Monday 31 October 2016

Getting into the Halloween spirit

Hands up who wrote the worst blog post title ever? That would be me. Because spirits. As in ghosts. And it's Halloween. But yes, moving on... Lately I have been purchasing few little bits and pieces for the house, getting into the Halloween spirit of things. So I thought I'd share what I have been loving lately.

Isn't this little guy the cutest?! He glows all colours on rotation and is the perfect mood lighting for the evenings spent watching films under ALL the blankets on the sofa.

The beer was an impulse buy from my local Aldi. This was seriously a dark beer which tasted unlike any other beer I have ever had before. I'm not usually a fan of beer, but this was one beer that I could get behind. Sold out online last time I checked, it may be worth checking out your local store if this looks to be your cup of tea. Alternatively if your local stores don't have any speciality Halloween craft beers / ales, you could always do a bit of DIY with Halloween printables found online. I found some stickers in my local Poundland which were great for giving regular bottles of cider a Halloween inspired twist.

Halloween stickers (also Poundland)

It's so easy to carve the same Halloween pumpkin design every year, but this year I wanted a change. This cat design reminded me of my family's black cat back home who always looks a bit angry!

The left hand ceramic pumpkin was another impulse buy the other day. Because priced at just £1, who can argue with that? Whereas my black cat pumpkin design (above centre) was surprisingly apt for watching Hocus Pocus and cooing over Binx. Gotta love that cat!

And what better way to top a film night than with Halloween themed pizza?

Because you can't get much more Halloween than with ghost mozzarella. 
Or homemade mummy sausage rolls for that matter.

On the sweeter side of things, Krispy Kreme doughnuts were the perfect post-savoury treat

How amazing are these purple and green zombie doughnuts?! Both filled with chocolate truffle, the two colours represented different icing / glazes (purple being blackcurrant and the green being lime). My favourite ones were the green ones as the citrus really gave an added zing to the chocolate truffle filling. I also loved their seasonal pumpkin spice offering:

This one was denser with more of a crumbly texture. Think apple crumble as a doughnut. But obviously replace the apple with pumpkin. This doughnut had some lovely warming spices - perfect for this time of year.

And now? I sit here all ready for the trick or treaters

Pumpkin glow stick sweets + Skittles multi pack - Poundland
Haribo starmix multi pack - Tesco

If there are any sweets left (particularly the Haribo), I won't complain! 
What have you been up to over Halloween?

*a huge thank you to Krispy Kreme for providing me with doughnuts for my Halloween inspired weekend!

Wednesday 26 October 2016

YUU KITCHEN // the new restaurant in town that Yuu need to check out!

In a city saturated with burger joint after burger joint, it is always refreshing to discover somewhere new to eat. And Yuu Kitchen with its quirky Manga pop art themed interiors is certainly that.

Headed up by Stephen Lowe (previously of London's Icebar) and Jon de Villa (previously of Nobu, Nobu Berkeley and Zafferano), Yuu Kitchen's flavours are said to be heavily influenced by South East Asia and the Pacific Rim. I was invited to the Yuu Kitchen launch last night and knowing the directors' background in the food industry, I had the highest of expectations. And you know what? I was not disappointed. It all started with a champagne reception, wandering around marvelling at the decor which the directors described themselves as modern Asian style meets Shoreditch. There was an industrial, East London edginess with exposed pipes and chains hanging from the tables - but with Manga inspired pop art on the walls and the overhead lighting contained in bird cages.

But enough about the decor (even though I could quite literally talk about it all day!) 
Because the real star of the show was the food.

Salmon and shrimp spoon with papaya salad
Soft salmon that melted in your mouth and sweetness from the papaya salad, which gave the dish great texture

Bao buns with crispy tofu and peanut
I didn't think tofu would be so full of flavour, but it was and the crushed peanut added a wonderful texture to it.

Spicy tuna tostada
Compared to the other dishes, this wasn't the prettiest of foods, but it was by far the tastiest. The tuna was cooked to perfection and even though it was spicy and I don't usually do spice, it tasted so good and so right, I went for it!

Vegetable spring rolls with sweet chilli dip
These were hands down the nicest spring rolls I have ever had. I usually find vegetable spring rolls very bland, lacking in vegetable and packed out with cheaper ingredients. These were generously filled with big bits of vegetable which you could see right from the very first bite.

Salt and pepper prawns 
These were a good size, not too heavily seasoned, and had that awesome meatiness you get with a larger prawn.

Sweet soy glazed beef 
Tender, melt in the mouth, and really more ish.

Yuu Kitchen is now open

29 Commercial St
E1 6NE

Go check them out 
- Yuu would be mad not to!

Friday 21 October 2016

EVENT // Trying barrecore for the first time with Farfetch

A few weeks ago I was invited for a barrecore class with eight other bloggers by the lovely Farfetch team. They were spreading awareness of their new activewear line, but also wanted a chance to get to know us all, which was really refreshing and not something I have experienced from a brand before. We met at Barrecore in Mayfair which was only a stones throw away from Oxford Circus station.

Barrecore is a high-intensity workout that mixes low-impact fat-burning moves and static stretches whilst incorporating a bar. The benefits of such a workout include; firmer muscles, reduced body fat, toning and better muscle definition, a flatter abdomen and lifted glutes. As with yoga and pilates, the benefits are not just physical, exercise like this is also proven to be great for mental health. 

Having always wanted to try barre, I had a vague idea of what it involved, and knew that lots of models like the Victoria's Secret models incorporate barre into their workouts in order to tone and strengthen their bodies. I naively assumed that it would be a fairly easy workout, but boy was I wrong! We worked on our legs, abs, and arms, and I used muscles I never knew resided in me. The ache was real. Particularly after the squats and legwork. Climbing the stairs to leave the studio (located on basement level), my legs felt punished.

 Red arms much?!

Tired and ravenous, we all went for food together at NAC London - the cutest little French inspired bistro located just off of Oxford Street. The majority of us went for avocado toast and it was as pretty a picture as it was generous a portion size.

Tina had the honey chocolate French toast and bananas which looked all kinds of epic!

After such an intense workout, I wanted something healthy and invigorating to drink, so opted for their pineapple, wheat grass and coconut water juice which was really refreshing. With that and the avocado toast, I couldn't have had a greener meal!

In-between vlogging, Instagramming and taking pictures of our picture perfect food and table, it was really nice to get to know everyone a little more. It can be a little awkward entering room full of people you haven't met before, but I can honestly say, I couldn't have been grouped with a nicer group of people. There were no cliques, nor was there anyone with superiority complexes refusing to talk to certain people. Despite us all having blogs / vlogs of various ages / sizes, everyone was treated as equals. Never have I felt so relaxed or made to feel so welcome at an event before.

I would just like to take the time to say thank you to the lovely Farfetch team for organising one of the nicest blogger events I have ever been to in all my years of blogging. It felt really natural and you felt like they wanted to get to know you as a person, rather than being purely business like so many other events I have been to before. I also received a very generous goodie bag from the team and seeing as Farfetch is a global agglomeration of over 400 fashion boutiques with over 1000 labels online in one place, I felt well and truly spoilt in the best of ways!

Tuesday 18 October 2016

The afternoon tea that lacked in tea...

Afternoon teas are one of my favourite things to do in London. Being based in the city, everyone is always so busy and sometimes it's nice to sit, drink tea, and watch the world go by.

Rewind a month or two back where I was delighted to be hosting one of my American friends, Lynne, who I hadn't seen since 2009(!). On Monday we had a day in London, starting off with a tour of Buckingham Palace, and then refuelled with an afternoon tea. Because what could possibly be more British than an afternoon tea?! And I was more than happy because cake. I booked us onto the champagne afternoon tea at the London Green Park Hilton as it was so conveniently located (just minutes away from Buckingham Palace!)

Upon arrival we were presented with a chest of twelve loose teas, all contained in little screw top jars. The lady told us we could have as much tea as we liked - we could even try all twelve teas if we really wanted! To start we all ordered the same tea (apple and elderflower). A mistake. Don't get me wrong, it was a delicious tea. But it would have been a far smarter choice to order a few different ones and share them amongst us. Because after that point, no one at the London Green Park Hilton offered us any more tea. At an afternoon tea. I am still reeling from this.

It was a Monday and it was dead -  so it wasn't like the staff were rushed off their feet and too busy to attend to us. As the tables around us emptied and we became the only table of people there, the staff just disappeared. We were sitting without tea for a good long while and when I finally spotted someone and beckoned them over, she seemed confused by our request for more tea. It was like we were at a pet shop and had asked for a bowl of cereal. Except that clearly wasn't the case. Before I beckoned this lady over, she had been setting up tables for breakfast the next day. Bearing in mind this was early afternoon still, and not close of play, it really frustrated me that a) no staff were around and b) when they were, they weren't paying the slightest bit of attention to paying customers.

Other than that it was a lovely afternoon tea. The sandwiches were some of the best I have ever had at an afternoon tea (and that is quite some feat!). The scones were MASSIVE and quite dense, so unfortunately I got a little too full to enjoy the full extent of the cakes. But there was a good sweet selection there which included macarons, fruit cake, lemon & coconut tart, walnut brownies and a raspberry posset.

To be honest, I wouldn't go back on account of what we experienced with the tea. Because the clue is in the name - afternoon tea. But still, you live and you learn.