2015 Bucket List

A little while ago, I overheard a conversation between two elderly people in the bus. She was coming back from a concert. “When you live in London, it’s so easy not to do things” she said. And you know what? She was right.

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When I was younger, I wanted to live in a city and finally have access to all these things I couldn’t do. Museums, theatre, musicals, stores, restaurants, all of it. But now that I live in London, I realize that I don’t do quite as much of them as I wanted to. Because life gets inbetween and the proximity, the convenience often makes me reconsider doing them now, because I could “just go anytime”.

But that lady on the bus got me thinking, and made me realize that “anytime” almost always meant never. I decided I had to take actions to save me from myself and (after procrastinating a little bit more, Rome wasn’t built in one day!) chose to tackle it the one way I tackle most issues I come across: by writing a list, and ticking things off it.

So here it goes; my 2015 bucket list!

□ See The Lion King (the musical)

□ Go to Duck & Waffle

□ Make cured salmon

□ Organise something for Restaurant Day

□ Read 25 books

□ Go to Barcelona

□ De-clutter my wardrobe

□ See a ballet

□ Start learning Spanish

□ Loose 5kg

□ Post at least twice a week on this blog

 

What are your goals for 2015? Do you have a bucket list? 

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2015 Bucket List

The Diner – Islington

Brunch is probably my favourite meal of all. Which is kind of weird because I used to HATE eggs as a kid. Luckily, I’m back on track (not liking eggs, what a weird idea!), and I’m trying to catch up in terms of egg-eating!

So if you ever wake up next to me on a weekend (you lucky chap!), I can already tell you that the first words that will come out of my mouth will be “I want breakfast”. And by that, I obviously mean eggs in one form or another.

So just imagine how happy I was when I found out that the perfect brunch venue was just a few steps away from my own door! Let me introduce you to The Diner!

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I kind of fell in love with the massive “Diner” sign and am strongly considering building something similar for my own living room. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

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We had to wait a bit for our table, but luckily we found ways to stay entertained… Shooting pool and cocktail day-dreaming, what more could we possibly ask for?

Once we were seated, it only took us a few minutes to decide what we wanted… But that might be related to the fact that we were kind of familiar with the menu, since we had been there the evening before (oops)!!

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He made the best choice with The LumberJack Breakfast. Two fried eggs, crispy bacon, maple syrup and a stack of delicious pancakes! This is dream breakfast material for sure!

sndguerin-the-diner-islington-4Seriously, look at how fluffy these pancakes are! (tip: DO replace the regular pancakes with blueberry ones, and order side hashbrowns (more on that later) for optimal dream breakfast. You can thank me later.)

sndguerin-the-diner-islington-5 I couldn’t find anything I was a 100% happy with in the menu (especially since I swore not to have garlic butter fries two days in a row…), so I kind of built-my-own. I looked a bit sad, and I’m going to be honest, it wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth, but it was okay (especially when mixed with elements from the previous dish…). But there was one clear winner on this plate… Yup, the hashbrowns!

sndguerin-the-diner-islington-9I mean, look at them, they’re so golden and crispy, it’s impossible not to fall for them!! And with eggs+bacon+maple syrup, it’s heaven. I have noother way to describe it.

We had considered getting sides but somehow forgot when we ordered. I have no idea how this happened. Don’t do the same mistake, do get those garlic butter fries (I’m still not quite over them, and I had them a week ago!). Or the Tater Tots. Or bring all your friends and get ’em all, and then some more! Sounds like the best option, doesn’t it? 

When you’re at it, if you could get me that Diner sign, you’d be a total legend! 

The Diner – Islington

Christmas gift guide – for him

I’m all Fah-lala-la-la lately. I bake orange and cranberry cake (recipe coming soon), shop ’til I drop, wrap everything I put my hands on and write gift guides non-stop.

I’ve always found it more complicated to buy presents for guys. I could easily buy my sister a present a day for a year and still have ideas. I always know what will make my mum happy. But when it comes to my dad, brother and boyfriend, it’s a completely different issue! My mind goes empty in a matter of seconds and it takes me ages to find something that would make a good present.

Hopefully you’re better than me, but in case you’re still a bit unsured of what you want to give your male loved ones, here are a few of my favourites…

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1. He’s a bit of a Mike Guyver? This brilliant multi-tool utility case will allow him to have everything he needs at hands no matter where he goes!

2. He’s always in for a party? Aren’t these Cartridge shot cups the cutest? I grew up in a family of hunters, so I can think of far to many people I could give those to, but if you’re after something more conventional, the LSA shot glasses paddle is equally wonderful!

3. He never knows what to wear? I absolutely LOVE this Jack Wills Pheasant TShirt. It’s both basic and quite quirky, and would make any guys’ wardrobe that extra bit special!

4. He loves chocolate? And beer? I can’t wait to try these beer chocolate truffles! It seems like the perfect solution to all my perfect-present searches! Beer truffles for everybody!

5. He already has everything? What about getting him tickets for whatever event he’ll enjoy… Concert, play, football game, the possibilities are almost endless!

Hopefully you’re doing better than me when picking presents for your dad, brother(s), male friends and boyfriend! What will you be giving them?

Christmas gift guide – for him

CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE – For your BFF.

It’s this time of the year again… and I couldn’t be more excited!

I’m crazy about all things Christmas-ey, all the Fahlalalala, the lights, the trees, all of it. Hell, I even LOVE wrapping presents! And I’m also one of those people who actually enjoy buying them. I start in July (no kidding!), make endless idea lists, walk miles and usually shop ‘til I drop.

So I thought I’d write up a few gift guides for all those important people in everyone’s life… Starting today with the BFF!

She’s for sure a very special person, always there when you need her, no matter how busy she is and the distance between you. And she for sure deserves something nice for answering all your bored/crazy/drunk texts!

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1. For the health junkie: a BKR bottle. I got one for myself a few months ago and I don’t think I could ever go back to not having one. It is just so convenient, and they come in a gazilion pretty colours. Just too cute. BKR bottle, $30.

2. If she’s a tea lover: I can not recommend The Blue Bird Company enough. It’s a brilliant small company from Brighton that sells creative (and delicious) loose-leaf teas (including one called Moji-Tea, yup!). But as far as festive presents are concerned, it would be a shame not to go for my favourite from their Christmas collection, the Christmas Cake tea. Not only does it taste EXACTLY like Christmas (cinnamon and cloves), but it has sparkly sugar snowflakes! Christmas Cake Tea, The Blue Bird Tea Co., £5.25

3. If she’s a the foodie: Chocolate truffles are a festive staple. But those are 1. white chocolate 2. Mojito-flavoured. Need I say more? Mojito chocolate truffles, Hotel Chocolat, £3.75

4. If she wishes she was French: Sure, you could get her Ladurée macaroons. But I’d rather go for How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are. It sounds a lot more fun, doesn’t it? How to be Parisian wherever you are, Anne Berest, about £13

5. If she’s a fashionista: I’ve learnt the hard way that when it comes to presents, less is more. Even more so when it comes to “beauty” gifts. My advice? The iconic Rouge Noir from Dior, in a pretty box, and voilà!

Hopefully there will be something for every kind of BFF! What will you be giving yours?

CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE – For your BFF.

My favourite soup and 7 ways to garnish it up

There are very few things that could make me like winter. The perspective of wearing (his) cashmere sweaters is one. Getting to wear my beloved boots is another. But the strongest of them all is finally having the possibility to eat soup for every meal without people looking at me like I’m crazy. Craving soup is the #1 sign that it is winter in my book (I know spring is back when I want to buy nail polish in every pastel colour there is…).

I LOVE soup. Not only is it really healthy (5-a-day in a bowl? YES PLEASE!), but it also keeps you warm and it’s SUPER-EASY to make. Not to mention it’s the perfect excuse to eat snacks as part of a meal… ‘Cause you see, one other thing I love is adding toppings to my soups.

So today I thought I’d share my favourite soup, as well as my ultimate soup garnishes.

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I first made this soup almost by accident. We went to the market on the weekend and got a rather massive Crown Prince Squash, that I was planning to roast. A few days later, the temperatures plummeted, and as it was to be expected, I started craving soup… We didn’t have many other veggies in the fridge, except for a few old carrots, that needed to be eaten rather sooner than later. So I thought I’d just cook them together and see what happened.

And I’m so glad I did. There’s something almost magical about squash in soup; it makes for a thick, smooth texture that I yet haven’t manage to get with any other kind of vegetables. I like Crown Prince Squash above all others because it has a nutty flavour than works really well with the sweetness of the carrot, but also because, unlike every other squash, you don’t have to peel it. Lazy and yummy? Sounds like my kind of food!

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Crown Prince Squash & vegetables soup

Feeds 2-3 people (depending on how much you like your soup!)

Peel 2 small carrots, 2 small potatoes, 1 onion and 250g of squash (you can use other kind of squash of course! For the record, it also works well with butternut).

In a big saucepan, heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add all your vegetables and pan-fry them for about 5 minutes (until the onion start getting golden).

Add water (just enough to cover the vegetables) and 1 stock cube (I like chicken best, but vegetables works too!). Reduce the heat to a small simmer and cook until you can mash the vegetables easily with a spoon (about 20 minutes).

Blend the soup (I use a hand mixer). Taste it and add salt if required.

Pour in bowls and get crazy with your garnishes! Here are a few ideas:

The Ultimate Soup Toppings list

  1. Croque-Monsieur /cheese toastie: not a garnish as such, but it has melted cheese, so I think you’ll forgive me.
  2. Soy roasted cashew nuts: recipes coming soon (but M&S soy-roasted seeds are good too).
  3. Pesto: since you’ll already have to wash your blender, why not DIY? All you have to do is blend basil, pine or cashew nuts, parmesan and olive oil until you get a paste. The additional of a little bit of garlic would make wonders with this soup.
  4. Hazelnuts: I’ve been obsessed with hazelnuts lately. You can just crush a few and sprinkle on your bowls. You can also roast them in a hot pan for a few minutes, and crush them with some cumin and a pinch of salt to get a delicious homemade duqqa. Your call.
  5. Cheese: I’m afraid I don’t like cheese but I believe blue cheeses, like stilton or Roquefort, would work quite well against the relative sweetness of this soup. Or go ahead and make parmesan crisps…
  6. Fried chorizo + onion dice + croutons: YUM!
  7. BACON! Obviously. I am still looking for something that isn’t made better by the addition of bacon.

Do you usually put any garnish on your soups? Let me know which ones you like (I’d hate to be missing out on any of them!)

My favourite soup and 7 ways to garnish it up

Senor Ceviche

Since I first visited the little gem of a restaurant that is Señor Ceviche, I have been victim of this weird thing that is “new restaurant paradox”. You know, that moment when you’re not sure if you want to tell the world about this great little place you’ve just been to, or just keep it all to yourself (and make sure they’ll always have a table for you…).

But Señor Ceviche is hardly a secret anymore since it has received RAVE reviews from… well, pretty much everyone. And I’ve already tried half of their cocktail list, and a significant number of their dishes as well, so I thought it might be time for you to do the same!

sndguerin-senor-ceviche-barranco-babeOut of the many cocktails we got, my favourite was the Barranco Babe. I never had a cocktail with basil before, but this was a revelation. The Pisco Sour and the Mamacita also come highly recommended, and if you’re really into spicy things, the Nazca Heat is definitely worth a shot!

Like many other restaurants, dishes at Señor Ceviche are small plates meant to sharing. Which I love. Mainly because it means you get to try more things. And the more people around the table, the easier the choice, since you can pretty much order the entire menu. And that’s pretty much what we did!

sndguerin-senor-ceviche-yucasWe started things off with a few nibbles. Yucas came with a finger-licking good aji mayo.

sndguerin-senor-ceviche-chicharonnesAnd Chicharonnes. Also know as “slow cooked, crispy pork belly with sweet soysauce”. And yes, they are as good as they sound. Take my word and order them. You’ll regret it if you don’t.

sndguerin-senor-ceviche-mercado-mixtoA good third of Señor Ceviche’s menu is made of ceviche. I tried a few but my favourite was the Mercado Mixto; a perfectly balanced sea bream and salmon tiradito with orange and pisco tiger’s milk (no worry, no tiger was hurt to produce this dish!). The zing from the orange and the freshness from the pisco really made that dish for me!

sndguerin-senor-ceviche-limeno-classicoThe Limeno Classico was pretty as a picture too, but didn’t quite compare to the Mercado Mixto in terms of taste. It was just missing a bit of acidity for my tastes.

sndguerin-senor-ceviche-chimboteThe vegetarian ceviche, the Chimbote was even prettier and I really enjoyed the different textures in this dish, but once again, it wasn’t quite zingy enough for me.

sndguerin-senor-ceviche-chancaca-salmonWe were feeling a bit peckish, so we also ordered another fish dish. The Chancaca Salmon was cooked perfectly and the accompanying fennel salad was crunchy, fresh and really enjoyable.

sndguerin-senor-ceviche-tamarind-bbq-chickenNow, what do you do when you read the words BBQ Chicken. You order it. And then you gobble it down and consider getting a second serving. Obviously.

sndguerin-senor-ceviche-patatas-fritasAlright, that was a lot of protein, which we balanced out with a bowl of Patatas Fritas. Chips with melted cheese and tomato fondue; resistance was futile.

I suppose it is not really surprising that we were not quite hungry enough for dessert after all of these. I’ve been told that the brownie’s pretty nice though, so I’m not saying I won’t be back for cocktails and dessert one of these days… The only question is, will you?

Señor Ceviche: Kingly Court, London W1B 5PW

Senor Ceviche

Making -and sharing- Memories

{Day 8872- Opening the doors of Making Memories}

I’ve always been very into the idea of having a home of my own.

As a teenager, I use to keep a notebook with cut-out pictures of dream interiors and collect disposable flatware because ‘it could come in handy when I moved to my own place’.

It took quite a few more years for me to realise that home didn’t have to be just that.

That building a home was just as much about picking objects to fill your physical space as it is about making memories in said space.

That the travel memories you make half way across the world and the taste of your dad’s signature lemon tart, your favourite breakfast and the little things that make you happy every day are just as big a part of home as, say, your sofa and your coffee table.

So here it is – a digital home for the memories I’m making.

Memories of daily life and extraordinary days, of being home and adventures far, far away, f delicious meals and life changing discoveries – in the hope it helps and inspires you to make your own!

Making -and sharing- Memories