There is nothing Odd about Oddbox

I cannot remember how I came across Oddbox but I am glad I did. In a world where food waste is reaching shocking amounts, I am a firm supporter of any company or person who is trying to tackle it.

I hate waste. I hate throwing food away unnecessarily. I am that person that ignores the sell by dates and will freeze it to preserve it rather than throw it away.

Oddbox is a company that has been born out of the food waste problem. They are committed to fighting food waste through saving wonky fruit and veg –  that stuff the supermarkets do not want as it does not fit their description of what a vegetable should look like! They work directly with local farmers to take the wonky fruit and vegetables and deliver it straight to your door.

I love this idea! I have no idea when or where supermarkets decided that food had to look a certain way. Whenever I go to a market in France, Italy or Spain you are welcomed by the brightly coloured fruit and vegetable stalls. Piled high with all shapes and sizes. Not a plastic wrapped carrot in sight. Why did we, the British start doing this? What is wrong with a wonky carrot or a nobbly potato?

The all inclusive French market. nothing classed as a wonky here

Intrigued by the service Oddbox are offering I decided to take the leap and sign up for their vegetable delivery service. So last Friday we had our first delivery ( delivery time and day is dictated by your post code in London). My only problem with the service is the delivery time. For our post code it comes from 11pm to 7am. Now I am lucky and live in a block of flats where the concierge can sign for the package but not everyone has this. Nor do most people in London have safe locations you can leave things that the foxes will not get to.

Big box of Vegetables

Negatives aside, we woke to a big old box ( we have gone for the medium vegetable box) of fresh vegetables. For the most part I cannot tell what is wonky about it. The carrots were huge, the spring onions all looked the same, the cabbage – cabbage like. I cannot for the life of me understand why supermarkets would turn this stuff down.

Someone please tell me what is odd about this?
Dirty vegetables… whatever next!

Everything looked great. All it needed was a good clean ( yes that’s right the potatoes and carrots were dirty –  farm fresh mud! ) and it was ready for the fridge.

The box it came in is cardboard, so that can be recycled as well! In fact they ask you to leave it outside for your next delivery as they will take it away and re-use it.

I have been really pleased with the contents of my Oddbox. The medium box has kept us fed for over a week –  a few spring onions still going – but I am ready for our next box to arrive on Friday. We have started on a box every two weeks to see how we go but may well swap to weekly orders. At £10.99 for a box of vegetables every two weeks I think this is a bargain. It means that we are saving food from the waste but also saves us time shopping for it.

I would highly recommend this service if you live in London.

Afternoon Tea at the Corinthia Hotel

It’s fair to say that over my 30 something years I have eaten many an afternoon tea. I have enjoyed them around London, around the country and even overseas. There is something delightfully enjoyable about tiny sandwiches and cakes.

I remember being a teenager and afternoon tea was a treat, an indulgence. It was a rarity in my early life. Now, they are everywhere. Ranging in quality, price and theme. It seems like every hotel puts on their own variation of afternoon tea, throwing in novelty themes to fill the seats because apparently dainty sandwiches and scones just do not do it anymore. Saying that, gentlemen’s afternoon tea can be quite fun….

I do not want to get all snobby about afternoon tea, but on a recent trip to the Corinthia Hotel to enjoy their offering I was reminded of what a traditional afternoon tea was, the simplicity of it, the elegance. The Corinthia really does ooze elegance not only in its hotel but in its afternoon tea.

This visit was my first afternoon tea since going gluten-free 18 months ago so I was not quite sure what to expect on quality and choice, but I was pleasantly surprised. There was very little from the normal cake selection that we couldn’t have and they even brought us out substitutes.

The Corinthia Hotel afternoon tea, it was agreed by the party, was the most relaxed afternoon tea any of us have ever had. We were presented each section one at a time which I thought was a lovely touch, rather than being faced all at once with a great tower of goods. You could eat your way through each section at your own pace, and even go back for more sandwiches if you wanted ( at great glee to the men in attendance). The gluten-free sandwiches were all on lovely soft and firm white bread – no cotton wool concoction in sight – while the normal tea was on flavoured bread, but fillings all the same. The sandwiches were delicious. Lovely and fresh and flavoursome.

Elegant afternoon tea at the Corinthia Hotel
delicious gluten free finger sandwiches

Next came the scones presented in a box  – very cute. The gluten-free versions were, well, ok. I am yet to find a decent gluten-free scone. They elude me. These were nice, but pretty dense. Fine once covered in jam and clotted cream.

Gluten Free scones …. small but ok!

The real delight came when a lovely waitress wheeled over the cake trolley! yes that’s right, a trolley of beautifully crafted patisserie. She carefully went through what was gluten-free and filled our stand with scrummy items. A short while later her colleague presented us with a couple more gluten free options from the kitchen.

the scrummy tower of gluten free cakes
more cakes….
Chocolate cake and a fruit cheesecake
This chocolate sphere were divine!

Each little cake was full of flavour and beautifully made. It was almost a shame to eat them.

At no point did we ever feel rushed as we sat scoffing our faces while the piano was gracefully played behind us. Staff were friendly and welcoming.

This afternoon tea at the Corinthia hotel could quickly become my favourite.

Cinnamon Kitchen Battersea

The area around the iconic Battersea Power Station is fast becoming the place for restaurants to open. In the next few years I wouldnt be surprised if this becomes the new hip place to be once the power station developments have finished. One of the new restaurants that has opened in the development, housed in an archway of the railway bridge is Cinnamon Kitchen.

I am a huge fan of Cinnamon Club in Westminster, a delightfully delicious Indian fine dining experience by Vivek Singh, so was very happy when I got an email through to say that they were opening a Cinnamon Kitchen in Battersea.

I love modern Indian cuisine, the depth of flavour, the imaginative use of spices and sometimes the simplicity of a dish. It brings the best of Indian food to the plate. Do not get me wrong I love a curry but there is something refreshing and usually imaginative about modern Indian cooking.

Cinnamon Kitchen at Battersea Power Station continues the high standard of cooking that you would associate with Vivek Singh and his restaturants. The setting is quite urban chic, lots of explosed brick and metal but with comfortable plus seats. The open kitchen means that you can see all that is going on and smell the beautiful cooking going on inside.

We visited for lunch, which offers small plates, large plates or a very reasonably priced set menu. I will definitely have to return for dinner to further experience the menu.

This is a lovely restaurant with delicious food and friendly staff. Hopefully this will become a mainstay in the region.

Good Cyclists, Bad Cyclists

Now I have only been cycling to work for a couple of months, but already I am finding myself more and more frustrated with other cyclists rather than cars. Yes you get the annoying drivers that decide to drive right up your behind to try to make you move or those that do not indicate and then shouting occurs, but as long as you play by the road rules it’s not actually that scary. What really scares me are other cyclists…. the attitude of some of them, and then today a girl cycling on the wrong side of the road and just huffed at me when I said something!

I know I should stick with ‘my people’ but when you are surrounded by middle-aged men in lycra who think the riverside path is the Tour de France its pretty scary. Only the other day I saw two cyclists on the floor in a heap after they clearly had a collision going around a corner.

Since when did people also stop using their bells! Blind corners people!!

There are many out there that think cyclists can do no wrong and its the cars that are dangerous.. However, who is to blame when some cyclists think its ok to go through a red light and nearly hit pedestrians as they cross? I am not the only person who has conflicted thoughts on the cycling world.

There are increasingly more and more cyclists out there on the roads but unfortunately the roads themselves haven’t changed. They are still narrow and few have cycle lanes, but more and more people are jostling for space on them.  The other problem is there is very little repercussion for a dangerous or stupid cyclist unlike drivers so they just do not care.

Now I do not drive but I do know the rules of the road and so should other cyclists. It’s great that people cycle, and I am not trying to discourage that but for those of us who just want to get to work quickly and safely we should be able to without having to put up with cyclists who think the road is just for them. There are plenty of guides online about how to cycle, the good old highway code or the British Cycling website, plus many local councils run courses, some for free. I believe that cycle magazines and British cycling should be doing more than they currently are to encourage safe cycling. Yes there will always be that idiot of a driver out there but if you are cycling safely then you are going to minimise the damage. Trying to overtake or running red lights gives all cyclists a bad name!

I do not want to seem negative towards my fellow cyclists but I need to speak my mind on this one. There are so many cyclists out there now from commuters to fair weather cyclists and everyone needs to be using the same rule book otherwise it leads to crashes, injuries and if you are not wearing a helmet much worse, especially if that dangerous cycling is happening around cars on a road. It also discourages other people taking to their bikes as they are put off by bad attitudes of some cyclists.

For now I will keep my wits about me and stay safe on those roads, trying to avoid both the dangerous drivers and cyclists! I really should only have to worry about cars!