Archive for February, 2010

New Young Pony Club at Islington Academy

February 22nd, 2010

As part of the run up to the NME Awards 2010 on the 24th of February, the folks over at NME have been hosting a number of gigs including the first time Courtney Love has played with Hole in 11 years (which I am gutted I missed, and in fact knew nothing about!).

Tonight’s gig was at the Islington Academy and featured an action packed line up of Teeth, Lyrebirds, Chew Lips and the all new material from the New Young Pony Club.

In typical fashion, James caused us to be late (nothing to do with me being fussy about not eating at McD, Burger King, KFC, Subway or any other fast food joint) so we missed Teeth, but I wasn’t too sure about them having poked around their MySpace.

We arrived out of the icy cold in time to catch the beginning of the Lyrebirds set and though I think whichever guitarist plays the Stratocaster needs to stop wearing his guitar just over his cock, they were pretty good. Could have done with more showcasing of individuals rather than just all playing the who can thwack the strings the loudest game, that really does my head in.

Chew Lips came on after Lyrebirds. I’ve only just found out about Chew Lips today after poking around on and finding them listed on the event page for tonight’s gig, and I may have to admit that I then spent all of the morning listening to the tracks that they have up on their MySpace page. Live they were even better than their recorded material and good deep bass and quirky melodies, definitely had everyone moving.

Quick nip to the loo and a refill of the old JD and coke and we’re back at the front of the crowd in time for New Young Pony Club. Out they burst onto the stage with the lead singer Tahita sporting bright blonde hair.

This is the first time in a fair while that they’ve played London (or possibly anywhere?), having been locked in a cage writing new material for their new album due to be released mid next week.

For the first night of the tour and the first time they’ve played the material live, I have to admit they were a lot more refined than they were when I saw them at the Astoria a few years ago, Tahita has always been full of crowd moving energy but this time it was great to see the bass player really getting into it. Shame about the lead guitarist mostly looking frustrated with his guitar and the sound engineer, and madame keyboards still feigning boredom after how many years!

The new material was a bit of a mixed bag, some of the songs have lost a bit of that energy that I loved NYPC for when I first got into them, however others definitely embrace that feeling and kick it up a notch, should have grabbed a set list so I could work out which ones I liked!

All of the old material however was absolutely rocking and had the crowd bouncing away, I left the Islington Academy a very sweaty man. Good luck NYPC for the rest of your tour!

Cake or death at Princi

February 6th, 2010

Cake from Princi

Cake please. Never has there been a bakery or patisserie that I have walked past and longed quite so hard to have one of everything behind the counter.

I have been a very good boy on every occasion that I’ve been to Princi in the past though and merely left a nice puddle of drool on the counter, then walked out empty handed mumbling to myself and wishing that cake could be consumed without the side effects of causing spontaneous man boobs or faux male pregnancy.

Today to mark the first holiday of 2010 (not to mention the first holiday I’ve had since the end of 2008), I decided why the hell not, I will have cake please.

For those that have yet to fall in lust with Princi, talk a walk down Wardour Street and it’s really quite hard to miss it. It’s the one with the gigantic glass window that lets you see straight into their huge traditional ovens and see their squat of immaculately presented Italian staff pulling fresh delights from the oven and putting some new interesting treats in.

You get the real deal at Princi, it’s the first branch in London of a Milan boutique bakery chain by gourmet baker Rocco Princi. The layout is a bit crazy, all the seating is communal and service is hectic at best, shove your way to the front and try to get the attention of one of the crazy Italians serving.

Incidentally, I did not eat both cakes shown in the picture, I had half of each and the other halves are being given to my mum as a token of thanks for kindly offering to give me and my luggage a lift to the station tomorrow before I catch a plane to somewhere considerably warmer than London!

Museum Of Small Things at Selfridges

February 6th, 2010

Museum Of Small Things

Walking along Oxford Street with Keith this evening we were commenting on the awful choices of window displays outside Selfridges (the first being one suggesting you choose your hero, the second being an announcement that Peter Andre would be making an in-store appearance?!), when we noticed a tiny little gallery called the Museum Of Small Things.

It’s a pop-up exhibition put together by Pocko, a creative boutique, and Kit Grover the artist and designer that has been working with the Tate Modern since it’s opening.

The small space in the basement at Selfridges manages to pack in work from 28 different artists, some wonderful, others a little creepy, but all absolutely tiny and worth admiring.

My favourite piece has to be the one that I would have missed if Keith hadn’t pointed it out, “Beyond The Sky, Beyond The Forest” by Momo (Momoko Tamura) which shows a forest scene in great detail, and a sky / clouds scene also in great detail with lots of small creatures, which on closer inspection all appear to have been shot or decapitated!

Second to that was “Consumer Sacrifice” by Adam Hayes which is basically a shredder with a choice of consumer bargains on paper nearby, in the year of recession you have to pick your offering to the almighty God of Consumption.

If you’re in the area it’s a nice surprise and doesn’t cost a penny, exhibition is open until March 7th.

Dim Sum at Ping Pong

February 6th, 2010

Ping Pong: Dim Sum

It was pointed out by a colleague today that despite having been to Ping Pong countless times, I haven’t actually gotten around to posting a review yet. That’s mostly down to the fact that I am not a great fan of chain restaurants and I tend to prefer the small gems that might have their quirks but always ensure you leave happy and full.

I was first introduced to Ping Pong by a friend who is considerably more adventurous when it comes to food than I and seemed to know all of the hot spots, and obviously my first experience was good otherwise I wouldn’t have gone back or taken countless other people there either.

In general, the quality of the dishes at Ping Pong is pretty good, the food seems to be slightly Westernised as you’d expect for a chain (though perhaps not as badly as you’d find at Wagamamas), but it’s all genuinely of quite a high standard and some of the dishes can be exceptional.

Personally I can’t say I think much to the set menus, you only really get one or two of each dumpling and if you have your favourites that just ends up being a complete let down, it’s much better to just pick a few dishes you know you like, as you get two or three pieces on each dish anyway.

The prices at Ping Pong are above average, and given the size of the portions this can seem a little bit of a set back for some people. I personally often wonder how much of the cost of the food goes on the décor rather than the food.

Service is incredibly Jekyll and Hyde. At the Ping Pong on Great Marlborough Street it is always packed but I have only had one occasion where my food was forgotten and even when busy you can usually pester waiters to get some service. Southbank seems more relaxed in comparison with more staff and less of a feeling that they are at bursting point all of the time.

However, Ping Pong Spitalfields is an absolute nightmare. I’ve been there once on my own after working late only to have to wait an hour for my food whilst the restaurant was close to empty, and today in a group outing with work colleagues we had to wait, as well as the waiter not making any effort to announce dishes and make sure they got to the right people, or in fact to mention that some dishes were no longer even available after we’d already ordered them.

It’s a great concept, spreading the word of Dim Sum, offering nice teas, cocktails and so on, but for the price I’d expect a much greater level of service across the board and more consistency in quality of dishes across the menu.

If you do want to give Ping Pong a spin though in one of it’s less hectic locations, my current favourites are:

  • Char sui buns (honey roast pork in a fluffy white bun)
  • Chicken and cashew steamed and then griddled dumplings
  • Emperors ribs
  • Crispy prawn balls
  • Wonton soup