Lifestyle: Chocolate Afternoon Tea at Whittlebury Hall

I love a good old fashioned Afternoon Tea, I’m a huge fan of chocolate – so it doesn’t get much better than a Chocolate Afternoon Tea. Add in a gorgeous spa hotel, comfy sofas, gossiping with my mummy and some Champagne and you’ve got a perfect way for me to while away a few hours.

 photo Chocolate Afternoon Tea Whittlebury Hall 7_zpsz7lz3oyv.jpgWith university and exams getting in the way, I shamefully realised in August that I hadn’t yet treated my mum to the lunch I promised her for Mother’s Day. Way back in March. Whoops! To rectify things I booked the Chocolate Afternoon Tea at Whittlebury Hall – this was the perfect treat to indulge our sweet teeth (tooths?) and spend some quality time together ahead of my move to London.

The afternoon tea setting was gorgeous. A large room full of sofas and comfy chairs, bookings are limited to avoid overcrowding and allowing tables to stay occupied for as long as possible. We were there for approaching three hours and never once felt rushed. We were also able to gossip away without feeling like we were disturbing nearby tables, perfect for a girly afternoon.

 photo Chocolate Afternoon Tea Whittlebury Hall 10_zps5dw8s04q.jpg photo Chocolate Afternoon Tea Whittlebury Hall 6_zpsvyazvkxa.jpg photo Chocolate Afternoon Tea Whittlebury Hall 5_zps0kim67zh.jpg photo Chocolate Afternoon Tea Whittlebury Hall 4_zpss5uo8z38.jpgThere was a bit of a mix-up with our afternoon tea – a not very chocolately one arrived, but we assumed it was fine so tucked in. It was only after we’d polished off the scones (me picking out the dried fruit, very classy) that we saw the actual chocolate tea being delivered to another table. We enquired to the most loveliest waiter who promptly refreshed our top layer of cakes and pastries to a chocolate one, offered us the chocolate chip scones (declined for fear of our waistlines) and poured us a complimentary glass of ‘apology’ champagne. Damn good service right there! The standard AT included a peach cream, mini Victoria sponge and many other dainty little bits.

Pots of tea were unlimited, myself having a malty Assam, and mum the good ol’English Breakfast. Both loose leaf, both with plenty of milk and sugar and extra pots of water provided. And very good tea it was too.

 photo Chocolate Afternoon Tea Whittlebury Hall 2_zpswxsq5vhj.jpg photo Chocolate Afternoon Tea Whittlebury Hall 3_zpsmt2rqjvr.jpgThe sandwiches were obviously made fresh, lovely soft bread and generous fillings. I was pleased to see the cucumber had been deseeded, which made the world of difference to what is usually quite a soggy sandwich. The salmon was fresh, though neither of us are the biggest fans of it. We also weren’t hugely taken with the ham and mustard; a combination I normally love, I found it a little sweet-tasting. And the best part of an Afternoon tea, for me, is the top plate so I didn’t want to fill up too quickly!

Scones were good, though being of the fruit variety I ended up picking at mine. Served warm, the cream melted into the soft inner, and I loved that they were served with a raspberry jam. I much prefer it to strawberry, and for me it compliments rather than clashes with the clotted cream.

 photo Chocolate Afternoon Tea Whittlebury Hall 8_zpsai7bxbve.jpg photo Chocolate Afternoon Tea Whittlebury Hall 9_zpslwys8rut.jpgAnd now for the top plate. Once ours was swapped for the chocolate version, we were delighted with our choice. I also found out that dark chocolate and champagne was an unexpectedly enjoyable combination. We had an ‘ice cream’ cone filled with a light chocolate mousse, a chocolate macaroon, a few different ganache covered cakes and a white chocolate and raspberry tart. Everything was gorgeous, though I was most impressed with the macaroon (intensely chocolately despite its pale colour) and the tart which added a burst of freshness. Everything was well prepared, tasted fresh and clearly used good quality chocolate. Not an afternoon tea for the faint-hearted, perhaps, as it was rather rich, but perfect for a girly afternoon.

I’ll just have to head back soon to sample the chocolate-chip scones!

Are you a fan of Afternoon Tea?

 

Recipe: Beer’n’Bacon One Pan Mac’n’Cheese

A few weeks ago I was asked what I would choose my final meal to be. I didn’t hesitate; W’s cheesy pasta bake, made with frankfurters and bacon. I’ve posted the recipe before; it’s a rich, comforting dish that requires a lie-down after eating. And it’s utterly delicious. It hasn’t, however, stopped me making virtually ever new mac’n’cheese recipe I come across.

 photo Beer MacnCheese_zpsxhe0gorz.jpgI’ve done a One-Pan version, a Healthy Twist, one to use up a Leftover Cheeseboard. This one is a new favourite. Based on the BBC GoodFood recipe, we found the original version wasn’t quite cheesy enough, was a bit watery, the cooking times were way off and it lacked bacon. Our version is majorly cheesy, with a thick sauce and dotted with salty bacon. It’s definitely richer, but the beer element cuts through the cheese and adds a lightness which works well. Surprisingly well.

The ale adds a sweetness, but also a sharpness. This particular one was also a little citrussy. It feels as though it shouldn’t work, but it does. With a huge amount of cheese in the sauce it needs the beer to prevent it being too heavy. It makes the sauce smooth and creamy, without being overly rich. The bacon adds a salty crunch, though of course could be left out for a veggie option. Most of all, though, this is just a delicious meal. Well worth it!

 photo Beer MacnCheese2_zpso7mme39g.jpg photo Beer MacnCheese6_zpsmfk3k6el.jpgIngredients – Served 2 as a side to Fried Chicken

  • 2 rashers bacon
  • 35g butter
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large handful of spinach
  • 250ml milk
  • 125ml pale ale – we used Brewdog’s Dead Pony Club, which I actually really enjoyed as a shandy alongside dinner!
  • 120g macaroni
  • 100g cheddar, grated
  • 100g mozzarella, grated

Melt the butter over a low heat with the garlic, and slowly cook until soft and just beginning to turn golden. Pour in the milk and beer and bring to a gentle bubble. Add the pasta and stir occasionally for around 10 mins until the pasta is cooked and covered in sauce. As it is cooking, grill the bacon until crispy, then leave to cool slightly.

Remove the pasta from the heat and stir in the bacon (torn into bitesize pieces), spinach, most of the cheddar (leave around 25g) and half the mozzarella until melted. Sprinkle the remaining cheeses on top and pop until the grill under golden and slightly crispy.

 photo Beer MacnCheese8_zpscqfwzpxc.jpg photo Beer MacnCheese10_zpsehs9ptd1.jpgEnjoy with plenty of salad, some fried chicken, and the rest of the beer. Ideal for a Friday night treat – this slightly lighter version will definitely be my summer mac’n’cheese recipe of choice!

Are you a mac’n’cheese fan? What would be your last meal?

Beauty: Brightening Tired Eyes

One of the things I really, really would love to change about myself is my dark circles. I’ve managed to learn to love my curves, my wonky eyebrows, my difficult-to-control hair, but I simply cannot train myself to like my dark circles. I think it is the inability to hide them – I always seem to look pretty exhausted, and anything that alleviates the blue tones tends to look cakey, heavy and 100x worse.

Well, that was the case up until a few months ago…

 photo Brightening Tired Eyes 8_zpszxwmakgv.jpgI finally discovered a concealer colour corrector which manages to hide my dark circles pretty well, stay put all day, not irritate the hell out of my eyes and not add 20 years worth of wrinkles. Win win! The thick ‘putty’ like texture of the NYX Dark Circle Corrector (read more about my experience with NYX here) does mean I did to do a it of prep work – eye cream around five minutes beforehand – but as someone conscious of ageing I do this daily anyway. Patting in the product, followed by a tiny dusting of powder means I’ll at least look awake all day, even if I don’t feel it!

On extremely tired days I top with a more brightening concealer for extra coverage and highlight – the Barry M one is my current favourite. Mainly because that’s the only option I have – can you tell I’m not a beauty blogger?! Oh, and any puffy cheek redness is easily hidden by the NYX Concealer in Green. I can’t say how much I’m loving colour correcting right now!

 photo Brightening Tired Eyes 7_zpsapjev5tw.jpg photo Brightening Tired Eyes 5_zpscpjyrs5p.jpgAnother NYX product I’ve been loving for ‘waking myself up’ is their Wonder Pencil. Aimed at neutralizing any redness on the waterline, I find it does that and more. It adds a subtle highlight, perfect for the inner eye and almost under the brow-bone. That little touch not only makes me more awake, but adds a bit of definition to my face which helps me look more put together. Definitely not a bad thing when I’m spending 5 minutes on my makeup each morning…

 photo Brightening Tired Eyes 4_zps1nalnwbq.jpgAdd in a lash-lengthening mascara and some brow definition and I’m good to go. These products have really revolutionized my work-day makeup. I find that as my dark circles are covered I spend less time adding in ‘distraction’ elsewhere; I don’t need to have perfect eyeshadow or a bold lip everyday. This means more time in bed in the mornings – always a good thing in my book!

What is your favourite makeup item? What is your everyday makeup routine?

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #4

Happy Monday everyone! Well, I’m all settled into my job. We’re being broken in quite gently, including a global programme set-up over the first month. It’s been great meeting colleagues from our offices in America, Asia and even Australia. Tomorrow we’re all off to the Lake District for a team-building trip – I’m definitely nervous as I’m not the typical outdoors-y type. Give me a dog and some walking boots and I’ll be happy, anything involving too much water/mud/speed/height isn’t really within my comfort zone. That said, I’m really looking forward to it! Other than working I guess it’s been a quiet fortnight whilst I get into a routine…

 photo Happy Things 2_zpstx894dal.pngHere’s the best bits from my fortnight…

  1. Not crashing any work computers within the first two weeks of my employment. I’ll call that a success!
  2. Coming home to W. The most difficult part of being in an LDR was not being able to have a proper daily catch-up, so I’m loving being able to do this. The fact that his Masters course hasn’t started, leaving him free to bake and cook, it’s too bad either!
  3. Catching up with old housemates. It’s been ages since I saw them, so it was nice to travel out to Brighton for a BBQ. I’m definitely missing my girls!
  4. Baking! We’re attempting a bit of a bake-along with GBBO and have spent most Sunday’s in the kitchen. Biscuits, a spiced chocolate bread…safe to say I’m glad there was a bit of room in all my work clothes!
  5. Getting back into exercise. I had a few days off during my first week of work, but now I’m back at my Results with Lucy programme. It’s hard work, but I’m really enjoying it and I’ve definitely noticed a difference in my fitness levels. I hate, hate, HATE leg day though…
  6. Stews and casseroles. Despite still hitting the high-twenties in London last week, I’m craving comforting food. Luckily Debenhams sent me over one of their pressure cookers for me to try, now I can whip up a beef stew in just half an hour after work!
  7. My commute. Possibly the best thing about our flat is that my walk to the tube is 10 minutes, through a leafy street and over one of the Thames footbridges. Not looking forward to it in the rain, but it’s gorgeous on sunny mornings. I’ve seen some spectacular sunsets too.
  8. White wine spritzers. Plenty of ice, made with lemonade. My favourite lunchtime/after-work drink…
  9. Finally getting a decent phone case. I have a rather unusual phone (Huawei P8 – I highly recommend the brand!) and really struggle finding cases for it. Luckily GoCustomized offers personalised phone cases that fit, so I now have a rather bloggeresque marble back*. Just need to stop having a mini heart-attack when I catch sight of it as it does look like I’ve cracked my phone!
  10. Playing tourist in London. We spent this Saturday wandering around, I even saw Big Ben properly for the first time!

What’s been making you smile recently? Any team-building experiences to share?

University: Suriving on a Student Budget

Over the last month or so I’ve been talking to a few younger people, a few people who are just off to university. First off, I genuinely can’t believe it is over four years since I moved away for the first time; it still feels like yesterday. University definitely flew by in no time at all! Secondly, it was so, so clear that the fears I had are still the biggest worries today; how will they cope on a student budget.

 photo Student Budget_zpss6by45ja.pngNow, I definitely have my own tips – cook fresh, choose shorter washing cycles, use low-energy bulbs, shop around for deals on bills – but retailer B&M are offering students their best tips on how to survive on a student budget with an infographic.

I thought it gave some excellent advice. Having a clear-out to raise extra cash is something that I did between my first and second year and I raised a lot of money, just from clothes and ‘junk’ I had lying around. I even got £80 for a old phone with a completely smashed screen! However my biggest tip is to utilise a piggy bank – throw any loose change into a jar at the end of the week and leave it there. It’s an easy way to save the pennies you would otherwise spend without thinking!

 photo 2016-08-01 15.49.21_zps3ogjjody.jpg

*Post sponsored by B&M, all opinions are my own.

What are your top tips for living on a budget?

Review: Burgers & Cocktails, Brighton

Seriously, could there be a more perfect combination? Other than perhaps “tea & cake” I think not!

 photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 5_zpsxez9ugj2.jpgWhilst wandering the North Laines of Brighton we stumbled upon Burgers & Cocktails (part of the Giraffe group). Drawn in by mention of two of my favourite things, we clocked the tummy-rumble-inducing menu, spied the student discount sign and our evening meal was sorted. We strolled up just before 7 to find it virtually empty; a sign that ususally puts us off, but we pererved as I really wanted a good burger. I’m glad we did. A good burger I definitely got.

 photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 1_zpsupvfjljp.jpgStarting with Mojitos (my cocktail of choice, sweet, sharp, strong and yum), we deliberated over burgers and combos of sides for far longer than socially acceptable. Burgers are a serious business, you guys! W eventually went for the Green Chilli Popper Burger, described as a little on the hot side. With a beef patty, green chilli relish, cream cheese stuffed jalapeño poppers & fondue raclette cheese this wasn’t a small burger! We were initially disappointed at the flat ‘McDonalds’ style patties, however it really worked well in both of our burgers. They were definitely good quality despite the thinness, with a good beef flavour coming through – and there’s no way you could eat these with a thick patty!

 photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 3_zpswh5asdg3.jpg photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 4_zpszyta5fwn.jpgFor me, there was only one real choice (though I did have a little food envy at the sight of the fondue raclette cheese!) – the Mac Mountain. A self-confessed mac’n’cheese addict, this one had had my mouth watering all afternoon. Allergy info checked, thanks to our fab waiter who said it had “red bits” he needed to check weren’t tomato, I was soon tucking into “beef patty topped with mac ‘n’ cheese, special sauce, smoky relish, lettuce & pickles” minus the sauce, relish and pickles, plus two rashers of bacon. Because everything needs more bacon. This was perfect, pure carbs-on-carbs indulgence. The bacon was perfectly cooked, crispy without being dry and brittle. The brioche bun squished well around the filling.

The mac’n’cheese deserves a special mention. Spiced up with jalapeño and chilli (the aforementioned red bits) this was lighter than expected, but still wonderfully cheesy and rich. The side portion W ordered came crisp with breadcrumbs, my portion tasted wonderful in my burger.

 photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 2_zpsa5og87zm.jpgAs I was already on double-carbs, I avoided fries on the side. Not for the salad option (we were on holiday) – I demolished a portion of the best onion rings I’ve had the pleasure of eating. I’m a huge fan of them, but they can often be lacking onion flavour, watery, soggy, greasy or (ultimate crime) breadcrumbed. These were great – properly oniony, crisp, a light batter and they stayed crunchy right until the end of the bowl. I’d go back for these alone.

And because we had been greedy enough, we went for Hard Shakes instead of a dessert. I know, we deserve a medal…

 photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 7_zps4nsnlzvm.jpg photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 6_zpsfelerkxz.jpgI highly recommend saving room for these! W’s “Chocolate Monkey” (banana shake, chocolate sauce, chocolate chips, chocolate liqueur & vodka, whipped cream & vanilla ice cream) was a little banana-y for my taste. However my “It’s Not Terry’s It’s Ours” was divine. Triple sec, crème de cacao, delicious brownie pieces, whipped cream & vanilla ice cream made for an amazingly thick shake, chocolatey, orangey and a massive alcoholic kick.

So if you’re in Brighton and in need of a burger, this place is great. Don’t come expect gourmet burgers, mediumly pink. Expect filthy burgers (don’t come on a first date), massive toppings, and a need to lie-down afterwards…

Where’s the best burger you’ve ever had?

 

Recipe: Mum’s Classic English Scones

First off, it’s a scone, pronounced s-cone. As in police cone. Not a s-con.

 photo Mums Classic Scones_zpsffpxbynw.jpgNow that’s cleared up, it’s onto my mum’s scone recipe. Whilst my mum isn’t a massive baker, there are some things she does really, really well. I’ve yet to try a Pear & Raspberry crumble as good as my mums, her Victoria Sponges are far more reliable than mine, and then there’s her scones. The first thing I asked her to make for our engagement party. You’ve had my dad’s recipe for his Malteser Blondies, now it’s mums turn.

And these are well worth waiting for. A good outer crust, soft within and just the right side of crumbly, these are my perfect scone. They virtually split themselves, are light enough to not be overwhelming when piled with clotted cream, just sweet enough to taste good without contrasting the (raspberry) jam. So yep, the perfect scone. Even better served warm enough for the cream to melt into the scone…

 photo Classic Scones 2_zpsvxob2bsy.jpgIngredients

  • 8oz flour (self-raising works best)
  • 2oz butter
  • 1oz sugar
  • 5fl oz full fat ‘blue’ milk

Tip the flour into a large bowl, and stir through a pinch of finely ground table salt. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir through the sugar, then use a knife to stir in the milk – you will end up with a soft dough. Turn on to a floured work surface and knead very lightly – don’t overwork as this makes the scones tough to eat, and they will also fail to rise. Pat or roll out to  2cm thickness. Stamp out rounds (we use a 5cm cutter) and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Repeat to use up all the dough.

Brush the tops of the scones with a little milk. Bake for at 200C 12-15 minutes until well risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack and serve with jam and clotted cream.

 photo Classic Scones 1_zpsakujf7l6.jpgThis amount make a good eight scones if you like them on the large size, or perhaps 12 more dainty sized afternoon-tea portions. Apologies for the imperial measurements, that’s just what my mum sticks to – she will even convert recipes from metric to imperial!

Whilst we’re talking about baking, who’s been enjoying good old Bake Off?! #GBBO time of the year is definitely the best time of year, I’ve even marked my work diary as ‘busy’ from 5pm on Wednesdays so I know I’ll be back/cooked/washed up in time for a cuddle up on the sofa with a baked good or two. I’m attempting a bit of a bake-long (though unfortunately I’m not able to blog-along due to time constraints – it has resulted in some epic recipes though!) but baking can be SO expensive. Luckily  voucherbox.co.uk has created the Great British Save Off, a weekly price comparison of GBBO recipes and the best value supermarket to buy ingredients from each week. This makes it so easy to save a few pennies here and there (batter week’s cheapest store was ASDA) – making it possible to do even more baking. Can’t go wrong really…

*Post sponsored by voucherbox, all opinions are my own, apart from the recipe with is (of course!) my mums!

Are you are fan of scones? Where’s the best scone you’ve ever had – I’m desperate for afternoon tea recommendations in London!

Fashion: Transitioning To Autumn

This time of year is definitely my favourite. I love how the trees start to turn, how hedes are bright red with berries. I love that the sun takes on a golden tinge, that mornings are cool enough to make a scarf needed, but the afternoon sun is still warm. I love that we can take advantage of the slightly darker evenings to curl up with a good book and a hot chocolate. I look forward to comforting food, to pies and stews, to berry crumbles with custard.

 photo Transitioning to Autumn Fashion 9_zpsrt3zvdx0.jpg photo Transitioning to Autumn Fashion 10_zpsrhrxuva9.jpg photo Transitioning to Autumn Fashion 6_zpsn7oqfozn.jpgThe one downside? It’s spider season. How do they get into my house? How do they appear in the middle of the floor? Why do they run so fast? How can I make them go away?! Eurgh…

One of my favourite things about going into Autumn is pulling out all my favourite bits and pieces from the back of my wardrobe. All my most-loved clothes are made for this time of year, and the first day I put black tights on again is definitely one I enjoy – no more leg shaving for a few months! I love the autumnal shades, in fact our wedding is scheduled for early October purely because of the gorgeous colours around at this time of year. And it’s the same weekend we original got together, I guess!

 photo Transitioning to Autumn Fashion 3_zpskyrjljhb.jpg photo Transitioning to Autumn Fashion 1_zpsw4t0gmao.jpgThis skirt has been a staple in my wardrobe for an embarrassingly long time. Like, my pre-university days. Which felt fine when I was actually at university, but now I’ve graduated feels a bit excessive. That said, I can’t bring myself to chuck it just yet. It’s one of the few skirts I paid to have taken in when I lost weight (though still needs a belt to stay at the waist), the material is thick and good quality (that’s M&S for you!) and it has pockets.

The best thing though?It’s perfect for sunnier, warmer days that still hint at an Indian summer, whilst being ideal for cooler days where a jumper is needed. I’ve taken to carrying around a pair of woolly black knee-highs around with me, as they’re perfect for slipping on when things are a little colder than expected. Far too often in the past few weeks have I pulled on a dress, only to get rained on! Throwing on a jumper is effortless with a skirt like this, as it goes with so many. I’d originally planned to pair it with a blush pink jumper, but I’ll be damned if I can find it…

 photo Transitioning to Autumn Fashion 4_zpsuxw0x1lw.jpg photo Transitioning to Autumn Fashion 8_zpsm839hooi.jpgAnd the boots*. Oh, how I love these boots! Usually I spend months and months trying to find decent boots (though I hit the jackpot last year with some bargains from LIDL & ASDA). Having wide feet, narrow ankles, chunky calves and a whole size difference between each foot makes things rather difficult. These somehow work. I don’t need to wear three pairs of ankle socks on my small foot to keep it on, I don’t need to shove insoles in. The elasticated ankle means mine are supported, yet I can see there is enough give for those blessed with a bit of padding on their ankle bones. If you have dodgy-shaped feet, I can highly recommend a browse on JD Williams, I’m rather enamored by these too… The pointed toe is surprisingly comfy, the heel height just right. I can see these getting a lot of wear through to Spring time!

 photo Transitioning to Autumn Fashion 2_zpswd6yu6j5.jpg photo Transitioning to Autumn Fashion 7_zpsb7yfdn8c.jpg(Typically, the day I shot these photos was very warm, with sun so bright I could barely see. Hence the squinting and horrendous shadows. Sod’s law and all that…).

*Boots received from JD Williams in exchange for a post. All opinions are my own, if I didn’t love them the post wouldn’t be going live!

What’s your favourite time of year? Do you have a wardrobe staple you refuse to get rid of?

Travel: Summer Getaway in Brighton

Remember the “heatwave” of July? It might seem like a while ago now, but that week of rather warm whether than had everyone moaning they were too hot, rail tracks buckling, cars overheating? By some rather random (and greatly appreciated) stroke of luck, it coincided exactly with the holiday myself and W booked to Brighton.

 photo Brighton_zpsw5gnjwsu.jpgWe’d originally planned a road-trip around Scotland, but with myself not having learnt to drive, wanting to sell the car and limited funds, we decided a quick getaway to one of our favourite UK places would do the job. We hoped for good weather, we made rainy-day plans. And we lucked out! The weather was perfect right up until five minutes after we got on the train on our journey home; swelteringly hot, bright blue skies. Just right for a seaside break.

 photo Brighton July 2016 17_zpspyvrvom5.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 15_zpscnezyoee.jpg

Staying at The Kelvin (clean, comfortable, if nothing to right home about – other than it was relatively cheap for our dates!) we were virtually on the beachfront, a few minutes walk away from the Sea Life Centre. It made for an excellent base; we could trot to the beach in the mornings, we were close to a couple of decent-sized supermarkets for picking up snacky lunches. It was only a short stroll to the Pavillions and the restaurants nearby. I discovered the joy that is Franco Manca – I ate their tomato-free courgette pizza twice in four days. It’s unbelievably good! And best of all? A gorgeous Italian Gelato shop on the corner. It brought back memories of Rome, with the ice-cream being some of the best I’ve had in the UK. I had several combos (chocolate & hazelnut, chocolate & orange, blueberry & raspberry) and quite honestly wouldn’t be able to pick a favourite. The Kitkat flavour looked pretty awesome though!

 photo Brighton July 2016 19_zpsogb4ns6f.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 3_zpsedqkys3j.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 2_zpsk5wuwxcz.jpgWe spent a day lazing on the beach. I read a whole book and had a good nap. We snacked on a rotisserie chicken and tzatziki. Hired a couple of beach chairs and a parasol. Chased the parasol down the beach following a sudden gust of wind. Got a hand full of splinters from said deckchairs (me). Paddled in the sea. An highly successful beach day, all washed down with a good old Fish’n’Chips, and a rather strong Espresso Martini.

 photo Brighton July 2016 12_zpsxh0dblrb.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 11_zps6t0wezxa.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 10_zpsva20wn6o.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 9_zpsz4sbva5x.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 8_zpsumtbyjgq.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 5_zps6nabonu1.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 4_zpsvk2bgpcn.jpgAnother day was spent being a bit more active. We strolled round the Sea Life Centre in the morning (finding Nemo and Dory in the process), before getting the mini electric train up to the marina for a quieter beach picnic – we’d eaten most of it before realising we were perhaps a tad overdressed for the section of the beach we were on. Oops! We took the train back, I triumphed at mini-golf despite a shaky start, and ate ice-cream. We then perhaps overindulged with burgers, onion rings, mac’n’cheese and alcoholic milkshakes. No regrets!

Our final full day was shopping day. I spent an embarrassingly long few hours underwear shopping, getting remeasured at Bravissimo then hunting down a rather difficult new size in Debenhams, Ann Summers, Boux Avenue and every bra-selling shop I could find. Making it up to a rather grumpy W, we snacked on sausage rolls, ate more ice-cream and wandered the lanes. There were so many cute and quirky house bits I was desperate to buy, but with no flat sorted at the time I just couldn’t justify it. There’s the excuse to head back for another trip…

 photo Brighton July 2016 16_zpsajs7n4g1.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 18_zpsir446ahw.jpgWe spent our final morning squeezing in another sunbathe, another stroll down the pier, another play on the two-penny slots. Then it was back to reality with a bang, back to trying to find flats to rent, work clothes, back to adulting. Safe to say, we need another holiday already!

Where did you holiday this year? Where in the UK do you recommend for a short break?

Recipe: Black Pudding & Goats Cheese Pizza

Being allergic to tomatoes means finding pizza recipes can be a bit of a trial, all too often white pizzas can be a bit heavy, overly cheese or (particularly if pesto is used) way too greasy. Franco Manca has satisifed my craving for a fresh, lighter, summery topping, but I wanted something a bit more ‘dirty’, something that wouldn’t make me feel left out when eating next to my sister’s double pepperoni.

 photo Black Pudding and Goats Cheese White Pizza 6_zpsuxsgkjtd.jpg photo Black Pudding and Goats Cheese White Pizza 5_zps16hlavsa.jpgAnd this is it. This, guys, is my new favourite pizza. It’s meaty, it’s carby, it tastes properly bad for you. It’s exactly what a pizza should be. Made on a proper base (none of the faffing around with cauliflower!) it is the perfect pizza for sitting in front of a movie – we first made this whilst attempting to watch all the Harry Potters in a weekend. We failed, but had fun trying! It also goes really, really well with a good side salad. Crispy leaves, fresh spinach, crunch red chicory, these all cut through the richness well. The chicory was a bit of a revelation for me, actually, now I can’t get enough of the stuff. It seems to make my salads just a little more autumnal, something I’m loving right now. I’m still torn between lighter summery food, and bowls of comforting stodge. Give me a few weeks and I’ll be addicted to stew and dumplings again…

Back to the pizza! Yes, it’s rich, but not overwelmingly so. Using creme fraiche as a base keeps it fresh, and the black pudding has just the right level of crispiness to give it an extra texture. Mozzarella gives it a classic ‘pizza’ feel whilst goats cheese adds both tang and compliments the ‘funkiness’ of the black pudding. It’s meaty, slightly spicy, cheesy, indulgent. Delicious.

 photo Black Pudding and Goats Cheese White Pizza 2_zpsebhrfq6g.jpg photo Black Pudding and Goats Cheese White Pizza 3_zps23m1corj.jpgIngredients (for 2)

  • 2 large pizza bases
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and slice in half
  • 2 large tablespoons of creme fraiche
  • 1 pinch each black pepper and dried thyme
  • 2 handfuls grated mozzarella
  • 50g black pudding, skin removed and sliced
  • 100g soft goats cheese

Rub the pizza base with the cut side of the garlic. In a small bowl, mix the creme fraiche with the pepper and thyme – add a tiny bit of olive oil to loosen if you like. Spread over the base. Scatter over the mozzerella, crumble over the black pudding (try to get the pieces small – it helps them get crispy, and slightly burnt black pudding is heavenly), dollop over small spoons of the goats cheese. Pop into a very hot (220C minimum) oven for around 10 minutes, then slice and devour. W recommends topping with chicory just after baking if you don’t fancy a full salad.

 photo Black Pudding and Goats Cheese White Pizza 1_zpsnq2hdkre.jpg photo Black Pudding and Goats Cheese White Pizza 4_zpsv7okd4jo.jpgWe ‘cheated’ here and used good quality ready-made bases. Mainly because we didn’t want to disturb our movie time, but also because I tend to make my homemade bases more soft and sourdough-y and I’m not too sure that would work as well here. The crisp crunch is definitely needed! However I do have another pizza recipe coming your way soon, with my perfected base and a lighter veggie topping – so pizza fans keep your eyes peeled!

Are you a pizza lover? What’s your favourite topping? I used to love a good pepperoni before my tomato allergy took hold! Ever had a white pizza?