Apparently it takes 10 million foraging trips for a bee to make just one jar of honey. My blog shares the nectar from my own foraging in order to make life a little sweeter. Tea, toast & beret's are optional.
Last week I discovered Laduree has nestled into the cobbled streets of Covent Garden. Their little pastel coloured macaroons are such intense sweet loveliness they even snuck in above the ones at Sketch in my top 10 macaroon list (my dad and I were very pleasantly surprised by Sketch's lemongrass macaroons washed down with a cuppa,a rather pricey tea stop but definitely worth it for the ambiance, quirkiness & pastries) Third place in the list so far goes to the ones from some random little Toronto Patisserie that I was treated to last summer by my lovely host on my holidays. Shortly after I had declared the macaroon was dead and long live the whoopie pie. Oh how foolish was I. And how regretful after tasting the ones from wherever it was in Toronto.
So far I hadn't ever spotted a Laduree outside of gay Paris so was very excited to happen upon this little gem in Covent Garden after a night of French themed gallery going and gastronomy. It didn't even matter that the tea and macaroon fest cost the same as dinner, it was soooo worth it.
In an effort to recreate Parisian chic I decided to embark upon making my own. This was also due to the fact that should I wish to live on macaroons and tea this week I would need to remortgage in order to buy them from my local Waitrose at almost £6 a box. Ouch.
My home baked macaroons are far more of an ugly little sister to the elegant Parisian patisseries from Lauduree, however they are the ugly little sister with a heart of solid gold ad all the best dance moves as they taste damn fine. I have been told this too by taste-testers today at lunch, so you have it on good authority.
I shan't rewrite the recipe here...unless you ask nicely, but I shall share with you that I used Lorraine Pascale's recipe from 'Baking made Easy'. Although I tweaked it by adding some rose water to the mix for 1 batch and also a few drops of Almond Essence to the cream in another batch in an attempt to recreate the precious flavours of the Lauduree ones. Tres tasty.
Today's post is a celebration of the beauty of good bookshops.
I was gutted when my local Borders turned into a Pets at Home thus removing my favourite Friday post work guilty pleasure (Starbucks Chai & a stash of magazines/books helped pave the transition from working week to weekend) so I'm celebrating these little beauties as alternative reading rooms...
I Love love love Daunt's on Marylebone High Street where I recently found these enticing books for my reading wish list
Lazy Thoughts is one lady's comeback to Jerome K Jerome's Idle Thoughts of an Idle fellow so looking forward to digging into that one.
Much as I love a great bookshop like Daunt's you can't beet a root around a good ol' second hand one for digging out some curiosities. Here are some gem's I found in my local Help the Aged Charity bookshop (which also serves coffee and biccies enabling me to linger over the books and indulge in some great earwigging of chatter whilst browsing too)
Recently I sent a card to my friend Lizzie to invite her for tea & cake as I haven't seen her for a while, today I received a lovely acceptance card from her in the post which made me ponder on the Art of Acceptance. It's so nice to receive things through the post, particularly if they involve making plans. Sometimes an e mail or a text just won't cut it & a carrier pigeon is going a little too far. In honour of the art of acceptance I have searched a few little beauties on Etsy to share with you...
Today's post is a celebration of the humble banana as a breakfasting companion.
Upon waking a little jaded after an evening of overindulgence I am currently breakfasting in bed on my favourite hangover cure of Greek yogurt, banana, blueberries, honey & granola. Mmmmm.
Yesterday I frequented one of my favourite cafe's for a toasted banana and cinnamon sandwich which is so simple and scrummy.
Next Saturday I shall be breakfasting in Spittalfields with my friend Sarah, probably singing my new favourite song 'Breakfast in Spittalfields' by Juan Zelada. Not guaranteeing that a banana breakfast will be on the cards then but I wouldn't be at all surprised seen as the lovely crepe affaire does a great banana pancake (another banana brekkie fave)
Whilst singing the banana sarnie's praises I googled some other suggestions for accompaniments to spread on your toast alongside sliced banana....looks like honey, peanut butter or cashew butter are also worth a try, I'll keep you posted!
Oh my. I've been seeking an amazing neon light to adorn my white walls for years. Altough yet to find the perfect one these beauties from Rockett St George come pretty damn close, a little too pricey for my lighting requirements right now but definately on the 'to covet' list of interior style. I want. Lots.
Chuck a load of fruit (Banana is my fave, but this one has 1/2 a banana and a handfull of summer berries in which is also tasty), some greek yoghurt, ice cream and milk in a blender. Whizz. Pour over ice. Drink. mmmmmmmm
24 hours ago I was in love with London, summer in the city, chilled chai latte creme's & unexpected celeb spotting. This evening I am loving my sofa, a cuppa & a hearty slice of flapjack. What about you?...
Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.
And I wouldn't trust any woman who wouldn't want to adorn her head with this stunning millinery creation. If only I could get my hands on it promptly, the lady who made it tells you how to make your own on her website but I don't fancy my chances of whipping it up before tonight's party. If you have a go please post!
After discovering Michi Girl's illustrations in one of her books lately I feel the need to share.
I'm particularly loving the bag lady illustration above which is inspiring me to rummage through my bag stash & hit the sketchbook with some glue & a pot on ink.
Michi: an Australian illustrator blogs on 'The Design Files' & has written 2 books; 'what on earth are you wearing' & 'like I give a frock' . (The former is also in the Urban Outfitters sale at the mo for a very reasonable tenner: hence my discovery of her work on spree there recently)
I love this book, an amusing read on quintessentially English style, written by Luella Bartley. It made me laugh out loud and nod in agreement.
On the theme of Romance Luella comments... ' We Miss Englands are complex creatures, our inner traits just as inconsistent as the clothes we choose'.
When listing 'good signs in a man' she includes 'foppish hair, odd socks, knowledgeable on pop trivia, knows his country code, can put up a tent & good at Dad stuff'.' Included in what men like about British girls are 'she is quick witted, frank & disarmingly rude, and gives as good as she gets' as well as 'she has a wicked laugh' & 'can cook 3 recipes brilliantly'. It's not all romance talk though, there are enlightening explorations of quintessentially English garments from the tea dress, the tour T shirt, the duffel coat to status symbols of style (trial by dress), a shopping directory and much more knowledge & humour besides. And the real bonus I discovered is that Luella's guide to English Style is only a bargainous £14 (was £20) in the Urban Outfitters Sale right now. http://www.urbanoutfitters.co.uk/sale
And yes, it will make your life better if you buy it, borrow it, or read it any which way you can. Even if only for a small 20 minute tea break slot of reading time I reckon you will be a little bit cheerier & enlightened. (for some reason my photo won't post today so will update you with a piccy of Luell'as Guide at a later date...)
Like most Great British girls I need little excuse to jump on the Pimm's O'clock bandwagon on a sunny day, especially if that bandwagon comes along with a sidecar serving of cupcakes...too much? Not in my world. These Pimm's O'clock cupcakes are super easy to make & a lovely accompaniment to a jug of Pimm's or pot of tea, whichever floats your boat.
To make, just follow your favourite cupcake recipe & pour in a hefty splash of Pimm's into the mix before dolloping into cake cases. Add a splash to buttercream icing to top it all off (too much & the icing will go grainy so steady hands needed here) then dress with a strawberry slice & a sprinkling of edible pink sparkle. They would also be lovely with a cucumber slice or mint leaf topping if you are going to eat them immediately. Makes about 12 cakes depending on case size. Don't overfill cases if you want to pipe your icing on top.
Just in case you need a cupcake recipe I use my Mum's cake mix; (old school measurements of course)
6 oz sugar
6 oz butter (room temp)
6 oz self raising flour
Cream the butter & sugar in a large bowl, add flour & eggs, beat together. At this point add a glug of Pimm's for this recipe, add to cases and pop in the oven at 180 degrees for about 15-20 mins. Buttercream icing:
A large dollop of room temp butter beaten together with sifted icing sugar to form a nice smooth icing, add Pimm's and beat further. Pipe onto of cool cakes or smother over cakes generously if piping's not your bag (sorry!). I never measure properly for icing so can't give accurate measurements. Anyway, I recommend making far too much so you can lick the rest out of the bowl afterwards. My good mate Mrs T assures me you can freeze butter icing if you make too much but as I've never had any left over, for reasons previously stated, I haven't tried this myself. If you run out of butter you can make a quick glace icing with icing sugar, water and a splash of Pimm's that will work just as well.
My wandering eyes came across this lovely birdhouse print on a range of stationary during a foraging trip to Paperchase the other day. I am particularly loving the small notebooks in the range which I'm sure soon will be nestling in my ever growing collection of notebooks and sketchbooks awaiting a little scribble or a random jotting.
Last night I rediscovered the timeless recipe for a perfect Saturday night cocktail: grab a handful of best mates, throw in some eclectic tunes & a karaoke bar. Stir in some delicious dining, drinks, chatter & then shake to mix it up. Top the mix with some extravagant accessories (wigs, top hats, high heels, sunglasses all came out of the dressing up bag) & remove all inhibitions. Consume with glee.
Brighton: the perfect place to discover pleasures old & new. I often return here at Bank Holidays with friends to indulge in wandering around The Lanes window shopping, stopping for coffee & cake and paying our ritual visit to the carousel on the beach to remind ourselves of the joy nostalgic pleasures. Let me share with you some of the pleasurable highlights from my recent visit to the Pleasure trove that is Brighton...
This quirky little magic shop in Kemptown where I bought a magic wand (just because you can) has the best signage. It also sells mini sharpie pens in a range of colours to attache to your keyring. Now that's magic!
A stroll along the promenade is a must, come rain or shine. Indeed a drizzly day on a British beach gives you the perfect excuse to retreat to a cosy coffee shop for tea & cake. We were almost blown away by the wind on our recent visit so took the perfect excuse to shelter in The Mock Turtle and catch up with friends over pots of tea & vast amounts of cake. Highly recommend this little Brighton gem for atmosphere and a quintessential tea room vibe, although it's often packed to bursting so be prepared to share a table and make new friends, or chastise yourself for not ordering the cake that the girls did on the next table, cake envy can be highly dangerous in my book. You have been warned!
A final photo-tribute must be paid to the waiter who put a heart in my wobbly coffee (Baileys latte in case you were wondering) at Hotel du Vin. Nothing like a hearted frothy latte to make you feel special after a long day of wandering & window shopping, even if he does do it for all the girls.
The perfect start to my blog has just popped up on my computer. A lovely plate found by my inspirational friend Lizzie in Toronto. She is always finding trinkets and frippery on her strolls around the wonderful world of Toronto. I can't pass a second hand bookshop without popping in for a browse because of her. More of that to come...