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.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

REVIEW: Esja Skyr (Icelandic Yogurt)

Since going vegetarian I've always been concerned about my protein intake. It's such a cliche for vegans and vegetarians, "but where do you get your protein", and while I would love to turn my nose up and say "oh well from here, here and here" it's definitely something I worry about. So, when I was asked to test out Esja Skyr I was quite excited. High in protein, fat-free and organic, Esja Skyr has a wealth of health benefits for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Yes, it's not vegan, but sometimes as a vegetarian, you have to make compromises.
I've settled on being vegetarian since taking part in Veganuary. Although I would prefer to maintain a vegan diet (and I do 90% of the time) my nut allergy makes it very difficult to ensure I get my RDA of most food groups, including protein. I do not drink dairy milk in my coffee or tea; I generally avoid eggs and never eat them in their 'natural form'; I very rarely eat yogurts or add cream to my cakes, and I most certainly never eat meat or fish. Being willing to try a dairy based yogurt is a big step for me as I have avoided dairy (aside from the odd bit of cheese) for almost seven months.

Esja Skyr was created by British food entrepreneur David Atkin and Icelandic brothers, Helgi and Sverrir Gunnarsson, to bring their Icelandic yogurt to the UK. Utilising traditional Icelandic techniques, the Eska Skyr family recipe has been used for twenty years and is finally making its debut on British soil.
And of course, in true Icelandic style, not only is Esja Skyr good for its health benefits, but it’s good for the environment too- the production facility is 100% carbon neutral making it truly responsibly sourced food. Produced locally in Devon, Esja Skyr products are made using only the finest organic ingredients and 100% British milk from British cows supporting British farmers and lower food miles, making Esja Skyr a poster child for sustainability.

A luxury, high-end product, Esja Skyr is already stocked in health foodie favourite Planet Organic showcasing four fantastic flavours: Natural, Vanilla, Strawberry, and Mango, all of which are rich in calcium, vitamins and bursting with natural protein.

A great breakfast option (milder in flavour than yoghurt), Esja Skyr is a perfect addition to a smoothie or with fresh fruit and milk or simply by itself. Time to reimagine your breakfast with a healthy, wholesome Icelandic influence which is truly guilt-free!

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

REVIEW: Trying Cleansing Teas with Indigo Herbs

If you use Instagram or are under 25 you've probably heard of cleanse teas. They are touted by the likes of the Kardashians, loved by the fitness queens on Instagram and claim to help detox the body. I've never thought much of these teas - anything faddy or in the slightest bit 'cool' is often not all it's cracked up to be. 

When Indigo Herbs sent me their Super Cleanse Detox Support Tea I was a little wary, but, knowing how much I enjoyed my herbal powders from them previously, was willing to give it a try. The tea perfectly blends fennel, liquorice, nettle, dandelion, red clover and ginger giving a warming, comforting flavour - unlike many commercial detox teas. The tea claims to purify and support the detox process, negating the after-effects of overindulging in caffeine. You know what that means guys - a lot of trips to the bathroom! 
The tea comes in a loose leaf form, made from 100% pure botanical ingredients. A little random but the actual tea itself looks very pretty and when I used my cute diffuser I felt very fancy. Perhaps this is a side effect of the tea - feeling very chic when drinking it. I can't say that the tea made my skin super glowing or my hair grow a thousand times quicker like most teas claim, but, ahead of my holiday, it did help to kick any sweet cravings I had and made me feel much calmer during my final days at work. Relaxation, tick. Detoxing - maybe tick.

Alongside this tea, I have also been taking four Organic Spirulina Tablets a day to boost my protein intake and effortlessly up my greens. The tablets are literally flavourless if you swallow them with water and genuinely made me feel a little more perked up during the day. I have been taking two with my breakfast and two at lunch time, downed with a big gulp of water. Like all other Indigo Herbs products, these are certified organic and ideal for those following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.

Learn more about Indigo Herbs here > 

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The Japan Centre's 40th Birthday!

I absolutely love the Japan Centre. Recently Michelle from Daisy Butter and I visited and tucked into gorgeous vegetarian sushi, fresh juices and picked up a haul of beautiful Japanese products. From wakame seaweed for a refreshing salad to naughty sweet treats for after work, the Japan Centre literally has everything you could imagine on sale.
This July Japan Centre, London’s only dedicated Japanese Food Hall, will be celebrating its 40th birthday with a series of promotions, masterclasses, tastings and more. Running from the 10th - 24th July the Shaftesbury Avenue location will showcase their passion and expertise in Japanese cuisine and culture.

Set up by entrepreneur Tak Tokumine in 1976 who started with a small bookshop, the Japan Centre has since grown to become one of the largest and most influential Japanese stores in London, adding a food hall, bakery, deli, restaurant, home-ware department and online service to its portfolio.
On Sunday 10th July the birthday celebrations will launch with 10% off everything in store and online. For the following two weeks, 40 of Taks all time favourite products will be on promotion with savings of up to 40%. 

On top of the promotions, the Japan Centre will host a series of free masterclasses and sampling sessions as well as tastings from some of their notable suppliers. Amongst the list of events will be two ‘Miso, Tofu and Seaweed’ tastings from Clearspring and four Gekkeikan Sake samplings. There will also be ticketed masterclasses where guests can learn the art of sushi, matcha and sake as well as take part in a class run by Masterchef finalist Andrew Kojima, where attendees can learn how to cook with miso and 5th taste, umami.
For a full list of events and to book click here.

To run alongside the 40th birthday celebrations there will be 40 prizes available to win in a prize draw including 3 pairs of return flights to Japan, a Clearspring luxury sushi making kit and cinema tickets. To enter into the draw that opens on June 10th please head to the website. The Japan Centre will also be posting specially created video content and recipes to watch on their social media channels, @JapanCentre, throughout July.
The stores sister restaurants Ichiryu Udon House and Shoryu Ramen will be joining in on the celebrations by offering free sake to all diners o nSunday 10th July and a limited edition Japan Centre cocktail for the whole two-week celebrations. The ‘AKA Forty’ will be a unique Japanese twist on the classic Negroni, which has been aged for 40 days. The bright red colour of the drink symbolising the rising sun of Japan, and will be finished off with a secret ingredient.  

Monday, 20 June 2016

Two Suppers with Marley Spoon

I’ve never been one for meal delivery services – aside from the odd takeaway of course! I’ve found the idea of having my food measured out, pre-prepared and delivered in a big box a little strange. I’m unsure why, but, there we go. When I was approached to give Marley Spoon a go I was unsure, to say the least – what if I loved having my dinner most-of-the-way pre-pared for me and going forward I couldn’t face the Lidl hell now I know the alternative.
While it’s safe to say I absolutely loved my experience with Marley Spoon, I won’t be missing out on my weekly Lidl trek anytime soon. This month Marley Spoon have collaborated with Olia Hercules, The Observer’s Rising Star of 2015 and author of the celebrated cookbook, Mamushka. Combining her Ukrainian heritage with Cypriot, Italian, Moldovan, Laos and Caucasian influences, to name a few, Olia has created a selection of exciting dishes for Marley Spoon that have featured on both the Two-Person and Family menus. All recipes are delivered with the seasonal ingredients, in exact quantities, to cook at home. I was kindly invited to test out the Spiced Aubergine Mujaddara with Shallot Garnish & Yoghurt and Marley Spoon’s very own Flat Bread Pizzas with Tender Stem Broccoli and Radicchio salad. 
My lovely box arrived on Friday last week to my office at around 10am – just when they said it would arrive so that’s impressive! The meals were portioned into separate brown bags with the loveliest designs across the paper. To say I was a little obsessed with the packaging is a massive understatement. It’s the element of delivery services that many people ignore – why does it matter what box your supper comes in – but Marley Spoon’s packaging made me feel very happy. Alongside the brown paper bags was a sheep’s wool lined cooling bag with the dairy elements in and two recipe cards with beautifully shot images and clear instructions.
We opted for the Flat Bread Pizzas on Friday night – a healthier choice for that naughty end of week treat. The ingredients included Middle Eastern flat breads, tender stem broccoli, pine nuts, mozzarella, and basil, plus spices and dressings for the radicchio salad. The instructions were wonderfully clear and took us through step-by-step. We created the tomato sauce, then prepped the veggies, then cooked the pizza and prepared the salad. Everything was ready in 40 minutes and we were tucking into a delicious, healthy meal which took minimal effort. 
Olia's dish of Spiced Aubergine Mujaddara with Shallot Garnish & Yoghurt was a touch more complex but again the instructions were really well put.The ingredients bag included aubergines, shallots, lentils, yoghurt and dill plus an array of Middle Eastern spices which brought a tonne of flavour to each mouthful. We began by cooking the rice and lentils in a traditional way with the spices being fried off first, moving onto the garam masala aubergine rounds and the sticky sweet onion garnish. The finished dish looked as pretty as the pictures provided (which was a surprise because my presentation skills are, well, rubbish) and tasted incredible!
Will I be ordering from Marley Spoon again? Perhaps - I think it's a great option for special occasions but for my daily life it's a touch too expensive. Portions start from £4.35 per person and can be ordered online here.

Thank you to Marley Spoon for providing the boxes for this review. All opinions are my own and not been influenced in any way by the provision of the boxes.

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