Trying to keep fit and eating cake

A review of Rhubarb, the cafe at the Glass Mill gym, Lewisham

I never expected to review a cafe in a gym. A gym cafe always felt like a slight upgrade from the vending machine back when I had swimming lessons. (I was never ever allowed anything from the vending machine.)

Rhubarb though is a real surprise, one sleek corner of the light bright reception of the Glass Mill Swimming Pool, with a counter piled with cake. My advice? Don’t touch the flapjack. It looks good and is sitting next to a brownie, which always helps because in the effort to choose between traybakes, you find yourself imagining good flapjack in your mouth. Do this at Rhubarb, and you will be disappointed. Sorry Rhubarb, the truth hurts.

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I don’t think that this will cause too much concern. The Earl agree tea loaf is excellent. The lemon and blueberry cake melts in the mouth, soft and crumbly and neither too acidic or too sweet. And the other cake options look just great- all the traditional list blooming with a bakery haze. The blackboard says that they had baked all the cakes on site. Where did they find this baker and how did they convince them to work in a swimming pool?

It took us ages to identify the breakfast menu, but it is there and it is not tack. I’ll be honest, having to find the menu amidst the burger filled (and cake) menu in a GYM, and seeing only oats-so-simple with 25% sugar (people do know that oats are simple even when they come out of a sack, right?) led me to expect microwaved bacon and cheese rolls. I was judging harshly. Thick cut white or wholemeal bread swamped in mushrooms and herbed scrambled egg arrived on our place. We’ve even gone so far as to ask if they will do poached eggs (like i said, this is a health suite) So far we’ve been refused.

Tea pigs darjeeling Earl grey in a pot with a glass, was very refreshing. Which is strange, because I seem to remember being quite mean about it at Giraffe. sorry Teapigs, we should chat and make up over a cuppa.

Is it newness? It might be, but I have to say that the bright daylight lit interior with neon pops of colour is wonderfully clean. Which is more than can be said of the changing rooms later in the day… But I am veering dangerously off piste. I’d tell you about the swimming pool, or justify my food choices after a swim but that would take this blog toooo far from it’s titled home. I’d have to start reviewing computer hardware next.<

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Toys where child is encouraged to bash pegs with a hammer, and a plentiful supply of children

Delicious brownie

Delicious brownie

A review of Pistachios at the Pleasuance, SE10

It seemed a good idea to visit Pistachio’s in the park because the sun was out and there is a lot to love about Pistachio’s: the scruffiness, the profusion of local adds for nannies and personal trainers, and mountains of business cards.

I’m also very taken with the tea towel of 1940 map of Greenwich (also seen in Blackheath Cooks) and actually has my house on it.

Hanging maps of Greenwich/Blackheath

Hanging maps of Greenwich/Blackheath

The clutter of Pistachio’s extends to the noise levels. It was a mistake on my part to take my blackberry in the hope of a change in scenery to dial into a meeting. If you are intending to do the same, you should know that Pistachio’s have the sort of toys where child is encouraged to bash pegs into a piece of wood with a hammer, and a plentiful supply of children to bash them. And yell at the same time. It must be a joyful experience. Bash, then yell. Yell then bash. Who knows perhaps Mozart started the same way. Or maybe just carpenters.

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I have not yet been fired though.

And so to food. It’s 50/50 I’m afraid.

This nut brownie was delicious and melt in the mouth. Something that brownies frequently fail to do. My guess is that it was probably based on finely chopped nuts rather than flour to achieve this.

However the flapjack was an insult to all flapjacks. There is dispute in my household as to whether a flapjack should be a gooey crumble only, or a good crumble offset by a crunch top. This flapjack failed on both levels. It was dry and not even slightly crunchy. Whoever made this flapjack did not care, had no passion and should take up tile making.

Honestly, I do actually like the Pistachio’s experience when without my blackberry. It’s colourful and noisy.

Chevening Rd,
London SE10 0LB
020 8853 4675

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Sipping coffee amongst actual live flowers

A review of Hooper and Palmer’s, in Westcombe Park, Greenwich/Blackheath

Now as well as considering some of the most enjoyable things about life: food, coffee, bossing you lot about as to where and how to eat, it’s worth remembering the even finer things in life when caught up in city living, like for example, nature. And to be specific – flowers.

Manufactured scents are all too unavoidable these days, even if like me you are not one for airfresheners. As a general guideline, any smell named after a celebrity and adorned with copious airbrushing should be added to the ‘processed’ list. So, it was a real delight to sit sipping coffee amongst actual live flowers at Hoppers & Palmer some months ago.

So nice was the experience that I decided to return to write up an accurate blog about the place and take some delightful iPhone pictures of the light room full of flowers. So at 4pm on a Sunny afternoon I tripped over there to find this:

Hooper and Palmer

Well, maybe they close at 4pm, I thought to myself, so the other day I went over at a much more civilised hour to find:

Still says Closed, but a bit smaller this time

This time I was with my man who had noted that he has tried to buy me flowers from there (everyone say ‘ah’) on Saturday to find that it was:

Hooper and Palmer

(OK, that photo was recycled)
This is a pity, because they are the icing on the cake of this otherwise rather dull corner of Westcombe Park (not counting pistachios in the park… I am coming back to you) . But haven’t they ever heard of STAFF? You can get them; Supply is said to outstrip demand these days.
Well from memory it was like this, and if you are ever wanting to take the gamble, the place is nice. (although the bit behind the mini wall in the middle of the shop is private, doesn’t say so, but the staff will bark at you if you cross it). We loved (in winter time) the stirrers for turning your hot milk into hot chocolate. Please don’t confuse these with milk chocolate stirrers; they were designed to merge with the milk to create hot chocolate. These were –something else, and not in the nostalgia over lollipops sort of way, but in the comforting oozing best way to enjoy chocolate sort of a way. Spanish stand your spoon in cocoa eat your heart out.

There seemed to be a good selection of teas. I really must write that blog about my general opinion on teas types and brands so that I can introduce jargon that you can all refer back.

Selection of cakes is small, but of quality. Good Flapjack and brownies are of the suitably high standard required of Blackheath.

Hooper and Palmer, 113 Humber Road, Blackheath London, SE3 7LW

Am I allowed to blog about the food from the farmer’s market, do you think?

A Review of Blackheath Farmers’ Market, London SE3

Are farmers’ markets sufficiently a-little-bit coffee-shop-esque?

Coffee shops and farmer’s markets are after all, part of the same package; something that Grayson Perry would satirise us for frequenting.

But maybe if I write this blog, the Blackheath Bugle is going to come after me like a mafia boss when someone hits his turf, brutally obliterating the wannabe in the first scene of one of those mafia films I’ve heard about but never seen; just to show how hard he really is.

Gutted, man. Out in the first scene.

Honest Blackheath Bugle, I’m only going to talk about the cakes. Not the beetroot.

Our visit to the farmer’s market was prompted by a NEED for strawberries and a cake to share, and DEFINITELY NO MORE THAN THAT (in the way that you do when you have eaten quite a lot this week already). That was the intention right until were mobbed by the sheer number of cake stalls with lovely friendly people trying to persuade us to buy things (after we had hqueued… just to see what is available you understand).

In the end we fell for a mandarin marmalade cake slice and a ginger flapjack.

No offense to the mandarin marmalade cake AT ALL, which was very moist and orangey and a good combination of all the grown up tastes that make growing up worthwhile; but it was the ginger flapjack that got me typing and justifying reviewing farmer’s markets as if they were coffee shops.

There is a great crime in the world, that goes under various guises – sometimes the ‘fantastic young male chef flapjack’; or the ‘chemist-named-after-footwear flapjack’ – but generally refers to something sold in plastic wrapping under artificial lighting that technically meet the definition of a flapjack. (I haven’t checked the old Oxford English, but I’m figuring Oats and Syrup appear on the list somewhere.)

And then there is flapjack (all whisper “mmm…” in your heads) a sort of viscous solid, that keeps its shaper if you squeeze it together, but also crumbles about leaving lots of little bits to pick up when you thought that the treat was all over. Where you can hold little bits of oats between your teeth and work out the syrup. Or in this case, the gingery syrup. You knew syrup went with oats, you knew that ginger went with syrup. How can this be the first time I have experienced a combination of all three?

There are other good flapjacks in the village, just waiting to be reviewed by BCS. Subscribe if you don’t want to miss them 🙂 Or just subscribe.

Can anyone see? Did the BlackheathBugle join us…? If the coast is clear, I’d just like to add – that we really like buying the butter here and we have had great success with the herb and veg growing pot stall. I WAS TALKING ABOUT COFFEE, BLACKHEATH BUGLE, THAT’S ALL.

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