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    Wednesday, 28 September 2016

    BURGERS & WINE PAIRING AT BEN'S CANTEEN

    If there's one thing on my blog that I take seriously, like really seriously...it's burgers. 

    From juicy chin dribblers to burgers encased in Scotch Eggs, if its sandwiched between two buns, I'm pretty sure I'll eat it...

    But with new burger places popping all the time, it can all get a little meh.. you know. There needs to be something really different for me to sit up and take notice...

    So how do you make burgers exciting again, you ask? By pairing them with wine, of course. 

    Yes you read that right. Burgers & wine perfectly paired based on their tasting notes and it's all happening South of the river at Ben's Canteen. 
    Now it takes a lot to get me over the River but I promise Ben's is worth it. 

    It has an ultra-cool shabby chic vibe with colourful distressed wooden tables and a bright neon sign hanging over the bar - oh and the most friendly staff ever. Laid-back, helpful and perfect at getting that balance of servicing your table but also leaving you just to chill and enjoy your evening.The menu is pretty simple but they specialise in burgers, wine and brunch - the holy trinity as I like to call it. And every night from 5pm, they combine the first two to give you their special burger & wine pairing menu...but more on that in a minute.
    First you need to start with, you guessed it, the starters. Like I said, Ben's Canteen is all about simple food, but that doesn't mean boring. They've got some of your favourite 'pub' style dishes but they've taken them up a whole gear with some clever twists. 

    You've got DIY guacamole, which you make in your own pestle and mortar; and spiced duck nuggets but we couldn't resist the aptly named 'Ben's Epic Scotch Egg' (£6). It was *ahem* epic. 
    Next was the chicken wings. Now don't even get me started on how much I love chicken wings. We order them almost every time we see them on a menu: case in point; YardbirdAlmost Famous and those chicken wings at Porky's...so I have pretty high standards but I can confirm these were INCREDIBLE. 

    Juicy, moist and fall off the bone tender, they had just the right amount of spice and were so messy addictive. Slather a little bit of my favourite Cholula hot sauce on those bad boys and I was well on my way to food coma heaven.
    Now all of that was just a little taster of what was to come because what is placed down in front of you when you order the burger & wine pairing menu is truly a thing of wonder. Just look at it.
    Three perfectly cooked, slider sized burgers, paired with the perfect wine. I know you want to see these babies a little closer...

    First up is the classic cheeseburger. A 7oz beef patty cooked till pink, topped with American cheese, Ben's Canteen's special sauce and washed down with a New Zealand Pinot Gris. Perfectly cooked and just oozes all that salty deliciousness as soon as you bite down...
    Next is The Hawaiian - a pulled pork burger topped with pickled red cabbage, homemade slaw, mustard, BBQ sauce and a PINEAPPLE fritter! It was salty, sweet, fruity and just perfect with its pairing of  chilled pinot noir. I've never had chilled red before but this was a stroke of genius. 

    and finally my favourite, the Posh friend chicken burger paired with a glass of Mumm Champagne - naturally. I adore spicy food and this is one HOT burger...it's not for the faint hearted, stuffed to bursting point with kimchi, spring onions and a lethal Korean hot sauce - you need those bubble to take the edge off!
    All the burgers above are served full size on the main menu but the slider option is definitely the way to go in my eyes...just make sure you save room for dessert.

    Chocolate and Peanut Butter brownie. I repeat, a chocolate and peanut butter brownie - served with peanut butter ice cream no less. Heaven and a heart attack all neatly presented on one plate. 
    Seriously though, the food at Ben's Canteen is really good and the atmosphere just so or even better. Just by putting a tiny spin on the idea of burgers made for a really fun evening that Tom and I both really enjoyed. 

    We visited the Battersea branch but there's another Ben's Canteen in Earlsfields...and they both do Bottomless Brunch, which I am 100% heading back for, make sure you do the same!

    Ben's Canteen
    140 St John's Hill
    Battersea, SW11 1SL

    * Our food/drink was complimentary
    All opinions are honest
    Ben's Canteen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

    Monday, 26 September 2016

    EATING ALL THE CARBS AT SAVURE, LONDON

    A couple of weeks ago, I did the BEST thing ever.…I booked a whole week off work.

    I didn’t have a holiday booked or anything. I literally spent the whole week at home, writing, eating and basically pretending I was a full-time blogger for the week. And it was pretty frickin’ awesome.

    During said week, I found an incredible restaurant. Now hands up who likes pasta? Come on that’s got to be everybody right…well you guys are going to LOVE this one. It has ALL the carbs..

    ...I give you: Savure London.

    It's a shiny new artisan pasta place tucked away in oh so trendy East London which specialises in home-made fresh pasta.

    The restaurant itself has a bit of 'canteen' style feel, with bright white tables, yellow and red furnishings throughout and cute potted herbs on every table...oh and there's even bloody colanders hanging from the ceiling!

    Like I said before, Savure, like all true Italians, pride themselves on their pasta making expertise and boast over 12 different types (including chickpea and durum wheat pastas).

    The idea of the menu is a bit DIY and super value for money. You choose which type of pasta you want, along with a sauce and it's all cooked up fresh in the restaurant's open plan kitchen. 
    You're charged based on the type of sauce you order; you can get a simple butter & parmesan for just £8 through to the more premium regional and seafood sauces which cost up to about £11.50.

    I'd personally recommend the filled pastas (speck, radicchio and Ricotta cheese was my fav) topped with amatriciana sauce. An INSANE portion topped with parmesan cheese and it only cost £10 - ridiculously good value. 

    As well as the incredible pastas, there's lots of other Italian favourites on the menu which you can enjoy as starters or accompaniments to your main dishes.

    OBVIOUSLY I have to recommend the Burrata. I've fallen in love with the stuff since my visit to Pulia and the offering here is just amazing. Delicious silky burrata sat atop an Italian style bagel and absolutely smothered in tomatoes.

    I should probably have gotten that gorgeous shot where the cheese erupts and oozes seductively when you cut into it but i’ll be honest, I was doing my best to just put my camera away so I could dive head first into this beast...
    I also love, love loved the charcuterie platters. If you're going to do an Italian deli, then you really do have to sample every one of the meats they have on offer, am I right? 

    Piled high with salami, prosciutto and olives, the 'tagliere di affettati' (£15.50) is definitely worth an order and you'l get to taste some of the finest produce from your favourite Italian regions. 
    Not only can you eat all of this deliciousness in the restaurant, but you can get takeaway (hello perfect carb-laden lunch spot for all you Shoreditch workers) AND you can buy fresh pastas and sauces so you can knock up for yourself at home. What is better than that aye?
    Savure London is open from 7.30am-10pm (yes they do breakfast) on Monday-Friday and from 11am-10pm on Saturdays!

    Savure
    20 Paul St, 
    London EC2A 4JH
    * My food was complimentary 
    All opinions are honest

    Sunday, 25 September 2016

    MY PERFECT SUNDAY ROAST

    Is it officially Autumn now? It's definitely getting colder outside and when it’s this chilly, there's really only one thing I want: warm, hearty food.

    The ultimate in comfort food has to be the Sunday roast but people are often scared of making them. Since Tom & I moved into together, we've taken to cooking weekly roasts so I wanted to share some of our points so you can nail the roast dinner at home for yourselves.

    Go grab your pinnie, put the oven on pre-heat and let's get started!
    STEP ONE - CHOOSING YOUR MEAT
    So we've decided we're making a roast dinner. But which one?!

    Personally I find chicken the easiest to cook, especially if you're a beginner so that's always a good place to start. I take the whole bird, give it a good rub down with herbs and spices and then pop it in the oven to cook and crisp up. You can also try spreading butter and lemon slices underneath the skin which keeps the bird all lovely and moist.

    For beef, it's all about the cooking time. Try roasting the meat on a high temperature for about 15 minutes to get the heat through to the centre of the joint then reduce it down to 190 and roast it for 12-13 minutes per 500g for rare or 17-18 minutes per 500g for medium.

    There's so many lamb recipes to choose from but my favourite is leg of lamb, brushed with olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, and herbs. Just perfect.

    STEP TWO: ALL THE CARBS
    A Sunday roast for me is all about the carbs! You can't do roast beef without Yorkshire puddings but they have a tendency to creep onto whatever roast we're having (filled with lashings of brown gravy of course)
    Roast potatoes are the other essential. A little tip I learnt from my step-dad which is to really roughen up the potatoes before you add them to the piping hot roasting tray. Once the potatoes are par-boiled and drained, add them back to the saucepan, pop the lid on and give them a good shake - this will loosen up some of the edges which will crisp up nicely!
    STEP THREE: ADDING YOUR GREENS
    Okay so after all those carbs, we need to add some vegetables for balance right?

    I love broccoli so that's always first on the plate, along with cauliflower with lashings of cheese sauce. Roasted carrots and parsnips can be done together in the same roasting tin and brushed with honey and then we like to do red cabbage, fried off with bacon, apple and red wine when it comes round to winter time.
    So how does that sound? Did I miss anything out, let me know what you're favourite roast dinner looks like in the comment box below!

    *This post contains sponsored links

    Friday, 23 September 2016

    UNWINDING AT THAI SQUARE SPA

    Walking through the doors of the Thai Square Spa is an almost dream like experience.
    Away from the beeping horns of the taxis, buses and traffic outside, you're greeted by a modern but cosy reception and the warm sweet smell of essential oils. 
    The Spa is housed in what used to be an old Turkish baths and comes complete with 11 massage rooms, a Vichy Shower treatment room, ice fountain, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. 

    I was here to try their latest offering, the Himalayan ritual massage, an hour long massage in the spa's Himalayan Salt Room designed to help you relax, unwind and forget the stresses of modern life.

    All you need to do is slip into your slippers and dressing gown..
    and then head downstairs to the treatment rooms.
    The waiting area is lined with soft white beds where you can relax with a cup of green tea until your therapist is ready to take you off to your treatment room.   
    The Himalayan Rituals massage is based around the healing qualities of Himalayan salts.

    Found deep down within the rivers and valleys of the famous mountains, these pink salts offer a host of benefits including stimulated circulation, hydrated skin, increased moisture retention and detoxed skin. 

    The salts are also said to help reduce muscle pain and aches - plus reduce stress and lead to a better night sleep.
    And I can vouch for just that. I spent an incredible hour being rubbed with luxurious essential oils whilst I drifted away to the sounds of crashing waves and pan-pipes. Poor bliss. I came away feeling a lot calmer, softer and far less stressed that when I went in! 

    The Himalayan Salt Massage costs £110 (about standard for central London) and lasts for an hour.

    Thai Square Spa
    25 Northumberland Avenue, London
    WC2N 5AP

    * My treatment was complimentary
    Some photos within this post were provided by Thai Square Spa

    Wednesday, 21 September 2016

    PLANNING A HEN-DO FOR A FOODIE BRIDE TO BE

    My friendship group has entered what I call: 'wedding mania'.

    One by one each of my friends is starting to get engaged which means for the next few years I've got a diary full of engagement parties, weddings and the all important hen-dos.

    While it's not my turn just yet, I've partnered with The Stag and Hen Experience to put together my list of dream hen party ideas...which naturally involves lots of food!
    Bottomless Brunch
    Who doesn't love a bottomless brunch. They're perfect for any kind of celebration really; birthdays, engagements, catch-ups and especially hen-dos. It gives you a chance to actually sit and have a catch up plus you've got good food and all the merriment which comes with unlimited Prosecco! My favourite brunches in London have to be the sushi buffet at Roka in Canary Wharf or 100 Wardour Street. 

    Afternoon Tea...with a twist.
    There's so many afternoon teas in London so it's easy to find which would fit the style of your hen party. Fashionistas should head to the Pret a Portea at The Berkeley while the Mad Hatter's Tea Party is perfect if the eccentric bride to be. If she's more of gin drinker, she'll love the G & Tea at Mr Fogg's Gin Parlour or you can keep it classic at the iconic Claridge's
    All aboard the Ginger Line
    Immersive dining is another great idea for a hen party group. Rather than just having a standard meal,  you also get a whole host of theatrics thrown into the mix. The Ginger Line is one of the most popular immersive dining experiences which will have you moving through rooms and into ball pits as part of your dining experience but there's also restaurants such as Bel Canto and Circus where you get a side of singing and dancing with your meal. 

    Get hands on with a Masterclass
    Masterclasses can also be a fun activity to pack into the day. It doesn't have to be alcohol related, although cocktails at the London Cocktail Club isn't one to be missed. There's also Macaron + Martini classes (yes you read that right), one for Oysters and even one to hone your skills at carvery.
    So there you have it - some fab foodie events to consider when you're next planning a hen party. For more inspiration or ideas, head over to the The Stag and Hen Experience website!

    * In collaboration with The Stag and Hen Experience

    Monday, 19 September 2016

    GOING VEGGIE AT THE GATE, HAMMERSMITH

    When I think of veggie food; I used to think of rabbit leaves and Quorn. How misguided was I?

    The Grain Store had already shown me that there was life beyond my beloved steak or burger but there's another veggie restaurant in London which was hoping to tempt me to the green side. 

    Welcome to The Gate.
    It's a gorgeous sun-drenched dining room located down in Hammersmith (there's also one in Islington) which caters especially for veggies.

    Owned and run by Michael and Oliver Daniel since 1989, it's arguably London's most successful veggie restaurant, but their menu aims to please meat-eaters too rather than simply catering for the converted.
    The restaurant itself is bright and modern with dark wood tables, sun light streaming in and potted plants at every turn.

    When the sun goes down, it has a cosy feel with candles lit at every table and a warm glow from the industrious bulbs which hang from overhead.

    And the menu? Well no surprise the offering is completely meat-free. Instead there's a wide selection of dishes with influences from Indian, Arabian and Jewish cuisines - and not a single meat substitute in sight. 

    We started with a generous helping of plump green and black olives (£3)...
    and a loaf of the softest homemade foccacia bread (£3) and black olive tapenade. The bread is baked fresh in house every day and perfect for moping up every last sliver of the salty tapenade.
    Starters-wise, there's plenty of choice but the slow-roasted leek tart (£6) was a favourite. A sizeable portion which would be perfect for lunch or as a light dinner, it was tightly packed with leek, Swiss cheese and a fresh salad of raw beetroot and sprouting lentils.
    The Miso Glazed aubergine (£8) was a dish I wanted to love. I really did. Every review I've read raved and sung about it but for me it was just too sickly and the texture mushy - even with the crunch from the peanuts. 

    It's the first time I've tried Miso Glazed Aubergine so I can't compare it to others but I'm thinking perhaps it's just not one for me.  
    The wild mushroom chipotle (£16) fared far better in comparison. A mix of foraged wild mushrooms, sauteed in a rich chipotle and sour cream sauce and served on a bed of braised wild rice and rocket. 

    Not too spicy but with a nice heat which helped bring together the earthy, smokey flavour of the mushrooms leading you to totally forgot you aren't eating a beef chilli. 
    The Thai Green Curry (£13) is one of the restaurant's most popular dishes and with good reason. I personally had no love for the lumps of tofu but the generous servings of aubergine, mushroom, courgette and corn helped to bulk the dish in the absence of the traditional chicken.

    I really love the flavours of Thai food so this dish for me really was a stand-out winner.

    Because a) we're greedy and b) we naively thought not eating meat would leave us feeling hungry, we decided to order some additional side dishes to bolster our meal.

    The sweet potato wedges (£4) were lightly spiced and served with a garlic and chive sour cream..
    while the mixed steam greens (£4) were wonderfully fresh and perfectly cooked with just the right amount of bite.
    While I'm still not sold on waving goodbye to meat forever, my mini foray into the world of vegetarian cooking has been enjoyable and I'd recommend giving The Gate a try if a) you already are veggie or b) you're curious!

    It might not satisfy the hardened meat eaters among us (cough cough my boyfriend) but it has definitely showed me that there's so much more to meat-free cooking than salad leaves.

    Oh - and if that doesn't persuade you, the dessert menu is seriously impressive. We didn't have room to try any but there's a fantastic selection on offer including eton mess, honeycomb cheesecake and banoffe pie - who said meat eaters have all the fun, hey?

    51 Queen Caroline St, 
    Hammersmith W6 9QL

    * We dined as guests of The Gate
    Our food was complimentary and all opinions my own

    The Gate Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato