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Monday, 30 December 2013

I'm going to Canada!

I sadly haven't been able to update as much as usual, this is due to a combination of family bonding time/Christmas festivities and a skiing trip. On which note I'd like to announce some news! Next year, starting around August I will be living and studying in Canada; more specifically in Hamilton, Ontario which is just outside of Toronto. I've secured a place at McMaster University and I'll be living there for the next year. Obviously this will bring some huge changes to my life; I've lived in Canada before, but only for a period of 6 weeks, this is clearly a much longer commitment. It's safe to say I'm ridiculously excited about living in Canada- maple syrup, ice hockey and moose's (moose...meese...I don't know). Whilst I'm out there I'm hoping to travel around a bit when possible, I'd love to visit Labrador, Montreal and of course go back to Whistler! The other exciting thing I have planned is the potential for an American road trip over the summer. Although this is ADVANCED planning to the max and I always advise people not to plan too much in the future... I'm really passionate about this road trip and it's something I've always been interested in doing (see previous posts)! Anyway, I'd love to know if anyone has any comments about living in Canada or living abroad in general. If you've been to Canada; where did you visit? The foodie in me would also like to know of any brilliant restaurants in Toronto...? This is going to be wonderful eh.

Monday, 23 December 2013


After recently returning from a week skiing in Les Arcs and excited by the prospect of spending next winter in Canada (oh I'm living there next year by the way), I've decided to dedicate a post to my love of skiing and where the next go-to destination could be... And I decided on Iran. I'm sure you're all probably shaking your heads in disbelief and muttering 'oh she's finally gone crazy', but the quality of skiing in Iran is one of the country’s best kept secrets. As great as VT and LA are (who doesn't love a beer swishing après), Iran as a skiing destination represents something a little more exotic and fresh for keen skiers and boarders. The Alborz Mountains boast a quiet landscape of snowy peaks, far from the crushing queues and angry locals in the Alps. The resorts themselves are apparently much more Western than one might expect, with Austrian style chalets and house music pumping from outdoor stages, starkly contrasting to the transfer through Tehran.  This is to be expected however, as skiing in these regions is much more available to the small group of wealthy elites. Dizin is one of the largest ski resorts of the area and reviews suggest that the off-piste skiing is some of the best available worldwide, if you're looking for more of a challenge. Other than that, there is a surprising amount and variation of runs for your more average skier, so if you're not into fresh pow off the side of a cliff then you're good to go. Despite gender segregated lift lines and a strict ban on booze (sorry no jagerbombs), dedicated skiers should flock to Iran before everyone else does. 

Tuesday, 10 December 2013


This year, for a slightly 'alternative' Christmas meal, me and some friends from my university course decided to go to a local restaurant in Leeds. Oranaise is a North African restaurant, specialising in Moroccan style tagines, cous cous dishes and mezze platters. The decor is gorgeous and emulates a very North African feel though it's decorative use of patterned lanterns, gold fringed cushions and warm candles. Me and a friend ordered a pot of traditional Moroccan mint tea, flavoured with honey, cinnamon and blossom water; this for some is quite a sweet tea, so order without the honey if you don't have such a sweet tooth. The menu has so much to choose from and many of us were tempted by tapas starters, hummus, falafel and tzatziki platters. In the end, we all ordered a variety of tagines; the overall response of which was mixed. My tagine was a 'Dolma'; flavoured with aubergine, mince, chickpeas and green peppers. It had layers of cumin and lemon, served with a few slices of homemade bread and the portion size was just enough. Overall, the spicy and tangy flavours were well mixed, however the meat was slightly too salty and I wasn't entirely sure it complemented the dish. Another friends meal had what I can only decribe as 'would you like any tagine with those olives?' which safe to say, when cooked, were overly briny and 'mushy'. The chicken tagines in general were lacking flavour and spice, which is a shame considering how well the lamb and vegetable tagines were received. If I were to visit in the future, I would stick to the traditional, house special tagines as these seem to be the more authentically flavoured and well-practiced dishes. Also, this style of food definitely doesn't appeal to everyone, but I would recommend trying it out at least, you might find you have a soft spot for chermoula!

Saturday, 7 December 2013


Doesn't look like much, but tastes like Austria. Austria tastes good.
Christmas, and winter in general for me is synonymous with skiing, I used to travel every year to Austria and therefore I get a certain sense of nostalgia for everything a bit Austrian and snowy. I'm a little bit in love with Austrian cuisine aswell, favourites including marzipan laden stollen, chocolate covered lebkuchen and goulash soup. I believe that traditional mountain food needs to be; filling, warming and packed with energy. Trust me I spent a couple of weeks skiing with squished cheese sandwiches in my pockets in 2012; it's important to have a proper meal! It is with this all in mind I present to you the students version of a mountain meal, a comforting, calorie packed pasta dish, perfect for a frosty day- or if you can ever be bothered to cook after a day’s skiing! Nigella's version of this uses pancetta, vermouth and banana shallots, I will be using bacon and red onion (if you have any leftover white wine from a night out go ahead and use this too- Lambrini however is not acceptable). Firstly, pre heat the oven to around 200 on fan. Cut around 200g of potatoes into cubes and add to a pan of boiling salted water. Let these bubble for around 5 mins then add around 200g of your choice of pasta and cook for around 10 mins. Meanwhile, heat garlic oil in a pan; fry 2-3 rashers of chopped bacon with a teaspoon of dried thyme. Cook for 5 mins then add half a chopped red onion. Cook these together until the bacon is crisping up and the onion softens. Take the pan off the heat and add your optional 50ml of white wine and 100ml of double cream; stir this well together. Maybe add some grated nutmeg too, it's up to you, I'm not the boss of you. Drain the pasta and potatoes and pour the creamy bacon mix in with the potatoes into an ovenproof dish. Add plenty of grated cheese (I used cheddar but you can use something fancier if you wish). Pop this in the oven for around 20 mins and enjoy straight out of the pan.

P.s. this will make enough for 2 students, or one hungry one. 

Friday, 29 November 2013


Yes, I realise that these are all European Christmas markets...but when I think of a traditional and quintessential Christmas market, I think Europe. I imagine snow, mulled wine, roast meats and twinkling lights- not to say other continents don't have these things, I just have a certain nostalgia for Euro-style festive markets. In fact, I believe these few examples demonstrate that no one does Christmas better than Europe. 


Copenhagen's well known Christmas market is located in Tivoli Gardens amusement park. The market is split into sections; where the theme transitions from Nordic village into Russian fairytale. There are over 50 stalls complemented by a number of rides and amusements, stereotypical of a Christmas market. Tivoli's Russian theme is strongly presented, accentuated by the presence of a Russian Father Christmas and a mock St-Basil's Cathedral. Tivoli is a must for anyone willing to brave the cold of Denmark, but not yet brave enough for the real Moscow.  


Again located in an amusement park (a common Scandinavian theme), Liseberg in Gothenburg is Scandinavia’s largest Christmas market. The market is studded with over 5 million sparkling lights and decorated with hundreds of Christmas trees. Wooden huts sell a variety of Christmas treats, from marzipan pigs to roast reindeer! The market's scale means that there is even room for a special exhibition currently being held on the 1930's. Liseberg is a much more traditional Christmas market, offering delicious local food and a stunning setting to bring in the doe-eyed Christmas fanatics. 


The U.K is littered with pseudo-German Christmas markets at the moment, there seems to be a rising fever for German style food and hospitality. The Christmas market in Leeds already has a 2-3 hour queue at rush hours just to enter the famous and jolly sounding 'beer tent'. Striezelmarkt in Dresden offers the real thing. This is one of the world's oldest Christmas markets dating back to the 15th century. Offering countless stalls of German arts and crafts from the Ore Mountains and beyond, there is a certain sense of mysticism and fantasy here. To top it all off, they parade a 3 tonne stollen around the streets- is anyone else sold on this place?! 

Tuesday, 19 November 2013


Trinity Kitchen is everything you expect a street food canteen to be like; extremely busy and wildly overpriced. However, that is not to say I didn't enjoy my food. I had a Chicago Rib Shack Cajun Chicken Burger with a light cajun mayo. To my mind, it was standard street food, in a canteen setting; comfortable flavours that were enough to fill you up and continue on with the day. In all honesty, I'd wish I'd been a bit more experimental and gone for an interesting looking pork belly dish that was wafting from the inside of a converted caravan. Other alternatives included Vietnamese Londoner-favourite- Pho, or Mexican canteen classic- Tortilla. The local Marvellous Tea Dance Company, which I have visited on separate occasions, also had a stall in Trinity Kitchen (although I would say the original is much cuter and homlier than the Trinity stall). Saying all of this however, the unique selling point of Trinity Kitchen is it's high turnover. By which I mean, old street food stalls become replaced my new ones on a monthly basis or so, thus revitalising the kitchen and keeping it's appeal fresh and current. The new street food stalls that have just arrived include a yummy looking veggie/vegan place called 'Fresh Rootz' and celebrated burgers n' wings specialists 'The Mobile Diner'. It appears that if there isn't something you like the first time, there's a chance whatever comes round next month might appeal to you more (she say's looking at the Fresh Rootz menu and nodding persistently). My experience with the Chicago Rib Shack was 'meh' overall, but I hope that when I visit Trinity Kitchen again, the food will live up to the every so hyped up expectation. 

Sunday, 17 November 2013


If you're like me, then you've probably already started celebrating Christmas; watching soppy Christmas films, squealing at mulled wine in Christmas markets and of course- baking festive treats. This week, under the spell of an eggnog latte and an impulse buy of angel wings, I decided it was a good time to bake gingerbread. Last year my gingerbread came in loaf form, a very traditional ginger sponge cake almost. This year, I went back to cookie cutters. This recipe is a Vanilli adaptation and is not for those who have a certain aversion to spice. Using fresh chillies and A LOT of fresh ginger, these crunchy gingerbreads certainly do pack a punch (more like a hard kick in the face). 

Firstly mix together your spices; 80g or so of fresh grated ginger, half a chopped red chilli, 12g of ground ginger, 5g of ground nutmeg, 5g of ground cinnamon, 5g of ground cloves and 2g of ground cardamom seeds along with a crack of black pepper. In a bowl, mix one egg with one egg yolk and set aside. In a large bowl, beat 200g of unsalted butter with 200g of brown sugar and 115g of golden syrup. Add the beaten eggs and combine everything together- finally add the spices. Mix in 560g of flour, with 1/4 tsp of bicarb of soda and 4g of fine salt. Mix it altogether until it becomes dough-like, shape it into a ball, wrap in cling film and put into the fridge to refrigerate for 20mins. 

Preheat the oven to 180 on fan. Once the dough has come out of the fridge and warmed to room temperature, roll it out to 1cm thickness on a well floured surface (flour the rolling pin as well). Cut out your gingerbread cookies using cookie cutters of your choice and bake in the oven on a lined/greased baking tray for 15mins. They should come out looking golden brown and crisp, leave 10mins or so to cool. 

Warning: this will make enough cookies to feed an army. 

P.S Novelty dinosaur cookie cutter is optional. But the Christmas-ier the better!

Saturday, 2 November 2013


Only 363 days to next Halloween guys! So in preparation, here's what I made this year. A gruesome concoction of red velvet cupcakes, moulded to look rather (anatomically incorrect as I'm informed) like beating bloody hearts. These were inspired by the wonderful Lily Vanilli, who has a whole recipe book devoted to Halloween themed bakes; although I would hazard that mine aren't as pretty as hers. The main gist of the cupcakes are to bake a batch of red velvet (recipe below), then wrap them in red fondant. I would recommend buying plenty of fondant as you get through a surprising amount- we had two packets and just about stretched it enough to cover 8 cupcakes, at least 500g. To be honest, I would love to tell you how to sculpt the hearts, but it's mostly a process of trial and error. Make sure you sprinkle plenty of icing sugar on the cakes and the work surfaces so they don't get too sticky and that should make it easier. The best way I found was to make an elongated rectangle/oval with the fondant, apply a bit of melted jam/frosting to the inside so it sticks and then pinch the top and the bottom ends of the fondant over the top of the cupcake, folding the rest over the sides and making sure the cake is completely covered. Don't worry if they look a bit...questionable, the folds and the creases will be part of the overall ew-ness when they are finished. Use any excess fondant on the top to form the arteries and just use as much artistic flare as possible! Apply some piping gel mixed with red food colouring (maybe hints of black food colouring as well) and brush the hearts over with a fine brush. Lastly, melt some jam- I used my homemade cherry jam and pour into the arteries to resemble blood! The chunks of cherry came especially handy in resembling blood clots. I was so happy with the overall result of these cakes and they make a wonderful centrepiece to any Halloween party! The recipe for the red velvet cupcakes is below:

the finished...bleugh
This recipe makes around 15 cupcakes. Preheat oven to 180 on fan. Sift together 325g of plain flour and 30g of cocoa powder or hot chocolate powder if you're feeling lazy. Cream 115g of unsalted butter with 280g of caster sugar until fluffy. Add 2 eggs and one and a half tablespoons of liquid food red colouring. Then beat until well mixed. Incorporate the wet mix into the dry, slowly adding 250ml of buttermilk. Lastly in a small bowl mix 1tsp of bicarb of soda with 1tsp of lemon juice- it should fizz up. Then fold this into the mixture. Divide into cupcake cases and bake for around 20 mins. Leave to cool before you ice them. 

P.S Piping gel and red food gel can be bought through Amazon! On another note; piping gel looks like some kind of costume make-up by itself. 

Monday, 21 October 2013


Again, I'm a bit late to promote this place as summer is already over and you're either thinking of winter holidays or thinking about earning back all the money you spent over summer. But, I'm here to plant the seed of summer plans early. Some of you may or may not have heard of the Dordogne region, as the Bordeaux region (it's nearby competetor) gets more of the tourists. But I would argue this landscape is equally as beautiful and the wine- equally as good. The Dordogne is a picturesque mash up of vineyards crisscrossed with rivers and dotted with chateaus. It's a perfect landscape for lazy summer relaxation.

There are plenty of cute little French villages all over the place, some, better than others. Sarlat, for example is a gorgeous little medevial town that has weekly markets. The food markets especially are not to miss. Imagine stalls and stalls of your best cheeses, Bergerac wine, huge piles of olives and tapenade, smoked sausages of various flavours, walnut and truffle oils and of course (what the Dordogne is well known for) more foie gras and duck fat than you could ever wish for. No really, no one ever needs that much foie gras.

Other gems include the historically magnificent La Roque Gageac and Bergerac itself, the latter of which when we visited was decorated with hundreds and hundreds of plastic flowers. The Dordogne is not just for lazy, wine drinkers (me), there are oppurtunities for the more active of us. For example, kayaking and canoeing are both popular activities to take part in on the river and can be done for short stretches or for MUCH longer 8 hour stretches. I even saw someone attempting paddle boarding along the Vezere at one point.

I would 100% reccomend this region for anyone, it's a much quieter and equally as pretty Bordeaux. In addition to this, the food delights are enough to tempt anyone to the Dordogne. Think Confit Duck, Sarlat-style potatoes (fried with lots of garlic and parsley) and fresh croissants from the boulangerie in the morning. Not only that but there is plenty of history with beautiful castles, chateaus and the world's oldest cave paintings found here. If the food stuff didn't already convince you that is.

Friday, 18 October 2013


I realise that I am a little late on the bandwagon regarding this place, but the truth is I completely forgot about writing about Shake Shack when I went (way back in august) as I jetted off to France and immersed myself in confit duck and wine the week after. Anyway, removing that hiccup from the picture, let's talk burgers. Shake Shack is the new gourmet fast food burger place to be imported from the USA (obviously). Its charm relies on good cooking, original flavour combos and an American canteen style charm. Although I would say the rules regarding seating in Covent Garden are very blurred when it comes to Shake Shack's location. Anyway onto food; I wouldn't necessary call myself a burger person, often the meat is too dry or the bun is too soggy, there's very little balance. 

Shake Shack however gets this balance just right. I went for the SmokeShack burger, a standard burger with yummy smoked bacon, pepper and a secret sauce. This is the kind of burger I like; simple with a perfect mix of smoky and sweet and any burger with applewood smoked bacon has a Chloe Brown approval stamp on it- just for future reference. I had this with some crinkled fries- not much to rave about there and strawberry lemonade (TO DIE FOR). Unfortunately I missed out on the Frozen Custard but I will definitely return once the weather warms up again; the vanilla jam mix looks utterly scrummy. Overall Shake Shack is probably one of the better gourmet burger joints that are sprouting up all over the country; are gourmet burgers the new salted caramel? I would definitely go again, it's burgers are reliable and it's frozen custard is tempting. 

Sunday, 13 October 2013


When I say homemade pizza, I'm kind of twisting your arm. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for bread-baking and fancy pizza making but now that I'm back at uni I'm looking at the cheaper way of doing things. The great thing about making home made pizza is that you can make your own base; from a traditional bread dough or you can use a ready made bread mix with a bit of oil and water and it essentially has the same effect. An even lazier (student friendly) way to 'make' your pizzas could use a naan or flatbread base for your toppings. We used a ready made bread mix and followed the instructions on the packet! (Remember to allow time for proving). The best bit about making pizza is choosing your toppings. We had a wide range of flavours in our household; sausagey pizzas, cajun chicken and sweet peppers, veggie-loaded and mozzarella and my personal choice: jerk chicken, buttered onions and cream cheese. Yup, those flavours work. Probably the next best thing about homemade pizza, apart from the mix of toppings you can pick, is the doughy base- which tastes just a bit thicker and softer than it would if you had ordered it from dominoes. I'm a huge advocator of home made dinners and if you can find a bit of time to swap your frozen pizza for a freshly made one, I would argue it's worth the swap.  Do you make homemade pizza? What's your topping combo?

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Why We Love ‘The Great British Bake Off’

On paper The Great British Bake off is just another cooking competition, focussing primarily on baked goods. So why do we love The Great British Bake off so much? And why does it stand out from other cooking shows? There is a certain something that makes the show so addictive to watch and in turn makes the Great British Bake Off one of the most anticipated TV shows of the year. So, what makes the Great British bake off special? I believe it’s due to a number of key ingredients (wink) that are original to the show.

First, you have the hosts, the delightful Mel and Sue; the providers of light humour and baking-themed innuendos- because who can’t resist a good innuendo? There’s the judges; steely eyed Paul, who you can count on to always say something mean and Mary, the fashionable 78-year old who’s signature ‘side bite’ spurred its own website. Then there is the element of disaster present in every episode; because who can really bake and construct a tower of biscuits successfully in a less than a four hour time constraint? And there is something dreadfully enjoyable about watching a perfectly baked cake get knocked to the floor. It’s possibly that we identify with these bakers; hands up if you’ve used salt instead of sugar, hands up if you’ve also had the dreaded... soggy bottom. But we also watch to marvel at the successful bakes and most importantly the intricate ‘showstopper’ bakes. From choux pastry bicycles to gingerbread barns, you watch to see what they’ll do next...I’m hoping for a ‘space-ninja’ sourdough loaf. But not only does it look good, but you know it tastes good, and Mary Berry’s satisfied smile only confirms this.

Lastly, there’s the oh-so-very Britishness of the show! There’s the union-jack studded tent, British-baking themed history sessions and the fact that the contestants spend equal amounts of time looking concerned/confused with mugs of tea as they do baking. All in all, the Great British Bake Off is exactly what it advertises itself as and its constant success at home (and overseas) only proves our obsession with baking. Not only this, but former contestant James Morton has appealed to students with the creation of The Great-British bake off drinking game, which I will most definitely be playing when the finale airs. 

Saturday, 28 September 2013


Portofino is mostly known for its regular celebrity sightings and picturesque harbour setting but despite its quaint and traditional look, it doesn't rate as a popular Italian destination. The top Italian destinations include the usual suspects; Rome, Venice and Florence. All of these places are beautiful destinations, but in order to escape the tourist-y feel, the queues and the tacky leaning tower of Pisa toys, Portofino could be your next Italian holiday destination. This town on the Italian Rivera is still popular during the summer months but offers a touch more charm as the harbour fills up with yachts and the designer boutiques start to open. Portofino is Genoa's answer to Capri just off the coast of Naples.  It's places like this that I could easily spend the day lazily wandering around, only stopping for lunch and dinner. Visiting this area is definitely an investment and a costly one if you wish to stay in a VIP-style hotel, but for those looking to save a bit, there are plenty of camping sites along the coast and the nearby cities of Genoa and La Spezia offer similar experiences. 

Tuesday, 24 September 2013


The most wondrous thing about these little bites are that as opposed to regular fried doughnuts, these ones are baked. I personally find frying things in a deep pan of scolding oil to be a bit scary (I don't own a deep fat fryer) so baking is an ideal alternative. As we are coming into the autumn/winter months, a warm plate of these with a mug of buttered hot cider is a perfect warming treat. The recipe is an adapted Lily Vanilli, a new favourite artisan baker of mine. I've been experimenting with her bakes a lot and I like how she uses seasonal vegetables as a healthy substitute in some of her cakes, if you're looking for a quirky recipe book for Christmas; definitely check out 'Sweet Tooth'.


A night before making the doughnuts, core and peel 2 cooking apples and cut them into small chunks. Soak them in 250ml of cider overnight with star anise. The next day...pre-heat oven to around 180 on fan. Mix 180g of flour with 2 tsps of baking powder and 65g of light brown sugar, a dash of sea salt and half a teaspoon of ground nutmeg. Rub 75g of refrigerated cubed butter into the flour mix to make a light breadcrumb texture. Drain the apples and leave them to dry on some kitchen roll. Meanwhile, mix 1 egg with 60ml of milk. Fold this into the breadcrumbs until a wet mix, then add the apple chunks and mix well. Place little blobs of batter into a mini muffin tray (should make about 12) and bake in the oven for 20 min. While baking, melt 100g of butter in a bowl and mix 100g of sugar with a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon. When the doughnuts are ready, let them cool for 10 mins before removing from the tray. Then coat them in butter and roll them in the sugar mix. Don't hesitate with the amount of butter!

Thursday, 19 September 2013




Walking past La Paradeta, you would barely notice it, or if you did, possibly mistake it for a fish market. This seafood based restaurant is a favourite among locals and we only heard about it through a mutual friend living in Barcelona. The seafood is fresh and varies depending on the catch of the day, ranging from tuna to heaps of clams and huge lobsters. The seafood is cooked as it is, sometimes with a brush of garlic and butter, served with bread and cheap wine. The seafood is some of the best I've ever eaten and the restaurant relies on it's quality produce and local customers. It is clearly not aimed for tourists, considering it's location and plastic-kitchen decour and despite ordering in broken Spanish, the food and atomosphere were both an amazing experience.


A completely opposite experience, Sky Bar offers traditional Austrian cuisine smartened up a bit overlooking the steeples of St. Stephens Cathedral. We ordered sachertorte (a personal favourite) and a slice of apple strudel (another must have). Both were gorgeous and reasonably priced; although you are paying a little extra for the view. There are plenty of places to go for a decent dessert in Vienna but this is a must for anyone looking for a classic Austrian cake or pastry.


Oderquelle was one of my favourite restaurants in terms of location. Prenzlaur Berg, where Oderquelle is situated, is a very relaxed, friendly neighbourhood with plenty of appetising looking restaurants and cafes along the main streets. We sat outside in the summer sun, next to a number of chic-looking couples mingled with local families and friends. Our dishes were well-cooked with a homemade feel to them, ranging from roast poussin with romanesco broccoli, beef stew with dumplings and a cherry tomato risotto.

Friday, 13 September 2013


To correspond with my 'Cheap Eats of Europe', I feel it necessary to include how I actually survived the majority of interrailing. With interrailing, you're very much on the go all the time, which in effect, uses up a lot of energy. Street food and local snacks provided a lot of this energy and were the reason I was able to keep going throughout the day. Some traditional snacks, I wanted to try for the sake of it; specialist pastries for example. Others; such as slices of pizza in Venice, could pass as a genuine meal for the day, and mean that we could eat en-route to the Bridge of Sighs. My top 3 snackettes would be:


1) Belgian Waffles. Tried these in Antwerp from a street stall, better than any I've had in the UK. Covered in fresh cream and strawberries, you can't go wrong there.
2) Croquettes in Amsterdam. We went to a little deli that did every possible flavour croquette and filling available, then put it in a roll for you, was very nice. You can also get croquettes from vending machines (FEBO) as well as burgers and hotdogs and stuff. Nifty little invention. 
3) Sfogliatelle in Naples. Bit of a mouthful this one, but I always enjoy pastries of any sort. These yummy treats are thin layers of pastry with an almond custard filling. In New York, they are more commonly known as 'lobster tails'. Melt in the mouth. 

There were a few disapointing snacks as well, not every meal can be perfect after all. For example; lacklustre crepes in Paris made me miss my own homemade ones and the German currywurst was fine, but nothing to rave about. I've also had better churros in Disneyland... I would also reccomend pizza places in Italy that use the weight as an indiactor of price; these places are arguably more authentic and reasonably priced. 

p.s. Sachertorte is not really a snack but a must-try in Vienna. Plenty of places to try it; Cafe Sacher etc etc...The best place in AUSTRIA however is Cafe Elizabeth in Westendorf. I promise. 

Wednesday, 11 September 2013


In some ways, my reasons for going to Chengdu mirror my reasons for going to Osaka. In the sense that the main attraction is animal based (pandas), yet it is only the tip of the iceburg, representing a much larger country I would love to travel around. I single out Chengdu again because of the panda research facility, which I have always wanted to visit. I remember receiving a postcard from a family friend who'd visited and told us that baby pandas are quite heavy to carry. And who wouldn't want to visit baby pandas? Chengdu is famous nationally and internationally for this reason and the research facility attracts thousands of tourists each year. Chengdu is also becoming more accessible internationally- aiding to it's popularity, British Airways launched direct flights this year to the popular Sichuan city. In addition to pandas, there are a number of hiking and river sports activities in the surrounding area, for the sporty kind. Alternativley, there are a number of monestaries and holy sites to visit for those looking for a more cultural experience. My guess is that this city can only continue to grow with activity due to the influx of tourism and I hope to Chengdu before it overwhelms the original attraction.

Voted world's No1 cutest tourist attraction

Monday, 9 September 2013


I realise that this post is a little late in regards to any budding Euro-travellers- but; I'm in mourning. I'm mourning summertime. Look out your window, is it raining? Yes. Is it cold? Yup. And although I haven't had as exciting summer as last year, I am missing the feeling of sun on my skin, whilst reading a good book and enjoying some ice cream. Of course, this made me a little nostalgic of my European travels, where we often fed on a steady diet of ice cream and pizza (when in Rome etc etc). Therefore this post is dedicated to nostalgia, and of course, the best ice cream i've ever tasted.

Belgious Avinyo in Barcelona

Funnily enough, despite being in the old-town of Barcelona's gothic quarter, this parlour was a Belgian bussiness and was far from what you'd imagine to find in the medevial lanes of Barca. Bright orange inside with plastic twizzly seats, this place was all about the 'exotic and unusual'. Our server had perfect English and allowed us to try as many flavours as we wanted; ranging from black olive to balsamic raspberry and even (a surprisingly nice) curry flavour. They even had beer flavoured ice cream! I finally settled on a much more traditional dulce de leche, whilst some of my friends were more adventurous with chocolate and goats cheese and lime and rosemary. Other interesting/questionable flavours include: grilled prawns, cannabis and mustard. And if you're a bit of a wuss- there are plenty of lovely/normalish ice creams available as well as the bonkers ones!

Della Palma in Rome

Della Palma is everything an Italian gelateria should be; loud, busy and absolutely full of gorgeous, mouth-watering ice creams. Boasting over 150 flavours, this place was always busy when we visited, with tourists and locals alike jostling for a scoop. I tried quite a few flavours whilst staying in Rome as this place became a regular visit on scorching summer days. Favourites included: pear and marscapone, dark chocolate and raspberry and traditional crunchy peanut butter.


Grom in Siena 

This place was a slightly more traditional gelateria, which relied on good ingridients and traditional Italian flavours. There aren't as many places to find ice cream in Siena and although this place is just of the main plaza, which can get a little touristy, we found it a very charming pit-stop for an afternoon scoop. Special flavours include Italian zabaione, chesnut and Sicilian cassata.

P.S- try the aloholic ice-cream coffees in the Murinsel cafe on the Mur River! The cafe literally sits, rather precariously in the middle of the river. The architecture of the place is an amazing formation of glass and metal and you can get some stunning views both inside the cafe and on the bridges. 

Thursday, 5 September 2013


Continuing the theme of baking whatever is being baked on the GBBO, this week I have baked trifle! In all honesty, I had never been a fan of trifle when I was a kid. Which is strange because I enjoyed all the ingridients individually, but for some reason couldn't enjoy them combined. However, I have got past my trifle-based issues and I am now all in favour of supporting the great British trifle! My recipe is based on the the summer fruits I picked this year (a lot of which I've frozen), which include mostly cherries; from my garden and a handful of raspberries. You can choose different red fruits or use these and mix up the ratio of raspberries to cherries, it's really up to you! Also my trifle recipe is very small as it's only catering for my little family (3-4 large portions), double up on quantities for more people!

Firstly, warm 150ml of milk and 150ml of double cream in a pan. Meanwhile whisk 4 egg yolks with 40g of caster sugar. Once the milk/cream mix has warmed up, pour into the egg yolk/sugar mix, whisking continously. Getting a clean pan, quickly put this mix back into the pan and warm over a low heat, continuing to whisk. Be patient, as the mix will take a while to thicken. Once this has thickened, make the brandy-vanilla infusion by heating 30ml of brandy with the seeds of a vanilla pod (you can also use extract depending on what's in your cupboard). Let this bubble away for a few minutes then leave to cool. Once cooled, you can mix this in with the custard.

Trifle: not the most elegant of the desserts

Now make mini jam sandwiches with some best-quality cherry jam and a pack of 4 trifle sponges. You can use these babies to line the bottom of your trifle bowl (or if you're Deborah from GBBO- a giant cocktail glass). Pour over 40ml of brandy and allow to soak. Have a shot of brandy as a congratulations for reading this far. This is when you add your fruit, so for me it was 300g of stoned cherries and 100g of raspberries. Then pour over the custard, cover with clingfilm and put in the fridge for a day or so.

When ready to serve, whip 250ml of double cream until thickened, pile this to make a layer over the custard. Boil a tablespoon of water, half the juice of a lemon and a tablespoon of cherry jam to make a syrup. Artistically drizzle this over your trifle, then add a handful (tablespoon or so) of toasted almonds to finish. Next week is pies! I'm so excited!

Friday, 30 August 2013


Although I've singled out Osaka as one place I'd love to visit in Japan, in all honesty, I would love to tour the whole country and I have done for many years now. Again, like with most trips, cost is a huge factor and it's well known that travelling to and in Japan is not cheap. I'm sure you're wondering why I've singled out Osaka over Tokyo and it's for a few reasons, okay maybe it's for one main reason but don't laugh at me okay? Okay. Osaka is home to Japans first ever cat cafe. There I said it. Neko no Jikan is supposedly the first ever cat cafe in Japan, and I'm the kind of girl that likes to visit the original historical feline sights.

No but really look at all the cats. 
Anyway...for those of you who don't like cats (weirdos) there are plenty of other things to see in Osaka. Osaka castle is an example of Japan's finest archiecture, which during the spring can be framed by hundreds of cherry blossom blooms. Speaking of cherry blossom, I came accross a gorgeous little jelly that can be made with the cherry blossom flowers called 'Sakura Jelly'. If I ever visited Japan I'd be sure to make a batch, although they almost look to pretty to eat.

Sakura Jelly-more for looking at than eating
Really, this one city is just the tip of the iceburg. I could spend months just skiing in Niseko, which I've been told has some of the best powder skiing on the planet. Then there are the gorgeous temple's and ancient architcture that is Kyoto. Not to mention experiencing the urban side of Tokyo, where the number of well renowned bars and nightlife spots grows daily. I'm just giving you a taste of what's available to see and do in Japan. Have you ever been to Japan? What are your favourite things to see there? Or what would you like to see there, if you are a budding traveller like myself?

Wednesday, 28 August 2013


It's that time of year! Autumn you say? NO. Great British Bake Off Season 4 has begun! Unfortunatly I was a week late on bake-off having only just got back from the Dordogne. In a way, this was a good thing, I could decide between celebrating bake off with either 2 of the last week's themes; chocolate cake or bread? I chose chocolate cake obviously I'm not a fool. This is a Magnolia Bakery recipe from the famous bakery in NY. My most important tips would be to seperate the eggs at room temperature and to melt the chocolate the CORRECT way (no microwaving you lazy bakers).

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease and lightly flour two cake tins, approx 9 inches. Also cover the bottoms of the tins with baking paper. Lightly beat 3 seperated egg yolks until thick and bright yellow in colour. Then sift around 380g of plain flour, along with 1 and a half teaspoons of both baking powder and bicarb of soda into a large bowl. In another bowl, beat (using an electric whisk) 170g of softened unsalted butter with 240g of light brown sugar until well mixed and smooth. Add the egg yolks and 225g of melted dark chocolate., then mix until combined. Then add the dry ingridients gradually, alternating with 1 and a half teaspoons of vanilla extract and 500ml of milk. Mix alltogether until well incorporated. At the time it may seem like a lot of milk but it will gradually smoothen out. Using the 3 leftover egg whites, whisk until soft peaks are formed, then fold these into the cake batter; do this VERY gently as to knock all the air out. Divide between the prepared pans and bake for 40mins. GBBO tip: bake the cakes on one shelf and if you can't fit both, alternate halfway through baking. Let cake cool whilst making the icing.

Whisk 6 tablespoons of flour into 500ml of milk until smooth. Place on a medium heat and stir continously until mix is very thick. If mix stars to congeal, take off heat and whisk vigourously until smooth (it will turn out fine). Cover with baking paper placed directly on the mix's surface and cool for 30 mins. Meanwhile beat 450g of unsalted soft butter with 250g of caster sugar and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract until fluffy. Add the milk/flour mix and whisk on a high speed for 5 mins or so. Cover with cling film and cool in the fridge for 15 mins. Once cakes have been removed from their tin, ice in between cakes and all over top and sides.

I ended up putting more frosting on mine once served as a non-healthy cream subsitute. You don't have to use this icing recipe, pretty much most frostings or buttercreams will go nicely with it. How about a mocha buttercream?  A whipped vanilla cream? or a white chocolate cream? Why not add another layer? I'm kidding... I'm really not kidding.

Monday, 5 August 2013



The Glacier Express has been hailed by many as one of the most scenic train journeys you will ever take. Winding through the Swiss Alps, this journey is purely for the enjoyment of seeing beautiful mountain landscapes. I've always been a bit of a 'lakes and mountains' gal, so this is ideal for me and for anyone else looking for breathtaking scenery. Some reviews critisise the length of the trip and as always the dining cart is overpriced and overcrowded, however, why would you even get on this train if you're looking for breathtaking food?


Again, this is a pure indulgance of mine. Tokyo is in my top 5 places to go and I strongly beleive if you're visiting Japan, you must ride the bullet train. After all, this sleek, speedy train is part of what Tokyo is famous for. In addition to this, the journey to Kyoto offers stunning views of Mount Fuji and other smaller cities in the surrounding area (you can also pretend you're in a Murakami novel). Lastly, trains in Tokyo are renowned for their punctuality, which would be a welcome change from European trains.


This cross-country trip offers slightly different scenery from Swiss Glaciers or Japanese architecture, but I'm still including it for it's scenic benefits (which is my main persuasion when choosing a train journey). This trip passes through tropical paddy fields, the bridge over the river Kwai, Bangkok and down the Malaysian coast, offering a scattering of famous sights along the way. Oh and it's on the Orient Express, which makes this trip a little more pricey.

Saturday, 3 August 2013


Sorry I've been away for a while! I've been busy working and catching up most of the summer and have had little time to sit down and blog! Anyway, for my birthday (way back in june) I received a pasta-maker, which for me, was very exciting. I've spent a lot of the summer experimenting with what I can make, using various recipes and adapting my own. A long the way I've made some amazing dishes; smoked salmon and ricotta ravioli, saffron papardelle, spicy chorizo giant ravioli, homemade tagliatelle and fresh lasagne pasta sheets. The most surprising thing was how easy it is to make the pasta dough and how simple the pasta machine is to use. I have obviously made mistakes a long the way and my hand-crafted ravioli is in no way perfectly cut into equal individual squares. But I have learnt some important lessons in the pasta-making craft which prevent pasta from turning out into a sticky mess. For example; whilst rolling the dough out, it is important to keep both the dough and the pasta maker well floured, otherwise the pasta can stick together and ruin the batch. Additionally; I would always reccomend making the pasta JUST before you cook it, unless you have some kind of drying rack (at one point I used a broom to hang my spaghetti over), this again keeps the pasta fresh and non-sticky.

Do NOT overknead pasta, some recipes I saw reccomend you knead pasta for up to 10 minutes, which from experience can be a bit excessive. If the pasta gets too warm, again it will be difficult to stretch and roll out. In that sense it is similar to making pastry- overkneading is a definite no-no. Also I found that buying specialist pasta flour, is overall better than using plain white flour, which isn't as fine. Lastly, when making ravioli, I ALWAYS overcatered, and 4 pieces of giant ravioli were enough for everyone in my family, but it's important to remember that you can freeze it and use it again for a lunch or light dinner- don't waste your wonderful creations. Again I hope I've inspired some of you to invest in a pasta-maker (they are quite cheap) or at least convinced you to use your own more often if you have one!

Friday, 28 June 2013


I understand on first glance this may sound very broad but what I'm really trying to convey are my future plans for an all-American road trip. The idea of a cross-country road trip from the West to East coast has long inspired both music and literature as well as influencing my personal travelling plans and many others before me (my parents for example). You could argue that a country as big as the USA couldn't possibly be attempted in one trip but I disagree; I think that some places are meant to be experienced this way, where there is more room for exploration and spontaneity. Obviously you're not going to see the whole country, we are all limited in some way or another, whether it be time or money or both.

The way I would do it would be to drive from city to city, stopping for breakfast and then moving onto the next city. Of course I'd love to see the country aswell, all the national parks and natural phenonemons; mainly Yellowstone, Niagra Falls, Mesa Verde...oh and the Grand Canyon as well I guess. Then there are the endless monuments and grand buildings as well as hand-picking from all of the famous American cities; fabulous Las Vegas and art-deco Miami come to my mind. And of course I can't wait to emerse myself in all-American cuisine; someone told me of a $1 lobster place in Las Vegas and how can I not try the cronut? America is famous for many things and it would be difficult for me to list the endless reasons for visiting, most of which has some kind of cultural or historical impact. Although this trip sounds very cliché in reflection, you can't deny that there is at least one reason you would visit the USA...even if it is Disneyland. 

Sunday, 23 June 2013



Da Tonio

This neighbourhood trattoria is a hidden gem among touristy cafes and restaurants offering 'authentic' and overly-pricey Italian cusine. You would hardly notice this place unless you were looking for it's peeling dark green doors. Inside the restaurant is full of locals and big families tucking into traditional bowls of carbonara and melanzane, topped with plenty of parmesan. This is Roman food at it's best served traditionally, quickly and for a reasonable price.


El Patio San Elony

Easily one of my favourite tapas restaurants in our tour of Spain. Cured meats hung from the ceiling above glass counters of any tapas dish you could imagine. We ordered a selection of the best looking dishes and bocadillos (sandwiches) and sat on the converted public-bath steps over a big jug of Sangria. All whilst watching the UEFA European championship. Perfect evening if you ask me.



Slaščičarna šmon

I am a big fan of all baked goods and sweet treats as you probably know by now. So of course, the first thing I did on a rainy morning in Bled was to treat myself to the speciality dessert-pastry of Bled. This was a kind of cream cake called a 'Kremma Rezina' which involved a layer of pastry, similar to that of a millefeuille topped with a layer of thick custard and a layer of spongey cream- topped off with a bit more pastry. Worth a visit just to try this.


Del Presidente

I'm not going to beat around the bush- as a city, I HATED Naples. It was dirty, crowded and frankly a bit scary. We decided to try and find this pizza place- famous for Heston Blumenthal visiting and praising the pizza there (the walls are decorated with famous chefs, celebrities and yes, past American presidents that have visited). However, be wary when trying to find this restaurant- many claim to be 'Del Presidente', but the real one is just off the beaten track. Apart from the tacky wristbands we received to commemorate the dining experience, the pizza was fresh and flavoursome.

P.s. Walk the Cinque Terre trail in La Spezia and pick up a glass of lemonade from the lemonade farmer at the end. Never had anything so fresh in my life.