Wednesday, 17 July 2019

5 LIFE LESSONS I LEARNT AT LOVEBOX 2020


Maybe it is because I am 27 going on 67 and a bit of a grumpy late-twenties millennial, but my Saturday spent at Lovebox festival this past weekend was…let’s just say… interesting with considerable room for improvement.

Of course, take my life lessons below with a pinch of salt but also rest assured I won’t rush to go back to Lovebox in 2020…

1. I am done with London festivals

I think I have been a little spoiled with my music festival experiences in the last few years because, well, the last two times I went to one it was Flow festival in Helsinki. Here the organisation was flawless, the sound at every performance I saw was fantastic, the crowd chilled, stylish and a little older and the selection of food simply outstanding. The entire experience was complete perfection, with a location that made it possible for you to very quickly get back into the centre of town and all around happy vibe - from security guards, to performers, to attendees. Toilets were of course festival style portaloos, but still somehow not utterly disgusting and everyone was there for a good time with the right attitude to match.

Lovebox was none of the above, basically taking place at Heathrow airport (well Acton town which is FAR from anywhere in London), full of blind-drunk teens and with terrible sound at each performance we went to. There are so many festivals out there, not only in the UK but internationally, that really I expected a bit more from Lovebox, especially after making the hour and a half journey across London and spending £75 on a ticket.


2. There should not be such a thing as festival fashion.

Even before we had walked through the ticket gates our mouths were open in shock at the outfits we witnessed parading in front of us. There were thongs, fishnet dresses, so much neon that my eyes began to hurt, gem stones and enough glitter to catapult us straight into a full blown global warming catastrophe. Yes, I am all for dressing up for an occasion but the wannabe ‘Coachella influencer’ look sucked when it first came around and there is a reason why most of the items worn at Lovebox will cost you less than £20 from Missguided, NastyGal and the like, they are just not very nice or well-made clothes. Full stop.

So many girls had tonnes and tonnes of makeup on, yet looked the furthest away from comfortable in their skin that you can imagine. Are Love Island and the Kardashians at least in part to blame for this idolisation of an ultimately completely fake appearance? Perhaps, but instead of looking like induvials, what we saw was a sea of fashion disasters, too preoccupied with their image to really even enjoy the festival. For me come to a festival for the music, come to have fun with your friends and dress like you want to, not what you think “festival fashion” is, cos darling there ain’t such a thing.



3. Festival food and drinks suck but really they should not have to!

We live in 2019, we can get whatever we want, including a McDonalds milkshake and a Snog frozen yogurt, delivered to our front door basically 24/7, yet the selection of food and drinks at Lovebox were utterly awful and horrendously overpriced. From undercooked pizza to a small portion of chips that cost me £7, I simply don’t understand why there can’t be a varied offering of food at a festival like this, one that isn’t centred around beige carbs and meat. The same goes for drinks. I do not drink beer which meant we were limited to ordering the one choice of lukewarm rose in a plastic bottle there was, not exactly a bargain either at £25 a bottle. If a standard pub in London can now offer you a decent selection of wine, a well-mixed spritz and some edible small plates, I am really not sure why the same wasn’t possible at Lovebox. It almost felt like they were fully trying to embrace the stereotype that food and drinks have to be terrible and expensive at a festival but really that is no longer the case.


4. If you don’t do drugs you realise just how much everyone else around you is doing them

Let’s just say I have been there and done that and there is a reason why only very few people over the age of 25 still get a kick out of doing MDMA and the like. It’s kind of gross, it makes you a mess and seeing people in that state in broad day light was at times not exactly pleasant. I know most of these “kids” will stop eventually and grow out of this phase but I guess me being way passed that I found it hard to watch plus the amount of drugs we were being offered to buy was almost laughable, clearly Lovebox’s sniffer dogs suffering from hay fever induced blocked noses on the day we went…



5. You can still have a great time despite being a grumpy old millennial if you go with the right people

Hey, in the end of the day we still had a great day of people watching, taking in some ok performances and drinking lots of bad rose in the sun. I could probably have done the same in London fields for a lot less money and with a Bluetooth speaker in hand (considering the terrible sound quality at Lovebox not a massive downgrade) but the fabulous friends I was with still made it a memorable day and that’s what really matters, and we did live to tell the tale of Lovebox 2019.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

80s Pattern Clash


Blouse / ASOS
Skirt / Zara
Bag / JW Anderson
Boots / Mango

Thursday, 11 July 2019

THE LBD




Dress / Fyodor Golan
Bag / JW Anderson
Boots / Mango

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

ROAST GARLIC AND OREGANO POTATOES WITH TWO KINDS OF WATERMELON, FETA, HALLOUMI, FRESH HERBS AND A DRIZZLE OF HONEY.



Summer is officially here, well as much as it will ever arrive and stay in London, and this kind of weather makes me crave salads! Not some limp lettuce with a bland dressing and a few sad chopped up tomatoes but something that still packs a punch flavour wise and which is filling enough for a satisfying main. 

This salad, combining slow roast garlic cloves and baby new potatoes, tossed in plenty of oregano and olive oil, with juicy honeydew and watermelon chunks, fresh mint and basil as well as slowly melted feta and halloumi is all kinds of amazing- not only looking like summer on a plate with its gorgeous colours but striking the perfect balance between sweet and savoury, fresh yet comforting. It is also super easy to prepare, I made it for a friend on a Friday night after some quick chopping, and was so impressively tasty that it has for sure been added to my recipe repertoire.

If you can, go to your local greengrocer for this one, personally I think fresh fruit and particularly melons tend to taste rather bland from supermarkets and here you really need every ingredient to be as punchy as possible.

I found the original recipe by Anna Jones (who also has drool worthy Instagram profile) on the Guardian website, one of my favourite sources for recipe inspiration. I am also a big fan of Racheal Roddy’s Italian cooking column, but tweaked it with the addition of halloumi because heck I fancied some and two kinds of cheese are definitely better than one! I cannot stress enough how easy and delicious this was and I for one hope there will be plenty more hot summer evenings to rustle this up for, enjoyed with an ice cold glass of rosé

Serves 3
700g small new potatoes
1 unwaxed lemon
1 head garlic
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp oregano
Salt and black pepper
1kg melon (I used watermelon and honeydew)
200g block feta cheese
1 block of halloumi, quartered
1 bunch of basil
1 bunch of mint, leaves picked
Good drizzle of honey

· Heat the oven to 200C .

· Chop any large potatoes in half and keep the smaller ones whole, then transfer to a large baking tray.

· Use a speed peeler to peel the zest from the lemon in long strips, then add to the tray.

· Bash the head of garlic until the cloves are slightly split, then add to the tray with the olive oil and oregano.

· Season well, then roast for 20 minutes.

· Peel and slice the melons into thin half-moons, removing the seeds as you go.

· After the potatoes have had 20 minutes, take them out of the oven, then squash them down with a potato masher or fork until broken apart and flattened.

· Break over the feta and chopped up halloumi, then return the tray to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes, or until golden and crisp all over.

· Remove from the oven, toss with the juice of half the lemon, then add the melon, basil and mint.

· Finish with a drizzle of honey and enjoy!

Monday, 8 July 2019

Thursday, 4 July 2019

PINK PRINCESS



Shirt / Arket
Dress / Stine Goya
Shoes / Zara

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

SARDINE – A NEW NEIGHBOURHOOD FAVOURITE WORTH FINDING








I have to admit that my dinner at Sardine was a little bit of an odd yet still very much recommendable experience. The food was no doubt fantastic- French, modern European cooking, presented beautifully, served in a stunning modern dining room with attentive service and a great selection of wine. 

What was odd was the fact that not that many people seem to be aware of all these positives and the restaurant as a whole, which meant that our dinner was at times eerily quiet, at 6pm on a Sunday us being the only diners for a good half an hour before a couple of single diners settled down for their meal. Of course, that meant, looking at the positives, that we never had to wait long for our food but it did make us a little uncomfortable at times, surrounded by empty (albeit beautiful) chairs and tables. This isn’t helped by the location of the restaurant, hidden right behind a McDonalds drive-through on a busy and not very pretty road that connect Old Street and Angel.

I mean I can see why the team behind Pastaio chose this patch, there are a lot of fancy new-build apartments cropping up everywhere, ready for well to do millennials to move into, and there has also been the opening of the Parasol unit art gallery in the same building as the restaurant, so really with all the potential there to get a food savvy crowd, looking for a local spot to dine at inside the restaurant, despite or especially because of the golden arches lying right ahead. But even I, having walked past the place, many, many times, it being on my walk home from the big Sainsbury’s to my house, done on a near weekly basis, had been somewhat perplexed by this chic looking restaurant being where it is rather than compelled to go in. And had I not stumbled across Sardine’s Instagram after some serious social media stalking I may have missed out on some of the best French cooking I have had in London, mere minutes from my house, with interiors that are more Soho or East Village than Hoxton side street.

And in a way, that makes Sardine a hidden dining gem worth treasuring, a place where for the time being you are able to get a last-minute table on a Friday night, where it feels like you are at a central London hot spot but without the annoying crowds, queuing and rushed waiters. I would love to come back on a Saturday or Friday night with a little more buzz though it was quite adorable seeing a very diverse mix of locals dining here as the evening progressed, from an elderly couple on date night to a big family group. I adored the dining space and attention to detail paid when it came to the overall interiors of the place, from the pastel coloured, patterned front of the restaurant that instantly makes you wonder what could be hiding inside, to the wall murals, long communal dining table and pastel tiles inside, it’s a minimal hipster’s wet dream and has something very Scandi chic but still incredibly welcoming about it.

The menu is well curated, with a focus on Southern French cooking and seasonal ingredients, and it really feels like the chefs here, who you can see in action with the open plan kitchen, made this menu for you, giving the whole dining experience a very intimate touch. Starters weren’t flawless, our bread and butter weren’t of the quality I’d expect at a “French inspired” restaurant, but our starter of salt cod, stuffed into a friggitelli (an Italian sweet pepper) and served with a tomato sauce was fresh and tasty while our Salade Tunisienne was summer on a plate – perfectly dressed leafs with tomato, cucumber, coriander and egg.

There are only 5 mains on offer, 1 vegetarian, 2 fish and 2 meat options which is not a huge selection but again you are here to trust the kitchen- I asked our lovely waitress what she would choose as none meat eater and went with her recommendation of roast Gunard, white beans, datterini tomatoes and bottarga butter which not only looked almost too pretty to eat but was an utter delight to eat. Not cheap at £19.5 a portion, but showcasing high quality ingredients and attentive cooking like you seldom find in bigger kitchens. We also had some fantastic chips on the side, all kinds of fluffy and fried to perfection, served with a fresh aioli which I could have bathed in and some creamed spinach, both very generously portioned.

My friend went for a more permanent fixture on the menu, the onglet with chips and pepper sauce, which sadly was not too much of a delight to eat, the meat rather chewy BUT my friend not blaming the restaurant rather an unhappy cow which can happen at even the best of restaurants. I would thus say if you dine at Sardine stick to the more seasonal mains as those give the talented chefs in the kitchen a real chance to show off their creativity.

For dessert, I plumped for the nougat ice cream with fennel biscuit which tasted incredibly fresh and well made, not over the top in size and flavour but just right – a kind of refined yet casual cooking style that I think encompasses Sardine, and something you do not find too often in London without going into the super expensive. That is the whole thing, Sardine has all the makings of a fantastic neighbourhood joint, one anyone would be more than happy to have close by but it is almost too hidden for its own good right now.

If you are after a really, really well-cooked French dinner that almost feels like you have a private chef, eaten in a lovely dining environment, make your way to Sardine, these guys deserve a chance to step out of the shadow of the fast food giant that is right in front of them and if it were in central London (it reminds me a lot of 10 Greek street actually), you’d be queuing no matter the weekday and pay a lot more for it.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019