Hungry Aphrodite

Despite living in the UK for so many years, I still struggle with pubs. A selection of beers on tap doesn’t tempt me and the only time I’ve actually visited pubs lately is for Thai food (Walmer Castle/Churchill Arms in Notting Hill – Yum!) or if I’m on holiday in the country!

Pubs are unavoidable here in Surrey and thankfully, there seem to be some lovely, scenic ones around. We decided to begin our Surrey pub crawl with a visit to our local gastro-pub on a stormy bank holiday Monday afternoon.

I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since my last blog post. A lot has happened and if you were wondering where I’d disappeared off to, here’s some big news – we’ve said goodbye to London life and moved a quick train ride/drive out to Ashtead, a quiet little town in Surrey!

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Becks (our English Bulldog) enjoying the new garden.

I’ve been a city dweller all my life so this is certainly an adventure of sorts. As much as I miss the buzz and excitement of living in the best city in the world ;), I’m already enjoying Surrey life and look forward to sharing my experiences with you.

It’s been an amazing summer here in London and one of the best things has been the generous servings of fresh fruits and vegetables I have consumed these past few weeks. It is too hot to eat, perhaps another reason the blog has gone a bit quiet! ;)

I came up with this deliciously cold recipe on a particularly hot day when I wanted pasta but couldn’t face the thought of eating anything warm.  Sweet, juicy cherry tomatoes, freshly chopped spinach, crumbly feta, garlic and red chilli combined with cold fusilli pasta and the simplest dressing of lemon juice and olive oil was just what I needed.

Apologies for my silence the past couple of weeks. I’ve had a lot going on but it’s finally time to catch up on a long overdue blog post.

I was invited to attend the Taste of London Festival held in Regent’s Park a few weeks ago.  Taste of London is an annual event celebrating London’s buzzing restaurant scene. Held each year at Regent’s Park, the festival showcases signature ‘taster’ dishes from some of the city’s best restaurants as well as special cooking theatres and workshops offering Londoners the opportunity to get up close and personal with popular chefs.

I don’t know much about Malaysian food but am a big fan of Malaysian chicken curry scooped up with soft, flaky, roti paratha. Sadly, there aren’t any Malaysian restaurants in my neighbourhood and limited chances to indulge – probably a good thing as I could easily eat roti canai every day.

My friend, Sharon, made it for me when I visited her beautiful home in Surrey last month. I absolutely loved it and rolled back to Wimbledon that afternoon with a very happy belly and this wonderful recipe that I couldn’t wait to try at home.

My Facebook and Twitter timelines are flooded with enticing World Cup themed recipes shared by my favourite chefs, food writers and magazines. No wonder I am exceptionally hungry for fun food and cocktails! ;)

Nigella Lawson’s ‘Soccermole’  inspired a strong Mexican craving this past weekend. Not heavy, cheesy Tex-Mex style but something fresh and spicy with lots of lime. One thing led to another and out came these gorgeous chilli prawns smothered in lime and coriander.

The prawns are best served as fajitas with the usual Mexican sides (salsa, guacamole, cheese, sour cream etc) or simply topped with sliced avocado.

London takes on a whole new persona when the summer sun shines. People are friendlier, happier, brighter. Sunny dresses are out in all their girly glory, as are the sandals and sun cream. Summer also means lazy BBQs and refreshing salads – hooray!! Most definitely, my favourite time of the year.

After a super indulgent Wales trip followed by a decadent birthday weekend, my body craved some clean eating. Thankfully, the summer sun is feeding my healthy eating drive and I’ve been whipping up tasty salad storms.

I’ll be honest. After a fabulous foodie holiday in Wales, there is nothing I wanted more than some tasty, vegetarian Indian food. Spice was what we were all after and Southall was on our way home.

Southall is located a couple of miles from Heathrow Airport and is home to the largest Asian community in London. The neighbourhood is predominantly Sikh and the streets are full of gurdwaras, temples, shops, and amazing food.  For me, a trip to Southall always includes a visit to the Gurdwara on Havelock Road and a delicious meal at Delhiwala. This is a family tradition that is going strong for many years now.

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Havelock Road Gurdwara

The beauty of the Great British countryside never fails to impress me. We went on a family holiday to Wales last week and there were several moments of our journey when I actually felt I was driving through the lush green hills of Tuscany (minus the weather, of course!)

We stayed at The Manor House , a beautiful 19th century country house that is part of the massive Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, South Wales. Celtic Manor is famously known for its sprawling golf course, regarded as one of the best in the world. We weren’t here to play golf though.

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It’s been a busy and hazy couple of weeks with a spectacular Indian wedding, a friend’s 40th birthday celebration and a spa getaway to Wales all crammed in with ridiculous amounts of champagne and many plates of delicious things.

An invitation by Zomato to a Portuguese and Spanish tapas tasting at the Notting Hill Kitchen came during this incredibly busy time but there was no way I was missing it. One can always trust Zomato to put on a great event and the glorious London sunshine on the day made it the perfect weather for tapas and wine.

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Image by Alexandra (Zomato)

Anchovies are either loved or hated with a passion. The word itself makes me slightly uncomfortable and I can’t stand the sight of these slimy, tiny fish.

Nigella, Jamie Oliver and many other TV chefs have popular versions of Spaghetti alla Puttanesca which literally translated means ‘spaghetti a la prostitute/whore.’ Controversial, just like the anchovies.

I’ve made vegetarian versions of Puttanesca sauce before, always leaving out the anchovies. Mr. A tried out Nigel Slater’s recipe while I was out one night and insisted that it was one of the best pasta he has ever had. He insisted that the dish had potential to make me rethink my hatred for anchovies.

I have always been curious about San Lorenzo, a local Italian restaurant located steps away from Wimbledon station. After 5 years of living in the neighbourhood, we finally decided to give it a try a few weeks ago.

San Lorenzo’s first restaurant in Knightsbridge celebrated 50 years last year and the Wimbledon branch has been around for 45 years.  Believe it or not, they also have one in Mumbai – Maritime by San Lorenzo at the Taj Land’s End.

I had friends visiting for tea the other day and wanted to make something quick, easy and spicy.

Chilli Cheese Toast is often served as a savoury snack in India. It is essentially, a spicy version of cheese on toast, kicked up with chillies, onions, fresh coriander and spice. I love cheese and this is one of my favourite things to make and eat. :)

The wonderful flavours of Indian style chilli cheese toast were a huge hit with my friends. Here’s the recipe for some easy entertaining the next time you have friends coming over.

The recipe makes around 18 chilli cheese toast canapes.

Chilli Cheese Toast 

Some of you know that I spent a significant part of my childhood in Tokyo and would move back there in a heartbeat. I get quite nostalgic about my time in Japan, the country, the people and of course the wonderful, varied cuisine that I can’t get enough of.

I was invited to dine at Chisou Knightsbridge a few days ago and chose the always willing Mr. A to join me for the review.chisouinterior

Chisou is an Izakaya style restaurant located on the well-known Beauchamp Place in Knightsbridge. An izakaya refers to a casual Japanese drinking establishment serving food. Chisou has an intimate sake/cocktail bar upstairs (open on weekends) and a cosy dining area on the main floor.

BIG milestones to celebrate this week! Hungry Aphrodite turns 1 on Friday and this is my 100th post. Time flies. I never imagined the blog would go this far when I started writing a year ago. I am grateful for the opportunities and experiences that have come my way and can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future.

A special milestone like this one deserves a delicious post. As you know, I was recently invited to enter a culinary challenge hosted by Maille, the famous French gourmet brand. I shared my recipe for a delicious summery salad a couple of weeks ago (see Maille Halloumi Salad). I am excited to share my 2nd and final entry for the Maille challenge with you all today.

I can’t believe I dined at Chicken Shop in Tooting back in February and am only getting the chance to blog about it today. Yes, things are busy these days and time really does fly!

We discovered Chicken Shop while driving through Tooting one evening. If you are familiar with the south London neighbourhood , you will know that the main high street is full of Asian shops as well as South Indian and Sri Lankan restaurants. Tooting also has a growing number of trendy bars and restaurants with Chicken Shop being relatively new to the vibrant scene.

My little man took me out for delicious tapas for Mother’s Day a few weeks ago. Tendido Cuatro, in Parson’s Green, is sister restaurant to the popular Tendido Cero/Cambio de Tercio in Kensington.

We used to live doors away from Tendido Cero when we first moved to London and it remains one of my favourite Spanish tapas in London. This was the first time we were trying Tendido Cuatro and I was wishing for flavour and consistency. Thankfully, they did not disappoint.

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I met The Saucy Fish Co. team at the Be: Fit London  (see blog post here) show a couple of weeks ago and they sent me home with a selection of meals to enjoy at my convenience.

The Saucy Fish Co. started three years ago with an aim to make cooking with fish simple and exciting. They offer a range of attractively packaged fish (sourced from certified farms in Scotland and Norway) paired with delicious pre-made sauces.

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Mr. A & I ate a lot of fish last week thanks to The Saucy Fish Co. Here are the meals we sampled:

I was recently invited by Maille, the famous French gourmet brand to enter the Maille Culinary Challenge and develop recipes using a couple of their products.

I love Maille mustard and was delighted with the opportunity to experiment with flavours. I chose Citron et Harissa (White Wine, Lemon & Harissa Spicy Mustard)and Noix de Coco et Epices Colombo (White Wine, Coconut and Colombo Spices) as my spicy mustard weapons.

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Today’s recipe uses the Maille Citron et Harissa mustard. Harissa is a spicy red pepper paste commonly used in North African cooking. My colourful salad is a tasty marriage of flavours and textures with the marinated cheese, tangy pomegranate, walnuts and of course, the Maille Harissa mustard dressing.

Be:Fit is London’s largest exhibition devoted entirely to women’s health, nutrition and fitness. Formerly known as the Vitality Show, Be:Fit London was held over the weekend and I attended the show for a few hours on Friday.

Old Billingsgate Market (the venue) was buzzing with excitement on the first morning and from what I hear, the energy only got more electric as the weekend crowds rolled in.

Here are a few photo highlights from  Be:Fit London featuring my favourite discoveries and moments!

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A postcard view of Tower Bridge outside Old Billingsgate Market (the venue).

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I had the opportunity to speak to Dr. Christy Fergusson aka The Food Psychologist a few days ago. Dr. Christy Fergusson is a psychologist, nutritional therapist and clinical hypnotherapist who uses her personal experiences and training in nutrition to counsel young girls and women through a range of health issues.

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Image provided by WIre Media

Christy’s own health troubles started at the age of 12 and lasted throughout her teenage years with a range of diagnoses such as chronic fatigue syndrome, severe acne, bulimia, endometriosis, poly cystic ovaries, depression and more. Her battles with her own health sparked an interest in pursuing psychology and clinical nutrition at university. However, the turning point for Christy was a consultation with a naturopath following which she realised that the source of all her illnesses was nothing else but a poor diet. Once her diet changed, everything changed.

My only experience of Greek food in London has been at the popular chain, The Real Greek. While I love dining there, I’ve always been eager to explore other authentic Greek restaurants in the city. This  is exactly why I responded to a food tasting invitation from Ergon, a new Greek restaurant in London, with a quick and enthusiastic ‘YES!’

Ergon means ‘vocation’ in Greek and the name simply represents the owner’s belief that everyone should do what they know best and love most in life.  The idea for Ergon was conceived in Thessanoliki, Greece by the Douzis brothers in 2011 and has seen tremendous growth despite the turbulent economy.  They now have 6 restaurants in Greece, their first international location in London and restaurants in Belgium and the United States on the horizon.

If you are following me on Twitter, then you are witness to my current tartine obsession. I’ve tried all sorts of toppings from smoked salmon and dill to hummus and white beans and chicken and mustard. I can’t get enough of the endless possibilities.

A tartine is basically a French open-faced sandwich.This bright and cheerful tartine I made a few days ago makes a perfect lunch for a sunny day. The avocado and grilled halloumi cheese go beautifully with the tangy pomegranate molasses  while the pomegranate and pistachio give a sweet crunch.

Any global foodie will tell you how exciting it is when popular restaurants from around the world cross over to your city.  Balthazar was an old favourite during my NYC days. The French brasserie opened in London almost a year ago and has been on my list of ‘restaurants to visit’ ever since. Finally made it to Balthazar for dinner last Friday with some friends visiting from Hong Kong.

Located in Covent Garden, Balthazar London is an exact replica of the restaurant in New York City. The famous owner, Keith McNally, spent a reported £14 million on recreating the original space – from the huge pillars and mirrors to the sepia lighting that warms the entire dining room making everything (and, everyone!) look beautiful.

Happy International Women’s Day to all the incredible women in my life! Today is all about proudly celebrating our strength and femininity and there couldn’t be a better opportunity to introduce you to an inspiring women’s health and fitness festival coming up in London in a few weeks.

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Be:Fit London, previously known as The Vitality Show, returns at the end of March with London’s largest women’s health and fitness event. Be:Fit London celebrity ambassadors include inspiring Olympic athletes  such as Victoria Pendleton and Denise Lewis, supermodel and sports personality Jodie Kidd, as well as Sky Sports News presenter Kirsty Gallacher who will formally open the show.

Today marks exactly one month of my love affair with the NutriBullet. I’ve juiced up a storm with fresh vegetables and fruit every morning and couldn’t be happier with this healthy new addition to my life.

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Gorgeous fruit and veg ready for the NutriBullet!

I have had my share of bad luck with juicers in the past. They have been too bulky, tough to store and a pain to clean making it really difficult to form and sustain a healthy habit.

Popular London Mexican restaurant Wahaca is opening a 5 minute walk from my home and I could not be more excited. The restaurant signs went up earlier in the week and make me happy every time I walk past.

Not surprisingly, I’ve been craving Mexican food all week and decided to whip up one of my favourite Mexican treats for dinner last night.

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I love the simplicity of quesadillas. ‘Queso’ means cheese in Spanish and a quesadilla is basically a toasted tortilla with melted cheese and any other savoury toppings you fancy. Easy and yummy!

In my recent interview with Gourmandize UK & Ireland (click here for the full interview!), I was asked to name a specific dish or food that I can’t live without. This was a tough one for me to answer as like many food lovers, I have not one but several favourite cuisines with Japanese food ranking high on the list.

Mr. A is constantly raving about the sushi and katsu at Tsuru, his favourite lunch spot in the ‘city.’ The glorious sunshine this past Friday combined with the promise of excellent Japanese food was a good excuse to trek into town and meet him for a quick family lunch.

I had a small, unopened jar of salted butter caramel sauce from France begging to be used and Valentine’s Day was the perfect excuse. Salted caramel cupcakes were an option until the thought of hot brownies with salted butter caramel & vanilla ice cream won hands down.

After a quick  search, I came across Nigella’s recipe for ‘Everyday’ Brownies, originally published in her book, Nigella’s Kitchen. These brownies are an alternative to a richer(!!) version that she has published in the past.  Still a very misleading name though as one should most certainly not be eating these brownies every day. ;)

February has been all about striking a balance between lavish feasts and healthy January resolutions. From Chinese New Year festivities to an indulgent Persian supper club along with my daily juicing experiments,  I have lived up to my blog name this month.

I was invited to the Zomato UK Food Blogger’s Dinner last night held at  Gaylord, one of my favourite Indian restaurants in the city. Zomato is a popular restaurant discovery site from India now operating in 11 other countries across the globe, including the UK.

After months of following the lovely Sabrina Ghayour on Twitter and drooling over her gorgeous food pics, I finally dined at her Persian supper club a few nights ago. Sabrina is a private chef and supper club host with a new cook book, ‘Persiana’ coming out in May.

I had never been to a supper club and  was initially a bit wary of going to a complete stranger’s home for dinner.  Once I was familiar with Sabrina’s Twitter persona and had read some reviews, a bunch of us decided to give it a go.

I was invited to attend a breakfast at The Marylebone Hotel yesterday to meet Joe Cross, the author of ‘The Reboot with Joe Juice Diet’ who is in London on a book tour. The event was held at the hotel’s 108 Marylebone Lane restaurant which is also home to The Juicery.

The invitation was  timely since my brand new NutriBullet  (featured on my top 5 foodie Christmas gift list) was finally being delivered and some healthy juicing inspiration was much-needed.

The liquid breakfast began with a potent shot of lemon, ginger and cayenne pepper.

Kung Hei Fat Choy. Gong Xi Fa Cai.

Wishing all my readers celebrating the Chinese New Year this weekend a very happy and prosperous year of the horse!

Our friends Chris and Emma invited us to celebrate Chinese New Year with their friends over a dim sum/yum cha feast this weekend. The big lunch was in the elegant private dining area at Grand Imperial restaurant in the Grosvenor Hotel. The location couldn’t have been more convenient than literally next to Victoria station – there is an entrance to the hotel from the station itself.

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One of my favourite memories of student life in Boston is gorging on delicious plates of Pad See Ew noodles at a hole-in-the-wall Thai eatery in the dubious ‘Chinatown Food Court’ on Beach Street. Along with Pad Kra Pow, these noodles were an instantly gratifying Thai fix washed down with an order of sweet Thai Iced Tea.

Pad See Ew remains one of my favourite Thai dishes and as much as I have tried to recreate the Boston flavours from memory, I am yet to get it right. I think it is probably due to my restraint in adding unnecessary grease and a whole bottle of fish sauce in to my food. ;)

The January Glossybox finally arrived a couple of days ago, later than usual but as exciting to receive as ever.

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Glossybox is also on detox this month with a ‘Back to Basics’ theme especially curated with a new year clear out in mind.

Here’s what was inside:

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Puffy the EyeBag Slayer Wake Up Under Eye Patches by Anatomicals 

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I read a book by Mireille Guiliano some years ago, annoyingly titled ‘French Women Don’t Get Fat’. The book focused entirely on how French women manage to look good and stay healthy whilst enjoying a diet rich in bread, cheese, wine, steak, chocolate and other good things.

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I couldn’t help but think about this book throughout my recent Parisian food adventure. Yes, I savoured every bit of the deliciousness on offer but indulging in Paris for more than 5 days is a dangerous thought.

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Cold salads on wintry January days aren’t easy.  Especially, when it is gloomy outside and all you want is a hot plate of comfort.

I wanted something fresh, spicy and Thai yesterday. And, I needed it to be raw. A gorgeous Thai green papaya salad came to mind but I wasn’t going to find a Thai green papaya anywhere in my neighbourhood. Luckily, there was an unripe green mango at home with my name all over it. ;)

It took no effort to put together this cheerful Thai style Mango Salad. It is packed full of flavour, healthy and so easy. Try it sometime – it makes being good, taste fabulous!

Detox is trendy this month. Everyone is either doing it or talking about it. My January (so far) has been free from dessert and wine. I am mostly vegetarian these days, loading up on raw fruits and vegetables  and doing my best to keep temptations far away.

However, this isn’t enough. My body is craving another challenge. One that ideally doesn’t involve drinking juice all day long. A little inspiration from the Golden Globes red carpet last night led me to today’s blog post on celebrity detox.

Yes, they love their juices and master cleanses but here are some celebrity detox plans that focus more on  nutritious meals as opposed to a liquid diet.

I had my food blogger lens on throughout the Paris trip and what really caught my hungry eyes was the stunning food displays at marches, patisseries and shops around town.

The beautiful presentation made the simplest of foods seem even more enticing. Have a look at these drool-worthy shots and you will see what I mean.

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Mont Blancs at Angelina Paris

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Macarons at Angelina Paris

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Normandy Oysters at a Marche in Marais

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Colourful seafood at a marche in Marais

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Lovely looking greens in Marais

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Berries, anyone?

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Flavoured butter at Breizh Cafe shop in Marais

Happy New Year, everyone!! Hope you all had a great end to 2013 and a beautiful start to the year that lies ahead. I have a good feeling about 2014 – it just has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

My 2013 ended with a fabulous trip to Paris with Mr. A to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Having been to Paris a few times before, there was no sightseeing at all on the agenda besides the obligatory view(s) of the sparkling Eiffel from various parts of the city. I was excited to simply wander the streets of Paris and take in the beauty around me – and, of course, to eat amazing food and drink good wine. :)

I tried this creamy saffron and prawn risotto on my first trip to Rome many years ago. We had some excellent food on our Roman holiday but this  particular meal near our hotel in Testaccio was without a doubt, the best and most memorable.

Risotto alla Crema di Scampi is clearly a Roman specialty as I haven’t come across it anywhere else in Italy.  I’ve tried hunting down recipes many times over the years without much success  but got lucky a few days ago when I found a few Risotto alla Crema di Scampi recipes…all in Italian! Thank God for Google Translate!

My recent blog post on Top 5 Beauty Gifts Under £50 featured a monthly Glossybox subscription as the ultimate gift for the beauty in your life, or even a special holiday treat to yourself. ;)

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If you have been on the fence, perhaps the goodies inside the ‘Festive Treasures’ Glossybox that arrived at my doorstep over the weekend will help you make up your mind.

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Wilkinson Sword Intuition Naturals Razor

A full-size, 3 in 1 razor in a festive treasures box definitely caught me by surprise. This handy razor lathers and shaves while keeping your skin moisturised with aloe and vitamin E – no soap or shaving gel required. Very practical!

Brrrr. It is freezing cold out there and on wintry days like these, all I want is hot, comfort food. In my case, comfort is always a steaming bowl of spicy curry. Thai, Malaysian, Indian, any kind will do – but, the only way is curry!

Today, I am sharing the recipe for a delicious Kerala style Pepper Chicken I made earlier in the week. As you can guess, the dish uses loads of black peppercorns and fresh curry leaves along with other aromatic spices traditionally used in food from this particular region of India.

I braved the crowds at Harrods over the weekend and oh my goodness, what a nightmare!! There are way too many people out and about this time of year and I left Knightsbridge feeling extremely thankful for online shopping. ;)

My Top 5 Beauty Gifts blog last week was popular and I hope you all found it useful. Today, I am sharing some delicious foodie gift ideas. As you can imagine, it was quite a challenge to stick to a list of five as there are some fabulous options out there. I could have easily gone on and on and on…

The party season kicked off for Hungry Aphrodite last night with an exclusive invitation to sample the new range of Christmas cocktails at the Dirty Martini bar in Bishopsgate. Mr. A works nearby so it was the perfect excuse for a much-needed date night.

Dirty Martini has bars in Covent Garden and Hanover Square and has recently opened another one just a stone’s throw away from Liverpool Street station – a great drinks option for those who work in the area.

Dirty Martini launched their Christmas Cocktails a couple of weeks ago, in time for the party season.

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You know it’s December when the shops are packed and all you hear is the same old Christmas music everywhere you go. The scramble for gifts combined with mad shoppers, pushy sales people and an overwhelming choice is a daunting experience for many. I hope to make this a bit easy for you over the coming weeks by sharing some of my favourite gift ideas this season.

Today’s post is about  my top 5 beauty buys under £50 – these will make excellent festive gifts for any beauty addict in your life – or perhaps, yourself! ;)

It is Thanksgiving today and my American friends and family around the world are celebrating a beautiful tradition centred around expressing gratitude and eating lots of delicious food. I always miss being in the US at this time of year and have some great memories of long weekends spent feasting away on turkey, stuffing and pie!

Been a while now since a proper Thanksgiving meal but I do make it a point to always make or do something special on this day and join in the festivities.

The countdown has officially begun – there is only ONE month till Christmas.  I am still recovering from the big fat Diwali binge and it is already time to eat, drink and be merry. There goes the detox.

Thankfully, I’ve got all the holiday party hangovers sorted thanks to a fresh stock of Prefunc.

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If you have spent time with Mr. A & myself recently, you will know how much we love and swear by Prefunc. Our lives have changed (and how!) since the little one and yes, we do still get out and about but as with any parent, everything in life requires planning. Even a hangover!

I’ve written a lot about food lately. That’s not a bad thing but, time to talk some beauty today with a monthly dose of Glossybox!

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I was gifted an annual subscription to Glossybox for my birthday a few months ago and it has honestly been such a great gift. A box of beauty surprises delivered to my doorstep every month – really can’t go wrong with that. I have tried out some fabulous products and discovered many new beauty brands thanks to Glossybox. Needless to say, the beauty junkie in me loves it – you can learn more about how it works at www.glossybox.co.uk

I attended the BBC Good Food Show held in London this past weekend with my first ever Press Pass for Hungry Aphrodite! This was definitely a milestone for my blog and I was super excited to experience one of London’s largest gathering of food lovers.

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A view from the top

The BBC Good Food Show is an annual event held in London, Birmingham and Glasgow. The London show held at Olympia featured interviews with famous chefs, live demonstrations, wine tastings, and a Producers’ Village showcasing some of the best food products and gadgets in the market.

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Today, I am handing the blog over to my husband (hereby known as Mr. A) who has recently returned from a lot of eating and drinking in Madrid. I loved hearing about his trip and thought a guest post on Hungry Aphrodite would be the perfect way for him to share his experiences with my hungry readers. So, here’s Mr. A!

MR. A IN MADRID

By Rahul Agarwal

Mr. Hungry Aphrodite was recently allowed a boys’ trip to Madrid on the condition that I promised to eat lots of delicious Tapas, take plenty of pictures and write a guest blog upon my return. I hope today’s post is so successful that I am sent on many such missions in the future.

I am obsessed with Italian food and a classic Bruschetta is one of my many favourite dishes.

I love the simple pleasure of a tomato & basil bruschetta and had only ever made it this way until I saw celebrity chef (and my latest foodie crush), Gino D’Acampo make his Cannellini Bruschetta or what he refers to as ‘more than just posh beans on toast’. ;)

The thought of cannellini beans, cherry tomatoes and parsley on slightly charred ciabatta was super tempting and I couldn’t resist drawing inspiration from Gino (yet again!) for a yummy bruschetta lunch.

Judging by the enthusiastic response to my blog on Post-Diwali Detox, it is clear that many of you are craving a clean-up!

I am sticking with the detox theme today and sharing a simple tip that I learned on my recent spa break at the Thermae Bath Spa. My massage therapist spoke to me at length about trying the simple technique of dry body brushing to help the body’s natural detoxification process.

All you need is a long-handled body brush from Boots or your local health shop. Prices range from £6 for a Boots body brush to £20 for the Elemis brush pictured below.

You know it is Diwali time when your days and nights are planned around excessive consumption of delicious Indian food and decadent mithai (desserts). This year, Halloween was also thrown into the festivities which meant bonus treats of chocolates, cupcakes and sugary candy. Aaaahhh!

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I am not kidding – sweet things were literally pouring out of  every corner of my kitchen ALL weekend long. I have had more than enough and my body is craving a post-Diwali detox. Here are my tips for anyone else out there feeling bloated, tired, sluggish, and full of sweets!

I blogged last week about some gorgeous makeup out there designed specifically with Halloween in mind (see Spooky Chic for more). Couldn’t resist another Halloween makeup post this morning, considering it is today and some last-minute, easy makeup inspiration may be timely. :)

I turned to one of my favourite sites, Pinterest, for some relatively subtle, DIY Halloween makeup ideas. Some seem super easy while others definitely need a creative hand. Here are some Halloween looks I love….

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butterfly

 

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My friend Hina & I spent this past weekend rediscovering Bath, a historic town located an easy 90 minute train ride from London. I have been to Bath many times before and am always mesmerized by the Georgian architecture and stunning scenery in and around town.

Pictured below are some of my favourite shots of Bath from the weekend.

 

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After wandering the beautiful streets of Bath on Saturday, we spent Sunday relaxing at the Thermae Bath Spa, Britain’s only thermal day spa fully serviced by the mineral rich, healing waters that have made Bath so famous. The spa boasts of a warm open-air rooftop pool overlooking Bath and the countryside. Cameras aren’t allowed in the spa but hopefully these images from their website will give you an idea of the experience we had!

Halloween is just around the corner and I am really missing the American Halloween spirit – London comes nowhere close!! The last-minute hunt for unique costumes (age no bar!), and dressing up in character for crazy Halloween parties are sorely missed each year.

Today’s blog is on some fantastic Halloween inspired beauty collections out there to help you create the perfect spooky chic look for the occasion. Really making me wish I was back in New York City for Halloween….sigh.

MAC + Rick Baker Halloween Collection

The weeks leading up to Diwali are always so fun and festive. Occasions are celebrated almost daily with a lavish spread of the most delicious food and sinful sweets. Kheer (rice pudding) is one of my favourite Indian desserts and the perfect way to mark a festival.

I haven’t really attempted Indian desserts before so I am quite proud of the Vanilla & Saffron Kheer I braved yesterday. The recipe is credited mostly to my mum but I have added a slight vanilla twist to the gorgeous saffron and cardamom flavoured pudding. The powdered pistachio, cardamom and almond sprinkle on top adds a lot more flavour. This recipe makes a big bowl of divine kheer and is a brilliant option for any upcoming Diwali dinners. :)

There are people who eat to live and then there’s those of us who live to eat. My fascination with good food doesn’t stop at eating. I must also talk, write and read about it every single chance I get.

I love food-lit and have a great selection of delicious cookbooks, healthy eating guides and food/travel memoirs scattered around my home. Flipping through these books is one of my favourite ways to switch off, unwind and drift off into a world where everything tastes heavenly and calories don’t count. ;)

My October Glossybox arrived yesterday and was the perfect pick-me-up for yet another rainy London afternoon.

This month’s theme is ‘Dark Romance’. One can have a lot of fun with such a mystical theme so I was excited to see what was in store.

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Here’s a quick peek inside my October box:

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Surprisingly, the contents of the box don’t really have much to do with the ‘Dark Romance’ theme. A bit of a letdown at first but after having read up about some of the brands and using the products, I am quite pleased.

It seems like almost everyone in London (myself included) is down with one bug or another these days. Cold, flu, ear infections and a nasty tummy virus, there is more than enough going around to make a self-confessed hypochondriac like me cringe….eek!

Today’s post is recycled from my early days of blogging as I just can’t think straight AND needed a reminder to stock up on some elderberry syrup for the winter to ward off these nasty London germs. And, perhaps you do too! ;)

Organic Flu-Fighter  First posted on  26/4/2013

Italy is one of my favourite places in the world. I have visited many times over the years and each trip has been so memorable.

Eating the most divine and authentic pizza in Naples, a beautiful Tuscan holiday with family, driving through the breathtaking Amalfi coast and discovering the best (and worst!) Italian food in Rome are just a few of my favourite memories of Italy.

Last Friday, I caught an episode of Gino’s Italian Escape, an ITV series featuring Italian chef Gino D’Acampo as he travels to various parts of  Italy introducing viewers to classic Italian recipes. In this episode, Gino was in Rome and making a traditional Roman Bucatini alla Carbonara  - without the cream.

I think I have finally discovered the holy grail of super foods – Chia seeds. I first came across jars of The Chia Co seeds at Whole Foods a few months ago and have been curious about them ever since.

One of my purchases at Neal’s Yard Remedies last week was a packet of Chia seeds also known as Salvia Hispanica.

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I was shocked when I heard about the nutritional potency of these tiny miracles and you will be too. Get ready for it!

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2 tablespoons of Chia seeds contain:

My friend, Shikha, told me about a special event at the Neal’s Yard Remedies store in Wimbledon last week. Guests were being offered a choice between a free mini-facial or organic makeover and a 20% discount on everything at the store. Shikha knew this would be right up my alley and sure enough, up the hill I went for some shopping and pampering to the Neal’s Yard Remedies in Wimbledon Village.

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Neal’s Yard Remedies is an organic health and beauty brand passionate about finding natural solutions to improve health and well-being. I have used a few of their products over the years and always been impressed by the contents of the signature blue bottles (specifically designed to keep light out and ingredients fresh!).

Today’s blog is on an increasingly popular beauty essential – foundation primer!  There is a range of primers out in the market these days to suit all skin types, concerns and budgets.

So, what does a primer do and why do you need one?

  • A good primer smooths the skin to create a ‘canvas’ for the rest of your look, very much like a mandatory primer before you paint the walls in your home!
  • Helps you to disguise blemishes by making it noticeably easier for you to blend concealer/foundation evenly  into your skin

Warm scones, pretty cakes and dainty finger sandwiches – what’s not to love about a traditional British afternoon tea? What started off in the early 19th century as an inventive way to ward off royal 4pm hunger pangs is now a hugely popular ‘activity’ enjoyed by  tourists AND locals all around the UK. :)

I love tea and scones so when a friend invited me to join in for a birthday celebration at an Alice in Wonderland themed tea party, my answer was a very quick YES!

Here are some snapshots from the lovely Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at the Sanderson Hotel in London’s West End.

Many of you will remember my blog last month on  The Beauty Detox Solution – Part 1′.  It has been the most popular post on Hungry Aphrodite so far!

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I have embraced many of the ideas that Kimberly Snyder recommends in ‘The Beauty Detox Solution’ and am slowly easing myself into a new way of eating. Of course, there are occasional indulgences but I hate the way my mind and body feel afterwards so something is clearly working.

‘The Beauty Detox Solution – Part 1′ gave you a super brief summary of the first half of the book. As promised, here is Part 2!

It is that time of the month again! The special London edition Glossybox is here and the snazzy Union Jack box definitely helped to brighten up a rainy London weekend.

union jack

The London edition Glossybox delivery coincided with the start of London Fashion Week.

My Twitter (@HungryAphrodite) feed is buzzing with the latest beauty and fashion trends from LFW and the arrival of the special London themed Glossybox celebrating British style was timely.

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This month’s box included the first ever Glossybox Magazine featuring all the latest beauty news and trends. A quick, informative read and a great touch to the monthly subscription.

I recently blogged about ‘The Beauty Detox Solution’, a book by nutritionist Kimberly Snyderthat has motivated me to make some serious changes to my lifestyle.

I have much reduced my intake of animal protein and made a dedicated effort to add more raw fruits and vegetables to my diet. A salad a day is my motto these days and so far, so good.

Today’s lunch was a simple Greek salad of tomato, cucumber, olives and feta cheese,  lifted up to superfood status with miracle grain, quinoa.

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Quinoa is packed full of protein, iron, fibre and what not?

The perfect shade of nude lipstick is a beauty staple that can be quite tricky to find. Despite looking for a shade that closely matches the natural lip colour, it is very easy to end up with the wrong kind of nude that makes you look more washed out and ghost-like than classy.

With summer officially over, I am looking for a break from my pink comfort zone and in the market for a more autumnal look. I think I may have found a helping hand in the recently launched L’Oreal Collection Privee.

Rayaan and I spent a gorgeous day at Kensington Gardens with our friends who are leaving London in a few days for an exciting adventure in Singapore. Another week, another sad goodbye. :(

We had a great day complete with ducks, swans, tributes to Princess Diana, and lobster noodles!

Here are some highlights:

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Arriving at Kensington Gardens on a very quiet and peaceful morning.

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En route to the Round Pond – it’s going to be a lovely day!

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My little monkey chasing ducks at Kensington Gardens.

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The London food scene is bursting with Latin American flavours this year. From the Peruvian cuisine at trendy Coya to the incredible fusion at Sushi Samba, we are spoilt for choice with some fantastic dining options.

The latest on my list of favourite London restaurants is Zoilo, a lovely little Argentinian restaurant by renowned chef Diego Jacquet and Alberto Abbate. The duo also run Casa Malevo, another popular Argentine restaurant in London.

Zoilo

I have gone crazy over raspberries this week. Bright red, plump and the perfect balance of sweet and tart – raspberries are clearly at the peak of the season and I  just can’t get enough. Finally, a healthy addiction! ;)

Raspberries are a lot more than a tasty fruit. Below are some very good reasons to grab yourself a juicy bowl of raspberries….NOW!

raspberries

Immunity

Raspberries are extremely rich in vitamins, anti-oxidants, minerals and all the other good stuff. Raspberry anti-oxidants help to inhibit the growth of infections and protect the body from all sorts of damage. Research has also shown that a specific anti-oxidant found in raspberries can also help to fight cancer and other diseases.

One of my favourite beauty indulgences is a spa pedicure  - and I know I am not alone. A relaxing experience ending in soft, smooth and happy feet with freshly polished toe-nails – what’s not to love?

Experts recommend getting professional pedicures once a month and every 2 weeks in the summertime when feet are more exposed to the elements and in need of extra primping and pampering.

Now, let’s get real – a pedicure every 2 weeks may not always be possible. Over exposed feet in the summertime also lead to dry skin and hardened heels making you wish you could get one every week…

After a sunny summer spent wearing pretty dresses, sipping cocktails/wine, and eating gorgeous food, it wasn’t much fun struggling to breathe in my ‘comfortable’ pair of jeans last week. Ugh. I think it might be time for another round of detox.

As a ‘foodie’, I don’t have the desire or discipline to ‘diet’ so my focus will be on eating right and making better choices.

In need for some serious inspiration and guidance, I turned to ‘The Beauty Detox Solution’, a book by celebrity nutritionist and beauty expert, Kimberly Snyder.  I am not even half way through the book and seem to have already found the motivation to make some changes.

I was stung by a ruthless bee outside a Middle Eastern restaurant in Fitzrovia called Honey and Co this past Saturday. Strange but true…and rather painful. Ouch.

However, this post is not about the mean bee. It is about the gorgeous food at Honey and Co. Food so incredible that even a nasty bee sting is almost forgotten.

Honey

Honey and Co is all about fresh, simple and delicious food from the Middle East. The husband-wife team of  Sarit Packer (former head chef at popular Ottolenghi/also former head chef at Nopi) and Itamar Srulovich (Israeli chef trained at several eateries in Tel Aviv) took inspiration from their childhood to create the gorgeous, wholesome dishes served at Honey and Co.

El Bulli was probably one of the most imaginative and experimental restaurants in the world. Ferran Adria, the chef that transformed El Bulli, is credited with inventing the concept of nouvelle cuisine and molecular gastronomy.

Located a 2 hour drive from Barcelona, El Bulli promised the gastronomic experience of a lifetime through a 35-40 course tasting menu costing 250€ per person. El Bulli was only open for 6 months of the year and needless to say, it was next to impossible to book a table. Despite 2 million reservation requests/year for 8000 ‘seats’, El Bulli closed its doors to the world in July 2011 due to consistent financial losses.

Can you believe it is already the middle of August!? Where does the time go? Feels like I just wrote my Summer in a Glossybox post yesterday and it is already time for another one.

My August Glossybox was delivered to my doorstep over the weekend. This month’s theme is High Flyers and the products are geared for the ‘girl-on-the-go’ and are perfect for travel.

Glossybox High Flyers

The High Flyers Glossybox includes:

Oceane Make up Remover Pen 
Emite Professional Eyelash Curler 
Jelly Pong Pong 2-in-1 Eyeshadow/Eyeliner 
Olay Regenerist 3-Point Treatment Cream
Tresemme Platinum Strength 60 second Treatment Shot

Wishing my lovely friends and readers from around the world a very happy and blessed Eid!

Eid marks the end of the month long Ramadan fast and is celebrated with family, friends and indulgent feasting, just like Diwali, Thanksgiving, Christmas and other wonderful occasions.

I love festivals and can’t help but think of food today, specifically kebabs and biryani…yum!

biryani

The celebrations going on around me have inspired me to finally have a go at a couple of recipes I saw on Rick Stein’s India show on BBC last month.

Chicken & Rosewater Biryani (click for recipe)

Curries made with coconut milk are my favourite – I simply can’t resist them.

Prawn Malai Curry is a Bengali specialty from India. Malai means cream – in this case, the coconut kind. This curry is super tasty and surprisingly easy –  even for those who have never attempted Indian cooking before.

We had some friends over for lunch this weekend and Prawn Malai Curry served  with hot basmati rice made a perfect meal. Full credit to hubby for the heart shaped rice presentation. :)

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Prawn Malai Curry

(Serves 2-3)

Ingredients

Anyone else having a long streak of bad hair days?  The sunniest July in years has wreaked havoc on my hair and it is looking annoyingly dry, damaged, frizzy….you get the picture!

It is clearly time for a summer hair intervention and here is my rescue plan:

Hair Masks

A regular shampoo and conditioner is simply not enough in the heat. Summer hair requires an extra level of TLC and this is where  a deep conditioning hair mask comes in!  I am a huge fan of MoroccanOil haircare products – they come at a price but smell gorgeous and the results are absolutely amazing.Treat your hair with MoroccanOil Restorative Mask a weekly dose of argan oil vitamins and anti-oxidants will work wonders for hair that has been overly processed and excessively fried in the sunshine!!

Last week’s royal baby frenzy has definitely captured my interest in all things British and regal.

A visit to a beautiful and historical palace, combined with the idea of a picnic lunch in the gardens was enough to get me on a train to Hampton Court Palace while the sun was still shining!

Here are some  snapshots:

Tudor entrance

Hampton Court Palace was built in Tudor times (15oos), during the reign of King Henry VIII, who is undoubtedly the palace’s most famous and controversial resident.

Baroque Palace

Last night’s dinner was simple and divine - Pumpkin & pine nut stuffed fiorelli with a butter, lemon and sage sauce.

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Of course,  I did not make the Pumpkin Fiorelli myself – I have my lovely friends at Waitrose to thank for the shortcut ;)

This was my first time cooking with fresh sage and I loved the strong, invigorating smell that wafted through my kitchen as soon as the leaves were plucked.

sage

Making the sauce could not have been simpler. Melt butter, infuse with sage leaves, add fresh lemon juice and stir.

Yes, it is true! Shake Shack, the upscale fast food chain from the US, has crossed the big pond and opened its first London shack!

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My friends in the US are constantly raving about Shake Shack burgers. I had never tried one before so couldn’t wait to see what the hype was all about.

Opened earlier this month on American Independence Day,  Shake Shack has a spectacular location in London’s busy Covent Garden Piazza Market.

Pictured here is the Shack Shack seating area in the middle of the market.

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Nothing like a deliciously cold salad on a sweltering summer day. Wouldn’t you agree?

I have blogged about my Avocado and Cherry Tomato Salad before (see Superlicious Avocado) and today, I would like to share another cold favourite with all of you.

My Chilli Coriander Prawn and Avocado Salad is spicy, tasty and ridiculously quick to put together.

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Chilli Coriander Prawn & Avocado Salad (Serves 2-3)

2 ripe and ready avocados, halved and pitted

1 pack pre-cooked prawns, around 150-200g

4 tablespoons, low fat mayonnaise

2 cloves garlic, chopped

London is BOILING! And, like a typical Londoner, I have done nothing but moan about it!

After a sunny and sweltering Saturday, I was thrilled to come home to a very special weekend delivery..

Hello July Glossybox!

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This month’s theme is Seaside Splash and the box contains a selection of summery treats – perfect for the seaside OR a heatwave!

Well timed, Glossybox UK!

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Everything is, literally, coming up roses for me these days…just like the popular Broadway song! :) Must be the effect of the glorious English summer.

I am suddenly and insanely addicted to the gorgeous fragrance of roses…Not a surprise then that this wonderful scent is inspiration for today’s musings on some my favourite rosy beauty buys!

So, here goes…

1. Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Cream

My brother and sister-in-law celebrated their 1st wedding anniversary over the weekend by hosting a BBQ at their home. Not just any BBQ though – this was a Pizza BBQ with a Kenyan twist….and it was oh so yummy!

I had never  heard of a Kenyan Pizza BBQ before and was super excited to try something unique and far removed from the overdone burgers and sausages!

The pizzas are baked in a traditional Kenyan charcoal oven known as ‘Jiko’ in Swahili. Jikos come in various sizes and are an energy saving, eco-friendly way to bake cakes, breads, pizzas and what not?

We got lucky and scored two tickets to the Wimbledon tennis ladies’ semifinals yesterday. Hooray!

Lovely weather, superb ambience and brilliant tennis – you don’t need me to tell you that yesterday was a fabulous day!

Some snapshots…

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Cheeky Brunello to start the day….why not?

 

 

Murray Mound blog

Pre-gamers warming up at Murray Mound aka Henman Hill. Can’t even begin to imagine the  buzz over here during a Murray match!

 

 

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Gorgeous flowers everywhere make Wimbledon feel more like an English country garden than a tennis stadium. The prettiest sporting venue I have ever been to.

The coconut palm tree isn’t called the ‘tree of life‘ for nothing. In addition to being an extremely nutritious superfood, coconut also has a number of beauty uses, specifically for skin and hair care.

Here are some ways to add some wonderful coco-nuttiness to your beauty routine!

Skin

There is nothing more hydrating and rejuvenating than fresh coconut water. Perfect for shooing off that hangover!

But, did you know that regular intake of fresh coconut water can also work wonders for your skin? High in antioxidants, coconut water is known  for its anti-aging properties and can make your skin glow. Coconut water can also be used as spot treatment for cellulite, acne, eczema, wrinkles and stretch marks.

Nothing screams ‘summer’ quite like the colour, coral. Wouldn’t you agree?

If you love peachy, coral hues as much as I do, then you will love the Go Tropicoral Lip & Cheek Kit by Benefit Cosmetics.

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The Go Tropicoral Lip & Cheek Kit includes:

Cha Cha Tint - A mango tinted lip and cheek stain perfect for creating a natural, summer flush.

High Beam - Liquid shimmer for spot highlighting. Suits all skin tones.

CORALista Blush - Peachy powder blush perfect for a warm, summery look.

CORALista Lip Gloss - Sheer coral lip gloss.

Wimbledon has begun!  Time for some fabulous tennis, bottomless pitchers of Pimms,  and lots of strawberries & cream!

strawberries and wimbledon

A quintessential bowl of strawberries topped with sweet cream is an irresistible obsession at the famous All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club AND many British homes at this time of year! No Wimbledon tennis experience is complete without it.

strawberries

The Wimbledon tradition of eating strawberries and cream dates back to when the championships began in 1877. Strawberries were strictly seasonal then and only available around tournament time. Strawberries and Wimbledon soon began to signal the arrival of British summer!

It is impossible for me to pick my favourite cuisine but Thai food definitely ranks somewhere in my Top 3!

If you love Thai food, then you will be no stranger to this dish, commonly known as Pad Krapow. A staple at any Thai restaurant, this spicy and fragrant dish is also very quick to make in your own kitchen.

I am a huge fan of simple, fuss free recipes and this one literally takes 10 minutes to put together!

padkrapow

Chicken, Chilli & Basil Stir Fry (Pad Krapow)

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

My ‘June’ Glossybox arrived shortly after the recent  Hello Glossybox post.

June Glossybox

This month’s theme was ‘Summer Looks’ and the box had a variety of summery treats including Paul Mitchell Ultimate Wave Cream to create sexy, tousled, beach hair and a lovely coral Nails Inc polish.

June Glossybox

My favourite product in the June Glossybox is, without any doubt, the Figs & Rouge Tinted Lip Balm (Cherry Blossom)

My dear hubby surprised me with a quick getaway to Brussels over the weekend. We had been talking about a Eurostar train trip for quite some time and as much as I LOVE Paris, I was excited to explore a city that I had never been to before. My excitement multiplied after hearing about all the Belgian culinary treats on offer. Chocolate, waffles, fries and other yumminess…I knew from the beginning that this was going to be a delicious trip. And, oh yes, it was!

Here is my foodie guide to Brussels!

Belgian Chocolate

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I gave up coffee on June 1st. And I am still standing! Hooray!

Finding healthy (and tasty) replacements for my morning cuppa has been easier than I thought. I have a renewed love for green tea and am mixing it up with other detoxifying drinks such as hot water with honey and lemon (yum), wheatgrass powder (not so yum) and other fresh juices and concoctions.

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I met up with a friend this morning at Le Pain Quotidien and tried a delicious detox juice from their seasonal menu  made with pink grapefruit, turmeric, agave syrup and sparkling water. Never knew detox could taste so good!!

One of my birthday gifts last week was 12 beautiful months of Glossybox! Yay!

I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of my first beauty box and it was finally delivered yesterday. It felt like my birthday all over again ;)

Glossybox

For those unfamiliar with Glossybox, here’s the deal. You pay a monthly fee of £12.95 (including postage) and a beautiful box of beauty treats is delivered to you every month. Glossybox includes a selection of 5 miniature and original size items from popular brands as well as relatively new companies. You complete a ‘beauty profile’ when you sign up and they customise each box to suit your individual beauty needs!

Quite a claim, isn’t it? I thought the same when I first read bareMinerals bold statement! Of course, I was instantly curious!

bareMinerals Get Started

bareMinerals was launched in the United States  in 1995. They have come a long way since and bareMinerals products are now available all over the world. Their makeup is made out of natural minerals with no chemicals, preservatives, dyes, oils or perfumes. bareMinerals boasts that their ingredients are so kind and gentle to the skin that one can even sleep with makeup on!

It is my birthday today!! And I have had too much fun and a shameless amount of dessert over ‘birthday week’ that kicked off with a delicious meal at Sushi Samba London a few days ago.

My American readers may be familiar with Sushi Samba, a popular Brazilian-Peruvian-Japanese fusion restaurant with locations in New York, Miami, Las Vegas and Chicago. Sushi Samba used to be one of my favourite restaurants during my NYC days and naturally, I was beyond excited to finally try out their new London branch.

Imagine your local farmer’s market on steroids. Borough Market is beyond that. It is where both Londoners and tourists come together to experience fresh, delicious foods from Britain and the world. It is a foodie’s paradise!!

Borough Market

My first visit to Borough Market was as a new Londoner back in 2006.  It quickly became a monthly ritual as well as a top ranked British tourist attraction whenever friends and family came to visit.