Friday, June 18, 2010

The Spice Girls Reunite in London

 4686776770_74ec970c39_b    [Photo: Jasmine]

Zesty has landed and in need of a very STIFF drink!” was what I texted as soon as I got out of the plane. London: sun shining, blue skies and gorgeous warm weather. My nerves were still shaken after my wild autobahn fiasco on the way to Frankfurt airport, but it was paired with an excitement that had been building up for months.

It was a very mixed up and contradicting emotion I was feeling. Part of me was worrying about all that could have happened on the autobahn and what ever would happen to my dearest VW Golf that I left standing on top of a truck back in Germany. The other part was feeling elated to be actually in London.

For months there had been a torrent of emails and Skype talks between Sweary (Jeanne), Saucy (Jamie), Sporty (Kerrin), Snarky (Hilda) and me (Zesty) back and forth about everything from studmuffins, our presentation for Food Blogger Connect (FBC), where we all were going to be speaking to chocolates, cheese, rugby and everything in between. Oh how we laughed, literally falling off our chairs other times we needed tissues to wipe off the tears as we discussed matters closer to the heart. One thing we always said, if this was what it was like in a virtual world – what would it be like when we all meet up again?

Well here I was in London City airport waiting for Saucy to arrive from Nantes with a coffee in my hand and staring at a picture in the newspaper of the English soccer team arriving in South Africa, looking very sharp in their grey suits. I giggled and thought “How many emails would this be worth?”

My eyes kept scanning the monitor above me to look at the status of the flight from Nantes. Finally it said “landed” and I moved closer to the doors. And there she was. Saucy in all her sauciness. You know you have a solid friendship when you can simply pick up from where you left off. That’s exactly what we did. Chattering as if we’d only been apart for a few hours, we waited till Jeanne picked us up. “Look for a metallic green Volvo with a person possibly swearing inside!” was what she told us. Soon we saw that green Volvo pull up and there she was muttering under her breath living up to her nickname. 

We got to Jeanne’s, constantly chattering and always laughing. No grumpiness with these girls that’s for sure!

Soon we were sitting outside in the garden, Jeanne’s husband Nick, who looked extremely skeptical at us as he walked into the house earlier, was firing up the barbecue for a typical South African braai.

As we waited for Kerrin and Hilda to arrive we unpacked our cheese. Each one had brought delicacies from where we lived, cheese, pâté and other luxury treats. Jeanne brought out some South African delicacies and crackers and we arranged a platter of a variety of cheese.

LONDON2010_Diptych_1_CR_MeetaKCheese tasting

We began nibbling and sipping on refreshing prosecco and soon we heard Hilda shout from behind the fence.

I think the three of us dropped everything, left poor Nick alone and ran to the front door. Yes – we all squealed with delight at being reunited again. It felt good and we did not care about what the neighbors thought.

That evening we spent talking, laughing, discussing and eating till quite late. Nick and Jeanne served a delectable feast of incredible tasting South African specialties, Spicy, flavorful and so good. Then it was back to cheese this time from Zürich courtesy of Kerrin. Dessert was flown in from Germany – a tasting of these raspberry tea macarons with tahini dark chocolate cream and a post-dinner/dessert treat were a selection of chocolates – again from Zürich. I won’t even go into the bottles of wine we drank.

Jamie Jamie relaxing with drink and cheese at Cooksister HQ

 LONDON2010_Diptych_3_CR_MeetaKPhoto left: Jeanne and Jamie – Cooksister HQ Photo right: Kerrin and Me – The Hempel Hotel

We had plenty of time the next day before we headed out to the Hempel Hotel for the Food Blogger Conference so we decided to relax and later headed into town for lunch and followed by a quick trip to Greenwich Market.

It’s hard to put into words what we were feeling. It’s not that we are a closed clique-y kind of group. You’d be very wrong if you thought that. On the contrary we are very open, honest and loyal towards each other and towards the people around us. I think what makes us connect so well is the fact that we all share these characteristics and basically found each other through our unusual hobby, realizing, as we got to know each other, a lot more ties and holds us together.

It would surprise many if I told them for example I had met Kerrin at the last FBC and chatted to her for only 45 minutes. But we clicked. We came back home and began emailing each other and opening up with life stories and funny tales. Hilda and my friendship is based on a few bags of pecan nuts, Jeanne and I go back a few years but only actually ever met at the last FBC and I fell in love with Jamie’s writing and got to know her first via email and then met her last time I was in London. There are one or two other ladies that I know in this fashion and cherish their friendship. They all belong to the group we affectionately call the Spice Girls.

LONDON2010_Diptych_2_CR_MeetaKPhoto left: Hilda, Jamie and Kerrin – Cooksister HQ Photo right: Jamie, Kerrin and Jeanne – waiting for the Tube

 London StopCanary Wharf Station 

 LondonTrinity College of Music in Greenwich 

Trafalgar TaverneEnjoying a typical fish & chips with mushy peas at the Trafalgar Taverne on the Thames

 Trafalgar TaverneLovely interior at the Trafalgar Taverne

Greenwich Market was a wonderful buzz of people and aromas of a multitude scents filling the air. Just my kind of place. Food, people, props and 1001 ideas for my next recipe experiments.

We only spent a short while here much to my dismay but we charmed our way into getting free churros and chatted to the lovely Brazilian lady making them. 

LONDON2010_Diptych_6_CR_MeetaKPeople & Food at Greenwich Market
 LONDON2010_Diptych_4_CR_MeetaKDelicious variety of churros at Greenwich Market 

LONDON2010_Diptych_5_CR_MeetaKTantalizing aromas fill the air at Greenwich Market 

On Saturday evening the five of us, accompanied by Mowie (Pink Spice), left the FBC venue after our presentations feeling relieved and satisfied that they were all received so well and headed for dinner to the Tate Modern Restaurant.

The view was spectacular and the food was fairly good.

I tucked into a Swiss chard and comte cheese tart with apple coleslaw for starters. Lovely flavors, albeit slightly on the cold side, but apparently it was supposed to be. My next course was roast breast and confit leg of Wickham Manor Farm chicken, braised Umbrian lentils
and salsa verde. The lentils were a great flavor combination of tangy rounded off by a sweeter note. The chicken, although slightly on the dry side still provided a lovely robust flavor. My favorite course was definitely dessert and how could it not be with a bitter chocolate financier, poached meringue and a milk chocolate sauce. Each one of us ordered a different dessert right through the menu and taste tested each one. Decadent!

The downside was the fact the staff tried to sell off plaice as lemon sole and seemed to be miffed that we caught on to the debacle. Kerrin very diplomatically cited the manager and explained the matter on hand. However, when the bill came we were rather surprised that they had the cheek to charge the bill for the full price of lemon sole (market price GBP 12), which was really plaice (market price GBP 1.20)  and NOT the same thing.

Coming from the hospitality industry, I was quite intrigued to see how the staff reacted. Unfortunately not very professionally at all. 

London2010_Kerrin5Photo: Kerrin – Tate Modern Restaurant Menu

It did not spoil the evening at all though and we left still laughing and chatting about crazy foodie habits.

On Sunday we had the whole afternoon after the final presentations at the FBC. I had found out that Jeanne’s husband loved curry and offered to cook an Indian meal that evening. We headed into the city to do a bit of foodie souvenir and grocery shopping.

While I really love London and always feel the urge to visit each year, I doubt I could ever live there. One spends so much time getting from one destination to another. I was permanently thinking of all the things I could be ticking off on my To Do list while we were commuting in the Tubes.

However the buzz of this city energizes, it tires me too but the sights and sounds impress me. 

Jamie, JeanneThe bustling city - Jamie and Jeanne

 London Taxi A typical London sight – the Black Cab

Double Decker London would never be the same without the Double Decker Bus

Our foodie shopping tour took us to Ladurée located in the lovely Burlington Arcade. Macarons and pastries, this girl was in dessert heaven. People came out of the little boutique, daintily clutching little boxes filled with whatever sweet treasures they wanted to indulge in. Some sat at the round tables scattered outside the shop and very carefully opened their boxes to reveal the jewels, macarons mostly.

I did not miss a beat, flipped my camera and began taking pictures, much to the surprise of the people. Jamie and Jeanne peered closer into the boxes, who took our inquisitiveness with a pinch of salt.

Finally we set foot into the Mecca of Macarons.

Laduree Macarons Elegant pastries decorating gold lined shelves of Ladurée

 LONDON2010_Diptych_7_CR_MeetaKThe legendary Ladurée macaons

I bought a small box with a selection of macarons to test later that evening. Chocolate, salted caramel, orange blossom, pistachio, mint, vanilla were a few of the flavors I picked.

Our next stop was Fortnum & Mason a paradise for food lovers of all species. My one thought as I tasted my way from shelf to shelf was “How do I get myself locked in here for the night?”

Chocolate covered honeycomb, Morello cherry and cognac preserve, Ambrosial Alchemy Prune, FIg and Date cake, Fortnum's Handmade Butter and Treacle Toffee and of course macarons. Just a few things that I left with. Jeanne bought the macarons to compare notes later.

Back at home we kicked off our shoes, packed our suitcases and relaxed – the foodie way!

LONDON2010_Diptych_8_CR_MeetaK Life of a food blogger

We had a little hands on photo sessions in Jeanne’s conservatory with the food items we bought especially the macarons. Kerrin wanted to know more about how to work with aperture settings on her camera, a part of my presentation the day before. There was no elaborate styling just a makeshift set-up and a lot of fun.

London2010_Kerrin1 Photo: Kerrin Jeanne and me working our cameras

London2010_Kerrin2Photo: Kerrin - Makeshift set-up – taking pictures of macarons

 London2010_Kerrin3 Photo: Kerrin - Did I bag the shot?

LONDON2010_Diptych_9_CR_MeetaKPhoto left: Ladurée macarons  Photo right: Fortnum & Mason macarons

The four of us got together in the kitchen and began cooking a spicy Indian meal. To music from Duran Duran we sang out loudly, Nick made sure our wine glasses were always full and in between chopping garlic and onions we tweeted about our curry cooking evening.

On the menu was chickpeas with spinach and my dad’s famous chicken curry. Since then recreated with their own touch by Jamie in her spicy chicken curry and by Barbara in her chicken in a hurry.

It was a great evening. Dessert came in many forms that evening. In our pyjamas we huddled on the sofas in Jeanne’s living room and began our macarons testing session and watched a rather infamous making of DVD.

I’ll leave it at that!

SpiceGirlsCookCurrySpicing in up in the kitchen: Jeanne, Jamie, Kerrin and Meeta

Saying goodbye is always the hardest but we did it with promises to reunite again. In the meantime we are back to giggles and discussions via emails and skype. Never missing a beat.

Thanks girls (those on this picture and also those who are not) for being such awesome friends!

Enjoy your weekend – maybe with your best girlfriends and a lot of good giggles. See you next week!

Hugs!


All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2010 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

32 comments :

  1. Love, love, love this post. What wonderful friends...and photos!

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  2. I love this...everything about it! What a connection you all have made, and your photos are incredible Meeta. What lens did you use most of the time?

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  3. These friendships are such a treasure in life. You of course have captured it so well both in words and visually!!

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  4. Wow, I thought I was exhausted after FBC, but you guys must have been flat out with all that extra stuff you managed in between the stuff in the day!

    I still haven't made it to Fortnums which is a disgrace. I love how you were setting up photo shoots in Jeanne's house too - I must got and tell her I'm very envious of that conservatory!!

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  5. Wonderful read Meeta, glad that you enjoyed..:)

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  6. So nice to see all the fun and affection coming through in your post and pictures. Was a weekend to remember, I see. :)

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  7. wow, what a post ! you have captured our whole weekend, and i am just loving reading it and reliving each of those fabulously fun, memorable, delicious moments. i know i will do that in a few days again or weeks or months, revisit our pictures, reread your post here...

    ps - i don't even think we spoke for 45 minutes at fbc10, it just clicked immediately.

    gorgeous photos here meeta, truly spectacular :)

    missing you and the spice girls
    xo sporty

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  8. Oh, Meeta, I am laughing and crying all at once and thank heavens no one is around to see me! I am reliving this incredible weekend that flew by much to fast but was so jam-packed that we have enough memories to live on until the next Spice Girl reunion! Oh, to live in the same city with you lovelies! Fabulous and now off to post mine! Love you, honey!

    (am loving the Pink Spice)

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  9. Such amazing photos, Meeta. I would love to try your raspberry tahini macarons - so unusual!

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  10. SO which bunch of Mac was tasting the best.
    You girls indeed had a spicy time there in London.

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  11. What a wonderful post Meeta! Such great connections and good times! I love all your captures here...just stunning!

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  12. A great post! That must have been a very enjoyable meeting! It seems you had a lot of fun in London...

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  13. This is a fantastic post meeta....very well written....after seeing the pics, all that cam to my min was my initial days of my london stay!....soooo good....but again as u told, its not easy tolive in london since it is so busy and buzzy!it takes so much of time on travel!....well written....

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  14. I was not there, but I can still feel a lump in my throat as I went through the post. Yes, I can understand the emotions you all went through. Hugs to you all.

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  15. This is an amazing post - thanks for giving us a peek into what looks to be a very solid friendship. I also cherish the few friends I've made via foodblogging - they just really seem to get me in a way that other people never do.

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  16. Great report Meeta. Lovely to read about your fun weekend.

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  17. Love love love the post...simply super pics...and so much fun all captured in lovely pics!

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  18. Wow Meeta! what a wonderful meet up.
    I loved the pics, showing how much fun happened over the food :D

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  19. Oh Meeta, now you make me miss you even MORE!! Can't believe it was just 2 weeks ago that we were zipping around London together, talking, laughing, singing and having a ball. I think in total we got like 6 hours sleep that weekend but it was worth it :) The Spice Girls can take over CookSister HQ anytime! my only concern is that now the whole world has seen what a dumping ground my conservatory is :o)

    My post on the weekend to follow soon...

    MWAH!!

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  20. Loved Loved this post!! Meeta your have captured it so well.. the photos itself speak of the emotions.

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  21. thank you so much for all your comments. yes this friendship is special. a once in a lifetime and always to be cherished. i appreciate all your thoughts and feedback and glad you are liking the photographs too.

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  22. It's wonderful that you have such nice friends - and you are right - solid friendship is where you can pick up where you left off without any awkwardness.

    I love London because it's so busy yet so rich in culture, sights and sounds. Of course the fact that they have real women's clothing - perfect for my Indian curves - does help a little bit :)

    Love your cooking, and your photography even more because food that looks good makes you want to taste it.

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  23. It looks like you guys had so much fun. Makes me want to move to Europe!

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  24. Absolutely gorgeous post Meeta ... with pictures framed to match! You rock SPICE girls, you really do!! WOW!!

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  25. oh Meeta, that photos of the Trafalgar Tavern is SO beautiful. Love the textures and love the mood youve captured! Was it a high iso shot?

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  26. Just getting around to this now Meeta - what an awesome weekend you had. So so envious!!!

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  27. So happy you girls had so much fun together, Meeta! :-) Love the photos and story. :-)

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  28. Amazing pics of London Meeta. Enjoyed reading the stories behind them too. There's nothing like the connection you get when you first meet a great friend. It really shows through in this post.

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  29. Great post, lovely to see you all having a good time.

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  30. Beautiful to see!! Good Friendship :)

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  31. You've really captured the spirit of your time together -- what fun! I'm planning a trip to the UK for October and so it was great to get a glimpse of some of the venues through your eyes. Burlington Arcade is a must! Great write up.

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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta