I went to Birmingham over the weekend. It was a much-needed trip to see the old friends for a small reunion of sorts, to soak up some West Midlands spirit (someone teased Ive got a Brummie twang at work – oh no, makes me laugh that boy). And I thought, whilst Im at it, might as well touch-up my roots at the same time. Later, it sorta felt a bit like a Buy 2 Get 1 Free because not only was I about to have dinner with my favourite girlies, have a banging time with the rest of the gang whom we were to meet up with later, sort my disgusting roots out – I got recruited to be one of Lisa Shepherds hair models for hair shows as and when they spring up. I suppose it isnt really a big thing, but take that as a pleasant way to wind-down (or up, depending on how we had a banging night) for the weekend! My stylist has always had my details but to be officially asked I felt a little proud of my humble head of hair. And somehow, the conversation started to turn into things to buy at American Apparel since the girls were taking a big taking to my shiny disco pants.
The reunion was superb. I think, no, beyond superb. It felt like old times and everyone was on top form. The jokes, the banter, the laughter – it was serious fun and we were all good to hug, air kiss and all that like 3 years hadnt gone and passed, that some of us had graduated and proceeded on to jobs or graduate schemes, pursued a Masters or were still slogging away at a final year. I think the indie DJ banging out some proper old school indie tunes really helped as well. No one was left out in terms of music tastes I suppose.
Everyones moved on a little in their lives but its just awesome that were always keeping in touch and when we do come back together as the biggest, maddest, most unembarrassed crew ever, we just click back and have a real good time. To me, thats how true friends should be. The passing of time is almost negligible.
We had a ball (and we will continue to have a ball in the future) and the next morning, before I ran off to catch my train back down south, H and I decided to go for a quick brunch in our little Selly Oak student village. It really isnt any place grand. The area we lived in was ruled by students and rats (not that the two must necessarily go together but Im simply suggesting what a dump it was and still is). It got lovingly named Smelly Oak at some point too and like it or not, we all had a special soft spot or place in our hearts for it. I believe thats got a lot to do with our local takeaways; the student cafe that serves up everything good like a hot jacket potato or fry-up or pancakes for the sweet-tooths; a range of pubs for the indie, the posh, and the old pervs; local supermarkets and we had a range for that too from Tesco Express to Sainsburys to ALDI to the dodgy off-license. Really, we had it all.
One of our favourite hang-outs and the perfect solution to the morning after awfulness (if you know what I mean), was Selly Sausage. Located on Bristol Road, a stones throw away from the central campus and a 15 min walk from where we used to live, it was hard to avoid it. Like a greasy lover, this break-up was a tough one to handle and it never happened. The menus basically never really changed other than some cleaning up now and again, adjustments of ingredients, etc. The necessities like the fry-up, jacket potatoes and hot soups are always there. The paninis, baguettes and burgers are great staples and easily customized since you get to choose your ingredients at the deli bar. Our top favourite, especially on Shroves Tuesday or Pancake Day, are the yeapancakes. American fluffy types. You get 2 pancakes with a choice of topping (from fruit to savoury bacon), drowned in maple syrup and butter. That used to be it and it was good but last year, the S.Sausage decided to add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to it. We were none too happy about that as I think most of us are pancake Nazis. Keep it pure, keep it clean. But of course, youre allowed to make special requests.
No ice cream please? Bobs your uncle, Fannys your aunt.
It really is nothing special this Selly Sausage. And youre probably wondering bout the name. Not a pub, not a brasserie. Weird café covered from ceiling to floor with posters of mash-up nights and Room-To-Let flyers, furniture of almost garish kiddy colours. None of that quaint pub atmosphere, instead youve got the UK Top 40 hits playing on the radio, almost clean cutlery, condiment packets and stiff, recycled paper napkins and visible water rings on the tables. Not beautiful, not classy. But so damn fine for us lot.
It was goodbye then to Smelly Oak, the Brummie bummers but a temporary goodbye of course. The journey was a little bit mad due to a ridiculously long unexpected delay. Someone had decided to commit suicide on the rail line that day. Pardon me, but Im not being unsympathetic but it meant all trains to London that particular day was messed up. Quite a lot of trains going through that route ended up cancelled, delayed and many of us tired lot got stranded at Milton Keynes or somewhere or other (Wolverton actually) for nearly 2 hours.
So home I got, looking a bit like death and feeling just about death, sugar-sickness hit (after I very obediently did my laundry and sorted my dinner out). I am on a roll, guys. Literally have been spending quite a lot of time lolling about on my bed snacking on sugary treats or traipsing through the kitchen with sweets in hand. Had a little discussion with Marc from No Recipes on Twitter as well some time ago about our favourite Japanese sweets: from Meltykisses to Galbo to Meijis Apollo to Kasugais matcha milk sweets. I heart em all. I remember the times when I always had a little box of something in my school bag. The high school me was always munching away on some sweet. Whether I was waiting about for the next lecture, waiting at the bus stop for service 61, kicking my shoes off before I threw myself into the sofa to watch cartoons after getting home from school – a stick of Pocky between my teeth, that sorta thing. Funny how I relate all these sweets to high school. I have grown a little distant I believe from those sweet-eating days and now Im more obsessed with Aero chocolates, red velvet cupcakes, muffins and chocolate truffles. But like my beautiful beloved friends, I am spending time with my old sugary favourites. I dont think Im ever going to successfully kick the habit.
I am just so sugar-sick, I have chowed through my sweets and Apollos and find myself wanting more. Picked up a cute little matcha mochi from Japan Centre today which has now moved to 14-16 Regent Street from their old store on Piccadilly. A beauty! Mochi very soft and sticky, matcha cream filling deliciously matcha-ey with buttery accents. The matcha powder sprinkled over is simply the icing on the cake, isnt it?
Well thats what you think. In actual fact, the real icing on the cake comes later. Let me give you a clue – Minamoto Kitchoan.
Watch this space. I promise I wont eat em all without saving you the pictures.