Friday, 27 May 2016

MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING!

I think it's probably quite obvious how much I love weddings, and after months / years (!) of anticipation, my best friend is finally getting married!
... Well, officially married as of last week - time sure flies when you're having fun.

Childhood friends since we were both just 8 years old, it's a blessing how we have managed to keep in touch, even after years of living in different continents.
And it was pretty cool when we both lived in London - hers was London, Ontario, unfortunately #wishfulthinking

This was my first experience attending an Indian wedding which took place over four (!) days, so here's a few snaps from this special occasion...

The first evening was the Sangeet, a Sanskrit term which means as sung together, a pre-wedding ceremony where celebrations, dancing, and singing take place. 
The dress that Harpreet wore that evening was probably my favourite amongst the many outfits that she changed into - and in my favourite shade of pink too!










The second day was Maiyan which took place at home. During the ceremony, turmeric paste is applied on the bride's face, feet, and hands, before mehendi (henna) is skillfully drawn on her hands and feet. I had a mini one drawn on my arm, knowing how clumsy I am, and that I probably wouldn't have the patience and not have my hands free to snack with...











This was followed by the Sikh ceremony in the Gurdwara, where Harpreet was once again an image of elegance, this time with a veil that completed the look. 
Harpreet kindly lent me one of her Salwar Kameez outfits for the day. We were required to cover our heads and remove our shoes in the temple - the dupatta was a bit heavy and tricky to keep balanced on my head, but I loved wearing it nonetheless. I'm just really clumsy in general...















The final day was the Hindu ceremony where the reception took place outdoors at the beautiful Lakeside Gazebo at The Royal Ambassador, with a stunning view of the lake in the background. We were once again extremely lucky for the warm sunny weather - a huge improvement as opposed to the weekend before where there was rain, snow and hail all in one day (!)
I did love the colour of our matching bridesmaid anarkali suits, pink is just the perfect shade for (almost) any occasion.
This was the longest day of them all, which ended with one final dinner, with dancing and music playing on through the night ...
 











Congratulations once again, Harpreet & Shivam - you two make the perfect couple, and I'm looking forward to our next 'Team Water' reunion!

Canada Rockies Roadtrip 2014

Canada Rockies Roadtrip 2014
 
And not forgetting a word of thanks to the Gill family for letting me stay in your beautiful home for the week - I'm missing you and your homemade chai, Aunty! 
I look forward to seeing all of you again in the near future.

The Cheekster, signing out x

 

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

CAFE MONICO + BIRDCAGE AFTERNOON TEA AT PARK LANE HOTEL

Just less than a week before the wedding (the best friend's - not mine!), and it looks like I have failed in resisting the temptation to indulge in more good food over the weekend. 
First up is Cafe Monico, located on bustling Shaftesbury Avenue, inspired by the original Cafe Monico, established in 1877, and serves French-Italian dishes in a traditional brasserie setting.



We were seated on the upper floor where natural light flowed in through the windows, on a table which overlooked the bar downstairs. Our friendly waiter arrived with a basket of warm, crusty baguette with butter. He recommended The Cafe Monico Cobbler as an aperitif, which came served in a silver cup and straw, topped with a slice of peach and a bite-sized flapjack - someone must have known that I was hungry and peckish (!)
My starter of grilled octopus was nicely cooked and well-marinated, served on a chilled salad of potatoes. The steak tartare look appetizing with a bright egg yolk on top, and had a nice texture, although we both found it a bit too spicy - I generally like spicy food, but prefer to add my own marinade to my steak tartare.

I had the lamb chops as my main, which although did not look quite as pink, was actually really tender, served with chickpeas and two flavourful merguez sausages. I would have preferred the dish to be slightly less 'wet', but overall the flavours were nice.
The skin on the sea bass was quite crisp and lightly seasoned, served on a bed of black cabbage and a squeeze of lemon to add a citrus-y zest.

The highlight of the meal for me was most definitely the Paris Brest, one of my favourite French desserts, with a light choux pastry filled with rich indulgent praline cream - so worth the calories.
The Crêpe soufflé Grand Marnier was also delicious. I would recommend to save space for dessert- one of my life rules that I strictly live by...

A great location for theatre-goers or those looking for a casual lunch/dinner, after-work drinks...











And after yet another break from afternoon tea, we celebrated Sarah's birthday at The Palm Court at Sheraton London Park Lane, where they serve the Birdcage Afternoon Tea. The beautiful lounge which features original Art Deco offers a glimpse into the magic and history of the roaring 20's.

There are 27 tea blends, from which I chose the Elderflower Darjeeling.
As the name suggests, three-tiered trays in the shape of birdcages were placed before us, displaying a selection of delicate finger sandwiches, buttery plain and sultana scones, and a variety of fine pastries.
From the savoury selection, I particularly liked the mini dill and seaweed scone topped with Severn & Wye smoked salmon and caper cream, and the confied chicken curried mayonnaise on basil bread. 
The scones were served with clotted cream and some interesting homemade preserves, such as the rhubarb and ginger jam.
 The cakes and pastries were really pretty and delicate, and not overly sweet, which I liked.

And to celebrate Sarah's special day, they also brought out a birthday cake for Sarah which was really sweet of them.

Overall we had a lovely and relaxing experience, and there was also a harpist playing music in the background, which always adds a nice touch.   














I will be flying off to Canada in a few days, and will most probably continue posting whilst I'm away - hopefully about something exciting (food and wedding-related!), and not about something unfortunate, like losing my luggage at the airport (!) 
It's okay, I've got travel insurance, just in case...

The Cheekster, signing out x