Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The Joint, Marylebone.


*Please note, The Joint is now closed, and has been replaced by the brilliant, Picture Restaurant*

The great thing about working in Marylebone is the food. There's a plethora of incredible restaurants, and I'm slowly working my way round them all. A few weeks ago the work gang and I all went for a Friday lunch. Usually we go to the same place; either Roti Chai, Meatliquor, or Tommi's Burger Joint. This time we felt like a change, so opted for The Joint, which is pretty much every meat-eaters idea of heaven.



The restaurant is surprisingly large, with cool decor and a buzzing atmosphere. On Friday it was packed with workers all treating themselves to ribs, brisket, and pork buns. Clare and I had a lemonade to drink, while the others all had wine and beer. The lemonade was freshly squeezed, and absolutely amazing! 




Food-wise we way over-ordered. Really you could probably share fries between 4 of you, they're huge!! The cheese fries were completely addictive though, so if you don't like sharing maybe don't ;) sadly I didn't get a photo of the fries, and apologies for the quality of these pics, I just used my phone as I wasn't expecting to go for lunch!  



I had the Candied Apple Bacon, Slaw & Salad 16-hour slow cooked pork on their potato bun, with added cheese. I wasn't sure what to expect from the potato bun, but I was actually really impressed, it tasted pretty good! The pork was insanely good, I'm not quite sure how I finished it as it was absolutely huge, but it was too good to waste. 


If you're after a funky new alternative to the standard burger places in the area, definitely try The Joint! They also do a vegetarian and a chicken option. 

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The Joint Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Monday, 28 September 2015

Top 10 Dream Luxury Destinations.


As I'm currently in one of my Top 10 Dream Luxury Destinations (Palm Island in St Vincent and The Grenadines), I thought I'd share with you my other nine! There's a total mixture from around the world, all of them on my ultimate luxury destination list, and I'd love to know what's on yours!



1. Antarctica
Antarctica has long been on my 'ultimate dream' list. I would absolutely love to go on an Antarctic cruise with all of my camera gear and see icebergs and the ice-covered landscape.

2. Russia
If you've seen my 2015 Travel Wish List then you'll already know about this one. It's firmly on my list, and with the Bourgeoisie opulence everywhere you turn, this luxury destination is right near the top. I have my eye on the Ritz Carlton in Moscow and the Four Seasons in St Petersburg!

3. Fiji
The private resort of Laucala Island in Fiji is a total dream, but definitely one for a special occasion with rooms ranging in price from £3,027 to £5,807 p e r  n i g h t.

4. An Italian Roadtrip
I am longing for a luxury north Italian roadtrip. I want to start at Verona, wind through the Italian roads down to Florence, before going up to Portofino and Genoa, and then on to Lake Como for the grand finale! 

5. Skiing in Switzerland
After skiing in the Slovakian High Tatry Mountains earlier this year made me realize that actually, skiing is fun, I would absolutely love to head to the Swiss Alps and stay at the Gstaad Palace. It looks insanely beautiful.

6. New York City
Again, this is one from the 2015 Wish List. I'm hoping this one will be ticked off in 2016, I have a pretty epic East Coast roadtrip planned (Miami - NYC), but now I just need to convince my friends that it's worth parting with thousands of their hard earned cash... :| 

7. Galapagos
How incredible would it be to step on a land almost untouched since Darwin himself arrived there?! I'd love to see the wildlife for myself - hello Blue Footed Boobies! (coolest name ever?)

8. Monaco
Monte Carlo looks so dreamy. Champagne, fast cars, and luxury hotels galore all in one tiny country by the ocean. It is literally my idea of heaven and would be such a perfect weekend break.

9. The Middle East
Ever since I went to Egypt back in 2011 I've wanted to tour around the Middle East. It's so exotic. I'd love to visit Israel, Jordan, Dubai, Qatar, and Oman. 

10. St Vincent and The Grenadines
Obviously this one had to be on here, even though I'M HERE RIGHT NOW!! I've been so excited for months about this, could you tell from the amount of times I've mentioned it?! I'm currently soaking up the sun on the private island of Palm Island, which is owned by Elite Island Resorts. 

What are your Top Luxury Destinations? I'd love to know! If you need some inspiration take a look at this awesome article about the Most Expensive Places to Visit in the World, which includes some really exceptional locations!

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Saturday, 26 September 2015

The 20-Year Friendversary.


A couple of weeks ago my god-daughter started primary school. Twenty years ago I started primary school myself, and on the very first day I met my best friend. It's funny how as a child you have one best friend, apparently as a kid I always used to tell all my family about 'my best friend Emma'...but as you grow up you learn to share each other, as you gain more best friends, until you have a handful of besties that you can always count on.



Twenty years later Emma is still one of my closest friends. I know I can always count on her, and I know she'll always be there. She's appeared a few times on the blog, so for our 20-year friendversary, I thought I'd tell you a little bit about her. The problem is though, how do I condense twenty years of memories into one blog post!? I guess I'll just pick out the favourites.

We met in a tractor tyre. It was the first day of school and I remember us standing next to this huge gigantic tyre in the playground. I can't remember who asked who, but one of us asked the other if we could be friends, and that was it. Twenty years later we've had countless memories together; good times, drunken nights (which almost always end in me peaking too soon...and stealing Emma's bed, forcing her onto the floor), bitching sessions, watching horror films with tubs of haribo, and lunches and dinners gossiping about everything and anything. 

Throughout primary school we were inseparable. Everywhere we went it was always 'Catherine and Emma'. Whenever we had to pair up, we went together. 




I have so many memories of going round to Emma's house and her coming to mine that I'm sure we spent more time together than apart. 

One time in the holidays my mum took us to a farm park, and I still remember both of us singing along at the tops of our voices to my new Spice Girls cassette tape. We were both pretty obsessed with the Spice Girls, and in the school playground us girls had our own Spice Girls group. Emma was Posh spice and I was Baby spice.



Oh, then there was also the time at lunchtime when Emma made me laugh while I was eating a yoghurt, so I snorted yoghurt out of my nose and mouth, ALL over her hair! I still remember one sleepover when we were sat on her bed (I was always super jealous because she had a purple bedroom), cutting the ends of the hundreds of packets of sherbert we had for our 'midnight feast', and we were laughing so uncontrollably that we were both bent double barely able to breathe or talk. I can't for the life of me remember what we were even laughing about!

Then there was the time when we went to either Heever or Leeds Castle (can't remember which) and we got lost in the maze. So Emma gave me a boost up on the fence so I could see over the top...except we broke the fence and I fell down. Woops. Then there was the time we were both in Wintershall - The Life of Christ (it was an outside play about Jesus). We played two children and we had the best week running around the Wintershall estate in costume, eating scotch pancakes and eating the loaves of bread during the feeding of the five thousand scene.

We both decided to do the same extra-curricular activities. We did Brownies together, swimming lessons together, had tennis lessons together, karate lessons together, and tap dancing lessons together. It was brilliant. You know how you have a secret joke with your best friend, and when you give them 'the look' they know exactly what you're thinking about and you both crack up laughing? Yeh, that happened in pretty much every single karate lesson.

I still remember how excited we both were the very first time we were allowed to go to the cinema together by ourselves. We felt super grown up, mainly because my Mum let me borrow her massive blue brick mobile phone to call them when we were ready to be picked up. This was in the nineties people, a child having a mobile phone was not normal.

We caused chaos in primary school, we were awful. One time we found a really small worm and put it in our teacher's tea and watched her drink it, she had no idea. Another time we hid behind the door and held it open, and when someone walked through it we let go so it shut on them then ran off. Oh, and then for some reason we also ate crisps off the floor... (don't ask). And how could I ever forget the time we 'dealt Pokemon cards' behind the toilets because they were banned in our school?! We were canny though, we were super good in class so no one suspected it was us.

For my 10th birthday my parents took me, Emma, and our friend Gabrielle to see S Club 7. We had THE BEST night, and we wore out matching Bolts and platform shoes and thought we looked amazing. Talking of clothes, for our end of year school play we did Oliver. Emma and I were both street sellers (I was a milk maid and she a strawberry seller), and rich people. For the rich people scene I got the amazing super nice blue outfit, while she got the yucky brown one :P



At the end of primary school we got our ears pierced together with our friend Annabel, and over the holidays we both got our periods within about a week of each other (sorry, TMI? Seriously though, weird or what). We both discussed starting secondary school in-depth and having the perfect 'cool' backpacks. We decided our backpacks either had to be Animal or Quicksilver. Emma had a Quicksilver one so I had an Animal one. I'm still not sure why we went through a 'grungy' faze, both of us even had matching flared jeans as well as the Bolts. Awks.

Myself, Emma, and our friend Annabel - aged 11 after getting our ears pierced!


In secondary school things didn't change much, we walked to school together from our old primary school round the corner as our siblings were still there. Our mums would drop us off and we'd walk the 10mins to our school, feeling super grown up. 

Emma's Gran lived behind our school through a secret doorway, so we used to sneak down there when no one was looking and go to her Gran's house for lemonade and biscuits. Luckily we were in the same form group, so even through secondary school we remained best friends. Emma was always the smart one though, so she was in the super intelligent 'Group 1' maths and science classes...while I was in the less intelligent 'Group 3' classes.

One PE lesson in winter, we were supposed to be playing football, but I lost one of my football socks and we both decided it was a good excuse for us to not go outside in the cold. So we both hid in the showers and sat there for two hours playing M.A.S.H and pinging hairbands against the wall. We also used to get out of lessons by going to reconciliation and then basically talking rubbish to the priest and eating all the sweets they kept on the table. One time I literally sat there and went 'so...nice weather today!'.




So many memories through secondary school, so many Saturdays in town spending our pocket money, having lunch at McDonalds (classy, eh), and 'window shopping' in Topshop. So many funny times at school making fun of teachers, and being total weirdos with our friends on the field at lunchtimes. And of course, who could forget all of the dress up parties, where every single time I went as a pirate?! (and I still do, FYI).











When it was time for our school Prom, it was only natural for us to get ready together and then meet our friends to all go there in unison.



When I moved to Australia, my family stayed at Emma's house the night before our flight, and her Dad drove us to the airport the next day. The first Christmas in Australia I sent Emma a package...which included an envelope full of sand from our beach. I still laugh thinking about her opening it! Then Emma and her family all came out to visit us in Perth for Easter and my 17th birthday, and we had the most amazing two weeks with them! 



We took them Down South to Eagle Bay and took some pretty epic photos, and it was while we were at Eagle Bay that Emma and I first discovered Romy & Michele's High School Reunion. It was love at first watch. We were hooked from the very first scene. Also, check out the photo below of Emma basically punching me in the face... haha!


We then all flew over to Sydney for my actual birthday, and Emma and I got lost at the Sydney Opera House in the rain. So we took a selfie to commemorate the moment. #standard





Going through our old wall posts and messages on Facebook, we kept in contact a lot while I was out in Australia! We told each other everything and kept each other updated with every little detail of our lives. I went back to the UK for a coupla weeks in the summer (English summer), and we naturally made the most of this time to have picnics, drive around to random places, dressing up and taking photos, and wrapping ourselves up in Emma's pop-art project...






When I returned we stayed with Emma's family for a few nights, and we went to a 50th Birthday party dressed as the girls from St Trinians (see pic below). We ended up hiding in the coat marquee all evening because we were too scared of all of the older people. 


That winter the snow was insane, so naturally we made the most of this by sneaking into the untouched garden of an empty house and making the most of their beautiful fresh snow...then we went to Sainsburys and brought Creme Eggs and sat in the snow in the car park and ate them. Classy eh.




After six months of me being back in the UK (and numerous nights out, parties, and even a few double dates with our boyfriends), we both went to University. We didn't get to see each other much while we were at Uni, but we caught up in the holidays and some weekends when we were both home!





Since leaving Uni and starting work we've both made much more of an effort and we now regularly see each other for lunch and drinks/dinner as Emma works round the corner from me!



She even comes on some blog stuff with me, and then a coupla years ago we went to Paris with the girls!




In 2013 we finally found a hammock big enough for both of us!


I love you Romy/Ema/Emsie-pemsie, thank you for bringing so much laughter and happiness to my life over the past twenty years, here's to another twenty. Love, Michele/Cluxy/KitKat xx


PS: You didn't think I'd do a post without a poem, did you Emma? Here we go, in true circa 2004 Catherine fashion.

We met in a tyre when we were four,
Sometimes we'd shut people in the door,
Another time we added a worm,
To our lovely teacher's tea.

Inseparable throughout our childhood,
We used to play chefs in your hood,
Sitting by the old tree 'cooking' grapes,
And talking to that creepy kid.

 Years of laughter, joy, and tears,
Tears of happiness mind,
So many memories too many to count,
Who could forget three barrels tight and yellow.

Let's not leave it there,
For who could forget clean 'n' sheen,
My poems have never been any good,
I have no idea where this one is going.

Ok let's stop there. This poem isn't working.
It includes three barrels tight and yellow and clean 'n' sheen,
And that's all that matters really.

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Friday, 25 September 2015

Raymond Blanc Cookery School Canapé Class.


Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to Raymond Blanc's famous hotel, Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons, in Oxfordshire, for a cookery class at the Raymond Blanc Cookery School. The school is headed up by Mark Peregrine, who has quite the impressive resume. He started his career more than 30 years ago as an apprentice under Raymond Blanc himself at Raymond's very first restaurant, Les Quat'Saisons. Since then he has worked at numerous Michelin-starred restaurants, including Le Manoir, and was even a chef lecturer at the Cordon Bleu Culinary school.

There are very few blogger events that I will take a day off work for, because I much prefer to use my holiday days to actually go on holiday. But when this invite dropped in my inbox I simply couldn't say no, so I booked the day off and last Friday drove the short 60min drive to Le Manoir. 

Now I'll tell you more about Le Manoir itself in a separate post, as we were lucky enough to have a tour of the grounds and afternoon tea as well, which deserves it's own post entirely. 



Unfortunately Raymond Blanc himself was hidden away finishing his already-late book, so we didn't get to meet him, but Mark and his team took very good care of us.






^^ This rosemary and Parmesan popcorn was literally the best popcorn I've ever had. It was incredible! 



Raymond's own kitchenware brand is used in the kitchens, naturally.

We were shown how to create six different canapes, but my favourites were definitely the crab and mango tart and the chicken liver choux. 


If you learn from really hands on teaching then this course probably isn't for you, but if you learn best from watching someone else and having them talk you through it, then you should definitely sign up! Even though chef made everything, we put the canapes together and learnt plenty of tips and tricks along the way, and we got the recipes and instructions to take home to practice with.

Find out some more information below or on the Cookery School website if you're interested, the class is running on 25th November and the 9th December - it's perfect if you're planning on hosting any Christmas parties!

The new course from Raymond Blanc Cookery School: Canapé class. 

Whether planning a glamorous dinner or casual cocktails, set the scene with some spectacular tasty treats. Our fun, casual class will show you how to create sensational seasonal canapés that are sure to impress family and friends.

Includes:

-          Half-day course tuition
-          Tea and coffee 
-          Course certificate

Itinerary

-          Check in: 1:45pm
-          Class starts: 2:00pm
-          Class ends: 5:00pm

Price: £185 per person

Do you enjoy cooking? Have you been to Le Manoir?

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