alcohol-party-cocktail-drink

I can’t believe it’s been 6 months since my birthday in Paris, that also sadly, means it’s been 6 months since the awful terrorist attacks that were caught up in at the time. As our first Paris trip was a bit of a disaster to say the least, finally the time has come to start planning to go back and visit all the places we missed out last time. When we visited, understandably, everything was closed, so once we knew we were safe to walk the streets again (we hid in our hotel room until it was safe to leave) we walked around the empty streets, with the shops closed and barricaded behind their metal shutters, I didn’t feel I got to see the real Paris at all. (You can read all about our experience in Paris during the terrorist attacks here)

I can’t wait to go back soon and see everything people talk about, the sparkling light show on the Eiffel Tower, the Mona Lisa and to try macarons and pastries from Ladurée. We also need to book to go back to the Moulin Rouge – which was my surprise 30th birthday present. Vee had lined up such a special night, which was the most romantic gesture anyone has ever done for me, it was a real shame we didn’t get to go, but at least we were safe. Instead we sat in our hotel room, (literally metres from the Moulin Rouge!) in our pajamas and watched the Moulin Rouge movie on the iPad which was a sweet alternative but not what I expected to do on the night of my 30th! One day we’ll go back and I will get to wear my gorgeous sparkling necklace she bought me for the night.

paris

A rare picture of the Louvre completely deserted

So, I’ve been spending many an evening recently, with a Gin & Tonic in one hand and a notebook in the other, avidly scribbling down things we could see and do on the next trip. One of the most helpful sites I’ve found so far for planning our return visit (which will be a SPECIAL one!) is The Times Insider City Guides – this has everything you need about the city and more, whatever your tastes are. I’ve also been consulting my oracle for all inspiration –  Pinterest, which is fab too, of course. Although I could chat about Paris all day, for this post I want to focus on one point and that’s COCKTAILS.

No city break would be complete without a few amazing cocktails so I’ve been planning some unique and chic cocktail bars I want to check out next time we are in the city. Two places on my list for a visit are the secret cocktail den, L’entree des Artistes which is apparently where the likes of Scarlett Johanssen and Natalie Portman hang out and Le Perchoir as everyone needs to visit a rooftop bar when in a beautiful city like Paris. I’m sure there will be plenty more cocktail spots across the city to discover along the way too.

As I was plotting my Paris cocktail extravaganza, I was excited to see this collection of cocktail recipes created by JJ Goodman of the London Cocktail Club. He is a high-profile mixologist and from these videos, he certainly knows his drinks. Inspired by The Times feature, Six Coolest Bars in Paris, he’s created some Parisian cocktails and some handy videos to show us how to make them. I thought I’d share a couple of my favourites, to get us in the mood for some Parisian cocktails!

 

 

French 75

Ingredients:
100ml Champagne
20ml Lemon juice
40ml Gin
10ml Simple syrup

Glass – Champagne flute / lemon twist”

 

Chiclanto

Ingredients:
50ml tequila
20ml lime
pinch coriander
1cm cucumber
15ml agave syrup

Glass – rocks/cubed/fan

I really love the sound of the French 75 and think I’ll be treating myself to one as soon as my feet touch the streets of Paris again – ONE DAY!

Have you been to Paris? If so, I’d love to know your cocktail bar suggestions in the comments below! 

Post written in collaboration with London Cocktail Club

Summer Wishlist

I just LOVE bright colours at the moment, however when it comes to clothes I’ve always found it hard to branch away from my traditional denims, greys and blacks, even in summer. So, this year I’ve been looking around for some new clothes that are just a step up, with a pops of colour and details to add a bit more of a summery tone to my outfits. I haven’t gone for anything garishly over the top, but to me, my choices do shout bright, happy, summer vibes. If you follow me on Instagram or Snapchat, you’ll know I’m absolutely obsessed with my dungarees at the moment, they are my standard ‘uniform’ at the moment, changing the look by mixing it up with bright coloured and stripy tee’s, plus my fun unicorn print (above!).

Today, I’ve put together a little summer wishlist for some additions to my wardrobe this year. All perfect for British weather, I haven’t gone for anything too light, picking out items that could be layered, as you never do quite know what the weather is going to do!

Summer-Wishlist

Helene Burman JacketEmma Dress | Glitter Spot TeeHarbourprint Jersey

Lucky FlatformsEsme Bag | Prada Sunglasses

I just love some of the designs around this summer, I was absolutely spoilt for choice when I was looking about for this little selection! So I’ll just talk through a few of my choices….  Firstly, I’m in love with Helene Burman jackets this season, ideal for pairing with denim, this stripy jacket adds a chic feel whilst still keeping things casual. Boden have SO many lovely dresses, as per usual – I want them ALL! However this green design caught my eye as something different and a bit unique, the colours remind me of cupcake sprinkles, giving this dress a really fun, cheerful feel. Moving onto the Glitter Spot tee and Harbourprint Jersey, I think these would both look so great with dungarees or cropped jeans, they are the kind of wardrobe staples that could be mixed and matched with different outfits to create multiple different looks!

I’ve been loving my sparkly trainers from Kurt Geiger, and just when I thought they’d created my favourite shoes, they’ve brought out MORE amazing trainers to fall in love with. When I saw these amazing flatforms, my heart literally skipped a beat, they are gorgeous and they took me instantly to the 90’s trend when the Spice Girls wore these the first time round – although I feel a little old seeing the trend come back round for the second time!

Lastly, I added a little treat to my wishlist – who doesn’t need a pair of Prada Sunglasses? I love these sassy cat eye frames. I don’t think I’ll be able to afford them any time soon, but this is a wishlist right. I can wish…

What are you wearing this summer? Do you like what I have chosen? 

This post contains a collaborative link with Triology – however all words and opinions are my own.

Isaac AT Brighton

Last night we visited a Brighton restaurant thats been on my ever growing ‘to-eat’ list for quite some time. Isaac At is a truly different experience to anywhere else in Brighton, it’s not just a restaurant but a complete foodie event and fine dining experience, which I’ve yet to find anywhere else in town. Isaac At is owned and run by young entrepreneur and chef, Isaac Bartlett Copeland, who is utterly passionate about food and his craft. He opened the restaurant a year ago, it’s aim to serve fantastic locally sourced, seasonal food and also to break down traditional barriers between the chefs and the diners by placing the kitchen in the heart of the restaurant.

Fine Dining Experience at Issac At, BrightonFine Dining Experience at Issac At, Brighton

Issac At is located on Gloucester Street, Brighton, tucked slightly out of the way, it is a small intimate space, which has been elegantly redesigned into the perfect light, airy space for a dining experience.

Opening the cute scroll menu revealed the dishes we would be experiencing that evening. I also loved that inside the menu there was a full list of ingredients used within the meal and how many miles it’s travelled to reach us. Most were a mere 10-15 miles away, the furthest away I could see was 555 which was for Salmon sourced from Sutherland – this is not far either when you think about how far some of our food from the supermarket travels!

The drinks menu is also locally sourced and included a few of my favourites, such as Brighton Gin and wines from local vineyards at Nyetimber and Sedlescombe.

Fine Dining Experience at Issac At, Brighton

Pre-Starter

Isaac At is a full dining experience, so the menu is set for everyone (although dietary requirements are taken into consideration) and each dish is served at the same time. A full introduction is given for every course, with a little background on how the dish was prepared and how the ingredients were sourced.

Fine Dining Experience at Issac At, BrightonFine Dining Experience at Issac At, Brighton

The menu itself is seven courses, but each course is just perfect in size so you aren’t too full for the next one. There is also plenty of time between courses to sit and chat, watch the chefs in preparation and let your food go down. The kitchen is just tiny, so watching the team prepare such intricate dishes in such a small space is fascinating and truly an art!

Fine Dining Experience at Issac At, Brighton

Homemade Warm Shallot Bread and Butter

isaac6Fine Dining Experience at Issac At, BrightonFine Dining Experience at Issac At, Brighton

We opted for the vegetarian menu, so our starter was the Asparagus, Egg Yolk, Yeast Extract & Scurvy Cress. The asparagus was cooked to perfection, I loved the addition of ‘dippy eggs’ (as I call them) making it for me, a delicious flavour combination. The crisp also had a marmite twang which I loved.

Our next dish was the Soy Glazed Onion, Smoked Apple, Bok Choi and Cauliflower. This dish was a blend of sweet, roasted, flavours, which with an Asian influence. I adored the mix of textures within this dish, the crisp bok choi alongside the sweet, smooth roasted onion complimented each other perfectly.

Fine Dining Experience at Issac At, Brightonisaac8

This next dish was Beetroots, Golden Cross, Walnuts and Rocket, which I have to say on paper this didn’t fill me with excitement but this dish actually turned out to be the star of the show for me. The beetroot, slow cooked and reduced, brought out the most indulgent rich flavour, which just blew my mind. I never realised I could love beetroot so much! The flavours were complimented by the ever-so-slightly bitter twang of the golden cross and topped with a light touch of chocolate to really set the flavours of this dish apart from anything I’ve ever tasted. I could have eaten this dish ten times over, it really was something special.

Fine Dining Experience at Issac At, Brighton

As we opted for the vegetarian menu, we didn’t get many photos of the meatier options, this is the Pork Neck and Pork Belly being prepared for our more carnivorous dining neighbours! I can’t really comment on the meat, as I’ve been vegetarian my whole life but I heard great comments coming from our next table about this dish and saw lots of clean plates returning to the kitchen, so it seemed to be a hit.

After our culinary whirlwind, it was time to sweeten things up. Starting with a pre-dessert (I think all restaurants should serve a pre- dessert!) to refresh and rejuvenate the palette, a cool crisp Cucumber and Apple Ice, was the freshest ‘slush puppy’ I’ve ever tasted and really awakened the senses.

Isaac At BrightonFine Dining Experience at Issac At, Brighton

Next – dessert. Rhubarb Crumble and Lemon Thyme Custard. This captured all of the best bits from the classic British pudding, with the intentional ‘slightly burnt’ crumble, accompanying a mix of flavours with sharp, tart rhubarb and a sweet rhubarb sorbet for balance. This reminded me of how as a child I’d always select the piece of crumble with from the corner of the dish, with the most crispy burnt bits… obviously the chefs did the same too as they captured it perfectly. Apologies for the yellow photo, by this time the sun had set and the restaurant had just low mood lighting, which was a lovely relaxing atmosphere but difficult for photography!

Just when we thought we couldn’t eat anymore, we were treated to one last surprise. Coffee and Petit Fours. A rhubarb and almond cake and a fennel shortbread with apple. The cake had been soaked halfway up in a kind of rhubarb syrup which just melted in the mouth, with a crisp crumbly top, it was just the perfect way to round off our meal.

Overall, I absolutely loved our dining experience at Isaac At. It didn’t feel like your usual meal out, it was more than that, it was the a complete experience and culinary journey.

Even though I’d class myself as quite a foodie, I’m often daunted at the thought of fine dining, with the often unusual ingredients and bizarre blends of flavours, I find chefs push the boundaries too far to be different. However, I felt the dishes at Isaac At were unique and innovative, but they also managed to keep the idea of fresh, natural flavours at heart, bringing together different foods to compliment each dish, rather than to surprise!

If you’d like to give Isaac At a go, the set menu priced at £45 per person. I think for such detailed, fresh and innovative food this is a really reasonable price.

Isaac At is only open Fridays and Saturdays, the rest of the week the team are in preparation for the week ahead, sourcing ingredients and starting the prep work for the dishes.

To book, you can visit their website or call 07765934740. Some of the seating is communal, which is a fantastic idea for the full dining experience, if you enjoy chatting to your neighbour about the food. Myself, as I’m a bit of an introvert, I find that a bit uncomfortable at times. To get the best of both worlds there are a few tables of two dotted about. When you book online you can select your seating to ensure you have your preference and try to get a seat near the kitchen too!

A big THANK YOU to the team at Issac At for having us, it was such a lovely evening – hope to see you again soon! 

I was kindly offered a complimentary meal at Isaac At for the purpose of an open and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

Coffee Lovers Unite: Nespresso Citiz first impressions

A couple of weekends ago Vee and I were in town for brunch at Baker and Spice, it was a lovely sunny day so we decided to have a lazy mooch around the shops too. Not wanting to spend too much money, I decided to pop into Steamer Trading Brighton as I had a £7.99 voucher that had been kicking around in the bottom of my purse for the last couple of months. I thought I’d go and buy myself a pretty mug or maybe a colander in some garish neon coloured plastic – you know stuff I’m talking about! Anyway, as Vee and I cannot be trusted to just spend a £7.99 voucher, of course we ended up spending more! Instead we walked out with a brand new sparkly coffee machine…..specifically the Magimix Nespresso Citiz and Milk, and we haven’t looked back since.

Anyway, impulse purchase aside. I wanted to share this little story on my blog as I feel I…(a) got a fantastic deal on my coffee machine (which I’ll chat through in a moment) and (b) as a coffee lover (and slight coffee snob) I’ve been really impressed with our machine, I just wanted to talk about it!

Lastly, I should probably point out – this is in no way a collaborative post or sponsored in anyway, I genuinely bought this coffee machine with my own money and have been so impressed I wanted to share my thoughts with you.

Coffee Lovers Unite: Nespresso Citiz first impressions

Kitchen Stylin’

After a small debacle over the colour, we went for the machine in cream, which I think looks really stylish and is a neutral colour that will go with any kitchen style, the machine also comes in black, red or titanium too.

Using the Nespresso Citiz

I have found the machine really easy to use, it’s a great all-rounder machine for making all sizes of drinks from espressos, to americanos and lattes, all at the touch of a button. You literally just add water, drop the capsule in the top and press the button. The machine takes 30-45 seconds to heat the water so it’s really quick. The machine actually has all these clever intuitive functions built in, like it can remember what size coffee you like by your previous cup choices and such like, there are also pre-set cup sizes to make short or long cups too.

If you are buying a coffee machine, I’m guessing you want to go for the whole ‘posh coffee’ experience, so buying a machine with a milk heater and ‘frother’ is essential. With this in mind we chose the Citiz with Milk for ease of heating and whisking the milk too. I found out Nespresso machines brew coffee at the optimal drinking temperature, so if you pour in cold milk you can often end up with lukewarm coffee, heating the milk to the right temperature (and of course adding some froth) is definitely recommended.

With the milk frother, this again is simple with a one-touch button to press, the only downside with it is that you need to wash the milk compartment thoroughly between cups as you can burn the milk for the next one – but that takes a few seconds so it’s not too difficult really.

I’ve been having so much fun getting creative with my frothed milk, I’ve even had a go at some latte art, although so far I’ve only mastered squiggles and blobs, but hey I’m sure even the top baristas had to start somewhere?

Coffee Lovers Unite: Nespresso Citiz first impressions

Discovering new coffee flavours of ALL varieties!

One of the main things that has impressed me has been the huge variety of Nespresso capsules that accompany the machines. Whatever your tastes are, you will find something you love; whether thats delicate, smooth and creamy tastes to rich and intense, they have a whole spectrum with the intensities and flavours clearly marked out. Nespresso also have created flavoured capsules in Ciocattino (chocolate), Caramelito and Vanilio. I’ve actually found buying the pods the most overwhelmingly confusing part of owning a coffee machine as there is literally so much choice. In the end, I decided for our first order to go for the Discovery Pack, which is 150 pods in their most popular blends so we can try them all and work out which one is best. I even had a weird dream where I created a spreadsheet to score each flavour on, I’m actually dreaming about coffee now, ha!

What’s the Deal?

Firstly we bought the Magimix Nespresso Citiz and Milk which is usually priced at £200.00, but Steamer Trading currently have sale on, bringing the price down to £149.99. With this, when you join the Nespresso Club (which sounds so exclusive you actually think George Clooney is going to pop up and make the coffee for you) you get £60 worth of coffee capsules for your new machine too. Amazing, right? Oh, and I did get the £7.99 off the total from my voucher too, just in case you were wondering…(love a bargain).

Just when I thought we’d had all the ‘free stuff’ we could get with our machine, we also got set a lovely set of two glass cups with metallic saucers too,with our first order of capsules. They are just the perfect size. Nespresso might not be the cheapest, but they do spoil you, thats for sure.

So, thats my first impressions on our Nespresso machine – I’m currently enjoying trying a different flavour coffee every morning and you never know, I may even create that spreadsheet one day…… Or, I might just have another cup of coffee.

 

Pin for later:Coffee Lovers Unite: Nespresso Citiz first impressions

5 Fictional Foods and Drinks We Wish Were Real

One of the most magical things about books is the way they can make us feel. They can make us happy or sad, scared or surprised, they can break our hearts or give that warm, fuzzy feeling. But what they can also do is make us hungry. And that can be super frustrating when the food they make you crave turns out not to exist.

So, with this in mind, here are some of the favourite snacks, meals and drinks we would like to steal from the world of fiction….

Three-Course-Dinner Chewing Gum

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has a lot of fictional foods to choose from, but after realising we don’t actually like gobstoppers that much and the chocolate river would probably be pretty gross in practice, I’d rather try the Three-Course-Dinner Chewing Gum. Mint flavours are so last season and don’t even get me started about fruit flavours, they don’t even taste anything like it! A three course roast dinner in a strip is clearly what the chewing gum market needs, and it’d be fantastic help with the diet. Apparently, some scientists have been looking into how nanotechnology could make this dream a reality. Although that article being from the Daily Mail, probably can be taken with a pinch of salt…. I think the gum is a little way off, in reality.

Lembas Bread

Of all the wild and wonderful foods out there in the fictional universe you may think that “bread” is one of the less interesting, however anyone who spent their wild teenage years curled up with a brick sized copy of The Lord of the Rings will be familiar with the craving. A single one of these thin biscuits of Elven bread, kept wrapped up in leaves and twine, is supposed to be nourishing enough to keep you on your feet for a day. It certainly sounds better than the Kendall Mint Cake we used to take on our walking holidays. Various people around the Internet have tried to make their own Lembas bread recipes, but no word on whether they’ve the same restorative powers as the real thing.

Butter Beer

Of course, the Harry Potter books are jammed (see what I did there?) full of foodie treats, but which Hogwarts delicacy would you like to try the most? Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans is a definite favourite, but also a bit too pot luck if you don’t like the occasional earwax flavour bean. The chocolate frogs sound delicious, but since they actually hop out of your hand they may not be the most convenient snack. So let’s settle on butter beer. Fortunately, this is one fictional beverage that has been smuggled to the muggles, and at the Harry Potter Studio Tour you can try a tankard even if you aren’t enrolled in a wizarding boarding school. I have been wanting to go for so long and am determined to book my ticket this summer and try it myself.

5 Fictional Foods and Drinks We Wish Were Real

Google Buns

The fictional food that were inspired (I’m not exactly sure how) by the world’s leading search engine. They are a unique take on the classic cupcake, with a giant currant in the centre, surrounded by sherbet, all placed inside the outer cake shell. The idea of biting into a cake and having your filled with sherbet still sounds amazing. Baking with sherbet and finding a big enough current are both challenges, but some have tried to make these buns at home, I think they are pretty brave!

Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster

This drink from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is widely accepted to be the best drink in the universe. Many earthlings, under the delusion that their planet wasn’t vaporised years ago to make way for a hyperspace bypass, have tried to replicate the Gargle Blaster using terrestrial ingredients, usually by mixing as many different types of alcohol as they can think of. Of course, true connoisseurs know the only real way to feel the thrill of drinking a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster is apparently to have your head smashed with a slice of lemon wrapped around a solid gold brick.

Is there a fictional food you wish was real? 

Collaborative Post