Kanapina Indian Street Food

Where: Reuters Plaza, Canary Wharf, E14
When: 29/10/12
Website: www.kanapina.com
Rating:

On Monday night Ruth and I went to see the wonderful Scott Mattthews at the East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf. Whilst Ruth was stuck on the Tube, I grabbed us some dinner from one of the food shacks right opposite the exit to the station. Of the three, the one that caught my eye most was Kanapina Indian Street Food.

For £4.85 you can build your own roti roll, adding your own choice of filling, salad and sauce (menu). I plumped for the chicken tikka which had been marinated for 24 hours and added in both salad options and topped it off with the Imli sauce (sour tamarind pulp and sweet dates). They wrap it up in silver foil for you to keep it warm.

Verdict:

Not a bad option if you are in a hurry, but it is not anything special. I can’t really fault the food – it tasted fresh and wasn’t greasy – but the street food scene in London is so strong that Kanapina is in danger of being eclipsed by the crowd of competition.

Advertisements

Scott Matthews @ East Wintergarden

Where: The East Wintergarden, Canary Wharf, E14
When: 29/10/12
Website: www.scottmatthewsmusic.co.uk
Price: £17.50
Rating:

The evening didn’t get off to the best of starts. Ruth had been caught up in the vagaries of the London transport system, rendering her nearly half an hour late; the almost full Moon was straining to creep through the clouds that were unleashing their unique brand of constant drizzle.

When Ruth finally managed to emerge from Canary Wharf tube station, we wound our way through the workers running through the rain for their bus home. We were heading for a gig at the East Wintergarden, a venue I’d never heard of before let alone been to. Initially I was underwhelmed as the entrance had the same cold, slick and soulless quality that doesn’t see me visit Canary Wharf very often.

However, the venue itself was a pleasant surprise. Tables had been arranged in a “cabaret style” with round tables, topped with candles and encircled with chairs. Behind the stage was a black screen littered with pin-pricks of light mocking up stars. But the real sight was to be seen overhead, a glass ceiling revealing a canopy of lights from the surrounding office buildings, mapping out their own makeshift constellations in the cloudy, starless sky.

This was a cool place to see one of our all time favourite artists: Scott Matthews. A lanky, Ivor Novello award winning singer/songwriter from Wolverhampton, he is a troubadour in every sense of the word. He also has a special place in our affections as one of our first dates was at one of his gigs back in 2006 when we were both students at the University of Manchester.

Before Scott took to the stage, his support act – ESKA – entertained us for half an hour or so. Born in Zimbabwe, but raised in London, she is certainly a force of nature – I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a voice like hers before. Soulful yet folky, with beautiful lyrics, I couldn’t actually decide whether I liked it or not. At times she hit such high notes – think the love child of Kate Bush and Minnie Ripperton on steroids – that I gurned and physically had to shrink away from the stage. I’d be interested to listen to her studio stuff though.

After a brief hiatus, Scott Matthews tip-toed on stage. Not a natural showman, his on-stage banter is often awkward but we’ve come to love it over the 5 times we’ve seen him in London. All is forgotten when he opens his mouth to sing, though. In the school of Nick Drake and Jeff Buckley, his songs are like a warm comforting blanket to me. Dark, frank and often tackling themes of loneliness, his lyrics are beautifully poetic and his melodies haunting.

He played a mixture of old and new songs, opening with Dream Song, from his debut album Passing Stranger, before wrapping up ninety minutes later with the stunning Ballerina Lake from his latest album, What the Night Delivers. My personal highlight of the evening was his beautiful rendition of the aptly titled So Long My Moonlight (Spotify album track below). He left without playing Elusive, his biggest mainstream hit, perhaps a sign he is tiring of it being the only song to have registered in many people’s consciousness. It shouldn’t be – his entire canon is as mighty.

Verdict:

A class act on the top of his game. Happy to tinker with a few songs to keep them sounding fresh, this was the ultimate antidote to the encroaching darker nights and the inauspicious start to the evening. The East Wintergarden is a great venue for an intimate gig and we’ll certainly be keeping an eye on their programme of events. With a new album due out in 2013, we might even get some new songs to play at our wedding!


Museum of Childhood

Where: Museum of Childhood, E2
When: 19/02/2012 (everyday 10:00 – 17:45)
Website: http://www.vam.ac.uk/moc/
Price: Free
Rating:

Being a grown up can be a tough business. If you’ve ever pined for the good-old days of a world without jobs, mortgages and bank statements, then it’s well worth spending an hour or two at the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green.

A small museum, part of the Victoria and Albert Museum, you’ll find many memories on display. Sega Megadrives, Amstrad computers and tamagotchis were just some of the exhibits that had me reminiscing about my youth. You’ll also find an impressive assortment of dolls, action figures, puppets and rocking horses. Not to mention their very own working model train set housed in a large glass case.

They even have toys dating back as far as the 1600s.

Verdict: Well worth a trip to spend a lazy or wet afternoon having a look around – an hour should be enough to see everything. They also have a small shop with a great collection of kids’ books and toys. Ruth picked up a couple of cool birthday presents for her niece and nephew.

Micha Fine Foods (Takeaway)

Where: Old Spitalfields Market, E1
When: 07/01/12
Rating:

Fast food may see your stomach full minutes after parting with your pennies, but it is often a disappointment. Nothing could be further from the truth at Micha Fine Foods on the edge of Old Spitalfields Market.

We could smell it before we saw it. Intrigued, we turned the corner to find a variety of amazing looking food all laid out immaculately. From pasta to pies, soups to salads, they boast a wealth of choices many with a Mediterranean theme. You’ll also find falafel, kofta and the ingenious bread bowls – a clever cocktail of pasta, sauce and freshly-baked bread casing. In fact, it was a tough decision to choose from the plethora of options on show.

I went for the fajita wrap. Sounds a little mundane, but this was a fajita with a difference – gone was the thin tortilla casing, replaced with grilled flat bread. The simple substitution made such a difference; every mouthful was a delight. Despite the toasting of the flat bread on the outside, the chicken was beautifully moist on the inside. Ruth had the Crispy Chicken Wrap, complete with sweet chilli sauce, and was soon joining me in a chorus of superlatives.

Verdict: Amazing. Best fast food in a while and certainly the best fajita I have ever had. At £3.50 it left my stomach full without emptying my pocket. Will definitely be going back to try some of the other amazing looking grub on offer.

Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair

Where: Spitalfields Market
When: 07/01/12
Website: http://www.vintagefair.co.uk
Rating:

We went along to Judy’s at Spitalfields on Saturday to try and pick up some vintage bargains for our new flat. The majority of stalls were for clothing and jewellery, and if that’s what you’re going for you’re in for a treat. Lots of unusual things at cheap prices. It was a bit limited for what we were looking for – most things we saw were 60s/70s, and the market was smaller than we expected, but it’s still absolutely worth a look. We ended up leaving with two 1960s Vogue prints of Donna Mitchell by photographer Jean-Loup Sieff (see below). The shops around the market are also really interesting – full of old furniture, melting clocks and globes.

Verdict: Perfect for those looking for vintage clothing bargains. Rest of Spitalfields a great place to pick up a bite to eat and/or grab a coffee. Pop down there for an hour.

Prints:

Kino London – The Monthly Open Mic Short Film Night

Where: Vibe Bar, Brick Lane
When: 05/01/12 (and every first Thursday of the month)
Website: http://www.kinolondon.com/
Rating:

We wanted to start 2012, and our plan to make the most of London, with something a little bit different and unusual. What we didn’t expect to find was Shoreditch’s answer to Keith Lemon in a trilby. Let me explain: on Thursday we went to Kino – a monthly open mic short film night where anyone can screen films under six minutes.

Arriving at Vibe Bar, we were asked by two separate people where Kino was – obviously we looked the part. The bar is classic shabby chic, mismatched chairs/sofas and very Shoreditch (there was even free popcorn). The night started off with a screening of ‘His Haunted Laughter’, a silent film about a deranged clown introduced by film-maker Jamie H. Scrutton, or as we will forever know him – Keith (could easily have been Leigh Francis hiding behind a hat!). We, and perhaps the rest of audience too, weren’t entirely convinced by the film. It was visually interesting but fell slightly on the pretentious side of innovative and we were a bit concerned about what the night would bring.

However, the films that followed allayed our fears and included ‘The Event’, a film about a mystery vision in the sky, and Colourvision, exploring relationships and race. ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, an excellent animated film with no dialogue, and a trailer for our favourite, ‘Daydreams’, by Yemi Barimo, are embedded below alongside Scrutton’s effort. Barimo’s story of elderly people in a care home expertly conveyed poignancy, humour, sadness, memory and loss in 7.5 minutes (breaking the rules!) The audience was transfixed and Yemi received a deserved huge applause.

Other highlights included Molly Brown’s very funny ‘Guide to Fine Dining’, which included the amusing abbreviation of CYH-SEO (Careful You’ll Have Someone’s Eye Out). The food theme continued with ‘Dining’ by Johnny Pratt, a film about a woman with a Zombie husband attempting to live a normal suburban lifestyle. ‘The Spy’ by Andy Lewis (a Kino regular) was shot entirely on an iPhone 4. The biggest laugh of the night came during ‘A Game of Monopoly’ by Gusack Movies, a trailer for a film based on Monopoly in the style of Ridley Scott – very funny and a great idea.

There was also an opportunity for anyone in the audience to come up with film ideas to be made for the London Short Film Festival. Made in one week, with anyone involved in the filming, they’ll be screened on Thursday 12th. Our favourite ideas were ‘Dolphin in a coma’ and ‘Because today we are remembering grass’. ‘Occupy Yourself’, a previous Kino challenge about sex line addiction (and an angry miniskirt), was screened by a group of people who had only met for the first time a month earlier.

The night provided some fantastic examples of innovative film-making and exciting new directors, and certainly provided something different. The films were a little hit and miss, but at an average of 5 minutes per film, this really didn’t matter. The audience participation for the Kino challenges was also great fun. There is a full bar upstairs where the films are screened and, while the prices were cheap, there was a single, fairly useless barman for around 100 people. Get your drinks for the night early!

Verdict:

If you’re interested in film and looking for something different to do in London this is a great night, and for only £4 each it’s really cheap. Go with an open mind, and I’m sure like us you’ll appreciate the talent of the film makers and actors involved and see something a little unexpected.

Videos: