when mac met cheese

30 June 2014

Let me just warn you now, if you like the look of this place you need to get there ASAP - the pop up's last day is this Friday 4th!

The pop up in question is When Mac Met Cheese, a place I think I discovered on twitter. I knew from months ago that they had set up a temporary home in Bayswater and had been meaning to go ever since, but it was only last weekend that we finally made it there.

They have a short and sweet menu, from which we chose the Mum's Classic and the Cheesy Green Afro. The weekly special sounded slightly strange (it was barbecue sauce flavoured?) so we skipped that, but they change it up every week (they had a lobster one the other week which we missed out on!).

We did also have a cheeky lychee martini, because lychee martinis have magical happiness-inducing ingredients. I'm sure of it.

They come in take away boxes (handy if you have leftovers, which we definitely did not), and as for the taste? It's down to earth, classic, and pure comfort food. What won me over was the pasta - it wasn't overcooked and mushy to the point of being baby food (often can happen with mac & cheese), and everything taste fresh and very much "just made". My favourite was the broccoli and stilton one - the cheese wasn't too strong and the broccoli wasn't overcooked which was a bonus (I have a thing about overcooked food, can you tell?).

Although we weren't entirely sold on the idea of the fried oreos, we had to give them a try just for the novelty factor!


They were... interesting. Actually, they were very simple - oreos, fried! It was an experience but I think I prefer them in its original form.

Overall, it's a great concept for a pop up and I'm sure if they find a permanent home in London, it would be a popular spot for a relaxed weekend lunch or a quick stop on the way home from work with a friend or two. Until then, they only have a few days left so scoot yourself over there quick!

sponsored video & my favourite ladies

27 June 2014

I've always been a girly girl - not in that I liked frilly things and pink and all that gender stereotyping nonsense (although I did like all those things), but in that my closest friends have always been female and growing up with a sister, I was basically surrounded by oestrogen.

I'm no stranger to the difficulties that can arise in female friendships and I know that others often find it easier to be in male company, but I have always been a bit terrified of boys and it was around girls that I felt most like myself.

When I first watched the video of the NIVEA Masterbrand campaign, knowing that it was created to represent the strength in women and encouraging and supporting the #BRINGITON spirit of welcoming adventures together, it reminded me of all the fun memories I have with my best friends. I'm so lucky and grateful to have people in my life who have stuck around over humps and bumps, picking me up when I'm down and celebrating with me when I'm happy. Even though relationships of any kind are complicated, I think that at the core, it's one simple message - be there for each other.

I'm feeling especially thankful for my 4 beautiful bridesmaids - this time last year they were preparing my hen party and getting ready to be the most stunning and supportive bridesmaids ever (I'm serious, I constantly need to defend myself because it seems like I chose my best friends for their good looks!). And I'm excited for the fun that this summer will bring for all of us!

Who are your favourite ladies?

Disclaimer: this post was sponsored by the NIVEA Masterbrand campaign. All opinions are my own.

st james's park

25 June 2014

After our time was cut short at The Rum Kitchen, we weren't ready for the evening to be over, so we opted to make the most of the warm weather and went for a walk in St. James's Park. I had shamefully never been there before, so I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful it was!

The three of us had a lovely time wandering around at that perfect time when the sun is setting and lighting everything up in a dreamy haze, we spent most of the time in fits of laughter and talking about things you end up talking about when you've been friends for 12 years. Real friendship never gets old!

the rum kitchen

23 June 2014

For a wednesday evening date with the girls, we headed to The Rum Kitchen for some happy hour drinks and a catch up chat.

Cocktails can set you back a lot of money in London (and I typically don't love sweet drinks anyway, so prefer not to splurge on them very often), so 5 pounds per cocktail is a deal we could get on board with. Especially as the selection was pretty good - my favourite was the refreshing daiquiri that tasted more like a margarita, and the apple vanilla one that my friends was quite delicious.

As we were in the Kingly Court on Carnaby Street branch, we were tempted by the idea of moving ourselves down to Shoryu for ramen (friends who love ramen together stay together), but since we had stocked up on drinks, we decided to stay for food.

I had fried chicken thighs, S had a fried chicken burger and E had a rainbow salad with grilled chicken - lotsa chicken. We also shared some sweet potato fries. They have a caribbean themed menu, and while the idea was nice and sounded flavourful, I thought the food was pretty average. Not bad by any means - I enjoyed my meal - but it wasn't anything to write home (= rave on the blog) about. 

I always find that I'm less fussed about the food I'm eating when I'm too busy chatting away with my friends anyway!

The negative thing about this place was that we were literally shooed off our table once our 2 hour slot was over. 2 hours allocation for drinks and dinner isn't very long in my opinion, so I wouldn't recommend going there for a long, relaxing supper... but it's located in the lovely little Kingly Court and I wouldn't hesitate to go there for happy hour drinks again.

Do you have any recommendations for good happy hour places in London that we could try out next time?

bruschetta pasta

21 June 2014

This is probably the simplest and easiest pasta you'll ever make. But you know that I don't like to sacrifice taste for anything or anyone, so trust me when I say that this will not let you down - it's the perfect thing to make a big bowl of in the summer, as a side dish or as a main with some nibbles on the side.

I got this recipe from my mum who makes it all the time, but I don't actually know where she originally found it. It doesn't really matter, since it can barely be called a recipe - it's that simple.

500g dried pasta (or however much you want to make, just divide the other ingredients by 5)
5 ripe vine tomatoes
a couple of bunches of fresh basil
5 large cloves of garlic (or more if you're brave!)
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

To make:
1. Dice the tomatoes, chop the basil (careful not to bruise), crush garlic.
2. If possible, season & marinate all of that in the olive oil for a while. Not essential though.
3. Cook the pasta according to instructions (we usually have shell shaped pasta, but any will do)
4. Mix it all up, season to taste, serve!

We had our friend C over (semi-watching the England vs Uruguay match that decided their fate... sad times), so I wanted to add a little something to the meal and made those prosciutto wrapped asparagus I talked about the other day. It was such an easy dinner to put together so I would recommend it.

You might not want to make this for a first date situation though... the raw garlic is pretty intense. I love garlic so it wouldn't phase me, but you never know with these things!

kerb street food

18 June 2014

It's probably very evident on this blog that I love street food events. It means you get to try a variety of traders that you might not have known about before, there's a buzz to the atmosphere, and it's a great thing to enjoy when the sun is out.

KERB sets up shop in various corners of London, and when I saw that they were camping out at the Southbank for the weekend, I knew it was time to try out one of their events.

Knowing that each stand came with the KERB stamp of approval, it was tricky to decide what to go for - until we knew exactly what we wanted to go for.

First up, a soft shell crab burger from Crabbieshack.

Messy and glorious.

We wandered around a little, trying to see what caught our eye, sipping on a delicious rose & cardamom margarita.

See why it was so hard to decide?

Anyway, we then passed Bill or Beak, which had a bit a queue (as did Crabbieshack - you know that queues = worth it) and looked fantastic. So we joined the line, and enjoyed an artisan Mojito ice lolly in the meantime - I need to try and make this at home!

We chose the Beak, which was a bun with slow braised duck & pork, coriander, Vietnamese dressing and tempura shallots.

This was my favourite out of the lot.

We also snacked on some triple cooked fries that were pretty good - I mean, how can you go wrong with this golden crispiness?

For a little dessert, we went for two scoops of ice cream - Banana & Honeyed Cashew and Sea Salt Caramel from Sorbitium. The banana in particular was lovely.

A Sunday lunch well spent, in my opinion. Make sure to follow KERB on twitter, so you can keep up with where they're setting up next - they clearly know what good food is about. 

I think they are next around in King's Cross this Saturday, maybe you can fuel up there for an evening of World Cup watching (if you're that way inclined - I unashamedly am, even though I only watch football every 4 years)?

wonder & the cuckoo's calling & the sense of an ending

16 June 2014

Wonder by R. J. Palacio
This one has become hugely popular for a reason. It's touching, charming and simple in its message - you'll read this in a day, and fall in love with August. There's not much that I can say about it, just make sure it's in your suitcase (literal or figurative) for your summer holiday reading.

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
As everyone probably already knows by now, Robert Galbraith is actually J. K. Rowling. I was interested to read this to see how it compared to her other non-HP novel, The Casual Vacancy. As with that book, I recognised her writing in the distinctive creation and development of her characters - something I really do love about her, regardless of what she writes - to the point of being a little Dickens-esque. The plot itself (it's a crime novel) wasn't the most convincing in my opinion, and although the ending was satisfying enough it didn't particularly impress me. It was a worthwhile read though, and I will probably give the next book of the series a go when it comes out.

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
I was recommended Julian Barnes in general by one of my best friends and a fellow bookworm, so I decided to try this one out first. It's more of a novella in length, but in the substantiality of the writing and story, it's definitely one that will stay with you and bears a weight that will make you think and reflect. The writing is that rare kind which makes you feel as though you're alone in a room with the narrator, and they're telling this story to you and only you. I can't wait to read more of his works.

I'm already one and a half books into my next batch of three, so I'll probably be back with another book review soon!

Read my previous book reviews here.


14 June 2014

I have really been loving Valerie's Apéro Friday posts. Besides the beautiful and delicious food, I just love that friday vibe of relaxing with a glass of wine and finger food - it feels a bit fancy, but it's so easy and perfect for the warmer evenings.

Obviously, being French, E was all in for Apéro Friday. And so it happened.

For the food, we had grilled asparagus wrapped with prosciutto, toasted baguette with goat's cheese & fig, herb & garlic olives, mini plum tomatoes and a huge chunk of manchego cheese.

This was a minimum-work-required spread, and it would be great to serve to guests because it's so easy but looks quite nice!

To go with our nibbles, we had a lovely bottle of wine from Roberson Wine. This Muscadet was exactly the kind of white wine I like - dry and crisp with a clean aftertaste. E also gave it two thumbs up.

Along with plenty of bread (and seconds of everything, pretty much), it made for a hearty dinner and we thoroughly enjoyed it, while chatting about our days and about our plans for the weekend. 

You should definitely take a leaf out of Valerie's book and try this - we're waiting for our garden furniture to arrive, and once it does (and the weather behaves), I can see us doing this al fresco every chance we get. 

Disclaimer: we were kindly sent the bottle of Muscadet wine from Roberson Wine, to enjoy and share an honest review. all opinions are our own.