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    Monday, 18 February 2019

    EMILIA'S CRAFTED PASTA, ST KATHERINE'S DOCK

    A steaming bowl of pasta and a good glass of wine - two of life's greatest pleasures, right? Now imagine that, paired with a gorgeous view out across St.Katherine's Docks, well that's exactly what you get at Emilia's - a gorgoeus little Italian, serving handcrafted pasta by the waterside.
    It's a cute and cosy restaurant overlooking the far-side of St Katherine's Dock (almost opposite the Dickens Inn) where they pride themselves on their hand-made pasta which they make fresh every morning.

    It's not just any old pasta though - the guys here have spent years, researching and anaylising, the best pasta shapes suited for each kind of sauce. They've pain-stakingly tested, how long each needs till it's cooked to perfect, and created a menu with dozens of unusal pasta shapes paired the perfect sauce to suit. 
    In terms of the menu - it's classic Italian of course, with a handful of great dishes on both the anti-pasti and main menu. We shared portions of the delicately sliced bresaola (£8) - a type of cured beef - along with the Heritage Tomato & Burrata Salad (£10).

    The beef arrives at the table with a good crack of pepper and toasted ciabatta which you can pile high onto - and the cheese is deliciously creamy, topped with fresh herbs and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
    For the main course, it has to be pasta. There's eight different dishes to choose from, each with its unique pasta and sauce pairing. As mentioned, the pasta is hand-made on site, and cooked in salt water in boiling water until it's perfectly al dente - which actually helps to maximise the flavour but also aids with digestion. 
    The four hour slow cooked bechamel bolognese is definitely the restaurant's 'hero' dish - served with pappadelle and absolutely covered with grated parmesan (£12.50). It's proper comfort food - like a big hug in a bowl - with the perfect ragu to pasta ratio.  
    We also loved the casarecce - a short twisted pasta which I've never tried before - which arrives coated with basil pesto, parmesan and pecorino (£11). It's packed with big, punchy flavours and the  portions are super generous - meaning you definitely won't be leaving hungry! 
    We loved our visit to Emilia's - the food and service were incredible and the atmosphere of the restaurant was buzzing making it the perfect spot to enjoy a Saturday afternoon, watching the world go by.  

    The restaurant is fairly tight on space, and it gets super busy - especially at weekends, so it's definitely best booking. They do hold back about 25% of the tables for walk-ins on the off-chance you're in the area though so you may get lucky if you don't a wait.  

    Exciting they've just opened a second Emilia's down in Aldgate which operates the same policy - I know I'll definitely be heading down there ASAP!

    * Our food was complimentary
    Our opinions are honest

    Saturday, 16 February 2019

    INCREDIBLE PIZZAS AT FIREBRAND, MARYLEBONE

    Do you know how excited I get when I discover great restaurants in West London? Growing up on this side of the tube map, it's not often you get to shout about your delicious food finds. All the best pop-ups, markets and street food vendors seem to reside in East London - but I've found an absolute gem of a pizza place, out here in West and I'm excited to shout about it! 
    It's called Firebrand and it's tucked away just behind Marylebone station - towards Lisson Grove rather than Baker Street - making it the perfect spot for an after work pizza, if - like me - that's the place where you jump on the train!

    It's got a small but cosy vibe, with exposed brick-work, brown leather seating and a huge clay pizza oven which takes pride of place at the front, visible from the street. I popped down last week with one of my good friends, courtesy of Love Pop-Ups London, and was treated to a night of good wine, great food and even better company. 
    The menu here is simple - serving classic Italian dishes with the freshest, high-quality ingredients. You'll find everything from Tuscan Sausage Bruschetta to Mixed Cured Meat Platters on the starter menu - so it's definitely worth ordering a portion of the garlic bread (£5) to share while you decide.  
    When I say garlic bread - I really mean Garlic Pizza bread because it's served as a huge round of pillowy dough, studded with garlic and a light sprinkling of herbs.
    Try not to fill up on it too fast though as you won't want to miss the starters! If you're a cheese fan - you're in luck with Mozzarella, Goats Cheese and Burrata all featuring on the menu.
    The Burrata, which is served with grilled courgettes and peppers (£8) is deliciously creamy - and even better when spread across a slice of that garlic bread (see why I told you to order one!). If I'm being super critical - I would prefer the burrata to arrive as a ball, rather than already sliced open - there's just something so enjoyable about cutting into yourself to reveal all that glorious cheese, isn't there? 
    Continuing our cheese theme, we also ordered a portion of the Pan Fried Goats Cheese which comes served with spinach and topped with red onions which have been caramelised in a delicious balsamic glaze (£8). 
    We ordered this on recommendation from our waiter, and I'm so glad we did - it was my stand out dish of the night. I might be a bit bias - as I ADORE goats cheese but it was absolutely delicious. Soft, creamy, salty and sharp - it's a definite must-order if you visit!
    Now for the main event - and the real reason you're here - the pizzas. Firebrand prides itself on its sourdough pizza bases, made using caputo flour from Naples, which are left to prove for 72 hours before being baked in the in-house pizza oven.

    They're served the classic Naples way - thin, crispy but still with that delicious chewy texture and slathered with great toppings! I went for the Goats Cheese (shock), courgette and sweet potato pizza (£13) which was delicious. I've never had sweet potato on a pizza before but the discs were slightly crisp and added a lovely sweet flavour to balance out the goats cheese. My friend opted to the Nduja, Salami and Mushroom which she vouched was absolutely delicious too - and great for lovers of spice!
    We both really enjoyed the food at Firebrand and were super impressed with the quality of the pizza. It's got such a nice, local vibe in the restaurant and was absolutely packed by about 7.30pm on the Wednesday night that we visited. The team are just about to launch a brand new restaurant in Hammersmith - another win for West Londoners - and I know I'll definitely be heading down there, I highly recommend that you do the same!

    Firebrand
    41-43 Lisson Grove, Marylebone, London NW1 6UB

    * We were guests of Firebrand
    Our meal was complimentary but all opinions are honest

    Tuesday, 12 February 2019

    CELEBRATING THE DAY OF LOVE WITH MR KIPLING [AD]

    Everyone knows the way to my heart is through my stomach. Honestly - feed me and I’m yours. I’m a real sucker for novelty food too. Heart-shaped chocolates, pink icing topped cakes, and now thanks to Mr Kipling – cakes which spell out just how much someone means to you.

    Yep – Mr Kipling has launched a gorgeous limited-edition range of cakes, meaning you can have your favourite cakes in the prettiest Valentine’s Day themed packaging.
    There’s something for everyone, from ‘You’re Heavenly’ Angel Slices to ‘You Mean the Whirl to me’ Flower Whirls. Each comes in gorgeous pink themed packaging so you can let your cakes do all the talking this Valentine's Day.

    The limited-edition range which features seven different cakes is available from all major supermarket now until Valentine’s Day, with the Mini Battenbergs and Flower Whirls hanging around until Mother’s Day – so you need to be quick!
    Lucky for you guys though, I have a whole bundle of Mr Kipling cakes to giveaway so simply enter your details into the widget below and they could be yours – good luck!
    a Rafflecopter giveaway
    * This post was sponsored by Mr Kipling

    Thursday, 31 January 2019

    MALTESERS HAS LAUNCHED A NEW SMASH CAKE AND IT IS INSANE [AD]

    If there's one chocolate, I love above all else, it's Maltesers. I eat them super slowly, savouring every last one by sucking all the chocolate off before moving onto the next (TMI?). It's not just regular Maltesers I love either - I'm pretty much addicted to the Christmas Reindeers....and the Bunnies at Easter...and I almost lost my mind when McDonald's introduced the Malteser McFlurry - SO imagine how I felt when I heard they were introducing a new Smash Cake. 
    Yep - that is a Malteser Chocolate Cake. You smash through the thick chocolate dome to reveal a delicious malt drizzled sponge cake, filled with chocolate buttercream and topped with a stash of Maltesers.
     It's the perfect Birthday cake for any Malteser lover or even just for serving with a cup of tea with the girls over a long over-due catch up. Any excuse for cake, right?
    I mean just LOOK at it!
    You can buy the new Maltesers Smash Cake from Asda now, priced £14 so make sure you get one for yourself ASAP! I promise you won't be disappointed. 

    * This is a paid collaboration with Maltesers
    All opinions are my own

    Saturday, 26 January 2019

    IS THIS THE BEST VALUE STEAK & CHIPS IN LONDON?

    The best value steak and chips in London. It's a pretty bold claim, I know, but it's one I'm confident in making when it comes to Le Relais de Venise L'EntrecĂ´te. If you're ever been to Paris, you'll probably know this restaurant already. It's a place where the Steak Frites are so good, even Parisians are prepared to queue around the block for them, just like my mum and I did on our first visit around four years ago.

    Luckily for us Brits, they also decided to set up shop in the UK with three London restaurants, decked out with the same yellow napkins, black and white waitresses uniforms and gorgeous decor as the stylish Parisian counterparts.
    The concept is exactly the same too. There's one set menu so all you tell the waitress is how you want your steak cooked and what you'd like to drink. A dream for the indecisive diner.
    The great thing about a set menu is that your food comes out super quick. You kick things off with a delicious, lightly-dressed salad, studded with walnuts...
    and a couple of rounds of crusty baguette. 
    Then it's on to the main event. Thick slices of perfectly cooked entrecote steak are served table-side, in the secret 'Le Relais' sauce with a mountain of fries. The steak here is cooked one of three ways: blue, rare or medium - with no in-betweens. 

    And the very best bit? The waitress will re-fill your plate with more steak and fries as soon as you cleared your first round - tell me that's not value for money!
    At £24 per head - it's an absolute steal. You'd be hard pressed to find a better value two-course steak dinner in London - I promise you! If you fancy giving them a go, there's branches in Soho, Marylebone and this one where we visited in the City - I highly recommend it!

    Le Relais de Venise l'EntrecĂ´te 
    5 Throgmorton St, London EC2N 2AD
    * We were guests of Le Relais 
    Our food was complimentary but all opinions are my own

    Thursday, 24 January 2019

    LEARNING TO MAKE BARISTA-STYLE COFFEE AT HOME

    I remember the first time I ever tasted coffee. I was about 10 years old and trying to recreate an iced latte - which according to my new Spice Girls book - was Posh's favourite drink. I mixed the instant coffee with the milk, poured it over the ice, took a great, big sip - and HATED it. Absolutely, positively, could. not. stand. to take another sip.

    Fast forward to now - and I just can't get enough of the stuff. It's the first thing I reach for in the mornings when I wake up and the thing I yearn for most at 4pm, at work, when I'm heading into a brain slump. I'm not too fussy when it comes to my coffee either. I'll happily drink instant - and I've even tried coffee bags - but nothing really comes close to freshly made coffee, with lovely frothy milk, now does it?

    True Barista-standard coffee. It's the stuff dreams are made of. But what if I told you, you could make that kind of coffee at home? Well, it's true because yep, I've now got my very own coffee machine, the Sage Bambino, and my life has honestly been transformed.
    What is the Sage Bambino? 
    Put simply, it’s an entry-level coffee machine which has everything you need to create barista-standard coffee, yourself, at home - making it perfect for someone like me who enjoys great coffee but has no real idea how you actually make it. It’s been created by the team behind Sage by Heston Blumenthal, so you know it’s going to be good, and despite being smaller than other coffee machines in the Sage range, it still packs all the same technology so you can create that perfect cup of coffee.

    What’s included as part of the kit? 
    It’s got pretty much everything you need to make the perfect cup of java. There’s a filtrated water system at the back so you’ve always got fresh water, a ThermoJet® heating system which achieves the optimum extraction temperature in just 3 seconds, a 19 gram dose so you’ve always got the right amount of coffee and even an automatic milk frother. The only thing missing is a built-in coffee grinder.
    What’s your favourite element? 
    Definitely the automatic milk frother – it allows you to adjust the temperature of your milk and the amount of foam so you can make the perfect cup of coffee to suit your tastes. It’s all completely automatic so will heat itself up and switch off as soon as the right temperature is achieved. I also loved the fact that the steam wand automatically cleans itself after use (which I know I would definitely forget to do otherwise!).

    Will I need any other kit to go with it? 
    If you really wanted to go all out, you could also invest in a coffee grinder so you can grind your own beans – but to be honest, I’ve been using ground coffee and I’m perfectly happy with the result! One of the big draws of this machine is how compact it is, meaning it doesn’t take up much space in your kitchen, so there’s no real need to add anything else on (unless you really want to!).

    How much will it set me back? 
    The Sage Bambino costs around £400. But is it worth the investment? We’ve been using ours for the last couple of weeks and I have to say, it really is. Yes, it’s an expensive piece of kit but when you consider all the incredible features it has, compared against the price of some coffee machines, it’s actually incredible value. Not to mention the amount we now save by making our own in the morning rather than relying on the coffee shop at the station!
    What else can you do with it? 
    Well one thing is for sure, I certainly won't ever be making iced lattes with it (I still carry those scars) BUT I am able to make killer Espresso Martinis! If you’ve ever tried to make an espresso martini at home using instant coffee, you might have noticed that it often results in the foam on top becoming ‘bubbly’. I attended a cocktail masterclass a few years ago and the fact that you need to use fresh coffee is the one piece of advice I’ve always remember the bar-tender giving me!

    THE ULTIMATE ESPRESSO MARTINI RECIPE 
    WHAT YOU’LL NEED 
    25 ml ground coffee
    35ml vanilla syrup
    25ml shot vodka
    25ml XO tequilla
    Ice

    WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO DO
    1. Brew yourself a fresh shot of coffee
    2. Add along with the rest of your liquids into a cocktail shaker, then fill up with ice cubes
    3. Secure the lid and shake the living daylights out of it! This is what makes the lovely frothy top!
    4. Pour gently into a cocktail glass, top with cocoa powder and enjoy!

     I personally think being able to make Martinis that good is worth the investment alone. For more information on the Bambino or any coffee maker in the Sage range, just visit their website

    * I was gifted the Sage Bambino in exchange for this review.
    All opinions are honest and my own