A Victorian Dream

30 August 2012

I've always loved a bit of History and when choosing subjects waaaay back at A-Level, I must admit a large part of me chose Tudor history because it wasn't in recent memory I had a very romantised view of that period - the era of stiff bodices, collar ruffs and farthingales (hooped skirt). So whenever I visit period properties, my imagination goes kind of wild, especially at the Victorian Birmingham Botanical Gardens for my friend's wedding.
Aviary View
I was very much imagining the ghosts of Victorian people of the day wondering around the grounds. Plenty of moustachioed men in cravats and top hats and women in the exaggerated dress shapes of the period, checking out the foreign cacti in the glasshouses and peering in to the huge Aviary (below) at the exotic birds inside. Then there was us, the modern day wedding party in our floral frocks and heels, suited and booted men and of course a couple of big wedding hats.
Botanical Gardens Aviary
Botanical Gardens Dress - Kwai Chung Plaza HK, Belt - New Look, Shoes - Topshop, Bag - Vivienne Westwood
It's a pretty idyllic place to have a bit of a wonder and it was really lucky that it was a lovely Summers day. I live in a busy suburb in the middle of the UK and it's so easy to forget that there are such beautiful gardens to visit in the city. I need to make another trip back there soon.


I love you Dumpling Man

27 August 2012

I have been obsessing over Chinese food over this weekend, well more than usual. Mostly because I have been rather enjoying the Exploring China 4 part documentary on BBC2 which has been pretty good actually. Unlike a lot of Chinese cooking shows made for Western TV, this programme even had my dad captivated and since he's a typical judgmental Chinese chef, that's really saying something about it's authenticity.

Anyway, it also reminded me about all those food pics that I've taken over the past few visits to HK. It's time to dust off the cobwebs and get more food posts back on this blog. First up, was one of the first restaurants I visited when I touched down in HK back in Feb, Din Tai Fung.
Din Tai Fung is actually a massively successful Taiwanese chain specialising in dumplings but most famously of all, the 小籠包 (Siu Long Bao/Steamed soupy pork buns originating from Shanghai). They now have countless branches world wide (but not the UK yet!) and I visited their branch in Causeway Bay which was awarded a Michelin Star.
First up we had Jellyfish and Chinese radish (also known as Chinese turnip or Japanese daikon) salad and  Pickled cucumber with Chilli and  garlic. Both were refreshing, crunchy and really moreish.
Above are Pork and chive dumplings in vinegar chilli sauce and just looking at them now makes me wish I could eat them all over again - perfectly juicy and the right amount of chilli kick.

The main attraction was of course the Siu Long Bao which is a common dim sum dish. Technically, they're not dumplings because of their shape and difference in cooking methods/prep. Despite this, I'll refer to them as dumplings for now! UK versions just don't seem to live up to Asia where there is barely any of the famous soup inside and more often than not, over-steamed. It's definitely an art to retain that soup inside the thin skin and the ones at Din Tai Fung had plenty of hot soup inside each little pork filled dumpling. You can just about see the bulge of the soup in each one in the picture below. Removing each one carefully (heartbreaking stuff if you accidently tear one and lose the soup!) you dip them into rice vinegar, often served with some fresh ginger before chomping into the porky-soupy goodness. So SO delicious.
SDC11706The branch in Causeway Bay also has big windows where you can watch the chefs prepare all the different types of dumplings on the menu. I watched them for a little while, until it just got a bit weird after catching eye contact a few times and I made a swift exit...
I also freaking love their Mascot. It definitely plays into my love for the kitsch and kawaii, I mean he has a dumpling for a head AND he is carrying more dumplings! Who can beat that? I am most definitely making a return trip there the next time I go back to HK...


Shiny and New

25 August 2012

Hello! So here is a post for the bank holiday weekend with a couple of new things that have made there way into my life recently. First up, yellow tipped Oxfords which were purchased in the Office Sale a little while ago. I initially went for the baby pink pair but they were all out of my size, so the sales assistant did a pretty good job when she suggested these ones. Frankly, these ones are even better than the pink!
SAM_1024 I've seen these Revlon lip stains absolutely everywhere in the blogosphere and I'm a bit slow on the mark with this beauty buy. I bought Romantic (the bright red one) and absolutely loved it. Not long after, I met up with the awesome Nic from Bang Bang She Shoots and we both picked up the berry shade called Crush. I really rate them as lip crayons/stains and definitely worth giving a go. 
Speaking of the lovely Nic, it was so nice to see her in our home city! You might remember me meeting up with her earlier in the year when we were both in Hong Kong (see this post). Hopefully we'll have more chances to catch up before she heads back home to Tokyo in a few months time.
I can't believe I am writing about more crockery but here we go. Thanks to the awesome guys at Dot Com Gift Shop, I now own yet another fancy tea cup, a matching plate, a strawberry plate and also the must-have item of a doughnut shaped trinket box (pic of this on Instagram!) Ok I lie, the doughnut box is probably the most awkward shape to store things in but it's so kawaii!
I now have a very distinct corner in our kitchen where all my things (i.e teacups) have been stored away...because apparently they don't belong with the normal kitchen ware! Well, I guess my plans have been scuppered, I'll never see my dad use that strawberry plate OR drink out of a dainty teacup. Boo.


Hip Hip Hooray!

20 August 2012

I've had a magical weekend celebrating the marriage of one of my dear friends. I've known Nat since we first studied History of Art together at the University of Birmingham and she swiftly became one of my housemates where we suffered the perils of student life together. This of course, involved lots of late night delirious essay writing, freezing cold student housing, making pancakes whenever the opportunity, comparing our lives to the Mighty Boosh and generally being Art geeks. As the first of my friends to get married, it makes me realise just how much we've accomplished since leaving uni and how fast time has passed. Who would have thought that after almost 4 years since we graduated, I would be a stones throw away from our university campus at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, where I would see her tie the knot with a guy who completely and utterly adores her? It was definitely one very happy day.
IMG_9714 Congratulations Nat and Fritz!


They're on to you, Blue Jeans

15 August 2012

Blouse - HK, Jeans - Zara, Shoes - Carvela, Bag - Topshop, Necklace - HK SAM_1089
So I'm totally humming Ladytron's Blue Jeans as I'm writing this, but the lyrics serve the purpose of introducing my new er...blue jeans. Not that I was really on the look out for any new jeans (always the way) but I found myself trying these ones on in Zara which is, let's face it, never a good idea when you're 'window shopping'. I was drawn to these mostly because the leopard print is a velvety material which makes them feel kind of awesome plus the dark denim is quite flattering too.
In other news, I am going to Bestival on the Isle of Wight in September! Has anyone been before? I am super excited but I haven't been to a festival since 2006 (this makes me feel ancient!) and I totally need to brush up on my festival check list...


Hey little birdie

09 August 2012

So let me introduce you to my new favourite teacup. Er...yes that's right, much to my mother's amusement I am now amassing a small collection of tea cups that I take turns drinking tea from (I need to hold a tea party!) This new addition to the family goes by the name of Birdie and designed by awesome ceramicist, Camila Prada.
Favourite things
Blanket c/o Next
Yummy Green tea, a Gingerbread man decoration made by my friend and my favourite iPhone case. Yup, naturally my phone case features Hello Kitty and friends dressed up as Aliens. How could I resist?
Birdie2Camila is based in Stoke on Trent, north of the West Midlands which is a city well known as 'The Potteries' reflecting their incredibly rich Ceramic history (Wedgewood and Doulton are all based here.) It's so great to see great ceramic ware still being created in the region and Camila's tableware are full of fun and personality which is evident from their individual names like Koko, Lil Bubba and Big Poppa. You guys know by now that I have a love for the kawaii and I am inexplicably drawn to inanimate objects with faces (who's with me?) so I was over the moon when she sent me Birdie the teacup. Camila's ceramics are definitely, excuse the pun, my cup of tea. 


Instagramming 9

04 August 2012

I really must get back to doing instagram posts more regularly but here are just a handful of some of my favourites over the last month or so. As ever, my instagram feed is pretty much a food diary - yep, taking photos before eating has definitely become a bit of an addiction.
1G9A 1. Farewell dim sum feast with my visiting grandparents and aunts before they went back to Hong Kong 2. Random snacks including coconut tarts and black sesame dessert (one of my favourite Chinese desserts!) 3. Biscester Village goodies, I didn't anticipate buying anything Ralph Lauren Polo ever, but my sister and I couldn't resist the preppy crew neck jumpers. Mine is the navy.
ig9b 1. Dumplings at home with my dad's satay sauce 2. I love strawberry season! 3. Laisee (Lucky envelope) given to me by a visiting relative 3. Waiting for trains to London 4. A beautiful 1960s Qipao/Cheongsam in the V&A 5. Missing lots of wonderful food from Hong Kong, including dofu fa which is a sweetened tofu dessert
IG9C 1. Sale shopping! Yellow tipped oxfords from Office 2. Pink suede brogues from Carvela 3. Art in Birmingham: Chaos by Philip Watts, 4. Digging into my lobster at Burger and Lobster (delicious despite my strange allergic reaction afterwards which I won't be forgetting in a hurry!) 5. My dad's Maneki Neko aka a Japanese fortune cat 6. My favourite cantonese egg tarts at dim sum
ig9d 1. Cheese, fruit and salad for dinner one sunny evening 2. The British art of tea dunking - yum! 3. My friend's wedding gift to another friend. It means double happiness and a traditional symbol seen at Chinese weddings. 4. Reading an old copy of ViVi Magazine and sipping green tea 5. Sunshine and paper cranes 6. Capturing the bridge at my local train station
IG9E 1. Garden party at my frend's house 2. Awesome Oreo cupcakes baked by a lovely friend 3. Wrapping presents for my friend's birthday which included Hello Kitty macaroni which I found in Hong Kong 4. Trying to eat more fruit lately 5. A favourite deep fried dish at dim sum, salad prawn parcels 6. Homemade udon noodles for lunch
ig9f 1. Excited for the arrival of Wish magazine! 2. Juicy watermelon 3. Oksusu Cha (Korean corn tea) 4. Colourful fruit salad while watching the Olympics 5. Typical Cantonese dinner at home - featuring stuffed peppers and aubergine, my favourite 6. After mentioning my purchase in my last post, my tickets for the Harry Potter studio tour arrived, oh the anticipation!


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