Thursday, 27 November 2014

Google Skate School at Somerset House.

Last week Edd and I ditched Ralph Lauren and their interiors event for ice-skating at Somerset House with Google. After all, it is Christmas, so ice-skating outside is pretty much mandatory. We went along with Google Local London, and bumped into the lovely Laura and Helen while we were there! 

Before getting on the ice we were treated to prosecco and canapes in Somerset House with the top reviewers on Google+. I am a huge advocate for Google+, I absolutely love it, so it was interesting chatting to the people who write so many reviews on there of local London businesses, and hearing what they do for full-time jobs. 

We took photos with the Google logo (you'd think that working so closely with the Google peeps for my full-time job, I'd have gotten used to all this stuff, but it never seems to stop being a novelty), and then sat down for a rest before we went skating. We sat down next to a couple of girls, and one of them looked at me, introduced herself, and told me she was a reader of my blog! It was so lovely to meet her! *waves* Hi Leanne! We chatted for a bit and then went out to finally go ice-skating.

It was freeeeeezing outside, but thankfully we soon warmed up when we got on the rink. Edd kept making fun of me because I have my own ice-skates (see more about me ice-skating here), he was expecting me to get on the ice and start spinning and jumping around, so I had to break it to him that I can no longer do that. 

We spent about an hour and a half on the ice, and I then spotted Laura and Helen having a lesson with one of the ice marshalls. I skated over to them to say hi, and helped to show them how to skate backwards.

At first it was pretty quiet and I loved it, then it got a bit busier and people kept encroaching into my personal space and falling over around me. I had a couple of horrible ice-skating accidents years ago when I did figure skating, so my confidence on the ice isn't exactly high, and I freak out whenever someone gets too close to me. I trust myself on the ice, but not others. This was my face when people kept coming too close to me...

So. Damn. Attractive.

Also I spotted this GIF on the Google+ page of Edd and I skating, HA.

After skating we headed back into Somerset House for more drinks and canapes, and the cutting of a huuuuuge cake! The cake was incredible, It looked like Somerset House, and inside the colour of it was all of Google's colours; yellow, blue, green, and red. The roof sections at the top were Toblerone covered in icing. Yep. It was delish.

Thanks for an awesome evening Google Local London!

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Monday, 24 November 2014

Nutella & Oreo Cheesecake.

This is probably one of the best things I have ever made, so naturally I had to share it with you all. If you love Oreos and Nutella, this is for you. When I was searching for a recipe for a no-bake Nutella and Oreo Cheesecake I just couldn't find one that fitted what I had in my mind, so I had to take bits from various recipes, and add my own creative flair (pah!). 

My creative flair consisted of blending the Oreos into crumbs, and the mixing them so well that it gave the Cheesecake a proper 'grey/chocolate/oreo' colour, rather than just a cream colour with Oreo chunks. Don't get me wrong, I love chunks of Oreos, but they don't make the entire cheesecake taste of Oreo. If you get what I mean? Also the drizzled melted Nutella on top just adds the perfect hint of hazelnut and chocolate.

For the ingredients you will need;

Oreo Biscuit Base

20 Oreos
80g butter

Oreo Cheesecake Filling

680g cream cheese, room temperature
24 Oreos (two packs)
120g golden caster sugar
270ml whipped cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

First put your 80g of butter into a microwaveable bowl and then put it in the microwave for 40 seconds. While that's in the microwave, put 20 Oreos into a food processor (I used my Russell Hobbs Aura 6-in-1, which is literally the best thing you will ever buy, and it's currently on sale!) and whizz them until they're just crumbs.

Russell Hobbs Aura 6-in-1 processor

Then combine the Oreo crumbs with the 80g of melted butter and mix until the butter is completely coating the crumbs. Press the crumbs into the bottom of a well-greased medium-sized springform pan. Put into the refrigerator to firm while you make the filling.

Right, now while that's firming up, mix your 680g of cream cheese with your 120g caster sugar and teaspoon of vanilla extract. Mix them well until the mixture is nice and smooth. When it's nice and smooth get your 230ml of whipped cream and whip it up with a whisk. I used the whisk contraption on my Aura 6-in-1 (told you it was amazing). When your cream is nice and thick, gently stir it into your filling mixture.

Russell Hobbs Aura 6-in-1 whisk

whipping cream with the Russell Hobbs Aura 6-in-1

Then whizz the other 24 Oreos in the food processor, and then add around three quarters of them to the mixture too. When all of your Oreo crumbs are nice and mixed in, take your tin that contains your biscuit base out of the fridge, and pour the filling onto the base. Smooth the top, lick the spoon, then cover the top with the rest of the crumbs.

Then simply pop it back into the fridge and leave it in there overnight to set! Then remove and drizzle a spoonful of melted Nutella (pop it in a microwavable bowl and microwave for 40 seconds) over the top of the crumbs, add a small rosette of cream, sprinkle some more Oreo crumbs on if you have any left, and Ta-da!

No-Bake Oreo Cheesecake Recipe

Nutella and Oreo Cheesecake Recipe

No-Bake Oreo Cheesecake Recipe

No-Bake Oreo Cheesecake Recipe

No-Bake Nutella and Oreo Cheesecake Recipe

No-Bake Oreo Cheesecake Recipe

I can't even describe how incredible and indulgent this cheesecake is, and it's so simple! Make this and you'll be everyone's favourite person. It's perfect for every occasion; a lazy Sunday, family dinners, afternoon tea with friends, or you could even make it for someone special's birthday!

Because of the huge amount of Oreos you need, the entire cheesecake cost around £7.50 to make (I use Sainsbury's basics ingredients for baking, such as the sugar, butter, and cream cheese, and then the Oreos were on special offer for £1 per pack), and it serves 10-12, so that's roughly 65p per serving - not bad!

Tell me, will you be making my Nutella and Oreo Cheesecake?! 
If you do, let me know and send me a photo on Twitter! Also let me know in the comments below what your favourite Oreo or Nutella recipe is! I'm always on the hunt for more :)

No-Bake Oreo Cheesecake Recipe

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*I was sent the Aura 6-in-1 along with a lovely package of goodies from Russell Hobbs, however my views remain my own as always.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Caledonian Club Ceilidh.

This year I haven't really blogged much about the events I go to with my club, so I thought I'd tell you all about the most fun event of the year, the Caledonian Club Ceilidh. These events are the main reason I started this blog, to document and give others an insight into the crazy world of mine where it's a regular occurrence for us to dress up in pretty dresses and eat delicious food in some of the most private buildings in London. We call this Clubland.

I wore
French Connection Dress, Astley Clark rings, Topshop earrings

For any newbies here, as a younger member of the Royal Overseas League (a beautiful club which specializes in music, the arts, and the Commonwealth), I'm also a part of the Inter-Club Younger Members Group. It's a group that was set up many years ago to give the younger members of the main private members clubs of London the chance to mingle with each other and go to events together. I've blogged a bit in the past about these events, especially the ones at ROSL and the Christmas Balls

Three years ago I blogged about how Ciara and I went to the annual Caledonian Club Ceilidh, so I thought it was time I give you an updated version of events. Sadly this year there were no bagpipes, as most of the men from the Caledonian Club (one of which plays the bagpipes) are currently up on Scotland on a stag do. Thankfully we still had a really fantastic evening, and it was so great to catch up with Ciara and hear all about her wedding plans (sadly I can't go as I'm in Australia then, boo).

Astley Clarke and Topshop Stacking Rings
We started with a drinks reception before being seated for our three course meal. The starter was crab, the main was Haggis, Neeps and Tatties (YUM), and the dessert was a slightly cold chocolate fondant with very frozen ice-cream. I love Haggis so much, but the portions are always so huge I end up feeling ill afterwards.

After dinner we then moved into the main room for dancing. The Caledonian Club have a wooden sprung dance floor, which means when you dance on it it bounces up and down. It's awesome. 

We were the first ones in while everyone else finished their coffees next door, so we made the most of it by leaping around the ballroom. 

Although this was fun, it's even better when you have energetic Scottish men in black tie stamping their feet up and down on the sprung floor and clapping loudly to the beat of the music, whooping and cheering while everyone's Ceilidh dancing together. It's one of those experiences that always puts a huge grin on my face and makes me laugh endlessly. It's definitely my favourite event of the social calendar. I didn't get many photos of the dancing as, ya know, I was a bit too busy actually dancing. I did get a small video though...between 0:14-0:23 you can really hear the stomping! You can hear the whooping and shrieks all the way through though...

The great thing about Ceilidh's is that you'll always find a dance partner. Alex and I always dance together to begin with because we're both awful and can have a laugh about it, but by the end we always end up with random people because that's just the nature of the Ceilidh - everyone dances with each other! 

After dancing the night away it was time to head home, but not without a little twirl outside first in my 'princess dress' as Ciara named it (although French Connection call it the Duchess dress)...

I hope you're all having had a wonderful weekend! 

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Top 8 Festive Feasts 2014.

I'm feeling incredibly festive this year - the total opposite of last year, so thought I'd do a little Christmas series of posts for you all, starting with my Top 8 Festive Feasts, aka, the best festive menus on offer in London throughout December! Next week it'll be my 'Top Festive Drinks', which will be a collection of the best festive drinks and parties in town.

Sadly I don't think I'll be able to go to many of these as my December is already looking pretty busy, but please let me know on Twitter @luxlifeblog if you go - I want to hear all about it! I'll try and get along to at least one of them though, as naturally I need to try something out that I've recommended!

Winter Warmers at Rabbit

First up is Winter Warmers at newly-opened Chelsea restaurant Rabbit, which is a current favourite of Ms P-Mids. With an array of yummy Yuletide cocktails including the Christmas Martini, and a festive feast ideal for meat-lovers, which includes their very own Partridge In A Pear Tree, a delicious dish of partridge with pear and dropped pasta. Best of all though, they will be serving a mince pie with mince that's flavoured with several ingredients including apple brandy and veal suet to enhance the flavour. It all sounds absolutely delish if you ask me!

172 Kings Road
London, SW3 4UP
Tel: 020 3750 0172
Twitter: @RabbitResto

Bobo Social Christmas - £24.50

Next up is hot new high-end burger joint Bobo Social, who will be celebrating the most wonderful time of the year by creating a menu fit for Santa Claus himself, with dishes that will include a Chestnuts and Cranberry Christmas Burger (oh lordy), which is made from...wait for it...rare-breed Beef and has Truffle Cheese, roasted Chestnuts and homemade Cranberry Compote. You can finish your meal with Pecan Banoffee pie.

BOBO Social
95 Charlotte Street
London, W1T 4PZ
Tel: 0207 6369310
Twitter: @BoboSocial

Trullo's Buon Natale Italian Feast - £30

Trullo is one of my favourite restaurants. It's one of the few that I'll go out 'East' for...that is, Highbury & Islington East (it's East for me, k?). I reviewed Trullo a couple of years ago, which you can see here, and this Christmas they're putting on an Italian Feast! There is absolutely no Turkey on their set Christmas menu, so it's perfect for all you scrooges, instead they'll be serving slow roast shoulder of lamb with soft polenta, and Quince Tart.

300-302 Saint Paul's Road,
London, N1 2LH
Tel: 020 7226 2733
Twitter: @Trullo_LDN

Dirty Bones Festive Dawg - £28

Ask anyone in London what the best hot dog restaurant in London is, and they'll most likely say Dirty Bones, and this Christmas they're offering the ultimate festive dawg -  turkey and stuffing sausage cooked in red wine gravy topped with cranberry puree, stuffing, buttered greens and crispy potatoes. GIVE ME ONE RIGHT NOW. As well as the hot dog you also get a choice of start, which includes pigs in blankets cooked in a sticky red wine and honey sauce! Dessert is a delicious serving of S’mores soaked in bourbon & set on fire to melt the marshmallows.

Dirty Bones
20 Kensington Church St, Kensington,
London W8 4EP
Tel: 020 7920 6434
Twitter: @DirtyBonesLDN

The Shed Christmas Carol - £48

The Shed is another newbie that's taken London by storm, and is from the same people behind Rabbit. I've been wanting to visit for yonks now, so maybe I should just bite the bullet and pay up for their Christmas menu, especially when it features so much Venison; Venison Sausage Rolls, and Roasted Venison :O to finish it's the good ole traditional mince pies with brandy butter.

The Shed
122 Palace Gardens Terrace
London W8 4RT
Tel: 020 7229 4024
Twitter: @theshed_resto

Tramshed's Crimbo Spread - £80

While we're on the subject of sheds, Tramshed also have a pretty epic Crimbo menu this year if you're in a party of 10 or more. One of my favourite restaurants of all time due to it's simple yet delectable concept (and the only reason I ever go to Shoreditch), this year they're serving up a feast to remember (albeit at a hideous price).

You'll start with whipped winter squash with goat's curd and toasted walnuts, before the piece de resistance arrives; Roast Swainson House Farm guinea fowl with cranberry jelly and creamed Brussels sprouts and Bramley apple mashed potato, then follow by Christmas mess for dessert and Stichelton with Tonnix port jelly. Ermahgerd.

32 Rivington St, Shoreditch,
London EC2A 3LX
Tel: 020 7749 0478
Twitter: @The_Tramshed

A Truly Scrumptious Christmas at Grain Store - £32.50

I still haven't been to Grain Store, but I must go in the New Year. This year they will have not one but two Christmas menus available in December, one at £32.50 for 3 courses, and the other at £42.50 for 3 courses, which includes a drink on arrival, and coffee. Their offering includes Wild fruit puree, potted cabbage, parsnip crisps, bacon, roast partridge & sausage; and a truly scrumptious sounding Chocolate and red bean cake with soya yoghurt mousse.

Grain Store
1-3 Stable Street, Kings Cross,
London N1C 4AB
Tel: 020 7324 4466
Twitter: @GrainStoreKX

Christmas Daily at Randall & Aubin - from £16.50

Now I think the Randall & Aubin menu may be the one I'm most excited about, mainly because I think it's the most 'normal', and accessible. Instead of offering a set menu, the Christmas daily specials board will change every day, based on what the head chef feels he has the best produce of. One of the days though will including the mouthwatering Spit Roast Pork Belly with Brown Shrimps, Water Chestnuts, Wild Mushroom Gratin & Braised White Cabbage.

Randall & Aubin
14- 16 Brewer St,
London W1F 0SG
Tel: 020 7287 4447
Twitter: @Randallandaubin

What Christmas menus have you got your eye on for December?

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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Harrods Christmas Grotto.

This weekend my best friend and my god-daughter Rosie came to visit me. It was Rosie's first time in London, so we took her to the Harrods Christmas Grotto. We were supposed to go two years ago, but I came down with Norovirus so we had to cancel. The Harrods Christmas Grotto is known for being the best Grotto in the UK, so I was desperate to get the chance to take Rosie this year. Thankfully I managed to get a slot as soon as the pre-booking opened back in September for the date we wanted! 

I adore London in winter. Every building is bedecked with fairy lights and everything feels so festive. I was so excited to show Rosie, and she loved it! She's four next month, so I think she's the right age for it all, although she did get a little nervous when faced with the bearded man in the big red suit.

After an exciting train journey and dragging her through the underground (we soon discovered that the bus is a much more sensible option when travelling with a little person with little legs), we finally got to Harrods. The grotto was on the fourth floor in the Disney section. You enter through some white sparkly trees just like Narnia, and all of a sudden you're in another world. A world of fantasy and elves, of mice on swings and glitter in trees and lights twinkling on the walls.

Forget the kids - we had just as much fun as she did! The winter wonderland is essentially a very-well disguised queue. You 'queue' for around 20 minutes, however it isn't much of a queue as you enjoy every second. The elves kept the children entertained with questions and excitement, and there was even a log tunnel for them to climb through, and a snowman game where they could throw 'snowballs' through the 'snowmen's' tummies. 

Then it was the Sleigh ride. You climb in to the big silver sleigh and fly up up and away while a camera clicks away! 

Then before you know it you're there, walking down a long corridor of trees with whimsical mice hiding amongst them dressed all in elf outfits, until finally you reach Santa's house. You knock on the big wooden door, and an elf opens it with a great pull to greet you into the warm cosy room. 

Father Christmas sits on a large wooden bench, and his elf stands by the fireplace with gifts littered all over the floor. If your child is brave, they can sit next to Santa, however Rosie got a little nervous being so little compared to the big man in front of her, so I sat next to him (secretly happy that I could feel like a child again), and then Rosie sat inbetween Anna and I. 

Santa Claus was very good with her, he wasn't forceful and spoke very softly so as not to scare her. He then brought out his big book full of names. He flicked through hundreds and hundreds of huge browning pages covered in penciled-in names, and finally got to the last page. There was Rosie's name, 'Rosie, age 3'. On hearing her name she peeked round from behind me, and her little face dropped at the sight of her name and age. Santa asked 'is that you, Rosie?' and she nodded, dumbfounded.

After telling Father Christmas what she wanted for Christmas, he then gave her a canvas bag filled with a huge chocolate coin and a cute Christmas book. She was delighted! After a few photographs were taken, the man himself gave Rosie a carrot to drop into a bucket outside - she could choose which Reindeer she wanted the carrot to go to. 

Anna and I each bought one of the photographs for £13.50 each, and then after stopping Rosie from shoplifting a toy that looked like Dylan, we headed downstairs and out into the real world. On our way out through the handbag section Rosie walked over to a pink Balenciaga handbag and shouted at us "Is this mine?!" - I was a very proud god-mother, but sadly the handbag had to stay put.

We then got the bus to the Rainforest Cafe for lunch. I was pleasantly surprised by this experience, the food was much better than I was expecting. I was ready for plastic food, but actually my ribs were flavoursome and incredibly meaty, and the chips were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside - yum! Also who doesn't like having lunch amongst Elephants!?

After a couple of hours in Rainforest Cafe (little people eat quite slowly...) we got the bus back to Waterloo Station and Rosie gazed at the lights around Trafalgar Square through the top-deck window. Back at home we chilled out in-front of the TV, and had some cuddles with Dylan before heading to bed after our busy and exciting day.

Dylan has a friend for life. Rosie absolutely adored him, and although he wasn't entirely sure what to make of her as she chased him around the house pretending to be a cat, he was very gentle with her and kept snuffling around her and 'tickling' her. Bless them, seeing a dog and child strike up a friendship really is special. I think my favourite moment was when she hugged him and said 'I love Dylan!' 

I think it's safe to say we all enjoyed our weekend together and our Christmas Grotto experience, and it definitely got me in the Christmas spirit! If you haven't been, you should, these things are fun, and fun is good ;)

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