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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!