Weekend Brunching: The Sister Table

I enjoyed some great food and great conversations at a brunch club in East London which was hosted by two amazing entrepreneurial women

This October I had the privilege of attending a brunch club which was run by The Sister Table. The Sister Table is the latest business venture for Benjamina and Bonita Ebuehi, who are twin sisters as well as formidable, highly creative and hard-working entrepreneurs who are taking London’s brunch scene by storm. Benjamina was a quarter-finalist on the Great British Bake Off in 2016 and now works as a baker and food stylist whilst Bonita is a graphic designer with her own line of stationary, gifts and homeware, which is embellished with traditional African prints.

The duo founded The Sister Table because they were alarmed by the lack of diversity they saw at the supper clubs that they had attended. In launching The Sister Table, the duo are helping to bring more diversity into this space. The price point for tickets (£35 for a three-course brunch including a complementary cocktail upon arrival) is very competitive and attractive for millennials who may not be able to fork out £50+ for some of the supper clubs which are currently available in London, as well as people of colour who may earn significantly less than their non-BAME peers.

Benjamina and Bonita also set out to launch The Sister Table with the aim of bringing together like-minded women who could enjoy good food and good conversations, and this is exactly what I experienced at their event in October. I arrived, very fittingly, with my sister but we sat and spoke with a trio of amazing, highly driven and eloquent ladies. The conversation flowed and, as cheesy as this may sound, although I had only just met these wonderful women I felt as if I had known them for some time. We talked freely about everything from our jobs, to our families and backgrounds to the state of schools in the UK to adulting; a topic every millennial can talk about at great length!

I can confirm that the event did provide good food as well as good conversations. The menu was autumn-inspired and so we started off our morning of eating with warm, tahini pecan granola with roasted maple vanilla plums, blackberries and natural yoghurt (they also had a soya yoghurt substitute which was great to see).

Next came our main dishes. We enjoyed some smashed sweet potato on sourdough toast with scrambled eggs. This was served with smoked beans, wilted spinach and a choice of either chorizo, which I opted for, or halloumi.

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The final course was a thing of beauty. We were served not one, but two delectable desserts. The first was an apple frangipane tart that came with a heavenly accompaniment of salted cardamom caramel. We also had a plate of chocolate, banana and hazelnut cakes but as I was too full by this point, I had to take a few of these cakes home to enjoy later in the day.

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To round off the afternoon, we were served a choice of delicious homemade chai (which you could get with dairy milk or oat milk) or filter coffee.

I left the event completely stuffed and very happy about the food I had eaten as well as the conversations that I had had with other attendees. The Sister Table is a great concept, a great price and is going from strength to strength. If you are a fan of delicious brunch, meeting new people and supporting entrepreneurial millennials then I urge you to give The Sister Table a go, you won’t regret it.

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ABC to NPG: Michael Jackson “On the Wall” exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery

I took a trip to the National Portrait Gallery in London to learn more about Michael Jackson’s career and see how he has been depicted and immortalised by a variety of different artists.

My knowledge of popular culture is generally quite atrocious. Every time popular culture comes up in conversations I realise just how many films I haven’t yet seen, how many songs I haven’t yet heard of and how many famous individuals have never even entered my consciousness. When I heard that the National Portrait Gallery was putting on an exhibition which documented Michael Jackson’s musical career and influence on culture and society around the world I jumped at the chance to learn more about such a highly decorated cultural icon that I had very limited knowledge about beyond some of his biggest hits of the 80s and 90s.

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I went with my brother to this exhibition which was great as he was a font of Michael Jackson knowledge and provided a lot of contextual information for much of the artwork on display. As well as finding out that Michael Jackson was the first black musician to enter a significant number of non-black family homes around the world, I also learnt that he was the first black artist to be featured on MTV. I think this can be attributed to the fact that he was a phenomenally talented singer and dancer as well as an incredibly hardworking individual. He acknowledged that “people of colour and women had to work twice as hard to get half as far” and this attitude pushed him to work incredibly hard indeed. This attitude, as well as help from the music mogul Quincy Jones, in turn led to his success and status as a cultural icon who broke many racial barriers and paved the way for several artists of every creed and colour who would follow his lead, replicate his dance moves and mimic his falsetto tones.

I also learnt a few heart-breaking truths about Michael Jackson’s life such as the fact that he grew up in a two-bedroom house with eight other siblings in a small Rust Belt town in Indiana. The exhibition also illustrated how Michael Jackson drew parallels between himself and E.T. He thought of himself as a relative outsider who was simply trying, and sometimes struggling, to find his way in this world– much like the titular character from the iconic 80s film. I also discovered that because he didn’t have a typical childhood, as he spent so much of his early life performing and honing his craft with the Jackson 5 and then later as a solo artist, he tried desperately to cling onto his youth even in later life. This explains a lot about his personality and lifestyle, particularly why he named his home Neverland and built a theme park inside it.

The exhibition itself was incredible and did a fantastic job of showcasing the vast achievements Michael Jackson made throughout his career as well as how he was received globally by fans. I left with a burning desire to listen to the songs from his Off the Wall album which I hadn’t heard before as well as to listen to some of my favourite songs from the Thriller album.

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Two pieces by Graham Dolphin. His works featured multiple copies of Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall and Thriller albums with the lyrics to every song ever recorded by Michael Jackson handwritten on them in small white print.

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P.Y.T by Appau Junior Boakye-Yiadom

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A series of images of Michael Jackson by Andy Warhol

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Image from the American Jesus series by David LaChapelle

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Equestrian portrait of King Phillip II (Michael Jackson) by Kehinde Wiley

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Magnificent Mexican: Spotlight on Corazón

My perennial search for the best Mexican food in London brings me to a great eatery in Soho

I absolutely adore Mexican food, however, I find that the general offering of Mexican food in London is lacking. Whilst there are a few standout restaurants I find that there are a lot of restaurants that promise a lot and deliver very little. When I talk to friends about Mexican food many of them tell me that this isn’t their preferred cuisine and that they think Mexican food is quite bland and unexciting. My theory is that many people who dislike Mexican food have based their perception of this cuisine on restaurants like Wahaca. Whilst I do recognise that Wahaca was a trailblazer in terms of bringing Mexican food to the masses in the UK, I find that the menu isn’t a great advocate for authentic, exciting and homemade Mexican food.

My pursuit of great Mexican food has led me to some standout restaurants such as Corazón. This restaurant is tucked into the backstreets of Soho and is just a stone’s throw from Oxford Circus station. The décor is minimalist, stylish and a far cry from the often glib and extravagantly decorated Mexican restaurants which make you feel like you’re walking into a Cinco de Mayo celebration gone wrong. I went to Corazón with my friend Noreen who is a fellow fan of delicious, fresh and authentic Mexican food. We were both highly impressed with the offering here.

The food and drinks at Corazón were exceptional. The totopos (tortilla chips) were a thing of beauty; they were freshly made and arrived at our table whilst they were still warm which made them incredibly moreish. We dunked these lightly salted chips into a generous serving of fresh guacamole, pico de gallo and a toasted arbol chile salsa which was divine. There are few things in this world better than freshly made, authentic yellow and blue corn tortilla chips. I could have happily eaten three plates of these, but I resisted as I was keen to try a few of the delicious tacos which were on the menu. The standout dish for me was the plate of Baja fish tacos. These were made from homemade blue corn tortillas, beer battered haddock, pickled cabbage and chipotle mayo. I think that the decision to use haddock rather than cod was great as the haddock had a great depth of flavour and a slightly meatier texture than the fried cod tacos I’ve tried in the past. The combination of flavours in this taco worked extremely well. We enjoyed it so much that we order another pair!

We also tried the carne asada tacos and the carnitas tacos. Whilst the carnitas tacos were very flavoursome I found that the beef in the carne asada tacos was quite tough and that there was a little too much moisture in this taco as the tortilla started to lose its structural integrity even before I started eating it. Half way through eating it I just gave up using my hands and started using my knife and fork.

Next came the dessert and my goodness it was good. We shared a flourless chocolate torte and a flan made from coconut milk which had tiny pieces of toasted coconut on top. The chocolate cake was incredibly smooth and creamy without being overly rich. It also had a hint of cinnamon which made it quite warming to eat. The creamy and perfectly wobbly flan was delicious. It was dressed with a sweet caramel sauce which worked incredibly well with the coconut milk flan. This dish is one for dessert lovers as it is sweet; however, if you were to have this with a cup of tea, as I did, this would help to offset the sweetness of the flan somewhat. The tiny pieces of toasted coconut also added a crunchy texture to the dish which provided a nice contrast to the creamy flan. I was incredibly impressed with the flan, especially as I was initially unsure about what to expect.

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Not only was the food great, but the staff were incredibly friendly, helpful (they very wisely recommended that we get the flan and chocolate cake to share rather than getting two servings of the cake) and accommodating. All in all we thoroughly enjoyed our Mexican feast at Corazón – I’d give it a solid 8/10.

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My day at the RA: The Royal Academy’s 250th Summer Exhibition

I spent some time at the Royal Academy to see the 250th Summer Exhibition which was curated by Grayson Perry

A lot of people who know me will tell you that I’m not a very spontaneous person. I would choose careful, methodical planning over making rash and random decisions any day of the week. I like analysing things and weighing up all my options because I like to mitigate the likelihood of being disappointed. I don’t do this all the time as that would be exhausting, but I do tend to do this when planning what I want to do at the weekend, holidays and where I want to eat.

One of the pitfalls of being overly analytical (apart from being incredibly boring) is that you might miss out on opportunities because you spend so much time weighing up all of your options and pondering whether or not you want to do something that before you know it the restaurant/exhibition/concert that you want to eat at/visit/attend has gone. Having said that, however, I have been trying to be more spontaneous recently to ensure that I don’t miss out on so many opportunities.

Earlier this summer I read an interview with Grayson Perry about the Royal Academy’s 250th Summer Exhibition, which he was curating, in the ES Magazine and I thought it looked like an interesting thing to see but I never made a plan to actually go. Fast forward two or so months later and I see a sponsored post on my Instagram feed telling me that the exhibition was due to finish in a few days #serialprocrastinator. Instagram was clearly stalking my search history as the timing of this sponsored post was too eerie to have been a mere coincidence. When I saw the post, I decided that I wouldn’t let this exhibition be another one that slipped through my fingers so on the last Friday of the exhibition I decided to just book a ticket so that I could go straight after work.

Now many of you might not think that this is spontaneous but for me it was a big step in that direction. I’m still a long way away from waking up in the morning, packing up all my clothes, travelling to Heathrow Airport and booking a one-way flight to New York but this was impulsive enough for me to consider it as slightly spontaneous #babysteps.

The exhibition itself was huge and was contained within three different spaces in the RA. A lot of the art was very topical and somewhat satirical in nature, but most of it was cleverly constructed, incredibly innovative and intricately put together. I’m not an art connoisseur by any means but I appreciate art which is humorous, has a hidden message or looks as though it has been painstakingly put together over the course of several months or even years.

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This dog was one of the best things I saw at the exhibition. It was made from what looked like recycled jewellery such as old watch heads, necklaces and brooches.

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This was another one of my favourite pieces. From afar it looked like a painting but the horses and trees were 3D and looked extremely life-like up close.

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As well as the art on show I also loved the atmosphere at the RA. It was buzzing and really felt like a Friday night at the museum. The space was bustling full of families, couples and lone ranger art enthusiasts who were soaking in all the work on display. There was also a bar serving an assortment of wine and prosecco; I’d never seen an art gallery or museum serve alcohol before. I didn’t know if this was happening because of the significance of the exhibition or because it was a Friday, but I didn’t ask why, I just got stuck in and enjoyed myself in what felt like my new happy place.

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This was one of the most unusual, yet interesting and fun exhibitions that I have ever been to and I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. Have you ever been to the RA?

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