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    Tuesday, 30 October 2018

    BRUNCHING AT BALA BAYA, SOUTHWARK

    Hands up, who loves hummus? Now I’m expecting to see all your hands in the air here because everyone loves hummus, right? Well, for ALL you hummus lovers, I’ve found the perfect spot for your next brunch and it includes (dun, dun, dun) UNLIMITED hummus. Yep. Unlimited dishes of creamy, golden hummus – ready for scooping up with warm, fluffy bread. (I bet you're wondering when I'll stop saying hummus).

    You'll find it down at Bala Baya, an incredible Tel Aviv inspired restaurant down by Bankside, as part of their weekend brunch offering!
    For £8 per person, you can opt for unlimited small plates so you get a taste of all the mezze on the menu. The only catch being that if you go for this option – you have to order a main course (as if that’s ever a bad thing). 

    I suggest you kick things off with one of their incredible Gazzioni cocktails. There’s some interesting flavour combos on the menu which are surprisingly delicious – my personal recommendation being the sweet and refreshing Watermelon, Parsley and Prosecco. Next you’ll want to tackle your small plates. You don’t HAVE to go for the unlimited option – if there’s any dishes that particularly take your fancy, you can just order a larger portion – but you know me, I like to get a little taste of everything. 
     There’s a whole host of delicious dips including hummus & chickpea salsa, miso & harissa butter and tomato & green pepper relish which are perfect for slathering onto freshly baked pitta.
    You can also nibble on portions of grilled fiery Romero peppers, sweet potato, aubergine & walnut, buttery glazed carrots as well as grilled beetroot. Oh and not forgetting the tabbouleh salad! 

    As I said before, every dish is bottomless so you’re free to order as many as you want – just remember that you’ve got to save room for your main.Tom went for the Venison & Black Beans which looked incredible. Baked black beans, cooked together with rosemary & smoked duck, piled onto a wild mushroom hash and served with a venison sausage & a perfectly fried egg.
    I went with my old favourite the shakshuka - which never lets me down. Two eggs baked in a rich tomato sauce with spiced aubergine and preserved lemon, all drizzled with a date tahini. Simply delicious. Just bear in mind that it's HUGE so I would go easy on those starters if you're ordering this one!
    So what do you think? Looks really tasty, huh? If you're planning on heading down, I'd recommend booking a table or getting there early as it starts to fill up pretty fast - and no-one wants to miss out on unlimited hummus!

    Bala Baya
    Arch 25, Old Union Yard Arches
    229 Union St, London SE1 0LR

     * We were guests of Bala Baya so our meal was complimentary
    All opinions are my own

    Monday, 22 October 2018

    AN OVERNIGHT STAY AT NATIVE, BANKSIDE

    Living *just* outside London in leafy Beaconsfield can be an absolute pain sometimes. I live close enough that's its easy to get a train home after a night out, but far enough that it feels like a LOT of effort after a night of cocktails or a fancy dinner. Not to mention the fact that the last train out of Marylebone leaves at five past Midnight and often results in a mad sprint down the platform! What I really need is a home away from home in London for those big nights out - and well, in step Native!

    Native is a group of aparthotels offering a home-like base to stay in some of the UK's best cities including London, Manchester and Glasgow. Tom and I were recently offered the chance to stay in one of their newest properties in Bankside and we absolutely jumped at the chance! 

    THE LOCATION: The apartments are tucked away in the historic Bear Gardens, right in the heart of buzzy Bankside, just behind the banks of the River Thames. You're just a few minutes walk from some of London's best loved  hotspots like The Tate Modern, Borough Market and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, making it the ideal base for a stay-cation in the capital. 

    The building itself is located in a former 18th century tea warehouse which has been transformed into 75 stunning luxurious apartments and features the most incredible exposed brick and steel interiors.  
    THE ROOM: We stayed in a 'Premium Studio' (which start at around £150 per night) and it was absolutely gorgeous! The rooms are really spacious - ours featured a huge open-plan bedroom, kitchen and dining area (and bathroom obvs) which had more than enough room for a couple.
    All the apartments are self-contained and fitted out with an oven, hob, dishwasher and even a washing machine so you really do have your very own home-from-home - especially if you're visiting from abroad or staying for a prolonged period of time. 
    I absolutely fell in love with the interiors too! All the rooms are really light and bright and manage to get the right balance between modern (with touches of dark slate greys and millennial pinks) whilst keeping some of the older historic elements of the original building.
    There's plenty of well thought-out extras in the rooms too. There's a hair-dryer and ironing board in the bedroom cupboards and the kitchen is fully stocked with wine glasses, corkscrews, pots, pans and cutlery. There's also a selection of delicious tea and coffee to enjoy and premium Elemis toiletries in the bathrooms too!
    What I loved about Native was how the whole place has a real communal vibe with plenty of open-plan living areas where you can chill out, eat and socialise with your fellow residents. The team at Native really aim to bring a neighbourly feel to the apartments so it feels a lot more homely than being in a standard hotel.

    One of my favourite parts is the pantry. Located up on the second floor, it's an open space where you can help yourself to an assortment of food and drink to bring back to your apartment to cook.

    There's jars of pasta, tins of tomatoes, pesto, cereals and even sweeties - all completely complimentary for you to enjoy through-out your stay.
    If you don't want to sit in your room to eat, you're free to take a seat at the dining table to enjoy your food, and there's even a shopping list where you can add your suggestions for what else the Native team should stock the pantry with!

    I think this element (which is all available at no extra charge) is such a great touch and helps to reduce the cost of staying in London for long periods of time! It's perfect for people traveling down for work or travelling on a budget because we all know how expensive eating out in London can be!
    We thoroughly enjoyed our stay with Native and I would definitely come back to stay again. The interiors are lovely, there's a 24-hour team on hand if you have any problems and when you compare the room charge against hotels in the city - you really are getting brilliant value for money. If you want to book a stay, you can do so here - I know I'll definitely be looking into the Natives in other parts of the UK too...Manchester, here I come!

    Native Bankside
    Empire Warehouse, 1 Bear Gardens, London, SE1 9ED

    *Our stay was complimentary
    All opinions are honest

    Wednesday, 10 October 2018

    MY FAVOURITE SOHO STREET FOOD SPOTS

    If you follow me on social, you’ll probably know that I’m fortunate enough to be freelancing at an office based right in the heart of Soho at the moment.

    I say fortunate. Fortunate for my appetite and Instagram feed. Perhaps, not so fortunate for my bank account or waist-line! It’s a small sacrifice to make though as having an office positioned right next to two of London’s best street food markets has elevated my boring desk lunch to absolute goals over the last few months!

    I’ve been sharing the snaps of my lunches across Instagram but thought it might be handy to round up my favourite vendors from Berwick Street Market and Street Food Union on Rupert Street so when you next find yourself hungry in Soho, you’ll know exactly who to hit up!

    SAVAGE SALADS
    Now don’t switch off just because I’ve said salad – because boring lettuce, this place definitely aint! It’s my absolute go-to lunch place at the moment. For £6, you get a box stuffed with four different types of salad, halloumi and chicken and it tastes incredible. Not only is it pretty balanced nutrition-wise, it’s also super filling and well worth the queues! Oh - and I definitely recommend paying an extra quid for a spoon of their creamy houmous too! Delicious!
    SALAD MAFIA
    Now to call this one a ‘salad box’ is a slight stretch because this place is essentially serving Nando’s in a box. For £6, you’ll get yourself a carton filled with spicy chicken, humous, puy lentils, beetroot, kale & radish along with a Yumchaa green tea & mango coleslaw and slabs of sesame roasted sweet potato. It’s super saucy and filling and I’m just going to continue to believe it’s ultra-healthy too.
    LORD OF THE WINGS
    Probably my favourite Friday lunch vibe. It’s essentially a fried chicken shack, serving up some of the best wings in London. You can choose between five of their signature sauces to coat your chicken – each named after a different US state…think classic Buffalo or Smokey Memphis BBQ. It’s a little pricier than other places - £8 for a tray of wings + chips – which is why I save it for Friday treats, but it’s well worth the pennies. You can find them down on Berwick Street Market.
    YORKSHIRE BURRITO
    A whole roast dinner wrapped in a Yorkshire pudding - I mean, it’s the stuff of hungover dreams right? For £7.50, these guys are serving up braised rare breed beef brisket (try saying that after a drink) soaked in red wine gravy with sage & onion stuffing, rosemary roast potatoes, spinach and horseradish – all encased in a fluffy Yorky pudding. Dreamy.
    VARLEY & CROUCH
    Another absolute salad box gem from Street Food Union – and this one actually qualifies as a salad! Varley & Crouch create incredible street food dishes using fresh ingredients and seasonal produce, imported directly from Italy. You can pay £6 for a small box or £8 for a large box and get a delicious combination of Panzanella salad (with charred tomatoes and fresh mixed herbs), minted white balsamic cucumber, heirloom tomato & black olive salad, grilled lemon & basil courgettes and your choice of Handmade Buffalo Mozzarella or Organic Tuscan Sausage. Super fresh and so delicious.
    LIL FALAFEL
    Now this last one doesn’t look the prettiest, but I promise it tastes banging! For £6, you get a huge box (or wrap) filled with vibrant salads, pickles, houmous, tzatziki and four homemade falafel balls. It’s full of fresh flavour and texture – and completely vegan and veggie friendly too!
    Which do you most like the sound of? 
    Any other Soho Street food recommendations?

    Monday, 1 October 2018

    GALAXY HAS RELEASED A NEW BISCUIT AND IT'S EVERYTHING YOU EVER NEEDED

    You've had a hard day at work, waded through an inbox full of emails, sat through endless meetings and tackled some meaty presentations – but it’s only just gone half 3!? I’d say that’s time for a treat Right?

    Well, according to research by Galaxy, 3.28pm is the EXACT moment the average Brit stop for a mid-work treat - with biscuits being the ultimate snack of choice! All you biccie lovers can rejoice as I’ve got a delicious new chocolate biscuit to share with you which will do just the job!
    They're called Galaxy Chocolate Rounds and I can confirm they are INCREDIBLE. Delicious shortcake discs coated in silky smooth galaxy chocolate. Sounds dreamy, right?
    You can either go full chocolate (my fav) or try the salted caramel variety which packs a real salty kick (in the best possible way)
    They’re perfect for that 4pm slump (or 3.28pm to be exact). Now go stick the kettle on and grab yourself a pack to share with your work BFF - you know you deserve it!

    You can pick up packs of Galaxy Rounds from all major retailers priced £1.99 

     * This post was sponsored by Galaxy® Chocolate Rounds 
    All opinions are my own