Wednesday, September 18, 2013

5 Reasons to look forward to winter

All hopes for an Indian summer dashed, the past week has been spent indoors or sprinting between tube station and bus stop, avoiding puddles and resolving to buy a more effective umbrella. It's not only wet, it's freezing. My breath was misting this morning.


In order to make myself feel better about the impending dark, damp, chilly months ahead, I've compiled a little list of my favourite things about winter up north:

1. Comfort food

You knew the first item would be food related, didn't you? Winter is an excellent excuse to drink lots of hot chocolate, make stews and soups, and mop up those stews and soups with delightfully starchy things like mash, bread and dumplings. No one will see our pudge until at least July!

2. Lots of new TV

All the best TV starts in autumn. Check out this selection from Stylist this week:

I'm particularly excited about a new season of Downton Abbey, and Dracula, premiering in October. Also, Season 6 of Made in Chelsea is on the way! Squee!

3. Winter clothes

I will regret saying this, come March 2014, but I'm pretty excited to whip out my coat and boots. I suppose it's fair to say I'm more excited about wearing my coat than needing to wear my coat. Since it's not quite cold enough for serious winter gear yet, all the stuff I'm lusting after in the shops will be on sale by the time I want to wear it. Score!

4. All the festive events

As part of the country-wide knuckling down for winter process, London seems to do its part by offering a staggering selection of fun events and activities in the run-up to Christmas. There's Oktoberfest in Kennington Park or Millwall Park, where entrance is free and there is a lederhosen shop (I kid you not, check out the website). 

I'm also excited about fireworks for Guy Fawkes at Alexandra Palace, in my own 'hood, including another German Bier Festival.

I didn't make it to Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland last year, so I'll definitely be heading there come Christmastime. Entry is free, although you'll need to fork out if you want to go on rides.

As part of my festive activity schedule this winter I will also be checking out Christmas at Kew, "an illuminated trail through [the] enchanting winter landscape" of Kew Gardens by night. There is also something called Santa's Woodland Grotto. I don't know what that is, but I want in.

And all this talk of festivities leads me to my final reason to look forward to winter:


Mulled wine, sandwiches with stuffing, Christmas lights everywhere, hauling out the Christmas tunes playlist on Spotify, baking and decorating Christmas cookies, retrieving my unapologetically festive snowflake jumper - I'm looking forward to ALL of it. 

If this ridiculous photo of me clinking bouncy Santa does not make you laugh, you're dead inside.
Happy winter, everybody! What are your favourite wintry things?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Burger Tour: Bukowski Grill

Many of you already know that I've been making it my mission to try the best burgers in London, and I'm pleased to report that I'm making good progress. My group of fellow burger enthusiasts and I have sampled the offerings of Shake Shack, Burgers & Cocktails, MEATLiquor, and most recently, Bukowski Grill (Shoreditch).

As much as I cringe when I see people whipping out their iPhones to capture their meal before eating, I love looking at pictures of food, and a number of friends and followers have expressed interest in reading reviews of my burger experiences on this blog. So here is the first, with more (so many more - this tour is going to take years) to follow.

Bukowski Grill burger review

We ended up at Bukowski on a perfect late summer evening by pure luck - our original plan to try out Dirty Burger in Kentish Town was revised due to a number of Bi-weekly Burgers members needing to be in Shoreditch that evening. 

The setup

We arrived at Boxpark in dribs and drabs around 7pm and slowly managed to claim a large section of one of the communal tables on the fairy-lit terrace. Ordering must be done at the counter, but your food will be brought to you when it's ready. It is not recommended to order before finding yourself a spot!

The food

About to tuck in! Blurry picture courtesy of Jacky :)

I'm more a fan of gourmet burgers than dirty burgers (more juice, less grease), and Bukowski is a pretty good compromise between the two. I opted for The Purist, which is a strong contender for my favourite burger in London so far. Consisting of a Hereford beef patty, tomato, lettuce and homemade mayo on a shiny brioche bun, this burger was well juicy and definitely one I will order again. Nice, chunky beef and a soft roll that stood up well to the ooze - no soggy bottom. The patty was a little underdone for my taste, but that's a personal preference and I'd just request a more medium grill next time. Underdoneness aside, this is still the best thing I've put in my face in ages. 

The fat triple-cooked chips (fried in beef dripping, no less) were a total revelation and the perfect accompaniment to mop up the juice. I also love that any burger and chips includes free tubs of Bukowski's condiments - more of that delicious mayo and homemade ketchup. 

If you want a more gourmet experience, the Purist topped with melted brie was very well received by another BB member, and we all had a little sample of the Scotch Bonnet chilli relish, which had enough kick without veering into taste bud-numbing territory. 

The damage

For the quality of food, I was really impressed with the pricing - my burger, small chips and a half-pint of Meantime London Lager came to just £10.80. I couldn't finish any of it! 

The verdict

Bukowski is great. I would definitely go back (best to get in before winter sets in, although they do have bar heaters above the tables when it's chilly!), but I'm also keen to try out the Brixton venue, which serves hard shakes too - yes please!

Bukowski Grill, BOXPARK Unit 61, 4-6 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6GY
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