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    Monday, 27 February 2017

    BURGERS AT MEATLIQUOR, BOXPARK CROYDON

    I love spontaneous days out. You know the ones, where you end up somewhere completely on the off-chance but have the BEST time. 

    That's what happened on Sunday. We had to pick something up from Norwood and while looking at the map and trying to work out where the hell in the world that is, I spied it's not actually too far from Boxpark in Croydon.

    I'd come across it before via the lovely Purley Girlie's Instagram feed and we thought as we're unlikely to ever be this far South again, it was worth paying a visit! You might have been to Boxpark before (there's one in Shoreditch too) but if not it's basically like a HUGE shopping centre for street food vendors. 

    There's over 80 shipping containers in there, each converted into a mini-restaurant taken up by everyone from Bukowski Grill and The Potato Project to Fish, Wings and Tings. You can get cuisine from every continent under the one roof PLUS they have an event space where you can chill out and watch the rugby on big screens or listen to the DJs and surprise performances from the likes of Stormzy. 
    For our trip, however we went straight for Meat Liquor. Meat Liquor is one of my favourite London restaurants. Their buffalo chicken burger is THE best in London (uncontested as far as I'm concerned) but the restaurant is SO ridiculously dark, I've never really been able to write a decent blog post about it.

    The Boxpark restaurant is a different story. It's got natural light streaming in from all sides so for the sake of the blog, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share it with you guys. 

    I'm sure most people are familiar with Meat Liquor. They do burgers and they do them bloody well. It's the kind of places hangovers where made for. You don't want to go there when you're counting calories BUT for cheat day, Meat Liquor has your back. They even put a whole roll of napkins on each table so you know the food is going to be seriously dirty (in the best way possible).
    Seeing as I was feeling a little fragile on this particular Sunday, we really went to town on the menu. Starting with the infamous Dead Hippie burger (£8.75). They take two beef patties and fry them off in a  little French's mustard before slathering on Dead Hippie sauce, mince onions, lettuce, cheese and pickles.

    The result? A super messy but really tasty burger. It can get a little sickly and you'll need both hands and a lot of those napkins to eat it but I promise, it tastes bloody good.

    Next is the the Buffalo Chicken Burger (£8.75). I've never ordered anything else and why would you when you've got a HUGE deep fried chicken fillet covered in Meat Liquor's signature hot pepper sauce and covered in blue cheese sauce?
    Now the fries are my favourite part. If you're looking for a real blow-out, order the chilli cheese fries (£7). These babies come loaded up with beef chilli, mince onions, melted cheese and chopped jalapeƱos plus a squeeze of French's mustard for good measure. 

    The portion is HUGE so you'll probably want to share these as they're basically a meal in themselves...
    But if you're greedy like us, you'll also want to order the Buffalo fries (£6). Look, I was hungover and hungry, don't judge me.

    A bit like Bleeker's Angry Fries, these are a huge portion of skinny fries topped with crumbled blue cheese and more of that incredibly addictive buffalo sauce. If I were to chose between the two - I'd say these are probably my favourite...and I imagine they're less likely to give you a coronary heart attack but each to their own.  
    And because I just can't get enough of the stuff, an order of the Buffalo wings (£7.50) is another must-have. You get a pile of about 12 and each one is perfectly cooked with a nice crispy coating and succulent juicy meat inside. Just remember they come as a main dish rather than a starter!
    An epic looking lunch right? Of course there was no room for pudding, I know I can eat a lot but event that was my limit!

    The good news is that there's also Meat Liquor in London so you can get your Buffalo fix without the trip across the river BUT if you do ever find yourself down that way, I highly recommend Boxpark. There are SO many good restaurants to chose from and it makes a brilliant foodie day out!

    Meat Liquor, BoxPark Croydon
    99 George St, London CR0 1LD

    MEATliquor Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

    Saturday, 25 February 2017

    SALT & DRY AT THE STRONGROOM, SHOREDITCH

    I have a bit of love/hate relationship with Shoreditch. I LOVE that it's bursting with exciting new pop-ups and incredible restaurants. I love the fact it's a bit grotty in places but also buzzing with creativity and history and I really love all the food (did I mention that?). But...a lot of the time, that's all weighed out by how much I really hate the train journey.

    Shoreditch is about as far on the other side of London as you can get from my house. 18 tube stops on one line. It's boring and it's dull but every so often, something comes up to convince me to head over there... 
    On this occasion, that reason is Salt and Dry. They've just kicked off a three-month residency at the Strongroom bar and kitchen so I couldn't resist heading down to give you guys the low-down. 

    The venue itself is on Curtain Road right in the heart of Shoreditch. They've been there for well over twenty years (so I guess you could call it an East London institution) which boasts a late-night music venue, recording studio and restaurant as well as a huge outdoor courtyard. 

    If you head on upstairs, that's where you'll find the kitchen currently being occupied by the Salt and Dry boys for the next 12 weeks.
    You can pull up a table next to the huge tankers of Pilsner Urquel as you read the menu (hidden in a record sleeve) or chalked up on the wall by the open-faced kitchen. 

    Salt and Dry are street-food specialists with a penchant for pizza, cured meats and grilled meats which they're known to serve from the back of a converted Morris-Minor. On the menu here, you'll find dishes from almost every continent, with each offering taking inspiration from every inch of the globe. 
    My recommendation? Start with a plate of the meaty hot wings (£5). They're red hot to touch with just the right amount of kick. Not too spicy but not to be underestimated either and fall off the bone tender.
    Next, try the poutine (£4.50). Now this isn't a traditional poutine. Traditional poutine is made with chips, cheese curds and lashings of gravy. It's the ultimate hangover food and the greatest discovery my Canadian housemates ever introduced me to at uni...but this one is still good. 

    The poutine here starts the same with chips and cheese but this time it's covered in a beef dip and topped with spicy jalapeƱos and miniature sweety drop peppers. It's features on the small plates menu  so it's the perfect size to share as a starter or even as a side dish to what's coming next....
    Yep a burger. It's East London after all. This one is made with Hereford blade beef, melted jalsberg cheese and onions (£10). It comes wrapped in paper and is as messy and dirty as you'd want a good burger to be....if just a little flat!

    Don't be deceived by looks though. It's perfectly cooked, ultra juicy, perfectly seasoned and cushioned between two soft buns. A definitive must-order.
    My favourite dish (so promise me you'll order it) is the Ghurka curry (£12). The chicken comes served in meaty chunks, still on the bone which means it's super tender and packed full of the spicy, curry flavours. It's served with a soft, home-made roti, perfect for scooping up all the sauce and it's one of the most perfectly seasoned dishes I've eaten in a very long time!
    Saving the best till last, you need to order the blackcurrant and custard doughnut. I'm not even exaggerating when I say it's one of the best I've had in London and I'm really sad that the photos don't do even an inch of justice to it. 
    We really did have an incredible meal with Salt and Dry. Each of the dishes was perfectly cooked and the service was spot-on. They have themed nights running throughout the week so you can pop down for a quiz night, curry Tuesdays or even Saturday brunch. If you do head down there, ask for Phil - he was our super friendly waiter who really helped us to have a great evening!

    Salt & Dry at Strongroom
    120-124 Curtain Road, London

    * We were invited to review Salt & Dry

    Strongroom Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

    Thursday, 16 February 2017

    RECIPE: WINTER FRUIT & NUT PORRIDGE [+GIVEAWAY CLOSED]

    I'm sat writing this tucking into a bowl of porridge at 7pm and d'y know what? I do this a lot more than I'd like to admit. 

    I could eat porridge at pretty much any time of the day. I'm like flipping Goldilocks. It's just so warming and filling and it's basically like my ideal comfort food. Like getting a hug in a bowl.  

    You'll already know I'm a bit of fan of Flahavan's when it comes to my porridge. I've used them to make pretty summer porridge bowls and I even put their oats in my smoothies so when I heard about their latest launch, I got a bit excited!
    Because for the first time, they've launched sachets. Now it's not ground-breaking in the porridge world because let's face it Quaker have been doing this for a while BUT for fans of the brand it's pretty new and exciting.

    I really like Flahavan's. It's got a really natural, earthy taste to it and a fab texture. The oats are rolled so they have a bit of bite and just feel a lot more wholesome! 

    Having the oats in the new sachet format now means I can keep a sachet in my bag and have it for breakfast when I get to work rather than having to worry about finding a stove!

    So to celebrate the launch, I wanted to share on my go-to porridge recipes which is perfect for warming you up on a cold morning!

    What you'll need
    1 sachet of Flahavan's Irish Porridge Oats
    1 tsp honey
    Handful dried fruit (I used sultanas)
    Handful of pistachios
    1 tsp cinnamon

    What you'll need to do
    I used the new Flahavan's Irish Porridge Oats sachets for this recipe so it's SUPER simple. Ideal for doing the mornings when you get to work or when you're at home but short on time!

    1. You just empty the sachet into a bowl then fill the empty sachet with milk (about 190ml) and pour over your oats.

    2. Pop into the microwave for two minutes and then give it a go stir before leaving it to stand for another minute longer. You can also cook on it the hob for the same amount of time (but I'm all about that less washing up life)

    3. Once it's cooled slightly and thickened up, top with your cinnamon, fruit and nuts (and chocolate if you're feeling adventurous) and enjoy!

    Super simple but SO tasty!
    GIVEAWAY TIME!
    To celebrate the launch of the new Flahavan's sachets, the team have given me a bundle of goodies to giveaway to you lovely lot!

    By entering (using the Rafflecopter widget below) you'll be in with the chance of winning a selection of the Flahavan’s range including Flahavan’s Irish Organic Porridge Oats, Flahavan’s Irish Jumbo Oats and Flahavan’s Irish Multi Seed Oats. Good luck!

    If you miss out, don't worry you can pick up the new sachets in a box of 10 at Waitrose for £2.40!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway
    Terms & Conditions: UK residents only

    * I was sent a hamper of goodies in exchange for writing this post
    All opinions are 100% my own. Linked up to Super Lucky, U, Me & The Kids & Honest Mum

    Monday, 13 February 2017

    CLEVER HACKS TO KEEP YOUR VALENTINE'S FLOWERS ALIVE

    Guys, I think I've found my new calling in life - I think I want to be a florist. You can totally imagine me in my pinnie amongst the roses and tulips right...?
    Well I'm not about to quit my day-job just yet but I did discover it's SO therapeutic! I spent an evening arranging flowers with Tesco and star florist Jamie Aston at his swanky Marylebone shop recently and I had THE most relaxing time!

    PLUS I learnt a thing or two about flowers. Hopefully you'll get a bunch for Valentine's Day tomorrow - you old romantics you - so try these tips from Tesco's Head Florist, Michelle Buck to help make your blooms last longer!

    GIVE THEM A TRIM
    First step is to take your flowers out of the packaging - give them a quick check over, remove all the lower leaves and re-cut the stems with a sharp pair of scissors.

    CUT THE STEMS
    Top tip! When you cut your stems, do it at a 45 degree angle - this creates a larger surface area for the flowers to drink up all that lovely water they'll be sitting in.

    MAKE SURE YOUR VASE IS CLEAN
    Always make sure you clean your vases – dirty vases harbour bacteria which can kill your flowers! A simple wash in hot soapy water and a little bleach should do the trick

    CHECK FOR FRESHNESS
    Every days or so, check the water to make sure it's fresh - it shouldn't smell and definitely shouldn't look gunky! Ideally you need to change the water every 2-3 days and also give the stems a little cut.

    You should also give the leaves a quick check to make sure the petals and flowers haven't turned yellow or started wilting.
    GIVE THEM A NICE HOME...AWAY FROM ANY FRUIT!
    Avoid the temptation to put them on your window sill. Did you know, flowers shouldn't be left in direct sunlight or anywhere draughty? Also try and keep them away from ripening fruit...it gives off a gas called ethylene which will make them wilt quicker!

    KEEP YOUR HEADS UP
    If you find your roses have bent after a couple of days, they might have an airlock in the stem. All you need to do is cut the stem, place into boiling water for about 30 seconds & then recut and place in  a little cold water. This should destroy the airlock and you should notice the heads lift after around 30 minutes!
    AVOID STAINS 
    I love lilies but the pollen can be a nightmare so remove the stamens so they don't end up staining your furniture or clothes. Little tip for if you do end up with lily pollen on your clothes - resist the urge to rub it, instead take a piece of cello tape and dab it away!

    REMEMBER THE SECRET INGREDIENT: BLEACH
    If you can't get your hands on any flower food, you can use a tiny amount of household bleach in the water and it'll work a treat at killing of bacteria! A bit of sugar is great too as it gives your flowers a little dose of glucose.

    So there you go, some top tips to keep your Valentine's Love Alive! Don't forget you can shop the Tesco flower range over on their website or in store

    If you have any handy floristry tips or tricks, I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

    * I was invited to a floristry masterclass with Tesco & Jamie Aston

    Sunday, 12 February 2017

    THE ELLE BLOGGS BAROMETER #6

    February has been a pretty bad month in terms of blogging for me. I just can't seem to get anything written.

    I come home from work with the best of intentions, open my laptop, sit down to write and then I'm just like, nope. Not tonight.

    I think a lot of it was down to me not really liking my lay-out. I just felt really uninspired with how the whole blog looked and felt and it left me really uninterested in producing new content. Now I've had a little shake-up, I'm hoping I'll have got my mojo back....

    GOING UP THIS WEEK
    24 HOUR RESTAURANTS
    Tom and I popped down to VQ* in Chelsea earlier this morning to take a peek at the new and improved menu and we loved it! If you haven't heard of it, it's a 24 hour restaurant on the Fulham Road which serves dishes such as halloumi fries (drools), burrata and rib-eye steaks around the clock.

    It closed for a little refurbishment earlier this year but it's open again now so we went along this morning, very hungover and in need of their infamous all-day breakfast. The food, coffee and interior is great and the whole place has the perfect laid-back vibe! 

    Next time I'm on a night-out, I'm 100% heading here for 3am pancakes on the way home!
    MY NEW LAY-OUT
    I hope you guys like it! I feel SO much better already about my blog now I've changed things up...previously it was in a grid format and you had to click on the posts to read them which I just didn't really like as everything felt too segregated.

    This new theme has the slider and categories at the top which I love but also brings back my side bar and feels a lot of me. I'm hoping this injects a bit more passion into my blogging because I miss having that spark you know?

    APPLE TREE YARD
    One of the best things I've seen on TV in AGES. The BBC are absolutely killing it with their dramas at the moment (see also: The Moorside, Bobby & Tina and Silent Witness).

    I was completely hooked the whole way through - it felt tense from start to finish and it's all I thought about for a few days after it finished! It's still on BBC iPlayer so I highly recommend you watch it before it disappears!

    GOING DOWN....
    ARCTIC CONDITIONS
    Don't mean to be a scrooge because the snow is super exciting and all but can it please be about 15 degrees warmer now please? I've been freezing 90% of this week!

    CANDY CRUSH ADDICTION
    I don't know what possessed me to re-download it to my phone but now I can't stop playing it (but I'm also secretly really enjoying it!)


    I hope you've all had a fab week! Let me know what you've been up to the comment below

    *Our meal was complimentary but opinions are honest

    VQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

    Sunday, 5 February 2017

    THE ELLE BLOGGS BAROMETER #5

    I always find these posts the hardest to write introductions for. I've already started this one about 8 different ways but I can't quite decide exactly what I'm trying to say.

    So instead of torturing myself for another half an hour while I try to work it out, I'm just going to let you get on with reading it instead.

    So I hope you've got a cup of tea ready and I'll take you through my highs and lows of the week:

    WHAT'S HOT

    BOOKATABLE OFFERS
    So this didn't strictly happen last week. It was more like two weeks ago and I might have forgotten to include it in that week's round-up BUT but I'm telling you now so that's all that really matters, right?

    And you'l want to make the most of this one too. Bookatable have an offer on at the moment with STK (the fancy steak restaurant in the ME hotel) which gets you a three course dinner and a cocktail up in Radio bar for just £30!

    You do have to pay a surcharge if you're gonna have the steak (and why wouldn't you) but it still works out as incredible value! We headed down on a Wednesday evening and the atmosphere and food was incredible! Grab your best friends and make the most of the offer while it's still on! 
    PEDAL BOX
    On Tuesday, a converted horse box pulled up to my work's car park and seven of us pilled inside for a spin class. I kid you not. The lorry is kitted out with a TV screen, speakers and seven bikes and it's the most hilarious/fun spinning class I've ever taken. You can check them out on Facebook if you're interested!

    DRY JANUARY
    I did it! 31 days and not a single drop of alcohol! I actually managed 34 days in total and raised just shy of £300 for Alcohol Concern. I'm planning to share a blog post of my experience in the next week so keep your eyes peeled!

    WHAT'S NOT

    THE WORLD
    The whole world has gone bat-shit-crazy over the last few weeks and it feels a little trivial writing these posts and worrying about insignificant things without mentioning it. It makes me all kinds of angry and sad and scared about the state of the world at the minute. 

    THE UNICORN FOOD TREND
    I admit I got a little taken in by unicorn toast....and I've seen some AMAZING unicorn macarons on Instagram - but seriously can we stop with the unicorn everything now please. Unicorn lattes? Unicorn burgers? Can we just not?
    WINE HANGOVERS
    My first drink of 2017 came in the form of a bottle of red wine and one hell of a hangover the following day. Not cool guys.

    I hope you all had a great week, let me know what you got up to in the comments!

    STK - ME London Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

    Saturday, 4 February 2017

    GOING BACK FOR SECONDS AT YEAH! BURGER

    It feels like AGES since I've done a restaurant review on here - and even longer since I've written about a burger place, which for me, is completely out of character.

    You know I love burgers and I know you love reading about them so today I'm just going to give you what we've all been missing...
    Yep it's Yeah! Burger. Now, you know this one already....don't tell me you've forgotten about THAT Scotch Egg burger?

    It's still the same Yeah! Burger, tucked away down the back of a quirky pub in Kings Cross - it's just the menu has changed a little...it's got healthy?
    I know, right. You're thinking the same as me. How can you have a healthy menu...in a burger place?

    Well don't panic, the burgers are still GREAT... it's just the sides which have gone 'lighter'.

    On the new menu, there's no more chicken wings or deep fried cheese balls (boohoo) but there's waist-line friendly salads and crispy broccoli and if you're on a 2017 health kick, I'm sure that's great news for y'all
    But for me, no no. When I go out to eat, I am all about the #CheatDayTreats and I'm happy to report, despite it's new green vibes, you can still totally get your fix at Yeah! Burger. 

    My OG Burger was brilliant. It was packed to almost bursting point (like every good burger should be) with beef patty, bacon, avocado, cheese and lettuce. 

    It dribbles and it oozes and you're gonna need napkins but I promise it's worth every last calorie. 
     As are the fries. The Gringa fries to be exact.

    Skinny french fries piled up with cheddar cheese and a jalapeno mayo which completely reminds me of my 4am drunken cheesy chip days and I mean that as the HIGHEST of compliments.

    Because that's what makes a great burger place. A good burger place is calorie-laden and it's unashamedly so. It is by definition cheat day food.

    They used to do the most insane oxtail chilli cheese fries here so I was super sad to see they've been replaced with the new lighter options.

    So Yeah! Burger: I love you. I love your burgers...but please, for me, drop the broccoli and let us have our lovely grease back...

    Yeah! Burger at Star of Kings
    126 York Way 
    London N1 OAX 

    * Our meal was complimentary but my opinions are completely honest
    Yeah! Burger @ The Star of Kings Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato