Tuesday, 3 May 2016

A LITTLE GUIDE TO YORKSHIRE

After an absolutely lovely Christmas last year (in fact probably the best I've ever had) in the Yorkshire countryside with my "surrogate" British family, a massive shoutout by the way to my friend Maddie and the whole family Orme who invited me and instantly treated me like their own, so generous and welcoming that I can't ever thank them enough, I couldn't help but embark on another little Northern adventure, leaving the hustle and bustle of London behind for a weekend and getting the clan to show me a little more of this part of the UK!

I can be a very judgemental when it comes to anything outside London at the best of times ("What they have Byron and Pret in Leeds?!".."Yes Stella, we don't live in the stone age outside London you know!") but I ended up having yet another truly fantastic weekend surrounded by equally great people and defying a lot of the preconceptions I had of going anywhere outside the M25. Once our very fun and boozy Virgin train ride on the Friday eve was done, I enjoyed two days filled with great food at even greater prices, great company and a whiff of countryside air and greenery. I am already planning a return trip in the summer to see York which we didn't manage to squeeze in this time, cook up some BBQ's and hang out with a family that has very much made me feel at home, something I am eternally grateful for.

Below are my foodie highlights but please let me know if I have missed any must-sees as I will be sure to check them out next time! Also look out for another Yorkshire related foodie post very soon. Three cooking obsessed girls (Maddie, her mum and I) let loose at a farmers market and armed with the best selection of cook books resulted in quite the feast!

COFFEE & CAKES AT MRS ATHA'S - LEEDS

I am a massive coffee snob- heck I have nearly made barristas cry on several occasions when my cappuccino wasn't frothed properly (it is a bit of a running joke in my office how many times I go back to complain about my morning dose of caffeine) and my guide/host/colleague/all round friend Maddie was very aware of that, promising me truly great coffee at this little gem in the centre of Leeds and thankfully she wasn't wrong! With all the characteristics of the independent coffee shops I love so much in London -artisan cakes, bearded barristas etc. it definitely made me feel at home immediately but it wasn't just the looks that impressed. My cappuccino was super smooth, creamy and with not a hint of bitterness. One of the best cups of coffee I've had this year so far and a must try for anyone living in or visiting Leeds!

DRINKS AT HEADROW HOUSE - LEEDS

Headrow Houses is very East London and as much as I hate being a bit cliché, inevitably living, working and partying in this part of the world I can't help but love anything that is on the good side of hip. And this place definitely is just that. Every floor fulfills a different purpose and comes with a slightly different concept- a super cool rooftop bar, which it was a little too cold to enjoy on this occasion, an event space, a restaurant and a tropically inspired cocktail which we settled for on this occasion. Cocktails are well made, cheap- once you sign up for a free Headrow House membership only £8 for two of their speciality gin cocktails during their happy hour, served in amazing goblets and a real joy to drink. It's the sort of place I'd be wasting way too much time and money at were it in my neighbourhood and could as easily be in New York's East Village as it is 2 minute walk from Leeds's town centre with it's young, fresh and vibrant feel.

MACAROONS AT BETTY'S - HARROGATE

Betty's bakery and tearoom is a real British institution and it's Afternoon tea a thing of legends that people happily queue hours for. Yes, the two macaroons I had to takeaway may not have been the best ones I have every had but this place is nonetheless magical and a must visit if you are in the area. It's like time has pretty much stood still here since they first opened their doors in 1919- staff in old school ruffled aprons and uniforms, every baked good carefully presented like a jewel and service  wonderfully eccentric and accommodating and like they are serving the Queen not a cynical 24 year old London girl. It's great to see that places like this still thrive despite fickle culinary trends and fades and sitting down for their afternoon tea, with our without a bit of a wait, is without a doubt pretty high on my list of foodie things I still need to try! 

THAI FOOD AT ZAAP -  LEEDS

Before our train back to London we had just enough time for a quick, tasty (and after our massive home cooked veggie feast the night before) relatively healthy dinner. Maddie immediately suggested Zaap, not far from Leeds's city centre, and was met with immediate doubts from my side. You know when you try a cuisine once somewhere bad and it kind of puts you off it for good? Well I've had some rather lacklustre Thai food in the past and had somehow managed to avoid it altogether for a few years to the point were I would happily put my nose up at the thought of a Pad Thai without ever having tried one. However after a quick instagram stalk, thank the lord for being able to geotag search a restaurant, helping avoid eating out disappointments all round, I decided to give Zaap a go- everything I saw looking incredibly fresh and tasty. The restaurant is super colourful and fun inside (a sort of Thai version of Lebanese chain Comptoir Libanis), prices are ridiculously good with almost all mains under a tenner and the food is just as good as Maddie promised. I went for the classic Pad Thai in the end and it turned out to be a noodle dish bursting full of flavour, topped with crunchy peanut, huge and juicy prawns and finished off with a real chilli kick. Zaap completely changed my perception of Thai food and if they had a London branch, here is hoping for one soon, I would have already returned to sample more of their dishes. I didn't think a Thai restaurant in Leeds out of  all places would change my opinion of this cuisine but it sure did!

Monday, 2 May 2016

ALL WHITE

Jumper / Fruit Of The Loom
Skirt / American Apparel
Shoes / Superga
Sunglasses / Quay Australia

Thursday, 28 April 2016

SUEDE VEST

Roll neck / Primark
Vest / Rokit
Skirt / 5Preview
Shoes / Superga

Monday, 25 April 2016

FYODOR GOLAN

Dress / Fyodor Golan
Shoes / Vans

Thursday, 21 April 2016

GREY TONES

Jumper / Topshop
Dress / Zara
Shoes / Superga

Monday, 18 April 2016

BLUE PINSTRIPES

Dress / Zara
Shoes / Swedish Hasbeens

Thursday, 14 April 2016

SALMON TONES


Jacket / H&M
Dress / ASOS
Shoes / New Balance

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

AMY'S KITCHEN - GLUTEN & DAIRY FREE READY MEALS THAT ROCK

Being intolerant or allergic to anything is never fun and when I found out that my belly and gluten don’t get on overly well I can’t say I was particularly over the moon. I mean we all know gluten is in basically anything that is tasty- pizza, pasta, bread, you name it (thank god my favourite food, ice cream, has remained safe).  Of course I still sometimes resolutely say FUCK IT and eat gluten anyway, suffering from a rather sore tummy for the days to follow, and boy is it worth it when it’s an amazing pizza or you are out to eat somewhere and don’t want to be that person missing out BUT luckily we now live in a time where having a dietary requirement is more catered for than ever before and you don't necessarily have to miss out on the good (gluten) things in life.

One of my favourite discoveries on the hunt for gluten free goodies thus far has undoubtedly been Amy’s Kitchen.  While London’s restaurants scene offers more and more gluten and dairy free as well as vegan options these days, big supermarkets and their selection of ready meals aren’t usually as accommodating which is why I was so shocked and pleasantly surprised that Amy's offers exactly this range of super tasty ready meals that come in gluten free and vegan options in the freezer aisle of most supermarkets! 

And they do it well, in fact, originating from America, some of their ready meals, particularly the super cheesy mac n cheese better than their typical Tesco or Sainsbury’s counterparts. Even my friends without intolerances were barely able to notice the slight differences in ingredients, using rice pasta instead of normal pasta and a creamy almond based sauce instead of a dairy version and with super reasonable prices between £2 and £5 a pop they provide a quick, and comforting meal of the sorts I thought I could no longer enjoy.

I’ve tried a few of their meals by now so below my two favourites! Even if you don’t have any intolerance these are super tasty and a great addition to any freezer which have made my life a hell of a lot easier.


Made with rice pasta instead of normal pasta, which just looking at it gives me an uneasy stomach these days, this is hands down my favourite of Amy's offering.  Proper cheesy, the American style, this is pure comfort food and ready in just a few minutes from frozen. I’ve made it habit to have one in the freezer at all time and with them also doing vegan version with cheeze it is the ultimate hangover cure to cater for all.



I loooove a good stir fry and this one is one of the best ready meal varieties I’ve tried, gluten free or not. The thing is most “Chinese” inspired ready meals are, let’s be honest, pretty disgusting, sticky sauces that taste of nothing tossed with very few, very overcooked vegetables and finished off with some limp egg noodles, neither giving you the satisfaction of a greasy takeaway version or the wholesomeness of a home cooked meal.

This however is properly tasty. A good amount of crunchy veg (shitake mushrooms, broccoli, julienned carrots and lots more) is combined with an absolutely fantastic cashew cream sauce, God knows how it is that creamy without a hint of dairy, tofu and rice noodles and makes for one damn tasty and also healthy ready meal that rivals something you would order out for a lot more money! I’ve already bought it several times and it has become a real regular choice of mine and once again flavours won me over before I even considered that it also catered to my none gluten needs!


I’ve also sampled and loved their gluten free Veggie lasagna and a variety of their warming and hearty tinned soups, all delivering in their flavour, wholesomeness and commitment to making something first and foremost delicious and not just a gluten or dairy free alternative that can’t measure up to the originals.

Monday, 11 April 2016

RAINBOW STRIPES


Jumpsuit / ASOS
Roll neck / Primark
Shoes / Superga

Thursday, 7 April 2016

BLUE SHIRTING

Shirt / J W Anderson for Topshop
Skirt / & Other Stories
Shoes / Superga

Monday, 4 April 2016

RUFFLED


Top / ASOS
Jeans / Miss Selfridge
Shoes / Swedish Hasbeens

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Double Stripes


Jumper / Farah
Trousers / Topshop
Scarf / Rokit
Shoes / Kat Maconie

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

COOKING UP A SUNDAY FEAST


Another week, another Sunday spent with some of my favourite people, this time my fellow foodie and hosting enthusiast Maddie, cooking up recipes found on Pinterest over a few glasses of wine, an activity to end the weekend that for me is hard to top. As always these dishes are veggie friendly, relatively healthy (in this case we will count the  french fries as more of a vegetable than deep fried carb) and a real joy to eat.

With all prepping done whilst enjoying some chilled white wine and crisps- keep your eyes peeled for a long overdue ultimate crisp ranking on this blog from the girl that deems herself a bit of a crisp 'connoiseur'- and with ingredients that cost virtually nothing, this was not only a fun and cheap way to spent an afternoon but it also resulted in some SERIOUSLY tasty food with every dish on my list of things to make again! After all you don't always need to go to restaurants for a high standard of food or be a super talented home chef and I hope the below recipes will prove just that!

PARMESAN TRUFFLE FRIES WITH ROASTED GARLIC MAYO

I freaking love truffle oil, in fact it is one of my favourite if not favourite savoury flavour. Yes, it isn't cheap but a little goes a long way AND Sainsbury's happens to stock a very reasonable and large £2.5 bottle of the stuff that also happens to taste like the real deal. Here it is the real star of the show and boy does it perform. It makes, when drizzled on top, the shop bought skinny fries a thing of beauty here and when combined with mayo and a whole head (!) of slow roast garlic ( this does take a while in the oven but is worth the wait) becomes almost heavenly. I think me and Maddie seriously struggled to share this between us....it was that good. This is extravagance at its best and a dish you won't, or anyone you cooked it for, forget in a while.

Recipe here

ROAST BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH FETA, HONEY & SESAME SEEDS

This recipe takes the humble butternut squash (or pumpkin as the original recipe calls for) and elevates it into something quite special. And it couldn't be simpler to do so. After roasting the squash and sesame seeds you finish the dish with crumbled feta, dried chilli, honey and good glug of another favourite ingredient of mine, balsamic vinegar. The result is a beautiful marriage of earthy, sweet, fiery and salty flavours - sunshine on a dish, not only in the way it looks, but also in the amazing array of flavours it delivers.

Get the recipe here

HONEY SOY ROASTED BROCOLLI & BRUSSEL SPROUTS

The poor Brussel sprout does not have an easy life. Most people only eat this veg once a year, over-boiled, tasteless and as sad side show to their Christmas dinner. They can however be pretty damn tasty and are in fact one of my favourite green veggies. I particularly love them roasted, featured almost weekly as part of my hangover cure roast vegetables, though they also taste rather spectacular here in this Asian inspired dish. We added broccoli for extra crunch and as these two always go well together, tossed them in oil, honey and soy sauce and let the oven do it's roasting magic. Finished off with a sprinkle of sesame seeds I dare any out and out sprout eater to try this dish and not at least reconsider their reservation! Come on, give it a go - you may just be converted!

Get the recipe here

ROASTED CABBAGE WITH ONION DIJON SAUCE

This was the most surprising of the dishes particularly considering that whilst I've always enjoyed cabbage I had never been wowed by it. However here the combination of moorish yet tangy mustard, butter and onion sauce with the slightly charred cabbage was truly outstanding. I love tasting vegetables in a way I'd never expected and this recipe elevated cabbage from a mere side dish (and not a particularly popular one at that) to a truly outstanding dish that left us oooing and ahhing. It may not be an obvious choice but one you won't regret.

Get the recipe here