Monday, May 30, 2016

The search for London's best breakfast: Bella Italia.

I'm gonna cut to the chase; Bella Italia's won't be winning. The sausage tasted extremely chewy and poor quality, the bacon was too hard, there weren't enough baked beans and the potatoes were flavourless. Think the photo shows the quality (or lack thereof) of all the ingredients pretty well.

Grade: E

Sunday, May 29, 2016

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Foxlow (Farringdon)

I visited Foxlow on a Friday evening a few Friday's ago. I was struck by the dim lighting of the place (made me think I was in Hollister), and that, coupled with the somewhat small table they sat us on, told me I needed to have my wits about me, or I might accidentally drop my plate or something.

The menu is very distinctive, featuring some of their own inventions such as Foxlow Fried Chicken with Habanero Vinegar or exotic-sounding ingredients such as Burrata, Heritage Tomatoes & Avocado. I had the Ten Hour Beef Shortrib with Mash & Gravy or Kimchi (pictured above). It tasted very good and I really loved the softness of the beef, but for the price (£19), you would expect to see some greens. I also specifically asked for more gravy from the waiters, and didn't get any.

Unfortunately, it was probably the waiters that impaired my opinion of this place, because they weren't the brightest apples in the tree. I mean, don't get me wrong, they're not the worst waiters I've ever had (that would be this waitress at Le Relais de Venise, oh dear. I shall rant about her another day), but they were a little slow at getting some of our stuff to us, and perhaps should have been more attentive, without the need for us to keep calling them.

So for that reason, I probably won't be going back to Foxlow again. Granted, the taste of the meal was perfectly good and I also enjoyed my cocktail, but I'm not convinced from what I saw on that Friday night, that this is the best Clerkenwell has to offer.

Grade: B

Motorsport at the Palace

Today I went to Motor Sport at the Palace, a showcase for cars designed (or adapted from racing). I'm not really into my motorsport; I don't watch any F1 or the like and can't even drive, so I was mainly just there to take photos of pretty vehicles. I'm trying to make the most of living in the best city in the world, see. Below are some of them!

All in all, it was good fun to sit out in the sun (the weather was passable) and have a picnic, but you can do that in your own time, when the weather is even better (say, mid-June). Cars don't fill me with the kind of thrill movies or a square meal do, so I wouldn't say the £15 entry fee was justified. But, if you're into that kind of things and were intrigued by the photos I posted, perhaps you'd get more out of it!

OOTD: Casual photoshoot.

Dress: M&Co.
Earrings: Dorothy Perkins
Beaded belt (not pictured): Monsoon Accessorize
Glasses: my trusty Red or Dead pair ❤️

The quality of these photographs are high, but wow, I really should have pulled a brush through my hair! Dat frizziness...

A stark reminder of why I don't gamble.

I took a cheeky punt on the Champions League final yesterday, putting down a £10 stake...

...and, thanks to Sergio Ramos, it's £10 I'll never see again! I'd last bet in 2012 and tbh I hope I leave it more than four more years before I do it again. I just have no gambling nous; it's akin to pouring money down the drain. I often tell my friends this yet failed to heed my own advice when the thrill of putting down a punt got the better of me, but, the house always wins.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: Dangerous Woman (Ariana Grande)

From the first time I heard Ariana Grande’s collaboration with Iggy Azalea, ‘Problem’ in 2014, which, along with the film BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR, epitomised my feelings towards my a certain someone (#cryptic), I have been staunchly #TeamAri. The Italian-American songstress is great to look at, has fantastic vocal range, and effortlessly exudes sex appeal (the élan with which she peers up from her white Lolita sunglasses in the 'Bang Bang' music video is a kind of sultry swagger I can but only dream of). So it was with great excitement that I waited for Dangerous Woman, her third studio album, with. So much so, in fact, that I’m currently writing a female version of TRAINING DAY, and, have assigned it ‘Dangerous Woman’ as the film’s working title.

The album’s eponymous lead single is terrifically catchy. ‘Something about you, makes me wanna do things that I shouldn’t’, Ariana croons, whilst in the music video, she slinks around provocatively in lingerie, showing that she is well and truly through with the good girl image which she initially sported when she first became famous. If Yours Truly was clean!Ari, My Everything, with songs such as 'Love Me Harder' and 'Hands On Me' were suggestive-but-PG-13!Ari, then Dangerous Woman is full-on femme fatale, R-rated!Ari. And she’s not here to half-step. She’s owning it.

‘Side to Side’, Ariana’s third collaboration with Nicki Minaj, is probably their weakest so far, but it says a lot about the collective quality of the music these two women make together that it is still a more than solid 8/10 track. I loved the reggae vibe of the song, as well as the employment of Nicki’s verbal fireworks for the rapping, but I thought the actual lyrical quality of the rap was a bit weak, with practically every other line being an allusion to one of Nicki’s previous hits. By contrast, the employment of Macy Gray in ‘Leave Me Lonely’, one of the few melancholic songs on the album, works a treat, with Gray’s gravelly voice suiting the sombre words she’s singing perfectly.

As with her preceding two albums, the tracks I tend to enjoy more are the upbeat, funky ones. ‘Greedy’ tells the story of a woman’s high appetite for a certain something (spoiler alert: it’s not for food), and with electro-pop beats, a brass band, and best of all, her voice hitting stratospherically high notes, makes for a great musical party. ‘Everyday’ is very similarly thematically to ‘Greedy’ but the beats are more RnB-infused, demonstrating Grande’s musical versatility, and how her voice is so strong it crosses genres. The album’s only major misstep is ‘Sometimes’, a slow-moving guitar-led track which sounds like a lazy B-side that is just at odds with the musical flavour with the rest of the album.

The standout track of Dangerous Woman, for me, is ‘Let Me Love You’, an unashamedly saucy song in which Ariana Grande gets to put her vocals to their breathy best. (Some people aren’t such a big fan of the way she sounds out of breath when delivering her lyrics, but I really dig it). Lil Wayne’s rap on it is a good foil to her verses, and his bluntness in ‘I said girl you need a hot boy / she said you need to stop fucking with them thots boy’ evokes memories of his featuring credit on Kelly Rowland's 'Motivation', another brazen foray into smut where his rhyming was both irreverent and intelligent. Furthermore, the cavalier little nod to Beyonce’s ‘Irreplaceable’ when Grande asserts ‘I know they'll be coming from the right and the left, left, leftshows she KNOWS she’s the ish. Arrogance among popstars is obviously a double-edged sword; you need to acknowledge the fact that you’re HBIC, but at the same time not become insufferable. Egotism is justified if it's merited. Within that lyric, we have the album in a microcosm: a woman discovering, nay, asserting her allure. In Ariana Grande’s case, it’s well-deserved.

Some music fans are perturbed that Ariana Grande, who despite being 22 old, still looks like a little kid, being so overtly sexual on Dangerous Woman. But, in her defence, she’s already had her squeaky clean period, and she’s over that. She gave us a hint of her more carnal instincts when she told us ‘she might have let you hold her hand at school, but Imma show you how to graduate’ and other such double entendres on her second album, but Queen Ari isn’t here for innuendo any more. To paraphrase Dennis Hopper in BLUE VELVET, "Ari wants to fuck". This pretty doe-eyed girl is blossoming into a dangerous woman. And her music has never sounded better as a result.

Grade: A