Friday, 29 March 2013

Recipe: Green Eggs & Ham From The Huckleberry Cafe & Bakery

While it was a perfectly serviceable meal with some very good points, The Huckleberry Cafe and Bakery in Santa Monica was one of those places that everyone told me I simply had to try in Los Angeles that just failed to really blow me away. It reminded me of a much more crowded, much less exciting version of Joans on Third in West Hollywood. Unlike Joan's though, during the breakfast or lunch rush there is a very good chance you'll order hot food then not be able to sit anywhere; you are not allowed to save a table until after you have queued and ordered. I feel this is an even more stupid situation in quite a small cafe than the fashionable thing in London where you can't book in lots of the newer restaurants; at least that serves a purpose.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Places To Eat In Los Angeles: Gjelina, Abbot Kinney Boulevard

My birthday lunch: testing yet another hyped about restaurant on Venice's fashionable Abbot Kinney Boulevard, discovering yet another new favourite Los Angeles eatery. I'd been saving a trip to Gjelina for a special occasion, and what better than becoming another year older? That is something to celebrate in style until I at least hit thirty, perhaps forty. But that is years off! I'd heard so much about Gjelina's fabulous food and lovely atmosphere  and unlike some other meals I've had over the last few days, it lived up to the hype.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Weekly Love: Week 130

So what is new since last we spoke? Well, I turned 20 yesterday and I am officially no longer a teenager. I'll tell you more about my birthday next week (it involved brunch and the beach with my partner in crime Evie who has returned for part two of our LA adventures over an extended weekend, and a new iPad to blog from, thanks Mummy and Daddy!). Aside from that, I'm now officially on 'Spring Break' so I've been determined to spend as much time at the beach as possible, and eating as much delicious food around Los Angeles as possible, and I hope for this to continue through next week too. During my beach and eating adventures I've been doing a lot of reading too. I've enjoyed two absolutely fantastic restaurant related books that I really must recommend to you all: The Times (and my all time favourite) restaurant critic Giles Coren's book How To Eat Out which made me laugh hysterically and I've reviewed over at Judging Covers, and the crown jewels of all restaurant books Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential. You'll never look at a chef in the same way ever again.
1. Marinated Mozzarella with Fresh Cherry and Vine Tomatoes from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. | 2. One of my favourite flowers, the Bird of Paradise in full bloom in my courtyard. | 3. Testing my mothers theory that I always photograph better with a glass of wine in my hand! | 4. Evie pretended to go to the bathroom over lunch yesterday to tell the waiter it was my birthday, so I got a little candle in my butterscotch pudding! | 5. Fresh Summer lunches. | 6. Clam Linguini at Bottega Louie Downtown.

Just a quick reminder to you all, last week Google announced that it will be shutting down Google Reader on July 1st, so if you use Google Reader or Google Friend Connect to subscribe to Rachel Phipps you will have to move your subscription elsewhere. Here you can read more about your options, here you can follow Rachel Phipps on Bloglovin', and here you can add Rachel Phipps to your Feedly account.
7. The view of the courtyard from my balcony. | 8. A Salted Caramel Scoop from Sprinkles Ice Cream in Beverly Hills. | 9. Given the option I will always order the mussels. | 10. Stone-baked takeaway pizza from 800 Degrees in Westwood. | 11. Mint gelato and television in bed on a Saturday night. | 12. Big, plump and delicious Mexican strawberries.

What have you been enjoying this week, and what do you have planned for the weekend? I've got another week left of Spring Break, so while I do have a dissertation proposal to write for next year I'm going to make sure I spend a lot of time down at the beach and keep on exploring what Los Angeles has to offer!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Goodbye Google Reader: How To Keep Up With Rachel Phipps

So, unless you've been living under a digital rock for the last week you'll know that as of July 1st Google are retiring Google Reader. This means that if you subscribe to Rachel Phipps either directly through Google Reader or via Google Friend Connect (or my beauty blog The Glossy Guide, or any other blog for that matter) you will lose your subscription on that date, which would be a very, very sad thing. This little snippet of news that rocked the internet last week did not bother me as much as some, as I Google Reader was not my reader of choice (I'd never actually used it), but after getting amused by peoples reactions on Twitter (my favourite was this Tweet. It is actually pretty mind blowing Myspace (and not to mention Livejournal!) has lived out Google Reader if you think about it!) I decided this might be the perfect opportunity to review for my readers how best to subscribe to my latest blog posts.
Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 13.07.50

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Restaurant Blogging: What It Is Like To Eat Out With Someone (Me) Pathologically Photographing Your Food

This blog post is inspired by the chapter entitled 'Bloggers' in my favourite restaurant critic Giles Coren's book 'How To Eat Out' that came out earlier this year. I approached the chapter with some trepidation, as I honestly did not know what he was going to say about us London scene food bloggers. Was I ready to be mocked by one of the only two restaurant critics I pay a shred of attention to when choosing where to eat next, over halfway through a book that I had rather been enjoying? It turns out what he had to say about us was a mixed bag; we're all fine and good, but taking photos of your food in a restaurant is just plain rude, and why do all the photos of food by food bloggers online have to look so unappetising? I'm always getting asked to write some more 'personal' style blog posts, so after reading his chapter, and before returning to finish the rest of the book I thought I'd share with you all  the stories behind some of my restaurant reviews and food posts. In short, what my friends and family have discovered they have to put up with when they agree to accompany me to whatever lunch or brunch spot I want to try that weekend, lunchtime or evening.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Recipe: Salted Caramel Double Chocolate Rolo Cookies

Aside from the Farmers Market on Thursdays there are four options for grocery shopping in Westwood, Los Angeles; the little neighbourhood clustered around the bottom of UCLA and Bel Air, and reaching outwards towards Brentwood (think Desperate Housewives but in the middle of a city) and Beverly Hills. If you're only after snacks and frozen food you head to Target, which I would describe as Woolworths meets Boots meets Tesco Metro meets Dunelm Mill. While I find it is good for kitchen implements and Essie nail polish, I only every buy olive oil there. Trader Joe's is great and I go there often, but it is all own brand, think the Marks & Spencer food hall. I adore Whole Foods, it is Waitrose meets a farm shop meets Holland & Barrett but it is desperately expensive. I usually find myself shopping at Ralphs, which is basically Tescos with all the things in the wrong aisles and a scary American frozen food department in the middle. 
While skirting around the frozen section to get from dairy to the vegetable section I always pass the end of aisle displays on the frozen section, which are usually as frightening for junk food phobic people like me. However, after walking past the new candy display there over the last few weeks, each time debating with myself if I should pick up a pouch of mini Rolo's from it (while most British chocolate has been ruined by American manufacturing, Rolo's are still pretty edible) the idea came to me. If they are mini Rolo's, why can't I use them instead of chocolate chips in my favourite Lorraine Pascale triple chocolate chip cookies I make at least once every two weeks from her book Baking Made Easy (it is rather brilliant, easily one of my favourite baking books of recent years) so they have little caramel puddles in them? 
They came out fantastically, exactly how I wanted them to. The milk chocolate of the rolo, the plain chocolate of the cookie and the little caramel pockets came out perfectly, and I especially loved the little brittle bits of burnt caramel you got around the edges of the biscuit where some of the mini Rolo's had burst in the oven. However, something was missing. Honestly, considering how many salted caramel recipes I have been Pinning onto my 'Pudding Lane' and 'Cakes & Cookies' Pinterest boards recently, and how many scoops of Salted Caramel Ice Cream I have been consuming from Sprinkles in Beverly Hills I can't believe it took me so long to realise what the addition of some nice, flaky pieces of sea salt would do to my cookie. Makes around 10 cookies.

  • 100g (4 oz) Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 200g (7 oz) Soft Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 Large Egg
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 165g (5 1/2 oz) Plain Flour
  • 30g (1 1/4 oz) Cocoa Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Bicarbonate Soda (Baking Soda)
  • 200g (7 oz) Mini Rolos (in the US this is one pouch with a handful left over)
  • Large Sea Salt Flakes (I use Maldon)

Beat together the sugar and the butter until well combined. This is really easy to do in a kitchen mixer (I use a Kenwood but I know most people have Kitchen Aids) but can be done by hand. Add the egg and a few drops of vanilla extract and beat until smooth and well combined. Add the cocoa, cooking salt, cocoa powder and flour. Mix until everything is combined. Add the Rolos and mash with a spoon until they are distributed through the cookie dough, but be careful not to break up the Rolo's. Divide and roll the dough into 10 small-ish balls and space them across two baking sheets covering in non stick baking parchment. Sprinkle each cookie ball with a generous pinch of the large sea salt flakes. Bake in the oven at 190 degrees celsius (375 fahrenheit) for 12-15 minutes. The cookies should have spread out a bit, be slightly cracked on top and some of the Rolo's will have burst and leaked into little puddles around the cookies. Remove from the oven and leave to stand on the trays for about 5 minutes. Using a spatula carefully lift each cookie onto a wire rack to cool, being sure not to break off the little puddles of burnt caramel; you want to leave these, solid attached to the sides of your cookies as they are one of the best bits. Enjoy! You're lucky. You don't have to photograph them before you eat them.
What are your favourite types of mini chocolate/ candy, and have you ever had them in a cookie before? As a kid we all had Smarties Cookies, and last year I posted a recipe for my M&M Cookies (I also use M&M's in this double chocolate cookie dough too). When I get back to England I really want to try using mini bites of Cadbury's Crunchie. I can't stand peanut butter, but on the display next to the mini Rolo pouches there were pouches of mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups; I bet they would be great in chocolate cookies too!

Friday, 15 March 2013

Places To Eat In Los Angeles: 'Lette Macarons, Beverly Hills

While I love a good cupcake as much as the next girl, for me nothing can beat a good, traditional Macaron. When I am in France and they are widely available, I eat whole plates of them. Naturally then, when I heard about 'Lette Macarons, a Los Angeles based macaron patisserie run by Parisian trained pastry chef Christophe Michalak, I just knew I had to pop along to one of their stores to try some of their round little delicacies. I headed over to their Beverly Hills branch on Charleville Boulevard, the store where all the macarons are baked, but they also have stores in Little Tokyo, Larchmont Village, Old Pasadena and Newport Beach.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Full Disclosure: How I Earn Money Off Of My Blog

One of the most popular questions I'm asked by friends, family, readers and even people I've only just met, is how on earth I manage to make money off of my blog. Once I have quickly gone over in my head if I actually want to answer the question or not, or with how much or how little detail, it is actually a pretty fair question. I pour hours of my time into both this site, and The Glossy Guide every single day, at least the same amount and probably more than you would for your average student, or even full time job, but for someone who is not really part of the blogging world it is not immediately obvious how I manage to make money from it. In the interests of full disclosure and transparency (as someone who has been at one time or another heavily involved in the world of politics I still can't use the word transparency and still keep a straight face!), and off of the back of some simply shocking recent articles on blogger income (who remembers that Fashionista piece on popular bloggers faking free swag?) I've decided to properly lay out how I make money from blogging.
Lets start with affiliate links, something which a few years ago totally baffled me, but now I find to be a really useful tool, thanks to some pretty great sites designed for bloggers over the last couple of years or so. Let me first start by explaining how affiliate links. Lets say in an outfit post or a wish list post I link to my current favourite pair of wine coloured J.Crew 3" Chino Shorts. If you click through to the J.Crew site from my link and purchase something from it either in that visit, or within the (usually) next 30 days by directly visiting the J.Crew site and not arriving at it from another website I will make a small commission from your purchase. It annoys me a little bit when bloggers just drop affiliate links into posts that don't really have much to do with the post in hand into their posts just to try and make money, but as I do run my blog as a business, and if possible, I do like to link you to where to buy items in wish lists, or I am wearing in outfit posts. I don't see the harm in making it so that I could potentially make a little money from it too! 

On my blog I simultaneously run two brilliant affiliate links programes, both of which I would recommend if you were looking to monetize your blog or website. The first, the easiest to use and the most subtle of these I run is called Skimlinks. It is free to use and sign up with, and you just installing a little code into your site following their really easy step by step instructions. Basically, what Skimlinks does is turns every existing product link to a site within their network (they support most retailers you can think of, even the really small ones) that has not already been turned into an affiliate link into one, so you can make money off of your existing content. It is pretty genius, I've been using it for just over a year now with brilliant results. Also, if it means anything I met the guy who is the brains behind the software Joe Stepniewski at the iFabbo Conference in London last Summer and he is super nice, and really interesting to talk to about affiliate business! 

The second piece of affilate software I run on my blog, and I'm pretty sure if you're reading this and you're a fashion blogger you've at least heard of, is rewardStyle (the brains behind I also met at the conference, incidentally). It takes a little bit more effort to use than Skimlinks, but it has a better commission rate and it is a bit more targeted. Essentially you have to go find the product in their interface to generate the affiliate link, but what is nice about it is you can instantly Tweet or Pin the product, with affiliate link attached from your rewardStyle dashboard. Also, every time you 'like' something in your rewardStyle dashboard it automatically gets added to your profile on a site called CurrentlyObsessed where you can follow your favourite bloggers and their shopping picks. Your affilate links also carry over to here to, so it is yet another way you can make a little bit of commission. 

As well as affiliate links, I also use rewardStyle to run the majority of my banner advertising on the sidebar of my blog. They have a great selection of ads from all the brands in their network which operate with affiliate links which you can just embed into your sidebar. Also, some of my sidebar advertising comes from when brands or social media and advertising agencies email me about advertising on the site, and I negotiate the price directly with them. Obviously I choose my own ads from rewardStyle, but as I'm really OCD about the layout and appearance of my blog, I woud not be able to accept ads I did not like the look or or support the brand of for however much money, even if I wanted to!

Even though I do like utilising affilate links, the biggest source of my blog income comes from running sponsored posts. Now, I know a lot of people don't like the idea of sponsored posts, but I find that if I put my foot down with what I will and won't do with whoever I'm working with, and I'm sure to have full disclosure and include my sponsored post disclaimer at the end of sponsored posts, I find that I actually benefit from running them. I never post anything on my blog that I have not written, and sometimes by wondering what I'm going to write about to fit a certain criteria, I can come up with some really creative post ideas that I really enjoy writing and have proven really popular that I most likely would not have thought of without the prompt from my client. Also, a lot of the time when I've been talking to you guys, you've said sometimes you don't realise that the post has been sponsered until you reach the end and I discolse that fact. Also, sometimes with a sponsored post I can just have fun and mess around a bit; who remembers my post on matching your new season accessories to the colour of your Smeg fridge?!

*updated 2/03/2014* I am now signed with Glam Media, and it is through Glam Media I run my above the fold (which means the bit you can see on your screen without scrolling) ads, and I do brand collaborations with here on the blog and across social media. All of these collaborations and sponsored posts will still be noted as such, using either my usual disclaimer or something similar on social media, such as an #ad or #sponsored hashtag. 

I hope you have all learnt something about how I make my money, as well as how you can implement some of my strategy on your own blogs and websites too. If you're a brand or social media agency and you'd like to work with or collaborate with me, drop me an email with your ideas and I'll whizz over my 2013 Media Kit!

Monday, 11 March 2013

Recipe: Purple Cabbage Slaw with Cucumber & Dill

When it comes to food, I'm pretty sure that all of my friends think I am a little bit mad. There was the crazy Twitter and Skype conversation between Sherin, Kathryn and I where I was pronounced a total butter snob because I refuse to buy American butter and only go for the finest (usually French) unsalted butter in my cooking and baking. Then, there is the fact that I know that my roommates think I'm bonkers that I cook and bake every meal from scratch, even cookies. They'll occasionally see me come back with a meal from my favourite take-out place, TLT in Westwood or some pastries from the Bouchon Bakery in Beverly Hills or carrot cake from Joan's on Third, but that is about it. The eye rolls a few weeks ago came from how stupidly excited a big, beautiful purple cabbage from the local farmers market made me.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Weekly Love: Week 129

The last two weeks for me have been all about class (by the time I post my next Weekly Love I will have made it through the final stretch to Spring Break, and I'll have turned 20 years old, rather excited about my brunch and beach plans on the 21st!), spending a lot of time at the beach during a mini LA heatwave, and cooking/ eating. An awful lot of cooking and eating! I've been testing so many different recipes I really think I'm on a role, and I'm so excited about some of the food features I have coming up in the next few weeks, so keep an eye out for them and be prepared to be enticed into the kitchen, or if you live in Los Angeles out for brunch!
weeklylove80213 copy
1. The only way to deal with Monday mornings is by frying things. | 2. To celebrate the fact that now, two months since I had my accident my nail has finally grown long enough to paint I treated myself to 'Fracas', a shade I have been coveting from Chanel's Pre-Spring beauty collection. | 3. Saturday afternoons down at Venice Beach. | 4. Indulging in one of the best lunches I've ever had at LudoTruck when I caught up with it on Wiltshire Boulevard. | 5. Cucumber sliced as thinly as I can imagine; the starting point for my Purple Cabbage Slaw with Cucumber & Dill (look out for the recipe on Monday!). | 6. Alex's Raspberry Chocolate Ruglash from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook about to go in the oven. (I posted the recipe for my own Nutella version yesterday!)

It is that time of the month again when I have another column about my life in Los Angeles up over at The High Tea Cast. This month it was requested that I do a piece on celebrity spotting, and while that is usually not my thing I managed to put together something about my own brand of celebrity watch; celebrity chef stalking in Beverly Hills! (Obviously anything I would not normally do is made Rachel friendly by food!)
7. I fancied Italian for lunch. For a super easy and super delicious lunch roughly chop ripe heirloom tomatoes into chunks, sprinkle over torn fresh basil, torn mozzarella, torn prosciutto, drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil and season well with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. | 8. Palm trees on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. Now that is something you don't see on Regents Street! | 9. I tried on these Tory Burch sandals for Summer in Bloomingdale's the other day and I'm seriously considering them. What do you guys think? | 10. Contrary to popular belief I do sometimes indulge in American junk food that has not come from In-N-Out Burger. A late night Diddy Reese ice cream sandwich is a must for any Mint Choc Chip lover! | 11. Consulting the The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (which in case you have not noticed I have been on a real cooking kick from over the last few weeks!) before making the absolutely amazing Mustard Milanese. | 12. Smitten Kitchen Tomato Glazed Meatloaf and my purple slaw, recipe to follow on Monday!

What have you been enjoying this week, and what do you have planned for the weekend?

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Recipe: Nutella Rugelach (Bite Sized Chocolate Croissants)

Pastries are difficult to make. I almost had a nervous breakdown in my kitchen the first time I tried to make cinnamon rolls, and they're not even really delicate. I have a book on Parisian pastry history and techniques waiting for me back home that I ordered with Christmas Amazon vouchers which I know will barely even scratch the surface. However, I have found one pastry that is so stupidly easy to make that I know that this recipe will be only the beginning of my experimentation: Rugelach, a traditional Eastern European Jewish pastry that is usually presented in small bite sized crescent shaped rolls, or in one big flavoured roll. 
It all started with the recipe for Alex's Raspberry Chocolate Rugelach from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (Alex is the author Deb's husband) which I made to shoot for part of my review of the book that I'll be posting sometime soon. I just could not believe how easy it was to make such delicious  buttery, delicate and beautiful looking bite sized pastries so I instantly started wracking my brain for what else I could fill Rugelach with from the ingredients I had in my cupboard as I still had half a block of cream cheese left to make another batch. Well, I figured that Nutella went with everything, so why not Nutella Rugelach? This recipe will make 32 rugelach, easily doubled or halved. (I can't see why you'd want to half it though!)

  • 115g (1 Stick) Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
  • 115g (1/2 Brick) Full Fat Cream Cheese (I use Philadelphia), at room temperature  
  • 125g (1 cup) Plain Flour (plus extra for dusting) 
  • Large Pinch of Salt
  • 2 Heaped tbsp Nutella
  • 20g (3/4 oz) Chopped Toasted Hazelnuts
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • Granulated Sugar

To make the dough beat together the butter and the cream cheese until the two are completely combined and smooth. You can do this in a food mixer but I find that it is not too hard to do by hand. Mix in the flour and the salt until combined. Mould the dough into two rough balls and wrap them each in cling film. Refrigerate for 2 hours, but they can be left overnight. 

You'll put the rugelach together in two batches, hence the two balls. To make a batch turn the ball out onto a very well floured surface (if it is not floured enough the rugelach will stick when you try to roll them) and roll out into a very thin disk, but not so thin that it can easily be torn. Spread a heaped tablespoon of the Nutella onto the disk. Now, in England and France I find my Nutella goes rather hard in the jar and if I want to cook with it I need to stick it in the microwave for a moment (make sure all the foil from the seal is removed from the edges of the jar!) or sit it on top of the Aga for a while to make it soft enough to work with, which you'll need to do here. I don't know if it is the warmer weather in California (though my Nutella was still soft in December) or more likely the Americans have added something to it the original version does not have (it is an unfortunate fact of life in America, even in health conscious California that most foods have things added to them or have been altered. You can't buy milk without added vitamins in California, for example) but I don't have that problem here and the Nutella is soft enough and spreadable right from the jar. Spread the chocolate out in a very thin layer all over the disk getting it as close to the edges as possible, then sprinkle over half the nuts. If you can't buy them ready toasted you can do this in a clean frying pan over a medium heat, just remember to toss them every few minutes and watch them like a hawk as they can turn from only just toasted to burnt in a matter of seconds, and ideally they should be half way between these two states.
With a very sharp knife slice the disk down the middle, horizontally so it is in quarters, then quarter each quarter. You should have 16 triangles starting from the center. To roll the rugelach start at the outside of the disk and roll up into a scroll until you reach the center (see the off colour balance iPhone picture above. When I get to design my own kitchen in my own home when I become a real grown up I will have this colour granite again when hell freezes over). Space the rolls apart on a greaseproof paper lined baking sheet. To make a glaze beat together the egg yolk with a splash of cold water and brush over each scroll, then sprinkle generously with granulated sugar before putting into a 175 (350 fahrenheit) degree oven for 20-25 minutes until the ruglach are golden brown. Enjoy!

What are your favourite type of pastry, traditional or with a twist?

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Lets Talk Smartphones: 18 iPhone Apps I Can't Live Without

I think we bloggers are worse than most when it comes to being totally glued to our iPhones and other smartphones. I'd wanted an iPhone for years, but it was not until I moved out to Los Angeles and could take advantage of how much cheaper it is out here to buy the handset outright did I finally trade in my battered old Blackberry for a shiny new iPhone 4S. Later this month I'm going to go all Appled out with a new iPad so I'm sure which apps I spread across my MacBook, iPhone and iPad for reading, recipes, blogging and everything else is going to change, so before I start getting settled into yet another shiny white tribute to Steve Jobs I would share with you all which iPhone apps I use the most. Look out for a post next month on the best apps, tips and tricks for blogging off of an iPad, as that is one of my main reasons for getting one aside from using it for work; do you know how much bother it is to lug around a 15" MacBook Pro and a DSLR camera?
1. Weather

Okay, so while I admit the first three of my favourite apps for iPhone that Im listing here come ready installed on every iPhone; but as I see it they are still worthy of being listed. For example, who ever uses the Stocks & Shares app no one ever uses and you can't really get rid of? The weather app is one I check every day because I have found it is pretty useful, and while most people think here in Los Angeles we have perfect weather every day, the constant changing temperature and climate is quite a challenge to dress for so this app is a lifesaver. I also have Canterbury, London and the town near my home in France listed in there so I can see what sort of weather my friends and family have been having when I talk to them.

2. Camera

I'm going to mention this a bit more later when I go on to talk about my Instagram love affair, but my favourite thing about my iPhone has to be the camera. Having a camera that is small enough to fit in my pocket but still creates high enough quality images that if worst comes to worse and I want to snap something when I don't have my DSLR is good enough quality to put into a blog post is a lifesaver, and I have no idea what I did without it.

3. Clock

Even though this is the digital age, I don't just wear my watch for aesthetic purposes. However, while I may not need my phone to be able to tell the time, the idea of being able to work out different time zones in my head is laughable. I know 4pm in Los Angeles is 12am in London and that is about it; the ability of being able to have world clocks side by side on one screen (I also have Paris in the mix for when my parents are in France) is simply amazing.

4. Pinterest

Pinterest for iPhone is addictive. While on the computer it is great for inspiration and putting blog posts together, general social media goodness etc. on the iPhone it is the perfect pretty picture way to fill time. The app works really well and allows you to repin until your heart is content; it is my favourite go to during the ad breaks between my favourite TV shows. 

5. The Times

While I will read the weekend editions of The Times on my iPad, I'm pretty sure I'm going to continue to read the paper every single day on my phone; it is just so useful to have all the days news and my favourite columnists in a small and compact space to digest every day, either if I'm on the go, waiting at the traffic lights or for a class to start. I've always read The Times everyday (even with my issue on Sundays where the broadsheet edition is bigger than I am) but I've found that since I've had a digital edition to hand I've not had to take time out of my day to keep up on the days news. Yes, Times Online is a paid subscription service but I really, really recommend it. Full disclosure; my parents pay for my subscription, not me (if you have The Times delivered to your home everyday a Times Online subscription comes as part of the bundle), but when this ceases to be the case I will happily continue to pay for it myself. It is like my Flickr Pro account: an online digital service that I am perfectly happy to part with my hard earned cash for.

6. Currency

If there was an award at being totally hopeless at mental arithmetic I would be first in line to receive it. This is why the most used and loved app on my iPhone as a Brit living in America is my currency converter which I use to translate Dollars to Pounds and back again. The only way it could be better is if it also calculated California sales tax for me.

7. Notes

I use the Notes app on my iPhone for everything. From my constantly rotating grocery list to restaurants I walk past and I must go back and check out to work and post ideas that just come to me while I'm on the go. I do still love using my Moleskine to jot things down when I'm mapping out something big; but I've always got my phone on me.

8. Kindle

While one of the first things I'm going to do with my iPad is to install the Kindle App and send all the unread books in my cloud to it, I don't know how I would have survived the last 6 months without having it on my phone. Now, I believe in books: good, paper and ink books that you hold in your hand and you'll catch me buying an actual Kindle when hell freezes over. However, I accept that with the amount I like to read it is simply not practical for me to buy books I'll have to leave behind in Los Angeles when I move back to England, so I have been buying Kindle books instead. I know this will also be very useful for traveling, as will being able to put my magazines all on one devise with the newstand app which I have actually read a couple of issues of Tatler on since moving here. Also, in my role as a book reviewer for Judging Covers, lots of review copies of new books from publishers now get sent direct to your Kindle device too. 

9. Bloglovin'

While I usually like to catch up on blogs from my laptop or my mothers iPad (which will mean my iPad soon enough) do you know how long the average person living in the City of Los Angeles spends sitting almost at a stand still in traffic every month? Being able to catch up on my favourite blogs while inching up Santa Monica Boulevard is a total godsend. 

10. BBC Good Food

People who read my recipes closely will know that when I have not put something together from scratch, the most likely source I had adapted it from is either the BBC Good Food magazine or website. I really love their app of recipe collections which, fine, you can get all of for free on their website (the app is free but unless they're running a promotion (I got all my recipe bundles for free) you have to pay for bundles; think healthy suppers, freeze ahead meals, holiday cooking etc.) but it is so useful to just have it there on my phone. For example, if I'm on the go and I want to grab stuff on the way back to my apartment to try a new, yet simple recipe I can just make a grocery list within the app.

11. PicFx

While usually I'm in the middle of doing something and I like to just chuck a usual Instagram filter onto my images, sometimes when I have more than just a moment or to I like to play around with different filters; getting the colours and light just right, or adding in little details like light spots to make things sparkly glimmer just a little more. For this I use the paid app PicFix (I think most bloggers do, to be honest) when I feel my Instagram shots just need a little something more.


You've probably picked up on the fact by now I like my information in bite sized pieces for me to digest while I'm on the go, so it will come as no surprise to me rather than spending time running through websites and Twitter during fashion week to keep up with the coverage (however, Fashionista does have brilliant coverage each season) I like to skim through my favourite collections with crystal clear photos from the app so I can see if there is anything from the shows I'm going to need to come back to later for a closer look. 

13. Skype

Skype used to be the way for me to save of the phone bill to chat to my parents and my Aunt while I was living in my London flat, but now with international call rates it is the only way I can talk to my family while I'm on the go; I'd be lost without it!

14. Urban Spoon

Everyone always asks me how I find so many great restaurants to eat in and review in both London and Los Angeles, and as well as from word of mouth and from food magazines and blogs, the one website I head to for restaurant recommendations is Urban Spoon. What is great about the Urban Spoon app is as well as looking through reviews and photos from any given restaurant  you can get it to let you know what is good and close by based on your location if you don't have anything specific in mind. This is how Soot Bull Jeep in Koreatown was found; one of the most memorable and delicious meals I have had in Los Angeles so far.

15. Sprinkles

Please don't laugh. As well as being able to play little memory games, I feel having the Sprinkles Cupcake app on my iPhone which syncs up with Google Maps to direct me towards the nearest branch of Sprinkles Cupcakes in Los Angeles is of the utmost importance. While I actually prefer Georgetown Cupcake for actual cupcakes, directions to their Beverly Hills branch also takes me to Sprinkles Ice Cream where on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays you can get their Wine Soaked Morello Cherry and Vanilla ice cream which in my opinion is the best ice cream in Los Angeles, and the West Hollywood branch also doubles as directions to The Grove mall. The Grove's own (albit still useful) app does not even to that.

16. Wikipedia

Yes, Wikipedia. The academic professor and the school teachers worst nightmare. I know anyone can edit it, and all that other stuff people keep on telling us about it but really? If you want to find out about something quickly Wikipedia (and therefore its app) is the quickest route to take. And to be honest, these days most pages that can't be considered 'niche' are accurate. 

17. Twitter

Twitter is actually the only app I had and loved on my Blackberry that I still use today. Twitter is a great too for a blogger; both to share things, which makes being able to have it as an app on the go perfect, but also to keep up with the world around you. I follow so many different news outlets it is like a mini digest of things and people I care about on the go.

18. Instagram

Finally, my biggest app addiction: Instagram. I think this has to be the app I was most excited about being able to get once I got my iPhone, and it really has not disappointed. I love documenting my world around me and sharing it with the world (in case you had not noticed that by now!), and as well as having all the cool filters the phone is so much easier to lug around than my big camera. It has also been pretty awesome being able to keep up with my friends back home on Instagram; I feel like, along with Facebook, Skype, our blogs, Twitter and stupidly hilarious emails, seeing each others worlds through Instagram is just yet another way for us to feel like we're missing out on less of each others year.

What are your favourite iPhone (or Windows App Store or Android) phone apps?

Monday, 4 March 2013

Places To Eat In Los Angeles: LudoTruck, Guerrilla Fried Chicken [Now Closed]

When was the last time you had a meal so delicious, so satisfying you could not bring yourself to think about food for the rest of the day? (And you know me, getting me to stop thinking about eating, making, photographing or writing about food is no mean feat!) The last time I had a meal that good was in June 2011 the first time I ever visited the village Auberge in the tiny rural village of La Fontanelle in Brittany, Northern France for their set 12,50€ Menu du Jour and experienced simple rural French food at its finest in the no frills, no fuss dining room alongside the local farmers and a large carafe of red wine. I can still remember the way my steak melted in my mouth that day almost two years later, so I'm pretty sure I'm going to remember my first ever meal from what so many have called one of the very best food trucks in LA: LudoTruck for years to come.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Gift Guide: Mothers Day 2013

Especially with my still living in Los Angeles this year, I have absolutely no idea what to get my Mummy for Mothers Day (10th March for those of you who have forgotten, and we're talking British Mothering Sunday here, so my American readers can stop panicking!) While I get a bit impatient with the commercialism of Valentines Day (I allow Halloween as it allows me to dress up, carve pumpkins and generally embrace my darker side), I adore Mothers Day as it has remained to this day what it was traditionally meant to be; a day to celebrate how special our Mummy's are and a chance to do something special for time or treat them to something lovely which they really deserve after everything they do for us during the year!

As for things I have included in this guide that I have actually tried myself (I believe in everything being tried and tested!) I want to single out the L'Occitane gift basket and The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. I simply adore L'Occitane products and I like to share the love for their ranges, especially their fantastic hand creams, so their gift sets, prettily packaged and containing at least one tube is one of the gifts I give most often. The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman based off of the New Yorker's fantastic blog came out yesterday in the UK, and if you're looking for the ultimate cookbook for your mother at any level, I cannot recommend this one enough. I've had my US edition since November when I went to her book signing in Beverly Hills and I've already made so many of the recipes; they're all delicious, simple and the book is teaching me so many new skills; I made potato gnocchi out of it for the first time the other night!

My Mummy loves coffee chocolates, so one year I got her a nice big Cath Kidston mug and ordered coffee truffles to be freshly made from one of my favourite independent handmade chocolate shops in Canterbury (Madame Oiseau right by the Mint Yard Gate of the Cathedral for local readers) and filled the mug with them, all wrapped up in cellophane and tissue. Sometimes you don't have to spend a lot on a flashy gift; it is the thought that counts! Also on this roundup that I have actually given her this year is the beautiful box of Spring Godiva chocolates, a bit of a departure from my usual Hotel Chocolat go to - the box is so lovely (and the chocolates are pretty awesome too) I'm pretty sure she's actually kept it in her desk drawer.

I really must mention Biscuiteers when we are talking about any type of gift giving, not just for Mothers Day. How incredible are their delicately iced biscuits. I'd be head over heels if someone got me a box, and they have so many different themed collections so you can get one personal to your Mummy.

Finally, if you are based in London, or at least your mother is last Spring I had the privilage as a guest of Yardley London to attend an afternoon class in putting together a beautiful floral hatbox arrangement at the Jane Packer Flower School. Why not buy your mother something like a flower arranging class (I'd really recommend this one!) so she can learn something new?

What will you be treating your mother to this Mothers Day?