Sunday, 30 November 2014

The Ivy Market Grill, Covent Garden.

When a little email landed in my inbox from Caprice Holdings telling me that the booking lines for The Ivy Market Grill were open, I immediately booked brunch for the Saturday after it opened. I've never been to The Ivy as everyone I've spoken to says the food isn't that great and it's all a bit outdated, however I've eaten at sister restaurant Le Caprice a number of times and love it there, so thought I'd give The Ivy's little sister a try.

The Ivy Market Grill has been designed as a more casual and relaxed younger sibling to the world-renowned original. Yesterday Jemima and I went to finally check it out. I had major issues getting there and while I'm usually early or bang on time to absolutely everything, I was a whole 50 minutes late. TFL decided to do roadworks on the Hyde Park Corner roundabout on the last Saturday in November (idiots), which meant it took me 45 minutes to just get from Belgravia to St James. 

I then dashed onto the tube and managed to get to Covent Garden a disheveled and snivelling stressed-out mess. Jemima soon calmed me down and we ordered our food while taking in our surroundings. The restaurant feels very traditional and very similar to Corbin & King restaurants (those behind The Wolseley and The Delaunay etc). It's all dark woods and green, and quite similar to the original Ivy interior from looking at photos. 

the Ivy Market Grill Eggs Benedict

The Ivy prides itself on serving home-cooked food well, so I thought I'd put this to the test and ordered my favourite dishes; Eggs Benedict, Zucchini Fritti, and a Creme Brulee (hey, it was a stressful day ok). The Eggs Benedict was not your usual ham or bacon, oh no, this one was Avocado and Spinach (two of my favourite things), and it was delicious. Sadly my eggs weren't running *sob*, but apart from this it was absolutely perfect and just what I needed. 

Jemima went for the Veggie Breakfast, which looked pretty tasty! 

Ivy Market Grill Veggie Breakfast

The Ivy Market Grill Covent Garden

The Zucchini Fritti were much skinnier than I expected rather than nice big chunky pieces of Zucchini. Nevertheless they were still very tasty, albeit it a little too salty. The Creme Brulee was the piece de resistance though, it was perfect. I had an absolutely dreadful Creme Brulee last week with a soggy top (ugh!), so it was lovely to finally get a proper one. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll know that a good Creme Brulee is one of my favourite desserts, if you're you know.

The Ivy Market Grill Creme Brulee Dessert

The atmosphere in The Ivy Market Grill is calm and relaxed, with groups of women having lunch, an older couple enjoying one another's company, and a mother and daughter near us having a good ole catch up (their steak sandwiches looked pretty incredible!).

The Ivy Market Grill Covent Garden London

By the time we left the restaurant was emptying out, although some people were starting to arrive to have afternoon tea. The bill wasn't too much of a shocker, standard London really and very similar in price to brunch at the likes of Granger & Co and The Providores. What I did notice though was that they charge you for a teeny tiny bowl of nuts on the table, and they also charged us for what we thought was tap water (it was just water in their own bottles which had already been opened/weren't new or anything), which really annoyed me.

Anyway, overall it was a wonderful experience and I'll definitely be back. I really want to go in the evening and try out their dinner as the menu is full of classic favourites, and the bar looks so lovely! Also the great thing about Market Grill is that unlike it's older sibling, it's much more accessible - only half of the tables can be booked, the other half are for walk-ins!

The Ivy Market Grill Bar Covent Garden

Have you heard of any new restaurants in London that I should check out? 

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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!

Follow me on Google+ Here!

Have you been ice-skating at an outdoor ice-rink before? 

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Monday, 24 November 2014

Easy No-Bake Nutella and 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.


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.


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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Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Christmas Gift Guide 2014.

With Christmas next month (next month, guys!), I thought it was time to provide you with the Lux Life Christmas Gift Guide, 2014 Edition. There's a great selection of products for all sorts of different budgets, and every member of the family. Some of them I already have or they're on my own list, and others were voted for by my friends. I hope it's helpful and gives you some ideas :)

Astley Clarke Labradorite cadenza pendant

At the very top of this list is something very special, and the ideal gift for a girlfriend or wife. This beautiful Astley Clarke necklace is absolutely stunning! I have a stacking ring with a similar stone from Astley Clarke, and I always get so many compliments on it.

Alex Monroe Bow Ring

If your partner is more of a 'ring' girl than a necklace girl, how about this gorgeous Bow Ring by Alex Monroe?

George Foreman compact grill

For the student in your family, maybe a brother, sister, or child at University, the George Foreman Grill is a classic! You can literally cook everything on it; from french toast, to burgers, to a full English breakfast! I don't know what I'd do without mine.

Remington vacuum beard and grooming trimmer

For the brother, Dad or husband/boyfriend, the Remington Vacuum Beard & Grooming Kit is the men's grooming choice for 2014! It's a magic little piece of kit that collects the hairs as they're trimming their beard or moustache. Magic I tell you!

harvey nichols seasons eatings hamper

What about the grandparents? Naturally everyone has to give them the traditional framed photo of themselves. But for something a little more special, the Harvey Nichols Seasons Eatings hamper is just perfect!

Florian London Vienna handbag

For mum or sister, I'm totally in love with Florian Handbags, they're so gorgeous! This Mini Vienna handbag is a beautiful red colour. They're a little pricey but so worth it for the extra quality. And Christmas is a time for treats after all, right?

Chanel Coco Mademoiselle perfume

For your daughter, mum, or girlfriend/wife, this is my favourite perfume this year. Chanel Coco Mademoiselle. It. Is. Heavenly. It smells sophisticated yet youthful and fresh. It is firmly at the top of my Christmas list.

Monty the penguin face cloth

Ideal for every child's Christmas stocking, is the Monty the penguin magic face cloth. I used to love these as a kid and had loads of them! Plus, who doesn't want a reminder of that *sniff* oh so perfect advert?

Savile rogue harlequins rugby scarf

If one of the men in your life is a Rugby or Football fan, then the Savile Rogue cashmere scarves will make them very happy indeed. A classy way to show your fan colours, they're so much more sophisticated than your average football/rugby scarf.

Ah Skincare body scrub souffle

If one of the ladies in your life is a fan of natural skincare, I'm so in love with Ah Skincare right now, and this Body Scrub Souffle is just divine! It's a brand started by a mother in her own home, after many years of selling skincare products but not being satisfied with the ingredients in them. Every product I've tried smells bloody amazing.

Wilko childrens baking kit

For the child who loves to bake. I love how this Cupcake Baking Set from Wilko is gender neutral. I hate it when brands stereotype things for kids into blue and pink.

vintage 1950's style pink weighing scales

Whilst we're on the subject of baking, if you're like me and love testing out new recipes, this pretty set of pink scales is also at the top of my Christmas list. and they're such a bargain at just £8!!

Another fashion jewellery brand I love is aMuse Fashions, I'm totally in love with their cute and quirky pieces, and this Blackberry Bracelet is the ideal gift for any fashion lover! They also do a cute set of Blackberry earrings and a Blackberry necklace - a gorgeous seasonal statement that's for sure!

Zara checked scarf

Ahh, the infamous Zara Scarf, a bargain at just £19.99. Perfect for friends and family members. It was sold out last winter but is back with a bang for AW14. I have the red and cream checked one myself, however it's so warm and snuggly I really want this multi-coloured checked scarf now as well. So pretty. And the colours are the perfect winter colours!

Russell Hobbs espresso machine

Every coffee lover would appreciate waking up to this beauty on Christmas day. The Russell Hobbs Espresso machine.

Hedgehog coasters

For the animal-lover is something a little quirkier, these Hedgehog coasters from Iris Boutique are seriously cute!

Best friend pyjamas

I think we all know how much I love check and plaid, and the colours in this ASOS set are too cute. I have so many check and plaid pyjama sets it isn't even funny. But you can never have too many, they're just so wintery and christmassy! Also everyone needs new pyjamas for Christmas, it's like, tradition. Plus, you need the Best Bitches PJ Set for you and your bestie.

Yankee Candle Black Cherry

And finally, the must have for every one at Christmas. A new yankee candle. My personal favourite this year is Black Cherry. Oh. My. Gosh. It smells so delicious I could eat it.

Oh, and how could anyone forget man's best friend!? Your dog will love chewing on this penguin bone on Christmas morning! Pets Pyjamas are fantastic for dog treats, toys, and collars, they have such an amazing selection for all budgets.

And last but not least, if you're looking to impress someone, and someone who loves cooking, how about sending them to the Raymond Blanc Cookery School for a day!? Truly Experiences have the most amazing gift experiences for a huge range of budgets, from spa days to overseas photography trips to a space encounter!

It's not just about material gifts.

Also, please do remember those who don't have anyone to share Christmas with. Those who have absolutely nothing, who won't have a roast dinner, gifts, or even a hug and a 'Happy Christmas' wished to them. This Christmas as well as buying your family and friends gifts, please also make some time to donate to Crisis, an amazing charity who do so much for the homeless. Just £21.62 gives a homeless person a Christmas day.

That small amount will buy a homeless person three hot meals including Christmas dinner, the chance to shower and change clothes, have a haircut and get a health check, receive expert advice on life-changing issues like housing and employment an introduction to Crisis year-round services for training and support for the future. I've already made my donation, will you?

Question time.

So tell me, what's on your Christmas list this year, and what are you planning on buying your friends and family?

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