Saturday, 26 September 2009

It Ain't the Same Without a Bit of Fish and Chips

Fish and Chips - Brighton

What is a trip to the seaside without a bit of fish and chips? After a few long hours lying on the beach, walking around the shops ... it really was time for a bit of food again. Getting grumpier by the minute by the endless choice, I finally agreed to a non-descript chippie by the main road overlooking the sea. Bad service and an oily laminated menu later, I got a plate of battered cod, chips and mushy peas plonked in front of me. To be honest the fish was fresh, the batter wonderfully light and the chips crisp ... well, they would have been if my mushy peas weren't dolloped right over them. Oh well ... I stole some of Stuart's un-mushy pea-d chips and I have grudgingly admit the food was good.

Cockles, Winkles and The British Seaside
We passed this stall on the beach but were still full from breakfast and didn't get anything. Rollmops, anyone?

The Burnt Structure of West Pier - Brighton
The burnt structure of West Pier - rather sad really

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Nia - Brighton

The last time I suggested a trip to the beach to Stuart, we ended up in Southend .... which is probably why it has taken this long for me to suggest it again. The summer months had been drawing to a close far too quickly and I really felt like I should be doing something summer-y. With a nice Sunday forecasted (this is going back a few weeks now) ... and I suggested a trip to the beach and got a better response this time ... 'Brighton' - yay! The only time I've ever been to Brighton was in the 'in-between' phase of student-hood and ... adulthood. With absolutely no money to spare but desperate to get out of London for a few hours, we took the coach (yes, the coach in the middle of summer! If you've ever taken one you'll know what I mean) and probably just had enough cash for a cheap burger (or nothing at all .. I don't recall now).

Facade - Nia, Brighton

This time we got the train (we have moved up in life, haven't we?) and arrived bright, early and bushy tailed. First things first ... food! The first few places were passed off for being too 'quiet'. Then we chanced upon Nia. It had a bustle its neighbours lacked and it had waffles on the menu! Yum... I haven't had waffles in years! We were seated quickly in the rather bright but squashed dining room filled with mismatched furniture. I think it's suppose to be reminiscent of some country kitchen - jumble sale chairs, daisies in a chipped water jug - all rather charmingly homely. We gave our order to the rather sweet but slightly clueless waiter - one Nia Veggie Breakfast, one Nia Breakfast, one flat white and a mocha. And sat back to wait for our food. And waited and waited .... considering that there couldn't have been more than 15 tables (mostly groups of 2-3 people and only one large-ish party of 6) in the little room, they took an awful long time. Twenty minutes later our food arrived but no coffee. I admit I have quite a few pet peeves and one of them must be the arrival of my food before my drinks in a restaurant. Our waiter gave us a flustered apology but apparently there were quite a few back orders for coffee. Hmmm .. right..! So we started eating and must have been half way through our meal, maybe 10 minutes after the arrival of our food before our coffees were brought over. Tahhh dah ... a grand total of 30 minutes for two cups of coffee. Oh dear, dear me ... it's only coffee!!!! Oh when the coffee arrived, we saw that they came with a little biscuit each (aww nice!) but our waiter accidentally knocked mine onto the tray and ... yes, he never replaced it with another. I never did get my biscuit.

Nia Veggie Breakfast - Nia, Brighton

I got the veggie breakfast despite the 'oo-ing and ahh-ing' over the waffles when we browsed the menu earlier but it's almost always about the salt with me. When it was first placed in front of me it looked pretty darn good - my choice of 2 fried eggs on 2 buttered slices of wholemeal toast (also my choice) with a side of wilted spinach, sauteed mushrooms, half a grilled tomato, homemade baked beans and a homemade hashbrown. All too soon it was 'uh-oh' ... I've spotted another problem - they stacked my slices of toast on top of each other and then put the eggs over the top slice ...... which spells soggy, floppy bottom toast! Grumblings aside, I hungrily tucked in but sadly this seems to be a case of the dish looking better than it tasted. The wilted spinach was only half wilted. The other half was blatantly still raw. Alright I could have lived with that if I wasn't already getting so worked up about the other things. If something on the menu says it is homemade I automatically assume that it will be better than the shop bought stuff (ohh the mind games the consumer falls for - ME!) but dear oh dear ... please Nia, just buy the baked beans and hash browns! There is a reason why Heinz is so successful. Nia's beans were hard (undercooked) and the sauce was tasteless. The hashbrown was a notch or two below warm, hard and again, tasteless. Poking through the hashbrown was like going through the unused potato salad from the previous day's dinner service (Nia is opened for dinner) - there was some mashed and whole bits of potato and some added diced red onion for good measure. The tomato ... hmm ... it was late summer and they still managed to find the most tasteless tomato to put under the grill. Oh the eggs and mushrooms (if a tad over-herbed) were ok though.

Nia Breakfast - Nia, Brighton

You see where I'm the moany one, Stuart like most guys just tucks in and gets on with the business of ... eating. He didn't seem to mind that his bread was lost beneath the pile of food or that his tomato lacked flavour. He seemed quite happy with his poached eggs and shrugged when I asked about the bacon and sausage. Unless they were homemade, which I doubt they were, they couldn't have been too bad. He was saved from the unwilted spinach and the hard, lackluster beans. But he did make a face when I brought up the hashbrown. Ah hah!

The coffees when they did arrive were actually pretty good. I've become so used to Starbucks (they are so convenient though...) and instant stuff from the office that I have almost forgotten how nice proper brewed stuff tastes. As the food took an age to arrive and the coffee practically didn't make it before we left, we asked for our bill quite soon after we finished eating. We still ended waiting 10-15 minutes for it anyway. For all my moans and groans, it wasn't actually a bad experience. So the service was pretty hopeless and the food not all that great but it was a nice Sunday breakfast. Very chilled and well, Sunday :)

Nia Brighton
87-88 Trafalgar Street, Brighton, BN1 4ER

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Oozy, Fudgy Chocolate-Coffee Brownie

Chocolate Coffee Brownie

One of the things I can't help salivating over are chocolate brownies .... especially those that just ooze over with chocolatey goodness. But when it comes to eating it, I'm quite particular. I like my brownie just to have the right amount of fudgyness whilst maintaining a good crisp top. As I'm a haphazard and unpredictable baker - some of my stuff have been pretty darn good and some embarrassingly unspeakably bad - I've only ever achieved brownie heaven at my own hands .. once. The problem relly lies in my laziness to write anything down. As I make so many changes to a recipe - yes, baking is a science but it doesn't mean we shouldn't experiment either - I promptly forget what I've done once I've moved on to the next step. Thank heavens for technology - I now lug my laptop into the kitchen with me but really .. do I want to tap away on the keyboard when my hands are covered in flour?

Chocolate Coffee Brownie

My latest experiment came in the form of a chocolate-coffee brownie. I love both main ingredients with an equal amount of passion - so together, they should be a little slither of heaven .. except my experimenting ways kept intefering. Better or worse I'm still not sure. On the one hand I didn't end up with the brownie that I had in mind, on the other I found the fudgiest, densest 'cake' with a huge chocolatey, coffee kick. Eaten warm with good vanilla ice cream or even better, crème fraîche (to cut through the sickening chocolate affect - yes, sometimes there is something called 'too much chocolate') or even better chilled from the fridge when the flavours have subsided and melded a little more. But for that ever elusive brownie, it's back to the drawing board.

Ultra Goey Chocolate Coffee Cake

Chocolate Coffee Brownies
120 g Butter
180g Sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
100g flour
3 1/2 tbs cocoa powder
50g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) – I used Valrhona 70% Guanaja
1 tsp coffee granules – add less or omit if you dislike coffee
a pinch of salt

  • Preheat the oven at 170 degrees C.
  • Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl placed over a pot of simmering water (make sure the bowl does not touch the water below).
  • Once melted, add the cocoa powder and coffee granules and stir until well combined. Remove the bowl from the heat.
  • Stir in the sugar until dissolved. Add the vanilla and eggs. Whisk until the mixture is well combined. Shift in the flour and salt. Fold to combine.
  • Pour the mixture into a lined round cake tin (or if you prefer just butter the cake tin and do away with paper lining). Bake on the middle shelf for about 20 – 25 minutes. A skewer pushed into the middle of the cake should come out slightly fudgy. Let the cake cool in the tin – I find this retains the moisture in the cake better.
  • If you want to serve this warm and oozing ‘fudginess ‘, let the cake cool for about half an hour before cutting and serving with good vanilla ice cream or crème fraîche. The flavours, especially the coffee, are more pronounced when this is eaten warm. Also great (in my book – better) served chilled from the fridge. It will take care of any serious chocolate craving.

Ultra Goey Chocolate Coffee Cake

Uncle Lim's Chicken Curry Puffs

For all my excitement of the chicken curry puffs that I brought home from Uncle Lim's Kitchen yesterday, they totally slipt from my mind and were left sitting a little forlorn in the greasy paper bag they came in. Imagine my delight when I spotted them this morning - no boring toast for me this morning!

Uncle Lim's Chicken Curry Puffs

I would love to say I was totally organised and laid my treasure trove on a warmed baking tray, which then went into a heated oven for precisely 7 and a half minutes but I can't. I popped my curry puff (the other belonged to Stuart who would probably consume it at some other point) on top of the toaster (ohhh how I miss the toaster ovens that we get in Malaysia!) and pressed the little lever down. I turned the curry puff over when I smelt a little burning (evidence on the two little burn marks as seen in the photos) and toasted the other side. All done in about 2 minutes and no baking trays to clean :D

Uncle Lim's Chicken Curry Puffs

Emm... I smell chicken and potato curry. And this was before I even cut the pastry in half. With a pastry more puff than crisp (although tradition dictates otherwise) these beauties were large - they would have made the currypuffs from a roadside stall in Southeast Asia look puny. Taste wise it was pretty good - spices coming through well. A nice ratio of chicken to potato but as usual the glut in me always bemoans the meagre amount of filling in curry puffs :)

£1 per chicken curry puff from Uncle Lim's Kitchen

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Uncle Lim's Kitchen, Croydon

Whilst browsing through The London Paper a few weeks ago, I found a listing for an apparently authentic and cheap Malaysian restaurant in Croydon, which happily for me is only about half an hour by bus away. I've always found Croydon just a touch bleak and a little too suburban for my liking (ahhhemmm ... says the girl who lived in Kingston for 4 years and grew up in suburbia KL!) but it's not such a bad place to hit the high street shops. A quick Google search confirmed the article's rating of good food at Uncle Lim's Kitchen at the Whitgift Centre, so to Croydon it was.

Uncle Lim's Kitchen, Croydon

I have been shopping in Croydon several times (it's godsend at Christmas when Oxford Street goes into meltdown - the situation only slightly better in Croydon but as long as it's better than meltdown - fine by me) and I still find a the Whitgift Centre one of the most confusing places to navigate (and I usually have a pretty good sense of direction). I picked up a map of the building and still wandered around the centre twice before I found the restaurant. More of a cafe than a restaurant; it's spartan but clean with their small menu posted on the wall. There's a choice of picking a meal deal from the 'economy rice' section or picking from their cook to order one plate dishes - a variety of fried noodles and rice. I was definitely going for their economy rice sets - I was starving. After a bit of oo-ing and ahh-ing I settled for rice (they only have egg fried and not boiled - a touch annoying as I've never warmed to fried rice when I'm having dishes) with sambal prawns, sweet and sour chicken and fried mix veg. All this and a tin of soft drink for £6. Not bad.

Economy Rice - Uncle Lim's, Croydon

Of the three 'dishes' the prawns were the best. They were very good in fact. The prawns were a good size and still freshly crisp. The sauce had a good heat to it, not mind-blowingly but not just a passing puff either, and the coconut came through nicely. Although better than most takeaways, the sweet and sour chicken was forgettable in comparison to the prawns. The vegetables were nice -well, they were just stir fried noodles with garlic.

Hainanese Chicken Rice - Uncle Lim's Kitchen, Croydon

The meal left me with a smile on my face ... and so darned full! I was definitely going back again. I did a bit a research after my visit and found another recent diner at Uncle Lim's Kitchen - LondonEater who raved about the Hainanese Chicken Rice and knew that my visit to Croydon was going to be a lot sooner than I thought.

Hainanese Chicken Rice - Uncle Lim's Kitchen, Croydon

The next visit was today - perfect as the chicken rice is a weekend special (£5.80 a plate). And oh how right LondonEater was. The chicken, drizzled with soy sauce and sesame oil, was silky, succulent and the experience very probably heightened by the fact I was given a whole deboned leg - not white meat in sight, yay! The rice was full of the garlic and chicken flavours as expected and the chili sauce was good, though a bigger portion would have been most welcome - I could have asked for more but I was too lazy to walk back to the counter. Only disappointment was the lack of chicken broth that usually accompanies this dish. Again I was left with a smile on my face and a very full belly. I did also manage to bag a few chicken curry puffs (£1 each) to take home - there was no way I could have fit them in after the chicken rice. So I'll be having them warmed up for breakfast tomorrow.

Uncle Lim's Kitchen
Upper North Arcade, Whitgift Centre, Croydon, CRO 1UZ

Monday, 14 September 2009

Comfort Eating

Comfort Food - Weekend Dinner

Sometimes I just need something ultra comforting - something with rice. Rice is like the basis of all soul food for me. For a quick and easy one bowl, one spoon dish I boiled some rice, threw some veg into the wok (sliced courgette, baby corn and sugar snap peas) with some fish sauce over high heat (hold the garlic - there's something so fiddly about peeling garlic when you're just not in the mood), placed a couple of slices of Spam into a pan to crisp and fried an egg just as I was ready to plate up. Not forgetting the sprinkling of white pepper and Maggie sauce over the egg and a nice, big splat of Heinz ketchup over the Spam.

Dig in!

Emm... Comfort Heaven! Especially when the egg yoke oozes over the warm rice. Now it's time for some zzzzzzzzz ....

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Sunday Morning Breakfast

Sunday Morning Breakfast

I thought I'll have a little sunshine on my plate this morning - mashed avocado and tomatoes on toasted sourdough sprinkled with salt and black pepper. I was all cheery until I took my first bite - no, there was nothing wrong with it - it was just then that I fervently wished I spread the toast with a thick wedge of butter and topped it with a thick spread of bramble jelly instead.

Sunday Morning Breakfast

It's absolutely miserable today -the down in the dumps sort of overcast day. I was going to lock myself up in the gym and sweat out all that chocolate badness that I consumed yesterday (ooo that reminds me, I still have some of that ultra gooey cake left in the fridge - chocolate always makes things better) but I think I'll go for a little walk instead. A bit of fresh air ... maybe down Oxford Street ... turning into Selfridges .... retails therapy always makes things better too ;)

Monday, 7 September 2009

Dim Sum - Pearl Liang, Paddington

I've been leafing through my Flickr account and found a ton of stuff that I hadn't got round to using. So begins my marathon of posts that will very likely last until I'm bored (ever bored of food??What a novel idea:) First up, dim sum at Pearl Liang in Paddington ... a meal which actually took place back in April (that is really how far behind I am!).

Dim Sum Menu - Pearl Liang, Paddington

I had read a bit about the restaurant and was quite up for trying it when a friend suggested we head there. She lives round the corner from the restaurant so it's a bit of her local. When we arrived at about 2.30 on a Saturday afternoon, the restaurant was relatively quiet for a weekend, even if it was a little late for lunch - but hey, it's dim sum. Greeted at the door by a manager/supervisor or if I must be so polite, the maître d’, who found it necessary to stare at the reservations book for quite awhile before ushering us to a tiny corner table for two in the partially filled restaurant. Fair enough, there were two of us and a table for two should really have been sufficient .... but really .... the restaurant was hardly going to suddenly fill up at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, was it? Decor wise it was a million miles away from the usual Chinese restaurant staple of cheap but hardy carpets and velvet chairs. Modernist with splashes of fuchsia and cherry blossom murals. Can't say I'm a huge fan but it was a nice break from the usual 'functional' feel most Chinese restaurants settle for.

Dim Sum Menu - Pearl Liang, Paddington

As it was lunchtime dim sum, we got a sheet of paper with a pencil to tick off the dishes we wanted. Lots more fun than just rattling off the menu to the waitress but most of any dim sum fun is lost without the trolley service - but this is hardly the type of restaurant, is it?

Char Siew Chueng Fun - Pearl Liang, Paddington

First up, char siew chueng fun. Silky folds of steamed rice sheets with little chunks of honey roasted pork. I have no complains here - no fatty bits of pork, which is a plus but I do miss the big globs of chilli that always accompanies this dish in Malaysia. My dining companion is a huge chilli lover and we had to ask for extra chilli oil four times - puny portions that they gave us on each request.

Shanghai Dumpling with Pork - Pearl Liang, Paddington

I haven't had a great deal of xiao long baos in London but whilst these weren't the best I've ever had, they weren't too bad either. Alas, the best bit of these little dumplings - the piping hot broth that should burst into your mouth when you bite into them - was missing. There was a trickle from one of them. A bit of a disappointment.

Wasabi Prawn Dumpling - Pearl Liang, Paddington

Recommended by my friend, the wasabi prawn dumplings came with light green coloured wrappers and a tiny splotch of wasabi on top. The prawns were fresh with a nice crunch and the wrapper was fine enough to be passed as a good dim wrapper. Other than that, this dish just didn't do anything for me. I like my wasabi mixed into soy sauce and wasn't too keen that it came as a separate blob here.

Pan Fried Turnip Cake - Pearl Liang, Paddington

I'm a big fan of fried turnip cake - even trying to make some myself once with a slightly disastrous outcome. The offering here was just too bland but dipping turnip cake into soy sauce is a bit of a no-no for me. Oh picky, picky! I do, probably unfairly, judge all turnip cakes by the stuff that my mother makes (traditionalists would be horrified at how she has butchered the recipe but the taste, oh it tastes good!).

Pork and Raddish Dumpling - Pearl Liang, Paddington

I can't say I remember much about the pork and radish dumplings but vaguely remember offering to swap the last of the wasabi prawn dumpling for the last of this with my friend, so I must have liked it to a certain extent.

Assorted Fresh Mushroom Fried Noodles - Pearl Liang, Paddington

As a meal really isn't that fulfilling without carbs and vegetables, we ordered the assorted fresh mushroom fried noodles. The usual deep fried crunchy noodles were topped with fresh shiitake, golden needle, black (cloud ear) fungus and other mushrooms I don't recall the names of. There were also celery sticks and prettily cut carrot slices. I'm not usually a fan of celery (when I was growing up I refused to eat anything that had been near celery ... I think I have finally grown out of it now) but I quite like how Chinese restaurants blanch them before adding them to stir fried dishes. It brings the taste of celery down a notch. The sauce was the usual brown cornstarch soy gloop(albeit not as thick as other places make it). On the whole it was pretty good.

I haven't been back since but would I go back? I'm not averse to the idea but Paddington does seem like a bit of track for me and if I wanted posh dim sum, Royal China on Baker Street is a much better option for me.

Pearl Liang
8 Sheldon Sq, London, W2 6EZ

Saturday, 5 September 2009

A Long Swiss Weekend

Overlooking Geneva from Mont Salève, France
Geneva and Lac Léman from Mont Salève

Before my last minute trip to Paris was arranged, I booked myself a little getaway to Geneva where I was to visit an old friend who was spending the summer interning at one of the numerous international bodies based there. To be honest, I was desperate to get out of London. The last few months had been pretty much been a case of extreme highs and lows for me and getting away was just what I needed. Then came the trip to Paris ... Geneva became a really nice, hearty bonus :)

Geneva with Its Famous Jet d'Eau
The city's iconic Jet d'Eau switched on for summer

Catching up with my friend was great, we never seem to be in the same part of the world anymore these days - part of growing up and apart, I guess. Geneva was nice. I had been warned of how small and boring it would be but I as was only going to be there for a long weekend, how bad could it be? I actually quite liked it. For such a little place it had nearly everything one could need ... in material terms of course. But heavens forbid ... it's so expensive!!! I'm not happy about the weak pound but it was incredibly saddening in a place like Geneva. I paid almost 5 quid for a medium sized fruity frappacino from Starbucks. Ergh! Hahaha the Starbucks test is almost like the coke (as in coca-cola) test that my parents use to compare prices around the world.

Crossing Lake Léman - En Route to Yvoire , Switzerland
Sailing on Lac Léman - I did wish it was me out there

Geneva with Mont Blanc in the Distance
Geneva with Mount Blanc in the background

Apart from the constant reminder of sky high prices, Geneva really is quite relaxing in summer. People there were just so relaxed ... boating and swimming in Lac Léman (Lake Geneva), enjoying the sunshine, coming and going in shorts even to a nice dinner ... basically enjoying the beauty of the season. Since I had spent a great deal of my summer wrapped up in cardigans, lightweight jackets and/or scarves, this was amazing!

Salade Norvégien - Geneva
Norwegian Salad

On my first evening we headed down to the park for a a bit of bubbly and a few nibbles (and to admire the view of course:). Mount Blanc to one side and the three famous peaks on the Evian bottles of water on the other. Alright, the three peaks can't actually be seen from Geneva but I did catch a glimpse of them the next day when we took a boat to the French medieval town of Yvoire. For a little supper we headed down to the city's old town where we sat in the restaurant's courtyard and indulged in a couple of salads. Yes, indulged it was ... vanity, oh vanity! My Norwegian salad came with little prawns, thinly sliced smoked salmon and a Parmesan crisp. All delicious but the mixed salad greens were a little odd ... they looked like any other salad greens but tasted peppery and just a tad tough. Not just one of the leaves ... ALL of them.

Overlooking Lake Léman - Nyon, Switzerland
Nyon - overlooking the lake and on our way to Yvoire

Crossing Lake Léman - En Route to Yvoire , Switzerland
Our boat steaming to Yvoire

The next day we were off to Yvoire via Nyon, a Roman town across the lake from Yvoire. Blue skies, lovely weather and a beautiful lake. It couldn't really get any better ... well, if only I got to jump into the water ... :) There were tourists galore ... some foreign, some local ... all taking advantage of the sunny weekend. Yvoire is one of those postcard perfect towns (just as long as you stay within the old city walls). Very picturesque in an totally touristy sort of way. I'm sure it's been scrubbed up since the days of old when battles were fiercely fought for the city walls but it makes a nice wander round for a few hours these days.

Yvoire, France

Yvoire, France
Pretty Yvoire - flowers in the bloom, even the cat looks content.

Lunch was the local delicacy - perch caught from the lake. They do seem very proud of this little fish. We had ours dusted with flour and fried. Served with a light cream sauce, courgettes cooked in a tomato sauce, fries and a green salad.

Fried Perch - Yvoire, France
Lunch of fried locally caught perch - straight out from the lake.

As part of the lunch menu, we got dessert too. A simple yet lovely dessert of vanilla bean ice cream, stewed berries, fresh berries and whipped cream. Ooo summer heaven in a little glass. All this for €20 each. Not so bad I guess.

Summer in a Glass - Yvoire, France
Summer in a glass - vanilla ice cream, berries and cream.

Dinner that night was a picnic in the park, where loads of people seem to have the same idea. Our amusement for the evening came in the form of 3 young-ish German guys who had obviously had too much to drink :) No photos taken and no details will be imparted ... it was way too gross. Lol. But when we were at the supermarket picking up bits and bobs for our picnic - a bottle of wine, 2 types of cheeses, smoked fish, frankfurters (I had been hankering for them), 2 dips, peaches, grapes and bread - yesssssss........ all this for two people! Now you know why it was just a salad the night before :)

Sunset Over Geneva - Parc Barton
Watching the sunset over Geneva in the park.

Anyway, at the supermarket I spotted this little pot of ice cream that I had read about on the inflight magazine on Swiss Air (which I must say I was very impressed with - the airline, not so much the magazine:) A special edition flavour from Mövenpick - Lam Dong green tea and jasmine flowers. It was double the price and half the size of the other tubs by Mövenpick but I just had to try it. So darn persistent I was :) It was really rather good. Unlike the usual Japanese green tea ice creams, the green tea here was a whole lot more subtle (unlike matcha, which is really quite a bold flavour) and the fragrance of the jasmine came through very delicately. A very nice summer flavour ... now if only we didn't have to finish the whole tub in 2 days ... it was rather much, even the glut in me had to admit that.

Lam Dong Green Tea and Jasmine Flower Ice Cream - Geneva, Switzerland

Lam Dong Green Tea and Jasmine Flower Ice Cream - Geneva, Switzerland

Lam Dong Green Tea and Jasmine Flower Ice Cream - Geneva, Switzerland
Lam Dong Green Tea and Jasmine Flower Ice Cream.

My last full day was spent on Mont Salève, the rocky outcrop that serves as Geneva's backdrop. Other than the great views it offers of the city and the lake, it really not all that pretty up there. Nothing like the image of alpine Switzerland.

Looking onto Switzerland - Mont Salève, France

Looking onto Switzerland - Mont Salève, France

Mont Salève, France
Mont Salève, France

Dinner on the last night was at a local fast food restaurant of sorts Chez Ma Cousine (apparently the McDonald's in Switzerland are the most expensive in the world - how's that for a bit of useless information?). The only thing on the menu is chicken - grilled chicken served with potato wedges and a side salad and three/four different types of main chicken salads. It was busy when we got there and a little queue forming. Good sign. We were seated within 10 minutes and we ordered .. chicken. Half a grilled chicken each (you can't get it in any other sizes) and a side order of sauce. For a while I was a little disgusted thinking that I had to pay for the bottles of ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard that were circulating around the restaurant. This place is cheaper than most other places to eat in Geneva but to pay an extra £1.50 for a little ketchup did seem a little ridiculous. I soon informed that this was actually going to be chicken gravy - ah, that's fine then :) However, it wasn't fine. The staff promptly forgot about us ... the table seated after us had nearly finished their meal (they were either very fast eaters or we were very patient that night) before we told them we had yet to get any food. They seemed genuinely surprised ... odd considering they had passed us several times and not noticed that we were not eating and did not look like we had finished eating. So much for customer service. The food was served quite promptly after that but it was good only if you like dried rotisserie chicken and ultra salty chicken gravy. Ahhh dissapointment. The wedges weren't too bad though.

Last Dinner - Geneva, Switzerland
Rotisserie chicken dinner - dissapointing.

Left to my own devices on my last day when my friend headed back to work, I decided on a little wander through town. There really isn't that much to see, or to buy for that matter. I wasn't on the lookout for a Chanel suit or a Rolex watch so it became boring incredibly quickly. With my handful of coins I bought myself a blackcurrent sorbet on a sugar cone from the Mövenpick stand and sat down to watch the world go by. Ahh the little pleasures in life :) Unfortunately, they do not last all that long. Soon enough I discovered a Starbucks that was nicely located by the river. Armed with my ultra expensive frappacino, I basked in the sun for a little longer ... between catching up on world affairs from a copy of the International Herald Tribune someone had left behind and watching financial Geneva whizz by.

Blackcurrent Sorbet from Mövenpick - Geneva, Switzerland
Blackcurrant sorbet from the Mövenpick stand.

Tiny Shredded Ham and Onion Pizza - Geneva, Switzerland
A little snack I bought myself before heading to the airport - mini ham and onion pizza.

Did I actually buy anything on this trip? Of course I did. I bought myself at least 2 months supply of chocolate before I left. And what fun I had choosing them too :)

Petit Fours - Geneva, Switzerland
A plate of pretty biscuits and petits fours that I spotted in a shop window with the famous Swiss cow