Saturday, 22 September 2012

Topshop FAIL

I used to love Topshop. One of my first purchases as a teenager was a turquoise blue v-neck jumper for £18 from Topshop, and how I loved that jumper! Although I remember thinking at the time that £18 was expensive! These days, you'd be lucky to get a jumper for less than £30.

In recent years, I've really gone off the store. A combination of younger cousins shopping there (you don't want to be wearing the same clothes as a 15-year old), the poor quality clothing (buttons falling off, embellishments unravelling) and just downright unappealing clothes. They seem to veer from down right tacky (completely sheer tops, micro mini bodycon skirts) to the plain weird, looking more like fancy dress than 'fashion'. I realise that I am not the most 'fashion forward' of people, being a fan of more classic, timeless pieces. However, there's a difference between thinking "that looks great but not for me" and "who the hell would wear that?!"

When it comes to sale season, the sale rails at Topshop are always crammed full of neon, lycra, shiny, sequinned cast-offs, designated to end up as fancy dress or land fill. Personally, I think one of the reasons that Topshop has become increasingly expensive is to subsidise the design and production of some of the more 'out there' items that are only worn by a handful of people. Browsing the website earlier today, I certainly came across some rather, ahem, unusual items.

 Firstly, their bridal collaboration with Richard Nicoll. How many people would buy their wedding dress from Topshop? How many people would buy the wedding dress below?
Even as a cocktail dress, it's unbelievably naf and tacky. It's a terrible fit on the model too. Unsurprisingly, it's in the sale - available in every size.
Richard Nicoll bridal collection, £150 (from £250)

This skirt is from the collaboration with J.W. Anderson. I like the print, but a quilted skirt? Really? How many people would wear a quilted skirt? I suppose it's handy if you sit at an uncomfortable chair all day.

J.W. Anderson, £69.99
I don't really know what to say about this final item. Even my 15-year old cousin would think she was too old for it. A reviewer said the fabric was so thin you could see your underwear through it. Nice.
O.M.G. Yours for £32
Of course, Topshop still has a few good items. But I feel like other stores, such as Zara and Mango, are the same price, better quality, and with many more interesting, unusual yet wearable items. Maybe I've just grown out of Topshop, but I can't be the only one who wonders if their designers are on acid?!

Easy peasy chinese chicken

One thing that really annoys me about being in Glasgow during the week is not being able to get Stylist magazine. Not that they don't have it in Glasgow, just that I don't go anywhere that I'm able to grab a copy before they've all gone.

This week, fate was in my favour and I found a copy at the airport, with this great recipe in it: Chicken with plums and soy. So not only was I entertained on the plane home, I also had something to cook on Saturday night. Staying in a hotel all week might sound like fun, but actually I miss choosing exactly what to eat (Glasgow isn't exactly a restaurant mecca), and I also find the process of cooking very relaxing, and ultimately, very rewarding.

Photo from Stylist.. scroll down for my poor photography!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Exploring the neighbourhood

I've lived in Dalston for over a year now, but only just started exploring London Fields. Barely a ten minute walk from my flat, London Fields is an area of Hackney named for its large park. 

As well as having a fantastic park, complete with Lido serving excellent falafel wraps, the area is home to many good, small neighbourhood restaurants and foodie shops, such as the Brightfield Cafe and E5 Bakehouse. And of course, the famous Broadway Market is also next to London Fields.

Broadway Market turned out to be a mini Borough, with less tourists and a more local feel. There were still plenty of food stalls to choose from, and some good looking eateries lined the street.  I was particularly torn between a salt beef bagel and a scallop and bacon sandwich, eventually choosing the former as the man  at the stall was so charming. Here are a few photos from the day...

Sunny day at the lido

Roast chicken sandwich, self styled hipster sunglasses

A taste of Morocco

In a moment of madness, I accidentally let slip to Harry that we were going here for his birthday in November. So, it seemed only fitting to make something Moroccan for dinner this evening.

This is another one of Lindsey Bareham's "Dinner tonight" recipes, and as usual I've borrowed the photo for my post. I completely forgot to photograph the finished dish until I'd already eaten half, and it was looking less than photogenic then!

"Posh" Marble Cake

Also known as "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" cake.

I made this cake earlier today for a colleague's birthday after seeing the recipe in the Times Saturday magazine. It's a recipe from Lorraine Pascale, one of my favourite 'celebrity' chefs. Lorraine used to be a model and was the first black British model to grace the cover of American Elle. After modelling, she tried a number of new careers including as a car mechanic, before professionally training as a chef. She now runs a cake shop, the Cupcake Bakehouse, as well as presenting a series on BBC.

Anyway, on with the recipe.. (slightly adapted from the Times)

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Pomegranate molasses cake

This cake was a bit of an experiment, and as yet I can't decide if it was a success or not! I've had a bottle of pomegranate molasses at the back of my cupboard ever since buying it for an Ottolenghi recipe. Since then, they've been languishing somewhat and so today I decided to use it in a cake.
A quick google search didn't reveal many results; nearly every website was linking back to this link, which was the one I chose in the end due to lack of choice.

I won't give the full recipe here, although I'll share some pictures with you.

The ingredients sound tasty enough, with cream, pomegranate molasses and mixed nuts.

Cream, pomegranate molasses and mixed nuts

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Summer nights

Only three weeks until holiday! Three weeks until I am lying by the pool, sipping a cocktail and topping up that holiday tan. Evenings eating seafood, drinking crisp, cool white wine not thinking about getting up the next day.
Lazy days of exploring the town, mars ice creams for lunch and lots and lots of sleep.
I love holidays!
St. Lazarus' church in Larnaca

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Two restaurants to never eat at

This last week has not been good to me food wise. Two nights of M&S 'picnics' (no offence M&S - I love your sandwiches for lunch, but eaten on a train for dinner they're less appealing) and two tremendously terrible dinners.

The second one, at Opium in Glasgow, was an absolute fright of 'oriental' cuisine. I take 'oriental' to mean 'food from no actual country'. According to Trip Advisor, I am the only person in the whole world who didn't enjoy my meal there (abysmal service, watered down wine, day-glo calamari, battered monkfish, followed by actual vomiting). It's apparently Scotland's best oriental restaurant. I think that says more about the dire state of Asian cuisine in Scotland than it does about the skill of the restaurant. Anyway, I shan't review it here, as there aren't enough superlatives to slate two restaurants in the same blog post.