Sunday, 22 November 2009

Birmingham Palace

We went to Birmingham Palace three weeks ago. No, you didn’t hear me wrong: Birmingham Palace! We have a palace in Birmingham. Actually five years ago, when I was chatting on MSN and told my Turkish friend, who was living in China then, that I would go to Birmingham to study, he said ‘oh send me a photo from Birmingham Palace!’ and I said ‘Birmingham Palace? There isn’t such a thing! There’s Buckingham Palace!’ and he said he found it on google search and took a photo of his desktop and sent that photo to me: and yes on google search there was Birmingham Palace, but it was actually Buckingham Palace! I think a Chinese guy remembered the name wrong and put it on his blog as ‘Birmingham Palace’ :) but hold on! I’ve been to Birmingham Palace! Well, it’s not called ‘Birmingham Palace’, it’s called ‘Aston Hall’ but if there is any place to be called Birmingham Palace, it should be Aston Hall. It’s only open only from mid July till the end of October. You can have more information on If you like cavernous dreary old mansions from bygone years where the ghosts of rich people complain in whispers about the poor taste of the peacock meat and the cold draught coming from window in the orange room (actually it’s a bedroom with a ceiling full of orange tree carvings; this is where it takes its name from), then you might like it ;)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Drink of Happiness

Hot chocolate!

If I put on weight during my studies in Korea, there were two reasons for this!
And the first one was: Hot chocolate!
God, I loved the hot chocolate that I bought in Seoul National University (If I remember it right, from the café under the Business school) and Yonsei University (the café in Global Lounge). Lovely hot chocolate made with real dairy cream and topped with either chocolate sauce or pistachio nuts.. yummmmm!!! And I used to pay only 1000 or 1200 won!

The best served hot chocolate, I drank in Brussels. I went to a café in Ixelles (15 mins from the European Parliament) and of course I ordered hot chocolate and the waiter brought a tray with a cup with hot milk in, a small porcelain spoon like shovel (full of chocolate chips) and a biscuit!! So I poured the chocolate chips into my hot milk and they melted! And became yummy hot chocolate! I was really impressed.

And in Russell, NZ there is a small ice-cream & drinks shop at which my family is addicted to drinking hot chocolates (specially the hot chocolate named ‘Nutty Irishman’!!!) and they are yummm too! Generally each cup of hot chocolate is 5 NZ$ (so quite expensive compared to the ones in Seoul but for that gorgeous view I think it’s worth it!) Also, in NZ I discovered something between hot chocolate and energy drink (which turns out to be quite famous in Asia as well): MILO ! It was harder to find it in the UK last year, but this year I can find it in most of the major supermarkets. You add two spoons of milo and milk and hot water, and preferably a teaspoon of sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

How about hot chocolates in the UK? Well, to tell the truth in this capitalist, everything-franchised economical system, what you can find is Starbucks, Costa Café etc. It’s so hard to find small cafés here; at least in Birmingham! I should say hot chocolates don’t taste that nice at all, because when you drink something in a franchised shop, you don’t feel special! You feel like you are just a part of the commercial world that sells you a cup of coffee to add another shop or swimming pool to their lives not to make you happy with a special cup of hot chocolate! :)
After writing what I wrote above, we hit the town and went to a Viennese Patisserie in Bull Ring and ate some yummy cakes, and guess what I ordered? Of course, hot chocolate!!! :)
Well, the cake was nice, but tasted a bit stale to me. They put real dairy cream on the hot chocolate! But it wasn’t sweet, it tasted heavy.. and they put too much salt in my hot chocolate! Yes, you heard it right: not sugar, salt!
Oh, how hard it is to find a nice cup of hot chocolate in this country!