Thursday, October 22, 2015

Are You Game?, 23rd September

What do you get when you cross funfair games, a gameshow and a cabaret and throw in a heavy pinch of smut? You get Are You Game by Fowl Cabaret that’s what!

I had no idea what to expect from this ‘interactive gameshow’ but what I got was a whole lot of fun. And I wasn’t even drinking! Sober fun!

We got there and I immediately regretted my ‘day job’ clothes as we and took in everyone else’s outfits and were greeted by a sparkly Unicorn man. People in the know had dressed for the occasion. We were given a couple of tokens and, even though we read the ‘rules’ (No biting – only with consent) weren’t really much the wiser as to what was going on. But it soon became clear. The evening started with some games you could take part in, using your tokens to ‘pay’ to take part and if you won, you got more tokens. Why would you want more tokens? Well – to play the other games and to take part in the installations. And to win the coveted Egg Cup award at the end.

Games on offer were Ball Buster, Panty Pinging, Scrapple, and Waft of Fortune. Each was manned by a madcap gamesmaster who took on a larger than life character. I never found out how Scrapple worked, but I tried all the others. Waft of Fortune involved spinning the wheel and trying to guess the smell you landed on. I failed. Then we tried Ball Buster – tying some pantyhose that had two balls in the legs around your waste and then trying to knock down some little cones before your opponent. It was much tougher than it sounds especially when you're laughing the whole time. And finally, we pinged some panties which had the longest build up and explanation of a game ever – far too long-winded to go into here (it involved lots of screaming and selfies). 
Then we were all called over to the stage where the main even began. First, Mystal Craze – the chance to compete for a private ‘show’ no one else would see, and of course, some sort of glory. Two teams were pitched against each other and had to a) create a structure out of cheese and pineapple, b) decorate a cake blindfolded and c) eat doughnuts off their teammate without using their hands. Naturally these doughnuts were arranged as a bra and a pair of knickers.

We then had a musical interlude from Dr Clive singing about cross-dressing pirates and cannibalism.
We were granted a short break to continue the game-playing mayhem and investigate the installations. We entered the Church of Clarkson, a bizarre shrine to Mr Jeremy C where we were accepted into the fold after a short sermon (a reading of The World According to Clarkson) and promising to renounce Corbyn and Piers Morgan and vote Tory.

Later on, we were lucky enough to enter the Love Stop café where we indulged in a three course meal of finger dancing, shoulder massage and then a tasty dessert of dancing and complimenting. This was a meal to nourish your heart, not your stomach.

We then returned to watch the last interactive games and the final acts on stage – some guy sticking a drill up his nose and turning it on, someone doing a striptease that featured cracking eggs down her naked body and culminated with pouring copious amounts of baked beans all over herself. You know, the usual.

All of this was expertly hosted by the deliciously sexy Lolo Brow who makes any event worth a visit.

I didn’t know what to expect but I loved what I got. They promised an even bigger and better show for next time though how they can top that I do not know. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Crick Crack Club, 16th September

If you ever doubted the magic of storytelling then going to the Crick Crack Club will convert you. Clare Murphy had us eating out of her hand we were so rapt, so enthralled by the stories she wove. She put her entire being into them, so that they really did come to life in your mind.

Crick Crack Club has been going for yonks and hosts regular storytelling nights and festivals in London and beyond. Each one is a little bit different with a different theme. The one we went to had just the one storyteller, and she was given a brief and from that decided on the story(ies) she would tell. The first half was taken up by one large story – The King of Lies – but which involved at least two stories within that story. I wouldn’t say that Clare exactly ‘acted’ the stories out but she certainly seemed to become each character while also playing the role of narrator and imbuing her stories with impudent fun, a knowing wink here or there. The night we went to was one of several called ‘Fairytales for Grownups’ and the main story she told was centred around a Syrian King who decided he wanted to document in his book every lie ever told. And what is a story if not a lie? So all across the land all the great storytellers of all the different nations lined up outside to concoct the best story/lie they could. And if they failed? They died. This was a perfect premise for setting up within this story several ‘lies’ that each of the storytellers brought to tell the king. And, of course, the king wasn’t the most ethical character in the world, and the outcome was morally satisfying.

The second half was a Q & A which was interesting (even if a lot of the people there were a little pretentious in their eagerness to show off just how much they were storytelling aficionados). We learned the difference between storytelling ‘schools’ and just how Clare goes about learning a story and making it her own, how they become such a part of her, recalling one is like recalling a fond memory.

Crick Crack Club hosts several nights a month – some with the fairytale theme, some with something different, some with musical accompaniment, some without. If you love storytelling then this night is the epitome of it, if you’re not sure, then this will convince you. Enchanting. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Bunnychow, 8th September

Bunnychow were on my radar without exactly being on my List, so I was delighted to be invited by Zomato to come down and learn what they’re all about. Having evolved from a street food truck, to a pop-up in Boxpark to a bricks and mortar place in Soho (next stop, the world!) they are now refining and expanding on their offering while making sure to keep taking inspiration from Bunny Chow’s roots. A ‘bunny’ as they’re known is South African’s late night snack – something they’ll order after a few pints, but it originates (possibly) from Indian workers in the fields needing some way to transport and store their lunches. A little roll is hollowed out and filled with a ‘sauce’ – basically whichever type of curry you like, then you can add toppings such as crumbled nachos, sambal, coleslaw or chilli and spring onion.

Our little privileged crew got to help make some of the ingredients (I hollowed bread) and then put our own bunnies together. 
I always thought of Bunny Chow as a lunch time light meal but these little bread bowls are pretty hearty! Do not be fooled by their size. I couldn't resist the gingery, fiery chicken to load up with and had to have the chilli and onion, sambal and crunch nachos on top. So delicious! None of us really knew how to eat one, so we kind of tore at it with our cutlery, though apparently eating them with your hands is the done thing in SA.
As well as getting hands-on with them, we were able to talk to Lyndsay, involved in putting the branding together and spreading the word about how they put Bunny Chow together and the challenges involved. Finding someone to make them the special bread has proved to be particularly tricky – it is no small feat to get consistent loaves of that size and height apparently!

As well as bunnies, you can also get some very meaty sides – ribs, meatballs and chicken wings. Or you can go for a risotto-type dish made with Sam, a South African grain. I thought this was really good, though it didn’t work quite as well when it was converted into a dessert as a take on rice pudding.
They go through something like 400 little loaves a day – hollowing them out to fill with saucy curries. But what do they do with the holes? They make damn fine bread and butter pudding with them, that’s what!

And finally, before we cracked on with the actual meal, we couldn’t stop snacking on the moreish biltong and pork scratchings. These are definitely worth a try if you visit. 
Bunnychow Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Trade, 29th August

Trade is, I think, a bit of a local’s secret. I was meeting a friend for brunch (my breakast as I had only just got up, his lunch) and had planned to go to Hotbox but just thought I’d check out the menu for Trade and suddenly thought I wanted to try that instead. When I arrived I walked right in and was just behind two other people. There wasn’t really a queue. Two minutes later and one practically stretched out the door!

It was a balmy day so we sat outside. Eventually I made my decision – avocado on toast with chorizo on the side. My friend had the reuben because they are not that ubiquitous over here.

When they arrived I had total food envy. His sandwich was huge! My dish looked paltry! But Trade knew what they were doing. Mine was more than adequate for a breakfast (as indeed mine was, even though it was 1 pm) and it meant I had room to try one of their delicious baked goods at the front.
It also tasted great. The avocado was mixed with feta which gave it a very pleasant tang and the chorizo was a fine example of what is almost always a sublime sausage. My only quibble would be that the toast should have been given more of a grilling as I wish it had been more crisp. This picture makes it look better than it was. 

My friend really loved his sandwich, and a bite from me confirmed it was a spot on reuben. 

I am keen to make this a regular haunt!

Trade Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Monday, October 12, 2015

Natural Philosopher, 28th August

That Natural Philosopher is a charming, ramshackle little cocktail bar that I liked very much. It’s just a shame no one else seems to. Or perhaps they just don’t know about it. Even though it isn’t hiding itself you could probably walk past it and not quite realise it was there. It looks humble. Inside it is split into three levels with the bottom one being nothing more than a cubby hole where you and a small group of friends could hide away. It’s done by the same people who ran Manero’s (now closed) and it’s just as cool with the same kind of ‘being in someone’s house’ vibe. But as there was only me, my friend and two other people in there when we went at 10pm on a Friday night, it rather lacked atmosphere. A girl and her mum turned up when we were halfway through our drinks but I would hesitate to guess that was it for the night.

It doesn’t help that it’s not near the other bars on Hackney Road – I expected it to be near Mr Buckley’s but it’s very much the Cambridge Heath end. Our cocktails were very nice and the sausage roll menu sounded delicious but we moved onto other pastures after just the one drink. That one drink being the Zabarella, a cardamom-infused tequila with lime juice, vanilla sugar syrup and pomegranate. An interesting blend – I don’t usually like cardamom that much but this was really nicely balanced. My friend had the special (I can't remember what it was called) which came with an ice lolly to dunk into the cocktail!

And I appreciated that the menu was short enough not to cause total choice paralysis, even though every cocktail sounded intriguing.
The Natural Philosopher Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Monday, October 5, 2015

Halloween 2015

Halloween is probably my favourite time of the year. It’s when all the freaks come out to play, and some of my favourite nights know this and take full advantage, putting on some of their best parties. I’m not going to go into detail on each of tese, but thought I would provide a quick run down of the parties that have taken my eye over the Halloween weekend.

Friday October 30th

A Curious Invitation's Theatre of Blood
Last Tuesday Society DanseMacabre 
ABQ Gus’s funeral (Dios de la Muerte theme)
Carousel do The Addams Family (burlesque, circus, dancing)

Saturday October 31st

White Mischief's Heaven and Hell Ball (cabaret, burlesque, steampunk)
To the Lazer Cave Sequin Zombie Lazer Rave (rave, electro, techno)
Regression Sessions Halloween Special (kidult games, all kinds of music)
Torture Garden (fetish, kink, electro)
End of the world party (all kinds of music)
Magic theatre (vintage, electro swing)
Dark Circus (cabaret with a darker theme)
RIP (rave, techno)
The Vaults Raveyard (cabaret, electro swing)
Found Horror Series: MayaJane Coles at Building Six (rave)
Sink the Pink (tranny galore!)
Once Upon a Time in the Afterlife (all sorts, Day of the Dead theme)

I’m going to the Curious Invitation event on Friday and the End of the World Party on Saturday as I haven’t done either of those before. But competition was fierce!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Resident of Paradise Row, 25th August

Just when I thought I was about to have visited every new place under the arches in Bethnal Green, another place opens up. That would be Paradise Garage, from the people behind The Dairy in Clapham and it is too expensive for me to be heading down there soon. So, I was at the other place with Paradise in its name – Resident. On a Tuesday evening it had a few people having a bite but wasn’t by any means busy. I think it deserves to be.

As it was my first time here I wanted to try a few things so we got a few dishes from the small plates selection. All of which sounded delicious but it was the fresh pea arancini with habanero sauce I had been fantasizing about all day so I had to have that. Our waiter told us it was a very good choice. Added to this I ordered the chorizo with rosemary pinto beans and we also got padron peppers, maris piper chips and a pork spring roll.

My date for the night proclaimed that arancini was in his top two favourite foods (along with mac and cheese) and so if anyone could judge whether these were on the money it was him. He declared they were great – very light and fluffy (but with a good crispy coating). I had expected the pea to be incorporated throughout rather than the actual odd pea here and there so was a little disappointed but they were tasty. The habanero sauce was in no way as fiery as I thought it would be but the habanero was discernible and we preferred dipping our chips in this to the ketchup we’d asked for. And the chips by the way were excellent. 
I hadn’t expected the chorizo dish to turn up the way it did but I cut it up and spooned it up with the beans. You can never go wrong with chorizo (or if you do someone is a very bad cook) so this was predictably delicious. 
Most impressive I think was the spring roll which contained actual chunks of pork and came with a really tasty soy-based dipping sauce. I would get this for myself another time.
House cocktails are only £6 but be warned that even though they do have a beer on tap, they still only give you a bottle-sized serving!

This is a great, laid back bar/restaurant that is perfect for stopping in for a few dishes to line your stomach for any drinking along Paradise Row later.
Resident of Paradise Row Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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