A Travel & Lifestyle Blog

Cake Tasting @ Petit Gateau

Our Cake: Petit Gateau , Photo: White Ribbons Photography
Let's set the scene with movie cake-moments.

"Our Family Wedding" - the father of the groom (Forrest Whitaker) and his best friend end up having a cake fight amongst high-stacked impeccable wedding cakes. Why is the father of the groom trying out cakes, that's a whole different story!

"Because I said so" - well, it's all about cakes really! Diane Keaton takes a nibble out of a white, four-layered beauty and whispers "I used fresh tangerine in the buttercream"... imagine how zingy and refreshing that would taste?

Our Cake: Petit Gateau , Photo: White Ribbons Photography

What do these moments have in common? Laughter and a feeling of warmth and happiness straight from the heart. Off course anyone, who has been through planning a wedding, will tell you that these things only happen in movies, right? Well...lucky for us, one of the most enjoyable tasks of preparing for our wedding was picking our wedding cake. My advice to all couples who are in the planning process is that you should make time, take a deep breath and make some choices together; no matter how stressful things get - it's a bonding experience and creates lovely memories. Start early so that you are not overwhelmed with decisions that must be made instantly. This is where Petit Gateau comes in.

The cake that started it all!
Petit Gateau
I came across this Petit Gateau creation, a romantic bird-cage cake in Brides magazine. When I had a peek at the website I realised that the cakes' style suited ours; moreover it's one of the few cake-makers that will do an eyelet cake beautifully! What's an eyelet cake? You get to learn all of the lingo as soon as you start looking - blogs and Flipboard mainly in our case! The cakes are elegant with attention to detail, you can tell a perfectionist's touch - meet Jordana! She has an eye for detail and a craft for making intricate sugar flowers and patterns. She offered to match my wedding dress pattern to the cake decoration! Crazy request if you aske me, but that's how good she is.

So, off we went to try cake! I have to admit that we had a movie moment when we sat down around Jordana's workshop. Surrounded by elegant creations and the flavours menu, so exciting. Couldn't stop smiling, chatting and tasting, off course! 
Vanilla Bean sponge with Maple Syrup Buttercream;
Honey Sponge with Rose Buttercream;
Pink Champagne sponge with Lavender Buttercream;
Chocolate Ganache Buttercream...oh my!
It's a foodie artist's paradise; you get to create your very own combination and what's best, each layer can be of a different flavour! There is no pressure to pick flavours until about two weeks prior to the wedding so you get to think about it and try some wonderful combos in the process! Start thinking about the designs though and quantity off course! It's what decides your budget.
Our second cake! Photo: Petit Gateau
Blogs and Flipboard came in handy when we were looking for designs. That's where I found the lovely ombré effect, gradual colour changing either of the buttercream or of the sponge; the cake & dessert stands that are a lovely extension to your food menu; and the eyelet cake off course! Some of my favourite blogs are right here...


London Fashion Weekend, Somerset House

and so it starts; bubbles and chit chat

lovely candy colours for long days in the office

a nail polish vending machine? well, it did work...for Vodafone customers! 

a touch of luxe for the winter months to come - love! 

Great Gatsby look is here to stay! 

River Thames & the London Eye from Somerset House's South Wing Balcony

#bringsexyback! Picture this beauty with a taylor-made suit...

Move over New York FW! We have style, culture and architecture to show for! 

I still remember my very first LFWEnd back in 2003, in a small marquee at Duke of York's Headquarters, off King's road. Newly out of university, so proud to be making a living in London, feeling all grown up and yet...giggling with my best friend at a café, going over the details of the night out before, with our £5 LFWEnd tickets at hand! I remember more of a hip-market feel to the event though, rather than the sophisticated and arty atmosphere it's acquired over the years. Good times!
Now it's all expanded over three wings of the majestic Somerset House. I have to admit, I am not your devoted fashionista but even I get rather upset with some of the exhibitors trying to pass off their old leftovers for up-to-date fashion material. But hey! who am I to complaint? I've managed to get my girlfriends here, spend some time together and sip on some bubbles - not an easily accomplished task, so thank you British Fashion Council for organising!  Most of the designers are quite cool though, especially the up-and-coming ones; you can get some real bargains that will probably be worth double the price in the months to come. Call it a "future" in the fashion stock exchange! 

The Summerhouse, Little Venice

I am sure that there are lots of students out there, who are about to call London "home" for the next couple of years.
Well, first of all a very warm welcome, second and most important: quit with the moaning about the weather! I know it can be depressing, all cloudy and rainy, but lesson one of adult life is that you make the most of what you have; so grab a map of the tube and get out there exploring this refined and complex city!

I remember, that one of my first jobs as soon as I settled in the halls of residence, was to pin a map of London on my wardrobe (yes I know you are not supposed to do that) along with a list of all the neighbourhoods I wanted to visit during my first year in London.
One of the destinations was Little Venice, fascinating name, off I went!
I got there on a rainy afternoon just like today. I spent ten minutes to look around and left, thinking that it's just a pretty, residential and very quiet neighbourhood.

It's still one of the quite parts of London with a melancholic almost movie-like feel to it. I'm not selling it right, am I? Well, now it's spiced up with nouveau cafés and hip boutiques that make it an interesting destination.

Stroll down Blomfield Road, along the canal. It's for the romantic in you! 
Stop at the Summerhouse for lovely eggs Royal or Benedict or Florentine (it depends on your health consciousness level I guess!) and a fresh smoothie. Days when the canal is swollen to the bream, it feels like you are sitting in a boat! It's a great place for lunch and a catch up!

Up the road turn right into Formosa Street: it's a tiny colourful dot in the rows of cream and white well-maintained houses. Formossina, a quirky little restaurant is right on the corner with it's neon lights , chandeliers and spot on cocktails! And so is Pipa boutique, for a quick shop of the funkiest brands.

Now! My personal favourite, Everyman's Cinema is up the road in Sutherland Avenue. Oh, I can't tell you much now, because it deserves a post of its' own. All I am going to say is that it involves couches, bubbles and pizza while you are watching your movie. I'll stop now! x

Butternut Squash Velouté

It's as earthy, as velvety and as sweet as you need it to be on a chilly autumn day!
This is one of the easiest dinners you can make after coming back from work. It will probably take me longer to type this recipe rather than make it as it takes less than half an hour from start to finish.
- One medium butternut squash
- Half a cup of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of dried rosemary
- 5-6 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
- Salt & pepper
- 3 cups of vegetable stock
- Yogurt for serving
- Brown toast or rustic bread
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in half
- Any blue cheese you prefer i.e. Roquefort

Cut the top of the butternut squash in big round pieces, empty out the seeds from the bottom part with a teaspoon and cut this in big pieces too. Don't worry about peeling off the skin; it will be easier to remove once it's roasted.

Place the pieces in a baking tray drizzle some of the olive oil, salt & pepper and rosemary on top of the butternut squash. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes at 180C. Half way through roasting, throw in the garlic cloves with the butternut squash. You can add more garlic if you want, it tends to mellow down when it's roasted.

Once the squash is soft and cooled down a bit, peel the skin off and throw the pieces along with the roasted garlic cloves in a food processor.
Add some more of the raw olive oil and three cups of vegetable stock.
Scoop out of the baking tray all of the rosemary and olive oil and add it into the blender too.
Blend until completely smooth, salt and pepper to taste and voila!

If you feel like it, scoop a dollop of Greek yogurt in each bowl, it creates a lovely cold, sour contrast to the warm sweet Velouté. All done!

To serve, toast or grill a couple of pieces of your favourite bread and while it's still hot rub some garlic on top of it. Crumble some of your favourite blue cheese on top and serve it alongside the Velouté.

Edinburgh weekend

Edinburgh Castle: fairy tales are made of this.
"back to school" is the word this month, so we decided a cocktail making class at the local Vodka Revs was appropriate!  

 Grassmarket - quirky little boutiques, speciality whiskey outlets, smart tweed suits and impressive architecture.

the Olympic sport of cocktail making: shots domino. It worked!
Shots Domino effect!
Dinner and beautiful people!
Cramond Village - island feeling, cobbled streets, fishermen's houses and yards packed with greenery, just ten minutes away from Edinburgh's centre!
River Almond meeting the open sea at Cramond.
walking by the sea, venturing  to Cramond island when the tide is out, hot tea at the local Inn and kiddies learning to ride their bikes. That's what Sundays are for.
uphill - downhill, paths on rooftops, bridges intertwined with buildings. Edinburgh.

waiting for my flight back to London with smoked salmon blinis and rock crab shot with yogurt.
Bye Edinburgh!

SushiSamba, London

It's absolutely worth it!
And don't let me fool you with all the "oohs" and "aahs", this place is freaking expensive but... it's worth it!
Take the lift up to the 38th floor of Heron Tower in the City and you feel you are in Willy Wonka's elevator, ready to break through the glass roof and take off, until it suddenly stops - quietly.

As you walk through the vibrant bar and restaurant to get to the east balcony the smells take your breath away. Flames and hot coal produce amazing "robata" dishes, Japanese barbecue galore in other words.

Sitting there on the 38th floor looking over the Gherkin, Tower Bridge and the Docklands I actually felt content. All of the senses happy at the same moment...it smelled as good as a Greek barbecue, it sounded like a chill-out session in Copacabana and the sake cocktails left a very elegant and fragrant aftertaste...as I said before, it's worth the effort. For dinner and a couple of cocktails you are looking at £70-£80 per head, which can easily be exceeded if you start chatting to the friendly waiters, who are very enthusiastic about the sake in house.
I did try the Masumi or "mirror of truth", a very smooth and slightly sweet sake with interesting aftertaste. The Ume No Yuzu Shu had a very zingy aftertaste, almost like a smooth grappa. My favourite by far was the Masumi.

Now to food, where do I start?
Our absolute favourites were the glazed belly wraps, layers of sweet, succulent pork with a topping of crispy pork scratchings, orange and palmito. 
What does palmito do in a Japanese dish? Well, here comes an interesting twist, as the name gives away this is a Japanese restaurant with Brazilian and Peruvian influences. And here comes the part of "learning something new" every day: a lot of Japanese families emigrated to south America in the late 1800's, hence a fusion Samba cuisine was born! I now remember reading about it in Isabelle Allende's book "The daughter of Fortune" but it never clicked that the influence would be so substantial! Excellent!

Now more food...the next favourites were the Samba rolls, London Samba won over Sao Paulo for me. The Sao Paulo rolls had more rice, while the London Samba ones were simply melting away after one bite! 
We also had duck robata, grilled over flames, very soft and accompanied by a spoonful of seven-spice, light and uplifting with hints of kaffir lemon, I think - but then again I might be wrong!
The Brazilian sounds changed to more upbeat as the evening progressed and I would have happily sat there to take in the amazing lit-up London skyline if it wasn't for the sake temptation - I still have to go to work in the morning!

Close as two Coats of Paint!

If you are anything like me, you get goosebumps and start itching at the very thought of shops full of woollen sweaters and coats in the end of August.
Yet, now that I'm older and wiser (debatable,I will admit), I have come to realise that you must buy your coat at the beginning of the season; or if you wait until the end of September, when you actually start needing it in other words, all of the right sizes and designs will be sold out, in fashionable London town!

Double-faced mid length
Jaeger Coat £399.00

Hooded Wool
 Zara Coat £79.99

This combo is an absolute favourite: grey & beige, soft & elegant, Jaeger & Zara!

Roast Salmon with Herb Stuffing

This is fragrant and light! I know you are thinking I've got an obsession with making parcels out of food lately, well...it works and it looks pretty! 

- Two big salmon fillets (either ask for the whole salmon off-the-bone and filleted or get four smaller fillets to make two parcels instead)
- olive oil
- 3 onions peeled and diced
- 7 ounces vermouth 
- 1 shallot 
- 2 inches of ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 bunch of basil
- 1 bunch of tarragon
- 1 handful of breadcrumbs 
- 15gr butter

Saute the onions in a frying pan with the olive oil and de-glaze them with vermouth or white wine. To be quite honest I used Martini Roso this time round and it worked miracles with the onions, very sweet and uplifting! Put the onions in an ovenproof dish. 

Blend together the ginger, shallot, basil, tarragon, breadcrumbs and butter in a blender, until you have a fine paste. 

Lay one salmon fillet on a work surface, smother it with the herbs paste, salt and pepper and cover it with the second fillet of salmon. Get two pieces of string and tie the two fillets together at two different points. If you are working with smaller fillets, one tie will do. 

Place the fillet parcel on top of the onions, cover with foil and bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 200C. Uncover and bake for another 5 minutes until the salmon gets some colour,do keep an eye to make sure it doesn't dry out. 

Serve on a shiny layer of vermouth-infused onions alongside some velvety mash, aah bliss! x

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