Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Last Minute Panic Sets in

Oh it's only a few days left until the big day! The wrapping paper is bought! The travel tickets home are booked and your in the midst of various festivities that involve booze. But despite all these preparations, you're still missing the vital things for a successful visit home. The presents. Now your parents will understand the lack of gifts but siblings and partners are less forgiving. Or so I've heard....

Now is the moment where you MUST go into the shops as online shopping now is futile! Here's just a quick little guide on what best to get family members and partners from the high street in one fell swoop.

For the Girlfriend
Now if your girlfriend is anything like me ( slightly odd, baby dickhead, crude&rude young lady who has hopeless flirty skills) then the following things are ideal.

Owl Bedding
Vintage Suede Fringe Jacket
Jeffery Campbell Tick Wedge Boots
£130 Office

For the Boyfriend
Now if you're like me and are absolutely useless at buying the other half a present when you have one, then follow this rough little guide. They're safe, practical things that can't go wrong!
Herschel Grey Backpack
£27.99 Game

For the Siblings
Now the siblings presents are easy if you just choose androgynous presents that could potentially cover both siblings and disqualify any petty bickering.

Lomography Dreamer Diana F+ Camera
Chill Pill Portable Speakers
£39.99 Selfridges

American Apparel Unisex Hoodie

Now hopefully that should help tie up a few loose ends for you! Now I'd personally like to thank Miss P For harassing me to finally write this up and for this I would like to offer her the chance to buy me this Cake Pop Kit

Merry Christmas Everybody! xxx

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Can't Fight That Festive Feeling!

It's that time again! The time when children go into a sugar induced frenzy over toys. The time when the shops are crowded and mildly dangerous. The time when stumbling home covered in glitter at 5am is deemed acceptable. A time when your bank manager is rubbing his hands together. All of these things do not put me in a festive mood. Well to be honest, I am rather fond of the glitter thing! To follow the old cliche, Christmas is a time for friends and family. Considering today's economic and political climate, those words couldn't be more true today than ever. But still it is rather nice to get a gift from somebody you love.

Now if you, like me and copious amounts of my friends, have found yourselves lacking funding to buy outstanding presents then read on. If you do find that you have money to buy them, then please think of your Little Critic and send a Kitchen Aid my way please.

I've noticed lately that every newspaper and magazine in the past week have spreads on spending on a budget. Funnily enough, the things under £10's were either socks, underwear or something that has no real function. No. Just no. I have had my fill of festive socks and underwear. It is only acceptable to buy a woman underwear if you are either A. Her boyfriend/husband/girlfriend/wife/partner B. Her Sugar-daddy C. Her boss down in the local "Tease and Tassels" club. If you are not in these three categories then don't do it. If you are then please, please, PLEASE buy something sexy. Novelty underwear is fine......but don't expect sex. You have been warned.

This is Sexy


Moving swiftly on. For those of us who will not be receiving things and shall only be giving this Christmas, I have carefully selected items that you can either make or buy for the ones you love. Now I could put them all in one post but unfortunately I have flu and my motivation levels have dropped after opening the first door on the advent calender. But I'll give you the first thing that I can think of for the moment.

For Mum

Afternoon tea. Now I haven't met a girl yet who's had afternoon tea and has refused to have it again. Afternoon tea is the opportunity to indulge in a primal sense of luxury and opulence, without having to go white tie. Think more Atonement and Downton Abbey than meeting the royals. In London there are various places where you can do Afternoon Tea but I'd personally stick with the top notch places because after all, it is mum!

I have vivid memories of visiting relatives and having afternoon tea or high tea with them. Occasions such as these is what births the stigma attached to afternoon tea. But today, afternoon tea is very Haute Fashion at the moment. At roughly £40-£50 per person for a basic afternoon tea, these places will refuse to offer you soggy sandwiches with fish paste in them.  

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lazy and Talentless

Ok, in the last post I confessed to my potential of being a baby Dickhead but this nothing compared to the horror I've just witnessed which will again lead to one of my favorite rants du jour! Now let me set the scene up for you, I've been living here in London for 3 years now roughly. I have the pleasure of having culture thrusting itself vigorously at me. If I don't want that, then I can watch various programs ranging from my pure geek fests where David Attenbourgh is king (do not argue with me!!) to well thought out comedies with underlying social issues such as "Threesome", to all out trashy tv made for watching with a hangover and pizza. The last of course being The Jeremy Kyle Show. Bless Jezzer! Now these shows are all reasonably original and if not then they have thought of a new way to make "fresh" and keep people interested.

Now for those of you who are not Ireland and have not had the opportunity to witness "original" Irish tv, then this will be a pleasure for you. Two shows that are the bane of life for the sheer lack effort and thought. The first is called Fade Street and the second is called Tallafornia. In general, to me, reality shows like Jersey Shores and these two monstrosities are great examples of cheap media and highlight the increasing lack of common sense within my generation and younger. Right so let me divide this up into little rants so you can see my well formed and constructed argument about these shows.

1. People are actually getting paid to star in, make, produce and edit them. I have various friends who are in this industry and have put forward so many genius ideas that have been put down due to them being deemed "unsuitable for Irish culture." It can't be just me who feels that this is a little reminiscent of Father Ted in the 90's when no Irish station would back the comedy about the Irish priesthood so Channel 4 took them in. Channel 4 then basked in the praise and the revenue created by it!

2. These shows encourage children and teenagers to behave in such an inappropriate way that is sickening. Now I'm no angel myself but I do believe that once you are past the age of 20 that you are allowed certain liberties but still I do not dress like a very laxed prostitute waiting for my next set of Botox sessions to come through. HOW are these shows allowed to be shown and encouraged?! From the 60's through to the mid 90's, music was the highway for sex, drugs and rock&roll. These were deemed unacceptable but somehow telling young girls that yes it's ok to behave like some little idiot and that needing to shag anything insight as long as you've got inches of fake-tan on is socially acceptable? People wonder why their kids are going out and drinking at 13, smoking at 14 and pregnant at 15?

3. What is the actual point of these shows? I don't actually know if it's just me being funny but I like shows to have some sort of baseline issue. The new comedy "Threesome" feature Amy Hubberman carried the baseline thought of modern day pregnancies within unconventional settings along with the realization of coming of age. There may be a possibility that I relate to the lead female character (without the pregnancy bit) but still it presents issues that my generation are being to face. Again these shows present no form of anything educational or touches any modern realistic issues that are neither staged nor put forward by somebody who I doubt could find the location of the local GUM clinic!

4. It's all been done before. It was terrible when the states did it. It was dreadful when the UK did it and now it's an absolute train-wreck when Ireland did it.

These are things that frankly, fuck me right off. Whenever I come home I automatically watch English channels because I know I can be guaranteed originality. What I would love to see is a producer in Ireland taking a risk and questioning modern Irish society. I want a show that presents modern issues  such as the deepening of the "Depression Recession" amongst a young generation, the social stigma that surrounds being anything but straight and the under the breath racism that I have noticed more and more. These are issues that are not deemed as offensive in England to air but in Ireland it feels like blasphemy to even suggest real topics and agenda's be introduced without some political or religious agenda.

Please somebody, can you stop things like Tallafornia being made and actually make something worth watching.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I Love my Life as a Dickhead......

So I went out in Dalston (again!) with Blondie (again!). We drank Lucky Stripe. Ok when I say we I mean I drank it as we walked along before chancing our luck with a club that shall never be mentioned again, then proceeded to feel somewhat very vommity for a tense 5-10mins.  We  listened to synth. We spoke to many people wearing beanie hats, sporting a moustache and lenseless thick framed glasses.  For all my " I will never be a hipster dickster!" ranting, I've started to come to terms that I may in fact be one. All those who know me may want to get tested for dickheadness!

In true LC fashion, I have not portrayed my evening well. Lets start again. Having been greatly let down by Mother Bar in Shoreditch, by greatly let down I refer to the fact that charming our way past the bouncer without paying the £7.50 fee in was the highlight, we decided to jump in a petrol deficient cab and run back to our increasingly favourite haunt in Dalston, The Alibi

Now for those of you who live in the general London vicinity, you will be mildly aware that Dalston is slowly revamping into the "it" place to live and go out.  Of course, Blondie and I did not randomly find this place. We carefully chose it out of  a handful of "hip, young places" and did not just happen to wander int he first time because there was 1. No cue and 2. the guys ahead of us had tattoos! What sort of narrow minded girls do you think we are?! The right kind, that's what!

When you walk past The Alibi you can feel the coolness oozing out of it in the exact way mist oozes out of a grave in low budget film. Guys shuffle past with cheeky grins and colorfully impressive ink, whilst the girls dance about with equally impressive ink. The odd think about the place is that everybody is friendly! To those of you unused to places such as this, they usually posses some cold sharp edge of uncaring cruelty that renews some sense of childish vulnerability. Which is bad. The Alibi however is a concrete basement that emits warmth and friendliness. This may have been a drink induced warmth but I am still sure that most of the people I spoke to in there were nice!

Situated down the road from the infamous Dalston Superstore and run by Real Gold, The Alibi has hit all the right notes in my books for a pretty decent night out. The drinks are at a reasonable price for the basics that they are, the bouncers are amusing and highly aware of every passing, the staff are friendly, the music  flows quite happily and finally there seems to be a rather large ratio of males to females. This naturally does not impact our judgement on where we always end up.

We are good girls. Well from 9-5 we are.......

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Silence is Not So Golden

Ah well that was a long absence wasn’t it! You may thank a variety of factors, personally I’d like to blame work schedules and a severe lack of internet...JOY! However have no fear, despite all this I’ve been eating, watching and casually getting drunk with the help of some fairly prestigious people, damn them and their seductively smooth tequila!

Moving swiftly on, well actually that’s what the blog shall now be doing. It has come to my attention, via one of my regular conversations with myself on a crowded tube, that I’m finding it difficult to just keep focus on just food and that my attention is starting to stray towards general lifestyle. So now I shall be delving into lifestyle and will try very hard not to cross over into Sexy Exy’s territory of fashion, (although it was my territory first, I just let him have it because he makes a good rent boy.)

So you can expect a long blast of reviews stored up, mini illustrations, photos, lifestyle goodies and my usual dose of insanity!

Enjoy lovlies xx

Friday, February 11, 2011

I've got an Itch that Needs to be Fixed...

I love this time of year for various reasons, the smell of fresh Spring flowers, the chances to wear your own rendition of the new S/S collections, the upheaval of traditional S/S food and more besides. The main reason for me is the various chances of consuming chocolate, Valentines Day, Pancake Tuesday, Easter, My's endless! However Himself may see this as counteractive to my "I'm going to get fit again" regime (It's a viscous dictators regime where he rules supreme and forces me to take stairs.)

Moving on, last night I had an unbelievable chocolate craving after flicking through a few cook books of mine. So in honor of V-Day and all that is indulgent about the day, I'm gonna turn chef one last time for V-Day.

Dark Chocolate Soup

with Cinnamon Croutons

Who doesn’t like soup?!

Makes 8


Dark Chocolate Soup

1/2 cup of sugar

1/4 cup of water

pinch of salt

6 cups of half and half ( half milk, half double cream)

2 tsps instant espresso powder

24oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate finely chopped

8 small scoops vanilla ice-cream

Cinnamon Croutons

1 loaf of bought pound cake

1/2 cup of sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 cup of unsalted, melted butter


  1. Combine the sugar and the water in a large sauce pan over a medium heat. Cook, gently swirling the pan occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and starts to change colour.
  2. Increase the heat to high and boil until the syrup turns a deep amber colour, 4-5 mins. NB: watch very carefully because this can burn quickly!Immediately remove from the heat and add the salt and half-and-half, the carmel will start hissing at you.
  3. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, stirring to dissolve the caramel in the half-and-half, about 2mins.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the espresso and chopped chocolate, stirring until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.
  5. Divide into 8 shallow soup bowls. Carefully place a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the centre of each bowl and float 4 pound cake croutons around each scoop of ice-cream.
  6. Serve Immediately.


  1. Preheat the grill.
  2. Cut a razor thin slice from both ends of the pound cake to reveal the interior.cut the trimmed loaf croswise into 8 equal slices.
  3. Trim each slice to form perfect, uniform squares. Stir the sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl.
  4. Brush both sides of the croutons with the melted butter and sprinkle generously with the cinnamon-sugar.
  5. Place the slices on a large baking tray and grill until the sugar on top starts to bubble and turn brown, 1-2mins. Remove from the oven, turn over and grill the other side for a further 1-2 mins.
  6. Transfer the sheet to a wire rack to cool, use a serrated knife to carefully cut each slice into 4 equal squares.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

For my lazy Italian Lovely....

Now for those of you who know me, yes Sexy Exy I'm talking about you in lovely irresistibly tight blue trousers, you will know that I've fallen under the evil charm of the youngest Semprini and the rest of the family, cats and all! So in true me style, this V-Day post is dedicated to Himself, a main course inspired by his Italian and Spanish roots.....SOOOO it's completely unItalian and Spanish in every single way. But he loves it.

Now in my mind, Italian food is romantic but it's a type of food that for me is purely for comfort due to the often messy, drippy nature of it all. Brilliant, yes. Tasty, yes. Half the contents of a piece of handmade ravioli stuck to the side of your face, sexy...not quite.

So after careful consideration I agreed (with myself, naturally) that for food to be sexy and romantic, spice is essential. Flavors that hint of the possibility of a return of The Ballet Russe and it's middle eastern inspired food. This time though, I'm going to stretch a little further east for the inspiration.

Ginger & Lime Chicken with Sweet Potato Mash
Ginger to fire the blood.


Zest and juice of 1 lime
1tbsp maple syrup or clear honey
Thumb-size Piece fresh Root Ginger cut into matchsticks
1tsp of Grated Root Ginger
2x Skinless Chicken Breasts
450g Sweet Potatoes, roughly chopped
1tbsp Olive Oil
2tbsp Creme Fraiche

NB: I keep my ginger root frozen as it last longer and is often a little easier to cut. Also It's easier to grate and is perfect to grate into apple juice to add a little kick.
  1. Mix half the lime zest and all the juice with the maple syrup and the grated ginger. Slash each chicken breast 3-4 times with a sharp knife. Place in the bowl of marinade for 10mins.
  2. Cook the sweet potatoes in a pot of salted water for 10-12 mins until tender. Drain and mash well, adding the rest of the zest and the creme fraiche. Season well.
  3. Grill the chicken for 10-15 minutes until cooked through and the top lightly caramelised.
  4. Heat the oil in a small frying pan until it's really hot. Add the ginger and garlic. Fry until crisp then remove the ginger and garlic from the oil with a slotted spoon. Stir in the ginger&garlic infused oil to the mash.
  5. Divide the potato between two plates, in the centre of each plate. Place a chicken fillet on each mound and then scatter the crispy ginger and garlic around it. Serve with sugar snap peas.
  6. Enjoy bambino

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Critic Goes Chef Has The Look of Love....

You gaze deeply into each others eyes, oblivious to the candle light sending your shadows dancing across the wall. The smell of fresh roses wafts through the room, mixing with her perfume....

Hands up those of you who will be hoping to spending an evening like this but will more than likely end up with smudges of flour across your nose, a decent burn mark on the arm and in a foul mood as various things will have burned simultaneously? *raises hand*

Well you're in luck! Here is the first installment on the V-Day "Critic Goes Chef."

So, ideally for V-Day you don't want food that could make a mess or potentially be smeared across a face or dress. (We females do not take to that kindly, a lot of effort has been put into our ensemble!) Nor do we want food that will get caught in the teeth, spinach may taste yummy but it fails to set a romantic mood.

Halloumi Skewers with Parsley and Lemon Salsa

It's quick. It's easy. It's not overly messy. Perfect.


2 x 250g Haloumi Cheese
4tbs Olive Oil
32 wooden skewers

Lemon Salsa
3tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
15 Black Olives (chopped finely)
A Small Bunch of Flatleaf Parsley (alternatively, like me, use Coriander) Finely Chopped
1tsp Small Capers (rinsed)
Zest of 2 Lemons
2tsp Red Wine Vinegar
1 Small Red Onion

  1. Place all of the salsa ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Set aside.
  2. Cut each block of halloumi into 8 equal slices. Cut each slice in half so you end up with 32 pieces
  3. Heat 1tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan. Brown the halloumi on both sides then drain on some paper towel. Push the halloumi onto the skewers so it looks like a lollipop. NB: These will need to be done in batches, adding oil each time.
  4. Serve warm with the salsa.
  5. Gaze into each others eyes
  6. Realize somethings burning in the kitchen
  7. Panic!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Way to a Man's Heart is Food..

Yes, this is highly true. It's quite easy to find a man who likes food, but finding a man who shares your sometimes overwhelming passion for food is something rarer. Once you've found him, don't let him go, this is best done by luring him back into your lair with little mini cakes or treats. Alternatively bribe him with sex and food. Usually works!

Alas, V-Day is upon us. Never believe a couple when they say they're excited for Valentines day. They're lying. The bastards! For those who are single, Valentines day is a day seemingly designed to mock their singledom by flocks of couples looking doppily into each others eyes and whispering non-sensicle words into each others ears. For couples it's an apparent affirmation of their love for one another in the form of the traditional red heart on a card and a present. This bit is fine, it's just the finding of all of these things that is the pain, also the evil looks you receive from a single shopkeeper as you pick a card out. Jealousy was a colour that did not suit her!

ANYWAY, V-Day rambling over. It's all well and good to go out for a romantic meal on V-Day, although every other person and their partner will also be sharing this date with you. Now I have a pet hate of people who claim that making a nice home-made diner for V-Day is cheap and nasty, clearly neither of them can cook and seem to have neglected the recent climate.

So it is with my happy heart that I would like to say that in the lead up to V-Day I will be doing a mini series of Critic Goes Chef, with various recipes that are inspired or dedicated to love and all it represents. After all, nobody can go to bed with the one they love on an empty stomach!

PS: Funnily enough the Valentines Day heart is based one the shape of a woman's bum when she's leaning over, not the anatomical heart. Thank you The Big Bang Theory for that, and who said you can't learn anything from tv!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

We Do Speak Italiano

Well, I actually can't speak a word of Italian apart from "Lets Go", my experience of Italian is usually point at what I want and hope for the best. Worked out very very well recently however!

This is just a general forewarning that things around here may have a little injection of proper Italian and Spanish food. This is mainly due to a certain Mr. Semprini who has magically whisked me off my feet with culinary delights via his family. His family manage to be blessed with Spanish and Italian roots allowing for high cheek boned, dark toned cooks who manage to turn a domestic kitchen into a haven of culinary delights. Cooking companions often being feline begging for food or a hen wandering inside for any little scraps left out.

All in all, I shall be watching closely to the cooking and try and take a few notes. That is if I'm able to tear myself away from watching it all in absolute awe as this cooking has a singular fluid movement that allows for socializing, tasting and laughter. The complete opposite to my rushed, choppy thrown together meals.

The Youngest of the Semprini Family (He's still older than me!) providing a suitable meal for me after work.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Market Living

Borough Market,
8 Southwark Street,

Oh. Dear. God! This is the most frustratingly brilliant places I've ever been to in a long long time. The only way to describe it is as an artist haven, a foodies visual orgasm and my nirvana.

The whole premises consists of a labyrinth of stalls and vendors selling luxury food at a price that immediately forces you to suck air through your teeth. But these sellers are crafty, they've learnt that we (meaning 'I') can be made do any bidding my the meager use of 'free samples'. It does also help that the samples happen to be absolutely amazing, after all who'd have thought that a free sample of an award winning granola would have me raving about it hours later?!

My best advice is to arrive early, this way you can see all the fresh game before it's snatched up and the more interesting of the homegrown produce bought or mauled by curious tourists.

Eat lunch in and perhaps sample an ostrich steak burger. Don't pull that horrified look at me! Ostrich meat is actually one of the healthiest meats in the world, low in fat, high in tastes and apparently very easy to produce. I'm always surprised that it isn't as highly advertised as it should be, this is also coming from a beef farmers daughter! I know my meat.

If you're not quite after food then have a look at all the juice stalls. One in particular, it's name has completely left my head (typical), mainly specializes in warmed spiced juice, perfect for the early days of spring that are still holding onto that bitter winter bite. I happily recommend the 'Warm Spiced Pear", a drink designed to heavily mess with your senses of seasonal time, the pear suggesting a nice summer drink whilst the spices bring forward festive spirits. Perfect for Spring I think.

I can't really say much more about the market except that I should be there again soon to try and see more but I doubt that I'll ever see it all in one day.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ain't Nothing But

Ain't Nothing But,
20 Kingly Street,

Oh what I can I say about this place....well I can say a lot but they're all good trust me.

Ain't Nothing But, for me, is a magical place that fuses two things that I like to see in a bar, good live music and the nicer aspects of a dirty little bar. Ain't Nothing But does this and more. I'm an avid fan of general indie music and what not so to my surprise I found myself one night in a pure blues bar in Soho. Now in my mind blues is all meloncholly styled music , that's half true, SOME of it is but that night none of it really was.

When I went to the bar, it was a Monday and my friend and I believed that it was going to be a quiet drink out with some gentle blues music. Oh how mistaken we were! Upon entering we were faced with a full little bar with friendly faces from various proffesions and industries all swarming together due to a shared love of blues music, or in my case music. The atmosphere is one that I've never found in many clubs or event nights (with the exceptiong of WAR in Dublin.) It can only be described as hominess in a dirty old mans bar. I know that doesn't sound so great but unless you've been to such a place you will always be ignorant of the gentle atmoshpere.

Although the atmoshpere is altered mildly due to the music. Upbeat, loud, live, lusty music, what more could I ask for?! Well drinks are always a good start.

For London the prices for drinks are reasonable, for an Irish person living on the London outskirts, the prices are brilliant compared to Ireland. Ask them and they will do their best to provide whatever concotion you crave. A good example is my present vice of tequila with various other drinks with a twist of lime.

I can't really say much more about this place apart from that I highly recomend it.