Monday, 26 January 2015

How Travel has Made me Face my Fears

There are a few changes to SilverSpoon afoot...

Getting Personal...

I think as bloggers, we're constantly rethinking our do you want it to be and where do you want it to go. Recently I was taking a look at SilverSpoon and rethinking a few things. I never wanted it to be a blog that just featured review after review. I intended it to be a personal space as well as place to inform people about the latest restaurants and my favourite places. So with that in mind I've decided to regularly feature a post of a more personal nature so my readers can get to know me as well as the restaurants that I like. 

More Travel Focus...

When I started SilverSpoon I intended to have a big focus on travel but I feel that the London-based posts often take over. With that in mind I will be doing a least one travel post a week. As I live in London, our beautiful capital will always dominate my blog but I have so many ideas for travel posts that I'm going to start including more. Being part of the #Travellinkup is also a great way for me to include more travel and personal stories.

I've mentioned before that I like to live my life by spreadsheets and apps, I'm very organised person and I'd love to dedicate a day of the week to each topic eg Travel Tuesday, Personal Wednesday, Foodie Friday but as life is pretty erratic, I think my posts will remain so. 

More Frequent blogging...

Going back to my blogging resolutions... I resolved to blog at least 3 - 4 times a week. I've found I seem to have far too much to say and my blogging frequency has now become 4 - 5 times a week. I think it's a careful balance of how many times a week one should blog and I'm really interested to have feedback as to what you think. 


In  the coming weeks I'm working on changing a few things to slightly alter the visual appearance and navigation functionality of SilverSpoon so watch this space for that. My blogging buddies will know I keep talking about this but it has been a slow work in progress...

Above all...

Writing a blog is all about being true to yourself and your audience...if there's certain things you're not happy with change it. It's organic, ever changing and will grow with you. 

So with all that in mind I wanted to kick the week off with a travel focussed post that is also very personal...

For some reason I'm a person with a lot of phobias, don't ask me why, fear is irrational after all. I've spent my life trying to kick some of these phobias...let's be honest some will always remain with you no matter what whereas some can be surmounted, even if's only by a small act of bravery. Now everyone knows that travel broadens the mind and it is through my love of travel that's I've braved some of these fears and come out on top.

My Fear of Heights

I live in a high-rise block of flats, I'll happily walk across a bridge, get in a plane and stand on a balcony. If I have my feet on the ground (even in an aeroplane) I'm fine. But I still have an excruciating fear of heights. Now let me be more specific...whats I'm actually scared of is precarious situations for example roller coasters, sky diving, light aircraft.

When Mr S and I were Sydney we decided to take a seaplane to a gorgeous hotel called Jonah's in Whale Beach. I was terrified...just the thought of that little plane bobbing around in the air...and what if we crashed... but I was determined to do it...and once I was in it wasn't as scary as I thought it would be...

In fact it was rather wonderful....

We saw the iconic Sydney coast line...

And the Sydney Harbour bridge and the Opera house...all while soaring through the sky. And when we reached our destination, I well and truly got the award for bravery as Mr Silver proposed to me on the cliff top.

My Fear of Creepy Crawlies especially Spiders

When Mr S and I decided that we were going to on a epic adventure to Australia my first thought was...but what about the spiders? I'd heard that there were spiders the size of dinner plates in Oz...eeek!! Fortunately I have lots of Aussie friends who reassured me that they rarely, if ever, saw huntsman spiders. Ok fine, but what about in the middle of the rainforest?

Ok, so I do realise it is a bit stupid for someone with a pathological fear of insects to stay in a treehouse in the middle of the Daintree rainforest... but the Silky Oaks hotel looked so beautiful that I knew I had to suck up my fears and just do it!

Every time we left the room I had to have Mr Silver accompanying somehow that would make it better if a spider jumped out at me! At night I made him double check that the balcony doors were locked fast so that nothing could sneak in. But by screwing my courage to the sticking place I was able to appreciate the true beauty of the Australian rainforest....

....and do you know what? I didn't even see one spider! 

My Fear of the Ocean

Back in the days when I was just a little spoon, two friends and I went to party in Ibizia.

One day my friends and I were playing around in the ocean and one of the girls was brutally stung by an inconspicuous rouge jelly fish. Before you ask we didn't have a Monica from friends moment with her, fortunately there was a cafe near by and we used vinegar to draw the poison out. But ever since that day I've been terrified of jellyfish and what lies beneath the sea.

Now when we were staying in the Great Barrier Reef it would have been ludicrous for me to cross to the other side of the world and not take a peek at the world's largest coral reef. 

Fortunately I came prepared in this rather fetching outfit...not really it's a stinger suit and the tour guides in the Great Barrier reef insisted on them being worn as there are deadly jelly fish off the coast of Queensland. Ok, so maybe I had a little helping in facing this fear as I knew there was no risk of being stung but I still think I deserve an 'I've been brave' badge for diving into the unknown...

Big Scary Animals

They may be gentle giants but have you ever come face to face with an elephant? Ok the are pretty chilled and totally vegetarian....

But check out those huge feet? Those could really cause some broken toes! When I was staying in Thailand I had the opportunity to go on an elephant trek and trust me I was very scared. 

Oh and remember my fear of heights? Yep...that kicked in as I rode an elephant bareback through the Thai jungle. As you can see from the above photo I had to have a mahout riding with me and holding my belt as I felt so insecure. The elephant stopped frequently to tear branches from the tree top and uproot vines from the ground while I perched shakily on top. When we arrived at a clearing the mahouts taught us how to mount and dismount our noble steed...needless to say I don't exactly have a talent for jumping on to an elephant! 

Along our trek we arrived at a river....oh no this wasn't happening....

Oh yes it was!! As you can see Mr S got quite a dunking but actually the elephants are well trained to listen to the mahouts and they decided to spare the most nervous person from such a soak! Of all the adventures I've had while travelling, riding an elephant has been the best so far and I'm so glad that I did it!!

Ok I've never done anything really scary like skydiving, base jumping or sticking my head in a crocodile's mouth (trust me I've seen this done) but it's all about the little steps isn't it and I'm so proud of the ones I've taken. I also think it was rather brave of me to post photos of myself in two such unflattering outfits...

I'll never forget these experiences and I think each action that you take makes you the person that you are. 

I'm really looking forward to writing more of these posts, I hope that you enjoyed the first one. 

Do you have any phobias and have you ever attempted to overcome them? 

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Friday, 23 January 2015

Rainbow food at LIMA Floral

I've never been to South America but I imagine it to be a continent alive with shapes and colour: the bright green of the Amazon, the expansive blue of Lake Titicaca and the vibrant kaleidoscopic colours of the carnival! As is often the case, the food seems to reflect the culture and environment of the place and the ingredients originating from South America come in all different shades of the rainbow. 

You know that old saying, 'You eat with your eyes,' well for me that's so true. I can't bear badly presented food in a restaurant and can't stand a 'beige' plate of colourless food. Even though I haven't had a chance to visit Peru, I still have the chance to experience those colours and flavours owing to the trend for Peruvian food that's hit London. One of the best loved of these restaurants is Lima and the lastest branch of the restaurant in Floral Street was the perfect place to visit to brighten up a rainy Saturday. 

Lima Floral is split across two spaces. Upstairs is a light and bright informal restaurant...

.... and downstairs is a more intimate and sexy Pisco Bar. 

We would be eating in the basement bar surrounded by tiled walls and floor and flowers directly from the Amazon. 

Behind the bar a rainbow of pisco infusion sat ready to be made into rather potent cocktails!

As I generally prefer lighter cocktails I chose a El Senor de Sipan which contains prosecco, apple juice, raspberry syrup, luna pisco and campari foam. It was lovely crisp and refreshing and if I closed my eyes it could almost be summertime :). Mr S had the Cuento del Diablo containing chilli pepper infused luna Pisco, orange liqueur, strawberry and lime. It was deliciously spicy and I loved the little horny devil horns!

Piscos are becoming hugely popular in London and if you haven't heard of them they are yellowish brandy made in Peru and Chile. The bar at Lima Floral is the first Pisco Bar in London, I've heard of others opening up since and I think it's a trend that going to keep going!

The parade of colour started with the bread: yellow and blue corn bread was served with a cool yogurt dip. 

The menu of traditional Peruvian food was created by Vigilio Martinez who is also chef patron at Central, a restaurant ranked 15 in the world, and the best in Peru.

Dishes such as this tuna nikkei ceviche contain ingredients such a rocoto peppers, a plant which is native to South America. I adore Peruvian flavours which are so light and clean, and this dish also incorporates Japanese seasoning with the inclusion of ginger and soy sauce. 

The plate of salmon tiradito was so vibrant and colourful with the yellow tiger's milk and flame coloured sweet potato crisps. The dressing was non-greasy, zesty and bright...the whole thing really was sunshine on a plate. I also loved the play of texture that was present in this dish. 

Cancha corn...something I've become addicted to this year. 

Black bream ceviche with aji charapita pepper, coriander and lime juice was citrusy and fresh. Portions were small and the waiter explained to us that the downstairs bar was more of a tapas-style sharing concept, the dishes were smaller than in the restaurant and made for a kind of an introduction to Peruvian food. 

For my next cocktail I decided to try the Noche de Verano which was vanilla infused Pisco, Amaro Nonino (an Italian liqueur), lime and lemon juice and strawberry. 

The Mr went for a Pisco Sour containing passion fruit, Pisco, lime, sugar, egg white and bitters. It was also very summery, kind of like a passion fruit mojito. 

Beef anticucho was made using Chateau Briande steak and served with dried Peruvian chillies and corn puree which was kind of like a mashed sweet potato. The meat was beautifully cooked with a big kick of spice!

Butterfish tiradito contained tree tomato, again an ingredient native to South America. 

Finally we chose one of the specials, a hot ceviche which contained grilled sea bass, corn puree and yellow aji pepper. One things that really strikes me about Peruvian food is how good it is for people with dietary requirements. For example, there were lots of vegetarian options on the menu and it's ideal for people with gluten intolerances. Peruvian food uses a lot of corn, the bread is baked with cornflour and the sauces are often thickened with corn instead of flour. Lots of the dishes incorporate quinoa which is a fab super food and are great wheat-free alternative. 

Our waiter, who was very knowledgable and passionate about the food, suggested that try some of the Pisco in it's pure form and he presented us with a flight of three that included vanilla, lime and coffee infused Piscos. I took a tiny sip of the vanilla - but that was enough for me, it's very potent! 

Our final dish was a passion fruit yogurt that was topped with caramel and yerba buena which is a Peruvian herb that belongs to the mint family. Rather interestingly the yogurt was sat on a bed of quinoa, the combination worked very well and it was the perfect way to round off an absolutely fantastic lunch. 

Thank you Lima Floral for helping us taste the rainbow!

Lima Floral
14 Garrick Street

Our cocktails and four of our dishes were complimentary
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