eating pig at st john

One of my foodie friends realised his gastronomic dreams when he booked himself and 14 friends in for a feast of Whole Roast Suckling Pig at St John Bar and Restaurant. St John is unlike any restaurant I've been to. Located in trendy Clerkenwell, the entrance to the restaurant is tucked away around the side of the building (an old smokehouse) and through the bar. The dining room is large and open with high ceilings and lots of white: white walls, white paper table cloths, and white coat hooks that encircle the entire room. It has an industrial feel with rows of metal lamp shades hanging from metal poles and a stainless steel kitchen in the corner. Although nice and simple, some of the atmosphere was lost amongst all that whiteness and it felt a bit cold. In saying that, the interior made it very clear that the focus at St John is firmly on the food.

We were seated at a long table and could see our wee piggy waiting for us in the kitchen. To start we feasted on large platters of Roast Bone Marrow & Parsley Salad and Whole Crab & Mayonnaise. The marrow, scooped out of the bones and onto toast, was fatty, buttery, oily goodness. Most of the hard work had already been done on the crabs, but we were given all the necessary tools to crack into the claws and scrape out the delicious meat.

Next up was the main event: PIG! I had emailed St John beforehand to make sure that our pig had been ethically farmed and (after chasing them) they assured me that the pigs were outdoor reared in North Yorkshire and were "the happiest pigs we've found". 

The whole pig was placed on a nearby table and carved up by one of the waiters. Fergus Henderson, the owner of St John, is famed for his nose to tail eating and makes sure that none of the animal is wasted. The head was presented to us first. The girls had requested to be seated at the tail end of the pig so we didn't have to see its face, but it turns out eating a pig's head is an experience not to be missed. We lifted up the crackling skin, scraped out the cheeks, pulled out the tongue, scooped out the brains, ripped off its ears, and ate it all. The cheek was tender, gamey and delicious. The tongue tasted a bit like pate, tasty! The brain was a creamy white moose and tasted fairly foul. The ears were crackly, chewy and hairy. The rest of the pig had been stuffed and was brought to the table on two huge sharing platters. We were told that our pig was very meaty. I'm not a big pork eater, but this meat was so tender it fell apart and melted in my mouth. We ate pig by the pileful accompanied with sides of boiled potatoes and cabbage. The food was so simple, but cooked to perfection. It was hearty British fare at its best.

My favourite course (unsurprisingly) was dessert. Bread Pudding & Butterscotch Sauce and Trifle. I don't think I've ever had bread pudding before. I always thought it would resemble rice pudding, but with stale bread instead of rice. Yuck. But OH MY GOD it was amazing! Moist, fruity, rich, Christmassy, saucy amazing. The trifle was top notch too. Hats off to my foodie friend for choosing such a spectacular feasting menu. I was still full at 3am.


weekend (in london)

Last weekend was epic, the kind that reminds you how great it is to live in a city like London. Filled with good friends, good food and an amazing rugby match, I had the best time.

via Ninetyeight Bar and Lounge

It started with a girls night out to celebrate the upcoming weddings of two of my favourite girls. We drank cocktails here, went dancing here, and finished the night at a very strange pub that was open late. Polishing off a meat feast pizza with the three remaining girls was the perfect way to end a night that went far too quickly and was way too much fun.

The weekend continued with a piggy feast for 15 friends and ended with the All Blacks winning the Rugby World Cup, so Sunday was pretty much the best day ever. We celebrated at the pub, like every New Zealander in London.


a sunday in east london

My excessive blog-reading has opened my eyes to a number of very cool-sounding places in London. These places get added to my list of 'Things to do in London'. Now that totally ingenious Pinterest has been invented I can make my lists online (see my 'London' board here). It's brilliant.

by Brian Ferry
One of the places on my list was Railroad (discovered through Brian's blog), a cafe in Hackney, East London, serving brunch, lunch and dinner. I love brunch. It's probably the best meal of the day, but unfortunately it can only truly be appreciated in the weekends. We're always on the lookout for new places to have brunch and Railroad seemed like a pretty good option. So one Sunday morning in September, S and I took the overground to the other side of London to check it out. I had high expectations after reading Brian's glowing review of Railroad, and I was not disappointed. The mis-matched furniture, handmade espresso cups and little book shop made it feel nice and homely. The short and simple menu was so fresh and tasty. The Moroccan eggs baked in a terracotta dish was a winner and their almond croissants were delicious. This would be the perfect place to spend a few hours on a Sunday morning with the paper or an afternoon with a beer. We'll be back to try the dinner menu for sure.

After brunch I went on an exploration of the markets in East London. Columbia Road Flower Market is a half hour walk from Railroad. My Google Maps walking directions took me on a lovely route through London Fields park and Broadway Market (which has stalls open on Saturdays), completely avoiding any busy roads.

 Columbia Road is always rammed on a Sunday. The flower market is a riot of colour, and with the market vendors yelling things like, "two bunches for a fiver" and trying to outsell each other, there's always a great atmosphere. I picked up three hydrangeas for a tenner and they still look great (despite having completely dried out).

 My favourite thing about Columbia Road is the little boutique shops that run the length of it. I borrowed this shop guide from Laura and found it very useful. All of the shops are gorgeous. I'm a big fan of Rob Ryan's paper cuts and prints. I love the whimsical prose and romantic characters. I had to use a lot of will power to resist buying anything at his shop. I found myself a lovely cake stand at Vintage Heaven and had lots of fun admiring the pretty homewares in Treacle.

From Columbia Road I continued on to Brick Lane. By this stage my arms were full of hydrangeas, my new cake stand and an unnecessary coat, and the crowds were starting to get annoying so I failed to take any pictures. I did manage to get one in the Sunday Up Market of these delicious treats at Kooky Bakes. I bought the Truffle Brownie and their Signature Slice. S didn't want any so, unfortunately, I had to eat them all myself.



I love Ryan Gosling. I first fell in love with him when I saw The Notebook and fell for him even more deeply when I saw Lars and the Real Girl. He is so talented (and good looking).

I went and saw Drive a couple of weekends ago and thought it was very good. One reviewer described it as "deeply cool", which is exactly what it was. I remember it in shades of blue. The dialogue is minimal and the scenes between Ryan and Carey Mulligan are so intense it's almost painful. Surprisingly violent, it takes you on a thrilling ride that leaves you wondering who the driver really is.

The soundtrack is fantastic and complemented the movie perfectly. I've been listening to it almost non-stop since I saw the film. The synthetic beats can't help but make you want to get in your car and drive.


peanut slab

In the weekend I was pleased to discover that our local GBK stocks peanut slabs. They must be the nuttiest bar around.

GBK also gave me a water jug... for free. Apparently they had too many. I was pretty stoked and it almost justified the extortionate price they charged us for the peanut slabs and pineapple lumps we bought. I'm already making plans to go back and buy the over-priced jet planes.


weekend (in amersham)

The first weekend of October S and I caught a train to Amersham in Buckinghamshire for a weekend away from London. After watching the rugby at home on Saturday morning (priorities) we jumped on the tube to Marylebone station and a half hour train ride later we arrived. England was still engulfed in its second summer and the weather was gorgeous, close to 30 degrees in October! We walked from the train station along a track through the woods and eventually came out at the top of a field with Old Amersham below us.

Old Amersham is a picturesque old market town. Consisting of one high street lined with pretty boutiques, old pubs and old fashioned sweet shops, it is perfect for wandering. We checked out the market in the ancient market hall, admired the Tudor architecture and visited the church and its beautiful gardens before heading to Artichoke for lunch.

Artichoke is owned and run by a husband and wife team who were so warm and welcoming we felt like guests in their home. The soothing green tones, wooden tables and bespoke crockery (made here) were so comforting we made lunch last for hours. We started with a champagne aperitif, followed by steak tartare and duck breast for me and scallops and lamb for S. It was delicious. For desert we shared the best berry souffle I've ever tasted.

The service was impeccable and little touches like the fresh mint tea brewed from mint straight out of their herb garden made the experience extra special. We will definitely be back.

After lunch we were so full, we wandered up Cherry Lane and found a field to nap in. When we eventually found the motivation to move again, we walked back down the hill past some of the cutest cottages I have ever seen.

We spent the night at The Crown, an old coaching inn. Our room was lovely with wooden beams, uneven creaking floors, an extremely comfortable king size bed and Aesop products in the bathroom (I'm all about the products). Unfortunately, the service at The Crown wasn't great. There didn't seem to be anyone in charge and at dinner the staff were running around in a mild panic. Our table was forgotten and when they did remember to bring our food, they forgot the utensils. Still, the inn itself was lovely and the sunny courtyard proved to be a great place to while away the hot afternoons.

On Sunday we went for a long walk in the countryside. We walked across dry paddocks, through woods, past cows and old farm houses with beautiful gardens. It was strange to see all the leaves changing colour when it was so hot! Walks in the UK seem to always take you through at least one village where you're guaranteed to find a pub meal. This walk was no exception. We stopped at the Red Lion, an old family run pub in the village of Coleshill, for lunch (salmon sandwiches for me and pie for S) and pints of coke. From here it was an easy walk back to Old Amersham, where we rewarded ourselves with mint choc chip ice creams in the sun before grabbing our bags and heading back to London.



I read a lot of blogs. Probably too many. So I thought it was about time I tried my hand at writing one. I like writing, but I'm out of practice. This will be a good place to learn again and to hopefully find 'my voice', as cheesy as that sounds. I'd also like to get better at taking photographs. I don't know anything about photography, but I'm hoping that putting my photos out there on the internet will encourage me to improve.

I'm not sure what I'm going to write about yet. Probably: my life in London, the travels I go on, the food I eat, the movies I watch, the music I listen to and the books I read. I hope you enjoy the ride.