7 April 2016

Do Something New Each Day - March 2016

Day 61 - 1 March 2016 - Watched the movie 'Vertigo'

Vertigo is surprisingly one of Hitchcock's movies that I never got to watch up to now. After watching it, all I can say is 'Shame on me!'. Currently in IMDB's Top 100 movies of all time (at number 70), it was one I enjoyed very much.

It is about a San Francisco detective who suffers from acrophobia. He investigates the strange activities of an old friend's wife, all the while becoming dangerously obsessed with her.

Day 62 - 2 March 2016 - Made Oregano & Olive Bread

This is a great bread to use with your sandwiches as it adds a mediterranean flavour anywhere you use it. You can use black or green olives and you can also use wholemeal flour (like I did) instead of white.

400gr strong white bread flour
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
half tsp salt
1 tbsp dried oregano
50gr black olives, chopped
250ml water
3/4 tsp easy bake dried yeast

Use the setting for Italian Bread

Day 63 - 3 March 2016 - Tried a bottle of Jaipur India Pale Ale from Thornbridge Brewery

Those who know me well know that, as I love Belgian ales, I really struggle to find any British ales to my taste. I just find them too weak and bland to the palate!

But since this particular ale was in the Great Taste Awards' Top 50 foods/drink winners, I had to give it a try in case I found the exception to the rule. Unfortunately, I didn't.

The major issue I had was the bitter aftertaste. It's something common with India Pale ales, but it's also something I really dislike because I just can't enjoy or have another glass of. It completely ruins my palate and I need some water or something sweet to counter it. I know that this is something many ale fans like about this style, but it's not for me.

Day 64 - 4 March 2016 - Watched the movie 'Kontroll'

I can't really remember why I added this movie in my list, but it was a funny one and easy to watch. It's a tale about ticket inspectors in the Budapest metro - can't really tell you much more as there is not much of a main theme in it - it simply follows their lives and brings about many questions which the film lets you debate over and try to answer yourself.

Day 65 - 5 March 2016 - Made 'Seeded Wholemeal Loaf'

A healthy and tasty loaf was the order of the day!

475gr strong wholemeal bread flour
1.5 tsp sugar
25gr butter
1.25 tsp salt
1.5 tbsp sesame seeds
1.5 tbsp poppy seeds
300ml water
3/4 tsp easy bake dried yeast
1.5 tbsp linseeds
1.5 tbsp pumkin seeds
1.5 tbsp sunflower seeds

Use the setting for wholemeal flour

Day 66 - 6 March 2016 - Cooked 'Carrot & Coriander Soup'

When you have loads of carrots left in your kitchen (like I had) and you need to use them asap, this very easy and tasty soup can come to your rescue!! The recipe here!!

Day 67 - 7 March 2016 - Tried 'Mr Vikki's Banana Habanero' chutney

Wow! This is one of the best chutneys I've ever tasted! It was in my list of the Top 50 food/drink to try this year and it certainly deserves to be there!! In fact, this chutney has won numerous food awards - again, it comes as no surprise!

I was a bit worried that it'll be too hot for my liking. But it's more on the medium hot range and the heat eases after the first few seconds, and the banana with all the spices take over.

You can pretty much enjoy it with anything. I put a slice of my home-made bread under the grill, with some slices of roast chicken and mozzarella. When ready, I topped it with the chutney (see photo)....and then I placed an order for more jars!!!

You can visit Mr Vikki's website here.

For a more detailed review of the chutney, from Youtube, click here.

Day 68 - 8 March 2016 - Read the book 'Rites Of Passage' by William Golding

Obviously it's very difficult to read a whole book in just one day. So, by saying that 'I've read this book' I mean that this is the day I actually finished it.

William Golding, better known for 'Lord Of The Flies', won a Nobel Prize in Literature and in 1980 he was also awarded the Booker Prize for this book. It is the first book in the trilogy 'The Ends Of The Earth', and is written in the form of a journal written by a young, aristocratic passenger aboard a British warship, during a trip to Australia.

I loved the rich language in this book but unfortunately it was nowhere near as good as 'The Lord Of the Flies'. For me, it took too long to get to the main plot/story and did not really kept me turning page after page. More info here.

Day 69 - 9 March 2016 - Cooked 'Mussels With Bulgur Wheat'

Went for a bit of shopping today, saw fresh mussels on the counter and decided to open my Greek recipe books and make something delicious and new!! The recipe here.

Day 70 - 10 March 2016 - Watched Liverpool and Manchester Utd play against each other in a European game for the first time ever!

I understand that some people may think that I'm cheating on this one! After all, whenever Liverpool plays at home it's almost impossible not to see me at Anfield!

However, think about it. This game is actually history in the making! The two teams, these two biggest of rivals, have never ever met in a European competition before today!!! So, it certainly deserves to be in my list!!

Day 71 - 11 March 2016 - Visited the Coade Stone Caryatids, in London

A Caryatid is a female figure used as an architectural support in place of a pillar. The archetypical Caryatids are, of course, those on the Erechtheum in Athens. The word is Greek, meaning 'daughter/girl from Caryes', Caryes being a town near Sparta.

Well, who would have thought that you can also find some Caryatids in London!Lost in the hectic traffic around Euston Station is the St Pancras Church, a house of worship built in 1819. Modelled on the Erechtheum in Athens, the church's exterior includes 4 Caryatids which look slightly 'stumpier' than their Greek counterparts.

Sculptor Charles Rossi spent almost 3 years crafting them out of Coade stone, an artificial material favoured for the neoclassical monuments so popular in the 18th and early 19th centuries.But when Rossi transported them from his studio to the church, he discovered the statues were too tall. He cut out their middriffs, something which thankfully is not too evident thanks to their draped Grecian gowns.

Day 72 - 12 March 2016 - Watched the movie 'Whiplash'

I watched another Oscar winning movie that I had on my list, this time 'Whiplash'. Thoroughly enjoyed it and a well deserved Oscar for J K Simmons.

Day 73 - 13 March 2016 - Read the book 'Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha' by Roddy Doyle

I figured out that, since I was going to Dublin towards the end of the month, I should read a related book. So I chose this one, which won the Booker Prize in 1993.

It recounts one year in the life of a Dublin 10 year old boy, especially his relationship with his brother, his parents and his schoolmates.

I'm afraid I did not like it that much. It was written in a clever way, as the writer was writing as if the 10 year old was telling the story. But there was no main plot - just many short stories in no particular order, and not significant enough to keep me interested.

For more info about the book click here.

Day 74 - 14 March 2016 - Made 'Spelt Bread'

Another bread recipe, this time from Jamie Oliver (click here for the recipe). It was tasty, despite the deflated top, but way too soft for my liking. Next time I'll add some wholemeal or rye flour to make it harder.

Day 75 - 15 March 2016 - Watched the movie 'Into The Wild'

I can't believe how this movie never won at least one Oscar!! It was nominated for a couple of the 'smaller' categories in the 80th Academy Award ceremony, but won none! Such a shame, as it is an amazing film, based on a true story. For more info click here.

Day 76 - 16 March 2016 - Watched the movie 'Amarcord'

Another movie to watch, while getting ready for my first trip of the year. This time an Oscar Winner for Best Foreign Language Film in 1975.

Director Federico Fellini gives us a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age tale of an adolescent boy growing up in a village in 1930s fascist Italy. A very funny and well directed film. thoroughly enjoyed it. For more info click here.

Day 77 - 17 March 2016 - Watched the movie 'The Sting'

Third movie on the trot! And yes, I never got to watch this one until now! 7 Oscars, number 88 in IMDB's all time best movies and starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Need I say more? Awesome!!! Click here for more info.

Day 78 - 18 March 2016 - Visited Dublin

Well, technically this was the first day I landed in Dublin, a city I had in my bucket list and finally I got to tick off!

You can read all about my trip to Dublin here.

Day 79 - 19 March 2016 - Visited Dublin Castle

When you're in a new city for the first time, technically everything you visit is a 'first'. So, on a day where I've done more than one 'first', I'll only mention the one I enjoyed the most.

So, on my first full day in Dublin I enjoyed a guided tour around Dublin Castle and the State Apartments. For more info click here.

Day 80 - 20 March 2016 - Saw the Gaiety Theatre Hand Prints in Dublin

Outside Gaiety Theatre you'll find this array of plaques. Cast in bronze is a collection of handprints from some of the theatre's performers, the most famous ones being those of Peter Ustinov and Luciano Pavarotti.

Day 81 - 21 March 2016 - Tried 'Brewdog Punk IPA'

While waiting for my train to Oxford, I decided to try this India Pale Ale (IPA), which apparently is one of the best in its category in the UK.

The result? Well, I can now definitely confirm that IPA is not a style of ale I like, mainly due to the bitter aftertaste it leaves in the palate. Tried a few different ones so far, and all are the same. Oh well, try to move on to another type!

Day 82 - 22 March 2016 - Had a drink at 'The Eagle & Child' pub, in Oxford

There were so many places I visited in Oxford! But since I've been there a few times, it means I didn't visit them for the first time. So, I had to do something to rectify this!! And what a better way than have a pint in this history pub!

If you want to visit a historic pub in Oxford, then this should be in the top of your list. It has been an inn since at least 1650. But its fame rests on the literary group known as the 'inklings', which met in the so-called Rabbit Room. Headed by C S Lewis, the group also included JRR Tolkien and Charles Williams. It was here, in these surroundings, that Tolkien began discussing his fantasy saga The Lord of the Rings.

Day 83 - 23 March 2016 - Had a drink at Turf Tavern, in Oxford

Another historic pub visited on this day!! This time it was the Turf Tavern. Its foundations date all the way back to the 13th century. This is where, in 1963, former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke entered the Guinness Book of Records after downing a yard of ale in 11 seconds!! This is also where Bill Clinton, while a student, 'did not inhale' whilst smoking illegal substances!!

Day 84 - 24 March 2016 - Made 'Carrot and Fennel Bread'

After almost a week of travelling (Dublin and Oxford), I had to take it easy on my first day back to work. So I tried another 'strange' recipe, that ended up being my second favourite bread I've ever made so far.

Neither the carrots nor the fennel overtake the taste. Instead, you get a bread with a set, heavy consistency that is full of taste in each bite.

Here's the recipe:
210ml water
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp honey
200gr grated carrots
500gr wholemeal flour
2 tbsp milk powder
1.5 tsp fennel seeds
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp easy bake dried yeast

use the setting for wholemeal bread

Day 85 - 25 March 2016 - Watched A-Ha live in concert

Everyone knows I'm a big 80s fan! This was my decade after all! And I remember that back in the 80s all the girls were madly in love with Wham or Duran Duran, leaving us guys pick A-Ha instead...for me, their songs were the better from the other two.

So what a better opportunity, being a Good Friday and not having to be in the office, than to finally see them live for the very first time!! And it was just like the good old days!!! A great concert which got me keen to start looking for my next 80s booking!!

Day 86 - 26 March 2016 - Watched the movie 'It Happened One Night'

This movie was the first ever to win all 5 major Oscars (best picture, director, actor, actress and screenplay), so it was in my list and now ticked off.

Really enjoyed it. Despite the simple plot, it's one I'd definitely watch again! For more info click here.

Day 87 - 27 March 2016 - Watched the movie 'M'

Another movie on this day and, again, one that is in the IMDB list of the 250 best movies of all time. It's a German movie from 1931, about a city that looks for a child murderer.

The movie is good but not good enough (for me) to be so high in the list. However, it poses a great dilemma to the viewer, regarding murder and justice - I will not be more specific so as to not spoil it to those who haven't seen the movie before. Click here for more info.

Day 88 - 28 March 2016 - Read the book 'Mugby Junction' by Charles Dickens and others

Everyone who knows me knows that Charles Dickens is by far my favourite writer. But I bet that very few of you have heard of this book. Well, that's because it is actually a collection of 8 short stories written in 1866 by not only Dickens but also Charles Collins, Amelia B Edwards, Andrew Halliday and Hesba Stretton.

Really enjoyed most of the stories and I think they would have made an amazing book if the writers had decided to work towards a long version. Worth a read!

Day 89 - 29 March 2016 - Watched the movie 'The Barbarian Invasions'

Ladies (and gentlemen), get your tissues out!! Although this Canadian-French comedy starts a bit slow, it will leave you in tears (both, of laughter and sadness) as it proceeds towards the last days of the main character who suffers from terminal cancer.

Well worth the Oscar it won in 2003 for Best Foreign language film. Click here for more info.

Day 90 - 30 March 2016 - Read the book 'The Last Day of a Condemned Man' by Victor Hugo

This is another short novel by one of the 'classic' writers of our time. And I really enjoy reading these short novels for two main reasons: They are a forgotten part of the writers' more well-known books, so it is well worth reading them if you like a particular writer and you've read all of their bigger books. They are also shorter in length, so you can actually read them within a couple of days.

Hugo wrote this particular one in 1829, angered by the spectacle that society made from executions using the guillotine. For more info click here.

Day 91 - 31 March 2016 - Read the book 'Monday or Tuesday' by Virginia Woolf

I must admit that I have never been too keen on Virginia Woolf. Mainly because I always found one of the main characteristics of her writing, the so-called 'stream of consiousness' narrative, a bit too hard to follow. I don't want to sound sexist, but I guess this type of writing portrays better the way a female mind works: full of constant and fast thinking about everything and anything, jumping from one topic to another without too much purpose or cohesion, changing views and opinions within seconds....call me a simple-minded male, but I find it too much after a while!!

March review

It was a very interesting month, with travel taking over from recipes. In total, I saw 9 new movies, read 5 new books, made 4 new breads and over the space of 5 days I saw many new places in Dublin and Oxford. Tried just 2 recipes, but I also tried 2 new beers (not a rewarding experience) and an amazing new award winning chutney. Last but definitely not least I saw Liverpool play Manchester United in Europe for the first time (and beating them) and danced to A-Ha live in concert!!!

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