Tuesday, 16 August 2016

REVIEW: Brunch at Victory Mansion, Stoke Newington

Oh what a weekend we had! From cheeky drinks and dinner on Sunday to wandering around London all day Saturday, this weekend was packed with eating, drinking and absorbing London culture. And the best part? Kicking tings off at Victory Mansion, the understated yet EPIC restaurant in Stoke Newington. 

Exciting and enticing, the brunch menu at Victory Mansion is like nothing I've eaten before. Trendy avocado toast is updated with crunchy quinoa while prawn toast gets a right seeing too with miso paste. For an added £15 you can also indulge, as we did, in bottomless cocktails so if you're East, Victory Mansion is one not to miss.
We began our brunch with coffee, as you do. I went for a black Americano and Alex chose a flat white. Both were strong in flavour and well presented with a beautiful silver spoon on the side. Apparently, the owner collected these around Australia and they are regularly nicked from the restaurant - can you blame people, they're adorable! After these we swiftly moved onto sipping our way through the list of boozy brunch cocktails. Alex loved the espresso martini (naughtily named Victory Coffee) and I couldn't get enough of the Babara Windsor (an update on a G&T with earl grey tea). The Bloody Mary with a hit of marmite was truly delicious (though calorific AF) and the Aperol spiked JJ Lister is ideal on hot summer mornings. Lovely.

As lovely as the cocktails/coffee were, the food at Victory Mansion was absolutely AMAZING. I can't actually explain how good the brunch offering at Victory Mansion is. Eclectic dishes, while a little strange sounding on the menu, are honestly some of the best plates of food I have eaten since becoming a food blogger, I seriously mean that. I fell in love first with the pumpkin, spring onion and chilli fritters served with two perfectly poached eggs and a pile of creamy avocado. The flavour and texture combinations in this dish were explosive and the added poached egg brought even more richness to the veggie focused dish.

Next up was the sweet prawn toast with miso paste. The crunch of the toast against the soft, sweet half prawns was absolutely divine while the sweet chilli and sesame dressing on top really brought out the sweetness of the prawns while the gently caramelised miso coating brought that umami hit that every dish needs. The crusts of the bread were also removed which was a nice touch.
Our final dish of avocado toast with crunchy quinoa was a welcome update on the "I've eaten it everywhere" avo toast. This is Alex's favourite brunch dish and normally not one to be messed with, but we both agreed that the addition of crispy quinoa was an absolute revelation and brought texture to the dish. 

Overall, if you're looking for brunch in Stoke Newington and you don't visit Victory Mansion then you're an absolute fool. This place may look a little rough around the edges but it is truly an epic place for foodies to frequent. I can't wait to go back soon.

Thank you to Victory Mansion for kindly hosting us. I would have paid above and beyond the menu prices for how good this experience was and have been in no way influenced by the fact our meal was paid for. All opinions and images are my own. 

Friday, 12 August 2016

PREVIEW: CARVE, London Bridge

Today I bring you a super exciting preview of Carve. Redefining the much-loved British carvery, Carve puts a unique spin on the Sunday lunch, offering a high protein, high impact breakfast, lunch or dinner that delivers on taste and speed. Introducing: the Carvepot.

From breakfast through to dinner, impeccably sourced premium cuts of meat, fish and tofu slabs are hand-carved, pulled and prepped by experts then served with superfoods, spices, relishes and roots.  Obviously the tofu and fish options are my focus, but the meats look pretty awesome and were loved by my fellow bloggers.

Each pot boasts a meat, fish or tofu portion matched to slow-releasing carbs and veggie goodness. Creative meaty combinations include smoked pork leg with apple slaw, crème Fraiche, piquillo peppers and pineapple ketchup; roasted tofu with sesame seed crust, tamari, ginger and turmeric root; or salmon gravadlax with leeks, fennel, radish, chopped egg, dill and mustard.

If you're hitting the gym before work then treat yourself to a CARVE breakfast pot. We all love a dirty fry up and CARVE put's its own healthy spin on this with Cumberland sausage meatloaf with ground Landroc pork, nutmeg, sage and a whole loin of dry cured bacon with a Seville orange marmalade glaze, served with sides such as bubble and squeak and rumbled free range eggs. There's also a fishcake option for those not eating meat but sadly no fully vegetarian option at this stage. Don't miss out on the eggs; they are literally the most epic thing ever. Regular readers will know that I went off eating eggs a little while ago but honestly these eggs are on another level. 
What's the most exciting thing about CARVE, however, is the ordering system. I know, I'm sad as hell loving an ordering system, but it's quite clever. Now: think Argos and how you bang a code or search for a product into a screen, select it then pay. The system is the same at CARVE. Once you've got your ticket simply follow the arrow floor markings, to the iconic CARVE counter. One pot, one price. One drink, one price. No matter what you choose when you actually arrive at the counter the price remains the same. Awesome right? So there's no more wasting precious lunch minutes in an endless queue.

Thank you to Roche Communications and CARVE for inviting us to the preview session. All images and opinions are my own. In the interest of honesty I am not being paid or incentivised to include this post, however,  I am affiliated with Roche Communications. I never share restaurants, products or content without believing in the product myself. 

Thursday, 11 August 2016

FITNESS: Wobble to Model with Results With Lucy

Long time no speak!

It's been a while but my god life has been crazy. I've moved into an exciting new job that means I am eating out on a more than regular basis (often with little notice!), Alex has graduated with a distinction (so proud) and we have been travelling a lot for family events. My sister in law turned 21, my nephew had his first birthday and my sister was recently in hospital. To say the least, life has been busy these last few weeks.

And while I am sure there is more and more change to come I am embracing it with open arms. Change is scary because you're not in control, but maintaining control over such massive events in nigh-on-impossible. Something I can control, however, is my dedication to my health and fitness. No, I'm not talking crazy diets and working out at 4am; I'm talking about keeping up a healthy attitude towards my diet and working out on a regular basis. 

I've followed the Results with Lucy page on Instagram for months and been astounded by the 'transformations'. To be fair, on the surface RWL doesn't seem my style; following a celebrity programme to lose weight, but in all honestly RWL seems different. The programmes are professionally developed and tailored towards different goals. There isn't a cheesy DVD, there are no magical claims, there are no shortcuts - it's all about being dedicated and following the advice. 
I was invited to give the Wobble to Model plan a bash. I'm relatively active already and feel confident in my fitness abilities. I don't want to lose weight but I do want to tone up and highlight those muscles I work so damn hard for, so this was the right plan for me. It's six weeks long and I'll be sharing updates along the way. To kick things off here are my goals:
  • To tone my entire body with particular focus on my arms, shoulders, stomach and booty (yep, classic);
  • To feel comfortable wearing my striped M&S crop top at the end of these six weeks;
  • To learn new workout techniques and constantly challenge my brain to adapt;
  • To commit to a healthy eating plan, allowing for treats and work events;
  • To squat at least 20kg - I'm on 12.5 at the start of the plan!
Here's my starter selfies - it's part of the plan and will certainly help to track my results. I'm not going to be doing any bikini shots on here (sorry, but no) so here's my ultra-stylish TK Maxx gym kit. Seriously it's the best place to get gym stuff!

Wow, my face is awkward!!! 
I don't talk about fitness anywhere near enough on this blog but in all honesty, it's something I love. Since quitting Class Pass and heading miserably back to my local gym it's been really hard to stay motivated and push myself to go four times a week. I work moments away from Regent's Park now so I can get in one or two 5km runs a week which is great, but being non-showered at work is pretty gross. I'm excited to start this new journey and to take you along with me!

I'll be sharing updates on the blog, on Instagram (follow me here) and on Twitter. Stay tuned for workouts, progress pics and plenty of food - greens galore!

Until next time...

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

My Nutritionist Experience with Bidvine

I've always been fascinated by the idea of a nutritionist. Having someone available to advise on my diet and have I can tailor it to my goals is such an exciting concept to me. Luckily for me, I was invited to test run a local nutritionist using Bidvine a searchable marketplace where you can submit a request and received five quotes from professionals in your area.  They help to connect you to local professionals within your selected field, be it home, learning, wellness, events management, yoga or personal care, and provide detailed profiles on each of them. It effectively takes the searching element out of trying to find the right person for the job! It's really simple and you can use the system on a desktop, tablet or mobile so it's really flexible. 
I met with Juliet Morcas, a registered nutritionist working in Camden and West London. We began with an introductory quiz which I took ahead of my appointment. The quiz went through my daily foods, any intolerances I have, my mental, physical and emotional health, my vitamin uptake and so much more. I never realised there was so much to understanding how good (or bad) nutrition can affect your body and how it works.

At the appointment, Juliet and I discussed the results of my quiz and how certain responses would be impacting on my goals - both fitness and mental health. We identified a slight irregularity with my glycemic uptake (how your body converts food into energy) and established that adding a little more fish into my diet would help with my current low protein eating patterns. We also identified how using certain terminology with certain foods (such as chocolate being naughty and salad being good) can damage your mental relationship with your food and lead to mental health problems and eating disorders. 

Speaking with Juliet gave me a sense of confidence in my diet. We agreed a two-month plan of health-concious but nonrestrictive eating and a number of supplements that I can add to my diet. I've been taking Omega 3 fish oils, Vitamin B and Spirulina on a daily basis and I have to say it's had a big impact on how full I feel and how much energy I have. 

I also found including probiotic yoghurt in the form of Bio-tiful's Kerfir drinks has also helped with my digestion and avoided bloating.  I've been using Bio-tiful's Kefir drinks to make bircher muesli as well as drinking them alone - I actually prefer the plain flavour to the cherry one which really surprised me! 

I find it so inspiring that such simple changes and tweaks to your diet can have such a huge impact. You don't need crash diets or faddy foods; you don't need to obsess over every mouthful or exercise until you faint. As I have felt all along, balance is key and I am so happy that Bidvine introduced me to Juliet as we will continue to see each other over the coming months. 

Have you ever tried a nutritionist? I would love to know your thoughts and experiences. Also if you would like to give Bidvine a go yourself, simply click here. 

* First appointment with Juliet was paid for by Bidvine. Any further appointments will be paid for by myself. 

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

REVIEW: Shoryu, Covent Garden

I am absolutely delighted to announce that Shoryu, one of my favourite ramen houses, has a new London location. Popping up in the tourist hell that is Covent Garden, Shoryu brings the opportunity to eat great food in an area that is not known for local-friendly restaurants.

Specialising in Hakata tonkotsu ramen, Shoryu buns and excellent sake, Shoryu is an accessible option for those with a penchant for Japanese cuisine. Most recently I took part in one of their sushi masterclasses with The Japan Centre which was absolutely amazing. Their dedication to easy to eat, delicious and fun Japanese food is unrivalled.

We began our meal with a small round of starters. The Shoryu buns with tempura king prawn and a sweet mayonnaise were quite tasty and had a good mix of textures. We also shared a plate of steamed salmon with scallops and enoki mushrooms which were really, really delicious. The butter sauce it was drowned in gave the dish so much richness and held the flavours together. The texture was quite wet and could have done with a firmer element on the plate.

For mains we both opted for ramen. Alex chose the classic Shoryu Signature Ramen in a pork broth with soft noodles, roasted pork, black garlic and spring onions which had a strong meaty scent and salty-sweet flavour. My vegan option of soya milk broth with soft noodles, tofu, bamboo shoots and a side of mustard greens was really moreish. The flavour was quite hard to define: salty yet comforting with an interesting mix of textures within the bowl. I am glad I ordered the greens for an added nutritional boost. 

The dessert of a trio of mochi was, as usual, divine. The special flavour of salted caramel was worth waiting for while the yuzu and match flavours were also both nice. The outer texture can be hard to get your head around but think of it as a little parcel holding the most delicious ice cream.

The star of the show, surprisingly, was actually the wine! We chose a well-priced Sauvignon Blanc and it was delicious. Not too sweet, not too dry but with a little oakiness to match the richness of the food. I normally order beer or sake with Japanese cuisine but this wine actually worked a treat!
Thank you Shoryu for hosting us again, I had a great time. The Covent Garden location opened in June this year and is the sixth Shoryu site in London. 

Monday, 18 July 2016

TRAVEL: A Foodie Photo Diary from Madrid, Spain

Following me on Instagram? Then you'll know that Alex and I recently took a trip to the beautiful Spanish cities of Madrid and Barcelona. Madrid may be a little less known than Barcelona but, in my view, it is a foodies paradise. What makes it even better is that the prices are unbelievably reasonable - we often ate out for less than 15 euros per person for dinner!

Today I'm sharing my foodie snaps from the break but if you want more information on each place just leave a comment below.

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