Wednesday 27 October 2010

Bi Bim Bap

So I tried this place next to Adagio and near Mooli's today. It looked quite appealing when I passed it previously on account of having an interesting name. It was called Bi Bim Bap, in case you couldn't guess from the title.

So what's Bi Bim Bap? Well apparently it's the Korean national dish. Basically a stir fry that arrives in a hot stone bowl that you have to mix up yourself. I was intreagued, and the vast array of photos of happy customers on the wall instilled confidence.

The price was a little high for a lunch, but I thought I might as well try it.

Unfortunately the delivery was not as good.

Service seemed fine to begin with, and I was presented with my food in a large round stone bowl, but it basically looked like they had just thrown the ingredients of a stir fry in and I was supposed to finish cooking it using the supplied sauces (chili and miso I think). So far so good I thought.

Except that it kept cooking for ages. I couldn't put the stuff in my mouth without burning, but time was limited and I couldn't wait for another 20 minutes to let it cool down.

It was rather tasty at first, but it kept cooking and the rice got stickier and sticker as time went by. It took a while to finish and the serving size was good, but when it came to paying I had a problem. I wanted to pay by card but apparently there's a minimum charge of £10 to pay by card, so they added 50p to the price. My Bi Bim Bap and a diet coke cost me £9.05 which is not very good value compared to a burrito or even a Mooli.

What's worse is, upon leaving the restaurant I could feel something not right with my teeth. It seemed the sticky rice was stuck to it. No wait, this didn't feel normal. I've had stuff stuck to my teeth before. OH MY GOD THIS FOOD HAS DISSOLVED A PART OF MY TEETH. Yes that's right. I am not sure whether it was the combination of cold diet coke and hot food, but I have a corroded leading edge along my teeth where I was mostly chewing the food. I tried gum but all that did was confirm the corrosion.



I don't care if this place has hundreds of happy customers. I am not one of them. This is the first time food has given me instant, permanent damage.

Upon further investigation, it's started to wear down now from eating other food, but one tooth is still pretty bad. I think it's actually a chipped tooth that's chipped at an unfortunate angle, but regardless, it still came from Bi Bim Bap :(

Thursday 21 October 2010

Pain train to Rayners Lane

Last night, Jason and I attended a Stephen Hawking lecture. I merely had standing tickets however Jason was living it up with high society on a comfy seat somewhere in the auditorium. The standing section is too far away to accurately spit at people below, so I thought it best not to. I didn't see him at the end of the lecture and he hasn't got to the office yet, so I can only assume he was consumed by a black hole. Perhaps the animations on the screen were not just animations. Has physics really come this far? Well according to Professor Hawking, it may well have. He talked about his new book which shall remain un-named, and M-theory that is a collection of other theories that all overlap eachother, and go some way to explaining the origins of the universe. This is big news. I remember my A-Level physics teacher Mr Roy Woodworth getting rather excited in 1993 at the prospect of such a Grand Unified Theory, and later at University my Astronomy lecturer Professor Raman Prinja getting equally excited. If only I was as passionate about physics, I might have made something of myself and had my own constant. One that wasn't related to burritos in any way, shape or form.
The lecture was rather good, if a little difficult to understand. Professor Hawking's speech synthesiser is clearly not designed for the Royal Albert Hall, and the echo made it difficult to hear, if not understand.
I was proud to have been there for what could well be the last lecture he ever gives.

Why the pain train to Rayners Lane, you may ask? Well in order to get to the Royal Albert Hall, Jason and I had to take the Picadilly line tube from Holborn. Unfortunately when we got there, we were confronted with what seemed to be a mini black hole of people. It was incredibly dense and we were unable to get into the station, so I boldly decided that we would walk to Covent Garden and take the train from there. The walk itself was rather pleasant, but we foolishly decided to take the stairs which, with the health and safety colour scheme of the steps, made us rather dizzy and confused. We then managed to get on the train, and proceeded to get squashed by all manner of people. It's been a while since I took the tube at rush hour, and I am sure women never used to press their entire bodies against me before. At least I hope it was a woman. I was too scared to turn around and look.

Now, not meaning to make this blog post read like a choose your own adventure book, but I ought to write about what happened in between the pain train to Rayners Lane and the lecture. We had intended to eat at Da Mario, a great little Italian restaurant on Gloucester Road. The food here is great, the service is good and the prices low. The restaurant is spoiled only by a cheesy painting of Princess Diana being served a pizza by Mario himself. Apparently she used to like this place.
Unfortunately last night they had a party booking for a 4 year-old child and we were told we could only sit downstairs. This would not have been a problem were it not for the fact that downstairs smelt like a rotten dishcloth and made me feel a bit sick. We went to Il Borgo next door instead, and in restrospect, I probably should have put up with the smell. Unlike Da Mario, Il Borgo is overpriced, slightly below mediocre and the service is terrible.

But the lecture made it all ok :)

Wednesday 20 October 2010


I have 3 followers on my blog. Not many I know, and I am friends with 2 of them.

Lou, whoever you are, I salute you sir, for I do not know you, yet you still follow my blog.

Thank you :)

The blog post with no title

Why is there no title? Simple really, I couldn't think of one for my current post (or rant if you prefer).

So last night I went for a curry with some colleagues. This was a good thing, everyone was happy, but I deliberately left my cycling gloves in the office as my jacket has nowhere to put them. Who makes jackets with no inside pocket (well, Levi Strauss does), and more importantly, why?? And what idiot buys such a jacket in the first place? (Me, that's who). It is a very cool looking jacket though.

Anyway, lack of cycling gloves meant finger freeze on the way home yesterday, and again on the way to work. It's taken me an hour to thaw out before I can even type this, and I made coffee for everyone this morning just to warm up my hands!

And this isn't even the reason for my post. I've forgotten what the real reason was. Oh yeah! Tonight I'm going to the Royal Albert Hall to hear a lecture from Professor Stephen Hawking. I've never read any of his books, but I've heard he's quite clever :)

Monday 18 October 2010

Burrito Fail III, IV and V

Yes that's right. 3 (Three) burrito fails in less than 24 hours.

How so, you may ask?

Well it started yesterday. Kinga was still in Poland so I had nobody to brunch with. Lost and confused I decided a burrito would solve all my problems and stopped at Tortilla in Southwark for what was to be my saviour. Unfortunately the place was closed, and I had to go to Pret instead. That was Burrito Fail III.

Today saw Burrito Fails IV and V. Jason, my esteemed colleague, had some vouchers for Chilango for free burritos. We'd been putting off using them for a while, but today we finally decided to trek to Fleet Street to collect our prize (well, his prize, but I was sharing the glory). Unfortunately upon our arrival we found Chilango was closed! Disaster! We were stuck, unsure what to do next. Following a crude sign pointing to an alternative source of burritos (which was a sandwich shop not worth our time) we happened upon another branch of Caffé Vergnano 1882. I have not written about Vergnano before, but they have good coffee. My lovely Roman friends say it's the best they've had in London, and they are fussy coffee drinkers. We tried walking past but couldn't resist temptation (sirens of Lantana, eat your hearts out), and proceeded to wander aimlessly in search of burrito nutrition. We then found what appeared to be a combined burrito falafel venture called La Mexicana or something, but on further investigation found it to be displeasing. This in itself was not a burrito fail, however at this point my Daddy Donkey proximity warning activated. Yes that's right, we were within 250m of Daddy Donkey. So that's where we went. It was almost as if I knew there was going to be another burrito fail. Could this be the beginning of the end? A burrito catastrophe of biblical proportions? Possibly.

The queue for Daddy Donkey was not as long as usual. This was the first warning, though the place still smelt like Mexico so we were full of hope. We got our burritos (smaller than usual, another concern) and this is where Burrito Fail V took place. Yes that's right folks, Burrito Fail used in the same paragraph as Daddy Donkey. The burrito, whilst finely constructed, was assembled inconsistently. Instead of an even combination of succulent chicken, rice, sour cream, cheese and beans, I first had the bland taste of all the rice at one end, followed by the chicken, followed by (in Jason's words) a face full of sour cream, followed by all the chilli sauce and beans together at the end. Strangely, by the end of the burrito I could taste the excellence (largely due to the chilli sauce), but it was still a fail. Fail fail fail. Daddy Donkey falls at least 3 places in the Burrito ranking.

So who's number 1? Well Chipotle still charge £1.40 for guacamole despite much protest, and I found out the other day that in New York it's the same price ($2). So.... Benito's Hat is the new Daddy.

Here is my current ranking:

1. Benito's Hat - Benito's Hat will one day be so big it overshadows all other burritos.
2. Chilango - Chill and go :)
2. Chipotle - If BMW made Burritos, they would be Chipotles.
4. Tortilla - They are rapidly expanding so they must be doing something right!
5. Daddy Donkey - Sadly no longer the daddy of donkeys.
5. El Burrito - Given that this place is run by Mestizo, it should be much higher in the list!
7. Mas Burritos - The problem with these is that they aren't mas. They are really stingy on fillings :(
8. Burro Burrito (not my ranking, placed there by the New York chapter of the International Burrito League, and ahead of 1910 because KFC make a better burrito with the Zinger Twister than them).
9. 1910 Mexican Kitchen
10. Mexicali - I didn't think it was possible to make a burrito worse than 1910, but Mexicali manage it, and then some.

Still haven't managed to try Burrito Bros yet... but on looking at their website it looks like they do free local delivery on orders over £10. I wonder if our office is local :o

Thursday 14 October 2010

Moolis are not Burritos

I tried Mooli's today.

It's like an Indian burrito without the rice and beans. Or an Indian schwarma without the garlic sauce.

What did I think? Well it was quite tasty but it's no burrito and it's no schwarma. I'd rather have a burrito or a schwarma any day. Except when I don't want either of those or a pizza, in which case a mooli will make an acceptable substitute. This was largely down to the ratio of meat to vegetables. There wasn't enough meat and many vegetables were used to fill up the volume of an already small parcel.

In my burrito ranking it would be placed just above Mas Burritos and 1910 Mexican Kitchen, meaning I'd rather have a mooli than a burrito from either of those places.

Give them a try - you might like them :)

Italy hates me

I have a bad history with Italy. It started the first time I ever visited, when I accidentally walked down the wrong side of a mountain and had to find my way to the other side. I accept full responsibility for this, but Italy has punished me severely over the years for this mistake.
The next time I visited Italy, I spent 3 days trying to get the button-lift of doom across the border on my snowboard. I triumphantly made it without falling off and that very morning I had a nasty fall, which resulted in a bone bruise. What is a bone bruise, you may wonder? Well it's like when tempered safety glass shatters. It keeps its shape but is full of cracks. It's as painful as a broken ankle, but takes years to heal, and still hurts to this day.

You'd have thought I'd have learnt that Italy is best avoided by now, but I returned there once again a few years later for more punishment. I should have been suspicious when the customs dog decided it liked the smell of my ski bag. They held me at the airport for at least an hour while they opened everything in my packed bags and checked it for drugs, constantly asking if I'm sure I don't take drugs. Of course I don't take drugs, and if I wanted to smuggle them into Italy there are far easier ways (like by car, where there are no borders to cross, or by snowboard on the button lift of doom). Anyway, they finally let me go and I proceeded to my snowboarding holiday. A few days in, I said to my accompanying friends while navigating the Sella Ronda, that it's not really a holiday for me unless I have an adventure. 2 hours later I fell off the side of the piste and broke my back. I had to go to hospital, be flown home on a stretcher and wear a back brace for 2 months, and had 10 weeks away from work. It was quite painful, and I still have back pains from time to time as well as a twist in my hip.

Maybe I should have learnt my lesson at this point too, but no. I had to go to Rome for my birthday. No sooner had I arrived than I contracted some kind of evil Italian stomach bug. As soon as I ate or drank anything, within 5 minutes I had to run to the nearest toilet and what followed was some kind of nuclear reaction in my digestive tract. This would not have been so much of a problem were it not for the fact that no men's toilet in Rome is equipped with a toilet seat or toilet paper. I don't think I need to go into any more detail. Just as I started to feel better after 5 days, I went for a swim in the sea, and contracted an ear infection which upon my return to London, knocked me out for about 2 weeks. Great.

I really had learnt my lesson by this point. No more trips to Italy planned any time soon... but I still like Pizza and Pasta, and Ferraris. So I bought an Alfa Romeo. This lasted a short time but unfortunately I lent it to a friend and the engine blew up, and I had to scrap the car.
So at this point Italy had tried to destroy my limbs, my back, it had tried to destroy me from the inside out via my stomach, and it had tried to make my head explode. Now it was trying to destroy me financially.

But I still didn't give up. Following a trouble-free (ok, the only trouble was a train problem that forced us to take a taxi instead) week of skiing with a lovely Italian friend of mine, I decided I was ready to reconcile with Italy. As a result I am the proud owner of a Ducati Monster motorcycle. I really like this bike. It's brand new and until recently, was rather shiny. I was wary that Italy may return to haunt me but all was going well until day before yesterday, when in conjunction with a patch of sand in the road, I slipped over and fell. So now my shiny new Ducati which hasn't even been in for its first service yet is rather broken. I priced up original replacement parts for the bike and the total cost comes to around half the price of the bike, which is odd considering they are just ancillary components that are broken. Oh, and the first time I took it to the car wash they sprayed acid all over it, leaving nasty permanent marks all over the aluminium Sad smile

So now begins my Monster customisation project. It's going to be cheaper for me to buy cool aftermarket bits than it is to buy original Ducati, and it will end up looking loads better.

After that I think I'll part exchange it for a BMW... The only thing the Germans ever did to me was break my watch, and they already repaired that for free.

Monday 4 October 2010

Tube Strike

I have no idea what the strike is about.

My guess is it's either pay or holidays, or maybe they are upset that people have to be made redundant because they shouldn't have been hired in the first place.

So this morning as expected there was lots of traffic, everyone was complaining on facebook about the tube and there were more bicycles on the road than usual. I was pleasantly surprised to see a BMW bicycle. These are quite rare because they cost so much, and well, who wants a BMW bicycle? What was nice though was that this bicycle was well used by its owner. It was covered in mud and the tyres were completely worn out. Good show :)

I tried a new restaurant last night. It was called Zaza's and it's opened next to Whitechapel Mosque. It's very similar to Mirch Masala and Tayyab's in format, so quite familiar. I have to say the food wasn't as good but it was a little bit cheaper. Score. And the chilli sauce they give you with the poppadums was awesome. I couldn't get enough of it! Good service too, but don't think it's good enough to pull me away from Mirch Masala which is my usual haunt. Yes, I do eat something other than burritos...