Saturday, 31 March 2007

The Turtles Come To Greenwich

If you're wondering what to do with the kids this weekend, (especially that schools have broken for Easter), then bundle them all up and take them to the movies. The Odeon at Bugsby Way is now showing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT).

Whimsy ChiChi had missed out on growing up with these turtles. The only turtle I can recall was a sorry one in my parents' backyard that not only lived a slow dull life but equally slowly and unnoticed faded into obscurity. Not these green super-hero turtles. They fight, they play, and they crack jokes. End of the movie you might (I said might) forget that they're JUST turtles.

Whimsy ChiChi's junior loved it (it helps that he's already a TMNT buff with all their charactes and gadgets which we had to haul all the way to the movies). He was mesmerized by the sound and the special effects. The dialogue is easy to follow and I spotted a few kids as young as three. There are no wildly frightening sounds or visuals (even the bad guys are toned down compared to what kids' shows have these days). There is no blood and gory scenes (Some of the older kids seemed disappointed and cracked a joke or two about the turtles being pansies). But what visuals that are presented are done well and big. The music is quite catchy as well. The effects are more of a PlayStation sort of way.

What is the story about? Well after the defeat of their old arch nemesis, The Shredder, the Turtles have grown apart as a family. Struggling to keep them together, their rat Sensei, Master Splinter, becomes worried when strange things begin to brew in New York City. Tech-industrialist Max Winters is amassing an army of ancient monsters to apparently take over the world. And only one super-ninja fighting team can stop them-those heroes in a half shell-Leonardo (James Arnold Taylor), Michelangelo (Mikey Kelley), Donatello (Mitchelle Whitfield) and Raphael (Nolan North)! With the help of old allies April O'Neil and Casey Jones, the Turtles are in for the fight of their lives as they once again must face the mysterious Foot Clan, who have put their own ninja skills behind Winters' endeavors.

Voices are provided by Chris Evans (Casey Jones), Sarah Michelle Gellar (April O'Neil), Patrick Stewart (Max Winters) and Ziyi Zhang (Karai). It is also the last film by Mako Iwamatsu (Master Splinter). Check out their official website here for more info.

0871 22 44 007
Odeon Greenwich
Bugsby Way
London SE10 0QJ

Friday, 30 March 2007

Mogul: Indian Cuisine (8/10)

Let me get one thing off my chest first. I don't particularly fancy Indian food. It's not that I don't like it, but having had an Indian cook for some time when living abroad for a while, has made me choosy when it comes to Indian cuisine. Time and time again I honestly feel let down. I aim high (as I should with any place I'm paying at to eat) and I feel unsatisfied each time. Not the case this time round though. I am happy, I am satisfied and this did turn out to be a happy story after all.

The Mogul in Greenwich has to be one of the best places I've been to that offers the closest thing to Indian cuisine. When I first went in, I have to admit that I was a bit taken aback by the small size of the place. It is so small that I literally heard the entire conversation of the group of people seated right next to my table. Even if you whispered there was bound to be someone who could hear. So if you're out to make confessions of a lifetime to someone, better save that to the ride back home where even on a bus you could get more privacy.

But the criticism truly ends there. The food is absolutely divine. For starters Mr. ChiChi and I ordered the Onion Bhajia which was just lightly crispy and tasted of just the right amount of cumin. Divine. It came with a yogurt dressing that was in perfect harmony as well. Although it was deep fried, it didn't have the oil dripping off it and that is what really made me sure that it was fresh that day.

Another starter we tried was Aloo Chana Poori. This is their bestseller by far. If you go there, you have to get it. It is spicy chickpeas and potatoes served on a deep fried whole wheat poori. It is a great dish for sharing and you might just be satisfied with that as your starter and nothing else. But you will want more and more of it. It is that good. But as we were hungry we even added two poppadums to our starters that we ate with the complimentary chutneys. It was worth it.

For our main course, we asked for the chicken Malai Murgh, the sauce was amazing, cream sauce with cashews, almonds and sultanas. This is a hot dish, but you can have it a bit on the medium chili, but even then it is quite spicy. But I have to admit, the rich cream does tone it down a lot. At the end of it, Mr. ChiChi announced that this would be his dish from now on. I agreed without hesitation.

For our main course we also tried the Hara Murgh, which are chicken strips cooked in a fresh and zingy tasting sauce of pureed mint, coriander and tamarind. Now that was spicy but I happily ate it all. We also went for the Acharia gosht which seems to be a speciality of the place and it was as wonderful as the waiter promised. The night was going beautifully.

I have to admit, the place is cosy (maybe crammed), and if only they had the music a bit higher up, that would have provided a bit more privacy. You are literally sitting close to the people next to you, you might as well be seated at the same table. But the waiters are friendly and know the menu, the service prompt and the Cobra beer is a must.

All in all, a most enjoyable evening. But do come early or reserve, the place, especially on a weekend is jammed. The seating area downstairs is classy and cosy and can be reserved for private events. This place is a Greenwich hot spot, and it's prices inexpensive as well (around 30 pounds for two). And they do take-away and delivery (for orders over fifteen pounds) as well.

10 Greenwich Church Street
London SE10 9BJ
tel: 029-8858-6790/ 1500
Opening hours:
Mon-Sat (12 noon - 2:30pm & 6pm- 11:30pm)
Sun: 12 noon - 11:00pm

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Life of Pi: Coming To Greenwich Theatre in May

I had known that Yann Martel's Life of Pi is coming to Greenwich Theatre and by coincidence I saw a copy of the book at Greenwich's Waterstone bookshop. Thinking it would be a good idea to read it, as I was going to see it anyway in May, I bought it and went ahead with what the Guardian reviewers promised to be "a unique and original story". True, they were.

Piscine "Pi" Molitor is a sixteen-year-old boy who embarks with his parents on an 'adventure' to Canada, where the promise of a better life awaits them away from turbulent India in the early seventies. Unfortunately, the cargo ship they are on sinks in the Pacific ocean, leaving Pi on a lifeboat all his own, with a hyena, a broken-legged zebra, a female orang-utan and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger for company.

The story narrated by Pi himself starts out full of hope and curiosity where life for a sixteen-year-old boy is just beautiful and full of adventure waiting for him to discover. His love of God (and his search of Him) leads him to practice Hinduism, Christianity and Islam at an early age, his defence being that his aim is to just love God who he has found in all religions put together.

As the story proceeds (particularly after the ship sinks) we get a more mature Pi who has to deal with all the ferocious animals in the boat with him if he is to survive and outlive the experience. He does have a head start though as he is the son of a zoo keeper and therefore attempts to forge a relationship with the Bengal tiger in particular (who is the fiercest, strongest, wildest and most dangerous of the animals). It is truly a magnificent story from the start. A story of courage, belief, true humanity and innocence lost.

In all honesty, I expected something like "Three Men In A Boat" if you've read it. I didn't particularly enjoy that story, but this one was different. Or again, age before beauty and maybe now was just a good time for me to fully understand the significance of this book (however, this is a personal observation, not backed by any scientific evidence). But the book is enchanting. It is easy to follow and at the direst of times in the boy's plight at sea it can be unbelievably funny and witty. It will make you question a lot of your beliefs and will stay in your memory for some time. Whether you like it or not, this is a book not easily forgotten.

The play will be shown at Greenwich Theatre in May, 2007. Twisting Yarn is the only company in the UK permitted to stage the story, so don't miss your chance to see this production. However, a note to the wise: Read the book first to enjoy the book's true impact and significance. For other reviews on Life of Pi, click here.

Note: Check this space in May as Whimsy ChiChi will also be reviewing the play.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Greenwich is Scene of the Crime!

Book Review: The Dead of Summer

The Dead of Summer is a real page turner, great fun for the daily commute and really interesting if you happen to live anywhere in the Borough of Greenwich. If you thought Greenwich was just a peaceful laid back old tourist attracting town, think again. Trust me, after finishing this creepy book, you'll never look at Greenwich the same way ever again.

I have to admit, it is a clever book. The author has you hooked from the first paragraph and you can't let the book go just for the simple reason that you want to know what happens to that frail poor little girl. It is a heartbreaking yet chilling take on kids these days: "Mugging, fighting, raping, killing -- Kids today, they're animals". Had it not been for that first italicized paragraph, I doubt I would have bothered reading. But once you embark on the journey, there will be no turning back.

The novel takes place in 1986. Anita's family has just moved to Myre Street after her mother dies. Kyle lives next door. A shady, troubled, secretive boy. He tells Anita that the area is peppered with hidden, disused mines that he intends to find; a perfect playground for restless kids with nothing better to do. However, these mines turn to be the scene of a murder that rocks this quiet peaceful area to its core. It's the summer, and by the end of it, blood is everywhere.

A beautifully compelling story that uncovers the disturbances of not only our youth but the way life takes its toll on adults as well. How what seems to be beautiful could be a facade to something tarnished beyond repair. Haunting by all means. And it happens in Greenwich.

Camilla Way was born in Greenwich, south-east London in 1973. Her father was the poet and author Peter Way. After attending Woolwich College she studied modern English and French literature at the University of Glamorgan. Formerly Associate Editor of the teenage girls' magazine Bliss, she is currently an editor and writer on the men's style magazine Arena. Having lived in Cardiff, Bristol, Bath and Clerkenwell, she now lives in south-east London.


Monday, 26 March 2007

Cutty Sark Gardens

One of the most famous things to see when you come to Greenwich, London is the Cutty Sark, the last of the tea clippers to sail between China and England in the 19th century. Unfortuantely, right now she's under a huge white covering (see photo) as she's being given a long overdue makeover and will be in excellent condition by late 2008. However, you can take hard-hat tours focusing on preservation techniques.

You can still enjoy the Cutty Sark Gardens surrounding it (but don't expect grass, just cement flooring and a great view of the river) where you can happily allow the kids to feed the most obliging pigeons. It is well worth a visit this spring break!

The Thames Path in Greenwich

It was a great sunny day in Greenwich today. Thought I would take a walk next to the river Thames with ChiChi junior. We came upon this junk on the Thames Path. So sad really when all we wanted to do was enjoy the view from the Greenwich University gardens. They even have benches next to the railing for you to take a closer look at this view. Something should be done I figure. Any ideas?

Saturday, 17 March 2007

The Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College

The Painted Hall is one of Europe's greatest banquet rooms. In the King William Building, it has been covered in decorative allegorical Baroque murals by artist James Thornhill.

The hall was intended as the naval pensioners' dining room but, rather sadly, was declared too magnificent for that once it was completed.

The murals pay tribute to the hospital's founders, William and Mary, and took 19 years to complete. The artist drew himself in the picture with an open hand.

At the end of the hall (shown on left), is the Nelson Room, originally designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, then used as a smoking room and now newly refurbished. For a week over Christmas 1805, this is where the body of the great naval hero lay before his state funeral at St. Paul's.

The Painted Hall ceiling by James Thornhill

Monday, 5 March 2007

Greenwich Park Bar & Grill (3/5)

Whimsy ChiChi absolutely loves this laid back place. It definitely is a place that boasts the best food among its peers in the neighborhood. The ambiance of the place is plain modern European, and spacious to accommodate a wide range of customers although not many tables are available. It could get really busy around eating times. The place also has a secluded outdoor area for summer days.

The menu is diverse, with a set menu for the day or a la carte. Whichever way you go, rest assured. Their chef is brilliant. A kids' menu is also available with a wide variety of choices tailored for young ones.

This weekend, Whimsy ChiChi had the burgers (excellent quality), the same goes for the fries, While Mr. ChiChi went for the hot dogs. It was a good choice, but it could have done well without all the relish on the top (maybe they should have it on the side). But other than that the bread was fresh and the hot dog superb. ChiChi junior had the chicken strips that were tender, not oily, and the quantity was generous. Bravo for knowing what keeps the kids happy.

Whimsy ChiChi's guests opted for the chicken roll and the Italian sausage roll. They came wrapped in the most amazing pita bread. The Italian sausage roll had a tomato base sauce and parsley (messy to eat but delicious), and the chicken roll came with a wonderful garlic yogurt sauce (beats mayonnaise anytime).

The only thing I would say about the place is that the service is slow, although the waiters extremely polite but they do seem to be understaffed as the tables were left unattended for new customers for quite some time. We were sitting at our table waiting for it to be cleaned after the people before us for a good fifteen minutes.

The place has a seating area downstairs with a a really nice spacious bar (perfect for family brunches, afternoon coffee). Their bar stocks the finest wines and beer. There is a dining area upstairs with its own bar as well. The place also boasts a tree house which you can book for special occasions and events. Children are welcome until 7pm (they have a great kid's menu and highchairs) and toilets for the disabled. Seperate smokers and non smokers tables.

This is definitely a place to visit time and time again. Bravo!

Average Price: £35 for 2 persons

Greenwich Park Bar & Grill
1 King William Walk
SE10 9JY