Sunday, 22 June 2014

Taste of London 2014

How gorgeous has the weather been this weekend?!

I spent Saturday eating, drinking and celeb spotting at Taste of London with two very good friends of mine, Stella and James who I met a couple of years when I was travelling in China. Every year Regents Park is transformed into foodie heaven with 40 of London's hottest restaurants offering tapas size dishes. There are also 200 artisan food and drink providers, masterclasses, champagne and beer tasting and the opportunity to watch top chefs in action. I've been wanting to go for a few years now but never got round to it so was very, very excited when Stella suggested we go.

Here's the list of dishes I tasted and they were all delicious, I don't think I could actually pick a favourite.
  • Auction Against Hunger's 5 Star Haute Dog
  • Salt Yard's courgette flower with goat's cheese and honey
  • Shake Shack's Lil'Shack burger
  • Le Gavroche's pork cheek and belly braised in Belvenie whisky with soft polenta
  • A sample of Rossopomodoro's pizza, which I can confirm is, as they claim, the best this side of Naples
I washed it all down with a few pints of Pimms and finished off with a Jurrasic Jaunt from Purbeck Ice Cream which consisted of salted caramel ice cream made with cornish seasalt, a purbeck dark chocolate stick and fudges florentine - this was to die for!

I have it on good authority from Stella and James that the following dishes were also very tasty:
  • Barbecoa Short Rib - Worcestershire sauce and horseradish mash
  • Yauatcha Dim Sum Platter: scallop shui mai, venison puff, wild mushroom dumpling
  • Wasa Roll: shrimp tempura, quinoa, shisito, coriander, wagyu, chorizo, spicy mayo and red onion

Here's a shot of Michel Roux Jr who I may have developed a slight crush on. Not only is he an amazing chef but he spent hours signing books and having photos taken with fans. Love him! 

Although it was a bit pricey (tickets were £24 in advance and I spent £30 on crowns  which you have to use these to pay for all the restaurant dishes) I left rolled out four hours later a very happy and contended little foodie.

Sorry for the lack of photos, I got a bit over excited about all the lovely food and forgot that I was supposed to be taking photos. Ah well that just means I'll have to go back and try harder next year.

Friday, 20 June 2014

That Friday Feeling

Happy Friday! This week has felt so loooooong so I'm very happy it's the weekend. Tonight I have a hot date with my TV and my duvet. Tomorrow I'm heading down to the big smoke for Taste of London in Regent's Park. I've been wanting to go for a few years now so very excited to finally be going. And no plans for Sunday - bliss!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Lovely links

Whenever I'm having a bad day in the office this list of little things that will instantly make your day better always makes me happier.

Completely agree with these unique joys of travelling alone.

I'm a sucker for a superfood, so love this list of 5 easy ways to eat more of them from Cosmo.

In just 60 seconds, Jim Carrey may alter the way you live your life for good and it definitely left me feeling inspired!

For me this list of 76 thoughts all introverts have at parties is scarily accurate.

This do-anywhere CrossFit workout is great for working up a sweat at home or when you're travelling.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

This week I've been...

Watching David Beckham Into the Unknown. Anyone else got a slight crush?
Eating outside. I don't know what it is about eating outside in the sun that makes me so happy, maybe it's the feeling of being on holiday, but I love it!
Drinking  Pukka Night Time tea instead of my usual bed time night cap of Caramel Cadbury Highlights (I know, I'm so rock and roll!).
Being laughed at by my colleagues for getting Bosnia in the office world cup sweep stake.
Reading insurgent. Definitely not as much of a page turner as Divergent, the first book in the series but still good, I love a bit of escapism.
Listening to Ella Henderson - Ghost, love this song even if it does give you a serious earworm!
Trying every spot treatment under the sun to get rid of the biggest, reddest spot on my chin.
Dreaming of where I'm going to go on my next travel adventure.
Dusting off my DSLR.
Continuing the never ending search for somewhere to buy.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

The Best of Vietnam

Other than hearing about the horrors of the war and seeing photos of the world-famous Halong Bay I didn't know much about Vietnam before I joined a G Adventures Best of Vietnam tour last month. From reading travel blogs about others experiences, it seems to be a place you either love or hate so I wasn't sure what to expect but after two weeks travelling the length of the country, for me it was love! From the bustling streets of Hanoi, to magical Hoi An and beautiful Halong Bay it was an amazing trip .

Here are a few highlights:
  • The food! I can't believe I had never tried Vietnamese food before going on this trip, it's so vibrant, fragrant and fresh. From Bun Cha in Hanoi and Cau Lau in Hoi An to Pho and Banh Mi in Hanoi, the food was out of this world. Now I just need to recreate it at home. Or find a good restaurant. 
  • Drinking too many shots of rice wine at the Sapa homestay (we couldn't quite work out what this was, it tasted like petrol but didn't get us drunk).
  • Being blown away by magical Hoi An. We arrived at night when this gorgeous little town was lit up by  chinese lanterns and this was my favourite place that we visited.
  • Getting wonderfully lost in the beautiful maze of streets that make up the Old Quarter in Hanoi. I could have spent a lot longer just walking the streets and snapping photos of the people and the architecture.
  • Treking through the rice terraces of Sapa. And being stalked by crazy ladies trying to sell us souvenirs.
  • Sweating. A lot. And singing the praises of the person who invented air condition on numerous occasions. It was very hot and very humid. I won't scare you with photos of this one. I've never showered so often in my life.
  • Marvelling at the beauty of  the thousands of limestone islands of Halong Bay.
  • Smoking shisha and trying (unsuccessfully) to blow rings of smoke Gandalf style. Definitely going on my list of things to do before I die.
  • Getting clothes tailor made in Hoi An.
  • Wondering if I was the victim a scam when my taxi driver seemed lost driving to my hotel from the airport (note to self - take a map next time!) but eventually arriving at the beautiful Church Boutique Hotel in Hang Ca and collapsing into bed after about 26 hours of travelling. I would totally recommend this hotel in Hanoi, it was a gorgeous little hotel with clean, modern rooms, great customer service and a tasty breakfast.
  • Doing some serious people watching at Hoan Kiem Lake at 6am. I can't believe how many people were up at that time to run, cycle, do tai chi and dance around the lake. There were also some very interesting stretches going on...
  • Cursing the cat, cockerel and person snoring like a train at the Sapa homestay.
  • Feeling very honoured to have met and travelled with these lovely, fun bunch of people.
  • Being very scared of the massive flying beetles at the Mekong Delta homestay and jumping out of my skin when one girl screamed after finding one in her bed. I'm starting to think homestays aren't my thing. 
  • Visiting a local village in Sapa and being very grateful for all the luxuries I have back at home. 
  • Being horrified at the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City and feeling very lucky for never having experienced war.
  • Crossing my fingers, closing my eyes, saying my prayers and hoping for the best every time I crossed a road, particularly in Ho Chi Minh City.
  • Feeling like a millionaire for the first time in my life but getting very confused with the currency.
  • Eating rat! It tasted just like chicken. But deciding that eating dog meat was a step too far.
  • Feeling claustrophobic at the Cu Chi tunnels.
  • Learning to cook with a karaoke cooking teacher. And discovering I love green mango salad. And deciding that aubergines aren't too bad after all.
  • Clinging on for dear life on a motorbike tour of Hue and then getting cocky towards the end of the day and casually resting both hands at my sides and enjoying the breeze.
  • Enjoying the lights of Ho Chi Minh City on the last night and not wanting to leave...

Sunday, 8 June 2014

The Color Run - London 2014

Last Sunday I headed to to the iconic Wembley Stadium with some of my lovely colleagues and more than 17,500 others to take part in the happiest 5k on the planet, the Color Run. Apologies for the spelling of colour by the way apparently it's a US thing ;) The run isn't timed, so it's less about speed and more about getting as colourful as possible. Starting out in a gleaming white t-shirt, we were doused with coloured powder as we reached every kilometre. It was a lot of fun, if a bit embarrassing having to get the train home on my own with my face covered in brightly coloured dust, I certainly got a few strange looks! The powder got everywhere, it took a good long scrub in the shower to get it all off and I still found bright blue powder in my ear the next day :) It wasn't all about the fun though, so far we have raised over £600 for a very worthy cause, Cancer Research UK (our fundraising page can be found here).  I think I may have caught the running bug as I have signed up to do 10k at the end of June, I'd better get training! I'd love to do tough mudder or a half marathon, I just need to find someone as equally crazy to join me :)