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    Monday, 28 November 2016

    DIY KOREAN BBQ AT ASADAL, TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD

    You know that phrase 'never judge a book by it's cover'? There's no restaurant which that applies to more so than Asadal.

    Located right on the busy Holborn intersection, next to some stands selling "I heart LDN" memorabilia, it doesn't look all that appealing from the outside....but head down the stairs and you'll be in one of London's busiest Korean restaurants.

    Tom and I headed along on a Thursday evening with pretty low expectations as we made our way down the stairs and into the main dining room....but I assure you, we couldn't have been more wrong.

    First off this place is huge! They cater for 120 seats with each table housing its own little BBQ ready in expectation of the main event, the Korean BBQ.

    We've tried Korean food a few times in the past, but I'm in no way an expert so we decided to try one of the set menus on offer so we could explore all the dishes.

    You start off with a soup, as is Asian tradition, with our choice being the Man Du, a light flavoursome broth with homemade dumplings.

    It amazes me how the chefs manage to pack so much flavour into a translucent liquid!
    Next, comes Jap Che: a mixture of vegetables and beef pan-fried with noodles, soy sauce and spices.

    The texture is a little gluttonous...but the crunch from the vegetables and their slightly salty flavour makes them incredibly moreish.  

    Korean Fried chicken (Kan Poong Gi) is a huge part of the cuisine and we simply loved the KFC here!

    Sweet and sticky but with that afterburn of spice which hits you out of nowhere...I could have ordered at least three bowls.
    This next dish I wasn't too keen on: Mo Dum Jeon.

    Small chunks of courgette, prawn, mushrooms and white fish lightly fried in an egg batter. For me, everything tasted just a little too much of egg to be enjoyable...a bit little bite-sized pieces of omelette. 
    That was the only real negative as this next dish is a definite winner.

    Also known as Bulgogi, this is the famous DIY BBQ element of Korean cuisine, and where all the fun begins.

    A plate full of marinated beef is brought up to your table ready to be poured onto the now roaring gas BBQ hidden beneath.

    You get to work frying it off until it's cooked to your taste (slightly pink for us)...
    Then you grab a lettuce leaf...

    Coat it with a little bean curd and top with some veggies...
    then load up with some of your meat...
    and roll up 'till you've got yourself your very own Korean-style burrito!
    Don't be afraid to get stuck into the kimchi too - the thought of fermented cabbage might not sound too appealing but this a staple on Korean dinner tables

    It's crunchy, spicy and also kind of salty, and you can pair it with practically ANY dish! I promise it will elavate your wraps to a whole new level of deliciousness!
    I hope you're still hungry by this point as there's one last dish - the Bibimbap!

    This might actually be my favourite. It's a really simple dish - basically just meat, rice and veggies - but boy does it pack some flavour.

    It's made right in front of you at your table and I promise it's worth saving room for.
    The only way to round off your meal is with a plate of fresh fruit (I promise you won't want anything else!)
    Asadal is a fun place to spend an evening, especially with a big group of you - this is the kind of food which is perfect for sharing.

    Service is pretty laid back, we were there for well over two hours so I wouldn't head there if you're in a rush but a Friday night with some cocktails and beers would be perfect!

    Asadal
    224 High Holborn, London WC1V 7DA

    * I was invited to review Asadal
    All opinions and BBQ love are my own
    Asadal Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

    Thursday, 24 November 2016

    LA TAGLIATA, SPITALFIELDS

    Hands up who's ready for a carb heavy post?

    It's starting to get to that time of year where I want to eat ALL the pasta and ALL the cheese for dinner and I think I've found just the perfect place to do that...

    Let me introduce you to La Tagliata
    It's a little Italian restaurant hidden down the cute cobbled streets of East London, sandwiched between Liverpool Street Station and Spitalfields market.

    While carbs are obviously on the agenda (Italians love carbs), it's not heavy or stodgy, just perfectly cooked and beautifully presented food. 

    We were invited for a review on a chilly Thursday evening so excitedly made the trip across London for a true Italian feast. 
    As soon as you walk in you're greeted by a light bright dining room and friendly attentive staff.

    The restaurant is deceptively big, with tables hidden around cosy little corners in rooms themed on the different rooms you'd find in an Italian villa. 

    You'll find an old wooden bookshelf tucked away in the library, vintage cellos hanging in the music room and beautiful vases and flowers dotted all around. 
    The menu at La Tagliata is super simple menu, but the dishes here are spectacular!

    They make all the food fresh in-house every day, including the delicious bowls of home-made bread and focaccia which you can nibble on as you plan your assault on the main menu. 
    Like I said, the menu is super simple. There's only a handful of starters, pasta and grills to choose from...which actually makes it kind of hard to pick! 

    I suggest you start with the antipasti platter to share (£18)

    Slices of Italian charcuterie, warm focaccia topped with lard and marinated artichokes - ready to be piled high and dunked into the silky olive oil and Italian balsamic vinegar. 

    I would have loved a little tapenade on the side to tie it all together but the quality and taste of the meat were sensational.  
    Now for the mains...

    You have to order the restaurant's namesake dish: La Tagliata di Manzo (£21)

    You would totally be forgiven for thinking the name was more to do with tagliatelle but it's actually a dish made with thinly cut slices of steak on a bed of cherry tomatoes, rocket, Parmesan and a balsamic glaze. 

    Served perfectly pink and incredibly tender - it's simple but so delicious...a must-order! 
    It doesn't come with any other sides so you may want to order a little something to bulk your meal out. 

    There's garlic and rosemary potatoes (£4), grilled aubergine and courgette (£4.50) or our favourite sautéed spinach slathered in a potent garlic butter (£4.50)
    My favourite dish of the night though was the tagliatelle zucchine e gamberi (£12)

    Homemade pasta with courgettes and prawns sautéed and coated in a light brandy, parsley and lobster sauce (£12).

    It's beautifully presented and tastes just incredible.
    If you've got room for pudding, I urge you to order the Tiramisu! (£6)

    I didn't even think I liked Tiramisu until I tried this. Layers of savoiardi biscuits soaked in espresso coffee and mascarpone cream and finished with a dusting of chocolate.

    Nothing like the stodgy, sloppy creations I've tried in the past. Il Tortino (£7) is another good choice for dessert. A warm chocolate fondant (£7) with an oozing chocolate and strawberry filled centre

    ...add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on there and I would be in heaven. 
    Overall we were really impressed with the food and atmosphere at La Tagliata.

    Portion sizes are definitely on the fine-dining side but the quality and taste of the food were near perfection for us. 

    It would make a perfect place for a date or even just a catch-up with your best gal-pals after work. Try to bag a seat near the window and you can watch the hustle and bustle of the city go by! 

    La Tagliata is open Monday to Saturday in two sittings, either 2-2.15pm and 6-10.15pm...I urge you to book yourself a table! 

    La Tagliata
    11 Sandy’s Row, E1 7HW

    * I was invited to review La Tagliata
    Our food was complimentary but opinions are honest!
    La Tagliata Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

    Tuesday, 22 November 2016

    13 IDEAS FOR YOUR NEXT SECRET SANTA

    It's getting to that time of year again!

    Secret Santa; when you have to think of something creative to give that person in the office you barely know!

    Rather than giving a gift destined for the bin, this year, I've rounded up some of my favourite bits which I think would go down a treat!

    I've kept everything super affordable too, I think the most expensive thing on here is like £24 so definitely well within budget and there's not a single novelty tea-towel in sight...

    So here you are, my thirteen top picks to ensure you're the most coveted Secret Santa in the office!



    1 - Dolly Rocker Scented Candle - John Lewis
    2 - The Theory of Everything - HMV
    3 - Personalised Play Doh - John Lewis Oxford Street
    4 - WTF notebook - Sloane
    5 - Owl Mugs - Next
    6 - Neom Essential Oils set - Beauty Expert
    7 - Macaron Print - Wolf and Badger
    8 - Just Your Type stickers - Maiden
    9 - Prosecco Lip Balm - The Present Finder
    10 - Desk Planner - Wolf and Badger
    11 - Fluffy Keychain - Wolf and Badger
    12 - Unicorn Snot Glitter - FCTRY
    13 - Ceramic Bowls - Att Pynta

    *This is a collaborative post

    Thursday, 17 November 2016

    LUXURY HOT CHOCOLATE RECIPE

    The red cups are in the coffee shops which basically means it's Christmas...right?

    Thing is, I'm not really about that coffee life, no. Hot Chocolate is pretty much the ONLY thing which fuels me through the winter months but all the £££ and calories aren't too purse or waist-line friendly.

    So in the spirit of thriftiness, I've taken to making my own at home for way less mo-lah and a few less calories (I'm looking at you 273 calories in a Costa hot choccy!)

    This recipe is super simple and perfect now it's getting a little nippy outside!
    What you'll need
    300ml milk
    75ml cream
    100g chocolate
    Marshmallows

    What you'll need to do
    1. Pour the milk, cream and chocolate into a sauce-pan and heat gently, stirring to melt the chocolate
    2. Whisk until smooth then pour into glasses and top with marshmallow
    3. Enjoy!
    Time to cuddle up with one of these babies by the fire right..?

    If you'd like to have a go at making your own luxury hot chocolate, Voucherbox are running a competition where three lucky winners could win £100 to spend online at Whittard...just imagine all the lovely hot cocoa you could make with that! 

    Wednesday, 16 November 2016

    THE SIX THINGS TO CONSIDER FOR DINNER PARTY SUCCESS

    Now it's mid-November and Bonfire Night has been and gone I think it's officially okay to get excited about Christmas.

    I literally LOVE Christmas. This stretch between now and the big day is by far my favourite part of the year for two main reasons: the food and all the parties of course!

    To celebrate this, I've partnered with my favourite home-ware brand Robert Welch (you remember that Poke Bowl recipe I did with them right?) to share my tips for hosting your very own fab dinner party this Festive season!
    THE PEOPLE
    So first things, first - who are you inviting?

    Chances are you're not planning to host a dinner party for yourself so you'll need round up a fab group of people to invite round. While it might sound like the easiest decision ever - sometimes you do need to do a little forward planning.

    If it's just you and your BFFs you'll be fine - but try to think of the dynamics of the group if you're inviting partners along or if you're hosting a party with people from work who won't know anyone. 

    You want conversation to flow easily on the table so try to group people with common interests otherwise it could all get a little awkward trying to think of conversation starters. You may even want to consider having a table plan...

    THE FOOD
    Right so you've been brave and invited people round for dinner - now what the hell are you going to feed them!?

    Easy. I always say just serve them YOUR favourite food (if you're favourite food is beans on toast then maybe have a little re-think...but y'know you do what you want girl).

    Chances are if you enjoy the food, you'll have had practice making it before - and you'll know it tastes good. If you've never tried to make a soufflé before, not is not the time hun. 

    I love Mexican so fajitas make brilliant sharing food at a dinner party (see you don't have to be formal). If you do want to seem a little more fancy though...what about Risotto or a roast you can put in the oven ahead of time?

    Any dish you can make ahead is always going to be a bonus!
    THE TABLE
    Food - check. People - check. Now for the fun bit...decorating!

    If you've got sharing dishes to eat you'll want to keep table decoration to a minimum but that doesn't mean it has to be boring. 

    Some colourful napkins or place-settings and freshly cut flowers will help to inject a bit of personality into the evening but you'll also want to think about the crockery too. 

    According to research, heavy cutlery actually makes food taste better so try and invest in a good set. I've always hated light-weight knives and forks which is why I couldn't live without my Robert Welch cutlery - I longed after my mum's for years before I eventually got my own. 

    So I'm also pleased to let you know that Robert Welch are currently selling a limited edition 30 piece set of their Malvern cutlery (which includes 6 steak knives) for a £39 saving on the individual pieces. This is definitely the way to go if you want to be an adult and buy a decent set of cutlery without having to spend a small fortune piecing it all together one by one! 

    THE THEME 
    All good parties have a theme so now is your chance to get creative and interactive for your guests to get involved with.

    This could be influenced by the food (think Mexican night) or by asking everyone to wear something specific (hello Christmas jumper party). It just helps to add an extra element to the night and turn it more into a party rather than just having your mates round your flat for dinner.  
    THE ATMOSPHERE
    If you've got a good bunch of people in the room, I'm sure the atmosphere will be fab but there's lots of little things you can do to boost the mood.

    Background music is the first thing to consider - no-one wants an awkward silence or to listen to Janet who eats with her mouth open all night so just a little something in the background will help the  night flow better. 

    You could also consider having a competition during the meal! It's a total ice-breaker and can help break-up the wait between courses - especially if you need to nip out to the kitchen!

    THE DRINKS
    This will inevitably fuel the atmosphere. 

    Want a raccous affair - great, start with sambuca. Want something a little more sophisticated, try some bubbles. It's completely up to you...but don't forget alcohol isn't the be all and end all of a party.

    There's nothing worse than only having water on offer for guest who aren't drinking so try to be creative. Have mocktails on offer if you're doing cocktails or cordials. Even just having the option of sparkling water and lime can go a long way in making people feel more comfortable about staying sober.
    AND FINALLY...HAVE FUN
    Probably the most important tip of all! Don't spend so much time in the kitchen that you forget to actually enjoy yourself.

    I promise people will more likely remember having a great time with you - rather than any of the food you serve!

    This post was sponsored by Robert Welch
    All opinions are honest and my own

    Friday, 11 November 2016

    5 TIPS FOR CONGESTED SKIN

    So I have to start this post with a bit of a confession. I am the WORST girl when it comes to beauty products.

    Don't get me wrong, I like having treatments done. I have eyelash extensions, semi-perminant eyebrows, hair extensions and regularly get my nails done but basic skincare routine?  I am so bad.

    I'd pretty much gotten away with having next-to-no regular skin routine untill this year when suddenly my skin was like 'sorry babes' and I broke out in what I can only call 'teenage skin' again. 

    In a bid to clear my face up, I paid a visit to the specialists at Biologique Recherche for a skin analysis and facial to see if they could help get to the bottom of my skin troubles.

    I was told I had congested skin. I had no idea what that actually meant but I knew it didn't sound good. Well turns out congested skin basically means having clogged skin - which can lead to blackheads and enlarged pores. 

    A lot of people think blocked pores are caused by dirt but it's actually excess oil and sebum which are the main culprits so I've put together some tips on how you can tackle and reduce skin congestion.

    DRINK MORE WATER
    This one is so obvious and we're told it time and time again but if you want good skin - you're going to have to drink more water. Our bodies are made up of around 60% water so naturally if your dehydrated, your skin is going to suffer.

    Personally I enjoy water but if you're not a fan, you could try adding lemon slices or pomegranate seeds to jazz it up a little. 

    Another fab way to keep your skin hydrated is to use a water difuser at home which spritzs out a mist of vapour - you can also load them up with essential oils and perfumes so your house will be smelling divine aswell as you having glowing, hydrated skin: win, win. 
    REMOVE ALL YOUR MAKE-UP
    I used to rely extensively on face wipes, because I'm super lazy and it was the quickest way to get my make up off my face (sometimes I just didn't take my make-up off at all - told you I'm the worst, didn't I).

    Anyway, I found that make-up wipes are basically enemy number one for your skin. Not only do they dry out your skin but they also do bugger all in terms of actually getting your make-up off because they don't actually clean down into your pores.

    You need to use a good cleanser, and preferably a cleansing brush, so you can really scrub all that horrible gunk out of your pores!

    REGULAR FACE-MASKS
    Since having my initial facial with Biologique Recherche, I've been trying to do a face-mask twice a week.

    Their  Masque Vivant is my new BFF. It smells and looks a lot like marmite but if you can get over smearing the sticky brown gloop on your face, it's packed with antioxidants which purify your skin and helps to regulate oil, unclog and tighten pores, and generally brighten your complexion.Total game-changer.

    I was also prescribed a whole host of products so now my skin-care routine has gone from one quick wipe to a four-step process. I definitely feel that the face masks and the exfoliator have made the biggest difference to my skin.  
    USE AN EXFOLIATOR
    This leads me on nicely to the next product in my kit which is a real saviour to my skin, the exfoliator Lotion P50.

    Exfoliation is something I definitely didn't do before and since I've started has made a real difference. It all makes sense really, skin congestion is caused by dead skin-cells blocking your pores so you need to scrub them away to keep the skin clear and clean. 

    Lotion P50 is a bit of cult beauty classic and the most famous of all their products. It's made of fruit enzymes which work to dissolve and remove the dead cells and it also helps to regulate oil production which has massively toned down the break-outs I'd been having.

    GET SOME VITAMIN A 
    You could put all the lotions and potions in the world on your skin but if your diet sucks, it's not really going to be much use. Much like with drinking all the water, you need to be nourishing your skin from the inside-out to start seeing a difference.

    Foods rich in Vitamin A are great for stimulating the dermis so these are the ones to load up on, think orange foods like carrots, squash and sweet potato. Blueberries are another skin-friendly food packed with anti-oxidants as are every blogger's favourite food, avocado so now there's even more reason to munch on that avo on toast!
    There you have it, my go-to skin care tips. 
    What do you think, have you got any skin-care gems to share?

    * My treatment with Biologique Recherche was complimentary
    All the tips/opinions above are based on my experience & totally honest

    Wednesday, 9 November 2016

    THE ALL-AMERICAN MENU AT THE DINER

    So a lot of my restaurant posts lately have had a bit of a Thai influence (in-fact three in the last month)

    Don't get me wrong - I love Asian food but it's been a while since we've had a filthy burger post on here and I think it's a bit overdue, am-I-right? 

    The Diner isn't a new restaurant by any means - they've been here in the Capital since 2005 - but the menu is constantly evolving so Tom and I headed down to the Canarby Street branch to try some of the new-look dishes.
    The interior is as close to an American diner as you can get. Think neon lights, retro posters and big booths to sit in and there's one hell of a soundtrack blasting out Arctic Monkeys and The Overtones as you eat. 

    It's the perfect place for cocktails with your gal-pals on a Friday night and equally good for nursing your hangover the morning after.
    Like I said, this is a fab place for cocktails - there's everything from the classic mint mojito (sooo good) through to whiskey sours and even hard shakes for those that like a splash of vodka in their milkshakes. 

    Plus the beer menu is pretty extensive and the wine list is super simple - with a choice of either 'good' or 'best' in each grape variety!
    The food menu though is where this place really excels. 

    All your guilty pleasure American-style dishes are here. Burgers, burritos, hot dogs - all the good stuff and they even do all-day breakfast.

    Fancy some pancakes at 4 in the afternoon? - no problem. Breakfast burrito? Sure, they've got you covered - but for me it's all about the wings. Buffalo chicken wings really are my achilles heel. 
    Literally bathing in spicy, sticky hot sauce and served with a little pot of blue cheese sauce to take the edge off, these are the PERFECT way to start your meal. 

    You can get a starter portion for £5.95 or a larger sharing serving for £11.95 - these are my must-order dish. 
    Now the nachos (£6.95) here are a bit of a revelation. 

    You know when you order nachos and you have the ones in the middle covered in all that cheesey, saucey goodness and then you've got all the little fellas round the edge who are completely dry - it's a bit annoying right. 

    Well the Diner have got this sorted. They slather all the cheese, salsa, guacamole and chilli on the bottom of the pan and stick the chips into the sauce, ready for you to scoop up meaning every single chip gets an even amount of coating. Pure genius. 
    Now let me tell you about the burgers....and in particular the buns.

    They're super soft, squishy and perfect for holding the HUGE creations which the team in the kitchen come up with. 

    Oh and they're also from family-run East London bakery, Rinkoffs who also make an Oreo cheesecake stuffed 'crodough' but that's a different story altogether. 
    The Diablo burger (£9.95) is a solid choice if you're a classic cheeseburger fan with cheese, bacon and burger sauce.

    The DCB burger though - gimme, gimme, gimme. Buttermilk fried chicken, bacon, cheese, slaw and pickles in a rinkoff bun - so dreamy.
    Oh and the chilli cheese fries - don't even bother going if you're not going to order these okay (and we also can't be friends). They are the best. Skinny fries pilled up with cheese and hot beef chilli. I literally dreams about these things. 
    If all that hasn't tempted you to book a table, I really don't know what will!

    It's not the place to go if you're tracking your calories in MyFitnessPal but for cheat day - it's your new BFF. While the food isn't good for the waistline, it's good for the soul and that's what counts right? I'm fully committed to my winter body now anyways....

    The Diner
    18 Ganton Street, Soho
    W1F 7BU

    * We were invited to review The Diner
    All food/drinks were complimentary but opinions are honest

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

    Monday, 7 November 2016

    AUTUMNAL BAKES WITH HOTPOINT

    Is there anything more satisfying or grown up than knowing that you've baked your own loaf of bread?

    That's surely the point in life when you know that you've got your shit together, when your up in the kitchen baking your own bread on a Saturday morning rather than dying from a hangover?

    Now I've been pretty open in the past about the fact that I am no baker. I don't really have the patience for all the weighing of ingredients and the kneeding and the proving and all the long, time-involved steps it takes - but after an afternoon being shown how by the pros...I've realised how satisfing it all is.
    So where did this amazing revalation take place? Down at the Jamie Oliver Cookery School in Westfield no less, where I'd been invited for a special Autumnal baking class with Hotpoint.

    Hotpoint are the people who make a fab range of kitchen-appliances including the essential tool for baking bread: ovens.

    After consulting with their customers, they found the number one thing which irrated them was their oven not having an even cooking tempreture throughout - you know how annoying it is when you get burnt edges and uncooked centres right?

    Well Hotpoint listened and they've come up with a new mutli-flow technology which ensures all their ovens remain at a steady heat through-out, no matter which part of the oven you're using and that's exactly what we were test-driving on the day.

    It was a fab afternoon learning how to make all the different doughs but my favourite recipe had to be the foccacia so of course I snaffled you the recipe!

    If you fancy turning all Nigella and making your very own Rosemary Focaccia, then grab your pinny and follow the simple recipe below!

    What you'll need
    325g strong bread flour
    150g Italian tipo “00” flour
    200ml tepid water
    65ml extra virgin olive oil
    15g fresh yeast
    Vegetable oil
    1 sprig of rosemary

    What you'll need to do
    1. Combine the bread flour, 00 flour, yeast, water, olive oil and a good pinch of sea salt in a mixing bowl, combine till it forms a dough then tip onto a floured work-top and and knead gently for 5 to 10 minutes until smooth.
    2. Pop back into your mixing bowl and cover with a tea-towel, leaving to rest in a warm place for 45 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
    3. While the dough is rising, prepare a baking tray by lightly oiling the base and sides with vegetable oil.
    4. Transfer the dough to the baking tray. Spread out evenly using the palm of your hands and gently expel the air from the dough, then rub 15ml of extra virgin olive oil over the surface of the dough using your fingertips.
    5. ‘Dimple’ the dough ensuring that you don’t press all the way through to the base. Rip up your rosemary leaves and poke them gently into the bread.
    6. Cover the dough again and leave to rest for a further 20 to 40 minutes, or until is has doubled in size.
    7. Pre-heat oven to 200ºC/410ºF/Gas 6.
    8. Place the baking tray in the pre-heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Once cooked, carefully remove from the oven and drizzle with a little more extra virgin olive oil.
    Don't forget to thank me when your kitchen is smelling like freshly-made bread and you're feeling totally in control of your life. You're welcome!

    * I was invited to take part in the masterclass
    Some photos in the post were taken by the event photographer
    Jamie's Italian Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato