Sunday, 4 September 2011

Domestic bliss = Peanut butter cookies!

More baking this weekend. This time for a little house warming gift for a friend.

I found a very simple recipe via the BBC Food website. I doubled the recipe (to make sure we had enough to 'sample' of course) and drizzled dark chocolate over half  of them and just a sprinkling of icing sugar on the rest.

The end result...yummy buttery cookies! 

These have a shortbread like texture, so quite crumbly and dry. They are especially nice with the chocolate drizzle. For the next batch I make I'll be half covering the cookies with chocolate. Can't wait for that experiment!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Pink biscuits? Yes please!

A few weeks ago we threw a little baby shower for one of our best friends. She's having a little girl next month, so we got some food and non alcoholic punch together and all ended up on one hell of a sugar rush!

I made some cute 'baby-grow' shaped cookies for us all to nibble on, and I have to say, I'm quite proud of the way they turned out!

I bought a baby-grow shaped cookie cutter (about 10cms wide and high) from eBay, made a simple sugar cookie recipe

I flavoured the icing with a bit of a strawberry essence and coloured it (probably a little too much) with red food colouring to turn it a lovely bright pink. I found the easiest way to get it on the cookies was to use a stiff bristled paint brush. 

Then I added a little bit of piping from some glittery pre-made icing from Dr Oetker (available at your local supermarket) and voila, home made baby shower cookies!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

What an amazing Secret Garden...shhh.

I'm so late at writing this up, apologies!

Strop Circus playing at the White Mink Stage

Imagine four days of fancy dress, dancing, art exhibitions and fun!

The Secret Garden Party took place on the 21st - 24th July on a beautiful secret garden near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. 

Having never been before, it was the comments from our friends that made us want to go this year. They were always going on and on about how great it was and how much fun they had. So we decided to check it out too.

I'm going to keep this short, but it was the BEST UK festival I've ever attended. The whole site was beautiful and we spent the first afternoon taking it all in. From a beautiful lake (yes people went swimming!), to outdoor art exhibitions, it seemed to have everything covered. Not only could you have a sauna and attend morning yoga, a short stroll around the lake and you could watch mud wrestling and have a dance off with new friends. Just have a look at my photos and you'll get the idea!

People really took the fancy dress seriously. The theme this year was Origins and Frontiers. I'd say most people were in fancy dress for the entire weekend. My friends and I did our best and spent most of the time dressed up. I was amazed at how complex some outfits were, well done!

Me, Magnus, Amanda & Dave
The food was brilliant catering for meat eaters and vegetarians. Drink cost no more than London prices and for you tea drinkers, it was easy to find a cuppa 24/7. We had a favourite hot chocolate stall which was great for walking back to the tent at ungodly hours. Just a quick word about the most AMAZING coffee cake I've ever eaten. I bought a huge slice from Pass the teapot and quickly devoured it with a big smile on my face.

The music was varied enough that one afternoon I danced to house, then found an electro swing stage, but by late afternoon we were dancing at the Artful Badger (think rave in the woods) to rolling deep techno. I think the music catered for most people and headline acts included Blondie and Leftfield.  I mustn't forget that I enjoyed learning how to do that Charleston one afternoon with a group of people at the "Village Hall".

I find it's one of those festivals that is very hard to describe in words, hence why I've posted photos for you to see, but the best way to understand it, is to go.

So I'll see you all in 2012?

Looking out to the Dragonfly floating stage

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

I'll be back...soon!

So I started a new job on the 11th July, which is why I've gone deathly quiet here on the blogging pages.  However, now that I've settled in, I will be back yabbering about random things, food, music etc, very very soon.

I recently went to the Secret Garden Party festival, so stay tuned for a little rundown on how FANTASTIC it was!

I'm going to the Candlelight Club this Saturday night for a good ol' girls night out.  Think 20's styling, great cocktails, a band, light supper, dancers and all lit only by candles.  I'll reveal all next week!

I'm going to my first baby shower next weekend.  I've never been to one before.  I know there is going to be so many cute tiny baby things, that I think the girls and I might just explode with over cuteness (if there is such a thing)!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Wireless Festival, Hyde Park, London

Okay, so this deserved a big photo!  This is what I saw in the middle of thousands of people, while dancing away to The Chemical Brothers last Saturday night.  What a fantastic atmosphere!

We managed to see Digitalism, Aphex Twin, a bit of Alex Metric, a teeny bit of Nero and the main act The Chemical Brothers.  London had great weather for the outdoors.  Not too hot, but sunny enough that everyone was in a great mood.

Aphex Twin got the bass thumping and the visuals were brilliant.  We did a lot of wandering around the site, just checking things out.  We bumped into quite a few friends here and there, so that's always fun!  We even found time to play in the Nintendo tent and check out the new DS 3D consoles. 

Watching The Chemical Brothers as the sun set over London was the highlight of the night.  All around me were smiling happy people.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the tunes and the light show that was put on for us.

Another great weekend in London to remind me why I live here, yay!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Delicious times at Wahaca

I love food that is interesting in not only flavour, but colour and texture too.  So bring on the culinary delights at Wahaca - Mexican Market Eating.

We went to the original restaurant based in Covent Garden, located along Chandos Place.  You cannot book a table at Wahaca, so you just need to turn up when you want to eat.  We went on a Saturday, around 1pm.  Given there were only 2 of us, we got a seat straight away.  Parties of 4 or more had a little wait.

The restaurant was thriving and full with happy customers, some with tables full of food, others sipping on cocktails.  The decor is simple and bright, with a paper menu on the table.  We had a very helpful waitress who offered to talk us through the menu and made suggestions on what we might want to eat.  We were offered tortilla chips with a variety of dips and our drink order taken while we made a decision on what to order.

We've been a couple of times before, but wanted to try a variety of street food.  I always think this is similar to the Spanish tapas style of eating, so you order 2-3 dishes per person and share it all.  It was suggested we try the Wahaca Selection (£19.95) which gives you the favourites from the Street Food menu for 2 people.

The food started coming out within 10 minutes and by 20 minutes all five dishes were placed in front of us.  We hungrily worked our way through:

Pork pibil taco - Slow cooked pork in their own special Yucatecan marinade.

Broad bean & feta quesadella - Crushed new potatoes, broad beans, peas, feta and mint.

Chicken tinga tacos - Tender chicken in their own smoky chipotle sauce.

Black bean tostadas - Wahaca's special re-fried beans topped with avocado salsa, crema, Lancashire cheese and fresh tomato salsa.

Summery new potato taquitos - Seasonal potatoes, shredded lettuce, feta and their own habanero salsa.

Each plate was full of flavour and different to the rest.  My favourite meat dish was the chicken tinga tacos and then the summer new potato taquitos vegetarian dish went down a treat.  Both mouth mouthwatering delicious!  We washed this down with a couple of Pacifico Clara, Mexican beers, which was recommended by the Waitress.

I rate Wahaca very high on my list of great places to eat in London, they can do no wrong with their great attentive service, exciting food and good value for money.

Wahaca was co-founded by Thomasina Miers who won MasterChef in 2005.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Cheese and beer in Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace has a great new foodie shop - Good Taste Food and Drink.  To quote from their facebook page about their store:
"To offer a well-selected variety of tasty produce that are unlikely to be found in any supermarket."
I've been keeping an eye on these guys on facebook and Twitter and I have certainly noticed the locals commenting on how great the food is.  So what did I do about this?  Well, went and had a look for myself of course!

Firstly we looked at their fine collection of beers and purchased a few for a friends birthday.  They only stock British beers and there was certainly a large range to look through.  Manish (the owner) helped us choose each beer.  His knowledge on each was brilliant!  Some of the names like 'Nanny State' and 'Hardcore IPA' grabbed your attention and made you giggle.  We chose a variety and included a lovely sounding Espresso beer from Darkstar.

The following day we went back to sample some cheeses.

I had an appetite for blue cheese and I mentioned that to one of the staff and he suggested a couple of blues for us to try.  We were offered slivers to taste and ended up buying Harbourne Blue (Devon, England) and Lanark Blue (Lanarkshire, Scotland).  Both were delicious, one slightly creamy and the other quite crumbly.

Next I asked if we could try a hard cheese, something sweet and nutty.  We were offered some Comte AOC (French-Comte region of France) and this was perfect!  It was certainly nutty and it was difficult not to eat it before we even got it home.

To help you remember what you bought, you are given a little card with the name of the cheese, the price and it's flavour.  Very helpful for my next visit.

The shop also sells wine, cured and cold meats, breads, chutneys, tea and coffee.

So if you are ever in South East London, I recommend you drop by Good Taste Food and Drink and sample some of their delights.  Actually, why not make a special trip down, you won't be disappointed.

More information on Good Taste Food and Drink can be found on their facebook page.

Monday, 27 June 2011

I made a pavlova this weekend!

I know, it might not sound THAT amazing, but I haven't made a pavlova since I was about 15 years old with my mum standing there giving me instructions on how to do it.

It was surprisingly quick and easy to make the meringue mixture.  One of the things I remember from being a child is my mum making pavlova and then passing the egg beaters to me so that I could sit there and eat the raw meringue, most of which then ended up all over my face.

I used a trusted recipe from the Edmonds Cookery Book - a book that is in every household of NZ!  It makes me think of summer time in New it was fitting for this past lovely weekend we've had in London.


3 egg whites
1 teaspoon vinegar
3 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup caster sugar
3 teaspoons cornflour

Preheat oven to 150℃.  Using an electric mixer, beat eggs whites until stiff.  Add water and beat again.  Add sugar very gradually while still beating.  Slow beater and add vinegar, vanilla and cornflour.

Line an over tray with baking paper.  Draw a 22cm circle on the baking paper.  Spread the pavlova to within 2cm of the edge of the circle, keeping the shape as round and even as possible.  Smooth top surface over.

Bake pavlova for 45 minutes, then leave to cool in the oven.  Do not open the door during the cooking time.  Carefully lift pavlova onto a serving place.  Decorate with whipped cream and fresh fruit.


Friday, 24 June 2011

Are the British obessed with the weather?

View from my bedroom window
To quote my friend Emma on Twitter this morning:  #happyfriday can we have sunshine all weekend please? Also does the UK tweet more about the weather than anywhere else?

After reading this, I scrolled through my twitter updates and there were no less than six different people talking about the weather, all within the first hour of their working day.

So what did I do, even before I got out of bed?  I grabbed my trusty iPhone and looked at the BBC weather page.  Phew, now I know what everyone is talking about and I can join in the weather banter!

I'm slightly obsessed with it after living here in the UK for the past 9 years.  I also check first thing in the morning and then also before I go to sleep - just to mentally prepare myself!

There seems to be three things linked to the weather that people are updating us about this week.  Those interested in the tennis at Wimbledon and don't want to get soggy strawberries. The others going to Glastonbury and trying to decide if wellies or a small dingy is needed to keep dry.  

But most importantly there are those that are lucky enough to be going on holiday within the next week.  Yes, those great people that post up a link to a weather report stating 35 degree plus sunshine and blue skies at some Spanish beach, while the rest of us sit here in the UK, looking out our window and watch as four seasons in one day, flash before our eyes...

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Fancy biscuits?

My own cupcakes
Now I'm a cupcake kind of girl.  I love making them just as much as I like buying fancy ones from stores such as Hummingbird Bakery and Lola's Kitchen.  When I spotted a link from a Tatty Devine post on Facebook, my eyes lit up!

What a great idea!  These biscuits are absolutely adorable.  I can't wait for a birthday / special occasion so I can grab some. I think they are just gorgeous in all the colours and the designs they've come up with. 

How about a sewing kit, or tea for two?  I'm now also inspired to bake some myself...

Well done I just have to taste them!  ;)

Friday, 3 June 2011

Tatty Devine has made my Friday!

My goodies arrived from Tatty Devine this morning, thanks to a lovely post lady knocking on my door.

I absolutely LOVE the music note bracelet:

The cat bangle is for a friend and it's adorable!

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

June, really??

It seems this year has been slipping through my fingers oh so fast!

Honestly, it only felt like yesterday that I was sunning myself back in New Zealand for a long deserved summer holiday / Christmas break after not being back for 3 years.  All of a sudden, I find myself waking this morning to see the last day of May!

I feel like I'm missing something.  Am I late?  Have I forgotten something important?  Only time will tell!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

We love Tatty Devine!

Tatty Devine are having a bank holiday mega sale here in London this weekend.

Not only are they having the sale in their store, but they have been tweeting and facebooking all day too! They are constantly updating their website too!

The use of social media today is fantastic. Being completely hungover after a girls night on the wine last night has meant that I can go online shopping and get some fantastic jewellery.

So far I have bought this for my friends birthday next month:

And this cute bracelet for me. It's usually £45 and I got it for £15!! Bargain!

No doubt I'll be keeping an eye on their website and twitter tomorrow too... Tatty Devine on twitter

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

On the last May bank holiday we were lucky enough to get a reservation (that I booked back in March) at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.  This quite new restaurant is located in the Mandarin Oriental hotel in London.

The location is wonderful and the entrance to the hotel as grand as you'd expect from a 5 star hotel.  

We arrived a little early so were seated at the bar where we ordered a couple of Asahi beers, served in chilled glasses and bar snacks.
Just after midday we were taken through to our table and to my delight, we were seated overlooking Hyde Park.  The restaurant is very modern with minimal furnishings and enough light so that you can enjoy it, but it is still intimate.  One thing we noticed straight away was the light fittings on the walls were made of the same shape as old jelly moulds.

The staff are extremely attentive and are quick to get you water and take any drink orders as they explained the specials and recommendations.  While they bring you breads to nibble on, you look through the menu and it brings a smile to your face.

Not to be mistaken with the Fat Duck, Heston has taken recipes from 1500's through to the 1800's and recreated them for his menu.

To start:
I opted for the Fruit Meat (c.1500).  A "mandarin" but filled with a rich velvety chicken live parfait, served with grilled bread.  I absolutely loved it!  Not only did it look fantastic, but tasted wonderful.

My boyfriend had the Salamagundy (c.1720), which is chicken oysters, bone marrow in a salad and served with a horseradish cream.  Bone marrow is not my cup of tea, but the chicken was extremely moist and very tasty.

The main act:
Now the Sommelier comes along and helps you choose an amazing wine to compliment your main dish.  As I was having duck, I had help choosing a lovely rose wine and my boyfriend a red to go with his steak.  This is where the money comes into the equation.  The wine list is huge but very expensive.  Since this was a lunch setting, we though a glass of wine each would suffice.

My Powdered Duck (c.1670), was served with smoked fennel and a smooth potato puree.  It also came with a rich duck sauce.  Again, this tasted amazing.  The duck was extremely rich as was the potato puree and it all went together so well!

My boyfriend was in a steak mood, so indulged in the Sirloin of Black Angus (c.1830), with mushroom ketchup, red wine juice and Heston's famous triple cooked chips.  I was amazed at the intense flavour in the mushroom ketchup and the chips were fluffy on the inside of a crispy shell.


To finish us off:
I usually can't find room for dessert, but it's not often we get a chance to go to a restaurant with such amazing food.  We also indulged in a dessert wine each, which mated the food perfectly.  I was so glad when the waiter put this infront of me, my face just lit up!

Taffety Tart (c.1660) with crystallised rose petals, fennel crumb topping, and lemon and blackcurrant sorbet.  The main ingredient in the tart was a deliciously dense apple filling.  As you can see, it was beautiful! 

 I'm sure my boyfriend ordered the most rich sounding dessert on the menu, the chocolate bar (c.1730).  This is filled with passion fruit jam and served with a ginger ice cream, which we think had hints of clove in it.  It was like an extremely decadent mars bar!

We finished with coffee and also another sweet ganache they bring to you with a cardamom flavoured shortbread 'dipper'.

The entire experience was brilliant.  It's what you expect from a high end restaurant.  The service was really lovely and helpful, but without being intrusive while you sat and enjoyed the food.

£182 for both of us, which given how great everything was, seems reasonable to me.  If you are in London and want to do something special, I recommend dining here...but book now, tables can be all booked up months in advance.  Enjoy!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Music makes me happy

I'm playing at my friends little music festival in September. Think small country camp site, 100 of your good mates, bonfires, booze, DJ's / music and MUCH fun!

I just HAVE to play this tune. It just makes me think of summer and loveliness!

And maybe a version of this:

I love kitsch jewellery!

I found such a cute thing on eBay today.  I might buy it because it's just cute, silly and makes me think of summer time!

Lemon slushie cocktail anyone?

I already own these: it's always good to keep an eye out for more to add to the collection!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Why don't dresses just fit properly?

I bought a very respectable dress for my cousins wedding in mid July. I saw it online, thought it was pretty and it arrived today.

Now I've been doing exercise and stuff for the past 6 months and without trying TOO hard, have managed to lose a dress size (and a half here and there).

Now this dress is great, but VERY tight and some serious tummy issues need to be sorted out.

Do I a) keep this size and try and lose more weight in the next 2 months, or b) get the next size up and try and find someone to take it in a bit for me?

Decisions, decisions!!

New at this!

So I decided to start a blog, join the masses and basically put my thoughts up online.

And why shouldn't I?  Everyone else seems to be doing it, be it about fashion, music or what they ate for dinner last night.  It's a full fat version of twitter and facebook status updates.  Read more here, if you want to know what time I drank my coffee this morning and whether or not it's raining outside etc.

I'm sure this blog will include all of the above, plus a lot more.  Maybe I'll write about food, clothes, music...what food I ate whilst listening to a great tune!  So many combinations out there!

All in the name of fun, of course.