Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Date Night

   Tortilla burrito (14)

Saturday just gone I woke up around 10am. This is such a rare treat lately- and even rarer is having Dan about at the weekend. Lately our lives have just seemed to have become mad busy, and Dan has been travelling back and forth all over the place, so it was great to just lie in. Although reality may have caught up a little for one of us and it was off to the office… guess which one? Instead I decided to use my free time for a spot of mooching around London. Carefree in this glorious heat.

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Have you noticed that when the sun comes out in London, everybody seems to descend onto whatever open space they can find. Everyone suddenly forgets that time exists and just lets the world roll on by- including me which is why I didn’t snap too much.

Come 9pm though and I was pretty famished and so we decided to meet up and hit up some dinner.

Now me and Dan don’t exactly have ‘Date Nights’. We aren’t really the conventional couple in that sense. We never have really, but I think that’s a combination of factors- first we’ve been friends for nearly 5 years and yet only been dating for less than a year, second, we both had stupid busy lives and finally, when my job as a blogger is mainly around food, going out for food dates just seems… well it doesn’t appeal and it kind of loses the magic of a date. I mean we both eat out about 4 times a week for dinner!
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And so one of those dinners out was at Tortilla. As a couple, fancy restaurants don’t do it for us. We want something delicious, unpretentious and usually with a fun atmosphere. Tortilla is darn good at filling those requirements. Burritos, tacos or bowls; there are endless filling combinations, which for two very hungry people was as welcoming as a roaring fire at Christmas. We decided on naked burrito- same fillings just less carbs. While they may not make the most artistic pictures, do not judge a book by its cover as I will tell you now, they were delicious.

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Dan had chicken, loaded with onions and peppers with lime and coriander rice.

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I had the pulled pork, which was rich, spicy and unbelievably juicy. I topped with a multitude of rice, beans and lots of guacamole.

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Big shout out to the nachos though- fully loaded and ready to go. A party in my mouth I think.

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Even better though- Frozen Margaritas slushy machine! Oh yeah. 

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The place got even busier as the night drew on and had great vibe. It’s no surprise really as its far far better than any horrible late night place you might find. We decided to finish with a little stroll down to Trafalgar Square- by which I mean cross the road.
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Normally it’s a place we try and avoid due to tourists, although this time, Dan did blend in rather well with his two strap look…
13 Islington High St
N1 9LQ
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Monday, 21 July 2014

Call yourself a drink-o-phile?

Jamies Bar St Pauls (4)

"I can't believe it I've drank everyday this-"

The ever charming Wilkes commenting on my evening pursuits as we sat around discussing wine. 

To be quite frank, I think this year I've drank more than I've ever drank up to that point. Well it is all for research obviously... 

The blog has taken me to some pretty awesome bars, and drank some even more awesome drinks. However do I actually know anything about the drinks world?  

I'm no professional, I only try to give a civilians point of view, however maybe, just maybe I should have a go at learning a few of the tricks of the trade. 

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First up, wine tasting.

Ami from Jamie's Wine Bar invited a few friends over to her haunt to try and teach us a thing or two about wine. 

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I'll be frank- I'm terrible at wine tasting. While everyone else is picking up "An Angular wine with flamboyant mulberries" I'm more of a "A strong taste of grapes" kind of taster. So if you are the same, here are the 5 things you need to think about:

Your senses of course:
SIGHT How deep is the colour?
SMELL What does it smell like?
TASTE What flavours do you taste?
TEXTURE What does it feel like on your tongue?

I'll guide you through taste as lets be honest, thats the most important (No one has ever said mmm that's a pretty looking wine and walked off). 

There are three stages in taste: Attack stage, Evolution stage and the Finish stage. So start with a small sip and just let it roll around your mouth. 

Attack phase is your first impressions- which are more than likely going to be the alcohol strength and the acidity vs sugar content 

Then during evolution stage, this is where you should pick out the underlying flavours of fruit and any spices. Try to think of fruits you know if you can taste them.

Finally we notice how long the flavour lasts after we have swallowed it. This is something I never think about but this is important as the aftertaste can often taste different and reveal other fruits and spices.

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However, think of it like this. It's sort of like when you are learning to play an the piano. Sure it helps to know how to read music, but really its the practice that makes you good. Hear that people practice... practice means more wine...

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This was my favourite of the evening. A white wine from Portugal. 

I thought it was very fresh, which in this heat wave was a saviour. It was quite floral like and maybe more tropical than wines previously. It was quite soft and the after taste was very long and refreshing. I think that would be described as a long finisher. Does anyone else think wine tasting could get quite saucy in its descriptions...?

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In the name of responsible drinking here is some food shots...

Remember kids, don't drink on an empty stomach. Your dignity won't thank you.

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After we'd had our fair share of wine, it was decided we needed to get more hands on.

Me and my blog seems to have become associated with cocktails, with emails coming in all the time saying would I like to try a new cocktail from somewhere. Guiltily I've never actually set foot behind a bar or lifted one of those cocktail shakers- I know! Call myself a drink-o-phile! (Drink lover).

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Jamie's bar tender showed us how to mix some standard, popular drinks first.

A bit of a flick, a shake- bish bash bosh. Simples.

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Unsurprisingly, I was given a long island ice tea. Challenge? Pft.

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How if you are a regular over here you'll remember my first GIF last week. I was pulling some delightful faces which I just had to animate. Well turns out its now become a regular occurrence. 

Seems I just have quite animated facial expressions...

Turns out those bottles are bloody heavy to lift upright! I might have spoke too soon. 

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After multiple attempts and maybe a few splashed or you know... many, I soon got into the swing of things. 

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Now I couldnt get a good shot of me shaking, but thankfully (or not depending on how you see it) Wilkes got this great video. Enjoy me being an idiot. 
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Ta da! Long Island anyone?

1 Fleet Place
Holborn Viaduct London

Friday, 18 July 2014

Dream Big

I’m sat here as I write this listening to Sia’s new album, on a roof top with a glass of wine in my hand. I honestly just started to laugh out loud, just thinking how I’ve ended up here. 

Rewind a few years ago and I was at the worse point of my life. I tend not to discuss it as, well, it’s pretty private, but it’s really made me want to live for the here and now. One day during that time I met someone, carrying no more than a ruck sack and a holdall. When I asked him where he was going, he said he was off on an adventure for his gap year. He was catching a one way flight to California to go find himself because “That’s where dreams are made”. Its always stuck with me and secretly I wished I could have joined him. To really go taste what life is about as for me, my dream is to fill my life with experiences now and see what’s out there.

So one day, sat in my skyscraper office here in London, when a little ping went off on my mobile, I never expected to be reminded of that moment 2 years ago.

I received an email to say I’d been shortlisted for an award in the food and drink category for the Dream Big Awards by The Guardian and Visit California. I’m utterly astounded and so proud to think of what my blog has achieved. My life is so different now, but I’ve always felt there is still more… and so I have the opportunity to go do it as the winner will get to go live there dream….

A few years back I went to some classes that were based on the wellbeing principles of Dr Deepak Chopra. He teaches you the principles of positivity, productivity and a happy well-being. One of his teachings is ‘Healing through the 5 senses’. Funnily enough his Wellbeing centre and Spa is in California, and so I decided to use him as my inspiration and have chosen to experience California though The 5 Senses.


I would start my trip with sight. California is often considered one of the most beautiful states in the country and so as soon as I’d land, off I’d go, like the explorer I am becoming.

There is no doubt that I am a city kind of gal. But I’ll tell you something, deep down I just want to put on my hiking boots and set off into the forest and the mountains and take a big deep breath and breath in that clean air.

I would take a team and head off into the Avenue of The Giants in Northern California. Some of the oldest and largest trees live in this area, so I think it would only be fitting to explore and get back to nature. There would be no fancy 5 star city hotels here- I’ve always wanted to camp in a treehouse, listen to the birds and see the forest come alive at night. 

Then after spending some time at the micro level I think it would be time to see the Macro. My dad once took a Microlight flight and he said it was one of the most brilliant, inspiring things he’d ever done. With that kind of review I know I’d have to take something similar over California. The dream would be to fly up to the very top of the Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Imagine standing on that very peak, arms wide open and just yelling out to the abyss. 

Finally I would take a little wooden boat out and sail right underneath the rock formations at Pfeiffer Beach. Have you seen anything more beautiful?


Now food is a big part of my life, I mean I’ve been shortlisted in the food and drink category! I loved the quote by Viginia Woolf “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” and I take it as very much my mantra.

Anyone worth their foodie status in California will know of Ari Taymor. He opened up a pop up restaurant called Alma. Starting out in 2012 as an ambitious pop up with "four burners and a broken oven door", it soon turned into one of the California’s, no the country's most thrilling new restaurants. Yet getting a table is like gold dust, so why bother trying? Instead I’d bring the table too me, and have Ari cook his classic dishes right on the sands at McWay Falls. Imagine eating fresh fish, right with the sea breeze in your hair- and not a single waiting list in sight.


My idea of travel, doesn't involve a first class plane or champagne filled lounges. No, in fact something I've wanted to do for a very long time, is take a road trip. You know, a open top vintage car, hands in the air, wind whipping you hair across your face. The smells you would get a you travelled across state... wow- pine from the forests, the smell of BBQs from those road side joints. Smell is an underestimated but powerful thing. Simple, yet it can be the most life changing of all. 


Have you heard of deep sea golf? No, well then listen up. Imagine tropical waters, beautiful fish all around, and you and your friends diving to the sandy bottom to hit that perfect shot. Crazy, and maybe that little bit egotistical but it’s like nothing you’ll have done before.

Nearing the end of my journey I feel no great self discovery trip would be complete without a little danger. There is one thing I have always wanted to do and that is Volcano Surfing. Volcano Surfing I hear you ask? It’s pretty much snowboarding except you’re on a live volcano. Maybe best to save this till last- you know, just in case. I got the idea from these amazing guys and while they didn’t do it strictly in California, I think I could introduce a new craze there.


Finally there is something I could not leave California without doing. And that is to go to where this all started- The Chopra Centre. 

To hear the teachings and meditate under the Californian sun- could there be anything more serene?

If you have a dream, I'd say just go for it. Dream Big, and make it happen. Take it from me- you don't want to regret not having experienced the world and what is out there. This trip would honestly change my life.

Comment below with your thoughts and also what would you do in California? The more comments, the more votes I effectively get. I'd love to get some ideas if I did win. Fingers crossed for that life changer. Dream big everyone x

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