend Katie would be free. Now I’ve known Alex for a decade (ish) and whilst he’s great (mostly), Katie is one of those truly awesome, clever and beautiful women and as she’s relatively new in my life, I figured it’d be the perfect opportunity to get to know her better (and let our men folk do that cricket nonsense). And of course, because we love them, we’d turn up to watch, maybe one – definitely not 5 – hours of their “glory” on the field. Pitch? I literally don’t know or care.

So we booked a table at the York & Albany which is spitting distance from the Hub in Regents Park.And one of my favourite places in London (introduced to me by another gorgeous, clever, funny friend, Sarah who bloody moved to Bristol a few years ago and I miss her madly and often. I should really go to Bristol more often :-))

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Thankfully Katie likes a drink, so we started off by ordering a bottle of prosecco before we’d even contemplated the food. Now, I was still a little hanging from the Secret Cinema thingie (turns out you can drink a lot in Tattooine and the space booze makes your hangover last for two days), During those two days, I think everything I ate was either beige (toast, humous) or brown (chocolate). Not a green thing or a red thing or an fruity thing passed my lips. By Sunday however, I was feeling up to a breakfast smoothie (yup, those are still rearing their heads on occasion) and then headed out to meet Katie for lunch.

The reason I mention the hangover is because we had our prosecco and a bread basket (obvs – we’re not carb free fools) and I decided that I needed something light after two days of hangover eating, so ordered the cod. Despite there being what looked like an AMAZING Yorkshire pudding with the roast beef. And Katie’s roast chicken looked incredible. And to go with my cod, I ordered a rocket and tomato salad. Have I mentioned, I don’t really like tomatoes before? Well I don’t. I honestly don’t know what I was thinking other than I needed green things.

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York & Albany is a Gordon Ramsay venue so we knew the food would be good and it was. Not mind-blowing but good, honest food. One of the reasons I knew I was going to love Al’s girlfriend was the first time we met, she ignored starters because she knew she’d want pudding. My kinda gal. So we ordered two – a lemon posset with an earl grey granita and shortbread. And a chocolate brownie with salted caramel ice cream. Jesus wept, they were awesome. That salted caramel ice cream blew my mind.

We naturally had a cocktail with which to wash down our puddings and then we headed over to see the last bit of the cricket and drink more prosecco. Apparently Marcel’s team beat Alex’s team (I honestly have no idea what was going on).

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At some point, a few hours later, we found ourselves a little peckish. The incredible sportsmen we are married to/dating were also hungry so decided we’d head to Q-Grill in Camden, one of my favourite locations and home to some of the best macaroni cheese I’ve ever had.

Q-grill specialises in grilled meat so probably not the best place for a veggie – thankfully none of us are. I have a big love for fried chicken so ordered the buttermilk chicken with seasoned fries (which came with deep fried pickles – delish), Katie had the same but in a bun form, the boys had burgers and one of the other cricketers had pork cheeks with cheesy grits.

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I honestly don’t think I could have walked another step after eating that much that day, so thank the lords for Uber. Here’s to many more lovely ‘ladies wot lunch’ lunches. Possibly not with ‘stuff your face’ dinners on the same day though

Deliciously slutty brownies

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I work in Camden (you can read my Camden musings here) and right across the road from my office is a fantastic creative space called The Camden Collective that hosts pop up stalls from up and coming designers and foodies. It was my favourite place for presents last Christmas – I’d say at least 30% of Mr Bon Bon’s presents came from there. And I’ve recently treated myself to a lovely bracelet and earrings and all sorts of other accoutrements. Basically, I love it.

I may have mentioned earlier, I fancy myself a relatively OK baker – I once had a pop up bakery with some friends (awesome fun, bloody hard work) and the main thing I learned through that was it’s so much better to make a bloody good cake than it is to bake a crap cake and cover it with glitzy icing. I’m sure I’ll write again about my particular hatred for cupcakes but I hate cupcakes. Hate the icing to cake ratio. Hate the cutesy girliness of it all. Hate that it turns grown women into jibbering wrecks. It’s a cake for crying out loud, it lasts minutes and shouldn’t cost a fiver. In fact, Sophie Heawood said it best right here.

So, last Christmas, when popping by Camden Collective for an amazing Black Sheep coffee, I happened across Dub Plates Kitchen and her fabulous slutty brownies. In a nutshell, she’d taken a brownie and made it incredible with toppings and a pie base. I have dreamed about this brownie and so, a couple of weeks ago, with #CakeFriday at work and my niece and nephew staying for the weekend, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to try my own version of slutty brownies. Rather than a pie crust base (mostly because I’m hugely lazy and couldn’t be bothered to), I decided to make a biscuit base (like on a cheesecake) and used all sorts of stuff that I had in my cupboard as the toppings. And I made them in muffin cases, because I thought that’d help them bake more evenly, not because I had any cupcake desires. Have I mentioned how much I hate cupcakes?

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The basic brownie recipe was inspired by one for chilli chocolate brownies, on the beautiful Del Sole blog. I didn’t chilli them this time though. Recipe below, with some pictures. If you make them, I’d love to see how they turned out.

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Slutty Brownies – makes 15-20 muffin sized brownies

For the base:

8 x digestive biscuits
5 x ginger nuts
50g butter melted

For the brownies

200g unsalted butter
450g dark chocolate
150g strong flour
6 large eggs
400g light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt

Toppings:

Whatever you like really – I used mini-marshmallows, Smarties (although the colour ran so maybe try M&Ms), Maltesers, salted pretzels and honeycomb but if you like nuts and chocolates, peanuts or walnuts could work well. Next time I’m going to try wasabi peas, I think that’d be a rare treat.

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Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees and line a muffin tray with cases

Crush the digestive biscuits and ginger nuts to crumbs. Mix in to the 50g melted butter and spoon a couple of spoonfuls into each muffin case. Set aside to cool.

In a pan on low heat melt the butter. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir the chocolate until fully melted. Set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl combine eggs, sugar, salt and spices and mix with a electrical whisk for 5 minutes or until the mixture falls from the whisk in ribbons.

Fold in the melted cool chocolate into the egg mixture. Do so gently to avoid deflating the air in the mixture.

Sift the flour in the mixture and fold in with the spatula.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases – 2-3 tablespoons per case as it will rise a little. Grab a handful of whatever toppings you’re going for and throw them onto the top – the thing with slutty brownies is that they don’t have to look perfect, they just need to taste delicious.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes until the top of the brownie is a little cracked.

Troubleshooting

If you go with the loaf option, turn the heat of the oven down – I didn’t and ended up burning the top whilst the middle was a little undercooked

Smarties lose their colour in the heat – maybe try M&Ms

If you don’t like toasty marshmallows, then add them onto the top halfway through the cooking time