Thursday 4 December 2014

The Christmassiest Weekend

I always find that in late November and all of December, my diary looks insane. I hardly have any free time, and so it was nice this week to have a rare weekend with no plans. We celebrated by having the Christmassiest weekend possible, starting on Friday night with a cosy evening of making gingerbread, accompanied by super rich homemade mac’n’cheese and red wine, Then on Saturday we went into London for the day...

We started out at the V&A as they had kindly sent me tickets to see the Horst exhibition. I don’t have any photos to share with you as we weren’t allowed to take them in the exhibit, but I really recommend a trip (tickets are only £10 each). Horst was an influential photographer from the 30s to the 90s, and worked a lot with Vogue. The exhibition shows the different stages of his career – from fashion (including some amazing dresses) to stage and screen (including photos of Marlene Dietrich, Ginger Rogers and Joan Crawford to name a few) to surrealism (including some collaborations with Dali). It was so interesting to see how his career evolved and all the different influences that affected it. It’s also a pretty large exhibition – we were probably in there for an hour – with loads of photographs, plus some of his cameras, sketchbooks and films of his work. I loved it. I'm thinking about buying a print or poster for my new flat next year too.

Next, we headed across town to Spitalfields as we were starving and obsessed with trying out the Hawksmoor Christmas menu. This is only available in Spitalfields Bar, which is next door to the main Hawksmoor restaurant. I was worried it was going to be busy as we couldn’t book, but we needn’t have worried – we were the first ones in there at 12ish, but once we left it had filled up significantly. I’d not been before but it’s such a cool bar – it has a grimy, hidden aesthetic but it’s actually super comfortable (and clean!). Oh, and the food… wow.

The Christmas nuggets are minced turkey and pigs-in-blankets, wrapped around a four cheese sauce with the consistency of melty camembert and then deep fried. They’re amazing. The cheese is gooey and great quality (nothing like that bright yellow plastic American stuff), they’re the stuff of dreams, basically.

And the burger. Ohhh, the burger. One of those ones you have to use a knife and a fork on almost instantly because it’s so huge. I’m just going to C&P their description: “A juicy slab of buttermilk fried turkey topped with a sausage stuffing patty made from Ginger Pig Tamworth pork, along with crispy smoked bacon, sprout tops, spiced cranberry ketchup, a cheeky slice of Ogleshield cheese (not very Christmassy, but a burger without cheese is a sad thing indeed) and turkey gravy for you to French Dip the whole thing in.” It was incredible. Run, don’t walk – it’s only around until the end of December!

We then headed to the Christmas market on the Southbank. It was ridiculously busy, but also very festive and lovely with cool things like a man blowing a flaming tuba and sand sculptures. We popped into the Rekorderlig Winter Cider lodge for a hot cider – I was invited to the launch party but sadly couldn’t make it, so I’m glad I got to try it. I will also be stocking up on their winter cider because it’s so very tasty – it’s not just your usual hot alcoholic apple juice, it’s got tastes of vanilla and oranges too. Yum.

All the food stalls at the Southbank market seemed to have ridiculous queues, so we wandered back a little into the food market behind the Royal Festival Hall which had much more acceptable crowds. I was a little sad I was still so full from my burger because I wanted everything! I did make an exception for a crepe, though – because who can turn down a gooey Nutella and peanut butter combo? NOBODY. Except Matt, who got Nutella and banana, because he actually prefers other things to peanut butter. Weirdo.

After a quick cocktail in Thirst, we then headed home for some quality sofa time.

On Sunday, we headed into Yateley to meet Laura and her gorgeous baby. I was really impressed by our roast at the White Lion – if you live in the area, the meat is good quality, there are loads of veg and they give you extra gravy without you asking. All ticks in my book!

We then headed home to do a bit of Christmas prep. I lit up some Yankee Candles which they sent me recently (the Candy Cane Lane one is sooo yummy) and had a play with the crafting kit they sent too. I must confess the artful lighting is to hide how terrible my candy cane star was – there was quite a bit of snappage from my clumsy fingers. But in the dark, lit by fairy lights, it’s not too bad! And my angel wings came out ok.

I spent the rest of the evening trying to build a gingerbread house… more on that at a later date, but it wasn’t all plain sailing. At least I had leftover mac’n’cheese to see me through…

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