Posted by: roamingolivia | February 15, 2011

Cultural round-up: first 6 weeks of 2011

I used to get report cards in school in six-week increments, and although I tend now to think of life in month-long terms, six weeks is as good as four so here goes. Here’s a list of what I’ve done so far:


  • Fire and Stone pizza in Covent Garden – got some kind of really spicy pizza, and it was pretty good
  • Mason & Taylor – pub with beer flights (tasting menus of beers) and good English tapas-style menu. Food tasted good but wasn’t that filling (we’re pigs) so we ate salt beef sandwiches immediately after (again: we’re pigs)
  • Angeles in Kilburn – this is not a logical choice, as it is next to a gas (petrol) station and the bus stop I use every day, but it is actually a pretty good Szechuan restaurant (don’t go to the buffet – order your food). The portions are massive, though, so go in a group.
  • Samarqand – this is an Uzbek restaurant run by Kazakhs, as part of a Russian chain (I think). It is pretty authentic, so you have to like boiled meat and rather bland dishes. I liked it more the first time than the second time, which makes sense because the first time had a lot of nostalgia influencing it. It got a hilariously bad review in one of the free newspapers recently, I believe, but didn’t see it.
  • Horseshoe pub / restaurant in Hampstead – I didn’t eat a full meal here, but I ate I think roast butternut squash and something like goat cheese, and it was good. I like the environment, and would probably like the beer but didn’t have any that day.
  • Fika Swedish restaurant. I had the veggie planka, and it was pretty good, but strangely heavy. Also they use a lot of carrots in everything. I don’t dislike carrots, but it was noticeable.
  • Zeytoon – this is one of two Iranian restaurants in my neighborhood (the other is Milad, which I’ve also visited in the past six weeks – possibly twice). Zeytoun’s chicken is worse than Milad’s but its meat is better.
  • Freemasons Arms in Hampstead. I had a burger, so it’s my own fault that the food was quite heavy, but I really liked the atmosphere, which made it seem relatively light (we were sitting in the glass room) on a grey day.
  • Baltic restaurant in Southwark. Again, I’ve been here before but not for ages. The pierogi weren’t as good as I remember them being in Poland (go figure), but the fish was excellent.
  • Rasa Sayang in Chinatown. I went here with three friends for Chinese New Year, and so we had a special menu for that, with some other Malaysian food. It was quite good, although the dessert I had was a little weird.
  • Silk Road – I’ve blogged about this before



  • Midsummer at Tricycle Theatre – this play is pretty good, but also a bit strange. It bills itself as a “play with songs”, which immediately makes you think of musicals (not my favorite genre, but I don’t mind them). But it is not really a musical. I actually really liked the music, and the play was captivating, although the script was occasionally trite.
  • David Sedaris screening at BBC – I’ve done this before, I think for the episodes that are currently online at that link. It’s always fun to see him, though, and to laugh at his stories, and I find him charming.
  • Bands playing in Kentish Town’s Bull and Gate – I went one night with friends visiting from Italy. The music was not my scene (it wasn’t theirs either, really), but Social Club was alright if you like Weezer. The others were fine but I didn’t love them.
  • Lessons in making Georgian cheese bread (khachapuri) at Tamada. I thought the food was pretty good, although it was hard to tell because the restaurant was technically closed and we were there with the British Georgian Society. I met interesting people and had good conversations, though, and it was fun. I don’t actually know how to make khachapuri.
  • Gasland at the ICA. We went to this because Biutiful was sold out, and so it was a bit random. But this movie freaked me out quite a lot, as it features people in the US who can light their water on fire because of underground natural gas production. I should research if it’s real.
  • Helen by Euripides, performed in Ancient Greek (with subtitles). This was interesting, if only for the sheer feat of having performed it in ancient Greek. And it’s an interesting story (what if Helen hadn’t gone to Troy but had been stuck in Egypt?).
  • Barrafina – Spanish tapas restaurant in Soho. I think this is the most recent notable food experience I’ve had, and it was really really good. The food was extremely rich – we had a range of fish and buttery and fried things, and it tasted really good, but it was all impeccable and delicious.



  • I started The London Salon (Facebook page here, leave a comment if you want to be included in the mailing list), and it has now had two meetings. It’s essentially a discussion group where someone I know and find interesting presents on something s/he knows about for 10-20 minutes and then people ask questions and discuss.
  • The first topic was on Sharia law of execution (start controversial is my motto) with Aimen Ramzi, and the second was on Russian socialist realist art with Alla Gould. (The next will be on contemporary post-Soviet literature but I’m working on a catchier title.)


Community involvement

  • Volunteered at Barnet schools with 14- or 12-year-olds (I forget). We (a group of 20+ volunteers who use languages in their jobs) explained why it’s important to learn languages, how it can make them rich and famous, and did a short marketing presentation for made-up futuristic laptops including foreign languages. It was fun, but loud. Why do they use hard surfaces in schools? They should carpet everything. The most popular person by far was the woman who works at Arsenal football club.


So. I guess this is why I’m feeling tired, and it’s good to write it all down because now I don’t have to feel like I never do anything. I’d be happy to hear comments if any of you have been to any of these things, or if you have suggestions of places to go, or top experiences of your year so far…


  1. You’ve done it (ie the salon)! Very exciting 🙂

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