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    Monday, 31 August 2015

    GUEST POST: TOP 5 BURGERS BY COFFEE SUGAR LEMONADE

    Hello I’m Kate, pleased to be on Elle’s blog!! I write over at Coffee Sugar Lemonade and spend 99% of my life thinking about, writing about or eating food!!

    I’m here to talk about something incredibly dear to my heart, burgers. The foodstuff I say I couldn't live without. Quite genuinely, if I were to eat one food for the rest of my life it would be a burger - cooked medium-rare with strong cheese, a few pickles and a good wallop of ketchup and mustard. Simple. Easy.

    I had to think really long and hard about this list. I even revisited a few places to make sure I’d got it just right. So here it is, my definitive top 5 burgers. Ever.
    5 – Odd, Odder and Oddest, Manchester 
    I hold these old bars dear to my heart as I've been visiting since I was a teen. Now, I never said this list would be meat only, which is why my number five is a veggie burger from the Odd Bars. Shock horror I know! 8oz of spicy Moroccan chickpea goodness with rocket, tomato, onion, chilli & coriander salsa and tzatziki all on a toasted brioche bun served with perfect sweet potato fries. It’s honestly the best veggie burger I’ve ever eaten and something all of my vegetarian friends rave about. With three locations across Manchester City Centre you’d be silly not to visit.

    4 – Honest Burger, London
    Honest do good, proper burgers. They’re miles ahead of any other larger chains (GBK and Byron spring to mind) and have a solid price point. For me the Cheese Burger with onion relish is my go-to (simple tastes!); it’s the rosemary chips that are the winner here for me though. Whilst the burger is a solid 8/10, the chips are pretty flawless… and what’s a good burger without great chips!
    3 – Solita, Manchester
    When you want something big and ridiculous, Solita is the number one venue. Their burgers are Lancashire born and bred, as they tend to source locally. It’s the ‘Manc-Hattan’ that pulls it out of the bag for me; oven bottom Lancashire muffin, pastrami, melted Lancashire cheese, panko fried black pudding, Lancashire sauce, Coney Island mustard. It all sounds far too much but let me assure you, you won’t look at black pudding the same way after you’ve had it bread-crumbed and deep fried! The burgers here are indeed a heart attack waiting to happen, but what a way to go! Take a look at the menu if you dare. If you have space, make sure to have the peanut butter ice cream and brownie, you might have to share though.

    2 – Patty & Bun , London
    Originally a pop-up, Patty and Bun has carved a reputation as a real burger supremo. Now with three locations across London it’s juicy burgers with high-quality (usually British) ingredients have accrued a real fan base. The signature ‘Ari-Gold’ is the perfect size to pick up and take a huge chunk though the glistening cheese, juicy meat and light as air brioche bun. I’m not a mayo gal but have been assured their smoky mayonnaise is the perfect addition to a top-notch burger. The only issue I have here is the price tag and the fact that there’s often a queue. I don’t queue for burgers!
    1 - The Advisory, - London
    You’ve read a lot to get here, but it’s worth it, I can assure you. The Advisory in Hackney hands down sells the best burgers I’ve ever eaten. I could throw every superlative in the book at this paragraph to attempt to describe just how much I love this place and I wouldn’t even be close! Their Cheese Burgers (free-ranges rare breed Longhorn beef) are the star of the show for me but they also have amazing shrimp po-boy, veggie and chicken options too. Let’s not forget the flawless sides – giant onion rings, poutine, spicy greens and crispy, thin, well-salted fries. Did I mention they do breakfast too!? To make it even better, a burger and sides is less than a tenner. It’s embarrassing to say but I rave about this place so much they gave me a loyalty card (for friends of the establishment!). Get yourself over to Hackney and prepare to be bowled over.
    With that, I’m over and out. Thank you Lauren for having me.

    Saturday, 29 August 2015

    #FDBLOGGERSGTK - GET TO KNOW ELLE BLOGGS

    Thank you to the lovely Dalton Banks for nominating me to do the #fdbloggersGTK post. I've loved reading everyone else's posts so excited that I get to do my own!

    As I'm sure lots of you know, there's a lovely community of food bloggers who use the #fdbloggers, set up by the lovely Loriley, to share posts, recipes and talk about all things food. Loriley has now gone one better by creating a #fdbloggersGTK tag so we can all find out a bit more about the people behind the food blogs. I've answered the questions below, hope you enjoy!
    Name
    Lauren - which might actually surprise people! The 'Elle' in my blog-name comes from my initial L, it's a nickname though so you can call me either!

    Blog
    www.ellebloggs.com

    What was your reason for starting a blog?
    I remember seeing LLY MLRS in a Company magazine feature when I was at Uni and falling in love with the whole idea of fashion and style blogs so I decided to start my own.

    I quickly found fashion and beauty wasn't really my niche and I just wanted to talk about food all the time so it evolved from there really. I started off with pictures of my dinner, to restaurant reviews and more recently recipe posts.

    What’s the dish you’re most proud of?
    I'd probably say my shakshouka recipe. It's not particularly ground-breaking but it was one of the tastiest things I've made for my blog. Spicy food is my favourite so I love experimenting with levantine and Indian flavours.

    What one kitchen utensil could you not live without?
    It's a bit boring but I'd say my sharp knife, I use it every-time I cook so I really would be lost without it - I can't bear a blunt knife!

    You’re stranded on a desert island. What three ingredients do you take with you?
    Eggs. chilli flakes and cheese.

    Eggs because you can use them to make a meal out of pretty much anything. Chilli flakes as I adore spicy food so they go in everything and cheese because cheese.I could make about six different meals with just those three ingredients!

    Who do you take inspiration from?
    So many places! I get a lot of inspiration from food blogs especially CateFlick and Joy- they're photos literally make me drool on my screen.

    I'm also really fortunate that I work in food PR so I'm surrounded by foodie inspiration everyday, whether it's from mags like Olive and BBC Good Food or the talented home economists and food stylists which we work with.

    Your favourite social media platform?
    It's hard to pick between Instagram and Twitter. I love Twitter for being able to speak to and find other lovely bloggers but I can spend hours browsing through pictures on Insta!

    Biggest disaster in the kitchen?
    The first thing that comes to mind is Hot Cross Buns. I'm a bit slap-dash with my cooking - add a bit of this/bit of that - so precious baking isn't my forte.

    I remember at Easter I coerced Tom into making these Hot Cross Buns with me, which took about 6 hours and turned out rock-solid. I didn't have a piping bag either so I sort of spread weird crosses on them - they were so ugly and even the pigeons wouldn't eat them!

    Favourite spot for a coffee?
    To be honest, I don't drink coffee very often so I'm not really qualified to answer this but I can recommend the espresso Martini at STK

    Favourite food photo you've taken?
    Photography isn't really my strong point but i am quite proud of the photos below. This is the point where I started to think more about styling and lighting so I'm really pleased with how they came out.

    What would you say was your most successful blog post and why?
    My 'Birthday Dinner at Roka' post has been really popular. Tom took me for my birthday and we opted for the premium menu which featured black cod, wagyu beef and lobster. It was so expensive and decadent but was also one of the best meals I've had in London - the pictures don't even do justice to how good it was!
    Now nominate three food bloggers you’d like to get to know more:
    I'd now like to nominate to get to know a more a bit more about the lovely Katie, Rosie and Lauren. I love reading all three of these ladies blogs so would love to find out more about the girls behind them! 

    Monday, 24 August 2015

    FATTOUSH SALAD - WITH OXO GOOD GRIPS

    Of all the cuisines from around the world - lebanese is by far my favourite. Yalla Yalla and Ceru are some of my favourite spots to eat but I've never really cooked lebanese when at home.

    Oxo Good Grips recently got in touch to ask me to create a summer recipe for their summer campaign and the first thing that came to mind was a fattoush salad.

    I always order fattoush when I eat out so I wanted to try my hand at making it at home. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it's essentially a lebanese salad made from tomatoes, cucumber, herbs and pitta bread. It's got a lovely zesty flavour and I find having pitta inside makes it really filling as mid-week salad to take to work. It's also gorgeous to have with grilled meats or halloumi.
    Fattoush-salad-recipe
    What you'll need:
    For the dressing
    100ml olive oil
    1 clove garlic (crushed)
    1 lemon (juice and zest)
    2 tsp Sumac

    You won't need to use all of this so feel free to cut back on quantities or store the extra in your fridge to use on salads throughout the week. I love drizzling it on crusty bread!

    For the salad
    4 medium sized tomatoes, cubed
    100g radish
    1 small red onion
    1/2 a cucumber
    Mixed salad leaves - I used rockets and chard but ice gem is more traditional
    Bunch of fresh mint
    2 pitta breads
    sumac
    radish
    What you'll need to do
    1. To make the dressing, mix together the oil, lemon juice, zest, garlic and sumac along with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
    2. Toast your pitta bread and once cooked cut or tear into small cubes. 
    3. Chop the rest of your ingredients (I leave the radish in slices but cube the rest) and mix in a medium sized bowl.   
    4. Add your pitta to the mix, dress lightly with your sauce and toss untill it's all coated. 
    5. Serve either in a large serving bowl or as a side salad to grilled meats or halloumi cheese.
    Fattoush-salad-recipe
    Fattoush-salad-recipe
    To help me create this recipe the lovely team at Oxo sent over some salad related goodies. I received a salad spinner (£26) , salad dressing shaker (£12) and the 2-in-1 salad servers (£8) which you can see in some of the shots above!

    I love the salad spinner - it's one of those products which I've had my eye on for ages but I've never really used. It makes such a difference being able to wash ingredients quickly and get as much water out as possible before using so I'm really impressed.

    I also loved the salad shaker which comes with a handy ergonomic stop-cap so you can use just the right amount of dressing with one hand. I've had so many incidents with lids coming off bottles and flooding my salads with vinegar so it's nice to find something which you can trust!

    * I was sent a selection of Oxo Good Grips products to use in the creation of this post

    If you liked this post, you may also like: Florette Summer Salad or Taste of the Levant

    Tuesday, 18 August 2015

    LIMITED EDITION SHAKE SHACK & MAST BROTHERS CHOC BEER FLOAT

    Do I like beer - yes. Do I like ice cream - yes. Do I like beer and ice cream in the same glass - apparently yes, very much so.
    shake-shack-beer-float Those clever people down at Shake Shack have teamed up with chocolate makers Mast Brothers to create an incredible and very limited edition Chocolate Beer Float (£5.00).

    I went down to the launch yesterday to try it out, along with a smoke-shack burger and fries (obvs) and I can confirm it tastes like a dream.

    It's made by combining a scoop of Shake Shack's freshly spun vanilla frozen custard with Mast Brothers non-alcoholic Chocolate Beer. As the frozen custard melts they combine to produce the richest, creamiest, almost butter like drink! Word of advice though - make sure you give it a good stir otherwise it can taste a little bitter!

    If you want to try it for yourself, you'll need to move quickly guys as it will only be on sale from the Covent Garden store untill Sunday!

    24, Market Building, The Piazza, London WC2E 8RD 

    * I was a guest of Shake Shack so my food & drink was complimentary but my opinions are honest!

    If you liked this post, you might also enjoy: Harrods Ice Cream Parlour
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    Monday, 17 August 2015

    AN EVENING OF BEER AND MOULES WITH BELGO

    I love food you can dip bread into. Like big saucy bowls of pasta. Or warming soups. Or big steaming plates of moules. And moules is exactly what grabbed my attention when an invite from Belgo dropped into my inbox.

    I'm sure you'll have walked past a Belgo before. There are 5 propped up across London. You might even have been and eaten there yourself  but if you haven't, don't worry as I'm going to give you the low-down.

    As you might have guessd by the name, Belgo is inspired by Belgium. They've been open since 1992 but the brand decided it needed a face-lift so set about changing the direction it was taking Belgian inspired food in London and invited a group of bloggers down to show what they had been up to.
    Now what is Belgium famous for? Beer of course. So it only made sense that we would have a tasting evening of the new menu all accompanied by their perfect partnering beer!

    Belgo are big on drink. They want you to feel that this is a place you can come for a pint as much as for a bite to eat. And as they boast an offering of over 50 different craft beers, everyone is bound to find something suited to them.

    On arrival we were offered a 'Mongozo' - a coconut flavoured beer served out of a real coconut shell! I'm sure even the non-beer drinkers out there have got to be impressed with that!


    I managed to find myself an excellent eating partner in the beautiful Sophie of A Story of a Girl (make sure you check out her blog!) and together we set about exploring our way through the majority of Belgo's signature dishes.

    We started of course with the moules. Belgo is renowned for its mussels, all of which are sourced from the Shetland islands and rope grown, grit free and very sustainable.

    There are 10 different variations on the menu. We tried the kimchee flavour (£13.50) which were served in a Korean style hot & spicy sauce finished with pak choi  - perfectly cooked with a punch of spice.
    Next was Lobster. I had no idea Belgo did lobster so my face lit up when I saw their big red claws making their way down the stairs to our table.

    All of Belgo's lobsters are delivered fresh and you can get a whole lobster with garlic butter, homemade coleslaw and fries for just over £30. Not quite as cheap as Burger and Lobster but they taste amazing.
    One of my favourite courses was the rotisserie chicken (£12.50). You can chose from six different sauces but I can personally vouch for the sweet chilli, kaffir lime, ginger and a pepper glaze. Moist, juicy and literally falling off the bone...
    The team made sure to keep the beers flowing all night. As it was a Tuesday and I get a hangover from even smelling alcohol, I didn't get throw myself into the beer tasting as much as I would have liked but the introduction to their range was impressive....
    The lovely people at Vedett even put mine & Sophie's face on a bottle of the stuff!Dessert could be non other than Belgian waffles (£5.50). Belgo let you personalise your waffles with your choice of sauce and ice cream. If you order the cherries coulis with strawberry ice cream and chocolate sauce - i promise you won't be disappointed!

    You might remember  I said Belgo wanted to be somewhere you could come to drink - and they meant it. If you let them, they are willing to ply you with their Schnapps shots sticks. I resisted and only tried one (it was a Tuesday god dammit) but if you're looking fora boozy evening they are well worth a go!
    If you're looking for somewhere laid back to grab a bite to eat in Soho, definitely head to Belgo. I was really impressed with the quality of the food and the prices are really reasonable. And if a choice of 52 beers can't sway you, I don't know what will....

    Belgo
    29-31 Old Compton Street
     London,  W1D5JR
    Click to add a blog post for Belgo on Zomato Square Meal

    Thursday, 13 August 2015

    #BERRIESSAYSUMMER - ETON MESS TARTLETS

    In true British fashion, I'm writing a lovely summery recipe and a thunderstorm is brewing outside my window. Typical. Anyway let's just to pretend it's sunny for this post as it is a real summery treat!

    The lovely people recently behind Seasonal Berries got in touch to ask me to create a recipe which would align with their 'Berries Say Summer campaign'

    I bloody love British summer fruit so immediately I thought strawberries, which got me thinking about raspberries which got me thinking about cream which got me thinking about meringue. You can see how my greedy mind works, right?

    Ultimately I ended up at my favourite pudding Eton Mess but I wanted to do something a little bit different in that I created individual tartlets - and added a bit of lemon. Because everything tastes better with lemon in my book.
    What you'll need:
    Tart filling 
    * 300ml double cream
    * 200g strawberries
    * 100g raspberries
    *  2 crushed meringues
    * 1 tbsp icing 
    * Juice of 2 lemons 
    Pastry
     * I used ready roll shortcrust pastry (cause ain't nobody got time fo' that but feel free to make your own)
    Meringue  (you could also use shop bought here)
    (based on a meringue girl's recipe)
    * 4 large egg whites
    * 240g caster sugar

     What you'll need to do:
    Meringue
    1. Preheat oven to 200c
    2. Whisk egg whites using an electric whisk until stiff peaks begin to form
    3. Turn your whisk up to full speed and begin to add sugar slowly, spoon by spoon
    4. Allow to whisk for a couple of minutes once all sugar is added and mix looks glossy and shiny
    5. Shape spoonfuls of meringue onto baking tray and bake for 15 minutes.
    6. Lower temp to 110c and let cook for another 2-3 hours. Once cooked, leave to chill

    Coulis
    1. Blitz half the strawberries and raspberries in a blender with 1 tbsp icing sugar and squeeze of lemon. Set to the side.

    Pastry
    1. Roll out your pastry and line your pastry cases
    2. Bake in the oven for about 10-15 mins at 200c

    Filling
    1. Whip your cream, lemon juice & icing sugar till it begins to thicken
    2. Crush your meringue into mix and fold in with half the strawberries
    3. Once pastry is out the oven and fully chilled, spoon mix into cases
    4. Top with pieces of crushed meringues, raspberries and a drizzling of your coulis
    5. EAT
    Everything tastes so fresh and fruity, plus it's not too heavy either

    If you have spare filling, you could serve it on top of meringue nests - or just eat it right out the bowl like i did!. 

    Make sure you take a look at the Seasonal Berries website for more recipe inspiration or search #BerriesSaySummer on social media to see more recipes by my fellow foodie bloggers!

    I've also added this recipe into Belleau Kitchen's Simply Eggcellent link-up challenge - head over there for some delicious eggy recipes!

    * This post was sponsored by British Summer Fruits

    If you liked this recipe, you may also like:  Strawberry & Choc Pudding or Guilt Free Pudding

    Monday, 10 August 2015

    BIRTHDAY DINNER AT ROKA, ALDWYCH

    Last week, Tom treated me to an amazing weekend to celebrate my birthday.

    He arranged for us to stay in a beautiful apartment on Aldwych (more to come on that) directly across the road from the restaurant he'd chosen for dinner - Roka.

    I love Japanese food and Roka has been on my to-go list for years so Tom really excelled with this choice!

    Seeing as it was a special occasion, we went for Roka's premium tasting menu so we could try as many dishes as possible.

    First up, and one of my favourite dishes was finely sliced yellowtail sashimi with yuzu-truffle dressing. If you go, please do order this - the dressing is incredibly addictive!
    Next came a stunning sushi platter piled high with lumps of ice and yellowtail sashimi, japanese egg roll unagi and tuna gunkan with oscietra caviar....
    and my favourite lobster with homemade ponzu sauce...
    After our sushi, we were served a succession of incredible small plates starting with seared beef with black truffle dressing...
    and crab and crayfish gyoza dumplings and edamame....
    followed closely by japanese wagyu tartar with ponzu pearls (anything wagyu is a winner with me)
    and scallop skewers with wasabi and shiso, which we both loved.  

    Moving more towards main course territory it was time for black cod. I adore black cod - and the black cod here at Roka is incredible! Marinated in yuzu miso, it has the perfect combination of sweet flaky fish and sticky charred skin. Perfectly paired with asparagus with sweet soy and sesame

    Next came the lamb cutlets with korean spices - one of Tom's favourite courses...
    and then the main event; a 290 day grain fed black angus ribeye, cooked medium rare, with eryngii mushrooms and wasabi ponzu.


    Just when we were fit to burst, a beautiful Roka dessert platter was brought to our table. Filled with beautiful oriental fruits, creme brulee, sorbets and a molten green tea chocolate fondant. 
    Oh and of course some chilli truffles to finish off a perfect evening.
    I can't recommend Roka highly enough, this was by far one of the best meals which I've had in London for a long time. It's pricey but you certainly get what you pay for - excellent service and top quality food. 

    I'm now looking forward to trying out the Mayfair and Charlotte Street branches which the lovely Angie at SilverSpoon London has told me have brilliant atmospheres! 

    Roka
    71 Aldwych, London WC2B 4HN
    If you liked this post, you may also enjoy: Sunday Brunch at Flesh & Buns
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