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

Strangers on a Train

Emily 🙋🏽

On Sunday, a group of us were getting the 12:15 train from Gleneagles to London. We had spent the most spectacular weekend in Scotland and a little worse for wear, were looking forward to a painless journey.The train was a bit delayed, but nothing too sinister and it meant we got a bit more time in Scotland which was great news. When it finally arrived, we bundled on and settled down for a relaxing six hour journey. Having all booked separately, we were peppered throughout the train.Everything was going exceptionally smoothly, I had a window seat and a table, a cold coke to drink and found 'Summer Heights High' on BBC iPlayer. However, just outside of York things took a turn for the worse. We just stopped dead...There was some incessant apologising and muttering from the guard about wires above the track but he assured us that we would be shortly on the move...Now this post isn't to bitch about or berate Virgin Trains (rest assured this has already been done - and a full refund supplied); But rather to recount something miraculous that happened. About 2 hours into the stationary state, I got up to go and treat myself to a free bottle of water that was being offered (on account of the delay) and the nice man sitting next to me offered to go and get them for our whole table. I was genuinely shocked. It is a truth universally acknowledged that British people never EVER speak to randoms. I myself hate talking to strangers and will often freak out when shop assistants ask if I need help. However, bravely, I took up his offer and also requested a tea and any free snacks that might be on offer.He returned about ten minutes later bearing tea, fizzy water and crisps that he had blagged from the cafe. I don't think I have ever encountered such thoughtfulness from a total stranger. With our complimentary treats, something even more surprising then happened - we began to chat. Imagine that?! Four British strangers voluntarily speaking to one another.It turned out that he was a barrister who had been to a family wedding, and the couple sitting opposite had been on holiday to Skye. We sat and chatted about who we were and where we were from. They all seemed really very nice, and I think in another life we might have been friends. The chatting continued for about forty five minutes as we discussed important topics, such as, what we would eat if we ever got back to London (McDonald's for me; a gourmet three-course meal for the barrister - to be cooked by his boyfriend and an as yet, undecided take away for the couple). We laughed, joked and kept each other positive as rumours of broken loos on the train began to circulate.After nearly 3 stationary hours the train began to move and we settled back into our solitary activities.When we finally got to London - at 9pm (thanks Virgin) we all said our goodbyes, and pottered off going our separate ways. I'm pretty sure one of them even said 'have a nice life' - and I really hope they do.It was a weird, transient moment where total strangers are actually nice to each other - and made me feel uncharacteristically positive about the great British public!But please don't ask me if I need help in a shop, I really am just browsing - if I wanted something specific I would have bought it on Amazon.Emily xxYou can read all about Emily and Olivia’s blog take over here.