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Girls I Used To Know

I’ve ordered a mocha, and immediately regretted it. The problem with coffee, as opposed to tea, is that once you’ve started to drink it- which you HAVE to, for temperature reasons- it’s game over.

I’m halfway through my mocha, and my date hasn’t even arrived yet. She isn’t late, I was just a little early and was jumped on for an order the moment my shadow graced the front step of this cafe. Now. I’m going to have to either order another coffee when she gets here, or sit here with no drink as she works her way through ordering, waiting and drinking hers. This is the stuff of nightmare, truly.

Before she arrives, I have a few minutes to muse over my nerves. It’s low level nerves, don’t get me wrong, but they are trickling around in the back of my mind. The girl I’m meeting is an old friend. We only met a handful of times at university, and in the years since barely spoken, unless you count Instagram likes- which I do, incidentally. I guess it’s quite scary putting yourself forward for friendship this way.

Farrah

She arrives, I sip on my cold mocha and take wistful sideway glances towards the genius on the table next to me who is gleefully pouring and repouring cups of tea from a lovely, warm, teapot. Fucker.

Obviously, she hasn’t noticed my mocha anguish, and we chat away with happy abound. It’s nice to catch up. We haven’t spoken in a few years, and after a few Instagram posts reveal that we pass like ships in the night at various cafes and restaurants, realise we have a very common taste in restaurants. The busy cafe empties out, I buy another coffee, we share doughnuts, we arrange to do this again some time.

Working your way through your twenties, I think it’s a common enough feeling that it’s everyone else having a good time. Fear Of Missing Out, or FOMO for the time-starved. The electricity two people share over a cuppa (gah, of tea or coffee), whether once or recurring, quashes that feeling that seeps in while you scroll endlessly through feeds at home in your bathrobe alone on a Saturday afternoon.

On my way home, I messaged another girl I used to know.

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108 Garage – Restaurant Review

The struggles you face in London are truly real. Sure, there’s the ones everyone knows about (rent rises, Southern Rail, the chaos of the first snowflake landing, the ‘liberal London elite’, etc etc). But those pale in comparison, surely, to the guttural need to be constantly ~ I N – T H E – K N O W~.

I’ve tweeted about FOMO to an audience of eye rollers before, and it did seem a contender for Word of the Year before alternative facts got in the post-truth way (A shame of many facets, to be sure). Whilst in the midst of my tweetstorm (three likes and a scathing reply, shout out to my fans), Giles Coren posted this:

And let me tell you, friends, that when Giles Coren tells you to get to a restaurant, you immediately stop what you’re doing and book a table. Or at least I do, so I did.

108 Garage Wine

Round rolls the fateful Saturday, and after battling through the carnage that is Portobello Road Market, we emerged into the promised culinary haven to settle in for a few hours. Perched at the bar (another great Giles tip), we had a vantage point straight into the tiny kitchen and across the red-brick hues of the restaurant. Copper and industrial steelwork lined the walls. The beautiful staff joke with us and each other. Chef Chris Denney asks if we had allergies and hands us appetizers. I make eye contact with Jonathan- who is typically a fair but harsh judge of my restaurant choices- and he is buzzing.

Chris Denney at 108 Garage London

We order, as you should too, the five course menu. For food this good it is startling value at £35 a head. Between the two of us it meant we got the try every dish on the set menu, so go with someone you’re willing to share the good stuff with.

The chicken parfait was so smooth you wouldn’t be certain you had actually popped it into your mouth if it wasn’t for the blow-away flavour. Cured mackerel is light, happy. The beetroot is sharp, happy. We sit wide eyed, happy.

108 starter five course menu

108 Garage John Dory Dish

Our mains are John Dory and wagyu, respectively. The fish (pictured above, out of focus in excitement) is exquisite alongside an almost Portuguese-style sauce, the samphire and pumpkin seeds genius texture additions. It was a smart dish and a lovely dish. The wagyu comes donning a mustard seed relish, and melts just by looking at it. This dish was a particular flirt- Chris Denney was preparing other guest’s wagyu tantilisingly in front of us, meaning that even as we ate we were driven to distraction by the next batch of beef…

108 Garage - wagyu main

A palate cleanser, served over the bar by one of the chefs, of pink-lady apple sorbet.

Pink Apple Sorbet palate cleanser

I cannot reliably report on the date and IPA cake as I did not get a look in. I can however report that the cheese was fantastic. Black bomber is a little cheesy punch in the tastebuds. It came crumbled onto fresh (and also crumbly) cracker breads and generous pickle. Every morsel was appreciated and licked up.

108 Garage date and ale pudding

Not willing to let go of our experience just yet, we ordered cocktails to prolong the joy. I had a rosemary and tequila concotion, Jonathan had the house signature (£10 each). As we sipped and stared out into the restaurant, Jonathan decided that we would come back. Which, forgive me Giles Coren, is probably the best compliment you can give a restaurant.

108 Garage cocktails

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Prophecies in pubs

I was at a pub in Spinningfields with some people I didn’t know too well. I’d shlepped out to the outskirts of East London (far, so far!) after work to maybe solidify a friendship or two out of a group of women I’d only met once before.

As the evening twinkled on, and as we chatted through a few bottles of red, the conversation turned to careers. These guys were quite media-y, and we compared notes on our bosses, work kitchen sanitation and plans for the future. Radio presenter, author, journalist, screenwriter. Paths paved and journeys halfway through- all going somewhere else with a nervous energy and wicked eyeline flicks.

The group had shrunk a little and I probably had volume-control issues thanks to the Malbec. I declared that all I wanted was a job that was a) interesting b) paid the rent and c) fulfilled me in some way and (drumroll please) d) I had someone to gossip and go for lunch with there.

Now. Judging by the reaction of my coconspiritors, this was asking a little too much from the media industry. We chortled at the likelihood of me finding this special snowflake princess job, and carried on merrily until it was time for the last tube home.

IMG_20170124_213140_569

That morning, I’d had a job interview. I was pretty happy with how it had gone, but post-performance doubt was dripping it’s way in. I wanted it to work out- it hit so many passion points and it felt like the right place to switch things up for me. But, ah well, you never really can tell with these things.

One phonecall in the midst of TK Maxx Christmas hell later… I got the job.

A month or so on, I’ve started my new role. I can’t guarantee it’ll meet my Princess criteria just yet of course, but either way I’m feeling really damn well positive about the whole thing. These women I’d admired – at the same, earlier and later stages of their career journeys- had seemed so full of zing that I can’t help but think this whole dream career thing has a whole lot more to do with attitude than I’d thought.

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The gin is in…

Where gin is concerned, I consider myself an eager student.

Once upon a time I was perfectly happy with whatever house gin was included in the student union happy hour, but as I’ve grown up and (at least partially) on my way to becoming a sophisticated woman, I’ve cultivated a taste for fun, more developed gins.

One of the ways this has substantiated itself is through my new love of gin-souvenirs. When in York, I picked up a lovely local sloe gin from my favourite pub House of Trembling Madness. When at Taste of London, I scoured the best options and triumphantly picked out a little keepsake of cocktail gin. So on and so forth, with increasing fascination and an increasingly fuzzier head.

I picked up these little trinket sized treats- from London’s own Edgerton Original Pink Gin. The pomegranate involved in the heady mix of your usual botanicals gives it this cheeky rosy-pink hue. The touch of sweetness takes away gin’s usual bite, so could quite easily be served straight.

A video posted by Farrah Kelly (@farrahkelly) on


You could be forgiven for thinking the colour was a gimmick or novelty- but on further inspection, pink gin is in fact somewhat of a nautical tradition-and what sailors don’t know about spirits isn’t worth knowing…

I think the pink adds a real charm to a classic drink, so I whipped up some fancy looking G&Ts to greet my sister with before we headed off for our festive holiday to Berlin’s Christmas markets. That’s proper Christmas spirit, in every sense of the word. Auf wiedersehen!

Pink Gin