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    Monday, 11 December 2017

    MY BEST MOMENTS OF 2017

    2016 was a pretty shitty year for me so I was determined to make 2017 a much, much better one.

    At the start of the year, I wrote a list of resolutions or 'goals' for what I wanted to achieve - and after a lot of rummaging around to look for the list, I'm pleased to say I've been able to cross off quite a few.
    I BOUGHT A COTTAGE WITH TOM
    So this was kind of the biggie. In January, after sort of talking about the fact we might start *thinking* about buying somewhere together in 2017, we put an offer in on a cottage in Beaconsfield and it actually got accepted. Cue a frantic rush to sell my flat, complete on both properties and start our HUGE renovation plans.

    Tom and I have put our heart and souls into renovating that little cottage. We knocked down every internal wall, tore off every piece of plasterboard, re-wired, re-plumb, rebuilt almost every aspect of the house - I mean we even moved the location of the bloody staircase! It's taken up every single evening and weekend for the last year but the end is in sight and in two weeks time (fingers crossed), we'll be moving in to our dream home!

    If you want to follow our renovation works, we set up an Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/thelakeslaneproject/ 

    I GOT PROMOTED
    As some of you know I work at a fab PR agency in Beaconsfield. From product launches and news sell-ins for Kinder Bueno and Nutella to activating huge sponsorship campaigns for Just for Men and the NFL, it's been an incredibly full on year - and I worked my absolute butt off so I was over-the-moon to get promoted in October. I proved to myself that I am good at my job - and that hard work really does pay off!

    I LOST OVER A STONE
    This one I am really proud of. I had my friend's hen do in Marbella in July and went on a bit of a health-kick beforehand. I managed to shift over a stone in weight (and keep it off) and I honestly feel amazing for it. My blog has taken a bit of a hit (because food blogging is kinda hard when you're not eating out as much) and I still have a tiny bit more I want to lose but I am so happy and confident in myself right now so I couldn't be prouder.

    I WATCHED TWO OF MY BEST FRIENDS GET MARRIED
    Speaking of hen-dos - this year I got to see two of my best friends walk down the aisle on their wedding days. Seeing your friends get married is just the best thing - you get to dress up, spend time with all your mates, see your BFF at their happiest and there's just SO much love in the room! I've got another wedding later this month, then weddings lined up in 2018 and 2019 - and I'm sure there's more proposals on the way!

    So yeah 2017 was a pretty good year on all fronts. Now, roll on 2018...I'm excited to see what's in store. 

    Wednesday, 6 December 2017

    PERFECT PIZZAS AT MOTHER LONDON

    When I very first started out in the world of work, I interned at a PR company in Battersea. Back then, there was barely anything in the area (other than the Dogs Home and the Power Station) but fast-forward to today and there's some really exciting things happening that side of the river.

    Of course there's Bunga Bunga (for the most hilarious brunches) or Gordon's London House (for when you're feeling fancy) and with the redevelopment of the Power Station underway, Battersea is turning into a bit of a foodie hot-spot. So with that in mind, I decided to head back to my old haunt to meet a friend for a lunch and bloody good catch up.
    What I'm Wearing: Jumpsuit / Bodysuit*Roll Neck (worn underneath)

    So where was this new place we were heading? Well, it's called Mother and it's a new Italian restaurant which has popped up under the shadows of the Battersea Power Station.  It's a little tricky to find at first (a lot of this area is still under construction) but it's well worth persevering. 

    The team at Mother aims to deliver delicious, authentic Italian dishes using the very best seasonal ingredients, sourced directly from Italy. This is their first outpost in London but they're already really popular over in Copenhagen so the owners are hoping to emulate that success over here. 
    The restaurant itself is super trendy. Built beneath the old railway arches, the space is complete with exposed brickwork, huge hand-carved wooden tables and industrial-style steel beams. Everything has been personally designed by the passionate team and they've tried to restore as many of the original features of the space as possible. 

    Taking pride of place at the centre of the restaurant is the huge wood fired ovens which are the heart and soul of this place. Constantly in action, they're fired up in the mornings to roast off vegetables and bake the delicious handmade focaccia and pizza all through the day.  

    We kicked our lunch off in true Italian style with a selection of anti-pasti including delicious roasted and pickled veg served alongside slices of freshly cut meat...
    and warm, freshly baked sour-dough focaccia. The dough is pillowy soft with just the right amount of charring and a generous sprinkling of garlic and oregano. We also tried the 'Baccalá fritto' - a classic Roman dish of deep fried, salted cod which wasn't quite to my taste on this occasion. The batter was just a little too thick for me and overpowered the delicate fish inside. The 'Suppli' though are an absolute must order. Deep-fried balls of risotto, stuffed with meat and melted mozzarella which strings out as you cut them open.  They are DIVINE and we polished the whole lot in seconds!For our mains, we shared a couple of pizzas which really were incredible. I love a good pillowy pizza base (rather than anything too crisp) so these were perfect for me. Nice and soft with the edges curled up so they got a light charing in the baking hot wood oven.

    The comically named 'Nick says it’s good' is a white pizza consisting of smoked cheeses and cauliflower and decorated with green olives, anchovies, capers and little chili for a little heat. 
    My favourite though? It has to be the prosciutto. 
    That same delicious pizza base but piled instead with tomato, mozzarella, rocket and prosciutto - plus a good generous helping of pesto. Simply delicious! 
    Our waitress also told us that all the pizzas at Mother are made using sea-water in the cooking process which apparently mean they are lighter (any excuse to eat a few more slices hey?). 

    Overall we really enjoyed Mother. The food was delicious and the atmosphere is super laid-back so you can enjoy a leisurely lunch or dinner in true Italian style. I'm sure once the Power Station opens, this place will be heaving so next time you're in the area - make sure you pop by for a bite to eat. I promise you'll fall in love with the pizzas!

    Mother London
    Circus West Village 5BN, 188 Kirtling St, London SW8

    * I was invited to review Mother London

    Tuesday, 5 December 2017

    THE NEW WINTER MENU AT IBERICA

    It's officially that time of year when all I want to eat is big bowls of comforting food. Steaming hot bowls of Shepherd's pie, mac and cheese or absolutely ANYTHING containing mashed potato.

    It's just the perfect food for when the darker nights set in right? Well I received an invitation recently for a very different kind of winter comfort food - and it didn't contain even half the amount of stodge as some of my normal festive favourites: Spanish Tapas.

    Now Spanish food doesn't typically spring to mind when I think of 'comfort food' but I'm all about broadening my horizons so we got dressed up and headed over to Victoria to try the new seasonal menu at Spanish restaurant, Iberica.
    What I'm Wearing: Top / Jacket / Flares / Shoes / Handbag

    Everything about Iberica is super authentic. They even had a Spanish architect design all of their restaurants so you feel like you've been transported across to the Continenant as soon as you walk through the door.

    From tiling to resemble the tapas bars in Andalucía to vintage maps, paintings and pots to celebrate Asturian Celtic heritage, they've gone over and above to give each Ibérica its very own character.
    For the new winter season, they've created a delicious new menu which promises to deliver big bold gamey flavours - perfect for the chillier weather. 

    Game is super popular in Spain - they eat a lot more of it than we do - so it features quite heavily on this new menu with everything from Quail, Venison and Duck making an appearance. All the dishes are designed to be eaten tapas style so make sure you order a few dishes and share it out amongst friends.
    There's the honey glazed aubergine which has been slowly cooked for the most incredible melt-in-the-mouth texture and topped with toasted pine nuts for a delicious crunch...
    Or the incredible Hare croquettes.  Filled with a rich, gamey hare pate and topped with tartare sauce...
     I could have eaten the whole tray!
    The fresh hake was cooked beautifully and just the right size for sharing. The flakes of delicately cooked white fish are perfectly balanced with a creamy hollandaise sauce and zingy salad juices.
    The Spanish eat loads of Hake (over 6 kilos per person per year) and it really is a fab alternative to cod which we love here in the UK.
    For your more meaty options - there's the pan fried Quail - which comes served on the bone in a  creamy cep mushroom sauce with delicious festive pickled cranberries. 
    The flavour of the sauce is just incredible but it's really fiddly to eat with the little bones still intact so you might be better opting for the next dish instead...

    Seared Mallard duck breast with beetroot served four ways and pickled girolle mushrooms. Delicious chunks of tender meat with the most incredible flavour. 
    Finally I absolutely loved the pan-fried Venision loin. Served perfectly pink with confit artichokes, toasted pine nuts and a flavour packed honey-roasted garlic aioli.

    It's the perfect dish for winter, washed down with a delicious glass of red wine. 
    If you've room for pudding - order the celery panna cotta (trust me!). I HATE celery but this was the most delicate, creamy pudding I've had in so long, I was ordering seconds! 
    Overall Iberica is a fab place for a bite to eat. The atmosphere is so laid-back, making it the perfect place for a catch-up with friends or work colleagues. The new winter menu is available now until 31st December from all Iberia branches in London, Leeds, Glasgow and Manchester. 

    Iberica
    5-6, Zig Zag, 68 Victoria St, 
    Westminster, London SW1E 6SQ


    * We were invited to preview the new Winter menu
    Our food was free but my opinions are all my own 

    Tuesday, 28 November 2017

    GET BAKING AT TASTE OF LONDON WITH AEG

    I think I could be in the minority here but...I feel SO Christmassy already this year! It’s not even December yet but Heart Extra Christmas is already on the radio, my present shopping is well underway - and if my house wasn't currently a building site I would 100% have my tree up by now. 

    And I suppose the fact that AEG had me cooking up festive recipes at Taste of London last week could also have something to do with it....
    I'm sure you guys are already familiar with Taste of London - it's the HUGE food festival which is held in Regent's Park every year. 

    It usually takes place right at the height of summer but for the last few years, they've also held a winter edition over at the Tobacco Dock and it’s the PERFECT way to get yourself into the festive spirit. 
    They deck the whole place out with Christmas trees and twinkly fairy lights, have live bands serenade you with Christmas songs - all while you're surrounded by incredible smells and delicious food  (sounds perfect right?)

    As with all the Taste of London festivals, it's a great chance to explore some of the best food London has to offer. Not only can you taste dishes from some of Londons' best restaurants like Chai Wu....
    and Les 110 de Taillevent......
    but you can also discover artisan products from smaller but equally passionate producers. There's everything from home-brewed teas and slabs of meat through to luxury chocolate and home-made bakes - perfect for sampling as you make your way from stand to stand. 
    The other great thing about Taste of London is how interactive it all is. There's SO many great foodie talks and demos through the course of the weekend and this year, AEG was hosting a series of baking events with GBBO favourite Richard Burr and Gluts and Gluttony founder Kathy Slack - which I was lucky enough to be a part of. 

    The sessions gave us the chance to prepare some delicious festive dishes - all whilst getting hands-on with all the appliances in the AEG mastery range - which was fab, as funnily enough, Tom and I have just bought all new AEG appliances for the cottage!
    There were stand mixers for preparing pastry, steam ovens so we could create the perfect bake and fabulous induction hobs and pans for preparing a delicious Christmas chutney. 

    I LOVED this chutney so much, I've already made up a batch at home and I'm planning to make another ahead of Christmas Day itself so I wanted to share the recipe with you. 

    First off we used the AEG stick mixer (which I have fallen in LOVE with) to finely dice a red onion. I'm not being over-dramatic but this thing is incredible - it literally chopped the onion in all of about 2 seconds and I've never been so excited! 

    This then goes into a saucepan to be softened down over a low heat. 
    Next you add 130g of cranberries, 100g of caster sugar, a good pinch of salt and cayenne pepper and a splash of red wine vinegar...
    plus the zest and juice of half an orange for good measure. 
    Give it a stir for about 10 minutes until the sugar melts down...

    then crank up the heat and let it all simmer down until your cranberries burst open....
    Slowly but surely it'll start to thicken into the most incredible, tangy chutney which is perfect to serve alongside warm, flaky puff pasty sausage rolls. You really don't get much more Christmassy than that!
    A massive thank you to AEG for inviting me along...I can safely say an AEG Stick Mixer is at the TOP of my Christmas list! Oh and if you're keen to get in on the Taste of London action...there's only 197 days until Taste of London 2018!

    * This post was sponsored by AEG

    Tuesday, 14 November 2017

    A MEAT FEAST AT MACELLAIO RC

    If you've followed me for a while, you'll probably have established that I'm a big meat eater by now (see here, here and here for 'the proof'). You'll know how much I love fried chicken and a bloody good burger - but do you know what my real Achilles heel is? Steak. 

    You just can't beat a perfectly cooked piece of steak, can you? Perfectly seared on the outside and lovely and rare inside (...I think I'm drooling). I'm always on the hunt for my next fix so when I started seeing huge slabs of steak on silver platters plastered across my Instagram feed - I HAD to find out where they were from! 

    Well, a quick Instagram stalk and a google search later, it was revealed - I had to get myself to Macellaio RC. 
    Macellaio RC is one hell of a restaurant - I mean the name literally translates into 'butcher' so already what's not to love? 

    There are four scattered across London and the concept is built around celebrating great Italian ingredients with each branch putting its own individual spin on its meaty menu. 
    The Bankside branch (where we headed) has its very own in-house bakery where they make freshly baked focaccia and pissa breads every day. 

    The 'pissa' (and no, that's not a typo) is allowed to rise for up to 90 hours which helps it pack in the most incredible flavour and texture - but the cheesey focaccia breads are my absolute fav. Stuffed to the brim with delicious strachinno cheese - its light and creamy and perfect washed down with a glass of red wine. 
    What I really love about this place though is the DRAMA! They have an in-house butcher who sits, quite literally on a stage, expertly cutting chunks of meat for the hungry diners. Then for added theatre, your steak knife is thrown down at your place setting minutes before your meat arrives on a GIANT silver platter...
    A quick 1, 2, 3 with the cloche lid and you're presented with a huge slab of perfectly medium rare steak. Seared to perfection on the outside and pink and tender within... 
    There's no fancy sauces or butters - just perfectly seasoned steak, swimming in its own meaty juices.
    For sides, you can't go wrong with a portion of wilted spinach...
    Or some deliciously crisp, fluffy chips! Simple but so, so delicious.

    Now I have to admit, I wasn't overly keen on the dessert to begin with - Basil Panna cotta (savoury puddings don't really do it for me)...
    After a couple of mouthfuls though - once you sort of adjust to the savoury taste - it's quite refreshing and super light (and probably the best way to end your carnivorous feast).
    Dessert aside - I really enjoyed Macellaio RC. Is it the best steak I've had in London? Not quite.... BUT it is pretty bloody good and really reasonably priced too. Oh and highly Instagrammable. Definitely well worth a visit!

    Macellaio RC
    229 Union Street Arch 24, Old Union Yard Arches London SE1 0LR

    * We were invited to review Macelleao RC
    Macellaio Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato