Tag Archive: Brighton

Food for Friends

Have I mentioned that my favourite restaurant in Brighton is SIX? No? I tell everyone to eat there, and I make all my friends eat there with me!

Our last trip to the UK coincided with SIX becoming sister restaurant to Food for Friends, the self-proclaimed original Brighton vegetarian restaurant, established in 1981 (I wasn’t a vegetarian yet then – well, I was only three).

*side note: the first time I showed signs of leaning towards vegetarianism was at the age of four, when I made the connection between those cute lambs in the fields, and the lamb at the dinner table. I believe I refused lamb on my plate from that point forward. Not at all precocious.

As soon as I saw the news, I couldn’t wait to visit. I had dined at Food for Friends before, but that was years ago and I was past due another experience there. And I had the ideal celebration: dinner with Arijus’s mother and sister, and meeting his mother’s new beau! A family affair, lovely.

Incidentally, I discovered half way through the meal that Eric (the beau) is a vegetarian. Serendipity!

On our arrival, we were directed to The Snug, a super cute, private table, tucked away from the main areas of seating. I actually love the whole restaurant layout; the building is gorgeous from the outside, and the seating areas are broken up. So, even if you’re not in The Snug, you still get a fairly intimate dining experience.

For our starter, we decided on a sharing platter, so we could try lots of delicious things. We added an order of the mirin marinated crispy tofu at the recommendation of our lovely server. I’m not usually into sharing food, but I’m starting to see the value of it when it means I can try more than one item on the menu.

I mean, how gorge?!

For mains, Arijus and I inadvertently ordered the same: portabello mushrooms, which we were informed was their signature dish. Spoiler: it deserves that title! The mushrooms and goat’s cheese are served with quinoa (yum!), green beans and a potato gratin. I’m hungry again just thinking about it.

*another side note (sorry, not sorry): someone recently said that grated potato (rosti style) is boring. I’m sorry, WHAT? Potato, in any form, is so far from boring, but is, in fact, so incredibly comforting, satisfying and divine … yeah, I could go on.

Eric had the curry, which he praised highly. Vida had the pea, mint and feta arancino, and she really enjoyed it (let’s face it, who doesn’t love arancini? But also, yay, as she can be hard to please!). Ieva went for the burger and was very happy.

Not gonna lie, we were all pretty stuffed by that point. Did I mention the yummy cocktails and wine *hic*?

BUT, Ieva and I have a deal, no meal is complete without dessert! We shared the chocolate & avocado mousse and we were blown away.

Look at that presentation!

Everybody was highly satisfied. The food was scrumptious and beautifully presented, the staff were friendly and efficient. Another fabulous Brighton dining experience, and venue that I would highly recommend to everyone – especially those silly meat eaters* that claim they have to have meat on their plate for it to be a proper meal! (Don’t get me started :P)

*not all meat-eaters are silly, only the ones who insist there is no other way to eat.

I carried a watermelon.

Well, I didn’t. But dancing was how I met the love of my life. Salsa, to begin with, although we have done a little bachata, tried the tango (so dramatic!), the jive and ballroom. That was about seven years ago – when we met.

It is quite a story and enough time has passed that I can look back now and see what a jumbled mess I was making of my life, but that was my journey and I accept it. To give you the gist of it, I was engaged to be married and had just bought a house with my fiancee. Big boxes on my life ‘to do’ list were being ticked off. However, in my denial that things were not quite as good as they looked on paper, I found a hobby that made me happy: dancing.

I love dancing. Salsa is great. Not Cuban style. I learnt LA or cross body style salsa, and that is what I’ve stuck with. It may be just me, but in trying to be good at that style I find it really confusing to do a similar-but-not-the-same dance! Cuban is gorgeous to watch but personally I prefer LA, it is more formal, Cuban is more earthy. I guess the more formal style suits me.

So after a few weeks, I met my lovely man. I immediately felt comfortable dancing with him in class and, being nervous of dancing with strangers, that meant we danced together fairly regularly after class. Long story short: lots of dancing, friendship develops, more dancing, fall head over dance shoes in love.

Dancing, especially with him, became a joyful freedom from the stress of my mind trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. In the time we spent together when we weren’t dancing, I found he was discovering and more importantly, understanding, pieces of me that had been tucked away many years ago. Pieces of me that I liked, but that hadn’t fitted in the relationship I was trying to make work.

Unfortunately, I held on to my denial for a bit too long and I married my fiancee before acknowledging that I’d made a big mess. It was not pretty, as I’m sure you can imagine, and at the time I remember thinking: how is this my life?! I felt like I was in a bad Eastenders storyline. This was a point in my life where I became aware that firstly, cliche sayings really are rooted in truth, and secondly, if anyone else quoted one at me, I was likely to punch their face.

Well, time really does heal, yada yada, and here we are, years later, happy and still very much in love. Of course, nothing is perfect and other challenges we have had to face have meant that we don’t dance regularly anymore. I am trying to get us back into a routine, but it’s really tricky to find decent LA salsa teaching here in Brighton. Sadly, the club we started at closed, and since then the Cuban scene has held court, with all the good LA teachers seemingly keeping to the London area. But I will persevere, for several reasons, not least because it is so special to us and one day, at our wedding, this is the dance we are going to dance.

I wanted to share my story, even though parts of it are difficult to share. Many people make decisions that lead them to difficult places, yet when that person is you, you feel so totally alone. And people judge you, it’s in their nature, and it hurts. I learnt A LOT about myself and my past choices, and what and who I wanted in my life. And I learnt a lot about my friends. Some of them still are, and some of them are not. Follow your heart, and you’ll find your way *shields face* 😉

A perfectly lovely day

Yesterday, (Saturday) we had visitors. My dear friend Jay and his family came to the seaside. I don’t like to think about how long I’ve known Jay, as it makes me feel old but in case you’re curious we met at University in 1997. Jeez Louise. Anyway, we didn’t become friends until after the first year and I like to tease him that it was because he had really long, straight black hair but when he cut it short before our second year started he obviously looked more like friend material to me. To cut (ha ha) a long and frankly boring story short, we’ve remained very good friends over the years and I consider him family, as supported by his label of ‘brother’ on my Facebook page. Because, as we all know, it’s not official until it’s on Facebook, right?!

Now he has an adorable nearly two year old called Noah, which makes our get togethers even more fun.

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Brighton was on form yesterday and we had a gorgeous day. Which was good really, as all of us had had a totally rubbish morning. Poor Noah was under the weather and he let his parents share his pain by waking before 6am and crying pretty much non stop on the two hour drive down here. Arijus and I had rowed about everything and nothing. And I realised as I told them why we weren’t ready (even though they were an hour late) how grateful I am to have friends in my life who I didn’t need to make up some lame excuse for.

We went to the marina for lunch and ate at Pizza Express. That particular branch does seem to have made quite an effort with their customer service of late as the waiters and management are very attentive! Noah finally settled down and we managed a lovely two hour lunch – pretty good going for a poorly bubba. Nami and I set the world to rights with a few rants and felt better immediately. It’s possible her beer and my cocktail helped too.

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We then headed into town and wandered down to the beach. Arijus was distracted by the Brighton & Hove speed trial on Marine Drive so we left him to go and look at cool cars and sat on the beach for a bit.

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That’s me and Jay and Noah. Not my best angle, I apologise. Hmm..might try and dig up an old photo of Jay and me just for kicks. Whilst on the beach we all (Noah being the exception) giggled at a couple, probably roughly our age, who seemed unable to stop kissing. Seriously do not think they came up for air. Then we ruminated about how long it had been since we were in that rose tinted romance stage with our respective partners!

By this time some of us were peckish again so we headed to Pho, one of my favourite restaurants for a light dinner. We bumped into my brother there (he also lives in Brighton) having dinner with his friends and when Nami introduced Noah to Oli, Noah held his hand out to shake hands! Really adorable. Another trick of his which I found too cute for words was the way he lifts his drink to clink yours when someone says ‘cheers’!

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After such a long and relaxing day one little snot bundle had to go home, sadly. Looking at these photos really hi-lights what an angel he was as he was pretty grumpy and yet we have all these sweet pictures of him smiling!

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Noah had a go on my piano. No doubt he has loads of burgeoning musical potential and he enjoyed himself immensely! Not entirely sure how Nami managed to avoid the camera all day! We’ll remedy that next time.

All in all a perfectly lovely day (from about 1pm onwards).