I love surprising my husband. It is his birthday this week and I’ve been planning a birthday surprise for him for some time now.
Any great day out always start with a Starbucks in our household. There is just something about sitting on the train sipping a seasonally flavoured coffee whilst reading the (free) newspaper. That is until someone snatches the newspaper from the seat next to you! Hubby was trying to multitask by holding his coffee, eating his croissant and reading the newspaper at the same time on a moving train. To manage all of this without spilling he placed the newspaper on the seat next to him whilst reading the front-page article. Out of nowhere a fellow sitting opposite the isle of the train carriage snatched the paper from the seat and started flicking through the pages in staccato. The hubby and I were so gobsmacked that we were actually speechless. As this guy rips his eyes through our newspaper I just stare blankly in his direction. There was no: ‘excuse me, can I have this,’ or ‘sorry, are you reading this’. Nothing! As this man (I don’t know why he was so angry) violently pushed the paper behind him and the seat, I calmly asked if I could have the paper back. Begrudgingly he obliged in an even more staccato-like fashion, whilst at the same time getting up and walking towards the next carriage to continue his journey. Well that was a surprising start to the day that I neither expected nor planned for!
As we are approaching Green Park station the hubby’s curiosity grows as to what he will be doing for the day. Unfortunately his guesses were completely in the wrong direction and not even Google could help the poor fellow out on this occasion. I took him to Henry’s Café Bar for a cheeky glass of wine and quick sandwich before our event starts.
At 2:15 I can finally reveal to him that he will be taking part in a London Underground Treasure Hunt! What a fantastic find. The Master of the Hunt met us at the agreed spot just outside Green Park station and armed with a pack of cryptic clues, a camera phone and lots of enthusiasm we set out on a two-hour adventure as we explored the Underground like never before. In the fear of being caught by Agent Alex I avoided talking to anyone that even tried to approach us so I apologise sincerely if I have ignored you whilst desperately searching for the answers to the cryptic clues.
We very nearly got penalised for being late, but after a fast jog on the escalator and loads of ‘excuse me’s’ as we tried to push through the crowds, we literally made it to the finishing line in the nick of time. We learnt an awful lot about this beautiful city and getting a little consolation prize for coming 13th out of 29 groups felt like quite an achievement.
We dashed home as fast as the tube could take us as we had to shower and change before the evening’s dinner surprise.
As we got out at Camden Town’s tube station we felt incredibly uncomfortable. The vibe is not only busy, but also very shady and seedy. It only took us a minute or two to reach Shaka Zulu but it felt more like an hour. Once inside the South African themed restaurant the décor blew us away. Large statues of Zulu Impi’s adorn the main part of the restaurant whilst the heavy tables and chairs are carved various African shapes.
Suddenly I felt at home. I can pronounce the items on the menu and I know what most of them taste like, hell I’ve even cooked most of these dishes myself! I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into these homely delicacies.
The beautifully presented lamb samosa starters crunched delicately between my teeth as the sticky sweetness of Mrs Ball’s chutney caressed my tastebuds. I lapped up every morsel of savoury goodness.
Mains saw our table being dressed with a Buffalo steak for the hubby and a Durban Bunny Chow with Sheba Samp for the lady. Man, was that curry hot! And massive! It made another three lunches after that night…
A Bunny Chow is a South African curry that is served in half a loaf of hollowed out bread. You use the bread insides to mop up the curry and leave the plate clean. This is the ultimate comfort food!
Sheba is an oniony tomato-based sauce and Shaka Zulu has mixed this with samp – white maize that is cooked for several hours to soften. Utterly comfortable and very starchy! Perfect winterfood…
For the last surprise of the evening the hubby ordered a Melktert slice. A decadently, milky custard tart topped with a sprinkling of cinnamon, delicately garnished with sugar shards, cape gooseberry compote and a beautifully balanced cinnamon Chantilly cream.
Surprisingly, it was a wonderful day with a unique way to explore London, wonderful food and even better company.