Boqueria tapas, #LSELitFest, Cruel Intentions and putting yourself first

1 Mar

EAT: Ohhh tapas. Pretty much all food should be served as tapas. I am obsessed with tapas at the moment (partially because I recently got into olives), so I’ve been doing the tapas rounds. This includes French tapas at Blanchette (review coming soon) as well as the more traditional Spanish/Mediterranean fare. And I officially have a favourite (well, in London anyway): Boqueria.

Boqueria has more than one location in London, but I’ve only eaten in their Battersea branch. The restaurant is in a good location and is lovely inside. The lighting is flattering and cosy, the tables close enough so that there’s a buzzing atmosphere but not so close you’re sat on another person’s lap, and there’s a spacious bar area as well as the (I warn you: small) dining space. So book in advance!

The menu is BIG. And, firstly, for a tapas place in London very reasonably priced. And if the thought of ordering 6 dished all priced at around £7 makes you sweat a little, the portions are VERY generous. Far better than anywhere else I’ve been, either in England or Spain! A bottle of wine will set you back about £20 – their house rose is perfect; a lot of the dishes are strong in flavour or quite salty (as they should be), and it’s really refreshing.

So, a brief description of the dishes we had. We went for olives (obviously) and bread with aioli (the bread is lightly toasted and crusty – the home-made aioli is DELICIOUS!). We had the chorizo with cider (beautiful: the meat is soaked in cider, works SO well) and ham and chicken croquettes (crispy on the outside, fluffy and tasty on the inside).


The patatas bravas (above) is great – the sauce is spicy but easy to eat and the plate comes loooaded with potato. Absolutely worth the £4.50! The padron peppers are essential – covered in rock salt and anyone I’ve ever taken to Boqueria absolutely adores them. The salt cod fritters also come with the yummy aioli and they’re light, salty and also wonderful. As you can tell, I’m a massive fan of Boqueria… and I haven’t even got onto dessert yet!

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Get. The. Churros. Churros are fried dough pasty, dusted in sugar and accompanied by a thick hot chocolate. It’s £5 for 4 big piece of churros and the chocolate they come with is probably full of calories, but WHATEVER. If you look at their menu online it’s not actually up to date, so they actually have the churros on offer as well as loads of other yummy desserts and savoury stuff.

It won’t surprise you to hear I bloody love Boqueria. It’s officially my go-to place for dates, meals with friends and I may even go crazy and take my nan there when she visits me in London. But seriously – take a date. They’ll think you’re so in the know and the whole food sharing thing never fails.

SEE:  At the moment, #LSELitFest is in full swing. It’s a whole host of lectures and discussions about a wide variety of subjects. I went to a lecture on Digital Personhood and Identity. A blog post which neatly summarises what was covered in the lecture can be found here.

The talk was a mixture of research and reflection, each exploring what affect our digital landscape and our digital lives have on the foundations of our identity. However, it actually turned into more of a discussion about how the data we offer up online shapes our identity, how digital companies treat us and a lot of discussion around privacy and control.

I work in social media and at work I’m surrounded by the data team. I’m used to people saying brands and companies using their data are ‘evil’ and it’s ‘wrong’. Sometimes, it absolutely is. However, other times it’s used to make your life easier and draw your attention to products which should genuinely be of interest to you. People seem to forget that if the service you’re using is free, then you are the product being sold. Or, more specifically, your data.

Anyway, I think that because I’m younger and I work in an industry which relies on data collection, I obviously found the way the speakers considered privacy interesting. But, there was a particularly interesting point raised in the talks which I just wanted to throw out there.

Firstly, there was a very interesting way one of the speakers described how the internet and technology is good and aids us, and also neatly pinpointed the moment at which technology becomes troubling. At first, technology and digital companies, assisted our decision-making. We can ask Google the quickest way to get somewhere, but we still have the fee will to take another course. We can Google the best restaurants in London: but where we sit down and eat is down to us to decide. Apps like Tinder give us options regarding people to date, but we get to decide who we like and who we don’t. (See advert below for an example).

Then, technology went from making our lives and decisions easier (‘Assisted Decision Making’ ) to ‘Supplementary Decision Making’. We now have apps which monitor how far we run – they congratulate us and say we’ve made the right decision when we run a long way, and encourage us to continue to run. They tell us we’ve not done a good thing when we don’t run. Technology that used to assist us now doesn’t just offer us options and an easier way to do things, but it tells us how we should be doing things. However, we still have the option to not be swayed and to make our own choices, despite those choices being somewhat influenced by an app, an algorithm, or something else. (See for an advert for an example).

The final stage is the one which science fiction thrives upon. When technology is out of control due to us placing our faith, and our decision making, completely in the hands of technology.  This is known as ‘Autonomous Decision Making’ – where we give over the decision making to technology and by doing so wash our hands of responsibility. Driverless cars are the first step in this direction. Which is why people are concerned about driverless cars: if humans are no longer responsible, if humans do not have an option to change the course of things and make decisions, then what? (Scary cars below).

Anyway.  One of the speakers covered all that in less than five minutes, but it really made everything fall into place for me. Sitting in the lecture at LSE I realise just how much I bloody love learning. I miss leaving a lecture theatre and discussing what we’d heard, putting forward our points of view on the subject and then going to learn more. As a result, I’ll not only be going to waaaay more free lectures at LSE, but I’ve purchased a number of books about subjects I want to know more about.

LISTEN: Baby, baby, baby I don’t want to, ever give, you the wrong idea.

LOVE: Thank you to the ever marvellous Amanda Palmer for drawing this to my attention. I know a number of people who feel that only someone else can make them happy. I’ve always maintained you should be happy and confident with yourself – then, when someone falls for you, they’re falling for the real you.

“I’d rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I am not” – Kurt Cobain. A favourite quote of mine.


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