Spare moments & simple pleasures

These last few months have been a whirlwind of activity.  Work, personal projects, food photography workshops, a 7 week food styling course and wedding planning has left me with little time for the blog, the place where I reflect and recount memories with words and images.  So naturally, I decided to add on another project to my long list of projects.

I created a Tumblr space, Spare Moments, which houses the images that allow me to take 5.  There are no words and no clear storyline, just photographs captured over time with one commonality – representation of what simple pleasures and spare moments are to me.  With our day-to-day moving at an ever increasing pace feel free to stop by and swoon with me.

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On location with Marte Marie Forsberg

There were 9 of us, from various parts of Europe, who convened in idyllic Shaftesbury this past Saturday for Marte Marie Forsberg’s food photography workshop. Over hot chocolate and pastries in Marie’s charming English cottage, with the fireplace ablaze and slippers on, she delved into the elements of visual story telling, branding and portfolio building.

While I could have spent all day in that cozy cottage, Marie and her lovely (and hilarious) producer, Zoë Timmers, arranged lunch for us at The Grosvenor Arms, where we were kindly given free range in the restaurant to work on our on location assignment: capture the essence of our surroundings.  And of course, it wasn’t all work and no play, we broke bread and feasted as foodies tend to.

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Grosvenor_Arms_Dorset_EatsGrosvenor_Arms_Dorset_clams

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After lunch we stopped by Marie’s local florist, Bright Blooms, for another stab at applying what we learned earlier in the day.  I have to say I was so enamored with the interior of the shop I neglected to capture much of the flowers (mini fail).  If you ever have the chance, stop inside, it will make you swoon.

Back at the cottage we capped off our productive day with a constructive critique of our assignment photos from Marie and before we knew it the workshop had come to an end.  This was perhaps one of the more inspiring food photography workshops I have attended and really cannot thank Marie enough for the generosity in sharing her story and knowledge.  I’ve taken away a book full of notes and wonderful memories of our splendid day in Shaftesbury.

 

Spiced :: Masala Monsoon photoshoot

It’s been quite a start to the new year here at candids by Jo headquarters.  Despite taking 5 days off for some R&R I still managed to catch a cold, which only leads me to believe there really is no rest for the weary.  Which is fine by me if every day is all about shooting.

Recently I took on a new project for Masala Monsoon, a line of blended spices based on the aromatic garam masala, a new venture by Sumayya Usmani.  If there is someone who can develop spices that complements a wide range of foods it is Sumayya.  Being a beneficiary of many post photoshoot meals, I’ve always left marveling at the flavors and all too eager for our next project.

One of the tasks at hand was to demonstrate the versatility of each of the 3 spices: Jasmine Petal, Rose Petal, and Marigold Petal Garam Masala.  Sumayya devised a wide-ranging menu that does just that, including: chicken biryani spiced with Jasmine Petal Garam Masala, roast lamb & veggies with Rose Petal Garam Masala and pineapple fruit salad topped with Marigold Petal Garam Masala.  How I managed to stay on task and not devour everything first is beyond me – I take this as a sign of a true pro!

As the prop stylist, food stylist and photographer I found it easiest to sketch out a few ideas to base the final shoot.  Not only does this generally save time on the day of the shoot, it ensures variability on the types of props used and the angles with which to photograph.

Here are a few shots from the Masala Monsoon photoshoot:

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Masala_Monsoon-Marigold_Masala_on_Pineapple_Fruit_SaladMasala_Monsoon_Lamb_with_rose_petal_masala

Hello 2014

I was ready for 2013 to be over by the second week of December.  Not because I was in a bah-humbug mood (which is known to happen from time to time) but b/c there’s so much to look forward to in 2014!!!

On a professional level, I’m striving to keep learning and evolving.  This will be the year where I’ll put my speedlites to use and enter the terrain of artificial lighting.  I also have plans to pursue further food photography & styling workshops to strengthen and experiment with a style that’s unique to me.

On a personal front, wedding planning for May 2014 is well underway!  I’m not much of a procrastinator but it has been a bit like pulling teeth for the both of us. With so much to consider and coordinate how do people find time to enjoy their engagement?  My delay tactics recently came to an end and now I have finally decided on a dress.  Baby steps!

I will also be starting a post-new year detox soon.  December has been a festive yet cruel month to many of us.  Daily Starbucks grande eggnogs, rich succulent dishes and the wine – lots of wine – were just part of my month-long indulgence. It didn’t take long for the sluggishness and general feeling of near combustion to take its toll on me.  Once I return from a quick long weekend trip in Boston I’ll be living the Clean detox once again.

Sultry proscuitto

Indulgence: prosciutto on red leicester cheese with chilli over buttermilk crackers

Sweet Christmas tidings

While Christmas isn’t one of my favorite holidays it gets an honorable mention.  I love the sight of soared spirits even among the grumpiest of men and the quiet nook of time between Christmas and New Years where most of us embrace the chance to breathe and reflect.

For me it couldn’t come soon enough.  I’ll be looking forward to chilling in my onesie on Christmas day with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and a present in the other.  The onset of food coma will surely happen more than once and in between I will have more time to do what I haven’t had much time to do during the 2nd half of this year… read.

I’ll be back in full swing in 2014, in the meantime I wish everyone a blissful Christmas & happy New Year.

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A tour of London’s ramen bars: Bone Daddies

I’m a mad woman on a mission lately trying to make up for lost times.  Evidently 2012 saw a surge of ramen noodle bars propping up in London and I was completely unaware.  So what is a self-proclaimed noodlehead to do but patiently make amends by attempting to visit all the ramen this city has to offer.  I’ll continue to make the rounds in the upcoming weeks but have managed to cross Bone Daddies & Tonkotsu off my 1st round list (yes, of course there will be multiple visits!).

Bones Daddies in SoHo was my first stop.  It’s a bit edgy for a noodle house, both in decor and in the tunes that were pumping out of their sound system for a Saturday lunch crowd.  It could be a little too westernized of a place for some but I found it interesting. A really nice touch is their supply of elastics for those patrons with long manes.  It is the little things my friends.

I’m a sucker for soft shell crab so couldn’t resist ordering it for my 1st course.  Perfectly salted, crunchy and accompanied by a fun tangy green chili ginger sauce.  It took less than 2 minutes to devour.
bone_daddies_soft_shell_crabThe star of the show arrived moments later; tonkotsu ramen, a milky pork-based broth served with ramen noodles, slices of braised pork, adorned with spring onions, bean sprouts and a soft boiled egg.  The broth is “dense with flavour and thick with umami” Marina O’Loughlin says in the Guardian.

Tonkotsu ramen

Tonkotsu ramen

The broth was indeed dense and balanced quite well with the rest of the accoutrements but not particularly to my tastes.  It lacked something that could tickle my taste buds and have me wanting more.  I might just have to accept that  I prefer soy-based broths… until I forget again.

Bone_daddies_interiorBone Daddies
31 Peter Street
London W1F 0AR
bonedaddiesramen.com

Divine dining at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

It has become our once a year guilty ritual, a visit to Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant, Dinner, housed in the Mandarin Oriental hotel.  This time around we were a party of four celebrating a birthday, all of us eager to surprise our palate.  Inevitably there were moans and groans around the table, each certain the dish they ordered bests the rest.

What I can vouch for is the magnificence of the Cod in Cider with mussels and roasted onions.  How does a sauce so seemingly simple on paper command silence at the table? And why did it take this long for me to realize that mussels can melt in your mouth like that?!

I went without my micro four thirds camera this time around (for my previous lunch at Dinner visit this post) and decided to test my new iPhone 5s for its restaurant photography capabilities.  Here is a quick tour of our most recent experience at Dinner:

Crumbs

Crumbs

After: cod in cider

After: cod in cider