My Sunshiny Life











{April 1, 2010}   Hummingbird Bakery

“Thou shalt eat red velvet cake before you die” should have been one of the commandments.  Especially if it’s from the Hummingbird Bakery. 

Now, I’m on a sugar free, alcohol free AND wheat free gig this year (yes, you did read that correctly, it’s for a whole year) but I wanted to buy a lovely cake for Naomi’s birthday.  She helps look after all my clients, so it seems fair for her to be rewarded with delicious cake on such a special day!

There is a new branch open in Soho on Wardour Street, and there is a massive difference to the Portobello branch where I’ve been a few times before. NO queue.  Granted, I was there at 10am, but it was nice not to have to push through a horde of tourists to get to the cake.

Naomi was ecstatic to have such a delicious cake, as was the rest of the office who coasted through the afternoon on a red velvet sugar rush buzz.

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{February 16, 2010}   Shrove Tuesday

If you don’t already know why we even have Pancake Tuesday (also called Shrove Tuesday) then let me enlighten you.  Lent starts tomorrow and Pancake Tuesday came about as everyone used up all their leftovers so they could fast for Lent, or give up their favourite goodies at least. 

Now the practice is more commonplace, even for those who aren’t religious.  Any excuse to eat a delicious pancake, right?

I wouldn’t ever want a pancake enough to queue in this long line outside the Holborn branch of My Old Dutch.  I wouldn’t queue up for one of their pancakes in fine weather (thick, greasy, yet dry at the same time), let alone in sub zero temperatures in the rain!

I had my own pancakes at home.  Lovely healthy pancakes!  Just tip a cup of buckwheat flour into a bowl, make a well and add a lightly beaten egg.  Then stir in a 1 1/3 cup of soya/rice/coconut or another nut milk.  Add a few tablespoons of cold water to make into a thin batter and work your magic in the fry pan.

Buckwheat pancakes with greek yoghurt and cashew nut butter

Then K and F had their turn in the kitchen and I had to investigate when I heard the smoke alarm going off.  They quickly shuffled their best looking pancakes to the surface for a photo.  Smoky pancakes could become a covetable cuisine!

Smoky Pancake Stack



I’ve been clean for 15 days now (bar that little incident with the hash browns) and am feeling great.  It’s not just that I’m not mindlessly grazing on peanut M&M’s anymore or that I’m giving Haribo sweets a wide berth… do you know how much sugar is hidden in packaged foods?  Who would have known that they sneak it in to so many things, seriously – hash browns! 

So my 360 degree switch change on my diet has been weirdly easy.  I’d been expecting to hang around outside Patisserie Valerie with my nose pressed against the window looking longingly at the pretty cakes.  Or reaching for a can of coke at 4pm in the afternoon or settling down to a movie craving a big fat glass of merlot.  But no, I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

As well as sugar I’ve discarded alcohol, white junky refined carbs, anything yeasty, anything smoked or fermented and fruit.  Not that fruit isn’t healthy because it is and I love it – but because it doesn’t fit into the sugar free regime. 

I’ll be on this healthy path for a year and keeping it in perspective that I’m only a few weeks into my regime, (and haven’t been to the pub with my friends yet) I’m faring rather well. 

Just in case I get a mad craving to stuff my face full of jaffa cakes I’ll take inspiration from my slightly adapted version of the serenity prayer

 

Universe grant me the self control
not to stuff my face full of cream cakes; 
willpower to stay away from the sweets aisle;
and wisdom to embrace the healthy food difference.

 



{January 10, 2010}   Domestic Goddess Unleashed

For the last couple of years I’ve been a heat and eat kind of girl.  An open packet and mix with another packet kind of cook.  Well aside from dinner parties, when I unleash the inner domestic goddess.  There was no dinner party this weekend, but the domestic goddess made an appearance in aid of my new healthy eating regime. 

I’m on a strict anti allergy diet which has restricted a few of my favourite foods.  Alcohol is also on the naughty list, but after my 2 day violent hangover on New Years Day I still don’t miss it.  Actually the list of foods I can’t eat is longer than what I can, so I’ll just cut to what I cooked up this weekend.

I made some roast almond butter, cashew nut butter (both delicious spread on celery and oat cakes), chicken stock, chicken soup, buckwheat pancakes and lemon curd.  Lemon curd is SOOO easy to make, mouth puckeringly sour without sugar (that’s on the restricted substance list) but delicious none the less.  I layered it on my buckwheat pancakes, added a generous spread of greek yoghurt and sprinkled coconut on the top. 

So I’m one week in to my new regime and I don’t feel deprived at all – with food like this how can I?

Buckwheat Pancake Stack w/ Lemon Curd, Yoghurt and Coconut



{December 19, 2009}   L'Anima

L’Anima is Italian for soul (I didn’t know that, I just saw it on their website) and their food has got all of that and so much more.  The  restaurant is sleek and glass fronted, right at home in the city with tables full of suit clad diners.  Our clients love going there and have been more than a few times in the last two weeks, so they requested that we meet there for our Christmas lunch.

The restaurant was most accomodating with our booking as we were running 45 minutes late.  The service was impeccable and we were quickly seated with our Rossini’s and Bellini’s.  Very Miami Vice, but retro is back right?  The plump greener than green olives were amazing and so was the bread, which I HAD to tuck into as it was now 3pm, I was one Miami Vice drink down and had no food in my belly.

This situation didn’t last long.  The other three in my group ordered the truffle pasta for a starter (a snip at £38 a plate).  On the menu it said that the truffles were carefully chosen by Franceso and I wondered if that was the truffle pig, but a tall Italian man was pointed out to me in the kitchen – this was Francesco the head chef and owner.  He came over to our table to shake hands with our clients, how nice to be appreciated as a regular customer! 

To start I had scallops with salsa verde and it arrived looking ever so elegant, with the scallops nestled into the scallop shell and the shell perched high on a mound of seasalt.   It tasted as delicious as it looked and maybe they heated the shell because even my last scallop was piping hot.  The truffle pasta was even better, but if I ate a whole plate of that I couldn’t have eaten my delicious pork belly.  Bring on the crackling.  The sauce that went with it was called N’cantanata, a mix of honey, spices and paprika – a thick paste of it was artfully scraped across the plate.

I also had a taste of beef tagliata, which came draped over a marrow bone that served as a meaty throne.  It melted in my mouth, beautiful!  I chose best with mine though, it even looked better than the eye fillet and it was just the right amount.

This restaurant hits all the right notes, with the look and feel and most importantly the food and drink. I also like the fact they have a list of definitions on their menu so you don’t feel like a dumb ass having to ask about ingredients that you’re not familiar with. They’ve done well to have such a first year in the city, with the financial turmoil that has defined 2009.  Awards abound for them and so does their customer loyalty.  I can see why, I’ll be back too – but maybe on the company credit card as a meal and drinks for four cost over £500.

L’anima, 1 Snowden Street, London, EC2A 2DQ



{November 17, 2009}   Cake Baking Superstar

Le Dolci

We have a celebrity chef in our midst.  My lovely flatmate Dolce has started up her own cupcake making business and the fruits of her labour have been gratefully sampled in our flat (until Bracks and I decided to stop eating sugar).  She has had quite a few orders and now her fame has spread to the media.  She had a photo shoot session with our local paper Wood and Vale today, with her big feature appearing in Thursdays edition.  Today the Wood and Vale, tomorrow the Sunday Star Times, this is where it all begins!

Forgetting momentarily that today is the first day on my low sugar diet, I tucked into the brownie slice that she’d set aside for me.  A bit of chocolate love after my crappy day at work was exactly what I needed.  The low sugar diet can begin tomorrow, but for now I was indulging in a deliciously soft, yet delightfully crunchy slice of heaven.  

Butterfly Brownie

You too can have your own slice of heaven, just look Dolce up on her new site and order whatever takes your sugar high fancy.   

www.LeDolci.com

info@LeDolci.com

07732923331

Le Dolci Wedding Cupcake Tower



{October 13, 2009}   Momofuku Magic

When Tammy told me that pork was the latest big craze in New York restaurants I was impressed. What an excellent way to get piggy revenge for swine flu, if you can’t beat em, eat em!

So after a happy hour of drinking fabulous malbec with Tom at Morrells wine bar, and a quick visit to the Rockefeller Center, I made my way to Momofuku in the East Village.  

Pretty New York Skyline

Pretty New York Skyline

Tammy’s recommendation was spot on and she wasn’t kidding about the fact that pork was the menu flavour of the day either. This place is famous for their pork buns and for good reason. They are A.mazing! So was my waiter who remembered that I wanted my photo taken when they arrived. He was so good that he came back when my main arrived to see if I wanted another photo taken. Boy, you gooood! If you ever want to go on holiday with me you’re more than welcome. What more does a girl need, someone who is happy to take her photo and knows instinctively that every photo needs a seal of approval or a re-shoot.

A happy girl and her pork buns

A happy girl and her pork buns

My only very slight criticism would be that my main came out a little bit too soon after my entree. But what a main it was, so they were forgiven very quickly! I had Bev Eggleston’s Pork Shoulder Steak, which came with grilled eggplant, eggplant puree, beans, seaweed and of course melt in your mouth pork.  I meant to ask my waiter why Bev Eggleston, but I forgot. 

Bev Eggleston's Pork Shoulder Chop

Bev Eggleston's Pork Shoulder Chop

I didn’t think that I could possibly finish, but sometimes I surprise myself. A chilled glass of chablis helped and it all comes down to mind over matter. In a freak of nature way I fit far more food in my belly than I thought physically possible.   

A little dent made

A little dent made

You can do it!

You can do it!

Oh. My. God, I'm full!

Oh. My. God, I'm full!

But the fun didn’t stop here.  I broke through the pain barrier and walked through Momofuku Ssam to Momofuku Milk bar. I hate milk, but this place does amazing milk infusions. To be honest, I’d rather have a vodka infusion. But with cereal milk and other inventive creations on the menu I just had to have a look.

My stomach started churning at the thought of another food onslaught, but I whispered to my groaning belly that I wasn’t eating anything else, so it settled down long enough for me to buy some cookies for my breakfast. It would be more nutritious than the gourmet jelly beans I had yesterday!

Momofuku Cookie Menu

Momofuku Cookie Menu

The milk bar has some weird and wonderful dessert concoctions, as well as the famous pork buns.  There were crack cakes, towering banana cakes, milk infusions and some very strange soft serve icecream options.  I had a little taste of the salty cucumber soft serve.  Before I tasted it, other patrons warned me that it was weird and salty. They weren’t wrong, it was salty but quite pleasant. Weird and salty was an apt description.

Salty Cucumber Soft Serve Icecream

Salty Cucumber Soft Serve Icecream

So it’s 4.50 am New York time and I’ve tasted the cookies.  They are amazing.  My choices were the compost cookie which includes chocolate chips, pretzels, potato chips, butterscotch, and coffee grinds.  Strange, but it works!  The other choice was a cornflake (hey it is breakfast after all!), marshmallow and chocolate chip cookie – Brilliant – not quite as good as the compost cookie.  It’s the coffee grounds that make that cookie so good.  My last little taste is of the blueberry and milk crumb cookie.  Even feeling slightly sick from cookie overdose I think this cookie is fabulous.  If I had to rate them in order, it would be compost, blueberry and then cornflake, but it’s a close call!

Me Love Coooooookies! (say it cookie monster styley)

Me Love Coooooookies! (say it cookie monster styley)

Momofuku, I’m glad I made the trek across town – you have to go if you’re in New York.  I’ll be back.

Momofuku Ssam and Milk Bar

Neighborhood: East Village
207 2nd Ave
(between 12th St & 13th St)


{October 12, 2009}   Fabulous Cupcakes

No one does cupcakes like the Americans.  To be quite honest, I prefer the taste of the Hummingbird bakery cupcakes – it’s the icing that has the cream cheese in it, instead of the whipped confectionary they use over here. 

The American cupcakes win hands down in terms of inventiveness though.  Check out the pictures that I’ve taken over the last couple of days as I’ve indulged my cupcake fetish.  The place to see cupcakes in New York is the Chelsea Food Market, where you’ll find a row of bakeries offering an array of tempting and purty sweet treats. 

The famous Magnolia Bakery

The famous Magnolia Bakery

Magnolia Bakery Red Velvet Cupcake

Magnolia Bakery Red Velvet Cupcake

Scrumptious offering in the Chelsea Food Market

Scrumptious offering in the Chelsea Food Market

Obama Cupcakes

Obama Cupcakes

New York cookies and cupcakes

New York cookies and cupcakes

Cheeseburger and Fries Cake (yes, really)

Cheeseburger and Fries Cake (yes, really)

Cute Doggy Cupcakes

Cute Doggy Cupcakes

Almost too cute to eat, almost but not quite

Almost too cute to eat, almost but not quite



{October 2, 2009}   Grand Bazaar

I love Grand Bazaar in St Christophers Place and Suse and I go there often to catch up.  Last night we were lucky enough to be joined by Gary as well.  The food at GB is middle eastern and absolutely delicious! 

Puffy Bread

Flat Bread

I give GB top marks for food and service, but the winner of the night would have to be the puffy bread, for entertainment value (we’re easily amused) and for taste – especially when paired with the scrumptious dips.



{September 30, 2009}   Lucky 7 for Burgers and Beer

Lucky 7 Booth Sharing

Koi-lee and I went for a long overdue catch up, to eat burgers and gossip.  Lucky 7 is the natural selection when you think of the place to go for a good quality cheeseburger.   The sister restaurant to Crazy Homies and just as kitsch, with random decorations and booths that you may have to share with other customers.  We were lucky and managed to keep our booth to ourselves – having loads of bags helps deter would be table partners.

Decor

Kylie and her mini me cheeseburger

Unfortunately some of the other burgers looked better than ours, it was like we got the mini me burger.  Not that we didn’t leave stuffed of course. 

Kylie at Lucky 7

On to the upstairs bit of the Oak where we sat by a couple, who then proceeded to make out in front of us, just stopping short of ripping each others clothes off and really going for it.  A few awkward giggles later, we found another seat, just out of view of the overt PDA and finished our evening over red wine and rum (not together obviously).



et cetera