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Salmon & Noodles with Orange & Ginger

Friday night, you come home from work and you think...let's have something wholesome for dinner that won't blow the weighing-scales tomorrow morning! 
It all takes about 20 minutes to make too...and your tummy will be happy with hints of orange, ginger and chili!


Ingredients for two people: 
 
2 big pieces of salmon
2 tablespoons of olive oil 
3cm of ginger
2 oranges
salt & pepper
For the noodles: 
150gr medium egg noodles (uncooked)
4 big handfuls of kale
2 teaspoons of sesame seeds
2 tablespoons of sesame oil
2 tablespoons of soya sauce
one red chili , finely chopped
 
Start with the salmon: wash and dry the pieces to wash off any scales that might be left on the skin. Rub the salmon pieces with the olive oil and place in a small deep frying pan, skin side down. Grate the ginger over the two pieces of salmon. Now grate the orange peel of one of the oranges over the salmon too. Salt and pepper to taste. 


Bring the frying pan over the smallest burner on your hob, cover it with a lid and let it cook for 10 minutes at very low heat. The idea is that you create steam rather than fry the salmon. This will enhance the ginger and orange flavours too. 
 
In the meanwhile do eight salutations to the sun. Nothing to do with preparing dinner, it's just the only time I got during the day to stretch out a bit! True story! 

 
Boil some salted water and cook the noodles for about 4 minutes, or whatever it says on the packet. Don't over-cook them though! Drain them straight away and set aside for a moment. 
 
Put the kale leaves in a wide pan and fry them until they start getting crispy, if you use a small pan the steam will make the kale go soggy. What you want is a dry pan, no oil, no water! After two minutes grate over the kale the peel from the second orange and scatter around the sesame seeds and the red chili. Dry fry until the sesame seeds go golden and take off the heat. 

Use the same pan you used to boil the noodles, discard all the water and add the sesame oil, juice of the two oranges and the soya sauce. Warm up this fragrant liquid slightly, for less than 1 minute and then toss the drained noodles in. 
No need to cook it further. If the noodles aren't overcooked to start with, they will instantly absorb all lovely flavours from the orange, smokiness from the sesame oil and saltiness from the soya sauce.   
 
Finally, tip the noodles into the kale and toss around quickly, you want to avoid the steam softening down the kale. 

 
Serve the noodles in a big dish, crowning it with the lovely piece of salmon. Voila! x

London nights: Peckham

Did the invite say Peckham? Well, it did!
Off we went to celebrate our dear friend's birthday: half of us excited about visiting the area for the first time and the other half a bit dubious about distance, location, crowd...you know how people get in their old age of over-thirties!
First stop: Frank's!
I was actually really looking forward to this place because of the promised view. Well, you drive into the car park next to Peckham Rye station. Drive up all the way, park up, get out and walk another two floors up and here you are: Frank's rooftop Café with a 360 degree view of London!
The setting is simple: long tables and benches, a red tent to cover the bar area...and a net to prevent you from jumping off! It was really busy but it's so spread out that you don't quite feel it...until you need a drink and then you have to penetrate multiple rows of fun loving people to get to the front of the bar. Where did all these people come from? It was so quite downstairs at the entrance of the car park!  

It got a bit windy after 8ish, but do try to catch the sunset, it's a gorgeous spot for it. You have a unique view of the City of London's new skyline, with the Shard, Heron Tower and even St Paul's dome on the left and then to the right you have the good old Dockland's outline.

The crowd was a very laid back mix of ...everybody! No fancy-schmancy pretentious looks, just good old Londoners of all ages, ok maybe up to early forties.
Verdict: If it was a bit closer for me to get to, I'd be back! Oh! And it closes at 11pm!
No it's not a spa. It's actually a bar/art-space under the railway arches!
It's what Shoreditch used to be ten years ago: a hip, raw, arty place.

Bar Story on the left, with it's rough interior, graffiti  and little patio out the back and the arty Peckham Springs on the right. When we were out in the patio, it was all very whimsical and low lit, so I looked up above the arches and saw people standing around in what looked like offices; I thought to myself...who works that late on a Saturday night?
And then the "office" started moving for me to figure out that...it was actually the tube! 


Frozen Margaritas in paper cups, Prosseco on tap and street food galore: Frankfurters, hot dogs and sauerkraut. Yu-mmey!

Word of advice: hold it in till you go home, the loos are...well...rough!

Third stop: The Montpellier!

We walked in as the DJ  was playing funky versions of 90's songs. We got there around 11:30 and although it's a pub really, it had more of a bar feel to it because of the DJ. Can't go wrong if you fancy a little boogie with no entrance fees!
This pub also has a "backroom cinema", currently renovated, promising a September comeback with classier, comfier surroundings...if you go let me know how it looks!

Here's what I've noticed lately: people don't move outside their little part of the city. Last time I told my friends to go to Shoreditch it was a "no no".  Is it an age thing? Is it the same in other big cities? I think so.  
This night in Peckham did remind me that after 15 years in London, this city still keeps more secrets from me - and that makes me happy in a way! x

Weekend in Dorset - Mudeford Sandbanks

I've been holding off writing this post, because I wanted to bring you sunshine when the weather wouldn't be so good any more. But I can't hold it off any longer, I wanted to give you the chance to visit this wonderful place next Bank Holiday weekend, if you have nothing else planned!
 

Mudeford Beach lies where the two rivers (Avon & Stour) that unite at Christchurch, meet the English Channel. As such the beach is split in two. 

One side, Mudeford Beach and Quay are easily accessible by car. They boast the riverfront Christchurch Harbour Hotel , where we had dinner that same evening, watching the moonlight float on the calm waters of the naturally formed harbour.


The other side is Mudeford Sandbanks, it can be reached by a 5-minute ferry ride from Mudeford Quay or by a land-train from Hengistbury Head Car park.  
We opted for the ferry and it was such a inexplicable thrill getting there. It's so close, you could practically swim across to the Sandbanks, if it wasn't for the  strong current forcing the river waters out in the open sea. 
 


And yet, the idea that you are dependant on the weather to get back home, or buy groceries makes it seem so isolated and wild. I actually think we are not used to planning ahead any more, so the idea of bringing along all the necessities, is kind of daunting.
Especially when you start thinking about what constitutes as "necessities"...
 
Fact: the beach huts are some of the most expensive in the country! No electricity, no toilet, no running water...we were wondering why people would spend all this money to stay there. 
Slowly and surely we got our answer. First of all ,there is a beach restaurant, right where the ferry drops you off. So if you run out of food and drink, you are sorted! Also, amongst the huts there are public toilets and showers every so often, so you don't need to worry about personal hygiene either - just bear in mind that walking is involved, if you happen to need the loo in the middle of the night! 
The huts are bigger than they look and with very clever interiors, they accommodate up to 4 people to sleep. They all have little kitchenettes in the corner, with gas cylinders for cooking but the best part is BBQ, off course. We were still there around seven in the evening and the place couldn't have been more alive. The side facing the Channel is windier but calmer in terms of noise and people. The other side, facing Christchurch Harbour catches the last sunlight and is a bit busier.
 
Groups of friends, complete with kiddies, doggies and beers were firing up the barbies, tickling our noses dangerously. Shall we go and introduce ourselves? In other huts groups of younger boys and girls were winding down after a full day's windsurfing and jet skiing on the beach with their perfect tans, watching movies on their laptops...see this place works for everyone!

This did not look like England! I keep saying that...
It's so funny that although I've travelled around the south English coast a lot, it never fails to impress me. It makes me wonder why people go abroad so much? Well, the weather is the obvious answer, but sunny days down here are spectacular!


Time to catch the ferry back... thankfully just as the sun was setting.
We caught a marvellous sunset at the far end of the harbour, with the waters turning orangey and the youngsters still sailing around in their speedboats. 

I thought everybody would be flocking to the ferry but  no one was moving. People were still outside their huts, chatting, drinking, joking...a very relaxed atmosphere.
 
You guessed right: we reeeeeeealy didn't want to go.
But we've decided to bring all of our friends down from London for a day fully and appropriately spent on this beach! x

Inspiration: Ballet Romance

Nine years of my childhood were spent following the Royal Ballet School's curriculum, nine years of pure joy! 
Ballet is all about hard work, discipline and elegance, all at the same time. Good values to follow throughout life, if you ask me. 
It's also about soft nude ballet shoes and cosy wraps that keep you warm in the middle of the winter, when you are practising. 

So, I got so excited when I saw Victoria's Secret ballet-inspired line. I thought I'd share it with you...


My absolute favourite is the Ballerina Gown, I wouldn't dare wear it in public off course; but I can see someone like Charlize Theron turning up on the red carpet looking absolutely ethereal...

I guess, I'd go for the Wrap Sweater, so much easier to wear and also quite versatile. x 

Weekend in Dorset - Christchurch

How often do you have a weekend break that makes you feel far far away from reality? 
Well, we've just had one of those, just one night away from home and we came back completely...well... happy! 
Believe me, I don't utter this word that often any more, it's normally "stressed", "tense", "busy" or a hopeful "fine"!



I've had my eye on Christchurch for a while. It's lodged right where rivers Stour and Avon meet. The result is a cute little town where waterways pop up around every corner and people sit on benches by the river watching the herds of fish go by!
The Quay is broad enough to make you think you are out in the open sea. Not that the sea is far away, five minutes drive (or boat ride) down the road (or the river) and you'll find yourself in the trending Mudeford Sandbanks! More on that on my next post though.



We stayed at the King's Arms hotel, one of the two boutique hotels in town. The other one, the Captain's Club, is up the river and looks more modern. We were in the mood for easy-going, country charm so we opted for the King's Arms. Just bear in mind that this is a listed building and the loft rooms get quite warm in a sunny summer day. I'm sure that come autumn or spring they'd be perfect to escape the chilly air. The restaurant here is quite popular with the locals too!

There is no direct outdoor space, but across the road, the old bowling green - complete with a whitewashed clubhouse that usually accommodates wedding parties - belongs to the hotel and you can catch the sun there; 
even better grab a book and go sit in the old Norman house ruins, which are also part of the hotel's outdoor space, next to the river, to escape the world. No fees to pay, no guards to stop you.

The hotel is very conveniently located in the centre of the town and you can forget about your car once you arrive here:
Take the green pathway across the road, past the old Norman house ruins, go under the ivy tunnel frequented by newlyweds and loved up couples,  look up at the sun hiding behind the impressive structure of the Priory and discover river Avon running down to the harbour.
It's  all very tranquil and takes you right down to the old Mill, by the quay-side.


In the mid-afternoon the bandstand by the Quay accommodated live band performances and the whole town had camped around it, on the grass, chilling out in the sun.
It was a free event and the whole town was mingling in a very relaxed atmosphere.
We just couldn't stay away from the sea though, so we drove down to Mudeford Quay and caught the ferry to the Sandbanks...oh boy, heaven!



Back in Christchurch you will find the Boathouse, a nice restaurant where you can have your evening meal overlooking Christchurch Quay. We couldn't get a table there unfortunately, as I refused to book in advance, this was our rebelling chilled out weekend! 


So, off we went to the Christchurch Harbour Hotel, in Mudeford for dinner. It was a bit more formal than what I would have liked, but the food was splendid. I had a lovely, light dish: sole wrapped around salmon mousse with the most velvety potato puree ever!  After dinner we walked down to the river to catch the moon dancing on the still waters. Mesmerising! 




Sunday morning was bathed in sun light! Around 6 o'clock, I could see the top of the Priory from our bedroom window, lit up by pink and orangey sunshine. 
Big breath, this is going to be a good Sunday. 


After breakfast we went for a stroll in the bowling green across the hotel and took a bit of time to examine the Norman house ruins.
Doves and pigeons were nesting in every single wall cavity, if you took the time to observe quietly.
The river run right on the side of the outer walls and a private quay would have accommodated boats loaded with wool and supplies from the north. Don't forget river Avon runs through Shakespearean Stratford country!




We loved Christchurch and we would have stayed longer but! 
Lunch reservation at the Pig-on-the-beach awaited! I cannot tell you how excited we both were to discover the new Piggy venture! Oh no wait, I've already told you! x

The Pig on the Beach, Dorset


Oh how I love this place!
I planned our whole weekend in Dorset around a visit to this little Piggy.
A couple of years ago we stumbled across its' big sister, the Pig in the New Forest and I have not let go of that feeling of homely hospitality, great food and relaxed setting with the big swing in the garden.
And when I realised that there is another piggy around, I made it our mission to go check it out!
 

It was a mission alright!
We set off from Christchurch on Sunday morning, sunny day, clear skies, "we should be there in less than an hour", we thought!
We didn't realise that the route involved the Poole-Swanage ferry.
"That's great on a sunny day", you are thinking.
Well, the queue at Sandbanks was more than a mile long and we ended up waiting for an hour and a half for the shortest crossing in the world: less than five minutes from shore to shore!
 
 

Arriving at the Pig-on-the-beach made everything fade away....the old building looked like a gingerbread house with its' little towers and a dozen chimneys popping up over the roof.
Big smiles, we just wanted to run around and explore..."restrain yourself dear, you are not six"! 

The garden at the back has an amazing view over Studland Bay, Old Harry's Rocks and the white cliffs of the Isle of White.
The air was so crisp and clear, perfect spot to set up our Sunday lunch camp.

Now, if you have read the post about the Pig in the New Forest you would know that we were here for the Scotch Eggs and the cocktails!
But I didn't see them on the menu, so we asked.
Well, they are called Hock Eggs. Aaah now we're taking! They were crispy on the outside, with the slightly salty and flaky hock hugging the sweetest quail egg, finished with a smooth Coleman's dressing. 
 

A sip of  our marmalade-gin potion, happy days!
Oh, the cocktails! Not only they are refreshing and smooth but the best part is that they come in all kinds of jugs, tumblers and jars hence, we love them!
Presentation is important and toying with people's childhood memories does the trick for a pleasant meal. 

We had slow-roast pork as a main, with all the lovely trimmings, wiggly carrots, crispy roasts and puffed up Yorkshires.
The menu is proudly sourced within 25 miles of the restaurant, and you do get a map on the back of your menu with all of the suppliers locally. It allows for smaller, quality producers to keep going, without the need for mass production, nice touch! 


We spent a good two hours over lunch and drinks, soaking in the sunshine and the view, but we desperately needed to move around a bit, after sitting in the car earlier for so long.

The path just off the garden takes you down closer to the beach and you soon realise that this corner of the bay is a secluded spot for all kinds of motorboats and yachts and sailboats, even canoes! People were swimming in the shallow waters and I wish I hadn't eaten so much or I would jump in with my clothes on.
 

On the way down you pass some old-fashioned gypsy wagons that serve as guest rooms and treatment rooms!  
And if you look around there are a couple of perfectly round structures with thatched roofs, resembling Smurf's houses, they are also guest rooms!


We really didn't want to leave, but we had a long drive back home; it took four and a half hours instead of three even though we avoided the ferry this time!
The whole world seemed to be in Dorset this weekend!
 
By the time we got back from our walk they had lit the fire in the fireplace and were getting some amazing cakes out for afternoon tea. 
No it wasn't the tea we were craving, just the lovely atmosphere and tranquillity, it felt like a million miles away from everyday life; then again, weekend mission accomplished! x
 
Now, pay attention: Just for January & February 2016 you can have lunch for £20pp, using this little code right here: LUNCH2016. I just got it in a newsletter and thought I'd share the hungry love!
© Life Love London

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