Saturday, 18 February 2017

April 2016 Digest

Our foodilic adventures around London continued in April, and we hadn't eaten our fill of pizza.
Princi is a well-known eatery in Milan (so well-known that we gave up trying to eat at the first Princi we came across because the line was far too long, and then Yannick slogged through the queue in the second branch, which was almost as long). As they had opened a branch in London, we figured that we'd soak up a bit of nostalgia for our days of travelling through Italy and pay Princi a visit. Though busy, we didn't have to wait long to order. We had a slice of marinara pizza and a tiny carafe of wine, which cost more than a larger carafe of wine and a whole pizza at Pizza Pilgrims! I could not be a bigger advocate for PP: they provide so much better value for money than many other places while serving excellent traditional Italian food.

Returning to south London, I attended the Brixton Vegan Fayre, where I stuffed my face on free samples and made some excellent purchases. Kizzy's Cookies are delicious, as of course are all products by the Nākd company (everything is made with a base of dates and nuts - no refined sugar or processed foods!), and I tried a spice paste that was designed to help those who wanted to whip up great curries without having to buy twenty different spices. I wasn't a fan of the chocolates that I bought. Instead, I recommend Vego Bar, which is a winner! (Dark chocolate is a different matter, and excellent vegan dark chocolate is easy to find, but milk or white chocolate is a different matter.)
For my second event of the month, I attended a quiz night at Veg Bar - a completely vegan bar that serves drinks and comfort food just south of Brixton in Tulse Hill. Our team wasn't doing particularly well until the bonus round, in which we had to name capital cities of the world based off very small photographs. As a well-travelled bunch, we got every single photo correct, and we won the quiz! Our prize was that we could each have a free drink. I traded in my free drink for a free brownie. Now, these brownies are indescribably good. Just to get you to the base level of understanding, I'll outline the flavours. Picture a beautifully moist, chocolaty brownie. This brownie is already the bomb. Now, it has salted caramel sauce swirled through it. But that's not all. Now the brownie is cut in half horizontally and peanut butter is slathered in between the two brownie layers like a crazy sandwich. You might be thinking that salted caramel and peanut butter don't mix, because I used to think the same thing, but you would be dead wrong. Best brownie in the world. Someone else didn't cash in their free prize drink so I got a second brownie (I finished it through tears of pain and joy - this brownie was so rich that it was a real struggle to eat two).

Moving on from our Putney house sit, we had our first proper taste of north London in the form of North Finchley. We were looking after two cats, Kevin and Keeno, in a house I can only describe as "delightful". The decor was so bright and cheery, and I made good use of the hammock in the back garden; such good use that one day I fell asleep there while listening to an audiobook and developed a moderate sunburn.

Keeno was the slender cat who ate all the time, whereas Kevin was the chubster. Strangely enough, Kevin would eat so quickly that he threw up at least once a day, so we were a bit baffled as to how he maintained such a high weight.

Our room had a cute map-covered table right next to an airy window overlooking the street. I drank a lot of tea there. Delightful.

The area was much more green and lush than what we had seen of London until then. It was in Zone 4 of the Transport for London map (central is Zone 1-2), but still only took around half an hour to reach central London by tube (aka the metro, aka the underground, aka the subway).
During April, both Yannick and I attended interviews in an attempt to find employment, which worked wonderfully for him and not so well for me. I'm sure with more time I would have found a job, but we quickly realised that rent in London is ridiculously expensive and how great would it be if we could continue house sitting instead of having to share a flat with strangers in cramped conditions? I could work on my writing and care for the animals instead of working full-time, and we would have a place completely to ourselves while the owners were on holiday. With Yannick working, we could still afford food and creature comforts while saving for our next bout of travel. It was perfect!

My third event of the month was the Awakening Compassion Demonstration: a non-confrontational way to publicly advocate animal rights. Many of us stood with signs showing different animals that said things like "I am an animal. Someone, not something. I want to stay alive." The demo was to get people thinking about why they would love one animal (like a dog or a horse) and eat another (like a pig or a deer). It was a great experience, though it was cut a bit short by the downpour that sent us fleeing for the nearest tube stations in the late afternoon.

One day, Yannick and I decided to visit the Natural History Museum, but for some reason the entrance was flooded with an insensible number of children. Avoiding the noisy terrors, we popped next door to the Science Museum. Perhaps we were a bit put out by that time, however, as we weren't particularly interested in most of the exhibits except for a stunning collection of pocket watches. So shiny! An area nearby the museums was allegedly the French Quarter of London, so we had a wander around. Apart from Pret A Manger and Le Pain Quotidien, which are chains found in abundance all over the city, there was almost nothing to signify any Frenchness. We ended up having lunch at Franco Manca, the sourdough Neapolitan pizza chain that comes in second place to PP. Oddly, the marinara was of a much higher quality than at the first Franco Manca we had visited on Broadway Market. It was nearly comparable with PP's marinara! However, the wine selection was the same as our first visit so we didn't bother, knowing it to be gross.

Yannick had quickly secured a new job, so while we still had weekdays free we ventured to the Spanish island of Mallorca for just over a week to get away from big city life. You can read about our adventures in Palma and Soller here