Tuesday 14 June 2016

My favourite summer eats at Pizza Express right now

Around the time of my birthday I indulged in a few meals out because it's always been one of my favourite ways to catch up with friends. On one particularly hot and sunny day, it felt like salad sort of weather. So just before I paid my first ever visit to the dinosaur park, I stopped at my local Pizza Express who in my opinion, do the best salads. We were seated outside in their garden area - which before now I had no idea existed! - which was lovely and peaceful.

I had their Bosco salad which I always order come rain or shine. You just can't go wrong with mozzarella, garlic mushrooms, spinach, roasted tomatoes and artichokes, topped with dressing and dough sticks. I usually hold off the honey mustard dressing and ask for balsamic instead as I'm not too hot on mustard. It is the most colourful and aesthetically pleasing dish.

For years I always dismissed salads as being highly expensive for what they are and as things that left you hungry. But now I understand. If you pick the right salad - and Pizza Express's Bosco is way up there - it can be just as filling as any other dish. I always appreciate it when a salad includes a little substance in there so it's not just a pile of leaves looking up at you. The dough sticks here are wonderfully 'springy' in texture and all the textures and flavours of the salad work together well. Artichokes are a new addition to this salad which weren't there before, nor were they something I had tasted before. And I loved them. I found the texture very similar to mushrooms and I'm a huge lover of mushrooms.

Around the time of my birthday I got into cheesecake in a massive way. I was never particularly fussed with cheesecakes, now I'm all about that cheesecake life. When I saw that Pizza Express had a honeycomb cream slice which included a layer of salted caramel... easiest decision ever.

As a disclaimer, this is not a sponsored post. I wrote this post - and paid for the meal - of my own accord!

Wednesday 8 June 2016

EVENT // Alice Through The Looking Glass

To celebrate Disney's latest film Alice Through The Looking Glass, an Alice in Wonderland themed pop-up event was hosted in London for a limited time only. People were ripping out pages of the local newspaper - which featured the event - pressing it into my hand, and overly exciting me in the process. When it came to booking tickets it was no easy feat - the event had sold out faster than you can say "mad hatter".

Around the time of my birthday I received two envelopes through my door. One a birthday card from one of my best friends, Alison, instructing me to check out the other envelope. The second envelope read "open me" and inside I found a card covered with flamingos. Two tickets fell into my lap and I found a lovely handwritten message inside, detailing the adventure I was about to go on. Unknown fact about me: I'm the biggest ice queen and don't tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve or let on how I'm feeling to anyone. But when I opened that envelope I must admit, I did have a little cry. I'd got it in my head that I wasn't going because tickets had sold out and I couldn't and then suddenly to be told I was going, was a little big magical. And how someone made that effort for me, and sought out tickets. The card also contained these cute little Alice in Wonderland tattoos / transfers which were the sorts of designs I wanted to get etched when I was in Brighton recently, but sadly the shop had closed up for the day by the time I'd got to it. So now I can indulge in some Alice inspired skin art!

So let's fast forward to the day in question, if I may? My tickets were for the 7pm session on Saturday 21st May. The street in question was near to Spitalfields market and contained these curious little houses, all higgledy piddly, and aged and asymmetrical. It was clear which door was The Door for us:

This script was the basis of your - self guided - tour and messages like this were throughout the building:

Upon entry we were provided with a map of the house (really useful as it was right ol' maze in there!) and playing cards which were drink / food tokens so we could indulge in both "eat me" and "drink me". The food included cakes and biscuits in cellophane packing labelled "eat me" whereas the "drink me" option was a grapefruit and gin cocktail served in these curious little goblets.

There were different rooms with different activities suited to those of all ages. You didn't have to be an Alice in Wonderland fanatic like me - but it probably helped if you were, otherwise lots of the themes would be quite surreal to you! The decor was dark and sultry - lots of dark corners, room contents lit by candlelight, and huge clocks which I believe to have come straight from the European Alice Through The Looking Glass film premiere hosted in London a few weeks back.

There was a crafts section, photography upstairs in the Queen's boudoir (emphasis on be quick before the Queen catches you and off with your head), Looking Glass type photobooth downstairs where you could transition into your favourite characters (I opted for the Cheshire cat!), and an Escape Room hosted by the greats of ClueQuest.

Instead of painting the roses red, people were having their skin painted with delicate little red hearts. I had mine on my wrist:

My favourite room of them all had to be the croquet up on the roof. Just like the cartoon / film / book, it was pretty nonsensical a game with lots of cheating and laughs, but really fun!

There were different sessions / time slots and we made the most of our 90 minutes. It was a good laugh and perfect for an Alice in Wonderland fanatics like myself! Afterwards we popped into The Diner in Spitalfields for late night hard shakes and burgers. Their choconaut (rum and chocolate milkshake) is deliciously warming and was the perfect way to end such a memorable evening!

A massive THANK YOU to Alison for tracking down the tickets and letting me experience this amazing event!

Wednesday 1 June 2016

The evening of evenings: Whiskey, wine, burgers, gaming and live music

When an email popped into my inbox asking me if I'd like to see some live music one night with some nibbles and whiskey cocktails thrown into the mix, it was a no brainer. I brought my bestie from school - Valentina -  along with me, and we arrived at West Hampstead 6 o'clock sharp for the event.

We were welcomed with whiskey cocktails and a finger food buffet (the best kind of food!). The sliders were epic - rather than being tiny little things that left you hungry, they were decently sized and juicy and flavoursome.

Before settling down with our drinks, we had a look around the Jimmi Hendrix expo that had been set up in tribute, and played Jimmi Hendrix themed games on the various game consoles bgo had rigged up in the room. With the highest scorer of the night to earn a prize, it quickly became very competitive and we gave it our best shot though the course of the night!

Later that evening, various acts performed Jimmi Hendrix classics, as well as their own material. I love going to gigs and discovering new bands. I don't do it enough, and this event made me realise that I really want to go to more in the future. And in true Where's Wally / Where's Waldo style, can you spot us both in the below picture?

We sat chilling with our wine. And oh wow. that whisky was strong. 

After the final chord was played, the results of the competitions that night were announced. Turns out Valentina won the highest score with her very first game! She received a trophy in the form of a mini guitar which she was chuffed to bits with

Luckily with the event being in our neck of the woods, we didn't have far to go afterwards. We were hooked up with mics and interviewed on camera, had some last minute photos with the acts, then waved goodbye and piled into Val's car.

Thanks so much for BGO for organising such a lovely evening and for inviting me along for the ride!