Thursday, 26 February 2015

A magical night with Oliver B

Magic has always fascinated me. For as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed watching shows like Breaking The Magician's Code. And when I was little one of my favourite things I owned was the Argos magic set (complete with top hat and foam rabbit!). It's the wonder of the seemingly impossible made possible right in-front of your very eyes. And however much you think you know how it was done, and try to figure it out... I always fail miserably.

Last night I was invited to W Hotel in Leicester Square to watch illusionist Oliver B work his magic prior to his set at the Brit Awards. The hotel was absolutely stunning with disco balls and glitz in abundance right from the moment you step foot into the hotel.


We came out the lift, mouths agape, and were pointed in the direction of the bar. The focal point of the bar were these glass tubes that ran from ceiling to floor containing logs being licked by flames.


A small ish group of us (about seven in total) gathered on one of the sofas in the bar ready to be amazed. Normally I'm a bit funny about shows where the audience is called upon to participate. I've been to a comedy night before where the audience was continuously heckled and taken the piss out of and I've also been to a cabaret for a hen do where everyone was called up on stage to get involved in some shape or form. So after these experiences, needless to say, I am generally quite nervous about being in the front row or in close proximity at whatever event I'm at. Oliver B is such a lovely guy and put everyone completely at ease. Being just a small group of us, it felt intimate and really, really special.

Ollie already has impressed the likes of Roger Federer, Niall Horan from 1D and Simon Cowell. But you can find plenty more glowing reviews on his website - I reckon we'll be seeing a lot more from him in the future!

Classic tricks like pick-a-card-and-now-I-will-find-your-card were revamped (the card in question was on the other side of the room. At the bar. He had been sitting with us all the while). He 'found' a rabbit behind someone's ear and and the number of 'offspring' it had matched the number a member of our group had requested. And how about the deck of cards that suddenly transformed into a plastic / glass block despite the cards being in my friend's hands the whole time and not his? Ollie brought "but how?!" to a whole new level.


Afterwards we had a little time to get to know him and also to each interview him. Ollie was refreshingly honest with every question put to him and even showed us a couple of tricks. One of the props for one of his tricks was so simple but cost him £50! Unbelievable! Oliver then had to dash off as he had to prepare ahead of the Brit Awards. But the rest of us stayed and enjoyed the bar, sampling a cheeky cocktail or two. I had a Secret Garden cocktail which contained crème de fraise, honey syrup, fresh strawberries, lemon juice and champagne and was topped with strawberries and cucumber. I did try a sip of the Candy Floss cocktail but it was a bit too sweet for my liking. It even had marshmallows on top!


In summary, it was a really nice night out and so different to other blogging events I've been to before. As ever, it was lovely to meet new people and update my blogroll with some new reads!

A massive thank you to Claire for inviting me. It was magical!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Seafood and miso noodle soup


During these cold months we all want something warm, nutritious and quick to rustle up. I'd never made - let alone eaten - noodle soup before, but it sounded like ideal comfort food without being being too filling. Full of protein and vitamins, it's good wholesome food that is healthy, yet doesn't leave you hungry.

You will need...

  • x2 tablespoons of white miso paste
  • 1 litre of water / vegetable stock / chicken stock
  • 200g of rice noodles
  • 150g of mushrooms (I used oyster mushrooms)
  • x2 pak choi
  • 400g of your choice of seafood (I used prawns, mussels and squid)
  • 1 or 2 spring onions

Method

1. Wash and chop the mushrooms and pak choi. I cut the pak choi in half lengthways and kept the mushrooms fairly large as both will reduce anyway once you start to cook it.

2. For the time being leave the rice noodle soaking in a bowl of cold water.

3. Shallow fry the pak choi, spring onions and mushrooms in a pan and place to one side afterwards. This is optional as you could always just cook these all in the broth later if you prefer. However I wanted them all to soak up the beautiful juices coming from the mushrooms. Save the leftover liquid to add to the soup later.


4. Add the water and miso paste into a saucepan and slowly bring to the boil. Once boiled, continue to simmer. You can add vegetable and chicken stock if you wish, but when I tasted mine, it seemed perfect as it was. Particularly as I knew I'd be adding seafood to the mix later anyway.

5. Gradually add the pak choi, mushrooms and spring onions. Then add the seafood and cook until ready. I bought a pre-cooked seafood pack so it only needed 2-3 minutes to heat through.


4. Time for a taste test! Add vegetable / chicken stock if you feel it needs it. However I found the blend of miso and the liquid from the seafood already flavoursome enough.

5. Drain the noodles and remove from the bowl of cold water. Add them to the rest of the soup. These will only take a minute - if that - to be ready.

6. Serve generous ladlefuls into two bowls and enjoy!


Makes enough for two servings - however we found we had plenty left over for lunch during the week. Although by this stage the noodles had soaked up most of the miso soup rendering it more like noodles with a sauce rather than noodle soup. But trust me, all the flavours are still there.

I cannot emphasise how quick and easy this dish was to prepare and cook - not to mention incredibly tasty and satisfying for a cold winter's evening. If you decide to give this a try, make sure you Tweet me @Lucy_Angele using the hashtag #cookwithlucy or to leave me a comment below as I'd love to hear about your creations!

Thursday, 12 February 2015

The perfect night in // Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day. The marmite event of the year. Some people love it, some people hate it. The one thing I really dislike about Valentine's Day is the amount of pressure this day places on you. The pressure to spend, spend, spend or risk looking like a bad boyfriend / girlfriend if you don't. The pressure of having the best possible night (much like New Years Eve). And lastly the pressure of looking your absolute best. Notably for women. There are magazines, newspapers and advertising left, right and centre saying that you should be wearing a body con dress you can't breathe in, you should be risking your neck in skyscraper heels, and you should be wearing swanky underwear. I don't like being told what to do, what to wear and how to act. If you love someone you should show them the same level of love and respect all year long - not just on the 14th because the card companies told you so.

But it doesn't have to be like this. Why not stay at home and recreate a meal out or a night at a hotel? Lounge around in white fluffy bath robes, light some candles, wine and dine one another, and just be yourselves. Lots of the supermarkets have 2-for-1 inspired meal deals making it far better value for money than dining out. Also there are lots of lovely pieces of homeware out there that won't cost an arm and a leg and can be used time and time again for other special occasions. Consider it an investment. And it'll work out tons cheaper than that hotel, trust me.

Here are my Valentine's Day essentials for the perfect night in:



My ideal night in would include; dim lighting with candles everywhere possible, new / clean bedding, cooking our own three course meal just the two of us, a bottle of wine (in an ideal world, Malbec), nice lingerie, massages, sharing a bath together, bath robes, and afterwards lounge around watching movies in bed. With chocolate of course. 

I'm really into interiors at the moment - particularly glassware it seems. The heart jars would be ideal for homemade desserts like cheesecake or an ice cream sundae with brownie pieces and lots of cream on top. Very Pinterest. The same goes with the glass bowls on that beautiful oak board. And I'm pretty sure those wine glasses aren't called goblets on the Next website... but they looked regal enough to be called goblets! And that bedding though. SWOON.

What have you got planned for Valentine's Day?

Want to read more? Feel free to have a nose through some of my other Valentine's Day posts....

  1. The funniest and most inappropriate Valentine's Day cards guaranteed to make you chuckle 
  2. How you know if he's a keeper
  3. Alternative Valentine's Day gifts which AREN'T red roses
  4. Love in pictures

Friday, 6 February 2015

A British girl in Paris: Part trois

On your final day in Paris, you have to make it count. Go big or go home. Which inevitably you'll be doing at some point anyway... but no need to think about going just home yet...

When faced with less than 24 hours in Paris, one of my musts is Versailles. I didn't think I could love a place more than the Louvre, but oh how I was wrong. I first visited Versailles in 2008 / 2009 back when I actually lived in France. And it just took my breath away. So much opulence, so much extravagance, and gardens that seem to go on forever.

To make the most of a day pass, we went there early (ish). En route we stopped at Laduree to pick up some macarons, in case we ran out of time later. Turns out they have a Laduree shop at Versailles... but at least we know for next time!


 Right from the front gates of Versailles, everything is magnificent. Versailles is oh so beautiful.


My favourite room is the la galeries de Glaces (Halls of Mirrors). The way light catches in there is just beautiful.


I purposely haven't included many photos of the Palais interior because I wanted to keep it a surprise for those of you who haven't been before. For me personally, part of the magic of Versailles is the surprise and wonder you get when you are stood inside a room and see first-hand the amount of detail, craft and love that went into it's design and upkeep. After pretty much a whole day there, we bid Versailles farewell and made our way back to the station, macarons in tow.


However... the station was closed. All services from Versailles to Paris were suspended, and our Eurostar from Gare du Nord was due to leave in a few hours time. "Panic" is an understatement. Never have I felt so stressed. We were instructed to walk roughly in that direction to another station which may be able to get us back into town. It was stress that no one needs on their last day of holiday. We'd been up early that day and hadn't eaten yet, so we were tired, hungry and irritable. En route we managed to find a patisserie and grabbed cakes to have on the train. This other station was supposedly just down the road. The French's version of "just down the road" is very different to ours. We were walking for ages - in a town that neither of us were familiar with - with no helpful street signs pointing out where this so-called gare should be. As luck would have it, we did find it. But lots of train services were cancelled. I understand French well, but I couldn't make sense of the departure boards and which of the few trains that were still running were suited to us. Luckily there was a ticket office open, and even better still, the chap there spoke excellent English. When time isn't on your side, you want everything to be crystal clear - so English at this point was great. Thankfully we managed to find another train that went to Paris. It arrived in the South of town and although it wasn't where we wanted to be, we were in Paris and that was relief enough. It only took a few minutes by Metro to get to Gare du Nord. Cake tastes extra good when a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders.


We even had time to spare so I managed to get some souvenirs for my family, and some madeleines for work. We stopped for dinner at Buffalo Grill which is just opposite Gare du Nord. As we hadn't had a proper meal all day, we opted for a meat feast sharing platter which did the job.


After that, we hopped straight onto the Eurostar - the last crossing of the day.

And that concludes my Paris posts. I hope you've enjoyed them as much as I have writing them. I love travel writing and am very envious of people who get to travel the world, experience different cultures, and write about them for a living! I shot some video whilst I was in Paris so all being well, there should be a Paris vlog up on my Youtube channel very soon!