Sunday, September 13, 2009

Catching up

Last weekend, we didn't do much but chill at home, which is always lovely. Little Planet has a busy time with her childminders during the week, with lots of activities and general hustle and bustle, so we thought it would make a change for her to have a quiet weekend with us. One of her grandmothers was staying with us that weekend, which made it extra special for both. On Sunday, I left Little Planet, Grandma and M at home and travelled to St Albans where some of my old Oxford University friends were gathering for lunch and a catch up. Most of them are also working parents: two work for the UK government and the other works in Tanzania for UNESCO. Between us, we have four children. I love it how time moves on and we move along with it. We're proper grown-ups - my, oh my.

During the week, M and I also caught up with another Oxford friend. The three of us did our PhDs together and now we have baby daughters of the same age. This friend lives in Arizona where she lectures; her partner is a photographer. She has just accepted a prestigious job at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. She's currently in London doing research in the British Museum, so the three of us lunched at Korean restaurant Bi-Won on Coptic Street, where we ate deliciously spicy and moreish dolsot bim bim bap.

Also during the week, I joined colleagues for lunch at the cafe in Liberty as one of them was leaving for maternity leave with her second child. The food was very nice. I drank elderflower presse and ate a salad of baby spinach, poached egg and black pudding, followed by lemon tarte.

Some dinners I cooked this week included minestrone soup with savoy cabbage, cabbage curry, and curried paneer with tomatoes and peas.

Yesterday, M, Little Planet and I went into central London. Little Planet enjoys going on the Tube - we take her out of her buggy and she sits on her own seat or stands between our legs looking at everyone and trying to make them smile. We walked through Covent Garden to Foyles bookshop, where Little Planet explored the entire children's section for half an hour or so. M also bought a book by photographer-artist Gregory Crewdson.

We had to pop into my office just off Oxford Street to change Little Planet's nappy! We went over to Postcard Teas to stock up on a variety of Indian, Chinese and Japanese tea leaves as M loves proper tea. Then we walked down Bond Street to the White Cube in Mason's Yard to see the latest exhibition by Zhang Huan (photos above). Huan uses incense ash from Buddhist temples to create ethereal and transformative images. Here's a link to a previous exhibition of his work I've written about (in a lot more detail as those were the days "before child"!).

Before heading home, we picked up some delicate Japanese sweets ("wagashi") made from peaches and red beans from Minamoto Kitchoan on Piccadilly.

Back at home, we gave Little Planet her lunch of pasta with green pesto and some peas, and a dessert of fresh strawberries. She played a little and then we put her down for her nap. Nowadays, when we lay her down in her cot to sleep, she always waves and says "Bye bye". It is so sweet and it takes alot of willpower for us not to scoop her back out for another cuddle.

While she slept, M and I lunched on thick slabs of dark rye bread with cream cheese mixed with caraway seeds, plus some gherkins and also some radishes fresh from our own garden which were delightful dipped lightly with sea salt (photo above).

The rest of the afternoon was spent in the garden as the weather was gloriously sunny and hot. M prepared crab cakes for the evening meal while Little Planet played with her various plastic toys in the garden and rolled around on the lawn. She loves lying on her back, looking up at the sky and waving "Bye bye" at the aeroplanes and birds, so was doing this a lot. Her evening meal was green bean and beef stew followed by more fresh strawberries. Then it was her night time bath, bottle, book and bed routine.

For dinner, M and I ate his homemade crab cakes topped with homemade tartare sauce and accompanied by a salad of spinach, rocket, watercress and avocado (photo above). We ended the night watching a quirky and fun movie from Japan called Turtles Are Surprisingly Fast Swimmers, which I had bought from JP Books in Piccadilly a few weeks back.

Today is Sunday and the weather has been cooler and more overcast. M took Little Planet to the park while I went with my mum to run some errands. M returned from the park and fed Little Planet dal and rice and put her to bed for a nap. Then my mum came back home with me. She bought with her containers of boal fish and green mango curry plus a mixed vegetable curry with shim, okra, sweet potato and lal sag. M and I will eat it for dinner tomorrow night after work. I love my mum's cooking!

We spent the rest of the day in the house... reading, playing, chatting. M made bread. We did laundry, cleaned the house a bit, did a little bit of ironing.

Now Little Planet is in bed. I'm blogging this post while M is cooking a recipe we saw on the BBC's Economy Gastronomy programme last week: Seared squid, chorizo and chickpea puree. He'll serve it with panfried smashed potatoes from Gourmet magazine. For dessert, we will have New York cheesecake which M made yesterday from the American Regional Cooking cookbook, topped with blueberry and maple sauce.

We've also started a list of things we want to do in NYC next month.

I am so sad the weekend is already over.


chaton de luxe said...

Lucky you, planning a trip to NY! We went last November, here’s some favs: (I think I read on your blog you have been before so I wont bore you with the usual stuff): we loved Brooklyn and had an excellent brunch at Bonita (Bedford avenue) – great walk up towards the Brooklyn bridge with an amazing view of Manhattan. Ok so it’s a bit tacky but I did like the pastrami at Katzs (yes it’s THAT deli from When harry met sally) and if you’re in the neighbourhood Clinton Street Bakery in Clinton Street also does nice lunches. The first night we had drinks and lovely food at La Esquina (106 Kenmare st), you need to book but if its not busy you can usually sit at the bar. For shops we loved Ochre (462 Broome Street) and Bleecker Street.
Unfortunately, a family emergency meant we had to cut our trip short, the things I really regret not doing is a visit to the noguchi museum and eating at the Gramery Tavern and Pastis, shop at the Wyeth home shop (315 Spring Street) and we were also planning a day trip to the Hudson Valley. If you want I can send you my full list, send me an email at

Planethalder said...

Good heads up, thanks Chaton. I've only been three times to NYC so there is always more to expore, obviously so thanks!