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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.