Yelly Writes

Duvet days

Sometimes it’s just what it is.  I am unwell and I need time away from everything.

Sometimes all you need is time in bed.

Yelly Eats

Celebration plate!

I love Southern food.  I think it’s because I did stay in Atlanta with my relatives for an extended period of time.  I loved it when I had my first taste of collard greens and ham hock.  I loved it when someone served sweet potato mash.  I loved the pies too…especially pecan pie.

So to me, Southern soul food, proper Southern fried chicken is a dish to be served when one is celebrating something.  So I decided that I needed to serve a very Southern plate on a very special day: Easter!

Celebration plate

For Easter lunch, I made Southern fried chicken, coleslaw, biscuits (they’re like savoury scones) and sausage gravy.

Yum!

Yelly Snaps

Monochrome

I find that this happens to me all the time whilst on a London jaunt.  You walk around this amazingly modern city, with all the sky scrapers built with metal and glass and then you turn a corner and find something that takes you back in time.

Verde & Company Ltd is a fine foods store just a hop, skip and jump (aka just across the street) from Spitalfields market.  It’s Georgian front is indicative of the Aladdin’s cave of food to be had inside!

Verde & Company Ltd

Yelly Snaps

Pretty Harwich Town

I am guilty of complaining about the little seaside town that I live in.  I find myself complaining about how quiet it is, how dead it can be during the weekend and how annoying the dog owners are.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love dogs and think they make the most amazing pets BUT there seem to be a lot of irresponsible dog owners.  If you intend to walk your dog and you allow your dog to relieve themselves, PICK UP AFTER YOUR DOG!  Right.  That’s me off my soapbox.  This is, after all, a post about the unappreciated good things about Harwich, Essex, England.

2012-06-04 17.00.39Harwich is at the very northern end of the Mayflower Line.  It boasts a lot of historical snippets dating back to Roman Times.  There are a lot of notable names connected to Harwich: Captain Christopher Jones, the captain of the Mayflower, lives in Harwich; Samuel Pepys, the famous English diarist, was a member of Parliament for Harwich, Captain Charles Fryatt, who is a First World War lived and was buried in Harwich; and my personal fun fact favourite, apparently, Clive Owen lives near Harwich (haha!).

Captain Christopher Jones' houseThere are a suprising number of little historical corners in Harwich: Captain Christopher Jones’s house (apart from being captain of the Mayflower, he was a quarter owner of the Mayflower as well); several notable lighthouses dating back to the early 1800s, as Harwich was a notable port and it was where the Royal Navy Dockyard was established; the Harwich Redoubt Fort, which was a circular stronghold built to defend England against the Napoleonic invasion; it also has the old Electric Palace, one of England’s oldest purpose-built cinemas still surviving and functional.

Redoubt FortI’ve always loved my little seaside town, my home away from home.  I like to say it’s where I properly grew up, because I learned to live and depend on myself and not my parents.  I love the little interesting nooks and crannies of this little town and it breaks my heart that some of the people who live here don’t seem to care enough about their town to keep it pretty and clean.  We all have to have pride of place, to be proud of our quaint little town because it is significant and important historically.

Harwich sunsets

Yelly Eats

BIRD is not the word

Given the choice between beef, poultry, pork and seafood, I would choose poultry over pork, then seafood then beef.  Beef is probably the best source of protein, but I would chicken over most meats any day.

In the last quarter of 2014, I wrote about my Chicken Bucket List.  It was a list of up-and-coming places to eat that specialised in chicken that I wanted to try (the London food scene is alive, well, vibrant and varied!).  I must admit, the underlying criteria was that the places needed to serve some sort of Southern fried chicken-style dish.

It was their claim that they “served the best free range fried chicken you’ve ever tasted” that drew me to wanting to try their food.  I mean it’s a very brave and bold claim certainly.  The people at Bird must trust their food that much to make that sweeping generalisation.

I went to the Shoreditch restaurant and got there fairly early (I had misjudged how quick it was to walk from Liverpool Street station to the Shoreditch location – clearly I did walk faster than I thought).  So anyway, I was cool with having to wait outside and sit on the benches situated outside the restaurant.  It was fine.  Besides, Shoreditch is a very interesting place and there will always be something to see.

Bird ShoreditchSo when the restaurant finally opened (nearly 45 minutes later than what was on the doors), my tummy was rumbling excitedly.  I love Southern fried chicken, and while I cannot claim to be an expert, my Spit and Roast-inspired buttermilk fried chicken is really good.  Bird was one of the very few places at the time that served chicken and waffles.  I was hoping to get gravy and maple syrup.

More Bird spaceThe space was okay.  Nothing too styled, it was clean and not cramped, if a little dimly lit (it was located right next to a bridge, almost under it, so I wasn’t expecting a space awash with light!).  The decor was kitschy but cute, with framed caricatures of chickens.

Bird SpaceThe staff were nice enough, seating us in one of the table-chairs-banquette spaces that was nearer the Bird doughnut hatch, on the left side of the restaurant.  It was quiet and I loved the fact that it was the quieter side of the room.  I was ready for a relatively spiritual experience.  After all, we were talking about chicken and waffles here!  So orders (from slightly smudged menus) were taken and I ordered what I came to order: fried chicken and waffles (I was disappointed that it didn’t come with gravy as I’d wished, but that was my fault because I didn’t check out the menu online before I went.  They didn’t have any gravy on the menu).

Bird menuThe service was friendly and efficient and soon, plates of chicken pieces and fresh waffles were slide in front of us.  I’m not sure whether it was just that it was the early hour or if it was just the location.  But my chicken looked wrong.  I know that they battered their chicken and they didn’t bread it, but I found it a bit awkward that the chicken piece I was given had a scaly bit exposed – don’t get me wrong, it didn’t affect the flavour, it was just not pleasant to see.  We do eat with our eyes as well.

It went downhill from there.  I visited their website that evening and it does say that their chicken isn’t Southern fried chicken.  It’s fried chicken.  Granted it is fried, but you do get succulent fried chicken.  My chicken was dry and overdone, painfully so.  I’m not too certain how the chicken is prepared, whether it’s brined or marinated in buttermilk, but my piece of chicken wasn’t battered very well.  The batter had a bitter aftertaste, probably signalling that it had been left a little too long in oil that was a little too hot.  Mind you, I’ve incinerated enough chicken so I wasn’t too fussed so much.  It was just that the chicken was so dry that it was quite a struggle to adequately make a dent in the two pieces of chicken that my two waffles were served with.

Bird chicken and wafflesThe waffles were really nice, if a little on the light and thin side.  I loved that it was more savoury than sweet with the addition of spring onions.  Usually the waffles, in my humble opinion, provides the sweet element, to the sweet-salty flavour combination (the salty element provided by the chicken).  It was a refreshing change to have a properly savoury waffle.  It was great to be able to drench it in proper maple syrup.  I must say that I would probably happier just having the savoury waffles and the maple syrup instead.  But the restaurant is meant to specialise in poultry (its name is Bird).

Bird wafflesI realise that everyone has their opinions and food is a relatively subjective experience.  But I was disappointed.  It wasn’t the chicken experience I was expecting, and for me, it wasn’t the best free range fried chicken experience.  I probably won’t go back to any of the other Bird locations.

Sadly, for me, BIRD was NOT the word.

Yelly Writes

Budget Day 2016

Today, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announces his plans for Britain for the next 5 years.

This was a busy day for me because I work for an accounting firm and we always have a post-Budget Announcement presentation for all our clients, so our firm can let them know how the Budget Announcement can affect them.  Our tax team were busy preparing the materials for the e-shot which came out 6 hours after the Budget announcement with an analysis of how things would turn out.  There were figures to check, powerpoint slide presentations to proof read, and handouts to prep.

Needless to say it was a busy day and there was a lot to do.  I missed the train I usually get on by a mile (not that I was there on time by any stretch of the imagination – by the time the train doors shut and the train pulled away from the station I was still proofing the notes on the slides!).  I got home later than usual, nursing a pounding head and my cold has gotten worse (yes, I would like to have a little sympathy, thanks!).

Budget Red BoxAfter reading all the Budget analyses I could bear, and reading the statement from the Chancellor saying “This will be a Budget for the working people,” I think Gideon may have got it (very) wrong.