We have neglected this space for too long! One of our best friends asked us why we have not been updating the blog, and I replied to say that it was hard to beat the number of views we got for our last gastrographic post! Since then, we have had crossed some major milestones. For one, I (Gloria) moved to London last year and we also got married in January this year! In the last year we have been trying out new places to eat in London and will try to post more as we go along. For a (new) start, here’s a little gem of a place that our friend, Bel, brought us to.

Xi’an Impressions
117 Benwell Rd, London N7 7BW
+44 020 3441 0191
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 11.30 am – 10.00 pm

Xi’an Impressions is a hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant close to Highbury & Islington train station, directly across the road from the Emirates Stadium, which specialises in traditional Chinese street style cooking. It looks a little dodgy from the outside and you wouldn’t expect any difficulty getting a seat. We were so wrong! We have visited twice, and everything we ordered did not disappoint. I recommend going early because some of the most popular dishes get sold out really quickly. The hand pulled noodles, cold noodles, and Chinese burgers are the restaurant’s top selling dishes. Our two favourite dishes have got to be their Ginger Chicken and Xinjiang stir-fried chicken dish.

Boneless Chicken in Ginger SauceFullSizeRender-5

Please let us know what you think if you do ever have a chance to visit this place. See you all soon!

The Cartmel Village Shop for Sticky Toffee Pudding

From the M6 junction 36 follow signs for Barrow-in-Furness (A590). On the big Meathop roundabout take the right exit and follow the brown signs for Cartmel Priory. Continue through the village to the Market Square.

The Carmel Village Shop does sticky toffee pudding. Extremely good sticky toffee pudding. And the best part of it is that it’s all take-awayable. There’s an entire chiller full of it. Aluminum foil packs for two, for four and for six, and they come in different shapes as well. I half considered packing one into a care package back to Singapore for Gloria; she likes the stuff at The Marmalade Pantry but Cartmel’s puds just blow them out of the water. Unfortunately because the stuff is freshly baked and packaged every day there wasn’t a chance it was going to survive a 7 day rough and tumble through the international mail network without spilling sweet sticky goodness all over other peoples’ mail.

Cartmel Shop
The story behind sticky toffee pudding was that it was pioneered by Lake District chefs between 20 to 30 years ago. As with any good thing, there are a number of hotel kitchens and shops like Cartmel who claim and market themselves to have done it first. History is fine but quibbling over what happened in the past is just missing the point; legacies are based on who does something best, not who does something first.

UK Lake District_Cartmel Shop_Sticky Toffee Pudding Upon entering the shop one is greeted by a shop floor filled with condiments, cordials, cheeses and wines. Sticky toffee pudding is the signature obviously, but there is an effort to make the shop more than just that. The cafe on the upstairs is well lit and clean. The food preparation area is not confined in a separate room and one has a sense of being a guest in someone’s house when eating there. The pudding is served fresh from the morning’s batch, spongey, porous and utterly saturated in a saccharine toffee sauce. The vanilla ice cream supplement is a must-have. Wash it all down with a pot of tea and all will feel right in the world again.

UK Lake District_Cartmel Shop 2 The shop floor is lined with shop shelves packed full of tasty things.UK Lake District_Cartmel Shop 1The pub right across the market squareCartmel

I made a second trip to the Lake District in June, on a trip organised by a dear friend, Wai Lam, who is also a local of the area. There is much to be said about revisiting places. To borrow the words of Steve McCurry, “I’m a firm believer in going back to the same places multiple times… You’re there during different seasons and … in different kinds of light. You go back when you’re in a different frame of mind. … You get different kinds of pictures. I think a lot of it takes time.” I think it also serves as a comparator of a person’s skills and of the different influences he may have assimilated from the last time he shot at the location.

Lake District weather is notoriously temperamental. On most days the skies are overcast and dreary. However overcast skies do produce a very even quality of light that lend themselves to a very mellow sort of photograph.

Kinda sorta my dream homeUK Lake District_Manor and Lake

UK Lake District_HikeUK Lake District_Oak TreeUK Lake District_Farm

This was a fun photographic trip for me. For us the District wasn’t so much about seeing the lakes but about climbing the peaks. Wai Lam planned the trip around us scaling Helvellyn, the third highest peak in England, walking along the misleadingly named Striding Edge to get there. It was really more a SCRAMBLE than a STRIDE – which was at times terrifying (for the sheer drops on either side of the ledge we were walking on) and exhilarating.

Just lunching in a small shale wall next to the Red Tarn before the final climb up to Striding EdgeUK Lake District_Red Tarn 2Striding Edge from a distance. As sharp as a dragon’s tooth along the ridge.UK Lake District_Strider's Edge 2
Guides with tourists in tow. One of them was scaling with his dog, which was pretty amazing.UK Lake District_Helvellyn
UK Lake District_Red Tarn
Some times the best views aren’t seen from the top, but halfway up and looking back.UK Lake District_Helvellyn and Strider's EdgeDressed like we were going for war. This was at the top of Helvellyn. Ruddy windy that day. UK Lake District_Helvellyn PeakUK Lake District_Grass and MossUK Lake District_Lady and her DogUK Lake District_Windermere

I suspect we’ll be back again to the Lake District some time soon. Maybe make it a sort of yearly or bi-yearly pilgrimmage to the country from now on.

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