Tag: London

Silver Speaks @ V&A

Animus, by Kevin Grey,
Photo PH Morton

Silver Speaks @ V&A

The above beautiful shining solid sliver abstract fine silver work which is an exhibit, rather caught my eye. The silver smith craftsman made five and from what I learned cost ¬£72,000.00 each. If I were a multi millionaire+. I think I would indulge myself ūüôā

The Maker’s diagonally stamped Hallmark can just be seen near the top.

This is just one of many wonderful silver work exhibits many dating back hundreds of years, in the ‘Silver Speaks’ exhibition, held in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. The V&A is well worth a visit if you can when in London.

 

The Blind Beggar Pub

The Blind Beggar Pub

 

he Blind Beggar Pub Whitechapel London E1

The Blind Beggar Pub Whitechapel London E1

The Blind Beggar Pub is a famous East End Pub in Whitechapel, East London. Sadly many pubs are closing in London and England because of taxes and the fact that most people now prefer tp buy cheaper

Sadly many pubs are closing in London and England because of taxes and the fact that most people now prefer to buy cheaper alcoholic drinks in supermarkets and cut-price shops to drink at home. These closed pubs end up being demolished or converted by property developers into apartments and flats. Such is the building boom in London that  houses & former commercial property are now being turned into apartments to make a quick profit on sale or rental. We have lost three local pubs each over 100 years old to such in the last few years.

These closed pubs end up being demolished or converted by property developers into apartments and flats. Such is the building boom in London that  houses & former commercial property are now being turned into apartments to make a quick profit on sale or rental. We have lost three local pubs, each over 100 years old, to such in the last few years.

Numerous history and convivial social meeting places are now disappearing from the London landscape and culture.

The Blind Beggar was built in 1894 on the site of an Inn dating from 1654.

Notable events in its history include where William Booth preached his first open air  sermon then forming a Mission that led to the founding of The Salvation Army.

The first modern Brown Ale ( my first beer when a teenager) was brewed and sold in the pub which was then part of Manns brewery.

The pub’s name is linked to a popular legend concerning a local connection with a knight, who was the son of the famous Simon de Montfort , an Earl, who rebelled against King Henry III in the 13th century.

His son Henry de Montfort,  lived in a grand manor house in the area. One story  of the legend  is that de Montfort was wounded and blinded at the Battle of Evesham and was left wandering and with no memory.  He became  a beggar. He was found by a nobleman’s daughter, who married him. Their child, Besse, could not find a husband as her father had no status, as he was the blind beggar of Bethnal Green. At that time, a woman needed a sizeable dowry to be able to marry a suitable husband.  Marriage was a way of bringing wealth and prestige to a union of families.high-classNoblemen,

Noblemen, merchants, and  knights courted her but when they found out that there was no dowry they all left, except for a lone Knight, who was not concerned about a dowry and loved Besse as she was; as herself.

This union was blessed when Besse’s father revealed that far from being the poor beggar, he was a rich nobleman and so rewarded the Knight.¬† As Shakespeare would have said: “All’s well that ends well” ūüôā

Now, what captured my imagination to the Blind Beggar many years ago, is my interest in major historical crime cases of London.

In March 1966, a murder took place in the Blind Beggar, which later became part of London crime legend.

Ronnie Kray, the twin brother of Reggie, the notorious, infamous and any other ..’ous’!¬† Kray Twins¬† walked into the pub and calmly took out a pistol and shot and killed another criminal, George Cornell, in front of a few witnesses.

The Kray Twins

The Kray Twins (Reggie & Ronnie (front)

Ronnie Kray had a long-standing score to settle with Cornell, who was apparently as ruthless as the Krays, but who was nowhere in their league.

Such was Krays power & influence in the 1960s London’s criminal underworld, many involved¬† kept quiet about the Twins activities for years before they were arrested and sentenced to 25-30 years in prison.

There have been many books about the Krays & by the Krays too, which are interesting to read, if one is interested in major crimes.

Two movies have been made about the Krays too.

They are truly legends in the criminal history of London.

It appears from current on-line reviews  that the Blind Beggar today is a shadow of its former standing as a popular east end pub.

I hope the pub remains as a pub for many years to come as London cannot keep affording to lose such culturally important pubs.

Jellied eel – a traditional Eastend Recipe

Jellied Eel, photo by PH Morton

Jellied eel, photo by PH Morton

Jellied eel – a traditional East-end Recipe

Peter had been wanting jellied eel  Рmade to a traditional East-end recipe, for ages.

On his birthday, just before Christmas last year, he had his wish granted at Manze’s pie and¬† mash & eel shop (known as shops as opposed to being called a restaurant or cafe). The shop is adjacent to the Chapel Market in Islington North London.

We visit Chapel  Market around Christmas time every year for our fresh vegetables, meat etc., for the festive family meals.

Anyway,  it was rather lucky that Manze had not run out of the eel delicacy yet when Peter enquired as usually eels are off the menu by lunchtime!

Jellied eels are served as a side dish to  pie & mash.

The traditional pie  is normally made of suet based pastry pie containing  minced beef. The  mash  is mashed potato.

The delicious green tinged liquor served as a gravy with pie & mash  was traditionally made using the water kept from the preparation of the stewed eels,  but nowadays mainly from the parsley used with cooking of the jellied eels.

Peter said he enjoyed the jellied eel but I am not too sure as I think I saw his face turned rather green at some point. ūüôā

When I was still a little girl, eels were quite a delicacy in our province in the Philippines.  It was fun trying to catch them because they were so slippery; it was almost impossible to catch them without a net. The eels used to live in dykes around our ricefield.

photo from www.rainwaterharvesting.org

photo from www.rainwaterharvesting.org

The dykes were so clean, that you can drink from them if you are desperately thirsty but we used to go up further afield to the waterfall, which sourced our farm.

With a feat of engineering, my father was able to harness the water directly from the waterfall using a course of bamboos which carried the water not only into the field but to my mother’s huge water clay jars as well, giving us fresh, cool drinking water.¬† The taste was definitely better than any bottled mineral water that are on sale nowadays.

Anyway, I digress!  When we caught enough eels after much screaming and hilarity, my mother would salt them liberally to remove the slime and then she would cook it with sprouts from vines (not sure of the name of the plant, will find out) growing near our farmhouse which give a very sour taste; perfectly delicious.

Eel is delicious eaten hot but I am not too sure about cold jellied eel.¬† I couldn’t really comment too much because I turned down Peter’s generosity to taste his eel meal. ūüôā

Anyway, he said it was good and that is good enough for me.

If you happen to come across some eel to cook here is the recipe for the jellied eel.

INGREDIENTS:
900g eel
1/2tsp Grated nutmeg
Juice and zest from a lemon
handful of fresh herbs such as parley, thyme an coriander, chopped finely
Fish stock – 600 ml (1 pint)
1 small onion, chopped finely
1 small carrot, chopped finely
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
Bouquet garni
15g Gelatine

Method of Preparation:
1. Skin and bone the eels but do not cut them up. Lay them on the table, skin side down and sprinkle with grated nutmeg, a little grated lemon zest and the chopped herbs.
2. Cut the fish into pieces about 4 inches long. Roll up each piece and tie with strong cotton or fine string. Put the stock, vegetables and bouquet garni into a saucepan and bring to he boil. Add the eels and simmer very gently until tender, for about an hour.
3. Lift out the fish take off the cotton or string and place the eels in a basin. Measure the stock and make up to 450 ml (* pint) with water.
4. Add the gelatine to the lemon juice to dissolve the gelatine, then add this to the hot stock. Stir until completely dissolved. Strain this over the fish and leave to set.
5. Turn out when cold and serve with a green salad and sliced gherkins.

Tofu & Cabbage Soup Recipe

Jean enjoying Tofu Soup

Jean enjoying Tofu Soup

Tofu & Cabbage Soup Recipe

Peter and I went to this very reasonably priced Chinese restaurant called Tao in Golders Green, Northwest London.  It is a buffet kind of restaurant where you choose vegetarian or/and meat dishes. It used to be a vegetarian place only but in the last couple of years, it started to serve meat as well.

The food is good but some takes getting used to like the tofu with cabbage soup.  At first we were not sure as it tasted like boiled socks. (LOL, I am not really sure how boiled socks would taste as never tried boiling any before, hehehe)   Well actually it smelt like socks.  We only tried a few dainty sips of the soup and gave up.  Food smell does make food tastes better or not.

Two days ago, we went back to the restaurant as I was positively starving and couldn’t resist the appealing array of dishes visible on the restaurant front window. ¬†So rather gingerly got a bowl of the soup.¬† They seemed to have varied their food preparation as the soup is not too bad, It lost the boiled sock taste and smell but rather quite delicious and just set you up for a feast of vegetarian and meaty dishes.

I really loved it and so below is an easy recipe, which anyone can try at home.

Tofu & Cabbage Soup, iphone photo by JMorton

Tofu & Cabbage Soup, iphone photo by JMorton

Tofu & Cabbage Soup

 

Ingredients

  • ¬Ĺ pound soft tofu
  • 1 half head of Chinese cabbage
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced finely
  • 1 tsp cooking wine
  • 1 tsp salt
  • a few shake of freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups water

Method of preparation:

  1. Cut the soft tofu into cubes.
  2. Wash and chop theChinese cabbages
  3. Prepare a pan with water and ginger. Heat the water to boiling with high fire and then put tofu cubes in. Continue cooking for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add chopped Chinese cabbages to cook until soft.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Pour into a large bowl and finally add some sesame oil to serve.

If you are really partial to meat, add sliced fried pork into the boiling water and proceed with the recipe above.

~Enjoy!

Did you know?

Superstition: There is an American superstition which believes that a salty soup means the cook is in love.

Jon Jon Briones is Miss Saigon

jon jon briones

Jon Jon Briones is Miss Saigon

As an wedding anniversary treat from the hubby, he took me to see Miss Saigon as I have been longing to see it for a very very long time, since its original inception back in 1989, but have not had the opportunity.

Though I really wanted to see it, I was moaning at Peter for booking it.¬† I don’t understand myself sometimes. LOL

Anyway, in the end, I truly enjoyed the show, very much so. It was much, much better than I thought.

The Prince Edward theatre was in the heart of London’s famous West End so called theatre land. It is not the biggest venue and thus it is more intimate that you see the cast with no problem.

All seats were taken¬† ; a ‘full house’ as they say in theatres.

I was  quite surprised as it has been running for over a year already.  We did not see any empty seats. Miss Saigon is a hit!

It was very realistic.¬† the opening scenes was surprising,¬† seeing¬† women cavorting in their underwear, simulating sex & erotic dancing made me feel rather a bit of a voyeur, but I got used to it quickly as the show has no ‘lows’ it was just one amazing act after the others. You must go and see Miss Saigon if you can.

It was actually different and better seeing acting and singing  live to an audience rather than watching flat celluloid/movies.

I applaud the actresses to be going out night after night in their skimpy costumes, doing all manners of acrobatics, mainly sexual! lol  Nice!

The orchestra was conducted well too to keep the singing and music flowing to the story.

But the night or probably night after night,in my opinion, the stage belongs truly to  Jon Jon Briones.  He makes  Miss Saigon the hit it is.

His singing is powerful.& he owns the stage when appearing. Everytime he was on it. you only concentrate on him.  He has humour, he has pathos, he has salaciousness, he has deviousness and he was able to bring out the motivation of the situation he was portraying.

It is all about the American Dream as most Filipinos and Asians long for. Jon Jon easily connected to this aspiration.

Of course the rest of the cast are also brilliant. I was expecting the cast to be made up mostly of Filipinos but there are plenty of Korean actors.

Newcomer, Eva Noblezada, whilst no Lea Salonga (the original lead Kim),  has that vulnerability required for her role.  Her singing is sweetly pure with a touch of purring a la Britney Spears, I thought!

Gigi was well played by Natalie Mendoza who gave the role sassiness and very overt sexiness and wantonness.

Chris Peluso’s Chris, I thought, was rather weak. Perhaps his character was not fully realised. What came out was a very dorkish man, who is too dramatic and not really know his mind. It was really hard to sympathise with him.

I thought Sangwoong Jo’s Thuy was more fanciable. Kim should have gone with him and not kill him but probably Kim is really after her own American Dream all along by way of Chris or any G.I.

Overall the stage effects, music, singing, dancing and acting were superb and standing ovations to the cast and crew were given by us the appreciative audience. We saw why it had won many awards and critical acclaim,

Miss Saigon is of course based on the consequences of the Vietnam war .¬† Its theme¬† was partly based¬†on one of my favourite Puccini operas ever – the ‘Madame Butterfly’. I want to see next!.

Robins our Garden Guardians

 

As spring turns into summer in the UK, we have enjoyed the budding flowers and trees. Also the first visits to our gardens  of a family favourite, the robin red breast bird.

The European robins (Erithacus rubecula) are descended from Old World Fly catcher birds Muscicapidae.  

A robin  will select a particular garden to live, feed and sometimes nest.

They prefer a garden that has lots of bushes and plants  for them to hide and live in & also provides supplies of ready insects, worms, slugs and snails for their meals.

Robins are fiercely territorial and will sometimes fend off intruding birds to ‘their’ garden.

Every year, we enjoy seeing our cheeky little garden robin hopping about among our bushes and plants. They are also not aversed to having a bath on the running falls by our pond.

He/she is not scared or wary of us and follows us about when we are in our garden,  He or she would remain still watching me mow the lawn and he would happily dart down curiously to the freshly cut grass.

I photographed our robin last week, then yesterday while sitting in my mate Mick’s garden, we saw and I photographed his garden robin ūüôā

Our garden Robin

Our Garden Robin!, Photo by PH Morton

Classic pose for the Robin in my friends back garden

Classic pose for the Robin in my friends back garden. @ Mick’s garden, Photo by PH Morton