August 7, 2012

Spor-tea at The Dorchester

You know those gorgeous looking little cakes you see in french patisseries and occasionally stumble across here in the UK? I’ve always wanted to try some.

They look amazing, but with a nut allergy they also look like danger. So i’ve always avoided…until my trip to The Dorchester for their Spor-tea themed afternoon tea the other week.

The amazing people behind the scenes made me a nut free afternoon tea and literally for the first time in my life I was able to try those amazing little cakes i’d always assumed would be out of my reach. 

I can honestly say that this was the best afternoon tea i’ve ever had.

It began with the glass of Laurent Perrier (always a good start to any meal in my opinion) and was followed by a selection of lovely sandwiches in speciality breads eg Chicken in basil bread.

We then moved on to a fruit salad in a cone for me and for everyone else not allergic to nuts, an amazing olympic torch pastry!

Then came my little slice of heaven….or a plate of them. Raspberry and chocolate, passionfruit and more. The flavours were fantastic! All the little pastries had an olympic theme.

                                           My plate of deliciousness

               Everyone else’s plate of delicious sporty themed cakes

If you get a chance, go to The Dorchester for literally the best afternoon tea EVER.

It was all finished off with a drink at the bar which came in a fab teapot and my glass was a china teacup with a tall stem. Fantastic way to end the day. Dorchester hotel Afternoon Tea on Urbanspoon

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July 31, 2012

My Foodie Penpals package

This month I was more excited than normal when the postman made his way to our house, as this was the first month i’d signed up for the foodiepenpals monthly parcel.

A great idea, you send a parcel of foodie finds to someone and receive one from another.

This month NoshwithNikki was my foodie penpal and she sent me some amazing goodies.

The parcel included:

The brownie was interesting – very strong flavouring and a slightly odd texture made for an interesting eat.  The Bath Pig Chorizo snack bags are already a favourite and were quickly wolfed down.

I’m a big chilli fan, so am looking forward to using the Wiltshire Chilli Farm Chipotle Chilli salt and the peppersmith mints are a fab ending to a meal.

A great parcel. I just wish i’d remembered to take a snap of the one I sent my penpal!

If you want to join the foodiepenpals team, you can register here:

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July 8, 2012

Le Grand 8

A few weeks ago I decided to take a Eurostar trip to Paris with my friend, Rhi.  We decided a girly weekend of much food and drink was in order. My highlight of the trip was definitely the restaurant we fell upon one evening.

We actually ended up stumbling into the most fantastic restaurant near Sacre Coeur. With amazing views across the city, friendly staff and the most amazing food, we felt right at home.

As the restaurant, Le grand 8 was really busy, we were seated with a couple on a table for 4 and this turned out to be the best thing. The couple were incredibly friendly and let us taste their wines, chatted to us and generally made us feel at home.

It turned out that the restaurant was renowned (and is in the UK too) but we didn’t know it. Known for it’s food and it’s wide variety of natural wines, people travel far and wide to go there.

I started the meal with a dandelion, lardon and egg salad. Bitter tasting but the egg took the bitterness away the lardons complimented them perfectly. My friend opted for the Foie gras.

For my main meal I chose an octopus risotto and really wish I’d taken a photo! I was served a good portion of deliciously creamy risotto which was then accompanied with a tentacle of octopus. An absolutely amazing, melt in the mouth dish.

Our friendly neighbours let us try some of their wine too – no idea what it was but it was called L’Insolent and was deliciously fresh and fruity.


What made this restaurant so fantastic is not just the friendly atmosphere that you don’t always get to experience in Paris, but also the amazing seasonality of the food. The menu was presented to us on a blackboard.

Fantastic value at just 15Euros for a two course meal and a fantastic and affordable selection of wine, this was the best meal i’ve had in a very long time. Superb!

I’m not the only one who thinks this place is fantastic. Since visiting i’ve seen this blog, where the blogger, Wendy also thinks this is an amazing place to visit:

Visit the restaurant’s website for more info:

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July 7, 2012

Jamie’s Italian – St Albans

I’m pretty lucky really. I work in Soho and live in St Albans which means i’m surrounded by good independent restaurants to pop into.  But every now and then I also enjoy a trip to one of the bigger chains such as Pizza Express or even Pizza hut on occasion (I know, I know, but when you are a child of the 80s, it was the best we had on offer!)

So, I was looking forward to trying out Jamie’s Italian, now it has finally reached St Albans.  It was our 2nd wedding anniversary and we decided to save a bit of money and just pop out somewhere local.

We started the meal with a chacuterie platter between the two of us, which was pleasant enough, but ended up costing a ridiculous amount as you are charged per person and not allowed to share!

My other half had the fritto misto as a main, which was presented fantastically. See the image below and had a good mixture of fried fish.  However, it was a little bit ‘too much’ and would have been nicer if it had come with some salad or something to break up the ‘friedness’!

I chose the squid ink spaghetti with scallops. (See image below) Again, presented really well but was incredibly disappointing. The Spaghetti was chewy and plastic like and the scallops were watery and unpleasant.

All in all, really not a wonderful experience i’m afraid to say, which is a shame. Although maybe we just chose the wrong dishes?

I don’t think we’ll be going back again to be honest, when there are plenty of other fantastic restaurants in the area and it isn’t cheap.

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July 6, 2012

My ‘Ideal’o summer reads

My cookbook collection is getting a bit out of hand. With over 60 different books all piled up in my kitchen, you’d think i’d stop…but i can’t.  There’s nothing more therapeutic than having a flick through and gaining a bit of inspiration for the next meal.

So when Idealo suggested that i’d be interested in joining their Idealo Summer reads event this year, I wasn’t going to be choosing anything but cookbooks obviously.

So with the £25 limit I was very kindly given at Amazon, I picked out the following to start flicking through and pulling some recipes out over the next few months.

Joy the baker cookbook £7.99

Fantastic book for those of us, like me, who have a sweet tooth. I’ve been following her blog for a while and had my eye on this book.  Some great inspiration for baking here. I’ll let you know how some of the recipes turn out.

Lunch in Paris – A delicious love story with recipes £5.66

Something a little bit different. Part love story, part recipes. Looks like a goodie!

Good Food – Easy Baking Recipes £3.64

Classic, easy to bake recipes

Skinny Meals in Heels £8.99

Great recipes of real food for those watching their weight. It’s all about proper food done in a healthy way.

Thanks very much to Idealo for the Amazon gift voucher to buy the above. Here’s the link you asked me to add: which will lead you to some frying pans.

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June 27, 2012

‘Healthy’ Oat bran muffins

Looking for a ‘healthy’ alternative to my usual baking treats, I stumbled across Nic Nutrition’s recipe for Oat Bran muffins and whipped up a batch at the weekend.

Great as a snack with only 100 calories and with a low GI, it means they keep you fuller for longer. Sometimes baking can be healthy 🙂

If you want to try out the recipe, follow this link:

Nic has some great healthy recipe ideas on her blog. Definitely worth a look!

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June 11, 2012

Cookie Girl

Have you heard of Cookie Girl A regular supplier of cupcakes and sweet snacks to the stars, she’s a pretty well known figure around the Kensal Rise way – back when i was living there, we used to receive a free magazine where she would have a column every publication.

So when an opportunity arose to spend 2 hours learning to improve my cupcake decorating piping skills for a mere £20 each via Time Out vouchers I jumped at the chance.

Held in the upstairs area of Idlewild (where we incidently had our dinner – sausages, squid, chips and other munchies – highly recommended), around 20 of us gathered round tight tables, sharing decorations and passing around coloured icing.

We learnt 4 techniques and took away a decent 8 cupcakes to share with friends and family (or to scoff on the way home).  Some of them were incredibly basic, and I was a little disappointed not to have learnt more detailed decorating technique (but then again, we had booked onto the 2 hour slot) and i’m sure some of the other classes were more detailed.

My friend and I had a fantastic time and the recipe for the icing was amazing, and i’ve been using it since on all my cupcakes.

I would definitely recommend a team bonding/friend outing/hen do event with cookie girl.

Book it!

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February 16, 2012

Nice and spicy

I’m always up for a bit of a challenge, so was excited to receive an email from Sheba at the Absolute Indian Cookery School in Hertfordshire, announcing the new spice boutique where customers can buy authentic Indian spices direct

I’ve always wanted to be a dab hand at cooking Indian food. I never get to visit any Indian restaurants due to my nut allergy, so have to content myself with Anjum Anand’s cookbook for whipping up recipes. As much as i’d like to think i’m okay in the kitchen, Indian cookery has me a bit stumped.

However, Sheba sent me some great recipe cards to have a go at and a few ingredients.  The recipe cards look easy enough to follow, so i’ll be giving it a go shortly and will post the results.  And if not, I might end up going to one of Sheba’s classes at the Absolute Indian Cookery School, to get a helping hand!

So, watch this space!

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November 25, 2011

November nibbles

This month I’ve been trying to save money and cut back on eating out but I still managed to take the time (and expense!) to visit these places:

Vinopolis for a glass or 6 of wine and some food to soak it up

The Three Horse Shoes (St Albans) for a classic Sunday roast

Sketch for one cocktail which quickly turned into 5

The Gallery at The Westbury for a launch party

Dean Street Townhouse for lunch with two of my favourite bloggers

Boulevard Brasserie to eat mussels and gossip

Scoop Gelato for a quick after dinner fix

Cox and Cookies for a couple of boobs

Wahaca for a little taste of mexico

Winter Wonderland to enjoy a Bratwurst

So expect some reviews up soon! The worrying thing is, I thought i’d hardly eaten out at all this month – shocking isn’t it…

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November 25, 2011

My Kitchen Mess

Here’s a quick picture just to show how incredibly messy I am when I bake. Note the complete chaos and mess which is my kitchen!

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November 3, 2011

The Baking Bug

I’ve really got the baking bug at the moment and have pulled together a list of must make cakes etc.

Top of the list is a nice Lancashire Parkin cake which always reminds me of Bonfire night, when my mum would knock up a batch.

Then i’m going to try making a lemon tart (inspired by Mary Berry), a Sacher Torte (again inspired by the Great British Bake Off) and i’ve recently found an amazing recipe for cinnamon tear and share bread. 

So expect some baking updates over the next few weeks along with my usual restaurant ones!

All i need now is to invest in a Kitchen Aid mixer or Kenwood to help make my baking easier. It’s almost Christmas….so Father Christmas, if you are listening…I’ve been a good girl!

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October 31, 2011

Chocolate Cake time

Just thought i’d share my lovely chocolate cake picture.  I’ve made this cake a dozen or so times but this time, rather than covering with chocolate icing, I covered with vanilla icing and topped with raspberries.

I’m not going to giveaway my secret recipe for making the most chocolatey cake ever (let’s just say there is plenty of cadbury’s involved) but you can find a recipe for a good chocolate cake here:

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