This week my husband and I went to London for the day, mainly with work. After finishing what we had planned, we went to see The Design Museum. As we arrived at the museum late, at 4.30 pm, it wasn’t enough time to see the two special exhibitions, so we saw only half of the museum.
At the first floor there are pictures taken during the building of the new Design Museum in Kensington last year. It is a really interesting display.
Designer Maker User hosts an array of almost 1000 items from the 20th and 21st centuries. I saw some fascinating objects and I’ll talk about some of them today.
Imagine my delight when I was asked to sample the new, special edition cake at Patisserie Valerie. The cake is called Madame Valerie Gateau and it has a chocolate sponge and caramel cream with bits of honeycomb; how could I have said no to this? Especially after I mentioned that Why I’m Never going to say No to Cake. That being said, yesterday I was on my way to Patisserie Valerie at Metquarter, Liverpool. I finally met Sophie from sophiesvoice and it was lovely. We talked about a blogger meet-up or just going together for coffee.
What can I say about the cake? Well, it’s delicious! I don’t like overly sweet desserts and this cake has exactly the right amount of sweetness. The flavours come through and the addition of the bits of honeycomb are fab. This is the slice version, a little different from the gateaux. The gateaux has White Chocolate and Salted Caramel Truffles, while the slice version has choux filled with caramel cream.
On arrival at Patisserie Valerie, I spotted these delicious looking tarts, all ready for us to try. I had a small piece of a raspberry tart and it was so good. The fruits were so fresh and the custard was perfect.
I had a chat with the Head of Marketing and Content and I was surprised to hear that all the cakes and desserts are made by hand in one of their 7 bakeries. When it comes to chains, I must admit that I think they might use machines, so it was so nice to hear they don’t and that everything they bake is made by hand. I’m a big supporter of handmade, local and fresh food, so I’ll make sure I’m stopping at Patisserie Valerie more often in the future. My husband said he wants to try the cake and we should hurry as this special cake is a limited edition and it will be available only by the end of April.
The cake also has a lovely story behind it, as it was the winner of a competition organized by them. After tasting the cake they said it should be sold in the patisseries. I think it was a great idea.
I’m so close to reaching a milestone on Twitter, so I thought a little giveaway will help me with this. The mandatory option is to follow me on twitter and there are a few other options, if you want more chances to win a £10 gift card.
The giveaway will end on 23/01/2017. Please read the terms and conditions.
Terms and Conditions
This giveaway is opened to UK residents only and closes on 23/01/2017.
The prize is worth of £10 and there is no purchase necessary. No cash alternative is available.
The winner will be contacted on the email address provided, so please make sure I have your email address. If the winner will not respond in 28 days, a new winner will be picked up.
I will dispatch the items myself with Royal Mail, recorded, and get proof of postage. I will not be responsible for items lost in the post.
All entries will be checked.
In this post I’m going to talk about diet and, more precisely, why I’m never going to say no to cake and pasta and bread and all the things I like. On January all the ads with “indulgence”, “treat yourself” and recipes for fatty Christmas foods are gone. Now it’s time for “New Year New You” and “getting fit” and offers on healthy snacks and workout DVDs. I believe that the shops and supermarkets are only responding to what people want and what they are looking for. I don’t believe that. I don’t think there is a time to indulge and there is a time to… well, not eat anything you like. I think I escaped going round in circles by not saying no to cake and when I say cake I mean every food I like.
This slice of Victoria sponge is from a couple of days ago. Loved it.
For Christmas I prepared a lot of food, as you can see in my Christmas menu and I received chocolate as gift. Well, I ate the Christmas pudding in January because it was too much food during Christmas, I’m yet to open the chocolate I received then. I had no wish to overindulge because I always eat what I want.
I remember a few years ago reading something like: “if you are going on a diet, at some point you are going to get off a diet”. It’s true and I say it doesn’t work. Restrictions are only going to build up frustrations and that will lead to overeating when the diet is over or, most likely, at the first birthday/holiday/occasion.
The hard truth is that most of us will put on weight if we eat more than we need to. Of course there are people that have health issues, I’m not talking about that. Luckily, I don’t have any health issues, so, for me, any weight I put on or loose comes down to how well I’m balancing my diet to my lifestyle. So far, in the last years I did ok. I have the same weight today that I had last year in January, 3-4 pounds more comparing to January 2015 and 2-3 pounds less comparing to January 2014. During the summer, I usually have a few pounds less and now I’m hoping to get to that weight and maintain it during winter too. The only reason for this fluctuation is that I burn less calories as I have more work to do, I have less time for workouts and we have shorter outside activities as it’s colder.
When it comes to food I’ve made this mistake once, to change all the food I was eating and bring it to a healthy standards no matter what. I stopped because I was getting bored and I had no time due to changes at work. I put back some of the weight as the food I was eating had more calories that I needed. Now I’m achieving a happy medium I would say. I eat cake, like the one in the picture, but I will try to make it as healthy as possible without compromising the taste. It’s a Victoria sponge, it has loads of butter, but I used a mixture of wholemeal and white flour, I put a shop-bought strawberry jam with the first ingredient in its ingredients list being strawberries and not sugar. I used whipping cream instead of double cream as it has less fat and didn’t even consider the option of buttercream. I will also try to eat it as early as possible, for example after lunch and not after dinner. Small things that, in my experience, have a significant impact.
Because I cook and bake at home, I have a lot of flexibility. I’ve reduced the amount of sugar and fat I use in cooking, gradually. Now, after a few years, my husband and I can’t eat some of the things that are available in the supermarkets and some restaurants. I can’t eat chocolate spread because I can only taste the sugar and it’s not nice, I can’t drink sugary drinks and most desserts. I don’t enjoy any of those things. It’s not a restriction and it didn’t start as a restriction, but as a way to eat more healthy and I reduced the amount I was consuming.
If you want to try something new, that might really change your life forever, is not to refuse yourself anything. If you want cake, eat cake, if you want chips, eat chips. Try to discover better ways to enjoy them, like in the mornings or for lunch or eat a smaller portion. If you can, make it yourself with wholemeal versions, replace the animal fat with 1 spoon or two of oil and add some grated cheese on top if you want to. For pasta and rice, think of less fatty sauces and recipes, add some mushrooms. I love this kind of vegan pasta with all sort of veggies. Sometimes I would add some cheese on top, but most of the times I would eat it as it is. My husband prefers pasta like this too.
Another thing I do is to balance what I’m eating in a day. If I had a soup & sandwiches for breakfast and pasta & cake for lunch, I would make a stir-fry for dinner, with loads of veggies and spices, but very few calories.
Do you eat the cake? I would love to hear your thoughts.
I started a reading challenge last year. Considering that I didn’t complete my challenges for 3 months, I can say I failed. At the same time I discovered new authors, like Thomas Hardy. I loved his book and then I watched Far from the Madding Crowd, an adaptation after one of this novels. I loved that too. I’ve read (auto)biographies and I was inspired by them. I’ve read about pubs and that made me want to search for more special pubs to go to, I’ve learned interesting things from the UNESCO book and fashion.
At the end of the year I didn’t have time and I also have to admit some of the genres weren’t exactly my favourite.
I stopped reading books a couple of years ago because it was easier to watch a movie or series after a busy day. As a teenager I would spend lots of hours reading and I miss that. If I consider this, I can’t say I failed at this challenge, as the main reason behind it was to read more and new things and I did that.
January: Short Story Month. I’ve read The Shipman’s Tale – part of The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer and Life’s Little Ironies by Thomas Hardy. February: Creative nonfiction Month – Royal Style, a History of Aristocratic Fashion Icons, by Luise Wackerl; 100 Ideas that Changed Street Style, by Josh Sims and There is Something I’ve Been Dying to Tell You, by Linda Bellingham. read more March: Science fiction Month – White star by Beth Vaughan April: Autobiography Month – Common sense rules: What You Really Need to Know about Business by Deborah Meaden and The way I see it. Rants, revelations and rules for life by Alan Sugar read more May: Folklore Month – Green Men & White swans. The Folklore of British Pub Names by Jacqueline Simpson June: Epic Tome Month – The World’s Heritage. A complete guide to the most extraordinary places. UNESCO July: Biography Month – Coco Chanel (Critical Lives) by Linda Simon August: Horror Month – Being Human: Bad Blood by James Goss read more September: Mythopoeia Month – none October: Famous Detective Month – none November: Science Month – none
December: Historical Fiction Month – The Favoured Child by Philippa Gregory. This book was amazing, I recommend it. It’s not the usual style of historical fiction books I read, as it presents the not-so-good aspects of life and the end it’s not a typical happy-end I’m used to. It was interesting and I want to read more from Philippa. I had this book in my library, from a charity shop. There is another book before this one, Widacre and a third book, after the Favoured Child, Meridon. I would like to read both of them, even though I already know how Widacre will end, it’s still exciting to read it.
For this year I didn’t set up any reading challenges. I thought I would, but I didn’t. I want to read more books this year and I will blog about them. I have books at home, I want to sign up for a series made by National Geographic called “Our mathematical world”.
I already made goals, but this year I’ve started a travel bucket list too. I wanted to make it as realistic as possible, so avoided making a long list with holidays too far from us. I assume that this year we’ll have all our holidays in UK. We don’t have a long holiday and that keeps us from going abroad. As we both love traveling around UK, it’s exciting to plan. Some of the locations or attractions on the bucket list can be seen in a daytrip, there are a few museums that would take a few hours to see and some are proper holidays, at least 3-4 days away. Although, even if we had time to travel abroad, it’s very likely we would travel more in the UK, as I feel it’s a must to really know the country you are living in.
1. Bowes Museum. I wanted to visit Bowes museum for a while now. I love fashion and I’m sure I will be delighted to see this museum. It looks like a French chateau.
4. Design Museum. Both my husband and I are interested in design, so a trip to the newly opened Design Museum in London is a must. This might be the first thing we’ll cross from our list, as we are going to London at the end of the week. It depends how much time we have on the day.
5. Merseyside. Another location I tend not to visit is close to home. There are places close to home, maybe less than 30 minutes drive that I didn’t see because we are always looking further on the map and that’s a shame. We should see attractions closer to home too.
6. Hull. Hull is the city of culture this year, so it deserves some attention. I never been to Hull, so it should be very exciting to visit it.
7. Bath. I’ve been reading about Bath in novels since I was a teenager, but never made it there despite living 3-4 hours away. The Fashion museum is on my list of things to see and this year I hope I’ll be able to walk around this beautiful city.
8. Blists Hill Victorian Town. Is one of the museums from Ironbridge, Telford. I saw a TV show filmed there, Victorian Bakers, and I can’t wait to see the museum. It’s a living museum and I saw pictures from it, so it should be fun, we can exchange money into pounds, shillings and pence and we can buy things made there.
9. Peak District. Last year we’ve been to Cumbria, twice, so I hope this year we can visit Peak District. I hope I can persuade my husband to go on a couple of long walking trips.
10. London. Well, it’s London, we went so many times last year that I feel like it’s a second home. I have a big list of pubs I want to try for my “pub of the month” goal. I also have a long list of things to do and see in London and, even though I visited from it, seems to get bigger and bigger as I discover new places.
These are the places I hope to visit this year. Did you made a bucket list? What do you want to see this year?
Last year I’ve been invited at the opening of a new restaurant in Manchester, Shoryu Ramen, the first restaurant outside London. After the event I received vouchers to sample the menu and my husband and I decided to take advantage of them a couple of days ago.
In Manchester, Shoryu Ramen is a small restaurant in Picadilly Gardens with a Japanese cuisine.
The restaurant was busy on a weekday at lunch time, but were lucky as it was a free table for us. Their menu has only 9 ramen options and I think that is really great, I don’t think a restaurant should have a lot of dishes on their menu. Also, there are extra toppings that can be added and a lot of side dishes. The concept of the restaurant is based on a Japanese dish called ramen, from a recipe inspired by the taste of traditional food found in Southern Japan. Ramen are the thin noodles made from wheat that are served in broth. I’m vegetarian and my husband doesn’t eat pork or chicken, this meant our options were very limited, but we were expecting that.
We both ordered the vegan option, White Natural, as it was really the only thing we could order. It’s made with tonyu soy milk, miso, konbu and shiitake broth, fried tofu, kikurage mushrooms, spring onion, menma bamboo shoots and nori seaweed. I love experimenting with new ingredients and I cooked Japanese dishes before. I was familiar with the ingredients, as, beside miso, I cooked with all of them, including the kikurage mushrooms and bamboo shoots.
I loved the dish. I can say it’s one of the best dishes I had in a restaurant so far. The flavours were delicious. The textures from the perfectly cooked noodles, the moist tofu, the chewy kikurage and the bamboo that still had a bite to it, were fantastic. I loved the broth, it was so good.
I would eat at Shoryu Ramen again, without a doubt, I was so happy with the flavours and textures. The only tricky thing was to eat with a wooden ladle and chopsticks, but with a little bit of practice it should be easier next time.
We got green tea for drinks from these lovely cups and teapots. I chose Genmai Cha Tea, brown rice and green tea, it was fab, a very strong flavour. I liked it a lot. My husband chose Hoji Cha Tea, rosted green tea. Hoji’s flavour reminded me of sesame oil. I loved it, my husband was on the fence with this one. He is not keen on sesame oil either.
Have you been to Shoryu Ramen or would you like to try it?