Mini Chocolate Lava Cake

I’m having the Valentine’s blues.

No more brilliant excuse to buy all the cheesy cards, or have chocolate dessert at the end of every meal. Which is a shame, really, ’cause those are some of my very favourite things.

But you know what, I might just keep living as if #EveryDaysValentinesDay.

Surely, all those 50% off stickers are a sign that I should stock up on all the cards and heart-shaped everything. And as for chocolate, I never really need an excuse (and even if I did, chocolate actually makes you happy, right? So #JustWhatTheDoctorOrdered)…

Plus I have found the best ever recipe for mini chocolate lava cakes.

Mini chocolate lava cake | Cake + Whisky

Mini chocolate lava cake | Cake + Whisky

AKA the easiest, most irresistible and adorable chocolate puddings ever.

Mini chocolate lava cake | Cake + Whisky

Just look at that melted chocolate centre! #Thingsdreamsaremadeof

Mini chocolate lava cake | Cake + Whisky

Now tell me you’re not even a little bit tempted to join the #EveryDaysValentinesDay team…

 

Mini chocolate lava cake (serves 2)

Ingredients: 50g chocolate + 4 squares, 1 big egg, 40g sugar, 25g butter (+ some for the ramequins), 2 teaspoons flour (+ a bit for the ramequins)

1. Pre-heat your oven to 250°C

2. Melt your chocolate and butter (either using a bain marie or in the microwave)

3. Add in the egg, sugar and flour and give it a good mix

4. Pour 1/3 of the batter in two (buttered and floured) ramequins, pop 2 extra squares of chocolate in each pot and top with the rest of the batter

5. Bake for 9-12 min and serve immediately (preferably with a nice scoop of ice cream and some caramel sauce on top…)

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Mini Chocolate Lava Cake

The Smokehouse, Islington

I must admit that when it comes to eating out, I’m a pretty lucky girl.

I live in the most exciting city in the world in terms of food, in one of the best neighbourhood as far as small, independent restaurants are concerned, and with the best restaurant buddy I could have hoped for. (#blessed, exactly)

I am more than willing to admit than London in general and Islington in particular have spoiled me, and possibly have ruined me for any other restaurant out there.

But then when there’s a gem like The Smokehouse less than 5 min. away from mine, can you really blame me?

The Smokehouse, Islington | Cake + Whisky

The Smokehouse opened its doors in August 2013 to much critical acclaim. Evening Standard’s Fay Maschler and Grace Dent, Guardian’s Marina O’Loughtin… They all love it.

The Smokehouse, Islington | Cake + Whisky

And with good reason. The Smokehouse is an absolute neighbourhood gem.

The Smokehouse, Islington | Cake + Whisky

Complete with wooden tables, blue-and-white old-fashioned tea towels for napkins and just the right dose of blackboards and hunting trophies.

The Smokehouse, Islington | Cake + Whisky

Rustic-chic at its very best.

The Smokehouse, Islington | Cake + Whisky

You can either book ahead, or grab a seat (and a few nibbles) at the bar while you wait for a table.

The Smokehouse, Islington | Cake + Whisky

And if they happen to serve Bloody Marys on the day you visit, make sure you get one of those as well.

They come with a bit of a twist (pickle juice on my last visit, chicken roast distillate another time we went…) and are the best I’ve ever tried.

The Smokehouse, Islington | Cake + Whisky

The menu is of the short variety.

Which is just as well as we can never decide and usually settle for one of each.

The Smokehouse, Islington | Cake + Whisky

The Lamb neck tacos, chipotle aioli and green sauce are soft, juicy and incredibly more-ish.

Little nibbles of perfection.

The Smokehouse, Islington | Cake + Whisky

Promise me you’ll get them? (then we can spend hours raving about how good they are on Twitter?)

The Smokehouse, Islington | Cake + Whisky

The Chopped brisket roll, served alongside some gochujang mayo is equally splendid.

The Smokehouse, Islington | Cake + Whisky

A giant, golten croquette…

The Smokehouse, Islington | Cake + Whisky

Hidden the softest, moistest meat in its centre.

A meat lover’s dream come true.

The Smokehouse, Islington | Cake + Whisky

Plates after plates of delicious, smokey creations filled the table.

The Smokehouse, Islington | Cake + Whisky

Prawn toast, smoked bone marrow, kimchi onions is a rich and unexpected combination, lifted by the perfectly balanced, sweet and sour kimchi.

The Smokehouse, Islington | Cake + Whisky

But the dish I could have time and time again? This little brunch number.

The Smokehouse, Islington | Cake + Whisky

Pulled pork & smoked nduja hash, fried egg & BBQ sauce.

Smoky and spicy and meaty all at once: the absolute brunch dream dish.

The Smokehouse, Islington | Cake + Whisky

And with some serious #yolkporn thrown in on top.

The Smokehouse, Islington | Cake + Whisky

Even better with a bowl full of caramel roast potatoes on the side.

And yes, in case you are wondering, it IS salted caramel coated potato roasties. #gamechanger

The Smokehouse, Islington | Cake + Whisky

Sticky toffee pudding is my favourite traditional British dessert.

Even better if it comes with some bourbon caramel & milk ice cream.

The Smokehouse, Islington | Cake + Whisky

Traditional dishes with just a little bit of a modern twist and a touch of multicultural spice here and there, in a cosy, family-friendly atmosphere, what more could I possibly ask for?

The fact that the Smokehouse is right next door is just added bonus for me, but if I were to move away, I’m pretty sure those tacos alone would bring me back to Islington every other weekend.

Smokehouse, 63-69 Canonbury Rd, London N1 2DG  Smokehouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Smokehouse, Islington

The Providores’ Tapa Room

Fusion food is a brilliant idea in theory.

Taking the best bits of any cuisine you like and combining it with other influences… Kind of the foodie version of ‘best of both worlds’.

In practice though, it’s often quite disappointing, as chefs need to have excellent knowledge of all the cuisines they re-invent to be able to develop a successful fusion menu.

Knowledge that the chefs at The Providores and Tapa Room in Marylebone have definitely mastered.

Tapa Room at The Providores | Cake + Whisky

Nestled in the heart of the lovely bit of London that is Marylebone High Street, The Providores and Tapa Room is a two-in-one restaurant.

Upstairs is The Providores, a contemporary dining room, offering an upscale dining experience, while the ground floor is taken by The Tapa Room, an all-day restaurant, café and wine bar.

Tapa Room at The Providores | Cake + Whisky

Tapa Room at The Providores | Cake + Whisky

Tapa, not tapas? you’re thinking (I know you so well!)

Yes, since the Tapa Room takes its name from the huge, traditional Rarotongan Tapa cloth that hangs on the wall.

Tapa Room at The Providores | Cake + Whisky

A truly stunning piece of art that well deserve the attention it’s getting!

Tapa Room at The Providores | Cake + Whisky

Tapa Room at The Providores | Cake + Whisky

But despite its beauty, it didn’t quite manage to take my attention away from the menus…

Not that choosing was an easy process. I wanted to try everything.

Cocktails did help to make the heartache of having to wave some dishes goodbye a little bit easier though…

Tapa Room at The Providores | Cake + Whisky

The Marmalady (Sipsmith gin, Cointreau, Grand Marnier shaken with marmalade)

Tapa Room at The Providores | Cake + Whisky

The Vanilla Sour (Cariel vanilla vodka, Limoncello, lemon juice topped with Fever Tree ginger ale)

Tapa Room at The Providores | Cake + Whisky

Very much like an alcoholic root beer float and absolutely delightful!

Despite us wanting to make our way through most of the menu, 5 dishes is the amount waiting staff recommends you order to share between two people, so that’s what we did.

Tapa Room at The Providores | Cake + Whisky

Starting with beautiful grilled scallops with sweet chilli sauce and crème fraîche.

Tapa Room at The Providores | Cake + Whisky

A classic with a twist, where the moreish chilli sauce complemented the sweet, plump scallops perfectly.

Tapa Room at The Providores | Cake + Whisky

The salt cod, hijiki and lemongrass fritters with cucumber, lime and dill relish were an absolute triumph.

Tapa Room at The Providores | Cake + Whisky

Rich with salty fish and encased in the lightest, crispest of all batter the fritters were unlike any other I’d ever tried and the slightly sweet, Japanese-style relish cut through the richness of it all brilliantly.

Tapa Room at The Providores | Cake + Whisky

The Cornish lamb shoulder spring rolls are another crowd-pleaser.

Tapa Room at The Providores | Cake + Whisky

Crisp on the outside and filled with aromatic pulled lamb, potatoes, and peas, they’re had something of an Indian samosa with a bit of a Middle Eastern influence.

Tapa Room at The Providores | Cake + Whisky

The Beef Pesto is one of The Providores and Tapa Room’s signature dishes and an absolute must order.

Tapa Room at The Providores | Cake + Whisky

I can’t quite pin-point what makes this simple-looking dish of marinated beef fillet, warm chard, courgette and beetroot salad, with pesto and kalamata olives quite so addictive.

What I do know is that it was my favourite dish that night and I’ll be dreaming of it for a long long time (and I don’t even like beetroot!)

Tapa Room at The Providores | Cake + Whisky

The last dish was a nod to Asia with Seared yellowfin tuna, served alongside a cucumber and green tea noodles salad.

Tapa Room at The Providores | Cake + Whisky

A bit Japanese and a little bit Vietnamese too thanks to the punchy lime, spring onion and mint dressing, this could very well become my new favourite summer salad…

Tapa Room at The Providores | Cake + Whisky

We ended the meal on a sweet note with Black sesame sponge and matcha custard.

Tapa Room at The Providores | Cake + Whisky

A very traditional combination brought alive by the sourness of (a very generous dollop of) crème fraîche and the crunch and nuttiness of a paper-thin sesame tuile.

Tapa Room at The Providores | Cake + Whisky

Last but not least was a plate of Treacle cured bacon ice cream, with olive meringues, and banana salted caramel.

Tapa Room at The Providores | Cake + Whisky

Creamy, deeply savoury with just a little touch of sweetness, it made for a very enjoyable dish full of contrasts and was the perfect ending to a delightful meal.

The creative, well-balances dishes, the lovely, helpful and relaxed staff and the excellent cocktails, I loved it all.

The Providores’ Tapa Room is definitely one of the best places in town to take your tastebuds on a trip at only a fraction of the price of a round-the-world plane ticket.

Tapa Room at The Providores, 109 Marylebone High St, London W1U 4RX  The Providores and Tapa Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Providores’ Tapa Room

10 things to do in London with your brother

Big news! After YEARS of me begging and threatning (and sending approximately 1,500,000 burger pictures through Facebook), my brother is FINALLY coming to visit!

But pretty much like for finding him the perfect Christmas present, coming up with ideas of things to do in London with your brother can quickly become your worse nightmare.

Lucky for you, I did all the research so you don’t have to.

So here it is: 10 of the best things to do in London with your brother!

1. Walk alongside the Thames, from Westminster to Tower Bridge.

10 things to do in London with your brother | Cake + Whisky

London Big Ben November 2015

The nicest and most time-efficient way to cover many of the sights first-time visitors to London will want to see.

10 things to do in London with your brother | Cake + Whisky

10 things to do in London with your brother | Cake + Whisky

10 things to do in London with your brother | Cake + Whisky

Including Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tate Modern, the Monument, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.

10 things to do in London with your brother | Cake + Whisky

10 things to do in London with your brother | Cake + Whisky

10 things to do in London with your brother | Cake + Whisky

You might also have to make a pitstop at the Borough Market to refill your batteries (because it just so happens to be on your way, and you’ll need energy to walk, and also because bread and hog roast and chorizo and pie and cheese and litterally all that is good in the world).

2. Visit a football stadium / see a game.

Is your brother a major sport fan? London is home to many a football stadium, many of which offer tours (and the same goes for many other sports venues, if footy isn’t really your thing).

10 things to do in London with your brother | Cake + Whisky

Check in advance if you want to book tickets for a game as those are quite tricky to get last minute (or get to one of your team’s official pubs early and cheer for your favourite team with breakfast and a pint on the side!)

3. Visit the London Transport Museum.

One of the most interactive museums there is, which means a whole lot of fun for car/train/bus (and London) lovers of all ages. Just remember to mind the gap between the line and the platform while boarding the exhibits!

4. Tour the parks.

If your brother’s anything like mine, he’s much more of an outdoors-y kind of person and full days of back-to-back museum visits simply won’t do the trick.

10 things to do in London with your brother | Cake + Whisky

Luckily, London is also the greenest city in Europe and there are so many beautiful parks to explore.

10 things to do in London with your brother | Cake + Whisky

10 things to do in London with your brother | Cake + Whisky

From the most central ones (Hyde Park, Green Park) to the most off-centred ones (Richmond Park, Kew Gardens), the most wildlife-friendly (St James Park and its pelicans, Richmond Park and its deers) to the buzziest ones, there’s a park for everything and everyone!

5. Tour London’s best burger restaurants.

Any Londoner’s greatest quest is to find the Saint Grail aka the city’s best burger.

Bleecker Burger, Spitafields | Cake + Whisky

There are so many, it’s pretty much an impossible task, but I’ll be damned if I don’t try to do it anyway! (and I’ll use pretty much any excuse to eat burgers…)

Lucky Chip at The Old Queen's Head | Cake + Whisky

Bleecker Burger, Spitafields | Cake + Whisky

Luckily, my brother (just like most guys I know TBH) is as much of a burger enthusiast as I am, so burger crawl it is!

(PS. Lucky Chip & Bleecker St. are my favourite sofar…)

6. Have a Gent’s afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea used to be a rather girly affair, but not anymore.

With more and more restaurants and hotels (Sanctum Soho, Reform bar & Grill, OXO, The Athenaeum, Chapters to name just a few) offering testosterone- (and burger-) filled afternoon tea, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t treat everyone you love to a bit of food and tea (and possibly cigars), regardless of their gender.

7. ALL THE BOOZE.

If your brother -finally- visiting is not a good excuse to go all out on the drinks, I don’t know what is.

Shotgun BBQ review | Cake + Whisky

Il Porco by House of Peroni and Bunga Bunga 8

Bar8 at Gastrovino | Cake + Whisky

Bar8 at Gastrovino | Cake + Whisky

Choose your format (pub crawl? brewery tour? whisky bar? speakeasy?), pick your poison and have fun! (just make sure you have a plan to get home safely beforehands okay?)

 

8. Be grossed out at The Huntarian Museum.

Remember those times when you were telling each other horror stories (and subsequently preventing the two of you from ever managing to sleep because eww, ghosts and monsters and what if there’s one under the bed?).

Well, the Huntarian Museum is the grown-up version of this. With the oldest collections of anatomical, pathological and zoological specimens in the UK, including include the skeleton of the 7ft 7in tall ‘Irish giant’, it’s just the right balance between fascinating and freakish!

9. Run from zombies.

A must-do for any ‘Walking Dead’ fan (and let’s be honest, who isn’t?), this immersive game will get your mind racing and adrenaline flowing! Trapped in a room with a zombie, you have 60 minutes to escape the room through a series of clues and puzzles… will you escape in time? Or will you be eaten?

10. Build the coolest Lego robots.

Revive your most cherished chilhood memories at Drink, Shop and Do’s creative evenings of Lego robots building! Entry is free when you buy a drink (very good start to any evening if you ask me!) and then it’s all about chanelling your inner child and getting the creativity flowing!

10 things to do in London with your brother

Lima London

Peruvian food has been booming in London over the past couple of years, bringing vibrant flavours and creative dishes to the world’s top restaurant scene.

And at the head of that Andean revolution was Lima, a small smart-but-not-stuffy Fitzrovia restaurant, whose excellent work has since been rewarded with a Michelin star.

Lima London | Cake + Whisky

The restaurant itself, with its scandi-meets-South-America design and its very casual vibe is an absolute gem.

Lima London | Cake + Whisky

Lima London | Cake + Whisky

Lima London | Cake + Whisky

Industrial lamps, comfy olive green seats, beautiful pink orchids, wall-long art pieces and a stunning glass ceiling… Lima is basically a Pinterest-worthy masterpiece.

Lima London | Cake + Whisky

Lima London | Cake + Whisky

But then so are the cocktails (the proof is in the blogger! ?)…

Lima London | Cake + Whisky

Cuento del Diablo (Aji Chilli Infused Pisco. Triple Sec. Strawberry. Lime. Grenadine). A devil-ishly good little number!

Lima London | Cake + Whisky

The Maracuya and Rosa chilicanos.

All in all the perfect fuel for a much needed catch -up!

Lima London | Cake + Whisky

Together with this beautiful butterfish pre-appetizer.

Lima London | Cake + Whisky

So pretty we almost didn’t eat it (much like the rest of the menu to be honest)!

Lima London | Cake + Whisky

I’m never going to say no to free bread (hellooooo, I’m French, carbs are basically in my DNA!), and the chilli and mustard seed selection was just as colourful and flavourful as I’d hoped it would be.

Lima London | Cake + Whisky

The Seabass ceviche is a classic of Peruvian cuisine and an absolute must-order at Lima.

Lima London | Cake + Whisky

Delicate chunks of sea bass, with avocado, vibrant yellow tiger’s milk and crunchy cancha corn.

Lima London | Cake + Whisky

Stunning scallop causa (with yellow potato, achiote and aji limo).

Lima London | Cake + Whisky

And the most beautiful of them all: Artichoke Amazonia (red potato, avocado, passion fruit, achiote and pea shoots).

Lima London | Cake + Whisky

So pretty in fact that we weren’t sure whether to eat it or hang it on the walls (good things Binny was stronger than me on that one!)

Lima London | Cake + Whisky

One of my favourite was this simple, yet elegant dish of braised octopus.

Lima London | Cake + Whisky

Served with purple corn crisps and droplets of excellent olive oil.

Lima London | Cake + Whisky

Brought together by a few dollops of a really punchy, olive-based purple dressing.

Lima London | Cake + Whisky

Creative and comforting all at once, it’s one of Lima’s signature dishes and once I really recommend you try.

Lima London | Cake + Whisky

Duck magret cocona.

Lima London | Cake + Whisky

Served perfectly pink with roasted plums and soft, moist, more-ish corn cake.

Lima London | Cake + Whisky

Wafer thin Asparagus Peru (with tree tomato emulsion, sweet potato and heritage tomato).

Lima London | Cake + Whisky

And a some more of than Cusco corn cake. But I’m sure if I tell you this thing is pretty much like corn French toast, you’ll understand.

The good thing about Lima’s plates being rather on the lighter side is that we still had plenty of room for dessert!

Lima London | Cake + Whisky

Starting with the Chirimoya (custard apple) parfait (with chocolate crumb and blue potato crisps, plus some hidden dulche de leche caramel).

Lima London | Cake + Whisky

Following with Alfajores, and yet more dulche de leche (both in the form of ice cream and caramel cream).

Lima London | Cake + Whisky

Last but not least was the Avocado mousse, encased in a life-like chocolate casing.

Mind-bendingly good and the best proof of what a truly brilliant restaurant Lima is.

Its detractors might criticize the rather high price and small quantities. And I won’t say it’s not an expensive place. It is. But unlike many other places around the same price-point, the food you get for your money is delicious, but also healthy, creative and vibrant. Which I’m more than willing to pay the price for.

Lima, 31 Rathbone Pl, London W1T 1JH  Lima Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lima London

Chinese New Year at Ping Pong

Chinese New Year celebrations in London, which hosts the biggest party outside of Asia, are always loud and colourful and usually come with delicious food, decorations, dragons and dancing.

So when an email from Ping Pong popped into my mailbox, inviting me over for an evening of dim sums, cocktails and general mischief to celebrate the beginning of the year of the monkey, I knew I was in for a treat.

Chinese New Year at Ping Pong Southbank | Cake + Whisky

Chinese New Year at Ping Pong Southbank | Cake + Whisky

Tucked right behind the Royal Festival Hall, Ping Pong’s Southbank venue is an absolute beauty of a restaurant!

Chinese New Year at Ping Pong Southbank | Cake + Whisky

Complete with olive booths, dark wood tables, statement lamps and enough cocktails to make any party an immediate success!

Chinese New Year at Ping Pong Southbank | Cake + Whisky

One of the Chinese New Year specials, the Dizzy Monkey (Monkey shoulder whiskey, Hedonist cognac, lemon juice, vanilla syrup and daisy flower rim)

Chinese New Year at Ping Pong Southbank | Cake + Whisky

Lychee and Roses martini (beefeater gin, rose petals, fresh lemon juice and lychee juice) and Ping Pong (martini bianco, white wine and lychee juice)

Chinese New Year at Ping Pong Southbank | Cake + Whisky

Last but not least, my favourite of them all: the 47 Drunken Monkeys.

Chinese New Year at Ping Pong Southbank | Cake + Whisky

A refreshing twist on the classic G&T with monkey 47 gin, pedrino tonic, pedro ximenes and citrus, lavender, poppy seeds and pink grapefruit.

Chinese New Year at Ping Pong Southbank | Cake + Whisky

Isn’t it a beauty?

Chinese New Year at Ping Pong Southbank | Cake + Whisky

Chinese New Year at Ping Pong Southbank | Cake + Whisky

Chinese New Year at Ping Pong Southbank | Cake + Whisky

Add to that some brilliant entertainment (in the form of DJ music, belly dancers and fortune tellers) and you’re onto a winner of a party!

Chinese New Year at Ping Pong Southbank | Cake + Whisky

But it wouldn’t be a Ping Pong party without the dim sums, and it was lovely to be able to learn how to fold them with some of the restaurant’s chefs.

Chinese New Year at Ping Pong Southbank | Cake + Whisky

It looks so simple when expert hands are at work, but I can tell you it’s not quite as easy as it seems (and I’ll need another 25 lessons before I start to get the hang of it!)

Luckily, I wasn’t in charge of catering and instead of my misformed dumplings, we were treated to a taste of Ping Pong’s best dishes.

Chinese New Year at Ping Pong Southbank | Cake + Whisky

Chinese New Year at Ping Pong Southbank | Cake + Whisky

Including the incredibly golden 4 mushroom puffs

Chinese New Year at Ping Pong Southbank | Cake + Whisky

Beautifully crispy prawn toasts

Chinese New Year at Ping Pong Southbank | Cake + Whisky

And best of all, the Firecracker Chicken Rolls.

A spicy Chinese New Year special that’s sure to please the mighty Fire Monkey himself!

Chinese New Year at Ping Pong Southbank | Cake + Whisky

And some excellent cinnamon ice cream to top it all.

Chinese New Year at Ping Pong Southbank | Cake + Whisky

And a little wish never hurts…

Playful, fun, full of life and free from inhibitions, the Chinese New Year celebrations at Ping Pong were the perfect introduction to the year of the monkey.

I hope yours started as brilliantly as mine. If not, you know where to go!

Ping Pong, Festival Terrace, South Bank Centre, London SE1 8XX  Ping Pong Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chinese New Year at Ping Pong

Salted caramel spread

Remember my little Salted Caramel Spread breakdown? Well, let’s say Pancake Day didn’t make it any better.

I browsed the web, and the stores in search of one of those magic little jars, but nothing.

The obsession reached its pick yesterday (everybody knows calories don’t count on Pancake day!), so I just gave up and whipped up my own version of that sweet, sweet (and a little bit salty) spread.

Salted caramel spread | Cake + Whisky

Sweet and salty and creamy all at once.

Salted caramel spread | Cake + Whisky

So good I -almost- ditched the pancakes for a spoon (almost, because #pancakeday)

And the good news is, it’s super easy and as good, if not better as the store-bought version!

Salted caramel spread | Cake + Whisky

Salted caramel spread

Ingredients: 300g granulated sugar, a little bit of water (about 2-3 tbsp), 50g butter, 3 tbsp crème fraiche, couple pinches sea salt flakes

1. In a saucepan, combine the sugar and the water and cook at high heat until it reaches full caramelisation.

2. Take off the heat and add in the butter. Mix until thoroughly combined.

3. Add in the cream and the sea salt flakes and mix until perfectly combined.

4. If you want a thicker texture, add in a bit more butter (the whole thing will thicken slightly as it cools down).

What do you like to put on your pancakes? 

Salted caramel spread