Sunday, 18 August 2013

Coventry Cathedral

I do not often edit my photos in black and white, but for these shots of the Coventry Cathedral ruins in the rain, monochrome just fit the mood.

© Text & Photos - Annika - All The Live Long Day (unless otherwise stated).

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Chicken Dinner

Do you get that? When you have a craving, and it lasts for days until you actually satisfy it? I sometimes do. And this time it was chicken. I had been daydreaming of a roast bird. Skin all salty and crisp, white succulent flesh underneath, the kitchen filled with its savoury smell. This had been my food fantasy for at least a week. I actually asked Marco to pick up a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store the other night, but they were out. Noooo!

But then yesterday my dream materialized. And in a better way than having a poor tortured cheap chicken out of a thermal bag. I've had the last few days off, and wanted to use my last day of blissfully doing nothing to give in to my craving. I went shopping in the morning and a big, organic piece of beautiful (albeit dead) poultry came home with me. I knew exactly what I wanted to happen to it. Nothing fussy. Something easy, but satisfying to eat. Just roasting it with a lemon, some garlic and an onion nestled around it at the bottom of the pan. 

I had a 3/4 full pot of Labneh in the fridge, which is a thick Lebanese yoghurt that I bought when trawling the Middle Eastern shops on the Edgware Road last Friday. I remembered reading about this yoghurt eaten as a dip, with lots of garlic and fresh herbs, sprinkled with a mix of dried herbs and sesame seeds. So I also bought some pitta bread, stocked up on parsley and dill, picked mint from a pot in my garden and then went to work, making Labneh with Herbs and Za'atar as an accompaniment for my chicken. You'll find the recipe below the photo.


First, make the za'atar. This recipe will make more than you need and will fill a small jar, but the spice mix keeps well  for a few weeks. You can use it to up the flavour of steak, tomato soup, popcorn, french fries, eggs, or hummus, for example.



2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried marjoram
1 tbsp sumac
1 tsp rock salt


In a small pan over a low to medium heat, toast the sesame seeds until golden, about 5 minutes. Make sure to shake them around or stir them, as they will burn easily. Once toasted, remove from pan on to a small plate or bowl to cool.

Add all the herbs and salt to a spice grinder. Add 2 teaspoons of the sesame seeds and grind everything to a powder. Add the rest of the sesame, stir through and fill into a glass jar or similar container.

And now for the yoghurt dip:



250g labneh (or other thick yoghurt, i.e. Greek)
2 cloves garlic, minced
handful fresh mint leaves
handful fresh flat leaf parsley (leaves only)
handful fresh dill (frondy bits only)
2 spring onions
olive oil


Spoon the labneh into a bowl. Add the garlic. Finely chop all the herbs and the spring onions and add to the yoghurt and garlic. Mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and liberally sprinkle with za'atar. Serve with pitta bread or vegetables, or whatever else takes your fancy. Maybe chicken?

© Text & Photos - Annika - All The Live Long Day (unless otherwise stated).

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Chinese Vancouver

Vancouver has a huge Chinese community. If you fancy a bit of doorstep travel, you can visit a T&T grocery store or have a meal in one of the many restaurants in Chinatown or Richmond any time of year. But only in summer will you get the chance to visit a Chinese night market. There are several in town, and I managed to drag Marco to two.

The first one we went to was the fairly new Vancouver Chinatown Night Market downtown. We went on opening night, and I expected great things, due to the Twitter hype that had been generated for this event.

We arrived just after the market opened, and it wasn't too busy then. In the hour and a half or so that we were there, the market started bustling a bit more. We had a stroll around and were surprised how small the market was. There were only a handful of food stalls, and a few people selling Chinese merchandise.

There were a few craft vendors and some food trucks, but these did not really signify "Chinese Night Market" in my opinion, especially as the food trucks did not sell Chinese food. There was a stage, too, but nothing was going on while we were there, and I could not for the life of me find a schedule of events with times. The next day we saw on the news that we missed the opening ceremony with the traditional carving of the suckling pig. Meh.

However, we did go and tried some of the food stalls. By the way, does anybody know why the stallholders hang a head of lettuce from their awnings? I googled, and all I could find was that it might be good for business, as apparently the word for "lettuce" sounds the same as the word for "rising fortune". Is this true? I was intrigued, but too shy to actually ask one of the business people.

Here are some pork dumplings that we shared.

We also had tako yaki, filled doughballs which are served with mayonnaise, nori sprinkles and dried fish flakes. I cannot remember what ours were filled with, but I quite liked the mix of fluffy dough and savoury toppings. The tako yaki cookers reminded me of pans that are used to make poffertjes.

This is a radish cake that I opted for because I had read somewhere that it was supposed to be delicious. It was. Similar in taste and texture to bubble & squeak, there were some carrots and ham mixed in the cake, and it was shallow fried which gave it a lovely crisp outside. Chinese comfort food.

We ate more! These are pork buns and chow mein. Marco loves these buns, but I am not too sure about them. I'd tried them in a dim sum restaurant before, and did not like the combo of sweet dough and meat, but these were a little less sugary and hence more palatable for me. The chow mein was alright, filling but greasy, but I guess that was to be expected.

For dessert, we then had some mango bubble tea and some egg ball waffles. Those were good! Tasted like regular waffles, but because of the shape of the waffle iron, there was more crisp on the outside, which I loved.

All in all, this market was not what I expected, but we went early in the summer, and it might have picked up by now. It runs every weekend until the beginning of September, should you happen to be in Van and want to check it out.


The second market we went to was the Richmond Night Market. Richmond is a part of Vancouver that is heavily populated by people of Chinese descent. There are two night markets there, but this is the longest-running one. 

The theme of this year's market is "Magical Duck Island", so there were many duck statues, fluffy toy ducks and one giant rubber duck to behold and marvel at. 

Did you see the giant duck in Hong Kong? I was very excited when I realized they had one in Vancouver too, albeit on dry ground.

The Richmond Night Market is HUGE. There were a lot of food stalls and hundreds of people selling kawaii stuff and soooo many punters. The food wasn't cheap, so we wandered around looking at everything first before deciding what to have for dinner.

As an appetizer, we went for fried fish balls and pork dumplings. 

The food stalls were really well organized. I am sure you have to be if you are serving massive line-ups of hungry people street food. When you ordered, you were given a token, and then when your food was ready, the stallholders would shout out your number. I liked holding the little cards and chips in anticipation of yumminess!

As a second course (and I am a strong believer in having dessert before the mains if you should feel like it) we had these wonderful sweet fish-shaped cakes called taiyaki. They are Japanese and so pretty to look at. 

They are made by pouring batter into moulds, putting a blob of filling into the middle, topping up with more batter and then closing the lid until the fishies are done. You were able to choose from custard, chocolate, and also savoury options for your filling, but I decided we should be trying them with red bean paste, which felt the most authentic.

Just look at this beautiful, delicious piece of fast food. It was GOOD!

After our sweet, I got enthused by another stall selling another Japanese creation: okonomiyaki, or Japanese "pizza". On a base of shredded cabbage, yam and onions (similar to a rosti) came a kimchi and bacon topping, with special sauce and nori. This was so scrumptious! It just confirmed my desire to make it to Japan one day and eat ALL the food.

As our final course, we opted for a plate of fried Korean noodles, which were like a noodle omelette filled with veggies and hot sauce on the side. I found them very satisfying and they made a nice top layer for our food-filled bellies. 

After stuffing ourselves, we went on to the merchandise part of the market. I loved looking at each and every thing (socks, stationary, nail art stickers, cute mobile phone covers, pet clothes...), but I think know that Marco got a little very bored. But gladly he humoured me and let me check out all the stuff. He's the best.

If you ever need to know the way to my heart, I think a Hello Kitty bouquet would be a good starting point...

We spent a few hours at Richmond Night Market (thank you, Husband!!!) and I enjoyed myself so much! We didn't even have time to look at any of the music acts on stage there, as walking around and people watching and soaking up the atmosphere kept us entertained already. I can recommend this market. You might have to save a little bit of cash in advance to be able to afford the food prices and all the cute Asian things you may want to buy, but I think it's worth it for a good night out. The market is on until October. 

© Text & Photos - Annika - All The Live Long Day (unless otherwise stated).