30 August 2013

I ❤ My New Living Room

Following three weeks of spending my days with numerous builders, their time in my house is almost up. Hurrah! The living room is practically done - just waiting on a coffee table - the kitchen should be finished tomorrow and the whole house has been given a lick of paint and made to look generally more fresh. 

I thought I'd quickly show you the latest pictures of my living room avec bubble chair. The curtains went up yesterday and I absolutely love the brick with turquoise and white colour scheme. I never want to leave this room now!

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29 August 2013

3rd Wedding Anniversary

It's incredible how time can fly past. Without doubt I've had the best three years of my life but where on earth did they go??  

Three years ago yesterday, I married Alex at Leez Priory in Essex. Despite a week of rain leading up to the event, the sun came out and the day went without a hitch. It was the best day of my life. 

Here in 2013, we now have our own house, I have my little baking business and we have a fluffy dog making every day a little cuter. And now a bubble chair! Brilliant. But the time has certainly flown by.

We decided to celebrate our anniversary with dinner at one of our favourite restaurants - modern steak house come chic lounge, STK. 

The first STK we visited was in New York, the second in Los Angeles and the third, Vegas. Then they opened one in London! I've written about STK London before so I won't go into detail but I did deviate slightly from my standard order this time so I thought I'd show you!

I decided to wear my favourite LBD from French Connection.

STK is one of those restaurants where you can get away with dressing up to the nines or going casual although it does lean more towards a party atmosphere later on in the evening.

And forget that trendy acid jazz stuff you usually get played at these kinds of places - here they have a DJ who plays classic 80's and 90's tunes. Just my cup of tea!

I love the complimentary signature doughy STK bread with chive oil. It arrives all ready to be ripped apart and dipped!

Having missed out on lunch because the builders were in my kitchen all day, I was starving hungry. Today, we were going for the three whole courses (and portions aren't small here!)

Alex started with the amazing Lil' Burgers made with Wagyu beef and for the first time I decided to sample one of their salads - charcoal grilled beets, glazed goat's cheese and truffle honey.

I find my biggest disappointment with a cheese-based salad is usually lack of cheese. Not the case here - goat's cheese galore! Delicious! The beetroot was flavorsome and juicy too.

The Lil' Burgers don't need a review - they're always amazing.

The main course - feather steak with Stilton topping and STK sauce, mac & cheese, Parmesan truffle chips, mash & onion sauce, chantenay carrots, roast baby onions & garlic. It was a special occasion, so we pretty much ordered the entire sides menu.

STK London (and London only; I checked the other menus) have replaced my usual choice of the fillet medallion with a 150g feather steak. Unfortunately it was a bit more chewy than the cut I'm used to and Alex's steak turned up cooked to medium instead of medium rare. But otherwise everything was as delicious as usual and to be fair, they did deduct the price of one of the desserts as an apology for Alex's wait to have his steak replaced.

My camera was dangerously low on battery at this point but I did manage to get a couple of pictures of the amazing desserts we ordered. Firstly, the treacle tart with milk ice cream and vanilla salt. Not much to look at, perhaps, but the saltiness gave it such a delicious twist that I just couldn't stop eating it! 

What about this then - The Fairground Attraction. Marshmallows, jam doughnuts, candy floss, popcorn, toffee apple madeleines and mini ice creams! Amazing!

Now that's what I call an exciting dessert!

I especially loved the toffee apples and doughnuts which were so good. It's probably enough for two people to share so the treacle tart was unnecessary but we'd already ordered double the amount of food that most people would, so why stop there?

It was a lovely celebration on the anniversary of a very special day.

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24 August 2013

Smokehouse & Bubble Chairs

Caroline                    Mary

The Smokehouse is a transformation of a rather unloved Islington pub into a cured, smoked and grilled meat lover's paradise - all courtesy of chef Neil Rankin. You may know him from his work at Pitt Cue Co and John Salt. It opened it's doors earlier this week so Mary and I popped along Friday night to check it out.

Inside it's cosy and relaxed with a bit of a countryside pub vibe.

We were seated at a table right next to the kitchen. Great for having a beak on what's going on but a little on the warm side!

Whilst polishing off some some extremely tasty green olives, we considered the menu. 

Brisket, lobster, brisket, squid and....foie gras with apple pie and a duck egg? That was basically my perfect idea of a starter but as difficult as it was, I decided to stick with my 'no foie gras' rule!

Feeling quite proud of myself, I ordered the duck confit and Mary went for the squid.

Mine was a sort of duck pate with toast. I wasn't massively keen on it. I liked the combination of the duck and the blue cheese but it was served cold which I didn't realise when I ordered it. Mary's squid, however, was really tasty and didn't fall into that squiddy dilemma of being too chewy.

I was in a fish mood this particular day so I went for the monkfish served with heritage tomatoes and fennel. Strangely, there wasn't a potato or chip side dish available! I'm eating out; this is the only time I eat carbs! Give me carbs! The friendly waitress offered to ask the chef if he could rustle me up a mashed potato side dish and the answer was 'yes'! Good. I also ordered the corn on the cob with bone marrow butter.

My only criticism of the dish was the slightly over-seasoned potato (that'll serve me right for causing potato trouble), the rest was very nice indeed.  Not mind-blowing, but very nice.

Mary enjoyed her sirloin steak although her medium rare request came out rare and she had to send it back. The waiters and waitresses couldn't have been friendlier, I have to say. Kudos for that.

All came good at the end with the desserts. Banoffee pan perdu (basically banana and toffee French toast...yum yum!) and the Friday Pie (a chocolate tart).

Both were quite delicious but the banoffee won it hands down. The caramel ice cream was good too.

Smokehouse is a nice little place and I think it could be something really good when it's got going. The atmosphere is nice and relaxed, perfect for a catch up with friends. I'm not sure the food really suited my tastes particularly but the regularly-changing menu certainly has the imagination and flair to keep things interesting.

Smokehouse Islington
Bar Service
Waiter Service
Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

Afterwards it was back to mine to chill out and watch some Celebrity Big Brother.  Followers of mine on Twitter might know that I've recently had many builders wandering around my house over the past couple of weeks. We're having the living room and kitchen done up as well as the house re-painted and a few other odd jobs done.

Most excitingly of all, I finally have my long-desired bubble chair!

This was my living room at the start:

Here it is during...

And here is the - almost - final result! (our new curtains are going up next week)

Bubble chair fun! 

So Jimmy isn't very keen but I love it!

Sitting in it is actually quite therapeutic and thankfully didn't crash to the floor when I first got in.

Perhaps I should have a bubble chair party...

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