Friday, 30 September 2016

Cocktail O'Clock: Dirty Bones, London

When it's a gorgeous Saturday afternoon in London, what do you do? Well, one answer may be cocktails, and that's exactly what I did when I went to Dirty Bones last month.

Located in Kingly Court - a very cool area packed full of cafes, bars and restaurants near Carnaby Street in Soho - this restaurant has it all; fun decor, amazing cocktails and what looked like delicious food.

I only stayed for cocktails, but I really enjoyed this place! They had some really unusual flavours on the menu, but there were quite a few to choose from that I definitely would've had, had I had the time and money!

I went for the Top Dog cocktail - which has strawberry chambord, vodka, lemon and prosecco; can't resist a prosecco-based cocktail! It was really really good and I'd definitely come back on a night out for drinks with the girls. Price-wise, it wasn't too bad either, particularly as London can be very expensive to drink in.

All in all, very impressed!

Monday, 26 September 2016

Rio de Janeiro [Part 1] - Lapa & Escadaria Selarón | Photo Diary

After 5 nights in Sao Paulo, it was time to move onto our next stop, Rio!

We stayed at the Rio Soft Inn in Lapa, which is the neighbourhood known for its great nightlife and entertainment. I was a little sceptical at first, but I came to absolutely love this area. Surrounding the hotel were tons of bars and restaurants, meaning it was very easy to find somewhere to eat or go for drinks in the evening.

Whilst the city is known for its beaches and monuments, I'd absolutely recommend visiting Lapa and the nearby areas if you're in Rio, and the hotel we stayed in was very well priced. The staff were particularly helpful and kind, and even gave everyone a booklet full of things to do and recommendations of where to go, which was so helpful!

Lapa is also known for its famous arches, which are beautiful (especially at sunset) and it's next door to Santa Teresa, another beautiful district in the city.

Close by are also the Escadaria Selarón or the Selarón Steps - these were created by a Chilean artist as a tribute to Brazil and its people, and they are gorgeous! All of the steps are covered in colourful tiles, with some spelling out 'I love you Brazil'. They are very popular, so if you want a picture on the steps, be prepared to wait a little. However there are little stalls and gift shops nearby to keep you occupied!

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Mascarpone-Stuffed French Toast - #TanyaBakes

Some will know by now how much I love baking, and how much I love Tanya Burr's book, Tanya Bakes. Not only is the photography just gorgeous (and makes me wish I could photograph things that well) but the recipes look delicious and have only encouraged me to bake more than I already do.

A few weeks back, I decided to treat myself on a Saturday morning to one of her recipes - the mascarpone-stuffed French toast. I love mascarpone; I am that person who has to get it with my dessert at Pizza Express (why does nowhere else serve it? Amateurs), so much so, I've actually asked a member of staff to check if there was any left anywhere when he told me they'd run out; spoiler alert: there was, and I was a very happy bunny that evening.

To make this French toast is incredibly easy:

1. Mix your mascarpone with a little icing sugar to sweeten the flavour.
2. Get 2 slices of thick to medium-thick bread and spread the mascarpone all over before sandwiching the two slices together. (Tanya's recipe says to use extra thick bread and slice down the middle of that to add the mascarpone filling, but I found this easier and didn't have any super-thick bread)

3. Combine an egg, milk, and a dash of cinnamon in a bowl, before dipping the mascarpone sandwich in the mixture. Make sure to completely cover both sides.
4. Melt some butter in a frying pan and fry the sandwich on both sides until golden brown.

5. Sprinkle cinnamon over the top and serve with fresh fruit.

For exact proportions, you'll need to check out Tanya Bakes, which is available now from WHSmith, Amazon etc. I really recommend this book; it's got fool-proof, easy recipes for everyone!
Friday, 23 September 2016

Banana-Free Healthy Chocolate Superfood Pudding

Whilst I was away, I had pre-ordered the new +Niomi Smart book, Eat Smart (which is out now for £20). This beautiful cookbook focuses on incorporating healthy vegan food into some absolutely delicious recipes. I myself am not vegan, but I am really interested in cooking new recipes, particularly if I know they're good for me and won't make me feeling too guilty about eating them afterwards (not that I ever am, I love food too much).

I've been trying some of the recipes recently and what's been really exciting about it is that none of these recipes are difficult, and a lot of them use ingredients that I would normally eat too. If anything, it's been a bit of an education in seeing food that I love become part of so many delicious meals.

So far, I've tried the Butternut Squash pizza with pesto, tomato and a little bit of mozzarella - as I said, I'm not actually vegan - and it was amazing. That's the thing with this book - you don't have to follow the recipes word for word in order to create something healthy; I still eat meat and cheese, so I might take the basis of the recipe from Eat Smart and then add in anything I would still eat that would work really nicely with it. This is one of the reasons I absolutely love to cook.

Today, I tried to make Niomi's chocolate superfood smoothie bowl. A lot of her recipes have banana in as it's very nutritious and acts as a really good thickening agent - but I really really hate banana. I really don't like the flavour at all. After previously sampling the recipe for the Strawberries and 'Cream' overnight oats that also contained banana - and to which I was pleasantly surprised about - I decided to do a little research and find some alternatives. One of which was one of my absolute favourites, avocado! *jumps for joy* I decided to swap the banana for avocado in Niomi's smoothie bowl recipe, as well as making another couple of add-ins and it really was delicious and filling! The only thing is, the consistency ended up more like a pudding than a smoothie - but this was really lovely, and it just depends how thick you'd prefer the mixture to be! My version of the recipe (built on Niomi's) is below:

Banana-free Healthy Chocolate Superfood Pudding
- 1 avocado, with the skin and stone removed, chopped into chunks
- 1 1/2 tbsp cacao powder or grated solid cacao
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tbsp of maple syrup

1. Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend until the mixture is creamy and smooth - with no lumps!
2. Add extra almond milk if needed to get a preferred consistency.
3. Serve in a bowl and decorate with your preferred toppings!

I added extra chia seeds and sliced strawberries on top of mine; I'd recommend fresh fruit on top as the mixture can be quite rich - so strawberries or raspberries are perfect!

Make sure you check out Eat Smart - on Waterstones,, WHSmith, Sainsburys, Asda etc; it's a really lovely book, presented so nicely and Niomi has really put together some delicious things - and that's coming from someone who loves her junk food!
Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The Incredible Iguaçu Falls, Brazil

Whilst we were in Brazil, we couldn't not do a quick trip to Iguaçu Falls! A lot of people choose to spend a couple of nights here and stay in a hotel in the nearby town, Foz do Iguaçu, but since we'd already booked our accommodation in São Paulo, we decided to fit it into a day.

Coming from the Brazilian side of the falls - which can also be accessed from Paraguay and Argentina - we got a return flight from Sao Paulo for about £100-150, which wasn't too bad, given it's such a popular tourist destination. We flew with LATAM airlines, who fly everywhere around South America it seems, and the flight was good; it was around about an hour long and we still got in-flight food - which you definitely don't get on short haul flights around Europe! Definitely recommend if you want a cheapish, comfortable quick flight.

I wasn't too sure about how we would get to and from the airport to the falls, but thanks to The Little Backpacker's post (check it out here) which covered absolutely everything essential, it was easy! Thanks Jodie! :) We grabbed the bus - which we thought was the right one and actually wasn't, and spent about an hour in the wrong direction; however we got a nice little tour around the town of Foz de Iguaçu, which we hadn't planned on! It was actually quite funny, especially when we realised that to pay on the bus, you first get on, then pay and go through a turnstile in the middle of the bus! (Yes, I got a bit stuck later on...but it was fine)

Jodie's post was absolutely brilliant for helping us get around, so if you're heading to the falls, make sure you give it a read! We got off the public bus at the entrance to the National Park of the falls, where we there bought our tickets (about R50-60 each) and got on a shuttle bus further into the park. There are all sorts of trails you can do, depending on your level of fitness and interest, but the main trail starts at the stop by the hotel - i.e. where most people get off! It takes you down and along the side of the cliffs by the falls, and eventually down to the observation deck called 'Devil's Throat'. This was absolutely the best part; you walk out along a long deck right next to the waterfalls themselves, and get completely drenched, but the view is stunning and well worth it!

We found the day trip to be tiring, but enough time to see everything we wanted to see. However, you can get to the falls from Argentina to get a different perspective (Jodie's post covers this too), which I think a lot of people do, so they stay longer. However, with a limited time on our hands, we made sure we squeezed it into our trip for as cheap as we could! Another thing ticked off the bucket list!

Monday, 19 September 2016

Stopping off in São Paulo, Brazil | Photo Diary

Over the last couple weeks I have been a little quieter on here for one big reason: I was in Brazil!

My boyfriend and I booked our 2-week trip back sometime around April, and the time had finally come to set off and get on a plane (or 2, or 3 etc).

Our trip would first take us to São Paulo - with a day at Iguaçu Falls - before heading over to Rio de Janeiro for about a week. We spent 5 nights in São Paulo, and learnt A LOT - particularly in the recent political situation going on over there (but no politics talk on here!). The entire country of Brazil was really fascinating and the people were really lovely. São Paulo in particular felt like a huge city like London or New York, just spread over a bigger area - there were so many skyscrapers! A huge metropolis, the city is the most populated in the entirety of the Americas!

Our flights were booked through +Delta who were really pretty good. I flew with them last year when I did my 7-week trip to the USA and so we decided to go with them again over another airline we'd never heard of before. It did mean we had to change through Atlanta on the way out and New York on the way back - which was very rushed - but the flights themselves were great.

After about a day of travelling each way, we finally made it to São Paulo at around 8am. We crashed at our hotel for a few hours - staying at the Novotel SP Jaragua, which was excellent - before going for a rekkie round the city.

Over the next few days, we explored the beautiful cathedral, Ibirapuera Park (which is a must-see if you're visiting the city), Paulista Avenue and the central shopping district, and the São Paulo Zoo, as well as some AMAZING places to eat like Braz and Jardim do Napoli - for the best parmigiana I know I will ever have.

It really was a great place to start our journey into Brazil.

São Paulo Cathedral

Ibirapuera Park

São Paulo from the sky!

Paulista Avenue

The BEST parmigiana at Jardim do Napoli

São Paulo Zoo