Craig Gibbons' Lifeblog lifeblog://tri.eat.net

31Dec/040

A day at Borough Market

Yesterday Laura and I went to Borough Market to procure fresh goods for our own Christmas dinner preperations. We're not a greedy pair really, we just happened to be apart on Christmas day and felt we owed it to ourselves to cook a first grade Christmas dinner just for us. Enter Borough Market, England's oldest market dating back to AD 1276 and truly an adventure and a delight for the senses. The market stalls sell mainly fresh organic produce, fruit & vegetables and top quality meat, fish and cheeses from around the world. In the brief time spend there yesterday (30th December 2004) I was impressed with the breadth and quality of goods on offer. If you are looking for things you won't generally find at the local Sainsbury's, Borough Market is the place to come. For the longest time I had been searching for a type of french cheese which I first read about on Chocolate & Zucchini some months back. This particular cheese, called Cabécou, is hard to come by and is only made by smaller independant farmers, I was hoping to find it at Borough Market and was surprised and impressed upon finding it at only the second cheese store visited. Despite the fact that most of the stalls weren't open so close to New Years, it was still a great experience, made better (and decidedly warmer) by a cup of mulled cider. Highly recommended.

You can find more information on the Borough Market website.

31Dec/040

Global 20cm Cooks Knife

This year for Christmas, my good mum & dad bought me this gem of a Knife, the Global 20cm Cooks Knife! I already own the 13cm blade, but this one is really where it's at. I gave it a whirl last night and it was just about the most gratifying vegetable chopping i've ever done. Thanks folks and Merry Christmas.

You can buy this knife from Amazon.co.uk for a mere £38.90

31Dec/040

The Claremont – My perfect new flat

During this past vacation in Cape Town (22 - 29 December 2004), I had the good fortune to come across an opportunity to purchase a styly 1-bedroom apartment in a new development. Tired of listening to my fathers persistent pleas to purchase some property and 'get on the ladder', I decided to go have a look at this development in the Claremont area, more specifically, on Claremont main road. This new development, aptly called 'The Claremont', is located between the Pick n' Pay building and the Stadium on Main mall. Construction is set to begin in June 2005, completing sometime between August 2006 and March 2007. Eventhough timelines are a little vague at this point, I am of the opinion the wait will be well worth it. I managed to get the last 1-bedroom apartment in the entire development, it's relatively small at 55m2, but has a good view into the complex, which is completely secure, and comes complete with a parking bay and optional storage room. This is a good first-time investment buy and a perfect lock-up-and-go holiday flat. If anybody is in Cape Town around December 2006, come and visit me at The Claremont, Cape Town. I have space for, oh, maybe one other person ūüėČ

Check out theclaremont.co.za for more details.

UPDATE 25/01/2005: Yay! ABSA Bank has approved my loan application. I am now officially a "home owner"!

16Dec/040

Spur, “a taste for life”… or “take me there” or somethin’

Yes, the rumours are true, the silent invasion has begun and as I write this post there are now fully four Spur's across the UK, one in Ireland and a further three in and around London, they even have one in Staines (of Ali G fame). Intent on proving the authenticity of these rumours and to sample first hand the joys of a Spur meal away from home (believe it or not, like Nandos, the craving speaks), my good mate Clive and I decided to venture forth and check out our local Spur. Two train rides and one long (cold) walk later, we found ourselves at some mall in Wandsworth, riding an escalator towards the well known indian symbol and cheesy decor, we had arrived! Right away we got our menus, the familiar wooden ones with all the usual choices, and made ready to tuck our teeth into some original Spur fare. After much deliberation and possible multiple cases of 'eyes bigger than tummy' syndrome, we eventually settled on a rib starter each, followed by a hunger buster burger with fries and that oh-so-good BBQ sauce and white Salad sauce, oh and two Windhoek's, oh and a bottle of Obikwa Pinotage, which I can safely say is just about that roughest red I've had the displeasure of consuming in some time, nevertheless, if you are looking for something quick and dirty to make for a fun night (and possibly a not so fun morning), this is definately the stuff. The rib starters were excellent, exactly as I remember them, nicely grilled, crispy round the edges, fully meaty and begging to be torn from the bone by bare teeth. Moving onto the more civilised business of burgers, I have to say I was a little disappointed here. I have for the longest time been a fan of the hunger buster burger but these ones, Clive and I concur, just do not meet the grade. They were definately overgrilled to the point of being, well, hard as brick around the edges mellowing in texture to roughly hard as nails around the middle. Nonetheless the sauces came to the rescue and along with the fries (onion and potato) the meal on the whole was most gratifying and a success for the local Spur. Upon finishing the last of his burger, Clive exclaimed, "#$%&* I'm stuffed", to which I replied, "You can't quit now mate, we haven't even had our log cabin waffles yet", which sure enough and true to form were to be found on the desert menu's we received some minutes later. The waffles, while not strictly 'log cabin' were darn fine, with a kind of butterscotch syrup on top it was a refreshing change from the usual maple syrup... not that there's anything wrong with maple syrup, gulp (in case an Canadians are reading this). We left the Spur, fully gratified, wholly stuffed, fairly tipsy and something in the region of £50 lighter, a fair price for fine home cooking, yeeha!

Click here to check out the Spur website

Filed under: Food & Wine No Comments
14Dec/040

2005 Edinburgh Marathon

It's official! I'm doing the 2005 Edinburgh Marathon... and, much to my surprise, so is my good mate Russell. It'll be great to have a training partner, although he may have to lay off the fags a bit! We are also trying to organise a relay team, essentially, each relay team consists of 4 people, who each run just over 10km of the course. It'll be a great weekend in Edinburgh and a good laugh, c'mon, you know you wanna! The race takes place on June 12th, 2005. For more information, check out the Edinburgh Marathon website.

UPDATE 14/12/2004: Laura, Anthony and Simone are doing the relay, just one more required!
UPDATE 31/12/2004: My lurvely girlfriend Laura has joined the relay team, we're all set!

Filed under: Travel, Tri & Run No Comments
11Dec/040

Book: Snow Crash ~ Neal Stephenson

What can I say, this is a modern sci-fi classic in every way. The first three quarters of this book leaves the reader with no clue as to where the story is actually going but it doesn't matter in the slightest, the ride is so completely worth it you never look up, back or around to see what else is going on. From one chapter to the next this book is pure excitement with imagery and concepts so vivid, yet also so plausible, that one is left with the dire need for somebody to make a movie out of this book already, I'm thinking something along the lines of Blade Runner, dark, futuristic, dangerous. From the entire book there's one quote that sticks in my mind and refuses to let go, it goes "[She was] able to condense fact from the vapour of nuance". Just let that quote circulate a bit, let it rest on your gray matter for a moment, it is brilliance literised. Every successful author defines him or herself by inventing something extraordinary in the characters and in the storyline of their work, Neal Stephenson hit both marks so hard, it leaves his peers reeling from the sheer impact and sets a precedent which must now be followed. We, as readers, can never go back. Pure brilliance, start to finish. You can buy it from Amazon.co.uk here.

Filed under: Watch & Read No Comments
9Dec/040

Canon EOS 300D Digital SLR Camera

For the longest time I have wated a digital camera which was actually capable of taking decent pics (ok, that may have something to do with the photographer too). I did a lot of research, chatted to some friends in the know and eventually settled on the Canon EOS 300D, a fine piece of work and a great beginner SLR camera. Having unpacked it and looked at the manual for some time, I have realised this SLR thing is going to require some additional effort to master, it's not all that straight forward but I am certain the rewards will be there once the functions of this brilliant piece of kit are mastered. There are of course other digital SLR's on the market perhaps, ok definately, better than the 300D, such as the Canon 10D and more recent Canon 20D as well as the Nikon D70, but at the end of the day it's a cost benefit analysis, a basic application of the 80/20 principal and that tells me all those extra features on more "proper" kit will be lost on a newbie such as myself, a beginner to be sure, perhaps in a year or so this camera will find its self on eBay waiting to find a welcome home with another newbie. Apart from the great list of features this camera comes with, Canon is also promoting it quite heavily at the moment by offering a ¬£100 rebate and a free 256Mb compact flash card, which should arrive any day now. You can buy this camera off Amazon.co.uk, at the lowest price I could find, of ¬£596.96.

Technical specs on the Canon 300D are available on the Canon.co.uk website.

Filed under: Cool kit No Comments
6Dec/040

Glen Carlou Pinot Noir 2003 & Chardonnay 2001

Oh what a pair, what a pair! Ever since my father came home from a good day of Golf, arms laden with prizes, not the least impressive of which was a giant 1.5L bottle of Glen Carlou Pinot Noir 2000, I have been a lover of this excellent wine from the Paarl region in the Cape Province of South Africa. I've actually driven past the winery a few times on Sundays, a very unassuming back road in the tappestry of farmland roads in the Paarl region. Sadly, or perhaps thankfully, they truly do take things real slow over there and there was not a sole in sight nor any access to the estate. Oh well, "another day", I would console myself, determined to make it out there on a Saturday but never actually finding or making the time in the end and now too late she cried, at least until 3 weeks hence when I will once again be jetting back home with a feeling of complete joy and sheer glee at the wide array of delights that await me, simple things like the scent of the ocean in the air, pine in the forest, hops brewing (from S.A.B, the world's second largest brewery since the acquisition of the Miller breweries USA) and my grandma's boozy trifle at Christmas time. In any case, I digress, this post is about the wine, and this is a fine pair of wines to be sure. I love my Chardonnay's buttery and wooded and the Glen Carlou chardonnay is just such a chardonnay, it didn't so much as fit the mould for chardonnay's as define it, in my mind and on my palette anyways. The pinot noir is equally definitive, with a light colour and aroma, but with a far more robust feel on the tongue, this one is for pinot noir lovers of the best type. My only anecdote to this magnificant bottle is that of being at a friends house for his birthday in Queens Park, London. This friend happens to have a very eclectic mix of friends, one of which was a German man of middle age. Upon hearing he would like a glass of red if  there was any abound, I gladly offered up a glass of the bottle I brought along, one Glen Carlou Pinot Noir 2000 as it happens. I poured him a generous glass and recorked the bottle. 30 minutes later, upon returning to pour myself a glass having dispensed with the customary amount of punch, I found the bottle carefully stashed behind the bin in the kitchen, partially hidden, but not to the point of being deceitful, merely sheepishly shoved behind some beer bottles. Not having noticed anybody else drinking red, I did a quick survey of the garden to seek out my new German friend, or fiend as the case may be, spotting him not far off, cradling the last of the contents of that bottle and relishing each sip. I just smiled at him and he at I, he had no choice really, it's simply too delcicous to resist.

Filed under: Food & Wine No Comments
3Dec/040

Microsoft Optical Mouse by S+arck

From the moment I saw this awesome mouse in the Time Style & Design magazine I simply had to have it. Philip Starck has been a design icon for the better half of the 20th century and this mouse fits the mould of simplicity and minimalism he has cast from the very beginning of his design career. The mouse its self is typical of Microsoft hardware, good quality. The blue line down the middle lights up when connected to the machine, a feature which very nicely offsets the red light on the bottom from the optical light. This is a great mouse! Get it from Amazon.co.uk for a mere ¬£26.39

Filed under: Cool kit, Tech No Comments
3Dec/040

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Christian Slater

Last night Laura and I went to go see "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest", starring Christian Slater in the lead role of Randle Patrick McMurphy. Adapted from the wildly successful movie (Milos Moreman, 1975) by Dale Wasserman, I had my doubts as to whether Slater could pull off a performance worthy of the precedent set by Jack Nicholson in the original movie and was pleasantly surprised and in fact extremely impressed, with not only his performance, but the performance of the entire cast at large. Frances Barber as nurse Ratchet and Mackenzie Crook (of "The Office" fame) are inspiring and believable, pulling off excellent performances. Tickets for this show came in at £37.50 but in terms of bang-for-buck, this show is right at the top of the list. A West End must-see show!

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest is showing at the Gielgud on Shaftesbury Avenue until 22 January 2004. http://www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk/shows/display?contentId=81446