Wednesday, 30 May 2018

How To Spend A Day in The Lot, South West France

Every time I visit or re-visit a region of France I'm struck how vast it is and how much there is to see and do in each region or department; from the sunny South to the striking shores of the North, it is such a varied and exciting country to visit. I've found that the best way to plan a day out exploring in France is to focus in on something you really want to do in the morning, and something for the afternoon, also leaving you time to go out somewhere nice for dinner, or relax at your hotel or rental. On my recent trip to the Dordogne Valley we jumped around between three different departments: the Dordogne, Correze and the Lot, where today I thought I'd share some of my 'things to do' recommendations so you can get the most out of your trip!
How To Spend A Day in The Lot, South West France #france #travel #lot #travelguide

Monday, 28 May 2018

The New Pub Garden Menu at The Compasses Inn, Crundale

Saturday marked the beginning of English wine week, so as my favourite pub have recently launched a garden menu where I knew I'd also be able to enjoy an ice cold bottle of my favourite English rosé wine in said garden (Hush Heath's Nannette is just amazing, so crisp, fresh and refined), I enlisted my parents so we had enough people to sample every single item on the menu. It is no secret that my favourite place to eat is The Compasses Inn in Crundale (my family and I can be found there for most special occasions, as well as just because we feel we've not eaten there recently) and while I'll never turn down a meal in the bar, the garden is where it is at this summer with incredible, pub classic small plates at £5 each. And you don't have to book. 
Pub Garden Menu at The Compasses Inn, Crundale

Friday, 25 May 2018

Weekly Love: Week 131

Can we just raise a glass to the long weekend so we can let our hair down a bit? Combined with an unpleasant head cold I feel like I've been on a bit of a treadmill this week, working on upcoming content, shooting recipes for external publications and refining pitches for a few upcoming projects. I'm looking forward to a few days of pub gardens and barbecues! Oh, and in some exciting news I've signed off on the design for the new (!) It is just the front page so far with a lot more work to go, but I'm so, so excited to share it with you all. It is so nerve-racking changing anything after 5 years of the same!
Weekly Love 25.05.18
1. Editing all the photos from my French adventures - you can read all my posts so far here! | 2. Running errands in sunny, sunny London. | 3. Enjoying an Aperol Spritz (or three!) in the pub garden. | 4. More summertime drinks, this time in the Secret Herb Garden at The Royal Horseguards Hotel in Westminster. | 5. Cooking with all of the beautiful bright tomatoes. | 6. Waking up to Camilla snuggled at the foot of the bed on her 1st birthday.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Student Suppers: Syrian Baked Lamb & Aubergine

Usually cooking for boys, I always see it as a massive win if I make a dish heavily featuring an ingredient someone claims not to like, and it completely wins them over. With a few exceptions (I don't think anyone could ever get me to love a peanut) I am of the firm belief that people don't have likes and dislikes for ingredients, just ways things are cooked. This dish is case in point; I used to say I hated lamb, but it turns out that I love lamb if it is minced and gently spiced. However, this dish is not all about the lamb. This dish is all about the aubergines, that become melty and silky, and absorb all of the spiced lamb juices like a sponge as they're baked with the lamb. This is the dish to serve to people who claim they don't like aubergines.
Syrian Baked Lamb & Aubergine with Pine Nuts #syria #lamb #aubergine #eggplant #dinner

Monday, 21 May 2018

Secret Gin Garden at The Royal Horseguards Hotel, Westminster

Finding somewhere to drink outside in London during the summer is a problem. It's not that there are any shortage of great bar terraces and pub gardens, it is that they are always absolutely packed. Even with two of you, it is pot luck that you'll be able to be spontaneous about finding a table anywhere. However, I was invited to a party showcasing a gin garden in Westminster last week that is so well hidden that even now I've let the cat out of the bag you'll still be able to head along for bathtub sized G&T's and some rather excellent tapas. Hidden out back of The Royal Horseguards Hotel in a back street behind Whitehall (I used to work in Westminster, and I still needed a map to find it!) Fever Tree have created a Secret Herb Garden.
Fever Tree Tonics at The Royal Horseguards Hotel's Secret Herb Garden #tonic #gingarden #pubgarden #hotel #london

Friday, 18 May 2018

Weekly Meal Plan #11: A Week Of Meat Free Mondays

After putting a shout out for theme requests on Instagram, the overwhelming response was that you all wanted to see more vegetarian dishes as part of my Weekly Meal Plans. We tackled the topic of vegetarian weeknight dishes that would even win over dedicated meat eaters way back in February, so today I thought I'd focus more on the sorts of veggie dishes I make for myself when no one else is home - I cook meat almost every day because I'm cooking for people who won't eat a meal without meat in; left to my own devices, I'm about 95% vegetarian at home! All of us are eating less and less meat, to the point where I think we've even moved past just having a Meat Free Monday: let us try for a Meat Free Monday almost every day!
Weekly Meal Plan Week of Meat Free Mondays

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Another Fantastic Stay at Manoir de Malagorse, Cuzance

On a press trip to the France's delicious Perigord region in May 2016 I was lucky enough to spend the night at the most incredible place. While it is technically a hotel, Manoir de Malagorse, just outside Cuzance in the Lot region of South West France is more like a beautiful, idyllic home that you have been invited to stay at. Writing about travel as I do I rarely go back to the same place twice, constantly chasing new content, but that night I just knew I had to bring my family back for another stay. So, after leaving the Loire Valley behind us we jumped in the car and headed down into the Dordogne Valley to start the next leg of our journey.
Manoir de Malagorse, France #hotel #travel #france

Monday, 14 May 2018

Recipe: Pasta with Spring Greens & Fresh Spinach Pesto

This post was created in partnership with Appletiser. Happy Meat Free Monday! Today I have teamed up with Appletiser to celebrate the best of new season produce, served with nutty wholemeal pasta in a super delicious, super healthy weeknight for two. While yes, you can serve this on the regular as part of your pasta rotation, but I think we should do more to celebrate on a weeknight: stop by the farmers market during your lunch break to choose your veg rather than picking it up in your weekly shop, plate it up properly for the two of you at the table with matching knives, forks and linen napkins, and serve your sparkling soft drink (I'm drinking more and more Appletiser now I'm trying to only drink during the week if I'm going out or entertaining, as it is a bit different to my all day sparkling water habit!) in wine glasses, over ice.
Pasta with Spring Greens and Fresh Spinach Pesto #pasta #spinach #springgreens #snappeas #asparagus #leeks #meatfreemonday

Friday, 11 May 2018

Weekly Love: Week 130

Well, I'm finally back in London! If you've been following me on social media, you'll know I've had an incredible two weeks or so first in Kent, then traveling down to the Loire Valley (my post about which is already online!), then on to the Dordogne, travelling north again to spend some time in Brittany, before soaking up the last of the Bank Holiday sun back in Kent then before returning to London. I'm so excited to share all of the photos I took and some stories from the trip, but while I work on narrowing down and editing the 10,000+ shots I took (!) be sure to head over to my Instagram, where most of what I got up to, from the hotels we stayed in, restaurants we ate in and chateaux we explored and caves we went down into are saved in my highlights.
Weekly Love 11.05.18[1]
1. Lunch and cocktails in the sunshine at 108 Brasserie in Marylebone. | 2. Exploring the UNESCO site of Rocamadour in South West France. | 3. The view of Rocamadour old town from across the valley. | 4. Exploring the famous topiary gardens of Eyrignac in the Dordogne - blog post coming soon! | 5. Lunching in Brittany on our spoils from the Saturday morning market in Sarlat: smoked duck, heirloom tomatoes, butter lettuces and local strawberries. | 6. My first Aperol Spritz of the season at Tuttons in Covent Garden.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

How To Spend A Day In The Northern Loire Valley (If It Is Raining!)

What a trip! We've packed so much in since we started our trip around France down in the Loire Valley, then on to the Dordogne, then back up to Brittany it feels like forever since we huddled in the cold and the wet exploring the Loire, but it was actually only last Monday! While the original plan was to head straight down to the Dordogne for our family holiday before a few days rest at my parents home in Brittany, a nine hour straight drive seemed a little unfair for my father to do himself (I'm only brave enough to drive on French country roads not motorways, and my mother is so short she can only just see over a Range Rover steering wheel!) so a two night stop over was planned in the Loire Valley, just south of Orléans (the birthplace of Joan of Arc for all you religious history people out there) so we could explore the area for a day (and drink some of the local wine!) We were treated to a freezing 6 degrees and a lot of rain, but we made the most of it with a packed day, so here is my guide to spending a day in the Northern Loire, in the rain!
Château les Muids, Loire Valley #loire #france #travel

Monday, 7 May 2018

Places To Eat In London: Horvarda, Soho

If it is on in your city, this is me telling you to go book tickets to go and see Book of Mormon. I was taken as a birthday present, and I don't think I can remember smiling or laughing that much in ages. Now, if you're off to see Book of Mormon in London, the theatre is across the road at the end of Rupert Street in Soho, where some pretty awesome pre-theatre dinner options are presented to you. There is a Brindisa if you're after some Spanish tapas, and XU (which I'm reviewing next week) if you're after some of the best Taiwanese dumplings I've had in ages. I'm a massive fan of The Paloma but you'll have to be conservative with your ordering to make sure you get to the theatre in time, but if it is a celebration or special occasion, you should go to Horvarda.
Hovarda, Soho #greek #turkish #london #soho

Friday, 4 May 2018

Weekly Meal Plan #10: Budget Bites

I got my start writing about food producing quick, healthy, easy, and most importantly cheap meals for students. While I'm no longer a student anymore and I feel like I've been there, done that in writing Student Eats, it does not mean that I don't still want this blog to be a resource full of weeknight friendly dishes that anyone who can follow a list of basic instructions can make, and yes that means anyone on any budget. So, for this weeks Weekly Meal Plan (you can find all of my previous Weekly Meal Plans here) I've put together a menu of five wallet friendly (and still easy, quick and super tasty) eats to see you through the week.
Weekly Meal Plan Budget Bites

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Places To Eat In London: Fancy Crab, Marylebone

Sometimes at lunch, you just get lucky. Fancy Crab in Marylebone has been on 'the list' ever since I read about it on Mehreen's blog, and Kelly and I decided that it would be the perfect spot for a girls lunch out before she moved away from the city. What we expected was some delicious, fresh seafood. What we did not expect was to be told that because they were celebrating their new menu, that day every single item was going to be half price. We checked, and the offer really did include every single item. So, obviously we ordered the FC Deluxe Tower: an amazing, tiered mountain of every single seafood item you can think of, which in fact had never, ever been ordered in the restaurant before. Usually coming in at £100, this is celebration eating at its finest.
Fancy Crab, Marylebone