December in London...Scratch that...Food in London...

...Back in December I made a trip to London to get myself in the festive spirit. Usually when I plan a weekend away I book something to do, like a show or a concert...This time it was just a hotel and a train ticket...
It was quite exciting to arrive and just hurl myself on to the tube and get off where I liked.

My main aim for the weekend was to eat a lot and finish off my christmas shopping.

Lets focus on the food.

A trip to London for me is not complete without a MASSIVE burger, and for me it has to be Shake Shack.

The queue as always was massive, but lucky for me there was someone selling mulled wine near buy so I quickly grabbed one and kept myself warm whilst I looked over the menu.
My order rarely changes as my usual is just SO good. You join the queue and wait to be served, they then give you a buzzer that allows you to wander covent garden until your food is ready. Don't worry though you don't usually have to wait to long.

I went for the Double Smokeshack, Cheese fries and a malted peanut butter milkshake.

This particular photo truly doesn't do the photo justice, it was beautifully cooked. The molten cheese smooches the smoked bacon and I have lost my train of thought... Umm...Burger....
The cheese fries are awesome, I just with that there was more of them.
I have no words for the Milk shake..its peanut butter...PEANUT BUTTER!

Next stop on my foodie adventure was based on a recommendation from Ching He Huang. I sent her a tweet asking what restaurant I should visit in china town for an authentic meal. She graciously replied and told me to try Joy King Lau.

The restaurant is a 5 minute walk from Leicester square tube station and was quite easy to find.
I arrived later in the evening as I was pretty tired after a long day of wandering so popped to the hotel for a quick power nap.

Instantly I knew I was in for a treat, the queue outside was massive and it appeared that the downstairs room of the restaurant was packed out.
I joined the queue and probably waited 15 minutes to be seated which in my eyes was fantastic as they really were busy.
I was taken to the second floor of the restaurant and seated opposite 4 large circular tables that all had large families on.
My mouth started watering straight away. It was a little like the tables in Hogwarts, food covered every inch of the surface and the smell was amazing. One family opposite appeared to have a MASSIVE bowl of noodles to share which contained all sorts of goodies, including crab claws and king prawns.

I decided to go for something with a kick to start with. I went for Hot and Sour soup. It certainly was hot, I remember ordering a beer and thinking "I could really do with a warming cup of tea" and then downing the bottle of beer because I was sweating from the soup. A mix of vegetables, chicken, prawns and tofu swam in a broth so deliciously hot. I recommend you to try it if you go, just bare in mind it is hot!

Next on the menu was Chicken and Cashew nuts with a side of egg fried rice. Simple and so good! The chicken was tender and juicy, the cashews had a soft exterior with a bit of a bite and it was scrummy.
I had 2 courses and 2 bottles of beer and it came to under £20 which I was very impressed with. The staff were lovely and the atmosphere was great. It's lovely to see families enjoying food together.

My one recommendation for this restaurant would be this... If you are planning on visiting, go as a group! Although I felt very welcome and enjoyed every minute of it, the set menu's look and smell amazing. I was a bit jealous of everyone around me.

Give it a go next time you are in London! you won't regret it!

Multi bake day...part two...

where was i....ah yes!


so next we moved onto the macaroons! for health and safety reasons John prepped the italian meringue and divided it up between the class.

we started off with ground almonds and icing sugar which had been blitzed together in a food processor.

we then added the italian meringue and began to fold the ingredients together(the french call this macaronage). one of the tips given by John was that folding ingredients doesn't have to be a slow process, its actually better if you are quick. once the ingredients came together we added the colouring of our choice. i tried to go for orange to match the top of the blog, but sadly it turned out more peach than orange!
we then continued to fold until the mixture fell of the spatula like "magma".

we then popped it into a piping bag and snipped off the end.

after piping out blobs of the mixture we went crazy and slammed the sheet down on the unit a few times! (this helps remove any large air pockets within the meringue..we didn't do it because we were drunk...although i did giggle..) next you dip your finger in a little water and push down any points that may of formed from the piping..or as John said.."Are you going to come over here and tweek your nipples?"...i had heard he had a wicked sense of humour but i didn't realise it was almost identical to my own.

they took roughly 12 minutes in the oven, opening the oven rapidly every 4 minutes to release some of the heat.

once they were done we removed them from the oven and allowed them to cool. mean while we put together a buttercream and flavoured it to our liking, i decided to go for orange blossom and it was very tasty!

a tip John gave me for butter cream was to use the K beater on a free standing mixer to bring the icing sugar and butter together, and then to switch to the whisk attachment to really whip the icing! i will have to give this a go when i make a birthday cake on thursday.

once the macaroons had cooled we peeled the paper away from them and placed them in pairs, matching the size and shape.

we then piped a small amount of butter cream onto one half of the macaroons and then gently sandwiched them together!

this was the one item i was most nervous about, they are notoriously difficult to make and i have never attempted them before. thankfully they turned out really well and i was so pleased with them!

there is something highly satisfying about making macaroons...i cant quite put my finger on what that is but i think its because they are well known for being difficult, when they turn out right they are really worth the effort! i look forward to making them again this week (so much so i have already been to the shop and stocked up on ingredients).

heres a line up of the different colours, sizes and shapes from the class, not bad eh?!

rather than posting in depth recipes with these posts i have decided to do them separately over the next few weeks, otherwise i could be sat at this computer for hours and with this heat...i dont think i can bare it!

part 3 will be up over the next few days so keep checking back! 

Oui Oui...

in two days time i will be in london baking and making yummy things with John Whaites. i recently found out that Emily and Bea will be attending as well!

as i have never made any of the goodies before i decided it might be a good idea to give them a go!

i decided to try Madeleine's! the madeleine or petite madeleine is a traditional small cake from Commercy and Liverdun, two communes of the Lorraine region in northeastern France, AKA yummy!

i stuck to Johns recipe for rose water but decided against the fondant. insad I went for a simple rose water icing using icing sugar, water and rose water.

considering i have never made these before im really pleased with how they turn out! they looked perfect and they tasted amazing!

in the morning i will be trying mushroom and parmasan rough puff pastry palmiers

on a slightly different note the final fundraising amount for cancer research was £266! id like to say a special thanks to all those who supported by buying the cupcakes and making the day such a success!


london : mother, the market and me. this weekend mother and i visited london, and i have to say i really enjoyed myself...even if we did reverse roles and i some how became the parent!

we arrived 10 minutes late due to signaling errors in swindon but thats nothing to get angry about. we clambered onto the tube and made our way to Portobello Market. i had read up before planning the weekend but i was not expecting this...

as we turned the corner onto the beginning of the market we entered a sea of people, so many faces eyeing nic nacs and enjoying the glorious weather.

of course my eye was instantly drawn to the hummingbird bakery shop but i was very strong willed and stayed away! partially because of the queue but manly because i am not a fan of the cakes from their bakeries.. 

don't get me wrong the recipes are amazing but they always taste better home made. something about the bakery made ones feels like it should be a long life product.

as i wandered down the market gazing at stalls i felt myself drift off into a harry potter inspired day dream, Diagon ally was calling my name!
at university one of my favorite lessons was the letter press and i stumbled across these beautiful sets! i don't know about you but i think there is something really special about these little gems. more to them than just a computer generated piece of type, a depth if you will...

i was very tempted to buy some but they would be wasted on me.

as if by magic the stalls then became a food bloggers paradise, the house elves of the market had been hard at work creating piles of doughnuts.... 

...breads and cupcakes...

i might get shunned for saying this but i always seem to find more fresh produce in london than i do anywhere at home in somerset! maybe its just because when i am home i'd either be working or recovering from working....who knows!

the vibrant colours were enough to get my creative juices (and my saliva) flowing. i wanted to grab everything and nibble a corner off.

had this of been on the second day or closer to home i think i would of been bankrupt within 10 minutes. my obsession with food and cooking is becoming more and more...well... obsessive...
i am constantly looking for ideas and ingredients and its getting quite costly haha.

maybe i chose the wrong career path?

mum got quite excited by all the olives, bucket after bucket of tasty little morsels that take you to a land far away where the sun is shining and the clear blue sea is lapping at the perfectly white sand.

did i mention the food? THE FOOD!

i love markets and i would recommend Portobello market to anyone visiting london. all i would say is make sure that you plan it so that you go near to the time you are going to be returning home as there will be things you want to buy but cant carry around london! we missed out on a very nice chilli plant sadly because of this.

more to come tomorrow!

mother, london and I...

...this saturday mum and i are going to london for the weekend, kind of a belated mothers day type thing!

we are traveling up first class on the train at 7.30 am and should arrive at 9.45 am.

we are going to start our weekend by hopping on the tube and visiting portobello market. this was more mum's idea that it was mine however i am really looking forward to it! i always enjoy markets are than i do being dragged around the shops. 

i am particularly looking forward to the fruit and veg stalls, it's just a shame that i won't be able to buy much because of staying in the hotel. never mind...i may sneak some fruit in!

after a busy morning of exploring the market we are heading over to Wahaca @ southbank.

i had lunch here with emma just before christmas and it was very nice! i'm looking forward to a nice beer or 6 here.

in the evening we are going to see Viva Forever. now i know what you are thinking..."haven't you already been?"...yes i have..but it was brilliant and mum wants to see it...ahem...

after a night in the hotel at Custom house we are planning on getting the Emirates skyline to the O2. we were planning on going on the London Eye but we have both done this before and want to try something new and the views from this are apparently brilliant.

we are thinking about visiting Greenwich market whilst over that way but thats not set in stone yet, there are a few other things that we want to do.

one thing that mum would really like to do is visit Buckingham palace and the surrounding area. as luck would have its the day for changing of the guard so we are going to plan on getting there around 11 am.

any recommendations would be greatly received as i can only think of things i have already done!

something i didn't have time to mention last week were these bad boys. i decided to stick to a simple recipe and make some vanilla cupcakes. the main reason was to practice pipping icing as i usually use a palette knife and swirl it.

i had lots of compliments about how these turned out but i wasn't 100% happy with them, i think its the perfectionist in me showing its ugly face again!

so... tomorrow morning before work i am going to make another batch of these but use some honey i purchased today (which has the comb inside the jar) as a sort of drizzle. i'm also going to break up the comb and put a little nugget on each cupcake...

i will update you all on how they turn out!

another trip to london...

came home from work today after a slightly enjoyable day. i say wasn't enjoyable just different. it was nice to have a bit of backing for a change rather than being shot down for challenging what people are saying.

after such a good day mum and i decided to book a trip to london! when i went last time with emma i enjoyed VIVA so much that i knew mum would love it. so we are going up to london for a night in a hotel to see it. 

im going to try and put us down for a cooking class at jamie olivers once that weekend starts booking, which will be exciting.

one thing i will definitely be doing this time is to create a list of things i want to do whilst up there and plan things a bit better.

mum wants to go to portobello market, which would tie in well with going to recipease as there is one in notting hill...awesome!

lets hope this time i can get the shorts and sunglasses out rather than coats and scarfs..

London part two

finally got round to typing up part two. have been off work poorly today, full of cold and feel like poo but anyway....onwards with the final part of my visit to london last weekend.

so we got up on saturday morning after the fun of the evening before and emma told me to get ready for the day as we were going somewhere...but she couldn't tell me where as it was a surprise.

now i HATE surprises with a passion as i always feel really on edge and my mind starts thinking over time as to what it could be.

we jumped on the tube and i just put my head down and followed her, feeling a bit sick.

eventually we jumped off the tube and made our way up to street level. turns out the surprise was Madame Tussauds.

the knot in my stomach disappeared and we joined the queue to get tickets.

now normally i go crazy for anything remotely gaga related as im a HUGE fan...but im sorry this looks nothing like her!

beyoncé's was slightly better but its still just weird!

next up we came across the marvel experience which included a 4D experience which was AMAZING! anything related to super heroes or marvel makes me very happy!

the hulk ripped a whole in the floor and climbed his way up to spend some time with his friends.

i literally just stood around with my mouth open at this point, everything looked awesome! check out the shield!!!!! THE SHIELD!!!!

oh stark....i didn't like the first 2 iron man films but you ROCKED in the avengers...and iron man 3 looks purely epic...

when i was younger i used to love the spider man cartoon, the first lot of films were ok but i never really liked the actor who played peter.

saying that though, the new film was amazing! Andrew Garfield really became peter parker!

after we finished mooching around in there we popped over to covent garden and grabbed some lunch in Jamies italian. as we waited at the door to be seated Leslie Jordan walked past a MASSIVE will and grace fan and almost passed out...made the weekend! i had the crab risotto with crushed amaretti was lovely!  

that evening we saw viva forever, i never thought in a million years id enjoy it as much as i did. i mean i grew up with the spice girls so i know all the songs and love them but i was worried about the show making it cheesy. IT WAS AMAZING! the songs were performed in a unique way which gave a whole new element. the story was brilliant and funny. the cast we're lively and interacted with the crowd. 

it was actually so good im taking my mum to see it as a mothers day present (purely because i want to go again).

sunday was a hard day, we had to treck around london with our suitcases. we made do though and payed a visit to camden market. check out them donuts!

i made it my mission to go in to selfridges and buy the cheapest thing i could possibly find. i eventually found a keyring notebook for 99p and snapped up my yellow bag.

then i let my wallet talk and spent more money that i intended to on a bluetooth speaker and some stationary for work.

all in all an awesome weekend! need to visit the city more often!

London part one

so this weekend emma and i went to a city...i believe its called london....
or as we call it....


we travelled up on friday afternoon by train, arriving into paddington at about 10 to 5.

we made our way over to the hotel via tube, i've stayed here before but its recently been taken over by ibis and is now an ibis styles hotel... custom house.

before it was taken over i had stayed there twice, i was happy with it as the location was good for the O2 arena but i probably wouldn't have recommended it to friends after the last stay as the room was tiny and it felt more like a hostel than a hotel.

however as its been taken over, i would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a cheap hotel in london. its roughly 40 minutes from covent garden on the tube and its right oposite the station!

so after getting changed at the hotel and having a little relax we made out way over to st.paul's for our dinner reservation at disco bistro
just as we got off the tube and exited the station the heavens opened and we got soaked.

from the outside it looks like any other pub but once you enter...ohhhhhh you are in for a treat!

at first when we walked in we felt a little bit out of place, it seemed quiet with only a few tables full. we were presented with the menus but of course i already knew what i wanted from reading it online before hand. 

whilst pondering over the menu one of the waitress placed some bread on the table and i must say, it was amazing! Sweet yet satisfying in all the right ways!

we ordered some drinks, i went for the head banger (chase gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and champagne) and emma went for the champagne cocktail. i love the presentation of the head banger, its the main reason i ordered it! good old jam jar!

you may not know this but emma and i are both chicken addicts, if there are wings on the menu we order them.
this time however we were spoilt with choices so naturally we went for both!
sticky and spicy...
is it bad that i think i may have done a little wee when eating these? they were AMAZING!
i preferred the sticky and emma loved the spicy, both crispy yet moist...heaven on a plate!

i then went for the dexter steak with bone marrow. i was a bit unsure when ordering this as i wasn't quite sure what i expect from the bone marrow but im so glad i went for it. the steak was perfectly cooked and cut like a dream. the bone marrow was a great addition and it really made the dish special. i would recommend this if you go, so much steak!

before travelling to london we spoke about places we would like to go and places we would like to go to eat. i mentioned a few places that the londoner recommended and emma said she wasn't really a burger person.... errr....excuse me emma is that a burger you are holding? 

as you can see she went for the disco burger and i dont think she regretted it at all.

as i said, when we first arrived we felt a little out of place. but not long after we sat down the place started to fill up quickly and the music was turned up. i actually fell in love with the place and would love to go back. we described it as a place that students would go for a posh night out but in all honesty if you want good food and a brilliant night out, give it ago!

dont worry there is plenty more to come...

london tomorrow

so tomorrow i am off to london with emma for the weekend. its kind of a birthday weekend away. 
we went a few months ago and had a really good time, so we decided to stay an extra day this time and make the most of it.

on friday night we were ment to be going to Circus but i decided it sounded a tad to fancy for me. i mean i dress smartly to my standards but they were saying dress to impress...sadly that is just not me.
so instead after reading +the londoner The Londoners review we are going to Disco Bistro. Im really excited for this, the food sounds amazing and i love the pictures of the drinks! its going to be a great evening!

saturday day time we are going to try and escape the tourist side of london and visit some quieter hidden gems, we hope!
a late lunch will also be had as we are tickets for the theatre....

VIVA! i know i know...but lets face it....i grew up with the spice girls and im not afraid to admit that i still have a massive love for them! this was a birthday present for the parents. ideally i would of liked to have seen the book of mormon but sadly the one weekend they are not doing any performances is the weekend we are going...typical! i missed it when i was in NYC as it was sold out and now here...

either way im really looking forward to having a weekend adventure. there will hopefully be lots and lots of pictures up over the weekend, i need to try and get my head around posting blogs on my ipad..perhaps this weekend will be the time for that!