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    Saturday, 24 February 2018

    BRUNCH WITH A SCOTTISH TWIST AT MAC & WILD, FITZROVIA

    If there's one thing I really bloody love - it's finding new brunch spots. There's something just SO appealing about brunch over dinner. Maybe it's the day drinking...maybe it's the whole pretending I'm a lady of leisure thing - I don't know - all I know is that I am HERE for it.

    And my latest Brunch find? Well, it's pretty bloody good indeed. It's not your average 'avocado on toast' jobby - no - this brunch is all about venison, game and whisky by the dramful! It's called Mac and Wild - and you're going to love it!

    It's tucked away just behind Oxford Street (Great Titchfield Street to be exact) and the interiors are just to die for. Think dark grey walls with rustic wooden tables and fur hanging from industrial lighting. My actual house goals.

    Now like any good brunch spot - they offer a bottomless option to really kick off proceedings. For just £18, you can enjoy free-flowing drinks for the duration of your brunch (and the waiters are super generous with the refills!). Alongside your classic Prosecco and Bucks Fizz, there's also bottomless gin, vodka and whisky cocktails for your more seasoned drinkers!
    In terms of food - definitely start by ordering a couple of 'wee plates' to share between you. I highly recommend the 'Haggis Pops' - small nuggets of haggis coated in crispy breadcrumbs and deep-fried. They come served alongside a delicious redcurrant and mustard dipping sauce which is wonderfully sticky, sweet and perfect to cut through the salty, punchy flavours of the meat. 
    Make sure you order yourselves a Venison Scotch Egg too....
    A perfectly poached egg wrapped in meaty venison, black pudding and haggis which just oozes the good stuff as soon as you cut inside. 
    For main courses, there’s plenty on offer from full Scottish breakfasts to venison steaks. The restaurant was founded by Andy Waugh, who hails from just north of Inverness, so all of their meat is sourced and then butchered with care by his family’s game-butchering business, which has been in existence for over 30 years (meaning you're in good hands).

    I'll be honest though - I already knew what I was having before I even entered the restaurant. You might have heard about this dish before – it’s been billed as London’s Best Burger no less – the Veni-moo...
     A gigantic creation of both venison and beef patties, topped with caramelised onions, cheese and indulgent béarnaise sauce. I promise it's as good as it sounds. 
    Now every good burger needs equally as good sides - and you're spoilt for choice here. Comfort is the order of the day so get yourself a portion of the perfectly-seasoned chips...
    and a big comforting bowl of the Truffled Mushroom Mac and Cheese and you’re set for an absolute feast! 
    Make sure you save room for pudding as you won't want to miss dessert! I particularly loved the Sticky Toffee Pudding which comes drenched in whisky caramel sauce and a scoop of Mackie's milk ice cream. 
    And in a playful nod to the Scottish 'delicacy', there's the Deep Fried Mars Bar Sundae. 
    It's a truley decadent creation of salted caramel ice cream and deep fried mars bar bits drenched in whisky toffee sauce and topped with bacon....
    No, YOU'RE licking the screen just thinking about it! If you want to book in for a taste of the action, the bottomless brunch is available on weekends at either the Fitzrovia or Liverpool Street branches - slàinte!
    Mac and Wild
    65 Great Titchfield St, Fitzrovia, London W1W 7PS

    * I was invited to review Mac & Wild

    Wednesday, 21 February 2018

    THE ONE WHERE I RE-CREATED RACHEL'S FAMOUS MEAT TRIFLE

    Could I be any more excited to share a blog-post with you guys?! Okay so, word of warning - if you'd don't like Friends, you should probably stop reading because there is going to be a LOT of references all throughout this post...

    Let me set the scene. Inspired by their HD Televisions Panasonic got in touch with me, setting me the challenge of working on a TV-themed post. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do and eventually, I decided that I wanted to re-create a famous TV recipe...I just had to decide which one.

    Well, I've become absolutely (re)obsessed with Friends since the series became available on Netflix and I thought - you really don't get much more iconic than Rachel's 'English Trifle'! Oh. Myyyyy. Godddd.

    Now, don't panic! In the interest of tasting good and reducing the amount of food waste (because let's face it, Rachel's version tasted 'like feet"), my version uses chocolate brownie for the 'meat' layer - rather than sauteed mince and peas!

    I actually think it looks kind of realistic and I promise you, it tastes way better than the one Joey was digging into! You can find the super simple recipe below, let me know in the comments if you give it a go!
    What you’ll need: 
    1 pack of ladyfingers / Trifle Sponges
    1 jar raspberry jam
    1 tin custard
    1 carton of fresh Raspberries
    3 Chocolate Cake Slices
    1 Tube of Coloured Chocolate Beans
    1 ripe banana
    1 small carton whipped cream
    What you’ll need to do:
    1. Start by laying a slice of trifle sponges at the bottom of your bowl so that they cover the base.
    2. Next, spoon over your jam until the sponge is completely covered, followed by custard and a layer of raspberries.
    3. Now it's time for the meat layer! Finely chop the chocolate brownie slices till they are nice fine consistency and crumble on top of the raspberry layer.
    4. Add the green chocolate drops (AKA your 'peas' followed by another layer of sponge and sliced banana.

    5. Repeat another layer of custard then finally top with whipped cream and decorate with raspberries.

    And that's it you're done! Custard good, jam good, chocolate 'meat'....goood!

    * This post was sponsored by Panasonic

    Monday, 19 February 2018

    ADDING ANOTHER STRING TO MY BOW WITH BIO SCULPTURE

    Do you know what I've always found weird? When I was at school...I hated studying...but now I've finished and entered the world of work, I love finding opportunities to develop myself. In the last six months alone, I’ve studied photography at Leith’s cookery school, undertaken a Personal Assistant diploma with NCC Learning and most recently, I’ve enrolled to become trained in the art of gel manicures with Bio Sculpture.

    So what brought about this latest venture? Well, last week I was lucky enough to be invited to the Mondrian hotel to spend an afternoon with the Bio Sculpture team, learning all about the brand - and aside from being on the receiving end of their gorgeous manicure treatments, I was able to find out how I could make Bio Sculpture work for me...even as a potential income stream.
    If you’re not familiar with the brand, they are the undeniable leaders in gel manicures, coming to market in 1988 - years before competitors such as Shellac or Gellish. I've always been a big fan of Bio because the whole brand is built around enhancing your natural nails. The treatment is a one-step system that actually strengthens and promotes the growth of your natural nails under the gel.

    The process is super simple. Your technician begins by filing and lightly buffing your nails before a base treatment is applied to help nourish and care for your nails. A gel colour is then applied over the top (there are over 150 colours to choose from) and cured under a UV light which leaves your nail strong but really flexible with a natural gloss or high-shine finish.

    Plus, unlike harsh acrylics, your gels actually help to nourish and care for your natural nails so your manicure will last for several weeks while your nails grow up nice and strong underneath.

    But what I also love about Bio Sculpture is how passionate they are about welcoming new recruits into the brand. Rather than being a business aimed solely at trained beauticians, Bio Sculpture prides themselves on being accessible to anyone with a keen interest and a bit of passion - from young mums looking to earn some money in their 'free' time or people looking for a more flexible way to generate additional income.

    The Bio Sculpture training course is designed for all skill levels and aims to take you from zero to being qualified nail technician in three days (so perfect for even absolute beginners like me!). Once enrolled, you're taken through a dedicated training programme including one day of manicure training, one day of gel introduction training, and a brand training day, where you'll learn everything there is to know become a Bio Sculpture professional.
    I'm already so excited to get started and add another string to my bow with the help of Bio Sculpture - I'll be sure to keep you updated with how I get on! If you'd like more information on Bio treatments or training opportunities, visit the BioScultpure website.

     * This post was written in collaboration with Bio Sculpture

    Friday, 16 February 2018

    WOULD I ENJOY A PLANT-BASED DINNER? ROAD-TESTING THE VEGAN MENU AT TOOTOOMOO

    When an invitation to try a Vegan menu arrived in my inbox - I have to say, I very nearly turned it down. I'd seen loads of people taking part in Veganuary or adopting vegan diets but as bad as it sounds, eating a plant-based diet has never really appealed to me. 

    I've always been a big meat eater and I've never been inclined to change that. But I guess with the rise of Meat Free Mondays and more ethical, mindful eating, I sort of felt obliged to at least give it a try.

    So with a hungry stomach and a mind full of skepticism, I headed down to TooTooMoo to see if this self-confessed carnivore could really enjoy a night of plant-based eating.
    Now you might remember that I've actually visited TooTooMoo before? Way back in October 2016 and we loved their tapas-style approach to Pan-Asian Dining. The veggie and vegan menu is built around the same concept. There are small plates which are designed for sharing but also larger main courses which you can either divide out between you or dig into yourself.

    Like any good pan-Asian feast, the night started with cocktails and bowls of well-seasoned edamame
    We then shared platters of the vegan and veggie friendly starters. I loved the vegan spring rolls - hand-rolled and indulgently deep-fried wheat pastry filled with cabbage, carrot, mushroom and glass noodle. So far, so very good.
    The Vegetarian Potsticks were incredible too. Steamed, then lightly pan-fried, pastry dumplings filled with a delicious blend of veggies including cabbage, mushroom, aubergine and miso paste. The fab thing I realised about Asian food is that a lot of your favourite starters are actually veggie friendly and you often don't realise they don't contain meat. I know I certainly didn't miss it at this stage in the meal!
    My absolute favourite starter though was the incredible sesame seaweed salad. A blend of two types of seaweed which have been pickled and doused in a slightly tangy sesame, mirin and black pepper dressing. It has the most incredible texture - with just the right amount of bite - and a perfectly nutty flavour.
    For the main courses, there's a whole range of vegan and veggie-friendly options including curries and stir-fries. The Lemongrass Tofu is a fiery combination of broccoli, carrots, courgette, peppers and green beans stirfried with garlic chilli, galangal and plum tomatoes. It's got big, bold, punchy flavours and is certaintly robust enough to fill you up without the addition of meat. 
    Then there's the Green Thai Curry. Now, this for me was one of the only dishes where I did actually miss meat. The curry itself is delicious. The sauce is thick and rich, created from a broth of coconut milk and a handmade curry paste but it was the tofu that I wasn't keen on.

    The tofu here is lightly fried so it puffs up 'till it's light and fluffy. I'm sure if you like tofu, you'd love it, but honestly, I hated the texture! I did really love the addition of lychees to the curry though which provided the perfect bite of sweetness amongst the rich, creamy curry.
    So, how did this meat-eater fare overall? Well, I have to say, I was really impressed. I really didn't expect to enjoy this meal as much as I did. I've always defaulted to ordering meat options from menus but this has really opened my eyes up to some of the incredible veggie and vegan options out there.

    Speaking to some of the incredibly passionate and knowledgable vegan bloggers at the dinner also really gave me food for thought and I have to say I am defintily considering small ways that I can reduce my meat consumption.
    Whether you want to the new Vegan menu or their regular menu, there's four TooTooMoo restaurant's spread across London and I highly recommend a visit! You can find more details over on their website

    TooTooMoo
    278 St Paul's Rd, Highbury East, London N1 2LH

    * I was invited to review TooTooMoo
    All food & drinks were complimentary 

    Tuesday, 13 February 2018

    THE PERFECT VALENTINE'S SERVE: THE ROSE SPRITZ

    Ah February, the month of love. Now me and Tom aren't a particularly cringey couple but we do like to mark Valentine's Day every year. There's no huge gestures or lavish gifts...we just like to celebrate with a simple card and a nice home-cooked dinner.

    I guess, I've always believed sharing experiences or making time for each other is far more important than spending money on material presents.

    And to make this year's Valentine's celebrations even more special, I've teamed up with my other love, Fentimans, to share a cocktail serve perfect to have with our home-cooked meal tomorrow evening!

    Inspired by the nation's thirst for Prosecco and the traditional Valentine's gift of roses, Fentimans has created this delicious pink inspired cocktail which is perfect for the month of love...the 'Rose Spritz'.
     It combines two of my favourite drinks - prosecco and Fentimans pink lemonade, all in one glass with a generous helping of ice.

    Now, if you haven't tried Fentimans Rose Lemonade yet - it's a must. It's light and fresh with a subtle but incredibly delicious hint of rose (down to the fact that's actually made using real roses from the “Valley of the Roses” in Bulgaria).
    Fentemans suggest a good sprinkle of blueberries and rosemary or thyme to finish off your spritz but mint also works a treat!

    It's incredibly refreshing and just the perfect accompaniment to a light lunch or dinner. I can definitely see it being on the menu for my summer BBQs too!
    Do you have any plans for Valentine's Day? 
    Let me know how you'll be celebrating in the comments below!

    * This post was sponsored by Fentimans
    Always drink responsibly

    Monday, 12 February 2018

    CLARA WINES: MY KIND OF SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE

    I think we can all agree that January felt about 167 days long this year, right? And if you were doing Dry January, I'm sure it felt even longer! Well I'm here to provide you with a little light relief in the form of a glass of vino or two (or three, or four....) by introducing you to a new wine based subscription service!

    Yep. A subscription company like Glossy Box or Gousto but this time for WINE! It's called Clara wines and it's a new AI based wine service which matches your flavour profile to the perfect wine and delivers them to your door every month...
    The concept is super simple. You head over to clarawine.com, fill in a quick quiz about your favourite flavours, tastes and aromas and you're then categorised into one of twelve 'tribes' based on your results.

    Once you've been grouped into your 'tribe', a cardboard case will arrive at your doorstep every month, containing your individually selected wines...
    Each month you'll get three bottles consisting of either all white, all red or mixed (depending on which subscription you opted for) - and in theory, you SHOULD enjoy each one as it's been individually selected based on your taste profile! A bit like having your very own online sommelier!
    To help you understand a little more about each wine (because there is more to it than just drinking it), each bottle comes with its own handy little tasting notes too. So if you're a real wine novice like me, you might actually end up learning a thing or two!So I bet you're all dying to know how I got on? Well, I took the quiz which revealed I belong to the 'Velveteer' group - meaning I like "bold, ripe wines that can pack high alcohols, but have the intensity for dark fruit and ripe and sturdy tannins to carry it". Which I have to admit, sounds pretty bang on....
    I was matched with some of my favourite varieties so it's been great to try new wines that I know and love (like Chardonnays and Riesling) but it's also been great to test new grapes which I would never usually gravitate towards like Cabernet Sauvignon. 

    Plus, I've always been more of a wine 'drinker' than any kind of expert so it's been nice to have a bit more of an understanding of some of my favourites!
    At £48 for a month's subscription, it's fairly pricey but you do get what you pay for. Each of the wines included are of the highest-quality and if you're a real fan of good wine, it's definitely worth the investment! If you're tempted to try or want to find out a little more, head on over to the Clara website for more details!

    * I was gifted a three-month subscription in exchange for this review