Gone Camping

2015/01/img_7312.jpg
Another weekend, another pop up.
This time it was the turn of The Art of Dining and the Gone Camping restaurant.
I thought I’d show the boy what pop ups are all about. He looked bemused to say the least when we hopped off the train at Cambridge Heath and I led him into some sort of industrial estate towards the Pickle Factory.

2015/01/img_7311.jpg

2015/01/img_7308.jpg

2015/01/img_7313.jpg
We were quite early and there was only one other couple there when we arrived. We accepted our complimentary Orangina cocktails and sat next to them at one of the long benches. It turned out that Ben and Cara were absolute legends! We spent most of the night in stitches listening to their tales of the best ways to combine raving with parenthood- quite easy it turns out!
The set design was very well done; the benches gave the event a real community vibe. The lighting and greenery felt very outdoorsy without being in the bloody freezing cold. I absolutely loved the toilet-cum-campsite wash-up area- every little detail was there.

2015/01/img_7301.jpg

2015/01/img_7302.jpg

2015/01/img_7303-0.jpg
You know those boyfriends who aren’t necessarily fussy, but just haven’t tried many things? Well I’ve got one of those. And being the sort of girl who loves food and will eat ANYTHING, I’m on a mission to expose him to so many different things. He’s drawn the line at seafood though. Thankfully there was no seafood on the menu; our favourite courses were the Thai ‘pot noodle’ and the Moroccan flatbread. I also enjoyed my two hot chocolates (he doesn’t drink hot drinks = face plant).

2015/01/img_73061.jpg

2015/01/img_73221.jpg

2015/01/img_73201.jpg

2015/01/img_73151.jpg

2015/01/img_73241.jpg
The timing of the courses was spot on and the entertainment provided in between by the broken-hearted, Scottish camp leader kept everyone in good cheer. A favourite activity was the campfire singing, although this was marginally beaten by the fact that all guests had been presented with a whistle on entry and blowing them continually throughout the meal provided no end of fun.
I look forward to seeing what this creative pair come up with next.

Christmas

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/dda/59176639/files/2014/12/img_7134-0.jpg
There is nothing like wearing a fantastic headpiece, and sat at the dining table on Christmas Day seemed like the perfect occasion. One’s family tend to find one’s dress sense rather odd, but we are only here to please ourselves.
I find the best presents are usually those purchased by oneself. Or at least selected by oneself then purchased by others. I consider myself very easy to buy for- vintage, kitch, novelty… If it’s unusual I’m bound to love it. Therefore it saddens me to receive a huge volume of gift vouchers each year. I’m by no means ungrateful, darling, one is rather looking forward to spending a substantial amount in John Lewis, yet I feel it rather unjust to have been so thoughtful with their presents.
We had one of those “I’ve bought my own Christmas present, would you like to give me the cash?” situations this year. In fact, I bought several presents on behalf of one family member for another family member. Perhaps my reputation for picking lovely gifts is more trouble than it’s worth.
I digress. I excitedly bought myself a Ciaté Geltox lamp in order to improve the quality and longevity of my manis.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/dda/59176639/files/2014/12/img_7176.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/dda/59176639/files/2014/12/img_7167.jpg
Definitely not as easy as first thought, but I was quite pleased with the results of my first attempt. My intention was to trap as much as I could under the gel, just to see how well it worked, hence a large volume of glitter and caviar. I possibly went a bit heavy on the gel which caused a bit of a lift at the edges. One can only learn from one’s mistakes.
A great idea from Ciaté though- as the owner of many hundreds of nail polishes it seems a madness to invest in gel polishes and limit ones creativity. This system allows one to use ordinary polishes and then simple brush on a gel topcoat and voila!
Definitely more experimentation required, but it will be rather exciting to see what happens.

Another disappointing element of the festive season was the severe lack of time off work. Criminal I might add- a flapper should never go to work. There is a wonderful scene in Downton Abbey where the Dowager asks in all ignorance “what is a weekend?” It would have been a novelty at the time, a new-fangled idea, as prior to the introduction of working standard laws and statutory holiday for the working classes one day would have been much the same as any other.
Anyway, Christmas Day and Boxing Day were my only days of freedom, so preparation for the big event was rather rushed and rather difficult. I would have loved to have made a great effort with everything, but somehow it all just slipped right passed me. I can’t complain too much, by my reckoning I believe I was involved in some degree of socialisation every night for at least a week before the 25th. This left me bereft of sleep and in need of a decent lay in by the time I got to Christmas!

The thing I really missed was being able to do some baking. It is all too easy these days to pop to [insert name of supermarket here] and pick up some mass-produced slab of carbohydrate to stuff in one’s mouth. It’s so wonderful that British and homemade are back on trend; items lovingly made by people who care. As the popularity of websites such as notonthehighstreet grow, so do the unique companies they support.
I happened upon Bad Brownie on Twitter and within minutes had ordered a selection of divine sounding bites.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/dda/59176639/files/2014/12/img_7104.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/dda/59176639/files/2014/12/img_7118.jpg
I intended to give them away as gifts wrapping in cellophane (suggesting they might be homemade…) but I must confess I have eaten a large percentage of these myself.
As a member of a farming family I was really keen to make some sort of game pâté, but failing this I found my new heroes Farmison & Co who delivered fine, fine pork and game terrine. Absolutely gorgeous!

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/dda/59176639/files/2014/12/img_7145.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/dda/59176639/files/2014/12/img_7146.jpg
I did achieve one master feat, if nothing else- I managed to drag myself outside and pluck four pheasants. Game shooting is rather a family tradition, although I don’t involve myself in it personally. It is a historic countryside pursuit and I love that this has survived in modern times. I wouldn’t like to kill an animal myself, but I do eat meat and it surprises me that I’m ok with plucking and gutting! I suppose if I want to eat it it’s only fair I play a part.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/dda/59176639/files/2014/12/img_7182.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/dda/59176639/files/2014/12/img_7181.jpg
Aaaaaand that’s enough waffling for now I think!

Hummingbird Bakery

IMG_6387.JPGIMG_6394.JPG

The Hummingbird Bakery is oft spoken of in my office. A couple of the lads managed to get their hands on some cupcakes on Friday, but were unwilling to share. Quite vexing considering not long ago a box of chocolates from a client, headed in my direction, never quite made it to me… (my colleague blamed the heat!)

On Saturday I was determined to get myself some and took myself along to the (Harry Potter-esque) Frying Pan Alley bakery in Shoreditch.

One of everything, please.

I found myself saying to the lovely girl in the shop. Whoops! £30 worth of cupcakes later…

Obviously I did share mine, generous soul that I am. And of course, they were as wonderful as one would expect them to be.

Flappers & Tea Parties Part 2

IMG_6261.JPG
The other obvious thing to do on a weekend is have a tea party. And funnily enough it coincided with a need for an engagement party.
I’m not going to lie, I’m incredible at tea parties. I believe in doing things properly, so I begrudge buying anything in but this means I have to slave away for hours to get the results.
I also have a real thing for the details so have, for a long time, been collecting crockery and special objects to set the scene.IMG_6262.JPG
Normally I talk my guests through the names of dishes, the ingredients, whether they’re halal slash vegetarian slash suitable for people allergic to pepper. But frankly I couldn’t be bothered this time, so I made labels.
I also got fed up with doing the usual cucumber, egg, smoked salmon and ham sandwiches so thought I’d mix it up a bit.

IMG_6263.JPG

IMG_6264.JPG
I looked to Pinterest for tea party inspiration and came up with some right crackers-

Another caramelised banana and rum sandwich, Vicar?

Alright, there wasn’t a vicar present but you get the idea.

The menu:

Champagne with mango juice ice cubes and edible glitter
Chorizo & apple sausage rolls
Vegetable pizza
Sliders
Chicken & mayo rolls
Egg mayonnaise & smoked salmon on French bread
Chocolate spread & sprinkles sandwiches
Caramelised banana and rum sandwiches
Tyrell’s Swanky Vegetable Crisps
Scones
Butterfly cakes
Layered chocolate cake
Cake pops
Cucumber with pesto cream cheese
Sticky date flapjack

Needless to say we had a fabulous time.

IMG_6174.JPG
Glitter sprinkled mango ice cubes

IMG_6238.JPG
Chorizo & apple sausage rolls

IMG_6265.JPG
ham & cheese swirls

IMG_6266.JPG
chocolate sprinkle sandwiches with heart cutout

Who Needs Men?

I’ve hopped on the girl dates in a big way recently. From gigs, to dinners, to holidays, I’ve realised that lovely things don’t need to be wasted on boys.

Back in July I indulged in a Midsummer Night’s Feast at The Churchill- a Shakespearean feast of deliciousness accompanied by a small amount of acting and poetry.

A difficult decision but I went for:
Homemade rosemary infused mead
Lamb stew served in a granary loaf
Beef wellington, the most gorgeous garlic mash & seasonal vegetable
Honey cake with sticky honeycomb and figs

As we ate, three actors periodically maneuvered between the tables, reciting scenes from the play.
I don’t know about anyone else but I wasn’t keen on Shakespeare at school because I didn’t understand it. It was so apparent to me, even then, that seeing a performance allows it to sink in so much better… such a shame that it’s not until later in life that one gets to experience it in this way.

We were presented with a board and some magnetic words during our meal and were encouraged to ‘form’ a sonnet from what we had. Pretty difficult to get it to make sense, but sure.

IMG_5164.JPG

IMG_5159.JPG

IMG_5162.JPG

IMG_5161.JPG

Not my usual style but I’d heard a lot of good things about Ping Pong, the dim sum chain. We paid a little visit to the St Katharine’s Dock restaurant and had a lovely time.
Chinese is not for me generally, I don’t know what it is about it, so dim sum came as a bit of a surprise.
I’m still dreaming about the steamed buns mmmmmm….

IMG_5664.JPG
Over the August Bank Holiday I got together with some of the girls for a Fitnic (a fit picnic.) Why so called? Because we were insistent that everything was a bit fancy, homemade and essentially not a shitnic.
I pulled out my favourite copies of Good Food, rubbed my hands together and got to work.

The Menu:
Chorizo & apple sausage rolls
Quails eggs, to be dipped in mustard mayonnaise and cruchy fried onions
Ripe brie & crusty french bread
Potato salad with bacon and spring onion
Honey drenched figs
Bacon and leek tarts
Halloumi fingers
Charcuterie
Olives, sundried tomatoes
Variety of cakes from Patisserie Valerie
Raspberry bellinis
Limonato

IMG_5667.JPG

IMG_5671.JPG

IMG_5675.JPG