Saturday, 20 February 2016

FIVE FOR FRIDAY #48


It feels like a long time since I've put fingertips to Mac for a post on here. February has so far been the craziest month of my life. All of the shoe shows are back to back so I've been living out of a suitcase and darting around from airport to airport since 8th February. I flew from Dusseldorf to Milan, had a half day turn around then flew out to New York, which is where I sit typing from now. I'm here for a week before heading back to the UK...for two weeks, then a holiday to Barcelona is on the cards with the boy. 

While I've been away, I got pretty sick. Somehow I managed to power through and still had a great time, I'm still not entirely sure where that energy and determination came from. 

So I've just been trapped on a plane for 8 hours, I'm pretty knackered BUT I'm about to throw on my coat and head over to walk the Highline and more than likely head out to Macy's for a bit of retail therapy. I've also just booked a nail appointment before I leave because I can't cope with how awful my nails look lately!

Anyway, I thought I'd say hello...it's been a while and, unless you follow me on Instagram, I wondered whether you might be thinking 'is she alive? Has she deserted her teeny tiny patch of the internet?' No, I'm just bloody busy and, despite lots of waiting around in airport time, I've not felt like I've got LOADS to say...unless it's whinging about illness/airports/taxi drivers.

I'm spending all of next week in Manhattan, working and having a bit of time of myself. Where better to do that than the Big Apple? It really is possibly my favourite city in the world.

This week's Five For Friday goes a little bit like this...

Opportunities - if you look back years and years ago, travelling all over the globe wasn't quite so easy as it is these days. Hop on a Virgin Atlantic Airbus from Heathrow and you're at JFK in less than 8 hours. Pretty special, hey? The opportunities that have come from those clever people out there that are forever advancing the technology of planes have led us onto a pretty good deal. I'm forever pinching myself that I get to travel the way I do.

Duty Free - this week I've been appreciating Duty Free. It doesn't save you masses of money but every little helps, doesn't it? I've picked up a few new items of makeup, some perfume and generally just browsed leisurely because I've got so much damn time to spare.

Helpful Hotel Staff - big up to the staff at Una Tocq Hotel in Milan and the lovely lady on reception at the Hotel Indigo in Chelsea that's just checked me in. Seriously, friendly and helpful staff after a couple of weeks of travelling are EVERYTHING. It really makes life easier and I feel instantly more homely. I stayed at a Hilton last night near Heathrow and they were so miserable, it made me feel really uneasy during my stay. Una Tocq in Milan and Hotel Indigo in Chelsea (W 28th Street) are ALWAYS fantastic, hence why I keep going back.

Buffalo Mozzarella in Italy - Ain't nothing quite like it! Authentic, tasty...I can't leave the damn stuff alone. Ladybu do the best mozzarella; we had a platter of eight different types and it blew my mind. I'm going to do a 'where to eat in Milan' soon as I've gone back to a few of my favourites this time and they're well worth a visit if you're in the area. 

Travel Perks - Getting engrossed in a book, watching a few new films, snoozing, a plane row to yourself - you've got to get the perks somewhere. I've been pretty lucky and not been stuck next to anybody on my Dusseldorf or NYC flights. Milan wasn't too bad as they were a friendly Father and Son but particularly on the 8 hour NYC flight I could sprawl out across two seats and actually have a bit of a snooze. I've finally started to get my teeth into Game of Thrones (late to the party, I know!) but I feel like despite all of this waiting around in airports, monotonous plane journeys and general complaints and being away from home (I realise how lucky I am but the glam side of the travel is NOT airports or planes), it's been nice to read, watch films and grab sleep where possible.

A little travel heavy but hey, that's my month. 

This weekend I plan to eat at the Spotted Dog, The Frying Pan and hopefully a few other DELICIOUS places. If you've got any recommendations, throw them my way!

Have a fab weekend and let's catch up very soon!

xo

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

ATE AT: Bob Bob Ricard, Soho



I've wanted to go to Bob Bob Ricard ever since I first noticed that infamous 'Press For Champagne' photo on Instagram. I was totally intrigued by this glorious idea of pressing a little button and a glass of bubbly joy would be delivered to my table. Then I saw the menu...


I was then less enthused about the button and absolutely engrossed in the menu. Lobster, crayfish, champagne sauce, oysters, fillet mignon, lobster mac and cheese, the most mouth-wateringly good chicken kiev I've ever read about...I wanted to eat everything. All of it. Every last bit.


And that is the story of what sparked my want to secure one of those Grand Budapest-esque booths in one of the rooms at Bob Bob Ricard.


I was supposed to go last year with a guy I had been seeing at the time but y'know, I couldn't just carry it on for Bob Bob (although I'd wished for several months later I'd just gone through with that one last day that would have allowed me to eat from the menu of dreams). But anyway, I was in Italy, sat with my Mac, post-booking a long weekend in Barcelona and it came to me 'I'm not here for Valentine's Day, why not have an early date night at Bob Bob Ricard!?!' (not with 2015 guy, FYI).


We threw on our rarely worn fancypants outfits (dress code: 'elegant') and made our way there...


The booking was a little too early for me at 6pm but we got a couple of hours there so it meant a nice wander down to Carnaby Street and a carafe of lovely Merlot to share before we headed home.


I expected the outside of the building to be a little more hidden rather than BOB BOB RICARD clear to see from miles away. Upon entering, I was already impressed by the attentiveness of the staff - one to take our coats, another to show us downstairs to our table. We were seated in The Red Dining Room, which really reminded me of a cross between the Grand Budapest Hotel and a James Bond film.




I'd already looked at the menu multiple times but still couldn't decide what to have, H hadn't a clue either. We both decided on mains and desserts. I was desperate for some oysters but decided they're not as fun if you're not sharing.


While we spent a longer-than-normal amount of time looking at the menu, we ordered to Rhubarb Gin and Tonics, something recommended to me (ironically) by 2015 BBR guy. They were tasty but they felt a bit thicker than a normal G&T which I wasn't sure whether I liked for half of the drink.


Eventually they got an order out of us, baked sole with champagne sauce, stuffed with lobster on wilted spinach for me and fillet mignon for H.


Again, the staff were really attentive, we had three people serving us, it was almost a bit too much but I cannot grumble at amazing service.


And then, the moment I'd been waiting for...



 
This baked sole may not look like a lot but oh my GOODNESS. It was probably one of the tastiest things I've ever eaten. I want champagne sauce with everything. I also had a side of crushed minted peas which I thought, for a 5er they could do with being a bit out of the ordinary. They were, who knew crushing peas (not mushing!) with a hint of mint would be so damn good. Stuffing this sole with lobster? Genius. I cannot fault this one bit and it's making me a little bit sad that I can't eat it now.

 
H's fillet mignon was also incredible - 28 day aged Scotch beef with seared foie grais, confit apple and truffle gravy. Honestly, as good as it sounds. The beef is cooked medium rare and it looked perfect. I'll be honest, foie grais is something that's never appealed to me, like ever. But I did try a bit and I can't say it's something I'll be in a rush to have again. I mean, it was really tasty, don't get me wrong but the texture was just not for me. Texture is a big factor in the things I eat. Anyway, H was quite for a 3/4 of this plate full of food so it clearly ticked all of the boxes for him.

I must point of, the mains were even better than I'm able to describe. Mine was one of those dishes that I proceeded to make 'mmmm' 'ooooo' 'oh my god' noises throughout.

Next, desserts. Over the last year I've gone from a dessert person to more of a starter person BUT they had my absolute favourite and my namesake dessert on there - Eton Mess (however, I'm an Eaton with an a). H predictably went for the one that basically sounded the most chocolatey.

Well, I hadn't expected this...


It felt like a game. Almost like a Kinder Egg but without the chocolate. The Eton Mess En Perle was a dream. An absolute dream. Despite it's pinkness, the meringue ball actually tasted of lime. I KNOW, LIME. But it's pink? I KNOW! Inside was a strawberry sorbet, raspberries, marshmallows and cream with strawberry sauce drizzled over it by our waiter. There are not enough words to sum up the absolute taste sensation of this dessert.



And then H's arrived, and it topped mine.



Of course, he had a golden ball filled with goodness, didn't he?! AND is hot chocolate sauce melted his pretty, shiny golden ball (as you can see). So it chocolately golden dreamboat was the BBR Signature Chocolate Glory - a chocolate jivara moose, chocolate brownie, berries, passionfruit with orange jelly and all of that dreamy chocolate sauce drizzled all over it. The noises confirmed how good it was and, not only that, it looked impressive. As with mine, our waiter drizzled the sauce on top.

One thing I've learned from BBR - I love a gimic. I love a button you can press for champagne. I love a giant ball filled with a variety of sweet things where the waiter has to get involved with the sauce. I've made this all sound a bit rude.

The experience of BBR was wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. It was the PERFECT place for an early Valentine's date night. The food was some of the best I've had. The desserts, well you know all about how good they were. The service was fantastic.

All in all, it was VERY good. And I'd definitely go back, even if I had to go at 6pm again. It actually turned out pretty well that we finished there at 8 as it meant we could walk up to Carnaby and have all of that wine before heading home.

I felt like I was walking on a cloud of happiness as we walked arm in arm through Soho. It's amazing how a good meal can make you feel.

BBR take reservations for up to 3 months. There are no Saturday reservations before 10pm from now until the end of April. Now do you get how good it is?

1 Upper James St, Soho

xo

Monday, 1 February 2016

MADE: American-Style Pancakes with Bacon, Egg and Maple Syrup



As you've probably guessed by the title of this post, this isn't the world's healthiest recipe BUT with Pancake Day coming up on 9th February, it's nice to have a few pancake options. For me to make something like this is slightly out of character as I'd usually opt for this kinda pancake.


On Pancake Day at home my Mum would always make a standard crepe-esque pancake with the juice of half an orange squeezed on top, banana, stewed apples and plums OR maybe I'd be a bit adventurous topping-wise and have lemon and a tiny sprinkle of sugar. That said, a healthy, less sugary alternative is usually my jam BUT I had company this weekend, and he would not be too pleased with a healthy, berry and oat stack of pancakes taken to him. So I went outside of my comfort zone and thought let's go the whole hog - maple syrup, smoked bacon, a runny egg...and I'm totally glad I did as these were super tasty (but definitely very filling!)


I must say, despite the fact they're not the most healthy things, I did use gluten free flour, gluten free baking powder and almond milk to cut down on the bad stuff. Does that count? I mean, bacon and eggs, not the best but I tried. And I did use butter in this instance (it was more of a 'light' spread), next time I'm going to replace the melted butter for melted coconut oil to see what difference it makes. These were cooked in coconut oil and tasted great, so I suppose substituting butter for coconut oil would be fine, just a bit sweet and coconuty! That doesn't sound too bad to me?!


To make 8 pancakes:
135g GF plain flour
1 tsp GF baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp agave nectar or 2 tbsp golden caster sugar
130ml almond milk
1 large egg, beaten
2 tbsp melted butter (cooled slightly after melting) or extra virgin olive oil
Extra butter/EVOO for cooking


To pop on top:
2-3 Smoked bacon or streaky bacon rashers per person
An egg each
Some coconut oil to cook
Or, if you're trying to be slightly good, stew some berries in a small saucepan to serve instead of the bacon and egg




Let's get started...


1. Grab a large bowl and put in your weighed out flour, baking powder and salt. Mix together lightly.


2. In a separate bowl or measuring jug, whisk together the milk, eggs and agave. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Allow to cool then add to the liquid ingredients.


3. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and whisk together until the batter is smooth. Use a fork to get out the final lumps and bumps. Let the batter stand for a minute.


4. At this point, pop your bacon on. I use my George Foreman grill and it takes about 4-5 minutes to crisp it up properly.


5. When the bacon is almost done, heat 2 teaspoon of coconut oil in a medium saucepan. Add a ladle of your pancake mix. After a minute, add a second ladle so you can cook two at once. The mixture will seem thick but this is how it should be. Wait until the top of the pancake is bubbling a bit before you flip them. Both sides should be golden and the pancakes should have risen by about 1/2 an inch.
NOTE: When the pancakes are almost cooked, start frying your egg in a teaspoon of coconut oil.


6. Dish it all up - pancakes first, bacon next, egg on top and either drizzle with maple syrup to serve. Alternatively, pour the syrup into a jug to serve.


These are DEFINITELY an occasional treat but my god, they were so worth being a bit naughty and going OTT on the sugar!