Coincidence and Cake

Hot Chocolate/ Chocolate Brownie

Sometimes life throws people together in unexpected ways. Or maybe the world’s just too small. Whatever your perspective, I recently stumbled into the path of someone I hadn’t seen in ten years.

At school, I was a language fanatic, if a poorly-skilled one. I studied French, German, Spanish and Latin in my lunchtimes for good measure (or good geekery). I did a French and German exchange. My French penfriend and I kept in touch. Last year, I went to her wedding.

My German penfriend and I got on very well. But I did a useless job at staying in touch, something which I always regretted but made no move to rectify.

Imagine my surprise when I found a Facebook request from her on a Sunday morning. Scanning her profile, I noticed the same university as mine listed. Then I found her message, which went along the lines of “OMG It’s been years! I found you through our accommodation Facebook page – we’re living in the same building!”

If not for my post on Facebook about wanting to dress up for the James Bond movie, we might have passed the whole year never having met (over 350 live in our accommodation block). As it happened, we met that same day in the stairwell.

Time for a catch-up. Time for cake. Time for hot chocolate.

I am on a quest to find the best hot chocolate in London. First stop…

 Shoreditch Grind

It opened in 2011 and has built itself a reputation as a trendy place to get coffee. It was certainly packed out on a Saturday afternoon and could really benefit from a larger seating area. The chairs aren’t comfy, but the bustling atmosphere meant we could happily sit there for 4.5 hours of updating each other on 10 years of life.

Organisationally, the café loses a few marks. When we ordered our cakes, we were told, “All the plates are dirty, so would you mind having a take-away box?” Coordinating the washing up is not rocket science and should be second nature if you work in a café!  Plus at 2pm on a Saturday  there was no sign of the extensive pastry and sandwich menu splashed tastily across their website, but rather there were a few sad-looking beef bagels. And nothing else savoury. As a result, my friend and I had cake for lunch.

Now, I must confess I’m not a big coffee drinker and I was on my hot chocolate mission. But my friend thoroughly enjoyed her cappuccino, which came complete with heart decoration and her mystery berry cake was pretty scrummy too (“It tastes better than it looks!”)

Berry cake and coffee

The brownie was not as gooey as I normally like, but it was extremely dense and chocolate-y, so it got a stamp of approval. According to their website, it’s not just any brownie, it’s a Valrhona chocolate brownie. But as I’ve never had Valrhona chocolate, I can’t really validate these claims. (Anyone know anything about Valrhona chocolate?!)

As for the hot chocolate, it was weak, insipid and more milky than chocolatey. It wasn’t too sweet but it wasn’t memorable. And £2.50 for a small cup of poor quality contents?

Shoreditch Grind Hot Chocolate – 4/10.

Jamie’s Chorizo Carbonara

Jamie’s Chorizo Carbonara – Pheebz Eatz style

I was fortunate enough to receive an email from  Waterstones with a free recipe from Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals.

The phrase “15-Minute” made me very excited. The word “Chorizo” made me even more excited.

This recipe is great because it is almost that quick (I’m slow at chopping and don’t want to lose any digits…) and it’s cheap, and it’s mouthwatering, delicious and addictive. So addictive, in fact, that I’ve made it three times so far!

Here is the recipe with quantities adapted for one person, and a couple of additions/adaptations.  Enjoy!

Jamie’s Chorizo Carbonara (Pheebz Eatz style)
Serves 1 greedy person like me


Penne pasta

Chorizo (one large finger’s length)

Fresh red chilli (half)

Rosemary (one sprig)

Garlic (clove)

Red pepper (half)

Egg (one, medium-sized)

Yoghurt (natural fat-free, two tablespoons)

Lemon juice (one and a half tablespoons)

Manchego cheese (one finger)

Olive oil


  1. Boil a pan of water and start cooking the pasta.
  2. Chop the pepper and begin to fry in olive oil.
  3. Finely slice the chorizo. Finely chop the chilli and rosemary. Chop/crush garlic.
  4. When the pepper starts to soften, add the chorizo, chilli, rosemary, garlic and a good amount of black pepper, and fry until the chorizo starts to shrink. (Be careful not to burn the chorizo, but make sure it is cooked or it won’t release its wonderful flavour).
  5. Beat the egg, lemon juice and yoghurt together in a jug.
  6. Drain pasta and reserve a cup of the starchy water.
  7. Add pasta and the yoghurt mixture. Add the cooking water to loosen as necessary.
  8. Grate the manchego into the pan and mix until melted.
  9. Season to taste and serve.

The original recipe comes with a Catalan market salad, which is way beyond my budget as a student. However, some baby spinach leaves, cherry tomatoes and a little bit of manchego made a great accompaniment.

Scrummy side salad

Bond, Guns and Noodles

What kind of fancy dress store has security? A queue that reaches one and half hours?

The back story…

October 26th. Opening night of the public showings of Skyfall. Fancy dress party at the cinema.

Mission: find a gun.

I headed over to the Angels fancy dress store on Shaftesbury Avenue. To my horror, I easily found it.

I easily found it because the queue was half way down the road and the security guys were shouting “Keep to the right, keep to the right!” at everyone.

A queue to enter – can take up to 1.5 hours

I approached a guy with an earpiece and asked what on earth was happening.

“It’s really popular. It’s before Halloween.”

Oh, of course. Trust October 31st to eclipse October 26th, which is what the real party should have been about.

Nevertheless, I queued up at was admitted into Bedlam within 10 minutes.

On entering, I met security guard number #42. “Women’s costumes upstairs! Women’s costumes upstairs! Move along! [To me] MOVE along!”

“I want a gun!” I shouted, before I could stop myself.

The guard paused, assessing whether I was a nutter, or whether I was there to buy a toy gun. He waved me vaguely towards the counter.

I squeezed my way towards it and eyed up a couple of plastic pathetic items.

“Do you have any more guns?” I asked the lady. She pulled open a draw, revealing a cowboy gun, a space shooter, and a small blue plastic thing.

“Any James Bond guns?” I said, hopefully.

I was out of luck and strode to Covent Garden, intending to raid toy shops. I eventually found this:

Fire ze potatoes!

“Do you have any scarier guns?” I asked the man at the counter.

He blinked at me. “Erm, no. We have less scary ones, though.”

“No, I need scary. James Bond.”

It looked like this gun was going to be my best bet. It was still blue, but it was metal! No-one need know it’s supposed to shoot potatoes.

Sadly, no-one really bothered dressing up. The result was that at 4.50 in the afternoon, I was strutting across London looking like an expensive prostitute.

Not impressed
Title: Expensive prostitute with gun

To make matters worse, I had to wait in the foyer for my friend to arrive, whilst the others went on in. Cue: look busy on my mobile phone. Which is a brick and can not keep you entertained for very long.

I texted my friend.

“Hurry up! Someone is going to offer to pay for my services soon! x”

“I’m coming! Just three more minutes x”

“Hurry, Bond, hurry! There is no time! x”

So Skyfall was great! What happens at the end is….

Yeah, I’m not that mean.

Post-film, my friends decided not to stay at the James Bond party but to search for dinner. The fancy dress was, therefore, for nothing. It certainly wasn’t required at a cheap Singaporean restaurant. But as my Singaporean friend assured me, if you want authentic, basic, Singaporean food, momo’wich, just across from Spitalfields market, is the place to go. Even Bond girls have to eat.

Spring rolls and chicken wings

From Mediocrity to Motown, pt. 2

THE FOOD: Home-made ice-cream and cakes, plus good coffee

After a very mediocre meal, my parents needed coffee. I needed pudding. Just look at this:

That is a dessert called “The Temptations”, described as “a quintet of chocolate”. (This is a reference to THE BAND, go sort your musical education out if you’re confused!)

This is a dessert with soft, gooey home-made chocolate brownie and soft home-made ice-cream. Believe it or not, it is not overpoweringly sweet, although it’s heavy, so I recommend sharing. My parents are coffee snobs (Starbucks is the scourge of the earth) and they rated the coffee here as excellent.

The decor in this place was fab and their menu is worth reading for all the puns and Motown references:

It’s run by Asian guys and they’re super-friendly and obliging. And even turned the Motown lights on my photo 🙂

They do 10% off for students.  I’ll be heading back as soon as I can.

Overall 5/5 – Funky, fun, friendly and yum! 

Find Motown here.

From Mediocrity to Motown, pt. 1

I live in East London, close to Brick Lane, and I am very happy that a lot of Indians/Pakistanis also live there because I get to eat delicious food. My stomach might not be so happy, but we have to compromise sometimes.

As my parents were delivering all the stuff I’d forgotten, I had to ensure that they were well-fed. The logical step was, therfore, to get some serious curry! On a friend of  friend’s recommendation, we went to Tayyabs, but sadly it didn’t work out. Apparently, customers of Tayyabs should consider themselves privileged to be served!

THE PLACE: Tayyabs
THE FOOD: Punjabi

Tandoori chicken and seekh kebab

On our arrival, we were ignored by two waiters before someone finally came to seat us.

“Will the VIP area be OK for you?”

“VIP area?” exclaimed my father, excitedly. “Well, that sounds very good, doesn’t it?”

Apparently the VIP area is just another room where you actually have to share a table. I don’t have a huge problem with that but could someone please tell me how that is VIP?!

We eyed up the food around us excitedly, ordering an obscene amount. Now I shan’t bore you with the details, but the food was mediocre and unmemorable to say the least.  To give them credit where credit it due, the seekh kebab was very tasty, but my favourite, tandoori chicken, was dry and tasteless. The curries aren’t worth mentioning.

The meal would have been passable, given the reasonable prices, if it weren’t for the service, which didn’t exist.

“Excuse me, could you please clear some of these plates away?”

*Waiter walks off pretending not to hear*

“Excuse me, we need some of these plates cleared. We don’t have enough room.”

*Different waiter mutters something in a surly manner, refuses to take our plates, and walks off*

Overall 2/5

Don’t go unless you want to eat average food whilst feeling like unwelcome guests. 

Food quality 2.5/5 – Quality wasn’t bad, but taste was lacking.

Value for money 3/5 – Prices were around £7 a curry.

Atmosphere  3/5 – Lively and popular, if you ignore the fact the waiters are trying their hardest to ignore you!

Service 1/5 – They get one point for wrapping up the leftovers in a doggy bag. Waste not, want not – I’m a student!


I have moved to London. I still don’t have an oven. I am still unable to keep my place tidy, so I had a 7.20am panicked wake up on a Saturday to tidy up before my parents witnessed this:


But I am no longer dependent on the best cooks in the world AKA my parents to feed me (I may be slightly biased) or the survival canteen at my previous university.

So I’m learning to cook. Quick food. Cheap food. DELICIOUS FOOD. I am a student but there will be no compromise in taste. No excuses.

Watch out for upcoming London restaurant reviews and tips too!

Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup
— BBC Good Food


This is a winning recipe from BBC Good Food – it’s easily made from items in the store cupboard and it’s so quick and easy even I couldn’t screw it up. (Note to self: do NOT turn hand blender on when it is not fully immersed in the soup).

It’s rich, filling, healthy and spice levels can be easily moderated with yoghurt. It fed me for 3 days. Students and busy people – get on it now!