Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Tresco & Bryher Food Festival Day 1.

This weekend I escaped the rat race of London and the bustling countryside of Surrey, and flew to the Isles of Scilly for their food festival (major food porn further down this post!). I can trace my direct ancestral lineage on the Isles of Scilly back to the my 7x great grandparents, the Woodcock's, in the 1600's. My Scillonian ancestors lived there until very recently, as my Grandad and his sister lived there with his grandparents and aunts and cousins during WW2. So to say I was excited about returning to the 'motherland' (or should I say fatherland, seeing as it's on the male line of the family) is an understatement.

Previously I've only ever stayed on the main island of St Mary's, but my family all come from Tresco, so to actually stay on the island this time and really explore it and sample the local food was really lovely. I stayed at the New Inn Pub and Guesthouse, which my great great grandfather used to run, and it's all been refurbished and 'freshened' up in the past year. It feels very boutique-y and luxurious (think soft bedlinen, home-made cookies and loose leaf tea in the room, and REN bath goodies), and I had a gorgeous sea-view room which overlooked the island of Bryher.

The Isles of Scilly is an archipelago, a group of islands with many uninhabitable. The only islands inhabited are St Mary's (the main one), St Martin's (the one with the best beaches), St Agnes (the smallest one), Tresco (the pretty, scenic one) and Bryher (the rugged one). There's also Samson which used to be inhabited (my 5x great grandfather William Woodcock was born there in 1746 - when only two households inhabited the island, but he later moved to Tresco where his children were born), however in 1855 the Lord Proprietor of Scilly, Augustus Smith, moved the remaining inhabitants as they were suffering from extreme deprivation.

Today the Isles of Scilly has a population of just over 2,000 people, with the majority living on St Mary's. The Tresco and Bryher food festival is a highlight of the Scilly summer calendar, with local farming and agriculture so important to the islands, it's the perfect opportunity to showcase what they can produce. Saturday was spent eating a lot of food. In the morning there was a market in the main square on Tresco, they had everything from Tresco Prosecco, Troytown Farm ice-cream, yoghurt and clotted cream, and Scilly Ales, to local crab, lobster, and duck. 

As well as my ice-cream I also picked up a pot of Troytown Farm clotted cream (to eat by myself in my room with my shortbread biscuits - if you can't do it on holiday, when can you!?), and a large jar of Apple and Blackberry jam for my parents. After wandering around the market and sampling the delights and wares, I dropped my goodies off in my room at the New Inn and then wandered around the island. This deserves a post in itself, so for now, let me take you on a food feast at the Flying Boat Restaurant...after a lovely photo of the harbour in the evening dusk...

I ambled along to the Flying Boat Club, the restaurant amongst the newer timeshare properties on Tresco (don't get me started on the timeshare properties...I'll tell you more in my next post), which has views over the sound towards Bryher. 

I started with a glass of Tresco prosecco in the bar, enjoying the peace and tranquility of having my thoughts to myself, and letting myself fully relax after a long day walking around the island. An elderly couple started chatting to me, before heading upstairs for dinner. I sat down at the table on my lonesome, when a lovely lady called Pauline and her husband Ashley came over and invited me to join them as 'no one should dine alone on a Saturday night!'. Me being me didn't say no and I happily pulled my chair to their table.

We made our introductions while tucking into our sublime tian of local crab, cucumber noodles fresh yoghurt and seaweed dressing. They, like me, were visiting for the food festival, and are from the county next door to mine; Kent! They were ever so nice, must have been late fifties, and regular visitors to Tresco. When we were part-way through our starter, the waiter approached and asked if I'd like a glass of the local wine, courtesy of the couple I'd been chatting to earlier. Everyone here is so nice! 

Pauline, Ashley, and I spoke about all sorts while eating our delicious meal, and didn't stumble back to the New Inn where we were all staying until 4 hours later.

Anyway, the main course was the showstopping and insanely good Surf n Turf. Just look at that huge hunk of beef and freshly caught lobster!

Feeling very full, we then had a break with a gorgeous palate-cleanser before dessert made it's entrance. The sorbet was probably the best I've ever tasted (and I'm a bit of a sorbet connoisseur), it was Troytown Farm's Sipsmith (aka, Gin) Summer Cup Sorbet.

Then, dessert arrived. Homemade Turkish delight, warm chocolate brownie and Troytown rose geranium ice cream. It was very nice, and looked very moreish, however I did find the brownie a little dry for my liking, I much prefer gooey fudgey brownies. 

The ending however, was like a posh version of a children's milkshake, and I loved it. The perfect end to a lovely day and evening (more on the day-part in another post!). A huge special thank you to Pauline and Ashley for being so kind and letting me crash their dinner, and another thank you to the couple who gave me the glass of wine!

Myself and both of the couples stumbled back to the New Inn in the pitch black (there are no street lights on Scilly), after a few too many glasses of prosecco and wine. We arrived back to find a party in full swing in the bar as the Tresco ladies had just won the Gig race in their boat, Czar. There was a band playing folk and jig music, so everyone was up dancing and slipping around on the wet floor having a whale of a time. 

It was a surreal experience seeing this pub so full of life and laughter, knowing that a hundred years ago my great great grandfather would have been stood right there at the bar, or maybe he would have joined in - he looks like a man who would have joined in (see the pic below - he's the large elderly man on the side in the hat). I got a bit emotional with my rum and coke thinking about it all, so decided it was best I headed to bed to get a good night's sleep before the next days activities. 

The photo above is a photo of a some of my family on one of the boats, travelling between the Scilly Islands in the 1930's. My grandfather is right in the middle on his mother's knee. My great grandfather is Mr Lux (the outsider from the mainland!), sitting opposite my great great grandfather. I'd love to know exactly where between these islands this photo was taken - anyone recognize the background and know whereabouts it was?!

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*I was a guest of the Isles of Scilly tourism board, Islands Partnership, throughout my stay on the Isles of Scilly.

Monday, 15 September 2014

GHD Vlog (My First).

I often get a lot of people asking how I style my hair and keep it in such good condition, so when GHD got in touch and asked me to review some of their products on video, I thought it would be a good opportunity to finally try my hand at this whole vlogging thing. I'm not sure it'll last, as I think I'm quite annoying on camera, but I might use it to document little bits and pieces of my travels for my own memories. Anyhow, I was sent a rather lovely gift box of goodies from GHD, and had a bit of fun making this video one Sunday afternoon. 

I hope you enjoy it, and I really would appreciate any critical feedback - both positive and negative! Also, apologies for the sound of the camera lens focusing, gahh so annoying. Oh, also, obvs give my channel a cheeky follow if you enjoyed ;)

What you need;
- Hair clips
- Hair dryer
- Large barrel brush

How to;
Step 1: Section your hair out into manageable chunks
Step 2: Take the first section, and wrap it around your brush, then point the hairdryer towards the brush, and dry the section of hair on the brush.
Step 3: Gradually pull the brush down, bringing your hair with it, and dry the section as you gently pull it down.
Step 4: Continue doing this to each section until your hair is completely dry.

Products I recommend to keep your hair in tip top condition:
Shampoo - Naked Smooth & Silky (review here)
Conditioner - Naked Smooth & Silky Conditioner (review here)
Intensive conditioner - Tresemme Keratin Smooth (review here)

Styling products:

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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Yauatcha, Soho.

My Dad has always been a huge dim sum fan, so when I was invited along to michelin-starred Yauatcha to review their special menu in celebration of their 10th birthday, I knew exactly who I was taking with me. He met me in Soho after work, and we went inside the informal restaurant to be greeted by beaming faces. After being shown to our seats, we browsed the menu and told the waiter what kind of foods we liked. I requested lobster, scallops, and duck. And oh man did they deliver.

We started with Lobster dumpling with tobiko caviar with ginger and shallot. This was my joint favourite dish of the evening. It was quite tricky to eat with chopsticks as it kept getting stuck to the leaf on the bottom and the sides, but once I'd eventually shoveled it into my mouth it was so worth that extra effort. The different textures of the steamed dumpling with the chunky lobster and caviar all combined was to die for.

Yauatcha lobster dumpling with tobiko caviar with ginger and shallot
Next up was the secret 'off-menu' items. For their 10th anniversary month, Yauatcha are offering a new secret item each week for the month of September, centered around their specialties. We went on the 'Chinese Kitchen' dim sum week, but they're also having a macaron, tea, and champagne week.

yauatcha 10th anniversary secret menu dim sum

The secret items were all delicious, especially the lamb and fig dumpling below (the green one), however the scallop and lychee puff (in the pic directly below this paragraph) wasn't my favourite. The lychee was far too strong for the scallop, so much so that I couldn't even taste the scallop. The puff was perfectly light though, and was definitely the best part about this dim sum (I do love carbs more than fruit, after all).

yauatcha 10th anniversary secret menu scallop and lychee dim sum

yauatcha 10th anniversary secret menu lamb and fig dim sum
Following on from the secret menu items was the baked venison puff, which I had at Hakkasan a couple of months ago. I love this one, the outside is crispy and buttery while the inside is rich and succulent. Dad however, wasn't a fan, he found it that little bit too rich and filling.

yauatcha baked venison puff dim sum

Next up was my other joint-favourite along with the lobster dumplings. The prawn and beancurd cheung fun. This was one of those 'melt-in-your-mouth-omg' dishes. I just love dim sum that has a combination of different textures; just like the lobster and caviar, the sticky dumpling outer and the crispy fried inner combined with the prawns saw me polish off most of these before Dad had a chance to try them.

yauatcha prawn and beancurd cheung fun

The waiter cleared our table and told us our duck was on its way. While I poured myself another glass of Sake (Dad wasn't drinking any, before anyone points out my terrible Chinese etiquette skills ;) Also I'm totally obsessed with Sake after my Sake class at Sake no Hana last year!) Dad exclaimed how full he was and I said 'Haha, well we've still got the main course and dessert to come yet!'. He looked at me and in all seriousness said 'what? No, that was the dim sum, he just said dessert was on its way...' I looked at him before bursting into laughter and breaking the news to him that he had misheard in his old age.

Shortly after the duck arrived, and my Dad looked at me in shock and utter horror at the thought of eating any more food. However he soon forgot about being full and dug in to the crispy duck.

yauatcha crispy duck
The duck was tender and delicious, however it was just like any other crispy duck. It wasn't awe-inspiring nor innovative, and definitely not as 'wow-factor' as the dim sum. So if I were you I'd stick to just ordering loads of dim sum!

The real wow-factor though was the desserts. I wanted something light after such a huge meal, while Dad went all out and had chocolate. Both of the desserts were perfection. Dad's Jasmine Honey was a thick chocolate mousse with a creamy inside and honey ice-cream.

yauatcha jasmine honey chocolate dessert
I, however, went for the lighter option of Coconut Mousse with a passionfruit sorbet. It was just what I wanted; light and fruity with that perfect hint of creamy sweetness and tang of citrusy exotic fruits.

yauatcha coconut mousse dessert

After tasting Yauatcha's offerings I'm now not sure whether I prefer Hakkasan or Yauatcha. Gahh! Ok. So I'm gonna put it this way, Hakkasan is most definitely the sexier sultry and ever so sophisticated older sister, while Yauatcha is the playful younger brother. Their food is very similar, but Yauatcha is more suitable for an informal bite to eat with friends, while Hakkasan is the ideal date-den and special occasion restaurant. Both have excellent food and service, and after eating in both of them, I'm still drooling over the very impressive dishes the chefs have created.

Dad and I left feeling full and satisfied, aside from the duck, and scallop and lychee puff, the rest of the meal was perfect in every way and I couldn't recommend a visit enough. Thank you for such a lovely evening team Hakkasan Group! 

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*Dad and I were invited along to Yauatcha as guests, and received our meal complimentary. However my views remain my own as always.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

HAC Polo.

Originally I wasn't going to blog this, but then Dom asked me to, so I went 'hmmm, maaaaybe', then I said I wouldn't because I didn't take any photos. It turns out that alcohol had blinded me, because the next day I found quite a few photos on my phone. Not to mention the ones I was tagged in on Facebook. ANYWAY. Moving on. This Saturday was the HAC Polo match at Ham Polo Club. It's a much more relaxed affair than the likes of Cowdray and Guards, and is quite a small and cheap option if you're new to the world of polo.

Most of our friends were having a sit-down meal in the clubhouse, but Edd and I decided to have our own fancy picnic with my stolen Veuve Clicquot gear from Cowdray (aka, VC branded picnic blanket and champagne glasses). Our picnic consisted of champagne. That is all. I 'accidentally' left the food (grapes and a bag of percy pigs) in my car. It was brilliant, we sprawled on the soft picnic blanket glugging sipping champagne while gossiping and catching up on our social lives. 

Half an hour later and one bottle of champagne down, the blanket was covered in spillages and Edd's two lovely friends turned up. I decided it was time to go and see our friends in the clubhouse and get my shoes from Peter since I left them at his place after the pool party the other week, so off I trotted/strutted/crawled and left Edd with my handbag, VC goodies, and the girls. I didn't leave the clubhouse until 9 hours later. Woops.

Inside the clubhouse it was free-flowing champagne, so Edd and the girls wandered over with my handbag and joined in the revelry. A few hours later Jasiminne finally arrived after getting lost in Staines, STAINES! We then finally decided it would be an excellent idea to take part in the divot stomping... let's just say we look very happy. I love this photo so much!

Photo from Jasiminne

Photo from Jasiminne

Cain was playing, however we didn't really watch anything as we were all too busy chatting (sorry!), that is, until he trotted over to us and we all started heckling him. Peter got a bit too enthusiastic and started shouting 'Cain! Do you play polo!? Is that you playing polo Cain? I had no idea you played polo!' (in case you can't tell from that, he always goes on about how he plays polo). 

Anyway, after the polo was the after-party. Which was utterly shit. The DJs were awful, it was all that terrible trance/shuffle music that you can't dance to (because I can't shuffle). I'm more of an R&B/hiphop girl, so wasn't too impressed. And by this time everyone was sobering up and getting all tired and cranky.

I then got rather pissed off at a certain man who seemed to think he knew me (he didn't) after hearing one stupid rumour from two years ago (seriously, anyone who actually believes that shit is a total idiot), so Edd had to take me to my car and give me a good talking to while I sobbed and told him I wanted to go home. He's such a good friend it isn't even funny. He told me how amazing I am, why he loves having me as a friend, and that I had to get back in there and just dance. So I did.

Dom also helped by telling me over and over again 'you're wonderful and beautiful lux, it doesn't matter what rumours are said, because you're wonderful and beautiful'. Then a random girl told me she was jealous of me because 'you seem to know all these guys, and they all look at you as if you're the most amazing girl they've ever seen!'. I hugged her and told her they're my awesome friends*I HAVE THE BEST FRIENDS EVER. No joke.

Dom and Pete look so wasted here, whereas I'm like 'I'm the only sober person here now, Dom get off me, you're blocking me from the camera!'

So after the sudden rush of compliments I felt much better, so continued to dance until it was home time. After starting at 1pm, and spending the last few hours of the party drinking nothing but water and eating some food, I was 100% sober and getting tired, so decided it was best I drove home before it became too dangerous for me to drive tired. I left the others to it, and finally crawled into my bed 12 hours after the event started, and after discovering Dan had put a Doggy doorstop from the clubhouse in the back of my car. #random

It was a great way to end the polo season, as always it was so much fun - here's to next year! *clink*

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*disclaimer, one or two I may have a bit of past history with, we're still good friends though! This text is this small so my mother can't read it.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Fig and Pecan French Toast.

I've literally just spent the past twenty minutes searching my web history for the recipe for this, before realizing there isn't one, as I created it all by myself. High Five. It isn't often I come up with my own recipes, because I'm way too scared it'll go horribly wrong, but this one is an exception. It was bank holiday Sunday and all I wanted was sweet french toast...but without having to leave the house. So I created my own, and it turned out to be the best thing I did that weekend.

fig and pecan french toast

Isn't it just dreamy!? French toast, with a cream cheese, honey, pecan, fig, and banana filling. Mmmhmmm! And, it's super quick and easy to make.

stuffed french toast
Despite it being really easy to make, it should not be taken lightly. It is the perfect Sunday brunch, pure comfort food. It was so huge I could only eat half of it, but it was oh so good. 

For the ingredients you will need...

For the bread
Thick crusty bread 
3 Eggs
A splash of coconut milk

For the filling
A handful of whole pecans
200g Philadelphia Cheese
1 Ripe Banana
2 tablespoons runny honey
A handful of dried or tinned figs
A sprinkling of cinnamon

Apologies for the very vague 'a handful' here and 'a sprinkling' there. I just threw the ingredients in to my liking, so you should probably just do the same. I did use around 200g of cream cheese though.

Anyway, so first you need to make the filling. Put the 200g of Philadelphia Cheese into a large bowl, then throw in a handful of whole pecans, a sprinkling of cinnamon or mixed spice, and 2 tablespoons of runny honey. Mix it all together with a fork. Then cut up a ripe banana into small slices and throw those in, and then also chuck in a handful of dried figs, or do what I do and get some tinned figs. I love tinned figs because they come in juice, the juice is a great addition to the cream cheese filling, so I take about 4-5 figs from the tin, cut them up and then throw them in along with a tablespoon of the juice.

fig and pecan french toast

Once you've mixed together your filling, set it to one side and then start on the french toast, aka, eggy bread. First cut up your bread into nice thick slices. I use fresh white crusty bread for eggy bread as it just tastes amazing and is my once-in-a-while treat. Then, put a little butter in a saucepan and place over the hob on a high heat. Crack three eggs into a bowl, and then add a generous splash of coconut milk. Whisk together with a fork, add some cinnamon or mixed spice, and then dip the bread in, making sure it's nice and covered and soaked in the egg mixture. Place into the saucepan and fry each side until golden brown.

When it's ready, place two half-slices on a plate and cover them both in the filling mixture, then place the other two half-slices on top. Ta-da! Done. Easy. Bish, bash, bosh. Enjoy!

stuffed fig and pecan french toast

stuffed fig and pecan french toast

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Tuesday, 2 September 2014

A Kings Road Night Out.

It's been a while since I had a 'proper' night out clubbing at my favourite haunts (when I say 'a while', I mean a few weeks), so this Saturday Jemima and I decided to start early and finish early...the next day. We started at my favourite; Raffles, and after exhausting the supply of Veuve Clicquot there, Oli turned up and dragged us to 151 (see my previous 151 post here). I haven't been to 151 for well over two years, and I never thought I'd say this, but man I'd missed it! Everyone dancing to cheesy old music is too much fun. 

We only got one photo at 151, one of Oli with Lizo from Newsround (anyone else remember him!?), but we got quite a few in Raffles. I donned my Little Black Dress and red lipstick. It was just one of those nights where the red lipstick had to come out. 

Catherine Lux from Lux Life Blog at Raffles in Chelsea

Jemima Wilson and Catherine Lux at Raffles Chelsea

Raffles Chelsea
Veuve Clicquot champagne at Raffles Chelsea

I have no clue who the guy below is. He kept stalking Jemima and I and getting in our photos, so we gave him our fake names and fake numbers and then he left us alone. Ladies, always have a fake name and number at the ready for men you'd rather never see again (I use my old number that no longer works), and if he tries to search for you on Facebook there and then, just use the old 'oh, you won't be able to find me, my profile's set to private' *cough* 

The magnum of Veuve Clicquot was washed down with a mini and then a magnum of vodka. If you're gonna have a night out in Chelsea, go big or go home.

Drinks at Raffles Chelsea

Jemima Wilson and Catherine Lux at Raffles
Apparently the guy below was a footballer in Italy's national team. Apparently. I believe that with a pinch of salt. But I got a photo just in case.

 After a while the camera got put away and it was mobiles only... 

It was really random how Oli joined us for our night out, I checked in on Facebook and not long after Oli messaged me telling me to come outside Raffles in 7 minutes. So I did, and there he was, so he came inside and after an argument with the guys we were with, he dragged Jemima and I to 151 where we met Lizo Mzimba... it was quite surreal meeting a guy I'd grown up watching on Newsround in a club in Chelsea...

151 Chelsea

I finally got home at around 5am after dancing wildly on the tables and finishing with high kicking to New York New York, which was 151's last song of the night (see, I told you their music was awesome and cheesy).

What's your favourite place to go clubbing?

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