Food, Fun

Make My Magnum

Today I made and ate my very own Magnum, and if you’re anywhere near London you can have yours too. IMG_20140714_175750

Selfridges latest popup hosts Magnum in celebration of their 25th birthday – and they know how to celebrate in style. Magnum fans will have seen the gold and silver limited editions in supermarkets, but you get that bit more from the magnum experience at Selfridges, which is oh so bespoke.
You choose your ice cream flavour, your type of chocolate, your toppings, and even the colour of Magnum’s signature ‘M’ which is placed on your ice cream delight like the cherry on a cake.

IMG_20140714_175210So what are you waiting for? Oh, yes, you’re in the queue. The inevitable popularity of designing one’s own Magnum, particularly amongst tourists, has resulted in quite a wait for your dessert. After around a fifteen minute delay I started to wonder whether the experience would be a bit like a theme park: queuing for what seems like forever only for the ride to be over in a flash. I feared that it wouldn’t be worth waiting for. But I was wrong. As soon as it was my turn to choose which toppings would adorn my creation, I felt a child-like excitement wash over me.

IMG_20140714_180150I chose crushed meringue, hazelnuts and rose petals as my toppings over a dark chocolate covered vanilla base, and it was divine (even if the rose petals did look more interesting than they tasted). My regression to childhood seemed to continue as I managed not only to get chocolate round my mouth as I devoured the treat, but in single-minded  delight lost track of my sticky, chocolaty hands which proceeded to touch my trousers.

So I made a mess, but overall I loved my ice cream making experience. Next time though I’d be sure to take a friend to make the queuing fun and to tell me where the chocolate is on my face before I get strange looks on the street. And if the mark on my trousers decides to stain I shall just have to think of it as a souvenir of my very own Magnum… and a reminder that until the end of August I can go and get another one.

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‘Make My Magnum’ costs £4.50 and is around until Sat 30th Aug 2014

 

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Food, Fun

Brockley Market – a new favourite

brockley market logoThis weekend my love of food markets took me to Brockley Market in Lewisham. I’ve been meaning to go for some weeks now and I’m very glad I finally did.

Brockley Market is a mix of delights with both lunch made in front of your eyes, and farmers produce that you can take home and enjoy. Mike + Ollie’s flatbreads filled with lamb, veg or mackerel (with a focus on foraged foods) were an exciting offering I’d read about in advance,  but it was the quality of every stall there that made it a really worthwhile visit. Some of the ‘stop and eat now’ options included meatball calzone, schnitzel, and a smoked salmon and cream cheese bun. The latter of these was particularly exciting as the fish was taken out of a smoker right in front if your eyes, and the deep red salmon smoked with beetroot, fennel and juniper was a sight to see. I couldn’t resist trying this, so The Greenwich Little Smokery got my lunch money, and much deservedly – it was delicious.IMG_20130831_122642 This is also a stall that crosses into the realm of ‘take me home’ goods, as a variety of freshly smoked fish was on offer in whatever amount might take your fancy. Other stalls of this type include those selling breads of many sorts, pork pies and similar pastry based goods, cheeses, meats, fruit and veg, and baked goods.

Out of these it is the meat that stuck in my memory. An array of venison – diced, sausage or steak – sat next to portioned up or whole rabbit. I already know I love venison, and these looked like fantastic cuts, and my food curiosity is now burning to try rabbit too.

IMG_20130831_122526On this sunny day the market was busy and bustling and free places to perch to enjoy your lunch were snatched up very quickly. The overall effect of this was a great atmosphere, despite the queues. And the rich and famous aren’t adverse to queuing for these goodies either; Millie Mackintosh (best known from Made in Chelsea) apologised as her dog sat on my foot as she stood in the queue behind me for the salmon, meanwhile her fiance Professor Green waited to purchase a range of breads and was holding a bag full of meat in prep for the barbecue they were having later. I get the impression that Millie and Green come to the market often as Millie pointed a friend who with them to the other side of the market: “right by that red tent, you can usually get a drink over there”.IMG_20130831_122435 (I know it’s rude to eavesdrop, but I think overhearing a conversation between fellow food market lovers is allowed).

I wasn’t going straight home after this truly delightful food market experience so I didn’t pick up any smoked fish for the fridge or juicy meat for the oven, but there is no doubt about it that in the next couple of weeks I’ll pop back to Lewisham on a Saturday and some beautiful looking diced venison will make its way into what will be a lovingly crafted pie.

What a lovely day to have visited such a bountiful market for the first time – and what will be the first time of many.

mike and ollie flatbreads

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Fashion, Fun

A December delight that’s seen me through to summer

DSC01917Last December I decided to trade in the usual chocolate or picture (usually chocolate) advent calendar, and instead gifted myself with a calendar packed full to the brim with nail varnish.  As soon as this offering from Ciate caught my eye there was no going back, I had to have it – a new colour every day – what could be more exciting? And it certainly didn’t disappoint. Not only was there a wide range of mini nail varnish colours (and the bottles not as tiny as you might think), but Ciate had also included a variety of their Caviar Mirco Pearls. DSC01922

The colours weren’t all winter themed either. Yes, there was a very sparkly red, which I wore for Christmas day, but there were colours to transcend all seasons. What I also love about the range provided, is that someone could keep up with nail colour trends throughout the coming year if they wished to as well, such was the potential of this selection.

I think, though, that I have come up with a favourite. Perhaps it is the summer sun that has influenced my decision, but I can’t get enough of a coral tone called Speed Dial. I’ve been wearing it on my toes since the weather started dictating sandals, and whilst I’ve picked other colours occasionally, I always seem end up back at this one. It’s true that come winter I might revert back to a much loved deep red from Jessica, but for now Speed Dial is the go to shade for me. 

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It was a while until I tried out the Caviar Mirco Pearls, and when I did delve in, I painted both mine and a friend’s nails, which made for a fun and exciting experiment; and I did think the results looked great: really exciting and different.aman & holly nails However, these were let down on longevity. They would catch on things easily and ping off, and many just rubbed off while sleeping. I think I could engineer slightly better staying power with a thicker coat before sprinkling on the pearls, and pushing them down with more conviction to embed them further, but I don’t think they’ll ever be a particularly practical option. But then again, I don’t think they were designed with that in mind – they were designed for fun and unique nails, and this they most definitely achieve. 

I’m chuffed to still be enjoying last year’s advent over 7 months on, how can next December possibly match up?!
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Food, Fun

My love for Southbank

IMG_20130825_142817For the second weekend running I’m wandering around the Southbank Centre and the Real Food Market near Waterloo. They just can’t keep me away, especially over the summer when the Southbank Centre is stuffed with free events. Seven days ago it was Pelourinho weekend and today it’s a village fair, not to mention Beano Town, a popup that’s been lasting the length of school holidays. Pelourinho weekend consisted of bright costumes, dancing and drumming, whilst this weekend has a calmer feel with arts and crafts stalls, most of which are full of children and adults having a go at making bracelets or designing cards.

However, it is the weekly draw of the Real Food Market which means I can never turn a trip to Southbank down. Today my lunch was a pumpkin and cheese strudel from a stall called Karantania, this tasted incredible.IMG_20130825_144016 In the past I’ve had hog roast, cheesecake, burgers, various salads, Indian street food, ice creams, and I’m not sure that’s even the complete list. It certainly isn’t the complete list of what’s on offer here. There’s every type of wrap you can imagine – a lamb and chickpea version is the one that appeals to me most – as well as crepes; bruschetta; bread, cheese and fruit stalls; cakes and brownies; chorizo; Japanese gyoza; and that’s just off the top of my head!

My love for the Real Food Market has also made me want to discover others across London. I’m excited to visit Brockley market in Lewisham (my planned trip yesterday was rained off, in a relentless downpour kind of way), as well as Exmouth market. I’ve been to Borough market many times and, despite how packed it often is, I like it very much. Chelsea food market has some lovely stalls too.

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I don’t know precisely what it is that I love so much about a food market. Perhaps it’s the smells and the huge variety of types of food. Perhaps it’s the delicious samples that get thrust your way. Perhaps it’s just my fascination with food in general. But either way, if I can fit a forage at a food market into my plans, that constitutes a fun day out for me.

I often follow my Southbank wanderings with a walk along Embankment – another reason I can’t resist this area: the atmosphere. And as I am currently occupying one of few chairs for people to perch on as they indulge in their purchases I should probably get on the move. Stomach full and senses satisfied – thank you Southbank.

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Food, Fun

Popups passing me by

London is a city of popups. Whether these be art exhibitions, roof top cinemas or retro gaming. Yet it’s the food, cafe and restaurant popups that I follow religiously. Now I say ‘follow’, which might sound a bit peculiar when one considers that these are one off events, but I can spend hours deciding which I’d like to go next. So here’s the sad bit, I’ve never been.

Yes, I’m regularly found at street and food markets, however committing my money to these often pricey popup eating events feels far less natural to me. I think it’s usually the cost that’s the biggest bug bear. That’s not to say that the inspiring menus, often accompanied by entertainment or cuisine themed decor, wouldn’t be worth paying for – I’m sure they would. The real issue is, which one would I pick? They all look great! Ok, so in reality I’d have to choose something in my price range, but where do I set that for a one a off experience? As you can tell, it’s half wanting to splash out, yet at the same time reminding myself that it’s not the sensible thing for a humble student to do, which has prevented me thus far from attending one of these days or nights of creatively mastered indulgence.

grub club

My favourite website for browsing the latest unique food popup events is Grub Club. They work with the chefs whos events they feature, helping with organisation and finding venues. Reading through what they have on offer always has my mouth watering. The latest event that has caught my eye is H.M.S Plate and Skaker Docked in Bermuda, in which not only are you served cocktails and food to match, but taught how to make each cocktail as well.

the hangover club presents good eggThis type of one off dining experience is alongside as their more regular events such as The Hangover Club presents The Good Egg serving breakfast/brunch. At £8 it’s not too expensive for a meal out, especially if you’re used to London prices, and the description of breakfast burritos, exotic shakshuka and healthy egg white omelettes with a long list of detox and re-tox beverages appeals to me, but I think what I’m looking for with this one is an excuse to go. The morning after I celebrate my 21st perhaps, that could do nicely, lets just hope it’s still running come November!

Christabel's mad hatter brunch partyChristabel’s Mad Hatter’s Brunch Party is another that I can’t wait to get some friends together for. Sad to have missed August’s offering, perhaps I can catch the one on 15th September. This Alice in Wonderland inspired tea party looks quirky, cute and fun – I want ‘brunch fit for a king and a mad hatters cocktail!’

But reems of these popups come and go, passing me by; so far I’m missing out on experiencing all those culinary delights! And so there it is, the popup bites back – do it now or you might regret it later!

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Fun

A great night out… sober.

What counts as a great night out? For many, a bar or night club might spring to mind. But what if there was another perk of your early twenties beyond partying stamina and being of a socially acceptable age to frequent many forms of night life. What if there was a way to have a great evening out and not wake up in the morning with a hangover. What if you took that fiver reserved for club entry and went to the theatre.

National Theatre’s pop-up, The Shed

At the start of my second year of university in London I decided that I would make more of this city. After all, if you’re forced on a daily basis to negate your student bubble when standing in the armpit of a commuter on the tube, you may as well laugh to yourself in the theatre when the man next to you grasps a ticket on which it says that he paid forty-five pounds more than you did. So, having established that with a National Theatre Entry Pass this evening will be affordable, it’s about time I said how enjoyable it is too.

I can’t deny that, when pouncing on the release of cheap theatre tickets, one has to take a punt as to what sort of show they might be signing up for, but in my experience, it’s a gamble worth taking. The first performance I saw was one called People. It was a simple production about the future of a stately home and the aged occupants, but it was full of wit and humour and great acting. I emerged from the theatre beaming, already primed for my next visit.

The Magistrate

Following this, I saw some better known plays – The Magistrate and One Man Two Governors. Of the latter all I can say is that you have to see it for yourself.  Yet, it was the most recent and smallest of productions I’ve seen, a play called Table showing at the National Theatre’s The Shed, which had me raving. It was an intimate venue and a heart-felt play. I laughed and I cried, which is quite something for someone who a year ago would barley chuckle at the TV. It was an evening out that I certainly won’t forget, which stands as quite a stark contrast to a drink fuelled clubbing experience.

Perhaps some people favour the drunken night out as a way to lose themselves, but one can still most definitely get lost in the theatre. It is a different way of relaxing, but without doubt a fantastic one. Of course, if you still fancied a drink to wind down with beforehand, there’s many a ‘happy hour’ along Southbank – Las Iguanas two-for-one cocktails are always a winner for me. But in truth, I’m yet to see a play that needs it; I always have a great night without. So it suffices to say, if making more of London is on your to do list, I would highly recommend the theatre as a excellent place to start.

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Food, Fun

In search of a catch up Cafe destination that isn’t Costa

Having lived in London for two years now, I feel that meeting a friend for a catch up in a mediocre coffee chain just won’t do. In search of something a little more individual a list of must visits have emerged. Labi deliThe Labi Deli near Fulham Broadway (west London) caught my eye right away. The gallery of cakes, coffees and lunches, as well as the shop front had me interested, and the menus had me sold. On this warm summer’s day I’m craving the Raspberry and Lemonade or the Paradiso smoothie, a mixture of pineapple, coconut and passion fruit.

My second curiousity falls with J + A Cafe in Sutton Lane, hidden away in between Farringdon and Barbican tube stations. The food here looks pretty pricey for a student, but that’s not to say there’s not things I would eat. Plus, the tucked away nature of this Cafe makes it all the more intriguing. You’ll find me there sipping a pear & elderflower soon.

If I was venturing further north in London, I would, without doubt, frequent Highness Cafe & Tea room. Time Out users are aghast that Time Out itself gave the place anything less than five stars. The cakes here look delicious and I can’t wait for an opportunity to try one.

Other’s that have drawn my attention include Morena Bakery -who wouldn’t want to sample the goodies on a menu that looks like this!Morena bakery menu

 

Also, Cocomaya – a chocolate shop, come bakery, come cafe (depending on which one you visit) – is said to be a nice place for lunch; I’m sure I’d probably make a cheeky purchase of some chocolates too. Alternatively, in the Clapham area, Birdhouse Cafe Battersea is said by some to be achieving close to cafe perfection – quite a claim! Fleet River Cafe, near Holburn, could also be a hit as it has wifi, so I could spend many an hour there if it’s as nice as I hope it is! And if I can find it, I’d like to make a visit to Candid Cafe nestled somewhere near Angel, which sounds like the perfect place to escape.

So, lunch, drinks and cakes anyone?

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