Saturday, 30 November 2013

How to put a simple cheese board together

Cheese is a great food and with so many different types from around the world, the cheese board is a fantastic way to discover excuse to try them.

As far as I'm concerned, a cheese board is a simple and effective way to avoid cooking desert when time is tight. It is a great easy entertaining trick and a card I always keep up my sleeve, it looks stylish and is a great way to drum up conversation at the table.

But... (and there always is a but *sigh*)...

... with SO many options of cheese out there, it can be very hard to choose the right selection. It's a bit like choosing wine. So, it helps to follow a few friendly rules. This is the first set I ever learnt, the rules for a basic board - you'll need to choose a cheese from each category:

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The hard cheese
A solid Cheddar, a strong Parmesan or maybe a Red Leicester... something solid and weighty.

The blue cheese
Rich, creamy and full of blue mold - Stilton, Dolcelatte or anything blue

The semi-soft
Goats cheese is always a great option

The soft
A squidgy smelly Brie, Mozzarella or a stinking Tunworth

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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Coffee Plant

When the morning's are dark and it's cold outside, I am so thankful for a strong cup of fresh coffee. It is JUST the best. Growing up in a family where coffee was king and a freshly brewed cafetiere was found at breakfast every day, it's fair to say that being picky about my coffee is a small vice of mine.

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Thankfully London is full of great coffee hang outs and this one, if you have not discovered it yet, is a coffee lover's paradise. Coffee Plant, a 15 year old long serving staple on Portobello road. For well over a decade it has been faithfully roasting, serving and selling fairtrade coffees and teas. It's hidden halfway down the market and is dangerously close to Starbucks. Famous for its kick ass espressos, creamy lattes and lively atmosphere it sells all kinds of roasts from across the world.

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Monday, 25 November 2013

Food foraging in Borough Market

On a cold winter's day Borough market is full of stalls from far and wide selling their very best local produce.
In the run up to Christmas, going to Borough market can be huge fun for buying christmas presents for foodie friends, being inspired for dinner parties or simply idling a morning away. It is one of my favorite things to do at this time of year.

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It is electric. Stall tenders called "10 for a £1", "fresh vegetables going", "roll up roll up warm baked loaves going for a five-a". Smells waft through the air. Tasters are of course handed out. And bags are filled with the finest ingredients. Impossible to resist, the mulled wine flows, the mounds of cheese is piled high and freshly baked bread steam on market stalls.

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Tucking into a roast duck sandwich and sipping on our mulled wine, it was clear why this winter expedition is a firm family favorite place....

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.... after all our name hangs here!

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Friday, 22 November 2013

Franco Manca - Brixton's finest pizza

One of London's best pizza joints has to be Franco Manca. It can be found in bustling Brixton Market and on a busy day when the market is jam packed, it is a great place to head to for a delicious, affordable and atmospheric lunch.

Waking up on Saturday morning and craving pizza, we leapt out of bed, called our friends and agreed to meet up at FM to tuck into their margheritas, neopolitans and chorrizo pizzas.

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Open since 2008 and having drawn a dedicated crowd of pizza lovers since, Franco Manca is known for its fresh produce (British where possible), sough dough pizza bases and reasonable prices. You can sit inside the restaurant, but if you're a dog lover then it's best to nestle yourselves under the tables just outside. That way you can soak up the energy of lively Brixton market too - if you ask me, that's a win.

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Wednesday, 20 November 2013


Geisha's, temples and Japanese gardens. Kyoto is one of Japans most beautiful cities and is steeped in history.
A short ride from Osaka, there was no excuse not to go (even if the jet lagged still killed every morning). Once we navigated the trains, worked out how to buy our tickets and found the right platform, we hopped on a train and off we went.

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1600 budhist temples and 400 shinto shrines, Kyoto is one of Japan's oldest and most preserved cities.

Kiyomizu-dera is a centally located beauty of a temple. It was founded in 798, over a thousand years ago. Absolutely huge and looking down over Osaka from the top of a hill, it'll surprise you to know that not a single nail was used in the building.

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If you're thirsty you can sip from the natural spring that runs by the temple. They say that water from the spring can help improve exam results, I'm sure it is why this lot were gulping it down.

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As the evening set in we headed off for some breathtaking architecture at Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Temple. Wandering around the gardens in dusk, the sun beaming onto the gold leaf building and light bouncing off the lake it was hard not to love Japan.

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Monday, 18 November 2013


I thought I'd save this for you when the weather is cold, winter is moving in and we all dream of heading off to somewhere exciting and different.
This is Japan! After a whirlwind trip to Africa, the trip that I told you about a few weeks ago, we landed in the UK and twenty four hours later flew out to Japan for the week.

Japan was amazing and it is definitely a place where you can feel lost in translation. We stayed in Osaka, Japan's third largest city, a bustling sky scrapper of a town and Japan's food capital.

We spent most of our time navigating ourselves around the city in and out of Sam's work commitments. But when not working, we'd busy ourselves by taking walks in the parks, touring the city's castle and investigating tiny Ramen restaurants.


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Friday, 1 November 2013

Blustery winds and golden light - Richmond park

Honest to god I cannot get enough of blustery autumn days and golden sunlight. So when my best friend Flora suggested a day in Richmond park I jumped at the idea.

Throwing our wellies in the car we hurtled down on a windy morning to the big old deer park. It's big, very big so big that it is easy to forget that you're in London!

Off we walked, across the big meadows and through the park's woods. It was bliss, with acorns crunching beneath our feet, the chestnuts starting to fall and the deer idling the day away in soft beds of rusty brown bracken.

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Warm sunlight beat down while the leaves whirled around in the wind, blowing off the trees and up into the sky - it was all very exhilarating.

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After several hours of walking through the park, Poppy told us she was tired... We all were, so we agreed to round off the walk with a big cup of hot chocolate before heading home.

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