Friday, 28 June 2013

Zen and The Dress

Meet my sister, Ioanna.

Ioanna has just graduated from high school, and like all girls her age, she knew her prom would be probably the most glamorous event of her final school year. Or of any of her years in academia - trust me, no one puts that much effort into university graduations.

This is Ioanna at her prom.

Every girl knows that the dress she wears at her only high school prom can make or break her night, and this dress certainly did not disappoint.

Meet Zen, the creator of the dress (please take note of the definite article).

Zen studied Fashion Design at Central Saint Martin's, the Harvard of the fashion world, has several years of experience both in London and Cyprus and counts some of the most well-known names of the island as his clients.
You could safely argue he knows a thing or two about fashion.
Ioanna was of the same opinion, so she trusted him with her beloved dress. As I was in the UK during fittings, I decided to tag along on the afternoon on the day of the prom for the last fitting so I could finally see the dress in the flesh.

I suppose this is how designers' flats look like.
He's also a freelance make up artist with a very extensive arsenal:

Ioanna was excited:

And that's when Zen proved he was worth his salt as a make up artist:

And here's me while I was waiting for the final result:


Of course the most important thing was the dress. Here's the real TADA!!

A few last tweaks:

And the thigh-high cut a la Angelina:

If you like what you see, Zen does a bit of everything regarding fashion and style: fashion designing (although he has no interest in starting his own collection), styling, make up, image consulting, even wedding planning!

If you're attending a special event or your wardrobe needs a little pick-me-up, I highly recommend him. He has the skills, the knowledge and he can make you laugh; what else could you need?

You can contact him through Facebook.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Billy's Baked Potato - South Kensington

To be honest, for the last two years I was a bit hesitant to eat at BBP. Call me a snob, but I wasn't too sure I wanted to eat at a place called 'Baked Potato'. Nevertheless, as D and L were in town, we decided to give it a try. The Boy had been there many times before and he kept talking about it, so we went there quite optimistic.

(spot the Cyprus flag!)

Before reading further, dear reader, I must warn you that this restaurant is for serious carnivores.
The food is all about meat (with a few salads and seafood here and there) and the portions are quite generous, so go hungry or go home!

We (humbly) started with nachos:

We continued with one of these beasts each: half a rack of ribs and quarter of a chicken, both smothered in rich barbecue sauce with thick-cut chips.

Let's have another closer look:

We were four happy piggies.

Soon after we were left with four pairs of sticky fingers, BBQ sauce on our cheeks and this:

The boy gave up. He didn't take it too well.

However, this visit was not as good as we had hoped for. My ribs were a bit on the dry, overcooked side (although the other ones were fine), and a couple of the waitresses need to seriously lose the attitude.

Nevertheless, don't let this deter you from giving BBP a try, just remember to go hungry or you'll be left with a defeated look on your face resembling the Boy above.

You'll find them here: a stone's throw from the South Kensington tube, and you can check out the menu here.

PS: If you're a student at Imperial College by any chance, don't forget you get a 10% discount.
PPS: After a request from the Boy, I have to clarify that he did eat all of his own food, he just failed to eat whatever the rest of us couldn't eat because we were so incredibly stuffed. Thus, strictly speaking, he was not defeated.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Gunwharf Quays - Portsmouth

If you're in the South of England and love a good designer bargain you'll love this.

I found out about Gunwharf Quays fairly recently, and has been the source of a lot of my shopping ever since. And for good reason: reduced prices on designer items all year round! And I don't mean the sort of mayhem taking place during sales. There isn't all that jumble sale panic, the clothes are not in a messy, disorganized pile, the staff there are eager to help you and there's no elbowing each other out of the way!

When you get there, you'll also be spoiled for choice: think Hugo Boss, Ralph Lauren, AllSaints, Ted Baker, Gant, L'Occitane, Crabtree and Evelyn and many many more. More than 90 outlet brands in fact. It is huge.

You know what happens when you give a girl the right pair of shoes...

During sales period you can get even greater deals!

 For special offers, don't forget to check out their events and offers page as well!

Hungry? With 30 different bars, coffee-shops and restaurants, you'll certainly find something you like.
And if for some unforeseen reason you don't give in your shopping urges, you can just enjoy the beautiful marina - this got the boy and me even more excited for returning back to the homeland next week!

I would love to include some photographs from inside the stores - just so you can be certain that everything's civil in there, but photography is not allowed inside. Despite not having seen a sign anywhere, this little fun fact was brought to my attention by a very aggressive lady working at Whittard's. I feel that this lady deserves a special mention in the post since her ambushing and her poor manners made me do what I thought was impossible: leave a Whittard's store disappointed and empty-handed.

You'll find Gunwharf Quays here, on Facebook and Twitter.

PS: If you're travelling by train get off at Portsmouth Harbour, and it's a  mere 3-minute walk from there.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Guacamole Grilled Cheese Sandwich

This isn't really a recipe, but it's so delicious it would be a shame not to share. It adds that je ne sais quoi to the classic grilled cheese sandwich. Enjoy!

First, get a non-stick pan on medium-high heat. You want it to be hot by the time you've got your sandwich ready for toasting. Then, grab two slices of your favourite bread. Slather generously some guacamole on one, and pile a few slices of cheddar on the other.

If you have flavoured cheddar (mine here is with caramelised onions), then all the better! Sandwich together and put it in the hot pan.

At this stage you should press it down - you can do it with a spatula, or if you're lazy like me, pile on a plate or two.

See how snuggly it looks under there?
After a couple of minutes, flip! Wait until it goes golden brown on the other side as well, and serve.

Ooey, gooey goodness.

By the time you've read this, this sandwich would be long gone.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Everyday is Pizza Day!

That's not strictly true. But it should be!
Homemade pizza is easy to make, costs next to nothing and is much more waistline-friendly that the shop-bought ones.

This recipe makes two medium pizzas (depending on appetite and greediness), but feel free to multiply it to feed the hungry crowds.

For the base you'll need:
250g of strong bread flour plus more for dusting
half a 7g yeast packet
1 teaspoon of olive oil
180ml tepid water (it shouldn't feel hot or cold)
sprinkle of salt

Mix everything apart from the flour and the salt in a bowl and let it sit for a couple of minutes. In the meantime, sift your flour and salt in a bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour the yeast/water/oil mixture into the well and little by little mix in the flour using a spoon (it's much easier to use a metal one instead of a wooden spoon).

Now, flour your hands and knead it to your heart's content (it's strangely therapeutic). Most people take it out of the bowl and knead the dough on a well-floured surface. I keep it in the bowl to reduce the mess I make, and I still love my pizza. Feel free to do either.
After kneading it for a while, and you end up with a springy dough, flour the bowl again, cover it with a damp towel and leave it in a warm place for an hour or so. In the meantime, you can get on with your life.

After the hour has passed, turn on your oven to 220C and put in your pan to heat it up. Cooking the pizza on an already hot pan is possibly the closest you can get to a crust of a pizza-oven quality without a fancy pizza oven.

By now the yeast would have worked its magic and your dough would have doubled in size. Now, roll up your sleeves and flour your hands, because it's kneading time! Knock back the dough (a fancy way of saying knead the dough after it has risen), and add more flour as needed until it starts to behave. Again, you want a springy dough.

When you're satisfied with your dough, cut up a piece of aluminium foil and dust it with flour. Put half your dough on and with a rolling pin or something cylindrical (wine bottle maybe?) roll it and get it as thin as you can (the thinner the crispier!). Next, spoon over your tomato sauce.

If you don't have one already, it's incredibly easy to make some. Just blitz some passata (or a can of chopped tomatoes) with a couple of cloves of garlic, a tablespoon of dried herbs and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Ready.

Now add some grated cheese - I opted for mozzarella, but for something richer you could also add cheddar.

Then it's the fun part: toppings. I went for just spinach, but you can go with anything you like: anchovies, pineapple, fried egg etc. Sky's the limit. Just think that a well known chain of pizza places in Cyprus makes pizzas with strawberries and white chocolate!

Very carefully and with mittens, take out your pan, place your pizza with the aluminium foil on the pan, and pop it back in the oven. A pizza of that size would need 10-15 minutes so keep an eye on it. As soon as the cheese appears bubbly and golden brown, take it out.

If you've got something like this, you're onto a winner.

Enjoy with a glass of crisp white wine and a side salad while watching Game of Thrones (or not, depending on your tolerance for misery).


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