Wednesday, 22 February 2012

You'll never forget your first snog.

And I don't mean the saliva-exchanging kind.

This was one of my favourite new findings during my recent visit to London: Snog frozen yoghurt. Although I'm not really a fan of frozen yoghurt, I instantly fell in love with Snog. Their frozen yoghurt is creamy, like ice cream, but minus the calories. It's made with organic yoghurt, sweetened with agave nectar instead of sugar and with zero fat, is full of flavour and completely guilt-free. What's not to love?!

When I first tried it I couldn't decide what to order. Did I want the natural one? Or the chocolate one? Or the exotic guanabana one? Or the sophisticated green tea one? I settled for the natural one to begin with. And then the toppings! So exciting! They ranged from the everyday berries to the more exotic medjool dates and mochi (japanese rice cake), to the healthy granola and a mixture of superfood nuts and seeds. At that moment, the idea of dieting did not look bad at all! However, if you're feeling naughty, you can always go for the chocolate brownies or Oreo cookies, or any of the other chocolatey treats!

I decided to go for both naughty and nice: strawberries and Oreo cookies.

Now, did I like it?

You bet.

Unfortunately, in the UK you can only find Snog shops in London: in Westfield Shopping Centre, Covent Garden, Soho, South Kensington and Chelsea. However, I certainly hope they consider expanding in other parts of the UK.

Have you ever tried Snog frozen yoghurt before? What did you think of it? x

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Larder Box voucher!

For anyone of you interested in subscribing to the Larder Box subscription service, which I reviewed here, you can do so by using this link, also get a five pound voucher to treat yourself with goods from Love your Larder!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Room - Emma Donoghue

And after a long food post, here's some food for thought on this cold Sunday afternoon; a book review!

There was a lot of hype about this book, so I was quite curious when I picked it up a few days ago. I finished it in three days (that's also while writing a never-ending dissertation and having the Better Half over for the weekend). When I read the reviews, there were a lot of adjectives used to describe it, but I found that only one can really characterize it aptly enough; it's unquestionably one of the most unique books I've read in a very long time.

The story is about a five-year-old, Jack, and his young mother (whose name is never mentioned) who are captives of a middle-aged man, who kidnapped the young woman (aged 19 at the time), and put her in a modern-day cell like a modern-day sex slave. There, the woman had Jack (on her own), and lived with him for the next five years. Jack, knowing only the inside of Room, believes that it constitutes the whole world, and his mother, despite the limited affordances within Room, tries to provide for her son the most normal life possible, through a healthy diet, limited TV time, strict oral hygiene, reading children's books and physical exercises. Nevertheless, when the mother finds out that Old Nick (that's the pervert who kidnapped her) loses his job and when he cuts the power at the Room for several days, she decides that it is too dangerous to keep living there and decides to escape.

But then, little did she know, another series of ordeals begins.

The story is told from the perspective of young Jack, making it even more honest and sensitive in all its simplicity. I said the novel is unique. It is. It's devastating and uplifting, simple and complicated, sad and inspiring, all at the same time.

Very highly recommended. And if you don't believe me, then you can believe all these people who awarded Emma Donoghue for Room:

  • New York Times bestseller (Fiction, 2010)
  • Booker Prize, shortlist (2010)
  • Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize (2010)
  • Indigo Books Heather's Pick (2010)
  • New York Times Best Books of the Year (2010)
  • New York Times Notable Book of the Year (Fiction & Poetry, 2010)
  • Salon Book Award (Fiction, 2010)
  • Governor General's Awards, shortlist (2010)
  • Alex Award (2011)
  • Publisher's Weekly Listen Up Award (Audio Book of the Year, 2010)
  • ALA Notable Book (2011)
  • Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year, Irish Book Awards (2010)
  • Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Canada and the Caribbean, 2011)
  • Indies Choice Book Award (Adult Fiction, 2011)
  • Orange Prize, shortlist (2011)
  • WH Smith Paperback of the Year, Galaxy National Book Awards (2011)

PS: Here you can get a feel of what Room is like, according to Donoghue.
PS2: The story is said to be inspired by the Fritzl case in Austria, where Joseph Fritzl imprisoned his daughter Elisabeth in the family home's cellar for 24 years, repeatedly abusing her physically and sexually. This resulted to 24 years of slavery, 7 offsprings and 1 miscarriage.

Friday, 10 February 2012


I've recently joined Pinterest, a website which is basically a board with any picture that inspires you. And I mean everything - food, people, animals, whatever. You create your board, and you 'pin' pictures you find online or you take yourself, or you can simply 'repin' them from someone else's board - which is quite fun actually. This is my board for Food (you can have different boards for different things), just to give you an idea if you're not on Pinterest yet.

If you use Pinterest, we could follow each other! If you don't, but would like to, at the moment it is invitation-only, so you can just write down your email address in your comment and I'll send you an invite :)

PS: It's highly addictive. You've been warned.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Jamie's Italian - Take two

Last weekend Jamie Oliver cooked for me.

....almost. To be honest, it wasn't himself who cooked the food, but it was in one of his restaurants so I guess that counts for something? :)

Anyway, last weekend I went to London to visit the Better Half, and Saturday afternoon we decided to have lunch at Jamie's Italian in Westfield (isn't it so unbelievably convenient when a restaurant you really want to go to is so close to the shops you also want to go to?). At this point, I should point out that this was the second time we tried to eat at a Jamie's Italian restaurant.

Last time, it was about a month ago, we went to the one in Covent Garden, patiently stood in the queue outside in the freezing cold (because they don't take reservations on Friday nights that is), and about twenty minutes later we finally reach the host who informs us in the most natural way possible that we are looking at about an hour and could he have a name please? I did what anyone in the right frame of mind would have done. I put on my most charming face and smiled: that would be unnecessary, because we won't be staying, thank you and goodbye. In the end we had dinner at a nice Spanish restaurant, again in Covent Garden, with the best home-made Sangria, but for which I cannot provide a name since by the time we left I was too tipsy to walk straight, let alone remember the restaurant's name!

However, back to last weekend. After a (reasonable) fifteen-minute wait, the waitress led us to the other end of the restaurant, allowing us to take a peak in the open kitchen, and a guy making fresh pasta by hand (that's when I decided I simply had to have the pasta). Other than that, the decoration matched the menu: rustic and refined at the same time, simple but with that little bit of 'extra' to make it special. We didn't order any sides or appetizers because we weren't that hungry, but when the couple in the table next to us were served theirs, I was jealous! So make yourself a favour, and when you visit the restaurant do order at least one!

Fast forward to our food, the service was good, the waiters were polite, and the food was yummy. I had the Chicken Liver Tortellini, served with a buttery, aromatic sage sauce, fried sage, crispy pancetta and flamed with  Vin Santo. It was delicious. The livers were melt-in-your mouth soft, the pancetta made a great contrast with the silky sauce, the tortellini were cooked al dente and still had that bite, and there was a sweet undertone from the Vin Santo.

In the picture, my tortellini is at the front, but at the back you can see Better Half's Meatball Carbonara. Now I didn't try it, but I was repeatedly assured by BH that it was beyond delicious and that he was impressed (BH doesn't really do celebrity chefs):

Finally, the bill arrived, and I can safely argue that it was a value-for-money meal. The food didn't disappoint and it came down to roughly fifteen pounds per person. If you want to visit one of Jamie's Italian restaurants, arrive early, try to avoid peak hours (eg Saturday night doesn't look too good) and brace yourself with determination in case you also have to deal with a smiling waiter informing you that you are probably looking at about an hour. Nevertheless, I do recommend it despite the wait. You'd most probably already have one near you, with 25 restaurants in the UK, and another one opening in Manchester this coming Spring.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Sometimes 6 words are just enough

Hello, hello! I hope you all had a lovely weekend! This post takes me back to English Literature A level (which seems like it was centuries ago), when I first heard of Hemingway's six word story. How could you convey enough meaning to make up an entire story? I thought naively. The answer, my dear readers, isin what it is not said:

As you can understand, I was impressed. Evidently, other people were impressed as well. In fact, so impressed they created this website and added their own six word stories. Some of my favourites:

'Cat leaps from shadows. Floating feathers'
'Lazy optimist dies happily of starvation'
'Out, bitch!' Lonely. 'Come back love!'
'Lonely baby. No longer a twin.'
'Mistook grenade for cigarette lighter. Smoked'
'Chapter one: Coughin'. Chapter two: Coffin'

Do you have any of your own to add? Which ones do you like? :)

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Larder Box - February

Today I woke up very very excited (and trust me, it was not for the Sociolinguistics lecture), because today is the first Thursday of the month, and I was going to receive my first Larder Box, full of goodies ready to try out. Fast forward a few hours, and I'm placing the box on the kitchen table ready to open it. And I do. At first there was an envelope with my name on (handwritten, how cute!), which included details about the products, as well as ideas on how to use them.

Next, there was a bag - not the Mulberry kind, don't get too excited - which is a reusable, eco-friendly bag to carry the shopping (well that's what I'll do with it!) in an effort to avoid plastic bags.

And now, cutting to the chase! There was a variety in products in the box, from honey to blackberry vinegar and pop corn. Starting with my favourite, the blackberry vinegar; the information inside the envelope said: 'The homegrown herbs and fruits are the key ingredients in their products and everything is still made by hand using a traditional process they perfected over the years', this got me even more excited since I love handmade/traditional products! I've never tried it but I have a feeling it will be perfect for dressings (particularly with goat-cheese salads), drizzling over chocolate desserts and with meaty dishes such as pork, as it will give a fruity undertone and give the flavours that extra oomph. The leaflet seems to agree: 'A mild spirit vinegar is infused with generous quantities of fruit to create a deep and intense flavour which is brilliant as a marinade, dressing, when used in a sauce or added to a cocktail' . The information leaflet seems to agree: Moreover, the one in the box, by Womersley, has won a Great Taste Gold Award in 2011!

Next, there is Joe & Seph's Gourmet Popcorn. According to the information, Joseph Sopher 'has been creating increasingly adventurous and unusual flavour combinations', hence the the Caramel & Sea Salt flavour, but the range of flavours also include cheese and walnut, as well as toffee apple and cinnamon, thanks to Sopher's unique method of layering flavours. Again, although I think this brand has been circulating for some time in Harrod's, I've never had the chance to try it, so I'm excited now that I have it!

Next up we have the Pukka Dukka blend by Taste Gourmet Spice Co., which is 'a fragrant blend of Middle Eastern spices, nuts and herbs which makes a brilliant accompaniment to many dishes'. Keywords: Middle East, spices, nuts, herbs. What's not to love?! The mixture is made up of hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, peanuts, cumin, coriander, fennel and sesame seeds, which are all already toasted and chopped by hand to 'wake up' all their lovely flavours. I thought of sprinkling it on salads to give a bit of crunch from the nuts , or make a rub for lamb probably by mixing it with oil. This blend seems to have so much attitude and offer so many punchy flavours, I can't wait to try it out!

The fourth ingredient was a classic one: blossom honey. This particular one is by The Sheffield Honey Company, who extract their honey from the hive with the minimum warming and filtration so it maintains the quality of honey direct from the comb. It also claims to be packed full of pollen so it has a unique flavour specific to the flowers and trees the bees have collected it from. Although up to this moment I didn't know that Sheffield produced honey, it seems quite high quality, plus I can see it now in my head, this honey drizzled on my morning toast!

The fifth product was a 70% cocoa West African Pure Dark Chocolate Powder by Mortimer Chocolate Company. Like in the case of Womersley, they are also Gold Award winners for their dark chocolate powder, so again I expect it to be a very high quality product as it uses a blend of cocoa liquors from Forastero-type cocoas from Ghana, the Ivory Coast and Nigeria to make rounded flavour with raisin and sultana notes that are typical of this region. I don't think I'll be using it for for hot chocolate, as I prefer my drinking chocolate a bit sweeter, but I think it will be great in chocolate desserts or sprinkled over a chilli.

Last but not least, there was also a small packet with thyme seeds in by Allotinabox. According to the information in the envelope, it is best planted at the beginning of March and requires minimum attention and only occasional watering. Personally, I don't think I will plant it, because I'm not really into gardening, but I am going to give it to someone who is a big fan of growing her own herbs (my mum that is).

Overall, I'm quite pleased. I'm sure I will have an exciting week (I'll be away over the weekend) using all these new products, and hopefully bringing my food to the next level!

If you are interested in subscribing as well to the Larder Box, you can do so here. It costs just under twenty pounds per month (including P&P), for receiving every first Thursday of the month a lovely box such as this one, but works out to be even less if you subscribe for a year.

Would you subscribe to a service like this one? What do you think? :)

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The World According to Karl

Karl Lagerfeld becomes a journalist for Metro. For a day: February 7 (that's next Tuesday!). The fashion legend will spend a day in the Paris newsroom, supplying comments and illustrations for Metro's The World According to Karl edition. This special (and long-awaited) edition of Metro will kick-start Metro's coverage of Fashion Week, and will run in 100 cities in 22 countries, reaching to its 17 million readers around the globe.

If you are familiar with Mr. Lagerfeld's interviews/quotes, you'll know that this man is nothing short of extraordinary, and this is what makes it even more exciting to have some of his (journalistic) work in Metro!

Just to get you a bit more excited, here are my favourite quotes of him, which are - I guess - a short introduction of what to expect on the 7th of February:

- "I made a diet and my doctor made money that way. We sold nearly a million copies. I never touch sugar, cheese, bread... It was a very good, healthy thing, the best move in my life, I think, but it's totally effortless. I only like what I'm allowed to like. I'm beyond temptation. There is no weakness. When I see tons of food in the studio, for us and for everybody, for me it's as if this stuff was made out of plastic. The idea doesn't even enter my mind that a human being could put that into their mouth. I'm like the animals in the forest. They don't touch what they cannot eat."(do you know anyone else who can do that?!) From the Independent, 2011
- "I'm rather pro-prostitution. I admire people who do it. It can't be much fun. Thank goodness for it. People need relief or they become murderers." From the documentary Lagerfeld Confidential (2007)
- "If you throw money out of the window throw it out with joy. Don’t say 'one shouldn’t do that' - that is bourgeois". From the Observer Magazine (2007)
-  "The iPod is genius. I have 300". From the Observer Magazine (2006)
- On his early start: "When I was four I asked my mother for a valet for my birthday". From the Observer Magazine (1978)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...