Sunday thoughts: 27th July 2014

They say you don’t know what you have until you lose it… I guess I had never really appreciated how much down-time I actually get in an average week until last week robbed me of most of it. I really felt the impact by the beginning of this week, and I am so grateful that things ground to a halt on Tuesday giving me a full day off, and continued with fairly peaceful, even-paced days… and a day-trip to Cambridge!

New things I have learnt this week

  • I found this short piece on high-fructose corn syrup pretty fascinating. Like most people who are interested in nutrition, I believed high-fructose corn syrup to be a pretty close approximation to pure nutritional evil. Luckily, over here, far fewer products seem to contain it than in the USA which is where most of the fear(-mongering?) originates, so I haven’t had to eliminate it too consciously – but if one product contained it and an equally tasty one contained glucose or fructose or sucrose (“sugar”), I would pick the latter. However, they contain almost exactly the same aout of fructose, and share the same glycemic index! As confirmed by this table giving the glycemic indexes for different sweeteners, HFCS and sucrose share virtually the same spot (68 and 65, respectively, compared to a standard of 100 for glucose). Meanwhile, I was expecting blackstrap molasses (at 55) to be lower and maple syrup (at 54) to be higher. As much as I rave on about not believing what you read or hear, and challenging popular opinion, sometimes I can just wander on down the very same path as everyone else. So… don’t always trust me either.
  • That then led me to question the glycemic load of common sweeteners and staple foods. I was surprised to find white bread and wholemeal bread side by side with a medium glycemic load of 13. Of course, the key thing to remember (besides not to trust too much of what you read or hear about nutrition), is that nutrition is about more than calories and a food can be nutritious yet high-calorie (nor is it all about fat content, or sugar or carbohydrate content), and that glycemic index and glycemic load mean very little when taken out of context. Should I write a post about glycemic indexes and loads? Hmm…

New things I have eaten this week

  • We spent Thursday in Cambridge with my mum and a family friend. We were planning to visit Rainbow Café but due to time constraints we ended up at the café in the Fitzwilliam Museum – the sort of place that is notoriously vegan-unfriendly. Luckily, it turned out their carrot and coriander soup was vegan, and I was able to have that with a roll and a green salad – not too bad for a quick lunch. We stopped for an ice cream at Benet’s, where I chose a scoop of grapefruit sorbet which I would tentatively declare as possibly the best sorbet I have had (yes). For dinner, we battled our way to a table in Teri-Aki (who don’t take reservations) and ordered a plethora of dishes – as anything battered/deep-fried would have contained egg, I ruled those out and went with edamame, fried eggplant (nasu-denaku), and pan-fried udon noodles with vegetables (yasai yaki udon – without the egg). The staff were all very frantic and though relatively smiley, we never felt confident or valued. Food was fine although nothing memorable, and haphazardly thrown on dishes. Think Wagamama with less space, less competent staff, less tofu, and green tea that you have to pay for.
  • On Sunday my friend Necla and I had planned to visit Redemption Bar – but on remembering to double-check their opening times late on Saturday night, I found out that they are closed for the summer. So Necla suggested we hit up La Suite West which has been on my radar for a few months now. They advertise themselves as a raw vegan restaurant… but in fact their menu is neither entirely raw nor vegan, which I find vaguely irritating. However, for such an upmarket establishment the staff were remarkably friendly and helpful, and their leafy terrace was peaceful and welcoming. As for the food…La Suite West ravioli I started with the (raw, vegan) golden beet “ravioli”, which was beautiful and delicious. Admittedly, it was more of a nut mush with golden beets on top than anything resembling revioli parcels, but it was very tasty and enjoyable to eat nonetheless; the nut filling perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of texture, the beets just lightly crunchy, slightly sweet and vaguely earthy. It was lovely.La Suite West tagliatelleNecla had the zucchini “tagliatelle” which wasn’t the best of its kind we have ever tasted. The portions and satiating powers of both dishes were better suited to starters than mains, but I’m hardly starving. Luckily, the desserts did not disappoint – no, not even me! I ordered the chocolate and coconut cake but in the time it took Necla to order her dessert, I had changed my mind and ordered a strawberry banana mousse cake:La Suite West mousseServed in a martini glass, I’d have called this a parfait or even just a mousse, and done away with the cake bit. But a rose by any other name and all… And this one’s name was tasty, tangy, just the right balance of lightness and richness. I’d order this again. Or maybe I’d order Necla’s date and orange “cheesecake”…La Suite West cheesecakeA surprisingly generous serving of a light and slightly textured creamy cake, bursting with the juiciness of orange… I was impressed. Next time, I’ll go to Nama for my mains, and come here for dessert…!

Other highlights this week

  • Today was a massive highlight of the week… A lie-in, a bit of cleaning around the flat, wandering into one of my favourite parts of London for a delicious lunch with a lovely individual, who accompanied me in an overexcited examination of the wonderful oriental Costcutter supermarket in Queensway… Then home to make myself a quick stir-fry while Ben whipped us up some scones!
  • Tuesday was excellent in its entirety. With no clients until the evening – and then my one evening client cancelling – I got to spend the entire day at home, writing and researching and reading blogs… It felt so good to catch up on everything for the first time in a long time.
  • Friday evening felt unbelievably relieving and I’m not even sure why – especially as all of my appointments went really well and I had great fun with all my clients. It certainly helped that Ben and I met on the journey home and travelled back together. I snacked on a raw burger on the train home and we ordered pizza, which we ate whilst watching Don’t Stop Believin’ – Everyman’s Journey (review: heartwarming and entertaining).
  • Oh and of course, Thursday in Cambridge was a wonderful break from London life; the highlight of the day was taking a punt tour on the river Cam. The evening weather was absolutely perfect, the views stunning, and our guide informative and entertaining. Well worth the £15!

In all, it has been a great week; really, I could have listed each day as a highlight. With lovely, cheerful people, and fresh and colourful food (and the occasional not-so-fresh doughy treat), what more could you ask for?

I hope you have all enjoyed your respective weeks, and that you have plenty to look forward to in the next few days! Happy Sunday!