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Monday, 30 April 2012

Automat, Mayfair.


Yesterday I went for lunch at Automat on Dover Street in Mayfair with Max. It was the first time I'd been there, and I was impressed! It calls itself an American Brasserie, and boy did it deliver! The menu was packed with eggs and steak, pancakes, waffles, burgers, and all sorts of other yummy American dishes. 

I had the pancakes (no surprise there) with maple syrup and blueberries, and (as I do most places) I also had french fries on the side, with Automat's sour cream and chive dip. Not only were the pancakes HUGE, covered in fresh blueberries and drizzled in lashings of maple syrup, but the sour cream and chive dip was heaven!! I'm a bit of a sour cream addict, and I think this one was the best I've tasted in a long time. 

Inside the brasserie is a mix of European and American, with a European style cafe/restaurant area, which leads through to an American diner style 'railway carriage' with booths, which then leads through to a lovely airy and light conservatory area.

The only issue with this place was the space. It was packed and all of the tables were super close together, so you felt like you were sitting on the same table as complete strangers. Would have been nice to of had more room. Also some of the meals were quite pricey, with the fries as a side being £4.50 just by themselves, but my pancakes were £10, which I think is OK. 

Positives:
- Fast service
- Good food
- Attractive decor
- Amazing sour cream (which will always earn extra plus points from moi!)

Negatives:
- No 'freedom' to move
- Pricey

Apologies I didn't take photos as I didn't have my Camera, but here are some off good ole Google;

Automat, 33, Dover Street, Mayfair

The Railway Carriage seating area


Automat on Urbanspoon Square Meal

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Sake No Hana, St James'.

Last night some friends and I went for drinks in our usual Mayfair. We were going to go to Dukes Hotel, but there was a wedding on so they didn't have any tables left *sob*.

As it was pouring with rain we headed to the nearest bar - Sake No Hana. Sake No Hana is actually the restaurant upstairs, but their bar is Ni Ju San, which means '23' in Japanese (their address is 23, St James) and is located downstairs.

Anyway, so we went in and it was empty, but it gradually started filling up as people had drinks before heading upstairs for dinner. It had the most wonderful modern and 'trendy' fusion atmosphere inside, and tasty and unusual cocktails.We all had a great time, it was a very relaxing evening with fantastic company and the staff were also excellent! If you're looking for somewhere different to go, I'd definitely recommend this place!

Enjoy the photos...

Me studying the menu intensely...








Japanese Wine which is called 'Sake'
The bar


Amy and I

My cocktail :)

Friday, 27 April 2012

Glossybox Eco Edition - April 2012

This month's Glossybox was an environmentally friendly box, containing organic, all-natural products. My box included; the 'Figs and Rouge' Rambling Rose lip, face and body balm, Caudalie SOS Thirst Quenching Serum, Ayuuri natural coconut body wash, Kai fragrance, and Inika eye-liner. I was so much more impressed with this months box than last months, you felt like you got your money's worth with this one as everything was full sized or travel sized apart from the Kai Fragrance, which was a free sample size. Please excuse the bad lighting in the photos - they were taken at dusk.

 Even the box is Eco-friendly!


The Figs and Rouge Rambling Rose lip, face and body balm, has really pretty and cute packaging, and left my lips feeling wonderfully soft and moisturised, but I really can't stand Rose scented products. I'm not sure why, because I love the flower, I just can't stand the scent in products. But if they do this product in a different scent, I would definitely buy it! This product is travel-size.

The Caudalie SOS Thirst Quenching Serum is travel size, and I haven't tried yet, but I've heard great things about it and I'm really happy I got it in my box! And it smells AMAZING. The scent reminds me of those bath bomb/gel things you got as a child...ya know the ones that were in the shape of a love heart or something, and they would dissolve and smell yummy when you put them in water. Ah-huh *nods*, it smells like that :) 



The Ayuuri body was I'll try tomorrow and get back to you/edit this post once I've used it. I love how this product is full-size. 
EDIT: I have now been using this for almost a month, and I am in love with it!! It's absolutely perfect; gentle on my sensitive skin and makes it feel really soft, and the coconut scent stays on your skin for an entire day! I walk around smelling of a tropical island - it's wonderful!


The Kai fragrance, is not my scent, but it is my mum all over!! So I think i'll give it to her as she loves the mini ones for her handbag (this one is VERY mini though!).


The Inika eye-liner I LOVE! The colour is 'Peacock Blue', and is a wonderful soft powder blue, absolutely perfect for summer! I also love how this is a full-sized product, and is worth £12 by itself.

What did you get in your Glossybox? Were you happy with your products?


Thursday, 26 April 2012

Bakers Delight Cheese and Bacon Twist.


As many of you know, I lived in Australia for a couple of years when I was 16 and went to school out there. One of my favourite things about Aus is the food culture, they have the most incredible restaurants, seafood, cafes and bakeries. Although I prefer the little country bakeries selling their own home-made pies (we used to rate each one we visited out of 10...Pinjarra, Harvey and Augusta did the best pies every time!), I also love the chain bakeries like Bakers Delight. 

My all time favourite product from there is the Cheese and Bacon Twist. Well after going for 9 months without any, I've had enough, and instead of waiting until I next go home in November, I've decided to make my own. Now, again, as many of you know, I can't bake, so this should prove interesting. Anyhow, I thought you lot might also like to try this taste sensation, so here's the recipe! If you make it blog it and send me the link! :)

Cheese and Bacon Twisted Delight

Ingredients (for 20 slices);

  • cups white flour
  • cup cold water
  • 1 (7 g) packet fast-rising active dry yeast (or about three tsp)
  • teaspoon salt
  • 6 -8 slices or chunks bacon
  • cup crumbled cheese of your choice

Directions;

- The day before you want the bread, make a sticky paste by mixing together 1/2 cup of the flour, 1/2 cup of the water and two teaspoons of yeast in a bowl.

  1. When the ingredients are combined, cover the bowl with cling film and leave in the fridge overnight.
  2. The next day, the mixture will have bubbles on top and smell fermented.
  3. - Add remaining flour, yeast and salt to the bowl, and start adding the remaining water a bit at a time, until you get a sticky consistency.
  4. - Flop the dough onto a floured work surface, sprinkle more flour on the dough and knead for 3-5 minutes or until smooth.
  5. - Put the dough in a large bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise until doubled, between 1-2 hours.
  6. Meanwhile, fry the bacon until crispy and then cut into small pieces.
  7. - Crumble the cheese into a small bowl and mix with bacon.
  8. - Take dough and turn onto a floured work surface again, working bacon and cheese into the dough this time and kneading for another 3-5 minutes until smooth.
  9. - Put back in bowl and leave for another hour to rise by about a third to a half.
  10. - Take dough and split into three equal pieces.
  11. - On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a sausage shape, about 20 inches long.
  12. - Take the three "sausages" and lay them out in front of you, each at a slight angle to the other.
  13. - This part is hard to describe, but just imagine you are braiding hair.
  14. - You will need to pinch the three pieces together at one end and then, once they are attached, take the piece on the left side and bring it over the centre piece.
  15. - Then take the right piece and bring it over the centre piece.
  16. - Repeat until all the dough is braided and pinch together at the end.
  17. - Lay bread on a greased and floured baking sheet, cover with cling film and let rise for one final hour.
  18. - Bake for 30-35 minutes in an oven at 200°C or about 350°F.
  19. (Recipe from food.com)
  20. Photograph from Bakers Delight.

Panasonic Lumix GF3.


Today I bought the Panasonic Lumix GF3. You can currently buy it with the twin lens kit from Jessops for just £299.95. I really wanted it in red, but no where was selling the twin lens kit in red, so I had to settle for black :'( sad times!

I'd been wanting the GF3 for absolutely yonks, so decided to get it with some birthday money, and I'm SO happy with it so far! I have a Nikon DSLR and a Nikon coolpix compact, but the compact just isn't good enough for me. I got it a couple of years ago for only £99, and I can see why - despite decent reviews, it's pretty awful. It's been fine for carrying around in my handbag for quick snaps, but the quality really is dreadful compared with my DSLR. 

I wanted something in-between a compact and my DSLR; something that was small enough to carry around in my handbag, but that was good quality and produced photographs similar in quality to my DSLR. I'd read heaps of reviews on both the GF2 and GF3 and after testing both in-store I opted for the GF3, as I found it more user-friendly, lighter, and easier to hold. I'm a little bit addicted to cameras, I have quite a few. So far I own;

Digital cameras;
Nikon D40X
Panasonic Lumix GF3
Nikon Coolpix
Fujifilm XP10

Film cameras;
Praktica LTL
Praktica MTL
Rollei B35
Kodak Brownie

I think I have an addiction.

Here are a few of my favourite photos from the LTL, Lumix and D40X (all photographs are copyright and must not be used without permission and link-back);

Praktica LTL;

Oranges in the garden in Australia

Sculpture at Vasse Felix Vineyard, WA

I see you!

Lumix GF3;

My birthday cake!

Dylan! How can you say no to those puppy dog eyes?!

My mum's garden gargoyle - always makes me laugh!

Nikon D40X;

Koala at Caversham Wildlife Park, 2008.



Jug in Hong Kong, 2008 (edited by myself, the camera doesn't come with colour selection)

Jonty Howley from 'The Dirty Chimes' performing at Guilfest 2010

Andrew Brown and Rick Parfitt, performing as Status Quo at Guilfest 2010

Taba Heights, Egypt. 2011


Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Twenty First Birthday.


Last Wednesday I turned 21 - wooo! Sadly I was really sick on my birthday, I've had that cold/bug thing that's going 'round at the mo and it was making me feel rather rubbish. But I was determined to have a good day! So I went for brunch with my best friend at Giraffe in Guildford, we had the pancakes with banana, blueberries and maple syrup. Anywhere I go for breakfast or brunch I ALWAYS have the pancakes - I love love love them! Then I headed into central London to see the matinee of Les Miserables...for the 6th time, hehe. Then finally I went for dinner at Le Caprice with my parents and brother :)

My birthday pancakes at Giraffe
Le Caprice was absolutely incredible! The restaurant itself was classy and elegant, and oh so art deco. The staff wonderful, they were all so friendly and couldn't do enough for us. And the food - divine! I had the deep fried fish with chips and tartare sauce for main, and rhubarb and apple pie for dessert. I only had two courses because I really wasn't feeling well enough for three, but the rest of my family had three, and they all agreed that it was delicious!

I can't remember what the others had, I do remember that my Dad had some unusual dishes (one included bone marrow and rabbit!?) and my Mum had the Suffolk Lamb for main. My fish was perfect, huge piece of fish, with the most perfect light and crispy batter! And it was surprisingly good value, we were ordering what we wanted and not worrying about cost, but it ended up being very reasonable. I would recommend booking early though, as they do get very busy. My parents were so impressed with the restaurant that they booked there and then to have dinner there again, with friends in a few weeks time.

My birthday dessert at Le Caprice - Rhubarb and Apple Pie with Custard
On the Friday I had my birthday event with my friends, I had a joint celebration with my friend Arabella as our birthdays are really close together. We went to the Royal Automobile Club with around thirty of our close friends, and had champagne and a huge frosted cake from the Hummingbird bakery, which was very kindly given to us by Immanuel. 

We were supposed to go to Kensington Roof Gardens afterwards but I was just too sick and went home to my nice warm bed. After staying in bed all weekend I'm feeling much better now (although I lost 4kg just last week because I was so sick - couldn't keep any food down), so I'm hoping to make up for my 'soft' 21st last week by going out clubbing this weekend! Especially since I officially finished University yesterday when I handed in my final assignment - double celebration!

Both of us cutting our cake together! It's quite useful having a friend who's a photographer, I really love this shot. The below photos are from someone going around with my terrible compact camera :/

Everyone enjoying the cake and champagne at the RAC
Arar doing all the work and cutting the cake while I discuss important things with friends ;)

Arabella and I - birthday girls!
Her boobs are huge and very grab-able ok! Don't judge!
Despite being sick I had a wonderful birthday week and was VERY spoilt!

What did you do for your 21st? 
And if you've been to Le Caprice let me know - I'd love to know your thoughts on it!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Anaya London.


Friday night some friends and I went to the nightclub, Anaya, in London. This club has recently been refurbished and is on Swallow Street in Mayfair (just opposite Waterstones on Piccadilly). It's been rumoured as the 'up and coming' celebrity club, with Drake performing there last week! We were on the Capital A List guestlist, so at 10:30pm strolled along and queued up. After getting in we went over to the Capital A List table, where there was free-flowing vodka and mixers. We had a fantastic night and the music was great - old school R&B, which was interesting haha! It was also the official launch party of the GNA 'Inhibitions' single, so we got to hear GNA performing it live. 

We got there really early and it was very quiet in there until about 11:30/midnight when it got busy. The club itself is quite small, and it has a lot of blue lighting! But it was very clean (always an important thing!) and despite being small there was room to move and dance without being pushed around by other people. Like most clubs there were professional photographers going around from various PR and promoter companies. We had a great night and would definitely visit Anaya again, and I'll be sure to use Capital A List in future as they were fantastic!

After Anaya we went to Vingt Quatre (as usual) for pancakes and fries :)

Anaya before it got busy
Some of our group (I'm in the middle, lol)


CJ from GNA

Monday, 16 April 2012

Maybelline Falsies Mascara.


My usual and favourite mascara is the Lancome Hypnose Drama, but I'd heard good things about the Maybelline Falsies mascara, so decided to try it out. 



Negatives;
I wasn't that impressed with the Falsies mascara. I got the waterproof one, and it was THE biggest pain to get off at the end of the day! I used eye make-up remover, normal make-up remover, and cleanser, and it STILL wouldn't all come off! So I would then go to sleep, wake up in the morning, and my eyes would be all crusty and sore, and my eyelashes would feel stiff. 

My lashes would also be all out of shape and sticking the wrong way from where I'd slept and they'd stayed in that position from being stiff from the mascara - not a pretty sight! And it was so bad for getting off that when I went to put more mascara on the next day it wouldn't go on properly and would clump because there was still so much on from the previous day that hadn't come off. 

Positives;
It did appear to lengthen the lashes and make them look thicker, and it's cheap.

Final Thoughts; I'm gonna stick to my Lancome, the cheapness of the Falsies just isn't worth the pain and stiffness of the lashes.

Have you tried this mascara? Did you have a similar experience to me or did it suit your lashes better?

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Slutty Brownies Fail.

Yesterday I attempted to make these Slutty Brownies that have been going round Pinterest. I failed...



I'm at the Uni house at the mo trying to power out two essays (my final ones!!) for next week, and decided to give these a go as a form of procrastination. They're supposed to be all gooey and melty in the middle where the oreos are...as you can see from the photos, mine were very hard and cake-like. I think I should just give up with *attempting* to bake. All I had to do was throw some Betty Crocker together, shove some oreos in and throw them in the oven. 

The Disaster.
All was going well - I mixed the cookie mixture successfully, cracked my eggs perfectly, and even eventually managed to mix in the correct amount of water and oil (after first attempting to measure their 'ml' in weighing scales rather than a measuring jug, and wondering why it was showing me 'grams'). Then the first disaster struck. My avocado, chicken and cheese toastie was ready...so to save time I decided to try and multi-task and eat it while mixing the Brownie mixture. Cue a couple of slips and spillages...ie; avocado slipping out of the sandwich and dropping into the mixing bowl whilst I was mixing furiously...never to be seen again. My thoughts 'It's only a bit of avocado...no one will taste it...' Oh how wrong was I! 
Second disaster was the cooking time. I pre-heated the oven nicely, had it on gas mark 4 as instructed, and left it in for 30 minutes...as instructed. I took it out after 30 minutes, stuck a knife in to find it wasn't cooked through, so back in they went. 15 minutes later I took them out...still not cooked. Back in again. Then, as happens with most of my baking...I forgot about them. When I eventually remembered I found them a little blackened around the edges, very cake like and not gooey at all, and when I tasted some they tasted...of brownies mixed with avocado. YUCK. Needless to say they went straight into the bin. 

I think maybe I should give up trying to bake. It never goes well. Out of all the baking I have done throughout my life (believe me...I have attempted hundreds of  times), only one thing has ever been edible. And it was heaven. It was moist. It was delicious. It was a miracle. It was home-made banana cake. This happened two years ago...and it hasn't happened again since *sob*

The AMAZING Banana Cake! I promise it isn't burnt on top...that's just the light lol!