Wednesday, October 24, 2012

There Are Some Things That America Just ... Do Better

I was being nice last night and decided to pair up John's socks, since he was working late for the nth time in a row, when I was suddenly filled with a sense of extreme injustice. I mean, just look at these. LOOK AT THEM:

This is what socks look like when you don't own a tumble dryer. Most flats and houses in the UK do not have tumble dryers. And if they do, they only seem to heat wet garments, so your clothes comes out hot and wet. Not dry.

I mean, come on. No man or woman should have to wake up at 5:30 a.m. (as John's been doing these days) and put on socks like these. No. He deserves something better. Like, non-crusty socks that aren't garbled into oblivion by line drying.

The other day, I wanted to wear a top and it was still damp. Undeterred, I put it on. I decided that the wet patch would dry as the day went on. I was just a little paranoid that I'd smell like damp for the rest of the day, rather than freshly washed laundry.

You'd think that hang drying your clothes would help preserve them a bit better but no, thanks to the hard water in London, I promise that $30 J. Crew t-shirt you just bought will fade into an unrecognizable state within the first wash. Guaranteed (though that might say more about the quality of J. Crew than anything else, since my $5 Old Navy tees have held up quite nicely).

Don't get me wrong. I love the UK. I'm so happy and grateful to live here. I'm 99% positive most of the time about my move because it was my choice. And I never utter the words, "Man, back home ..." because it irritates me so much to hear ex-pats say that. But ...

What is it with British "sello tape"? For the record, IT SUCKS. I'm sorry, Mom, I know I'm not allowed to use that word, but it SUCKS. Why isn't 3M Scotch tape the go-to clear tape (satin finish is the best, btw) for y'all? WHY?

And floss! Why can't you make floss like Johnson & Johnson make floss? Why? Why does it shred to pieces and cut my gums up, no matter what brand I try? 

There. Rant over. Must put socks away.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Too Much?

"I love Americans," said my co-worker the other day. "Look at this envelope! It's got a giant eagle on it with an American flag in the background!" I peered down at the envelope. It did, indeed, feature a rather large bald eagle superimposed onto an American flag with the words, "MADE IN THE USA" emblazoned across the front. What can I say? We get a little carried away ...

But not as carried away as this ...

My friend, the lovely Charlee, posted this on Facebook earlier today. This 8-foot, inflatable Santa is available to buy on a US military base here in the UK - coming to a Christmas near you. Cue the Team America: World Police theme.

I sent the photo to John and told him I hoped to have one for our front yard some day. He still hasn't replied.

Photo credit © Charlee Crowley English 2012

Friday, October 19, 2012

Duke's Brew & Que: Achingly Cool, Wonderfully Good

Duke's is cool. Let me explain.

Since we moved to Dalston, John is always complaining that we don't do enough "cool" things. Problem is, we're not cool enough. I don't think he's come to terms with this yet, as he keeps asking me to find some "cool" places for us to eat or "listen to jazz". Case in point: I'm sure the phrase, "listen to jazz" is enough to make any hipster snicker at our uncool, seemingly straight-edge ways (he owns a folding bike, people. How can you be cool with a folding bike?).

Last time we ventured up Kingsland Road on a Saturday with Adeline in tow, we came across a "cool" party, which consisted of spoken word poetry performed in a growling voice that I could only imagine Satan himself possesses juxtaposed against a backdrop of psychedelic shapes and strobe lights played on a large projection screen, plus broken beer bottles littered all. Over. The. Ground. To complete this scene were a few Honey Buckets, looking as though they were about to tip. "My Mulberry doesn't feel comfortable here," I whispered to Adeline, as I pulled my handbag closer to my chest. That's how uncool I am.

Now, I'm not sure how many hipsters eat at Duke's Brew and Que because I frankly don't believe hipsters eat actual food. I'm pretty sure they just smoke and eat air instead. All of the staff at Duke's are hideously cool, very thin, and very attractive, which makes no sense because they are working at a rib and burger joint. I am also certain that none of them eat meat. When I left our dinner that night, my hair kind of smelled like grease and I looked bloated. The servers, on the other hand, didn't seem to break a sweat and continued on with their serene, smiling ways in the midst of a heavy crowd. If this kind of oxymoron frustrates you, don't go.

If you're okay with it, then you're in luck, because I'm pretty sure Duke's serves up the best barbecue I have ever had in the UK and possibly, in America. We went straight for the deep end and ordered ribs: beef for John and pork for me, plus a side of fried pickles and okra, which tasted positively sinful. As for the ribs, they were American in portion size (i.e. huge), and the meat was tender, falling off the bone. The accompanying, homemade sauces were tangy, smoky, and, yes, literally, finger-licking good. I loved the large, crunchy pickle served alongside and the slaw wasn't bad either.

And of course, we had to have dessert. Correction: I had to have dessert. I ordered a blondie with ice cream that kind of blew every dessert I've had recently out of the water. It was that good. And the best part? The bill didn't hurt. Always a plus.

The restaurant's not huge, so reservations are a must. And if you think you can simply appear on a Thursday or Friday night for dinner without booking ahead - it ain't gonna happen. Despite this, the tables are generously spaced, so you don't feel like you're chowing down on your neighbor's ribs too. That wouldn't be a pretty sight now, would it?

Duke's Brew & Que: 33 Downham Road, De Beauvoir Town, Hackney, London N1 5AA, 020 3006 0795

Photo source


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

American Snack I Miss Right Now: Apple Chips

Sometimes I think this blog is dominated by food posts - specifically, unhealthy food posts. So, apple chips are an improvement, but once they've been dipped in cinnamon and sugar and other preservatives ... maybe not so much.

I grew up eating banana and apple chips as a snack or lunch box treat. Now that it's fall and the leaves are turning, I really, really miss Seneca's apple chips, which were the kind my mom used to buy. I think it's because I grew up in Washington state, where apples are abundant, and went to college in preppy Massachusetts, where our fall semesters consisted of trips to Atkins Farm for fresh apple pie, cider donuts (don't even get me started on those), and sweet, hot cups of apple cider.

I've found this recipe for making dried apple chips, which I'm definitely tempted to try this weekend. What are some of your favorite fall snacks?

Photo source

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Special (Peeps!) Delivery

Fall is definitely in the air - my mornings are both crisper and greyer, plus I've dusted off my winter jackets and re-discovered black opaque tights. Sigh. I'm starting to get into the autumnal spirit, despite desperately clinging to the last few days we had of summer.

Already I'm envisioning sweet, mulled wine, apple cider, and my favorite part of living in England in the winter/fall: pies. I can't wait to have my first chicken and mushroom pie in a cozy pub with a roaring fire!

Rather timely, then, that I received this amazing haul of Peeps and Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate from none other than A Wife Called Chuck. Charlee truly outdid herself this time, packing a whopping three boxes of Swiss Miss (two with marshmallows, one without), 3 boxes of Peeps (one pumpkin, one ghost, and a new one: chocolate mousse cats), and two chocolate covered Peeps, plus a very sweet, handwritten note.

Check this out (which was just about the best I could capture on my about-to-croak Blackberry):

Charlee warned that the chocolate mousse cats were insanely addictive - and she was right. I sent a repeat order to my mom, who'll hopefully be able to stock up in time for my Christmas visit.

Thanks so much, Charlee!
© angloyankophile

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