It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Restaurant Review : Suda, Bangkok, Thailand

I've written about my favourite Suda in BKK before (you can read about it HERE), and we visited again last time we were back in BKK.  Prices had gone up fractionally, but nothing else had changed.

I had the chicken with garlic and a Diet Coke, all for the princely sum of 100bht.  Suda was buzzing and the service was speedy.  There were the usual pigeons flapping around, and the odd stray cat weaving its way under the tables from one edge of the open sided restaurant to the other.   Like I said in my previous post, this is cheap and cheerful eating, not fancy restaurant dining, so don't worry too much about the urban wildlife and the slightly sticky plastic tablecloths.

I managed to grab a snap of the opening hours this time, and pretty much the only time you can't get a meal is lunchtime on a Sunday.  They've got a liquor licence, and if you're a regular they'll keep your bottle of whisky behind the bar with your name on it.

Suda is located just down Sukhumvit Soi 14, you can nip down there from the Asok SkyTrain (BTS) stop.  Go there, relax, don't worry that it's all a bit mad - the food is great and you'll be fine.  Smile and leave a tip.  Now, go eat!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Recipe : Cherry Pie Cake

I saw this recipe shared on Facebook by the lovely Rae V, and thought it looked so easy and yummy that I had to give it a try.  It really is incredibly easy, but I thought the original published recipe looked a bit "flour heavy", so I went off-piste a bit and dropped the flour by a third.  I've made the recipe twice, and I think I'm right, but if you want to go with the original published recipe, add an extra cup of flour (and let me know how that goes!).

This is an American recipe, and one thing I find a bit confusing about some recipes is that they give a measurement of "packet" or "can", and those sorts of things vary wildly from country to country.  This recipe called for two cans of cherry pie filling, which I couldn't find in our little supermarket, so I bought one jar of whole pitted cherries instead.  Once the liquid was drained off the cherries, they weighed about 370g, so that's how much I used.

My jar of pitted cherries - yep, that's supermarket brand!

And,  of course, our dodgy old oven needed baby sitting and it took nearly an hour to cook instead of the recommended 35 minutes.  I covered the cake with tin foil about 40 minutes in, and turned the oven down a bit, so the top didn't burn.

Okey dokey, let's cook, as usual my comments are in italics.

Cherry Pie Bars
  • 1 cup of softened butter
  • 2 cups of sugar (Yes, Mum, I can actually hear you saying "Two cups of sugar!!!!!!" in horror)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I forgot this, are you surprised?)
  • Half teaspoon of salt
  • Quarter teaspoon of almond extract (I used about half instead of a quarter)
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour (the recipe says 3 cups, hmmmmm, I'm not convinced)
  • 2 cans of cherry pie filling (or whatever quantity you can find, above)
  1. Preheat oven to 350f
  2. Cream butter and sugar, add eggs and extract, beating well to mix
  3. Add flour and salt, mixing well (I added the flour a half cup at a time)
  4. Spread half of the batter in a greased 9x13 pan
  5. Spoon pie filling over the batter
  6. Randomly drop tablespoons of remaining batter over the pie filling
  7. Bake for 35 minutes or until a sharp knife comes out clean
There's an optional glaze listed, but I think the cake is sweet enough.  However, if you want to up your sugar levels into the red zone, go wild by mixing one cup of powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon of almond extract, 2 teaspoons of milk and then drizzle it over the top when the cake is cool.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Claridges & Burberry - POSH!

Fancy swanning about the shopping avenues of London clad in a scrumptious Burberry Trench Coat?  Scampering into High Tea draped knowingly in the Burberry signature check?  Well, Claridges Hotel in London is the place for you then, you little fashionista!

Claridges has partnered with the luxury British clothier, Burberry, to offer their iconic trench coats in your butlered suite this season.  There will be a lovely Burberry trench waiting for you in your wardrobe, for you to use as you stroll about London, and should you wish to purchase it on your departure, your butler can assist with that.  Of course he can!

Princess Kate's got one!
Yes, I know she's only a Duchess,
but she'll always be Princess Kate to me.

"This is fabulous!" I can hear you squealing, and, yes, it is.  But it's also mind bogglingly expensive.  I did a search for their most affordable suite for one night and the prices start from £1040 and lurch upwards at a nose bleeding speed.  But it does come with a full English breakfast the next morning, so I guess there's that ...

Now, should you just want to trot along to Burberry and flash the plastic to get your mittens on one of their trenches, you can do so for about £1000 (full price), spend the remaining £40 on groceries and cook your own flipping breakfast.  And then you get to keep the coat!

Though, I guess, if you can afford to stay at Claridges, then cash probably isn't a huge problem for you.  It is a fun idea though.

Alexa Chung's got one too!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Restaurant Review : Whale's Belly, Bangkok, Thailand

I'd read about Whale's Belly on a list of "great new Bangkok restaurants", so asked our lovely concierge to make us a dinner booking.  The restaurant is located on a bit of a rat run between sois, not that close to Sukhumvit Road, so it's best to get a taxi and a map or an address (preferably in Thai, so the taxi driver can read it - your concierge can help with this).

We lobbed in slightly early for our 8pm reservation and were greeted by two enthusiastic staff in the lobby area (you have to catch a lift up to the restaurant).  We were shown through a totally empty restaurant to our table.  Totally empty, we were the only table.  Being the only table in a restaurant makes me feel very nervous, but as the fabulous food started to come out I definitely stopped worrying.

The restaurant is large, with full glass views out to the street (though not much to see there), and you're supposed to feel that you're inside a whale's belly as the ceiling is covered with "ribs".  Cute idea I guess, but the ceiling is very high and you don't really notice the ribbing at all.  It's a well put together restaurant, but strangely devoid of any personality.  Maybe it would be better with more tables of guests?

A gratis plate of tiny warmed croissants came out first, with pots of butter and pate, and there were lovely little snacks to enjoy between each course.  I had two duck courses and hubby had two seafood courses - all of which were very good indeed.  After all the lovely little amuse bouches from the kitchen, we didn't have any room for desserts, though they looked great.

We really enjoyed our meal there, but for an empty restaurant there are far too many staff - and they're VERY attentive.  We had two staff watching us from only metres away for most of the meal - it's very unsettling.  My main course plate was whipped away whilst I was still chewing the last mouthful.  The staff are good and they want to work, but they stand too close and they're too helpful. Maybe if they stood back behind the bar and weren't so eager, it would be a more relaxing experience.

So - great food, restaurant lacking a real personality (though fabulous whale inspired cushions on each seat that I wanted to take), and eager staff.  I don't know why this place isn't full - the prices are reasonable and the food is yum.  Maybe it's too far from Sukhumvit?  They definitely need to set up a web page, not just a Facebook page, people need to be able to look at a menu before they book.  I think we'd go back to try it again.

Whale's Belly Restaurant & Bar
No 41, 39 Boulevard Tower A
Sukhumvit Soi 33 (Dang-Udom)
Sukhumvit Road, Khlongtan-Nua
Watthana, Bangkok, 10110
Phone:- +662 1600 333

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Live On-Line Flight Tracking

Now, I'm probably a bit late to the party on this, but I'm usually always the one in the air on the plane, so I've not had to find out what other people are doing.  But my lovely Mum has just been out for a visit and she was flying alone, so I was very keen to keep an eye on her progress and see where she was whilst she was coming over and going back.

I found this fabulous web site called Flight Aware, and all you need is the airline name and the flight number and you can watch any flight minute by minute, mile by mile.  It tracks on a map on screen (a little plane moves across the map - fun!), and gives you up to date departure and arrival times, gate numbers and averages for the previous times the flight has taken place.

It's totally FREE, which I love, but if you're mad keen on it you can buy an upgrade and see more things.  I don't really need to see more things, and I'm thrilled with the information provided.

Get yourself along to Flight Aware if you need to see where your loved ones are.  I'll certainly be using it in the future.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Recipe : Blueberry & Yoghurt Cake

Where we live, we pretty much can only get the fruits and vegetables that are in season in the supermarkets, so when I saw punnets of blueberries for only .99c each in the middle of winter - I jumped in and grabbed them.  Then I had to figure out what to do with them, so off to Google I scampered, and I found this great Blueberry & Yoghurt recipe.

It's dead easy and tastes fab.  I've made it three times now - twice with fresh blueberries and once with frozen raspberries.  Our oven is old and leaks heat, so I had to cook for nearly 20 minutes longer each time to get a skewer to come out clean from the centre of the cake.  You might have to do similar time juggling with your oven.  When I used the frozen berries, it took even longer to cook, though it did work in the end.

The first time I used the fresh blueberries, I followed the instructions and pushed them into the top of the cake before baking.  The top of the cake started to burn a bit after half an hour or so, so I covered it with tinfoil for the remainder of the baking time, and the texture was a bit like a steamed pudding - yum!  The next time I stirred the blueberries through the batter and shook some vanilla sugar over the top - the top didn't burn, though most of the blueberries sank to the bottom.

Anyway, it's a really easy cake and you can experiment with it.  I think you could make it with any kind of berries or chopped softish fruit - whatever you can find in season that's cheap.  My notes in italics, as usual, so let's cook!

  1. 125g butter (room temperature)
  2. 1 cup caster sugar
  3. 3 eggs (room temperature)
  4. 2 cups plain flour
  5. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  6. 3/4 cup vanilla yoghurt
  7. 1 cup blueberries

  • Preheat oven to 180c
  • Grease a 20cm round springform cake pan
  • Line base and side with baking paper (didn't do this any of the three times I made it - too lazy - I just greased the sides and bottom with that squirty butter stuff, and they came out of the pan just fine)
  • Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  • Add eggs, one at a time, beating to combine
  • Sift half the flour over mixture (I didn't sift over the mixture - too messy - I just sifted the flour and the baking powder when I was measuring it at the start and added the sifted mixture as required)
  • Add half the yoghurt
  • Mix to combine
  • Repeat with the remaining flour and yoghurt
  • Spread mixture into prepared pan
  • Press blueberries slightly into mixture (or stir them in, whatever you feel like)
  • Bake for 50 minutes, or until a skewer (or sharp knife) inserted into the centre comes out clean
  • Cover cake loosely with foil if over browning during baking
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool (remove from pan after half an hour or so, leave it to cool a bit first)

Um, I was going to put a picture of the word "YUMMY" here, so I googled that - and I found this.  Seriously, has that kid got a mutant cupcake on a leash?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Chinese Year of the Horse


It's officially the start of the Chinese Year of the Horse - and since I'm a horse lover, I adore all of the fabulous Year of the Horse images that are floating around.  Here are some of my favourites:-

I'm a Monkey, what are you?  You can find out your Chinese Zodiac animal HERE.