Thursday, 26 July 2012

The Curry House and James Bond

When: 21st July 2012

Another Saturday, another trip to East London.  Today however, would be different as I was able to spend my time enjoying two of my favourite British exports, the curry house and James Bond!  For the second week in a row I wanted to dodge the chains and thought we'd try the institutional curry house Tayyabs.

A good old fashioned curry house experience is one of my favourite things.  It brings back memories from my childhood and the novelty of being given a small chocolate at the end of the meal which to me was the height of luxury fine dining.  It was also special being able to have a good meal out whilst being vegetarian.  Anyway, times change, tastes change but the curry house remains as good as ever.

Tayyabs is famous for its tandoori cuisine, which is one of my favourite cooking styles.  We meet our friend and make the short walk from Aldgate East to the restaurant which is hard to miss from the large neon signs out front.  We took the advice to book a table as apparently it can get very busy so we were a little surprised to find only 1-2 other tables in use when we arrived.  Within five minutes of being given our menus our side of the restaurant was full to bursting, it was a good job we booked after all!  We had a table near the kitchen where I could take a good look at the action.  Service was brisk and polite but nothing to get excited about.  We ordered some starters to share:  delicious giant cubes of Paneer Tikka and some Lamb Chops straight from the tandoor in a lovely acidic marinade.  We also had some very tasty Pakoras.  Our starters were accompanied by some Popadoms and chutneys.  There wasn't much wait for the food and we were off to a great start with that addictive acidic tang of the marinated meat, I was enjoying this meal.

Before we'd even finished our starters our mains came along filling up the table.  I had one of the specialty curries, Karahi Lamb Tikka Masala, my partner also had an identical looking, but totally different tasting lamb curry.  We shared a couple of amazing buttery Tandoori Naans and some Karahi Bhindi, which to my taste was the only imperfect item we'd ordered.  This was a really great meal let down only by the rushed and less than perfect service.  It seems they have only one pace of working irrespective of how busy the restaurant is.  I would come back here to eat again, though not without trying one of the other local grills in the area and as good as the food was I would not make a special journey to come here when I have the good old Star of Bombay just a short bus ride away!  Though they did present the bill with two Union Jack chocolates (for the three of us!) to complete that famous curry house experience.

Designing 007: 50 Years of Bond Style
Where: Barbican Centre, London

As much as I love a good curry, it's no match for anything to do with James Bond.  So after some gentle persuasion we attended this exhibition at the Barbican.  There were 14 separate areas of the exhibition, a perfectly themed entrance and the opportunity to have your photo taken with the classic Aston Martin from Goldfinger.  The exhibition was divided into the various themes that has made Bond iconic over the last 50 years and each was filled with film props including gadgets, guns and the various outfits worn by Bond, the villains and the many Bond girls from the 23 films.

The first room of the exhibition was themed around gold and included the original Ken Adam sketches for Fort Knox from Goldfinger, Oddjob's steel-brimmed hat as well as Scaramanga's golden gun.  So far so good as we squeezed into a small room documenting the colourful life of James Bond's creator, Ian Flemming.  Flemming is just as interesting if not more so than the character he created.  He was a key influence in the cinematic appearance of James Bond in terms of his dress and background.  Also a number of the characters that appear in the books/films were named after Flemming's friends.  The idea of James Bond came from Flemming's time in the military and has passion for travel writing and journalism.

The next section was one that I particularly enjoyed, M's Office.  This section contained a number of Bond artefacts including passports, ID cards, credit cards, dossiers as well as a bit about the characters of M and Moneypenny.  The level of detail in these props are one of the things I love about Bond films.  Despite all the fantastic and often ridiculous elements to these films there is always a strong authenticity to the props used.  Of course once you have been briefed it's time to pick up your supplies from the Quartermaster or Q Branch as we know it.  Here we are treated to a selection of briefcases, watches and other "ordinary" items that can be transformed into lethal weapons, listening devices and escape routes at the flick of a switch.  There was also an extended section on the boat used in the opening sequence of The Wold is Not Enough.

After this was another James Bond staple, the casino.  In this section there was a full scale mock-up of the table and gamblers from Casino Royale forming the centre piece of the room.  In addition there were numerous mock ups of the various casino outfits and clips projected of many of the famous Bond casino scenes.  There was also a dress from the forthcoming Skyfall which was exciting to see.  After the excitement of the casino there was a section on the various countries and exotic places that Bond has visited over the years and how the look of these places was created.  The main focus here was on India as seen in Octopussy and the fabulous space base from Moonraker.

There were two main sections left after this, the next being Villains.  This room was filled with the costumes and props of many of the Bond villains, such as Rosa Klebb's spiked shoe, Jaws' teeth, the "bomb surprise" and Boris from Goldeneye frozen solid with liquid nitrogen.  There was also a section on the Bond girls that help Bond out in the films including Solitaire with her card table and Jinx in her bikini.  Alas it was time to move downstairs in the Bond lifts to visit the final room, the Ice Palace which celebrated Bond and all things snowy from the famous ski stunts to the magnificent Ice Palace from The World is Not Enough.  There was also the famous cello (with skis attached!) that Bond and Kara use to escape in The Living Daylights.

If I had one complaint about this exhibition it would be the lack of any interactive display areas, it would have been amazing to have been able to go hands on with some of the Bond gear as well as take some photos of it, though from reading about the lack of available items it is perhaps understandable.  This exhibition is clearly a must for suckers like me who can't wait till Skyfall later this year!  After finishing up at the Ice Place it was time to go home and reflect on a wonderful day of famous British exports, the curry house and James Bond.

Tayyabs - 83-89 Fieldgate Street London E1 1JU
020 7247 6400

Designing 007:50 Years of Bond Style - Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS Until 5th September 2012

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