Eating My Way Around: On The Roof With…. Q

29 Aug

I love a pop up. And I love eating. So the arrival of “On the Roof With…” at Selfridges was an interesting concept, and something that I was wholly interested in. I love the idea of taking spaces that are disused, misused or underused, and converting them into exciting new ventures to pique the interest of the masses. Sure, it might end up full of pretentious suits and boujis biatches, but it also might be something worth seeing or experiencing.

And this was the case with “On the Roof with … Q” Brought to you by the guys that do the Q Grill in Camden, the sales pitch was promising:

“We will be bringing a top team from Q Grill in Camden to deliver a BBQ menu unlike any other, paired with a lighter range of delicious summer dishes. On the Roof with Q will be a secret foodie haven that will offer a fun and fresh dining experience alongside a programme of talks from some of the most innovative and influential people working in the food industry right now.’’

With the time that Elle was spending in London drawing to a close, we decided to book the table for a balmy Tuesday and head on up after work. We arrived early and found a seat at the bar, where we sat and experienced some really unusually, and gorgeous tasting cocktails, before being shown to our table. The décor was amazing. Designed to make you feel like you are being transported back to a Victorian garden, the dense foliage and cute little birdcages provide a gorgeous setting to eat dinner, and the food didn’t disappoint either.

Image courtesy of Q Grill

Image courtesy of Q Grill

We had a feast of delicious food, including chicken wings, tuna tartare and a huge rack of ribs to share between us. The meat fell off the bone, the sauce was thick and delicious, and we left the experience feeling happy and full.

Image courtesy of Q Grill

Image courtesy of Q Grill

If you are in London, I would strongly recommend making a booking. Its one of those pop ups that you need to visit!

On the roof with…. Q runs till the 27th of September

Selfridges |400 Oxford Street | W1A 1AB

Investing In… Cohabiting In Peace

28 Aug

I’m home alone, and there are some strange thuds coming from the hallway. I’ve watched one too many episodes of Criminal Minds in my life time to assume this is anything less than a home invasion, and I am thinking about what is at hand to protect myself with.

And then I remember, it’s the new hoover robot, and it has a lot of dust to eat.6651i489B344C7E926448

When Legal and General got in touch with me regarding their things that are worth investing in campaign, I was a little stumped. What do I think is worth investing in, other than the obvious things? Headphones that don’t break in 2 seconds? Savings? A pension? All of the above are things I do (well apart from the first, I am a victim of cheap and cheerful when it comes to headphones!) but what could I invest in that would help me today and tomorrow?

And then it came to me. 99% of the conversations between me and the Boy are directly related to the cleaning of the flat. I simply cannot comprehend how he sees it in his heart to put his plate in the sink, yet it doesn’t cross his mind to take a step to the left, bend down and put it in the dishwasher. And don’t even get me started on taking the laundry out of the machine. It dawned on my yesterday that I might think that in the 8 months we have been living together, my training of him has failed, but maybe his training of me to not expect him to do these things has actually won! Haha.the_jetsons_decal_rosie_dusting__80560

So I went with the hoover robot. Which I imagine will change my life. My family have a hoover robot that chases the puppies round the house when they aren’t in and cleverly navigates corners and stairs, although I imagine theirs is a very expensive version. Our choice is a bottom of the market example and is currently bashing around the hall like it has some kind of spatial awareness problem, but it has collected all the sesame seeds I spilled on the floor this morning, and for that I am eternally grateful.

What would you invest in? The more imaginative the better!

*This post was a collaboration with Legal and General, but all thoughts are my own!

Great British Bake Off

22 Aug

It’s been a while since I updated on the kitchen of my abode, but there has been a lot going on in there behind the scenes. It’s that time of the year again when all the birthdays come in quick succession, so I have been in the kitchen botching up cakes all over the place. Pinterest dream I am not.

The first work of art (ha!) was for my Mum’s birthday. When we were kids mum designed and decorated us a plethora of cakes to show off our favourite Disney characters or passions at the time, and they were the best thing about birthdays. We used to wake with excitement on what would be on our cake this year, and Christmas was the same.

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So I thought it only fair to do the same for my mum. I first spotted this cake on Pinterest, and after doing some research, I designed my own. My Mum’s birthday cake: vegetable patch complete with rabbit (or rat, as the boyfriend thought) minus aubergines, as they kept coming out lilac, which was not what I was going for!

The second was a gluten-free cake for my visitors birthday. I had never tried a gluten-free cake before, and to be honest, the actual cake wasn’t the best example of baking! However, I freestyled a lighter frosting and decorated with fresh fruit, and the results were quite delicious, despite the below par sponge in the centre.2

And the third – Snickers Brownies. My friend Siobhan had requested these instead of a cake this year, as she was the recipient of the Pinata cake last year, and I happily obliged. I’m pretty good at brownies, and these ones are failsafe! So good that I have posted the recipe below, so you can wow your friends and be the Nigella of brownies. Enjoy!

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Ingredients for 12

  • 125 g butter
  • 125 g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 200 g brown sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 50 g plain flour
  • 50 g cocoa powder
  • 0.25 tsp baking powder
  • 180 g cream cheese
  • 40 g caster sugar
  • 3 snickers bar, or similar chocolate. I actually don’t like peanuts but have used rolos before.
  • Combine butter, chocolate and brown sugar in a medium saucepan and stir over medium heat until the chocolate and butter have melted. Remove from the heat and whisk in the eggs.

Add flour, cocoa and baking powder and stir until well combined. Pour into a greased and lined 18 cm x 28 cm rectangular tin.

Beat cream cheese and caster sugar until smooth and creamy. Spoon randomly over chocolate mixture and swirl with the tip of a knife. Bake at 180 °C, Gas Mark 4 for 35-40 minutes or until cooked through. Add snickers slices.

What’s your go to crowd pleaser in the kitchen?

Grow Little Seedlings, Grow!

14 Aug

Green isn’t typically a colour you would associate with my fingers, and more often than not plants come to my house to enter Heaven’s waiting room; a quiet place of solace before they shuffle off their mortal coil. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not because I love them too much, but more I’m slightly forgetful in their care and they end up dying of thirst or being left directly in the sunlight to wither.

It’s not my fault, I swear.

But recently, I have developed a passion for helping things to live. Maybe I’ve become the antithesis of an Angel of Mercy; choosing to nurture and let them live. Or something.

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The boy bought me a herb set for Christmas this year, and it is now August and only the coriander (my least favourite from the trio) has perished, and honestly, it’s not a great loss to the Tinker household. Billy the Basil (yep, named my plant babies) has thrived, and I now have a selection of chillies and some tomato plants that even I was surprised to see poke through the soil like chicks hatching.

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Rejoice!

It helps that I now have a little balcony so don’t have to turn my house into something synonymous of the Eden Project, and that I am actually in a lot more to ensure they are fed and watered, but all I can say is God help me for when I have kids.

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Aren’t my plant pots cute? They are Joules (obviously, hence the little rabbits).

Are you any good at gardening?

 

2014 Travel, The Paris Edit

13 Aug

I’ve made it to 28 years of life living in England, and I have never experienced Paris. Despite this, it has always been a thing of dreams to me; a city entwined with romance and cloaked in illusion. I can’t help but think of the Chanel advert with Nicole Kidman, where she disappears off into the Parisian night, or alternatively (another Nicole Kidman related daydream) Moulin Rouge, and for this and many other reasons, the city has always been on my list of places I needed to see.

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So last weekend, the boy and I packed a bag and headed off for a birthday weekend (his) in Paris. In all honesty I can think of a whole host of other cities he would have rather spent his birthday weekend, but seeing as we couldn’t go for mine he graciously gave his. Because he’s good like that.

Window display in Laduree, home of the French macaron

Window display in Laduree, home of the French macaron

My experience of Paris was slightly different to where it had been positioned in my dreams. It involved food poisoning, closed establishments, delayed flights (both ways) and end of the world style rain. But hey ho, these things happen, and mainly to me. Despite all these things that I feel like were designed to make me giggle rather than cause problems, we had a fantastic weekend. We ate cheese (he) drank wine and coffee, and we moseyed along beautiful streets with stunning architecture, wondering what it would be like if we were Parisian and lived in such a wonderous city.

L'Arc de Triomphe on a grey Saturday

L’Arc de Triomphe on a grey Saturday

Has my opinion changed? No. the boy made a comment when we were walking around that the internet has ruined travel. He thinks that you have seen all these places before, so when you arrive its underwhelming and gone is the sense of surprise you experience when you see something for the first time. I see it from the flip side; I think that the internet has given you the option to choose, allowing you to whittle down the list of places you want to visit until you have an ultimate power bucket list, ready to hit hard and explore.

L'Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France

L’Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France

We were in the city in time to see the parade through the Arc de Triomphe to celebrate 100 years since the start of the war, so were privy to the pomp and circumstance of the army march. They lit the flames and laid the poppies, and then we watched as the canons were fired. It was a real privilege to be there for this occasion, and purely accidently too.

The Eiffel Tower itself

The Eiffel Tower itself

As well as the beautiful postcard ready sights Paris has to offer, the hotel was pretty special. We booked a night in the Hotel Splendor, which was magic themed. The highlight was the staircase, with magician’s hats adorning the banisters. Very unusual!

Notre Dame, sans Hunchback

Notre Dame, sans Hunchback

We also had time to visit Laduree, the winner in French macarons and my inspiration to take a macaron making class. A friend of mine bought me a box of the delightfully coloured marvels when we moved into our old house, and I savoured them like I had never eaten before. Thus began my affair with the macaron, so I was pleased to get in line to view the rows of brilliantly covered sweet treats.

Saint Chappelle, before the end of the world rain began

Saint Chappelle, before the end of the world rain began

Paris, even in the rain and grey still had mystery for me. We visited the Arc de Triomph, The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Saint Chappelle and the Champs Elysees, but didn’t get time to see Montmartre, the Sacre Couer or any of the Bastille.

The Money Shot

The Money Shot

Eiffel Tower | Paris | France

Eiffel Tower | Paris | France

But next time, as in the words of Howard Koch, “We’ll always have Paris”.

Crazy stairwell in our hotel

Crazy stairwell in our hotel

Have you been to Paris? What was your favourite part?

Coveting Candles

12 Aug

It’s that time of year again, when everyone I have ever met has a birthday. It’s a time where I bake a lot of cakes (I feel sad for anyone who didn’t have a Mum like mine, who crafted beautiful cakes for us and our friends on our birthdays, and try to pay it forward) and have to think of creative present ideas for my loved ones. I’ve never been the sort to give money or buy vouchers – I love getting it right with thoughtful gifts. Although there have been a few wild misses over the years, I’m pretty accurate when it comes to the art of thoughtful gift giving.

That being said, I do find gifts for boys much easier than girls. Bath bubbles and beauty products to me fall into the realms of slightly disingenuous present giving; readily available and lacking thought unless you know someone loves the brand.

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But candles are always the one. People love the pleasure of scented candles; the luxury of the fact that they aren’t items you would necessarily treat yourself to, and the beautiful fragrances that make a house feel like a home. I am a huge fan of the ones sold in Hampton Court gardens – really expensive smelling candles with gorgeous floral scents that transport you to old memories and bring on a sense of nostalgia. These are the types of gifts I want to give; the gifts that people really understand were picked for them.

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Although sometimes, a gift for you is just right. When Culture Vulture Direct got in touch with me to see if I wanted to try out some of their products, I was really taken by the selection that they had on offer. I love products that are designed from travel inspiration (my passport cover is a vintage style one with border control stamps) and immediately fell for this mirrored tray and beautiful Jasmine candle.

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The only thing is, I’m too scared to use it as I don’t want to ruin it!

Have you ever owned anything you were too scared to use, wear or enjoy? And what do you think of the products?

Products were provided by Culture Vulture, but all views (and words) are my own.

Afternoon Tea and Fun for Me Part 1: Bake-A-Boo, West Hampstead

8 Aug

If you think about all the things that are quintessentially British, what comes to mind? The Queen and her corgis, rain, queuing, and afternoon tea. There is something so English about a selection of teas, different pits and china cups, and milk and two sugars. And I love it.

With an American friend on an extended visit and a love of afternoon tea and scones, I decided her visit wouldn’t be complete without a perusal of at least one tea room, so I began some research.

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Photo via Elle, who is much better at taking a photo than me!

I found Bake-A-Boo. Being diabetic, its rare that I find a tea room that offers a diabetic option, so my interest was piqued. They also had the bonus of offering a gluten-free option that still included the finger sandwiches and scones, so this was destined to be the first on the list.

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Dont get me wrong; West Hampstead is a bit of a pain to get to, and to visit the cafe you have to book in advance and pay half the balance by bank transfer as way of deposit, which doesn’t make the experience overly easy, although that didn’t stop us at all!

We arrived, and browsed the list of at least fifteen teas! Elle was in her element, but I stuck for the old faithful, Earl Grey. Never far from a cup of my slightly perfumed favourite. The spreads then arrived; finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and a selection of cupcakes and brownies.

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We weren’t disappointed. The scones were light and the cupcakes delicious, and we had to box up a lot of the food and take it home. The fun was added to by the fact that there was a very civilised hen party going on and they seemed to be having such a lot of fun that it gave me the warm and fuzzies.

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My thoughts? It’s not easy that you have to pay half in advance, and in comparison to other afternoon teas I have had its on the higher price end for what you get, but it was such a lovely experience that I would definitely revisit. Well played, Bake-A-Boo!

Bake-A-Boo | 86 Mill Lane | West Hampstead | London | NW6 1NL

Do you love high tea like me?

Dear Life, Please Slow Down

31 Jul

It’s been one of those weeks scratch that, fortnights. You know the ones, where despite your hardest tries, nothing seems to go right and there aren’t enough hours in the day. The ones where your to do list grows exponentially as you cross items off, where you spill tea down your front the moment you walk into the office and where you accidentally leave a cupboard door open when cooking and thwack your head on it next time you walk past. This actually happened.

Friday night saw me have a minor meltdown, cry, eat lemon curd directly from the jar with a spoon and generally feel sorry for myself, while working most of the weekend and dreading the rise of the sun on Monday morning. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but you have to hate stuff to enjoy it sometimes, right? RIGHT?

So let’s hope this week is better, rather than an additional week of dashing round like a blue arsed fly, accidentally triple booking plans in the evening leading to pissed off friends, and wondering what the hell happened to July, or more’s the point, 2014.

Here’s to a better week, y’all. Oh Christ, its Thursday already!

How has your week been so far?

Aspirationally Green Fingered

29 Jul

I have never been very interested in plants and gardening, preferring to be cooking when im at a loss for something to do and in the house. I went through a phase where I had a little garden a while back and wholeheartedly threw myself into it, but I can’t say I miss it at all.

That was, until recently. I’m not sure whether it has come with age or whether its living in a flat with just the boy for company, so although rented it still feels more like home, but all of a sudden it’s really nice to add a bit of life to the place and personalise it.

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I started with the purchase of 3 little pets; a trio of succulents. I love that they are each different, easy to keep alive and really cute.

Then I branched out to some herbs. My basil plant seems to be coming on leaps and bounds, but the same cannot be said for the chives (or chive, singular, as we were a little over zealous with the watering when we first started and I think drowned the rest) and the parsley that met its sorry demise this morning, after displaying signs of plant rigour mortis.

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But now my interest is piqued. I have fallen in love with this little beauty, a bird house and bird co-habitat, and plenty of other gorgeous little finds. I’m thinking about getting it as a birthday gift for my Mother who is an August baby, as I know it would be right up her street too (I found it here).

Now all I need is a garden to house my burgeoning plant collection and my dreams will have come true; a little cottage somewhere where I can grow (with the help of someone who isn’t a plant murderer) the veg and herbs needed to cook. Perfecto.

Are you able to keep plants alive, or are you a bit “kill them with love” like me?

* This post was brought to you in collaboration with Uncommon Goods, but all opinions, as you have come to expect, are my own!

Sightseeing My City – Cocktail Making at Battersea Power Station

28 Jul

What do you do in London when it’s the weekend and the sun is shining? Get down to Battersea Power Station and take part in an outdoor cocktail making master class, that’s what!

Well, that’s what we did anyway.

Because everyone loves food.

Because everyone loves food.

Battersea Power station is a monolith on the skyline of London; a testament to a different time, and now a protected building, well-known to Londoners. Having been derelict for years, it is now in the process of being turned into a new development of housing, and is set to regenerate the area.

.... has a silver lining

…. has a silver lining

So this summer is the last summer it will be free for Londoners, before the works are finished. Enter the Power of Summer.

Battersea Power Station in all its glory.

Battersea Power Station in all its glory.

The Power of Summer exists to toast a new chapter in the stations history, with a 100 people capacity street market going on all week and at the weekends, boasting stalls like Bob’s Lobster and Randy’s Wing Bar. They offer open air cinema to the masses, with Premier Pods if you fancy a little more luxury, and hug beanbags for those who just want to snuggle down and watch a film in the sun.

Graffiti art at the Street Feast

Graffiti art at the Street Feast

“London finally has a chance to get up close and personal with this iconic building for what will be a truly unique series of events. We’re very excited about bringing the whole Street Feast experience to Battersea Power Station, along with Everyman’s inspired selection of films.” Dom Cools-Lartigue

Bob's Lobster - London renowned

Bob’s Lobster – London renowned

We were invited down to the Indytute Cocktail Making Class which was run by Ping Pong (one of our favourite places for Dim Sum) so we were pleasantly surprised. The sunny day (not as advertised, weatherman!) only made the day better, and soon we were head to head in a mojito making cocktail off.

cocktail champs!

cocktail champs!

let the battle commence!

let the battle commence!

Through the two hour session we learned to make original mojitos, blackberry and Chambord lovelies and hibiscus coolers, all with the original mojito as a base. We giggled along with the other guests and got very competitive, stopping only to sample the wares of (first) Dogtown’s amazing hotdogs, and then later on, after a good few cocktails, a pulled pork bun at Miss P’s BBQ. We spent a lot of time talking to the guy working the stall who told us all about how they smoke the meat for 14 hours and the history behind smoking. It made us starving, and also looking to go try out the smoked turkey they offer in Brixton around Christmas!

Have you ever tried a cocktail making class?

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