Category Archive: Food

Apr 08 2014

Afternoon Tea: Carmina and Lancelot, London

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Discovering a great place to have afternoon tea just off Oxford Street in London is a hard challenge, yes there is Selfridges and the big hotels but what about something more charming, inviting and relaxing? Well, I have found the perfect place, Carmina & Lancelot on Wigmore Street.

This cute and trendy cafe is really a reflection on the owners, Carmina and Lancelot, who are both warm, friendly and so down-to-earth, they really make it their business to make everyone welcome. It was so nice to see as I find that so many foodie places are part of a big chains that they have lost that friendly feel that can be so important.

As well as loving the owners, the decor of this brassiere is to-die-for, filled with books on fashion, art and travel, adorable bone china tea sets and vintage pictures – it is quirky and fun and definitely somewhere I could wish away the afternoon while chatting with friends.

I would like to say the discovery of this gem was my own, sadly it was Ngoni from I am NRC, who kindly let me tag along to review the place, but I can’t complain as it was so lovely to enjoy the cafe’s relaxed, unpretentious afternoon tea – yep there wasn’t any macaroons, no crazy theme, just good honest traditional food and it was perfect.

The smoke salmon and cream cheese and egg mayonnaise sandwiches were nice, but for me this afternoon tea was all about the delicious homemade sultana scones, fresh out of the oven these beauties were still warm to the touch, which I adore and they tasted perfect with lashings of clotted cream and strawberry jam.

As well as offering afternoon tea, Carmina & Lancelot also serves breakfast, including a great looking vegetarian brekkie, salads, paninis, daily specials and even cocktails. This is one of those places that you go in for lunch, add a dessert, a cup of tea, and then stay until cocktail time, as it really has a relaxed and inviting feel.

Carmina & Lancelot, 88 Wigmore Street, London

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**I was a guest of Carmina & Lancelot but all opinions on the afternoon tea are my own**

Mar 11 2014

Boomf: Insta-Memories On Marshmallows

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I am a sucker for anything personalised – whether that’s mini photobooks, canvas prints, cookies, or even cute stickers – well it seems that I can now add marshmallows to the list. I was introduced to Boomf during London Fashion Week, I think I must have eaten a good box or two of their delicious vanilla flavoured marshmallows that the team said that I could put together my own box of memories using snaps from my Instagram feed.

So I set about selecting which of snaps I wanted to eat, which I totally didn’t think about too closely as each picture I chose from my Dad to my engagement ring and even my wedding venue to my kittie JD came out looking too good to eat. I know Boomf bill themselves as the edible selfie but I just couldn’t eat them – silly I know.

The process of selecting is easy – Boomf literally pulls the images you select directly from your Instagram feed, plus if you want to make these as a gift you can also select images from your Instagram followers. With Mother’s Day coming I think it might be nice to get my mum some bite sized goodies of her pictures, with a few of my face of course!!!

You get nine marshmallows in each box and I would recommend going for Instagram snaps with mainly light backgrounds – my raspberry heart was one of the best to come out – plus remember that they aren’t going to come out perfect they are printing on marshmallow treats!!!

What would you print on your marshmallows?

Feb 14 2014

#ShareTheLove: Valentine’s Day With Marks and Spencer

ValentinesDay M S 2 #ShareTheLove: Valentines Day With Marks and Spencer %tagValentine’s Day is always a non-starter in our household, as each year it always falls during London Fashion Week, so each season my other half gets replaced by catwalk shows, late nights, and deadlines, which turns me into a stressed out, very tired monster – not very romantic.

So this year, when Marks and Spencer got in touch and asked if I would like to get involved in their #ShareTheLove Valentine’s Day campaign, I thought why not do an early dine-in special before I turn into a stressed out fashion victim.

So this year’s M&S became our Valentine’s and sent us flowers, candles, chocolates, and food vouchers to have the perfect night. We decided to test out this year’s Gourmet Dine-in-for-Two menus, which is great value as for £20 you can pick a starter, a main course, a side dish, a dessert, and a bottle of wine, plus you get the cutest heart-shaped chocolates.

Everything from the starter to mains were delicious, but the best had to be the dreamy dessert, the chocolate and raspberry truffle bake, which when I say I can’t help but do the dulcet tones of M&S lady from the advert, much to the annoyance of my fiancé. It really was the most perfect end to a very relaxed night in before the madness of London Fashion Week.

How are you celebrating Valentine’s Day?

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The dine in for two for £20 offer is available from Tuesday 11 February until Sunday 16 February and is available in selected stores only.

**This post was done in collaboration with Marks and Spencer**

Feb 06 2014

Fashionista Barbie Bakes: Simple Blueberry Muffins

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Since I started my healthy kick, cutting out sugar, chocolate and generally everything I love, I have found it hard to find anything to bake that doesn’t stray me too much from the new healthy me. But as I find baking a stress reliever and I love cake I just couldn’t stay away so I have been trying to figure out what is the healthiest cake option and I came up with Blueberry muffins – well they can’t be that bad as they are filled with yummy fruit.

OK, so I am not sure they are that healthy, just healthier than say double chocolate chip muffins, and they have to count as one of your five a day – right??? Well that is what I am telling myself with these delicious beauties that are so easy to make. Plus, if like me you are obsessed with juicing and smoothies you will probably already have lots of blueberries to get baking these for a little afternoon snack.

I promise these are so simple to make, around 10 minutes prep work, then all you have to do is sit back and let them bake for around 30 minutes – if it helps you could use the time wisely and do a mini-workout.

Are you a fan of blueberry muffins?

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375g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
200g golden caster sugar
125ml vegetable oil
1 egg
125ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
300g blueberries – I prefer fresh but frozen works as well
Granulated sugar, for sprinkling


Pre-heat oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4, and line the muffin tine with 12 paper cases.

Place the flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl – gently mix. Then place the oil, egg, milk and vanilla in a separate bowl and whisk to combine.

Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined – then add the blueberries and mix.

Spoon mixture evenly into the muffin cases. Sprinkle the tops with sugar and bake for 30–35 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.

Remove from muffin tin and cool on a wire rack.

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Dec 29 2013

Fashionista Barbie Bakes: Festive Cupcakes

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The festive period is one of my favourite times to bake, mainly because I have a little more time, but mostly because you can have a little bit more fun when it comes to decorating. I bake cupcakes and muffins all the time, sometimes chocolate, occasionally carrot cake, and lots of blueberry ones, but no matter what I love to have a recipe to follow, it is kind of like a safety net that reassures me along the way.

I have tried the cookbook stand, it never really stays put, I have tried using the iPad on a stand, but getting cake mix on the screen is annoying, so when I heard that the Microsoft Surface had a Bing Food & Drink app that you could literally use with a swipe of a hand I had to give it ago.

Armed with my cupcake recipe ingredients, I turned on the hands-free mode on the app, so I could literally swipe my hand in front of the web-camera to get the page to turn, so it was easy to see what was next on my recipe. Plus you can search through lots of different recipes, so I decided to try out a new cupcake mix, which turned out really well.

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200g unsalted butter, at room temperature – I like to leave out for at least an hour before

200g caster sugar

4 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

200g self-raising flour

2 tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt


300g unsalted butter, at room temperature

750g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Green food colouring


Festive toppers, sprinkles, stars, glitter – anything goes


Preheat your oven to 160°C/315°F/Gas mark 2-3, and line the muffin tine with 12 paper cases.

Cream the butter and caster sugar together until the mixture is pale and light. I use a free-standing mixer – the Kenwood K-Mix on a medium speed for about 3-4 minutes.

Add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition, don’t forget to scrap down the sides of the bowl from time to time to make sure everything is mixed. Then add the flour, salt and baking powder, and mix together until combined. I use the fold setting on my free-standing mixer but you can easily use a large metal spoon or rubber spatula to do by hand.

Then using an ice-cream scoop or a table-spoon add the mixture into the paper cases and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the cakes spring back slightly when pressed, and when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

While the cakes are cooling, make the buttercream. Add the butter, icing sugar and vanilla extra to a large bowl and beat until the mixture becomes light and fluffy. When mixed well, add a couple of drops of food colouring, remember if you are planning to use two colours divide the mixture first, then remix until all the buttercream is the chosen colour.

You can either then decorate with a palette knife or by using a piping bag, I prefer a piping bag as it is more fun. Try using different nozzles to create different effects on your cupcakes.

Once you have added the buttercream decorate as you wish – I added Christmas tree, snowmen, penguins and polar bear toppers, as well as pink glitter dust, candy stars and silver balls – I basically was going for mini Christmas trees.

As well as these cupcakes I also made a cherry and raisin loaf, mince pies and honeycomb brownies – what are you favourite festive recipes?

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**Microsoft Surface was gifted to me as part of my participation in the Microsoft Loop**

Dec 10 2013

Afternoon Tea: Macaroons At Ladurée

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One of the perks of freelance life is that I get to conduct most of my meetings in cafes, restaurants and hotels, which means lots of gorgeous teas, cakes and the occasional hot chocolate. Recently I have had a handful of working tea breaks in Ladurée, the French patisserie and as I realised that I had never shared on my blog before I thought I would feature my new renewed love of macaroons.

Everything about Ladurée is perfection from the bijou Parisian style of the interior to the bite-sized macaroons that are irresistible, and the service is always so impeccable that it makes for a great meeting spot as well as somewhere to relax during this Christmas rush.

I think I might be working through the menu, the French-style pastries are amazing, especially the éclair, but on my latest visit I fell back in love with the tiny macaroons. I kind of have a love-hate affair with macaroons, sometimes they are great but when they are bad they are awful so of late I have stayed clear of them. But they just looked amazing that I couldn’t resist them and it has to be said that Ladurée really does have the most amazing choice of flavours from rose to liquorice. As well as tasting amazing, there is something about the vivid pastel hues that just makes them seem like a special treat.

I went for three flavours I hadn’t tried before – strawberry candy marshmallow, which was heavenly, the blackcurrant, and the chocolate, which was simply dreamy. For most it is all about the Vanilla, Pistachio, and Salted Caramel but I really do love the sweet macaroons.

What I love most about Ladurée, other than the fact it brings a taste of Paris to London, has to be how each visit feels like a treat, even if you just pop in for a cup of tea.

Are you a fan of Ladurée and its macaroons?

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Nov 19 2013

Afternoon Tea: Aqua Shard – High Tea

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My love of afternoon tea goes further than my love of cakes or tea, of course that is important, but it is also about the experience that I love the most. Whether it is a fancy hotel, an adorable theme, or in the case of Aqua Shard breath-taking views of the London skyline.

A couple of weeks ago before it turned dark at 3pm, I enjoyed my first visit to The Shard‘s restaurant Aqua Shard up on the 31st floor to join my friend Alex, who is a little obsessed with the place, for a contemporary take on the traditional afternoon tea.

Seated with a panoramic view of Tower Bridge, St Paul’s and the Tower of London, it was already worth it before the food was presented – I have to be honest I was in awe at how spectacular London looked from 31 floors up.

The afternoon tea itself was delicious, from the sculpted Shard cake, which looked too good to eat, to the soft-centred chocolate truffle, to the tiny but exquisite lemon meringue pie and my favourite the fruit salad millefeuille.

The sweet treats were the best bit of the afternoon tea for me, on par with the selection of teas that they offer from the Rare Tea Company, it was hard to choose which one to go for but I decided to try the Royal Air Force tea, a calming tea specially blended for the RAF combining Darjeeling and Malawi teas and it was divine.

It was the sandwiches and scones that yet the afternoon tea down a little, with no vegetarian option I had to opt just for the egg curried mayonnaise, which was nice but with no variety it was a little too overpowering. The scones, vanilla and raisin and orange blossom, were a little tasteless to be honest, and the jam and clotted cream was just too runny.

Overall I enjoyed the Aqua Shard high tea, which is being billed as the highest in London, the view and the cakes made the trip totally worth it. I would have liked the staff to have been more attentive though, I had to ask more than once for hot water for my tea, they didn’t go through what the sandwiches, cakes and scones were when it was presented, and they didn’t seem knowledgeable about the tea choice. I am being super picky, but that is the sort of service that I expect with afternoon tea – luckily the view and setting won me over!!!

If you like to eat with a view then you have to check out Aqua Shard, the restaurant also does breakfast, lunch, dinner and has a great cocktail menu – also try and go when it is still light as then you can see the view before and after dark it really does look amazing.

High Tea at Aqua Shard is served daily between 3.00 – 5.00pm and costs from £29.50.
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**I was a guest of Aqua Shard – but as always my opinion is honest – if I didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t have featured it**

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