A trip to Edinburgh is never complete without a cheeky stop in The Red Door Gallery on Victoria Street. On my first evening back in London I found myself trawling the interweb and found myself on their blog. I saw many lovely items and spotting the wooden ipod by Josh D led me thinking about other wooden wonders.
I love the use of wood in modern products. As a material that is losing its place to plastic, what I found was that there were many out there who yearned for the aesthetics of wood. I love plastic for its transparence and colours that pop; but wood is like the quiet, natural beauty. Like a girl who does not wear much make-up and doesn’t need to.
It’s soon to be Shrove Tuesday and many will be giving up chocolate for lent.
Shrove Tuesday will be an excuse to have a pancake party.
This evening, I’d like to talk about chocolate and how beautiful some of the design and packaging is. I was reminded of my love for chocolate and beautifully packaged chocolate when Maria from work gave me a bar of Chocolate Organiko because she thought I’d appreciate the typography-led graphics on the packaging. She was correct. Chocolate Organiko uses clean and bold typography and it works really well. It works so well that I’ve not touched the chocolate bar for I quite like to keep this to look at for a wee while.
I thought of another cool Spanish chocolate maker Xocoa. The first time I went to Barcelona a few years ago my sister mentioned reading about Xocoa on her flight over. She had forgotten to note down the address. We were quietly obsessing over the missed opportunity here to check out a nice chocolate shop when we stumbled upon one of the branches of Xocoa in the city on our very last day there.
In Britain, Kings Road based Rococo Chocolates have gone the opposite direction on packaging from their Spanish counterparts. So named for the decorative arts-led packaging, my first encounter with Rococo Chocolates was in So Cocoa in Stockbridge, Edinburgh. My favourite Saturdays usually involved a walk by the canal and a stop to buy lavender or rose flavoured chocolate bars.
The thing about chocolate is that you can more or less judge it by its packaging. Pleasure can come in the form of a tiny square of fine chocolate. And it starts from the moment you hear that clear snap from breaking a piece to savouring the taste.
The moustache has been a big source of amusement and entertainment for me. It all started with Dali and his moustache. From the day when Tyler and I went around the supermarket with fake moustaches looking for treacle to make gingerbreadmen to the night at The Egg where I danced quite seriously with a moustache above my lip.
And so the obsession continued, one work Christmas do we were given fake moustaches to wear over lunch, much to everyone’s delight. Although I would have been equally happy with the moustache pencils.
One of Guy‘s first presents to me was a serious fat man’s tache which I hang by my door like it’s for sale. And then came the Moustache Envy badges Sarah bought for me. This year for my birthday, my lovely friends found a moustache ring for me from Tatty Devine. It’s a beautiful ring and great for instant fancydress occasions.
I am delighted to see the number of moustache products out there. Clearly, moustaches make people happy. Here’s a blog with many a hairy post and if you wanted to go out dancing in London, there’s the Moustache Bar in Dalston or in Paris, here’s a club for moustachioed boys and girls.
Autumn has captured my attention big time this year. It started early in October, in Paris at the Tuileries the trees that line the park looked like fireworks with leaves glowing yellow and golden. The weekend after, in Edinburgh I walked all over the city, captured by the strong colours of falling and fallen leaves. I stopped under many trees, and looked through the leaves hoping to catch the sunbeams. It reminded me of the Size + Matter pavillion in South Bank that was part of the London Design Festival.
Back in London, I was happy to see the leaves carpet the tar roads like nature has been celebrating the golden autumnal sun. Shades of red, orange and yellow fall off the trees and are crisp under each step like nature had been showering us with confetti. In America Fall is so spectacular that people go leaf peeping.
The sunset during this season is breathtaking. I was on the bus on Thursday and it stopped on Chelsea Bridge for a good few minutes, in time for me to witness a sunset that left streaks of pink in the sky. I didn’t think I would be so lucky to see another beautiful sunset again so soon. But tonight on the rooftop of Tower House, we saw one. It provided quite the backdrop for an amazing view of the Gherkin and created a skyline that made London almost magical.
My uncle came over the other day with a carrier bag full of pandan leaves for my mother. He picked these leaves from his garden where his one plant has truly grown in abundance.
I remember being a kid and spending Sundays in my uncle’s coffee shop, where he would make kayafor the week. Kaya literally translates from Malay to mean rich. Like a jam, it is a spread made from coconut milk, eggs, sugar and pandan leaf juice. My sister and I would fight to hold the giant wooden spoon to stir the mixture while my uncle cracked the eggs in.
Pandan leaves emit a superfragrant smell. For this reason it is used to perfume many of my favourite dishes. Added into cooking, the kitchen is rich with the aroma. Used with coconut it enhances the taste and smell of coconut and turns food a light green colour.
Knotted and added to cooking rice with coconut milk, you get nasi lemak, Malaysia’s favourite breakfast. Juiced and marinated with chicken, then used to wrap the chicken, you get Pandan Chicken, a Thai/Malaysian dish.
Pandan as a magic ingredient does not stop at savoury food. In Asia, it is also used in making cakes. I spent this trip in Kuala Lumpur looking to buy some Pandan Layer Cake, a chilled cake, sometimes topped with dessicated coconut. Last week, I found 2 different types of layer cake. The Indonesian variety, a dense cake made of many layers and the one I love, which is chilled and is made up of layers of sponge and pandan flavoured jelly. Another favourite iskuih bangkit, a cookie that is flavoured with pandan and a staple treat during Chinese New Year. I found some being sold in Chinatown the other day and snacked on the fish-shaped cookies, pretending that it was still Chinese New Year.
Pandan leaves are available to buy from the Chinese supermarkets in the UK. I remember seeing it for sale in Pat’s Chung Ying on Leith Walk in Edinburgh. Although available to buy from the Chinese supermarkets, once I head back to London, I am going to miss seeing the many foods made with pandan on menus and in bakeries. Before I leave, I will be clutching on to some leaves and soaking in the wonderful fragrance.