Valentines Date Night Recipe with Lucy Pea

Lucy Pea shares a delicious, quick and easy recipe, perfect for Valentines Day.

Valentine’s Day – always a controversial day with a bit of a Marmite vibe. Some people love it, some hate it. None the less, it’s a good excuse to get in the kitchen and cook something special for your loved one, housemate, best mate etc. So, here’s a really tasty, quick and easy recipe that everyone will love.So, who am I and why am I here - I’m Lucy, and I’m a self-confessed food lover. I’m literally obsessed. I’d spend every waking moment thinking about, talking about, cooking or eating food if I could. I officially work in advertising, but feeding people is what I SHOULD be doing.Follow me @LucyPea_Cooks and I’ll feed you virtually. DM me with a tempting enough proposal, and I’ll happily actually feed you.This Asian influenced marinated salmon dish is so easy, it’s my go-to when I want to recommend a stress-free recipe to friends. I’ve paired it with a colourful slaw salad, which is well worth the little bit of chopping required. You can easily put this together after work.The slaw champions seasonal ingredients that are readily available in the colder months of February, and the salmon is so easy you’ll (hopefully!) return to this again and again for a post-work feed!Top off your Valentine’s evening with my ready in no time pudding, satsuma segments dipped in chocolate and sprinkled in sea salt.

Asian influenced marinated salmon, with a colourful slaw salad

For the Salmon:

1 stick lemongrass, finely chopped (I cheat and use lemongrass paste)

½ thumb of ginger, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

3 tbsp soy sauce

1 bunch coriander

2 salmon fillets

1 tbsp runny honey

1 chilli, finely chopped

1 lime, zest a quarter

For the Slaw:

2 spring onions, finely chopped

1 cabbage, grated

2 carrots, grated

½ pepper, finely sliced

¼ cucumber, peeled into ribbons

4 radishes, finely sliced

Method:

1.Mix the lemongrass, ginger, and garlic with the soy sauce and lime zest. Rub all over the salmon fillets.  Leave to marinate for an hour if you can, or 4 hours + if you’re really prepared.

2.Pre-heat your grill to 200C. Whilst the salmon is marinating, prep and chop all of the ingredients for the salad, mix all the vegetables together.

3.When you’re ready to cook the salmon, brush the ginger and garlic pieces to the side of the salmon (if they’re on the top, they’ll catch and burn on the grill). Brush the salmon with a little runny hunny and put under the grill.

4.Depending on how aggressive your grill is, after around five minutes your salmon should have a nice dark colour. If, like mine, your grill is a bit temperamental, keep half an eye on the salmon whilst it’s in there so it doesn’t blacken too much and start to burn. Once the salmon has browned on top, turn off the grill, close the door and leave the salmon in there for another five minutes.

5.Pour the marinade from the salmon into a bowl, add the juice of the lime and mix. Serve the salmon and salad, pour the marinade on top, and sprinkle over the chilli and chopped coriander.

If you’re particularly hungry, serve the main dish with cooked rice noodles or sweet potato mash.

If you really want a special evening, the best wine for this dish would be a dry Riesling or a Gewürztraminer, both which should hold their own against the richness of the salmon and the Asian flavours in the dish (I worked in wine before I worked in advertising. I like to pair food and wine…).

And for pudding...

If you want to make a simple pudding, why not make these chocolate-salted dipped satsumas too. They’re a tasty, winter-version of the chocolate dipped strawberry (save this for the summer when you can buy local, juicy-sweet strawberries). They are super simple and only take around half an hour to firm up in the fridge.

Salted chocolate dipped satsumas

250g dark chocolate

2 satsumas

Maldon sea salt

Method:

1.Peel the satsumas and take off the pith and separate out the segments.

2.Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie (aka in a heatproof bowl on top of a simmering saucepan of water).

3.Once the chocolate has melted, dip a half of each satsuma segment in the chocolate, put on a plate and lightly sprinkle with sea salt.

4.Pop in the fridge and bring them out when you’re ready to eat them! These will also keep for a day or two in the fridge so they’re perfect if you want to make them ahead.

LucyPea Cooks

Roast Christmas Porchetta by Charlotte Holland

Charlotte Holland shares her delicious Roast Christmas Porchetta recipe with us, her blog Food by Charlotte is full of enticing and inspiring recipes.I first tried a dish similar to this a few years ago when some family friends came to stay for Christmas. The centrepiece of our glorious Christmas lunch was not the traditional turkey but a beautifully stuffed joint of pork that had been slowly roasted for hours. To this day I still think about how good the pork tasted, so taking inspiration from the original recipe I came up with my own version. Using high welfare, slowly raised and well-sourced cuts of pork, really makes the difference. It is succulent, juicy and oh so flavorsome.  I used pork belly, which lends itself well to the rich and herby stuffing and also gives an epic crackling. I love nothing more than hosting supper parties and thought this roast pork would make an excellent focal point for a Christmas themed one. As it is Christmas, I had to serve along side my favourite vegetable, the mighty brussel sprout.

Charlotte xx

Roast Christmas Porchetta with Fondant New Potatoes, Roast Carrots and Brussel Sprouts

For 8-10 people (makes cracking leftovers if fewer)

For the Porchetta and Stuffing:

2kg high welfare pork belly (I used two 1kg pieces)

70g soft prunes

1 bramley apple, peeled and diced quite small

100g fresh white breadcrumbs

one red onion finely chopped

thumb nail size of fresh ginger, grated

1 clove of garlic

bunch each of parsley, thyme, sage and rosemary

1 tsp fennel seeds

two eggs

25g melted butter

100ml cloudy apple juice

For the Potatoes:

1kg bag of Charlotte potatoes

500ml vegetable stock

2-3 garlic cloves

For the Veg:

350-400g baby carrots

4 parsnips

maple syrup

feta

fresh oregano

For the Sprouts:

bag of brussels

pancetta

lemon

On the day before you plan to cook your pork, make the stuffing. Simply put the diced prunes, apple, breadcrumbs, onion, ginger, garlic, and fennel seeds in a bowl and combine with a good pinch of salt and pepper.

In a food processor add the herbs (pick the leaves off the thyme and rosemary) and blitz until fine. Add to the bowl with the other ingredients, the eggs and melted butter, and really combine until mixed well.

Open up your pork belly so it is flat and add a thin layer of the stuffing all over the flesh side and roll up tightly. I asked my butcher for elastic bands suitable for the oven, but you could also use cooking string. Be sure that the string is knotted properly; you don’t want it bursting open mid cooking.

Place the pork in the roasting tin skin side up and leave in the fridge over night. Leave uncovered to ensure the pork skin really dries out – essential to get good crackling.

Pre heat the oven to 130°C.

Smother the pork skin with olive oil and sea salt.

Pour the apple juice into the roasting tin and put the pork in the oven for at least 3 hours.

For the last 20 minutes of cooking, put the heat up to 200°C and let the crackling do it's thing.

Remove and leave to rest for approx. 30 mins.

Whilst the pork is cooking, add the potatoes, garlic and stock to a roasting tin and put in the oven until most of the liquid has been absorbed. The potatoes should brown nicely on top.

Whilst the pork is resting, add the carrots and parsnips to a roasting tin and toss with the maple syrup, salt and pepper. Roast for about 40 minutes until tender but starting to caramelise.

Once they are ready remove from oven and sprinkle with the feta and oregano.

Prep the brussels by halving and adding to a large frying pan. Sauté with some butter and water until they start to soften. Add the diced pancetta and let it crisp up.  Add a squeeze of lemon juice and season well.

To make the gravy, use the juices from the roasting tin and add a splash of white wine (or apple juice), water and a chicken stock pot. Let it simmer until it starts to reduce down.

By now the pork will have rested nicely and be ready to carve.

Words and photos by Charlotte Holland

Food by Charlotte

Chocolate Judging with Bean to Bar Britain

Now I have a very very sweet tooth, and I do like chocolate.  I sometimes think my specialised subject on Mastermind would be chocolate bars - from Cadbury's Boost to Nestle's Yorkie, Rococo's Violet Chocolate Bar to Bendick's Bittermints, Lindt's Dark Chilli Chocolate to Willie's Cacao Luscious Orange, I am a fan of chocolate in all shapes, sizes and flavours.And, as this week is Chocolate Week (it really is, look it up), it seemed an appropriate time to seek out some new sweet stuff.So off I trundled to the Bean to Bar Britain pop-up shop in Southwark which is open for just this week.I was particularly interested in this pop-up as it is dedicated to raising the profile of craft chocolate makers in the UK, so all the chocolate is made in Britain, with some very familiar names including Willie's Cacao, to others I had never heard of such as Dormouse chocolate.The pop-up shop is tucked away just off Marshalsea Road, and I was completely enchanted. Matthew Lindley has put the shop together himself, and prior to this week he has travelled all over the UK visiting chocolate makers, learning about their particular craft. For this week he is selling their chocolate in the shop and hosting chocolate themed events.I went along for the 'Just For Fun Judging' event in which we tried 12 anonymous squares of award winning chocolate from different makers, and rated them one by one on their appearance, aroma, texture, finish and most importantly flavour.It was great fun, and Matt is hugely knowledgeable, he explained all about tasting chocolate, and what you should be looking for whilst judging, and we all got into the swing of it.  I loved the anonymous element to it, with no pre-concieved judgements on a brand, we tried all sorts from bitter darks, to carmelly milk chocolate, to a delicious unroasted dark bar.  The only information he gave us was whether it was a milk or dark, if it was over 80%, if it was 'unroasted' and if it had had flavours specifically added to it, ie coffee or mint.We judged and with lots of discussion decided as a group whether each chocolate was worthy of a bronze, silver or gold award and at the end Matt gave us some surprising results - our palettes are perhaps not yet as finely tuned as the official chocolate judgers!  My favourite was the 85% Porcelana bar by Chocolate Tree, a really (I think!) smooth dark chocolate bar, which is made in Scotland.The shop is open for this weekend, so do pop along, you will learn lots! There are lots of chocolate bars to buy and they have hot chocolate on offer too, so there is something for everyone.Thank you very much for having me along Matt!Alice xxx

The pop-up is at 14 Marshalsea Road, London SE1 1HL

@beantobarbritain

The Great British Brayke Off

For our first culinary post, Susannah Bray, 7 times Great British Bake Off applicant reject decides to undertake her own bake off, competing against herself.  Please read on for some truly scrumptious delights...

Chocolate Almond Caramel Bars

Get your health kick here

These biscuits are made up of entirely non antioxidant ingredients, the only thing they may cure is your diet.

Ingredients:

In the spirit of the non-Mary Berry Great British Bake Off I decided to ignore the theme of this weeks show ‘Bread’ and embark on my own baking marathon. The chosen category I decided on was Biscuits - soggy bottoms and all. The reasoning behind my chosen category came about because I found an open cook book on the table and decided to have a flick through.  I found a recipe describing the three essentials of baking - chocolate, almond and caramel. Bars and bread are pretty much the same thing anyway. To begin - after a quick scour of the fridge I realised that I did not have enough butter, and after questioning the mother oracle I was duly presented with a frozen block. Wondering to myself if you are able to freeze butter I checked the packet whereupon it firmly says 'DO NOT FREEZE, but, as we know supermarkets are always wrong so I happily preceded with hacking up some frozen butter. Note: It’s as hard as it looks. Dodging this wee hiccup I was directed one last set of instructions 'not to leave the kitchen in a mess'.

Being a good student I read the recipe the whole way through before baking:

After a quick read and with slight confusion about the mention of runners I was delighted to discover that this recipe is from the Aga Bible. For those who don’t possess an Aga but would like to truly complete their cookbook collection, it  may be purchased here.I may say this is a fantastic and simple recipe and here are my comments:

  1. For Aga newbies - there is no mention of greasing the shallow baking tray - I concluded Aga people probably know to do this, and decided to butter it up anyway.

  2. We have non leccy scales, so I used the medieval 1960s scales which can be roughly translated to 150g = 5oz, 60g = 3oz.

  3. For conventional bakers, i.e non Aga owners, biscuits should be cooked for at least 15 minutes.

  4. Who knew caster sugar could be unrefined, eh?

I can’t believe it’s not butter, yet:

How to take butter from frozen to melted:

Actual baking has begun:

For health reasons I would highly recommend using your fingers to press the mixture down. Truly make them yours, DNA and all:

Oven checking:

Chez caramel, saucy biccies:

A while for setting….

When they say finely chopped chocolate, they mean it:

Hack, another layer of chocolate never goes amiss, and I left them in the fridge over night:

And the finished pieces!

The closest the cooking got to an aga:

Presenting them to the judges was goose bumblingly nerve racking, but reviews from Mummy Berry said they were ‘devilishly good’ and ‘not very good for her waistband’. Potentially a little soggy bottomed, however this did not detract from the taste. Aesthetically some work may need to be done but this is baking people, not architecture. Mummy Berry did make a very good point - 'who was going to eat them all?' I have therefore accepted her challenge and shall be spending my afternoon preoccupied with this momentous task.

All in all an afternoon well spent.

Safety Notes

To avoid Ofcom getting involved I would advise when entering any cooling devices to wear the appropriate attire, perhaps a wooly hat. Next time Noel.

Make Up: The Shower

Fashion: Hat, Poppy London; Gloves, Topshop Sale

Photographer: Sarah ‘Everyones going to see that I have a dirty freezer’ Bray

Baking playlist:Things have Changed, Bob Dylan + Spotify Playlist - Drivetime Classiquuuueee

(NB Susannah is actually an excellent baker - her carrot cake is particularly good - she may bake on request, if the appropriate remuneration is offered (Amex not accepted).)

StrEATlife

Olivia 🙋

What's a self-professed food aficionado going to do on a bank holiday weekend? Go to the annual  'Foodies Festival' of course! Trekking to Alexandra Palace, I was excited for a day at the UK's biggest celebration of British-produced food & drink. With the sun blazing, artisan food & drink surrounding me, I began my munching adventure...A couple of hours in and multiple dishes stuffed down me later, I basked in the sun and took a well-deserved rest (after all walking around and trying dozens of samples requires severe concentration, strength & stamina - which I ran out of) and began to think about which brands stood out the most to me.Almost a week later (it really was a tough choice), here are my top 5 British brands from the day:

The Foraging Fox

Since going to production in 2015, this 'Beetroot Ketchup' has a healthy and simple take on one the country's most loved condiments. Naturally sweet and bursting with vitamins minerals & antioxidants (30% less sugar than normal ketchup for any health conscious babes out there); honed over 3 years and has the founder's children stamp of approval - this versatile & flavoursome ketchup is a staple for anyone's food cupboard. For the more daring, try their new 'Hot Beetroot Ketchup' for a chili-infused experience!

Craft Academy

Launched by Greene King and passionate about 'unbottling potential' - this brewing team of 2 apprentices and 3 mentors have already made a name for themselves with their new range of beers. With catchy names, eye-popping packaging & delicious flavour, you can choose from 5 beers: Over Easy - 3.8% Session IPA, Big Bang– 5.6% IPA, Bitter Sweet - 6% Black IPA, Desert Ryeder - 4. 8 % Rye Beer and High & Dry - 5% Dry hopped larger ). FYI for any espresso martini lovers out there, the 'Bitter Sweet' is a must a try! I am very proud to say that my friend Nancy Nangle is one of the apprentices on this amazing adventure (and no I wasn't biased with this decision)!

Whipsmiths

Founded by former model, Brad Smith, the industrial design graduate has conjured up the world's first instant ice cream. Based in the UK and now expanded to Europe, this UK-based liquid nitrogen ice-cream is out of this world. With over 3,000 possible flavour combinations, the choice is endless...I recommend the 'Butter Moon' a mix of white chocolate and peanut butter - genuinely felt like I had died and gone to heaven! Available for private hire and large campaigns - I advise you to find an excuse to have them round, I know I will!

Cawston Press

Starting as a small brand - this soft drinks brand has grown into a multimillion pound business and quality stands at the core of its values. Artificial and concentrate free, these drinks all contain one key ingredient: pressed apples. Masters in blending, fruit & apples, the brand has now come out with a new range of 6 fizzy drinks: Rhubarb, Cloudy Apple, Cucumber & Mint, Ginger Beer, Gooseberry & Elderflower Lemonade. I tried all 6 and my firm favourite was the 'Rhubarb' - subtle, tart flavours make this delightfully refreshing for a hot summers day or, in my case being a teetotaller, a new drink to add to my list of appropriate drinking drinks - saving myself calories and a sugar hangover - a 100% WIN/WIN

Mademoiselle Macaron

Rachel Hanretty started her business in 2013 in her kitchen. 4 years later and she has 7 employees, a cafe in Edinburgh, stocked in Harvey Nichols (available to order online from their website) and has even got her own branded merchandise. She certainly has come a long way in a short space of time! With a boast of different flavours starting from 'Salted Caramel' & 'Vanilla'; to more obscure flavours of 'Innis & Gunn' and 'Scottish Whammy' - there is a certainly a flavour for everyone. Perfect as gifts or for a girls night in, or even simply, just to treat yourself - go on, get some!

 Well Londoners I wish you all a happy Friday and a lovely weekend - make sure to try out the brands and more importantly, top up on some Vitamin D :)Ciao, Olivia xxx

Countryside Pursuits

Alice🙋🏽

This is not a post about tweed wearing, fire-arms bearing activities (although if you haven't yet bought a ticket to Miss Knight's Crawley & Horsham extravaganza in November - you know who you are - you better be quick smart, it's going to be a fantabulous evening 😘).I just wanted to write a little post about a few places and things I have discovered recently whilst in the countryside.  I like escaping London, I may have mentioned this a couple of times 😉.   It's always so nice to be in the fresh air and away from the constant rush of the city, and enjoying a slightly slower pace of life.  So below are some of my finds 🌳😃.

Alice xxx

Marourde Mead

In a small village in Kent, William Boscawen has been perfecting the recipe for his delicious mead. Using mostly local ingredients, hops and honey are from the farm, he has created three sparkling meads each with their own distinct flavour.  The mead is aptly named 'Marourde' as this is the historic name of the village of Mereworth where it is made.

I spent a delightful afternoon with William, we had a tour of his meadery and of course a tasting.  With no expectations at all, I really enjoyed this sweet yet satisfying drink, which is best served very chilled.  William is also growing vines, so watch this space for the next in great English sparkling wines..... and in the mean time check out Marourde's insta for all things mead.

I am quite a bit fan of Eric Ravilious. I really like his woodcuts and many of them are currently on display at The Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne.  This is particularly fun as many of the places Ravilious depicted in his pictures are close by, nestling in the South Downs.  So not only can you see his artwork, you can also seek out the locations in which he painted.Off we went down to Eastbourne, and it was very exciting indeed, there is great selection of his original woodcuts and paintings -  I love his book illustrations - alongside many other works by his friends and fellow artists, Edward Bawden, Paul Nash and John Nash.  I highly recommend going to see this exhibition, we followed our visit with a blustery walk up onto Beachy Head, and I am excited to go back and explore more Ravilious countryside soon.

Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden

This beautiful garden, hidden away near Ockley in Surrey, has a wonderful display of contemporary sculpture.  It's rather fun to wander about, weaving in and out of the water features and catching the sunlight as it shines through the giant foliage.  We had a greatly enjoyable evening discovering all sorts of weird and wonderful works of art, they display over 200 pieces varying them throughout the summer, so there is lots to see!

And a few other English countryside happenings 😍

Brunch Time

It's Wednesday which means the weekend is fast approaching,  and it is definitely time to start planning some fun weekend activities 😃.

I am a great believer in brunch ☕️🍴on the weekend (this is partly because I like sleeping 💤 very much), but also because it is the perfect way to kick start a day that otherwise has the potential to be very lazy.  I like brunch food - the choice of savoury or sweet, healthy or indulgent, and being able to order two drinks at once and not look like a weirdo.

I am, however, quite fussy about my brunch, and I am afraid a greasy fry up doesn't really interest me, and have to admit I have succumbed and am a self-confessed smashed avocado, flat white bruncher through and through 😘.  What I really like, is an interesting menu with healthyish food that actually tastes nice (I am a secret healthy food lover), along with a proper coffee and a green tea.  I'm not too fussed about alcohol, it's nice to start the day with a clean start, although I did once go to a prosecco soaked brunch at Bunga Bunga which was the best fun ever, I urge you to go.

I would also say one of the MOST important things about brunching is being able to walk straight in and sit down at a table.  I DO NOT WANT TO QUEUE.   There are places I have eaten very good food, The Breakfast Club and Brew are two, but I have absolutely no wish to stand on the street for 45 mins (usually in the cold) whilst they chivvy someone else away from their breakfast to make a place for me.  Brunch is to be enjoyed and should be lengthy, if you want it to be, and relaxing, it is the weekend after all ☺️.

I also need to be able to either walk or cycle to brunch from home, having possibly indulged in a few too many cocktails the night before, so places I go, tend to not be too far from where I live (although I am doing a very dry January, and made it all the way to Notting Hill from the deep depths of Wandsworth on my bicycle in time for brunch last weekend, and I am perhaps feeling a little smug).

So here are a few of my local favourite brunching spots. 😃 ☕️🍴.

Alice xxx

Bean & Hop

424 Garratt Lane, Earlsfield, SW18 4HN

brunch at Bean & Hop

brunch at Bean & Hop

I like Bean & Hop.  They are really friendly and their menu is interesting, and unexpected.  You can choose between porridge with spiced poached pears, an excellent bacon butty (I always have smashed avocado in mine) or Black Bean Fritters which sound a little on the scary healthy side but taste delicious.  They do really good coffee and always have a special smoothie, my favourite so far was a berry smoothie with chocolate brownies mixed in - superb 👌.

Birdhouse

123, St John's Hill, Battersea, SW11 1SZ

Coffee at Birdhouse

Coffee at Birdhouse

For me, Birdhouse is a quick brunch place.  This is THE best coffee, and they always ask if you want sugar, which I find weirdly endearing in the current 'sugar is evil' climate.  I usually have the banana bread which they will butter for you even if you are taking away, but they also have a varied savoury brunch menu, including bocaditos - Cuban sandwiches.

Cafe Tamra

63 Northcote Road, Battersea, SW11 1NP

Brunch at Cafe Tamra

Brunch at Cafe Tamra

Cafe Tamra is brunch with a twist, they have Moroccan, Mediterranean and Greek inspired dishes, so you can have Shakshouka (Moroccan baked eggs) and they also do all the normals too - eggs how you like them or pancakes, so there is something for everyone.

Toast Rack

314 Trinity Road, Wandsworth, SW18 3RG

Brunch at Toast Rack

Brunch at Toast Rack

Toast Rack has a very friendly vibe to it, and a very good, more traditional menu.  It's refreshingly not too trendy, being based in Wandsworth you more likely to encounter small children and small dogs than bearded philosophers.  I like it a lot.  They do an excellent selection of teas, and a good simple full english breakfast, or you could branch out and have kedgeree.

Flotsam and Jetsam

4 Bellevue Road, Wandsworth, SW17 7EQ

Brunch at Flotsam and Jetsam

Brunch at Flotsam and Jetsam

If you are a yummy mummy living in Wandsworth I suspect you have been to Flotsam at least once..  Flotsam has a lovely atmosphere, although this is the one place on my list I am afraid you may have queue for.  But once inside, they do a mean BLT Toasted Sandwich - bacon, lettuce, smashed avocado with ailoi, or you can feel really good about yourself and have the coco-mango bircher (in the photo) all sorts of healthy things looking pretty in coconut yoghurt.

Ground Coffee Society

79 Lower Richmond Road, Putney, SW15 1ET

Brunch at the Ground Coffee Society

Brunch at the Ground Coffee Society

This may be my current favourite.  If you go, you must have the blueberry pancakes with bacon, they are the best and come with creme fraiche too.  The fresh juices are terrific and so is the coffee (they first started with only coffee) and they have a fun outside seating area at the back, which is open to the air when it is sunny.

Catch Up

A photo run through of what I have been up to recently 😊Alice xxxIMG_6941IMG_6961IMG_6972IMG_6979IMG_7107IMG_7125IMG_7117IMG_7129IMG_7137IMG_7372IMG_7403IMG_7420IMG_7531IMG_7559IMG_7584IMG_7606IMG_7631IMG_7633IMG_7746IMG_7749IMG_7774IMG_7826IMG_9904IMG_8321IMG_8343IMG_8347IMG_8383IMG_8374IMG_8388IMG_8395IMG_8407IMG_8412IMG_8424IMG_8432IMG_8445IMG_8523

An Indulgent Afternoon

This year, I would like to tell you, I have been incredibly good.  I have done hardly any shopping 👗👠 whatsoever - and I have taken a step back (a number of painful times) and told myself I do not need the pair of shoes 👠/ dress 👗 / earrings 💕 / random thing 👑 I shall probably use once and then lose or break.This has been very good for me (there was a point in TK Maxx when I almost failed on a major scale 😳 - I just do just enjoy shopping very much).  I have however done a fair bit of window shopping (just to keep my eye in 😉) - and in a spare moment recently, wandered into Topshop 👗on Oxford Street.Now, I have to tell you, I have a large amount of love and joy for this shop 😍.  I'm not really sure that it should be labelled a shop - it's more like a shopping lovers fair ground 🎠.  Once inside it completely engulfs you - and there are just so many delights - clothes, shoes, jewellery 👗👠👙💄 - and you can get your nails painted 💅 and hair dip dyed 💇 if you wish.  And I get that thing, the thing when you are in serious browsing mode and you keep finding better and better items and you just know the one for you is there, and you just can't wait to find it, and the search in the meantime is very enjoyable 😃, it's a little like a HUGE dressing up box.So I went into Topshop 🎠.  And I was careful to stay on the ground floor with the accessories 👑, who knows what would have happened if I had delved downstairs into the clothing 👘, or even further to the shoes 👠in the basement.  But accessories were nice and safeish, and I headed over to the jewellery 💍section.Topshop has good jewellery 💍.  It does tend to be a little pricey (Zara is cheaper) but they display it so well.  I once worked for a shoe developer 👠👦 and once a week we would tour the highstreet to check out the competition AND we would go into Topshop to look at the jewellery as inspiration for potential shoe trims 💎👠.  So I've been here quite a lot, know it very well and it rarely fails to disappoint.I have to say the photos below are of a number of quite silly things - the plastic bangles 💚💗 made we want to dress up in lots of glitter 💎, sequins 💜and colourful things 💖and go to a festival 🎶 (Yes please Coachella 💓and hopefully one day Burning Man 🔥).  The shooting star earrings are great, I loved the cute strawberry necklace and there are so many pompoms. Just so many.And this time I cracked 💔.  I didn't buy the unicorn phone case 🐴 (it was a close call), but I did buy pompom earrings, a pompom hair tie 🔴⚪️🔵(which a number of people have pointed out looks a bit like Bumble's tail) it's possible my love of pompoms may be out of hand.. 😳😏😍😉 .  And I bought some slightly obnoxious see-yourself-in-them sunglasses from Toyshades 😎.So having got over excited and purchased some unpractical items, I then passed Laduree in Burlington Arcade and decided I would buy some macarons 🍈 for the house.  They are just so pretty, in all their pastel colours - and I chose rose 🌹, and salted caramel 🍮, the passion fruit and chocolate 🍊 🍫(this is my new favourite combo in macaron and in chocolate) and the Marie Antoinette 👸 one as it is such a pretty blue green colour.  I think the word divine is allowed to be applied to Laudree macarons - they colours are so pretty, they taste even better and it's such a delightful little shop.So it was a slightly indulgent day... perhaps I shall allow myself a trip downstairs at Topshop next time, just to have look....Alice xxxIMG_4473IMG_4474IMG_4475IMG_4476IMG_4477IMG_4480IMG_4481IMG_4487IMG_4484IMG_4483

The Little Yellow Door

Last week I went to The Little Yellow Door  🚪💛for their 'Wednesdays - Kitchen Supper and Cocktails.' 🍝🍹  I think I should get things straight first, as it is important.  This is NOT someones actual flat, and they are not cooking you supper - it's being labelled as a 'pop up bar, based on a fictional flatshare' and unfortunately none of it really works.  (I think I am about to write my first, not so nice post - I was really quite intrigued and excited to visit this place, and it was just quite a disappointment 😔)From the website lulling you into supposing you might get a homemade meal 🍝, whilst meeting other interesting people 👧👦👩 sitting around a kitchen table, to that fact that it looks like a poorly arranged squat inside 📻📚 , there was really nothing hugely appealing about The Little Yellow Door  - apart from the fact it is right next to Notting Hill tube station, and the door is yellow 💛(at least they got that bit right).You put your name on the guest list 📝, you arrive 🚅, a bouncer 🎩 lets you pass through, up the stairs you go 🚶and your in 💃.  It's  one room, with a bar at one end and the 'tree house' 🌳at the other - this is a sort of built in cubby hole and is fairly entertaining, for a while.  It's decorated as though someone has let loose their slightly arty 14 year old 👦🎨 -  not necessarily a bad thing - I enjoyed the tree with blossom painted across one wall 🌸🌳.  The 'kitchen supper and cocktail' for £15 was a 'house cocktail', some chicken wings 🐥 and a sort of chicken slider.  We were hungry and we ate 🍔and we drank 🍹, but trying to get another drink was an absolute nightmare.  Until later on in the evening there seemed to be one waitress, and the poor girl was having to squeeze herself in and out of all the people - as it was full, with no where near enough places to sit.There were fun touches, the menu was on the back of a CD case 💽 (we were very confused to start with) and some of the drinks came in jam jars 🍹 with the labels still on (kooky... or just lazy?) - even in our house we manage to take the label off before reusing the jam jar.But perhaps I am being a bit unfair 😏.I had a romantic vision of a supper club, sitting around a table being served some home cooked food amongst friends and strangers.  And I don't think I would have minded that it wasn't actually in someones flat, if this had been the case.And as a bar, it was a nice change - it had a fun 'living as a student vibe' 🎨🍷📚, with everything a bit makeshift and rough around the edges.  And maybe I'm just the wrong age - as a student it might just be a really cool venue, if your a bit older you can reminisce about when you were once young and drank wine straight from the bottle 🍷, and then go home and be thankful your living room doesn't look like that anymore (although you do, very very occasionally, still drink wine from the bottle, because you know, glasses are a faff to wash 🍷🍷).  And maybe I have just been to too many 'trying to be different bars', but I think maybe we all have now, and it's important to get it really really right, Pop Brixton for instance, has some super spaces.It just didn't work that well for me 😔 - there was no queue to get in, so that was nice, and it is very easy to get to and find.  But if you want to go to a bar that looks like someones living room go to Passing Clouds on Kingsland Road.  I don't know if it's still there, but if you find your way upstairs in this place, it is marvellous - they've done it properly, you could quite easily be in someones eclectic house (maybe you are, I had had a couple of drinks when I discovered this super space).I'm not saying don't go - if you want a weekday outing that's a bit different, it definitely is, but I'm not sure I would go there for the experience, drinks or food alone, and perhaps it needs to work a bit better on it's package as a whole 😃.Thank you for having me!Alice xxxIMG_4185IMG_4189IMG_4197