Month: March 2013

Happy Easter!

But from this earth, this grave, this dust,
My God shall raise me up, I trust.  

Walter Raleigh

I love Easter, it’s a really wonderful time. It may not have the magic build up of Christmas but it is a day of celebration which is unrivaled in its uplifting spirit and its joy! I love that it is a time of renewal, it heralds in the Spring and everything feels bright and positive. It’s also a lovely time to spend with families, Easter holds so many sweet memories of being a child and being ridiculously excited to paint eggs and go on an Easter egg hunt with my sister.

My mother and I are one and the same when it comes to preparing for celebrations, we both love to decorate and bring the festivity into the house. I love that Easter is a time for beautiful flowers, everything is bright white and yellow and looks so pretty. My mother made us an Easter tree which is something we’ve done since Alice and I were little and it’s a special tradition for us 🙂

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Easter breakfast is always a big deal at our house. Croissants and chocolate – you can’t beat it! I’m wearing a skater dress from ASOS which is new and I thought the floral was perfect for the occasion. Don’t all of the flowers and eggs look perfect?

Now one of the best part of celebrations from my point of view is the food. And Easter Sunday definitely calls for a roast dinner, in our case roast lamb with roast potatoes, caramelised parsnips and cabbage, along with a generous pouring of gravy. So delicious, and just what we need as although the flowers are bright, it has not been a very sunny Easter, in fact it has been rather cold… This amazing plate was just the right kind of warming and comforting:

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Not only do I love the roasts, I get especially excited about the food for celebrations if there is an opportunity for me to bake! Easter is such a lovely festival that I had to make something a little special so I decided to make Nigella Lawson’s Easter Egg Nest Cake. It’s a flourless chocolate cake decorated with mini eggs and it is just adorable.

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It is a seriously chocolatey cake and I love how it looks, it’s the perfect Easter bake. Also, spot the absurdly cute chocolate bunny that my parents gave my sister and I. Chocolate may not be much to do with the true message of Easter but it doesn’t hurt…

I hope you have all had a very happy and blessed Easter!

Sophie x

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In Which Sophie Eats: Jamie’s Italian.

So for my birthday, I wanted to celebrate with my friends from home when everyone was back for the holidays and what better way to celebrate moving away from teenager years than some delicious (and rather sophisticated) cocktails? And of course, me being me, there had to be some food involved!

The logical choice for a good mix of tasty cocktails and scrumptious food in a good atmosphere was Jamie’s Italian. I’ve been a big Jamie Oliver fan for a long time, his cookbooks are great and I love his personality on TV, it made sense that I would then love his restaurants. Plus those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will know how much I adore pasta…

Jamie’s Italian has spread of restaurants of across Great Britain as well as some in Australia, Ireland, Singapore and Dubai so if you live in any of these countries and you haven’t been before I would definitely recommend trying it. There is a good choice of dishes from the pasta and risotto to fish dishes and very meaty dishes, it’s Italian food but with a typical Jamie Oliver twist.

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Florence Fizz – Limoncello, pomegranate juice, elderflower cordial & Prosecco

My cocktail was a lovely fruity, lemony, fizzy blend and went down a treat. We’d also definitely recommend the Bramble and the Pear & Rosemary Martini, which some of the others had and looked delish.

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It was awkward lighting for photos of people so I haven’t many but here are some of my gorgeous friends and one of me and Tom, you can see a little of the decor which I really like, and whilst the lighting wasn’t conducive to clearly focused photos, it made for a really relaxed atmosphere.

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Prawn Linguine – Fried garlicky prawns, shaved fennel, tomatoes, chilli & rocket

After our cocktails we moved onto food, and obviously I chose a pasta dish. One of the things I really like about Jamie’s Italian is that you can have a small or a regular portion of most of the pasta dishes and if you’re like me and you a) don’t have a massive appetite, and b) like to save room for dessert, it’s a great idea! So I decided to have the prawn linguine. The tomatoes which make up the sauce of the dish were lovely and fresh, there was just the right balance of chilli and garlic and I was really impressed by the generous number of prawns on the plate. Overall it was delicious and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Having mentioned the small portions allowing room for dessert, it follows that I had something sweet to finish off my meal!

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Poached Winter Fruits – With vanilla frozen yoghurt & smashed honeycomb

This had a really good flavour but I was a little disappointed with it. I guess I just expected the poached fruit to be hot and therefore be a nice contrast to the frozen yogurt, however the fruit was cold (and consequently a little hard). I was still nice though, if the fruit had been hot and there had been more honeycomb sprinkled on top it would have been a great dish.

I had a fantastic evening with my friends, the cocktails started the evening brilliantly, the food was great and the service was also really good, and I still go on being a big fan of Jamie Oliver’s!

Sophie x

A New Decade.

So today I turn 20. No longer a teenager.

I know some people dread the turn of the decade and long to stay 19 forever but not me. I never really felt like a teenager anyway!

This new decade feels so much more exciting, so much more full of opportunity, of possibility. I can’t wait to see what comes with the next ten years, I can only imagine how much my life will change. I will (hopefully!) graduate from university, I will decide what I want to do with my life, I will move house, probably move city, meet new people, do new things…

Today was a lovely day, I started out getting my hair done, met the lovely Baiba for a very speedy lunch, and then this evening I went out with Tom and my family for a delicious meal in town.

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Tempura battered squid with chilli jam

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Grilled gilt-head bream with salsa verde, french fries, and tenderstem broccoli

Thank you to everyone who made my birthday a lovely day, especially my sister for a very special present, my parents for lovely presents and a fantastic meal, and Tom for joining us to make my day more complete!

Sophie x 

The End of an Era?

So I mentioned last Sunday that things have changed for me when it comes to matters of my health. People who have read my blog for a while will know that for the last six years I have had to deal with various different problems – back pain, stiffness, extreme fatigue, dizziness, headaches, trouble standing and walking etc. To put it in a simple term, I have a condition called fibromyalgia. (If you want to read about it there are several posts in my Posts Worth a Read section.)

I have been going to the hospital, the doctors, and the physio for almost six years now and on Friday afternoon something happened. I was discharged from the hospital. 

Basically the doctors can do no more for me. There is no cure and I have tried the vast majority of the treatments available so for now, I’m on my own. It feels a little odd, I’ve been going to hospital for so long that it has become a part of my life (I’m aware that’s quite sad), I can’t imagine not going. But for now, unless my condition changes, I won’t be going back.

It’s not all bad though.

I am determined that if I am going to have to live with this condition, I am just going to live with it. I want to really LIVE. So in a way, no longer having to deal with all sorts of hospital appointments means that it will be easier for me to feel like I’m leading a normal life.

Being at university and living at home this year means that life is slightly on hold, or perhaps it’s just that it’s easier. I feel a little like I’m a bubble which is cushioning me from the difficulties of adult, working life. Next year I am moving out again to live with some lovely lovely people from uni and it will be a nice in between step to help me figure out how well I’m be able to cope with my condition on my own.

I don’t know what I want from life yet, I just know that I want to do something that makes me happy, surround myself with wonderful people, and carry on finding pleasure in the simple but beautiful things in life. Who knows where I’ll end up or what I’ll end up doing but for now, I just want to move forwards in my life.

Stay positive everyone!

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(I wanted to include this lovely image of spring as it has been horrible snowy weather here and I’m trying to pretend we have sunshine and blue skies! Is it snowing where you are?)

I hope you’ve all had a great weekend and enjoy the build up to Easter 🙂

Sophie x

In Which Sophie Eats : CĂ´te.

Tuesday was my sister’s birthday. In my family we have a tradition of going to the restaurant for everyone’s birthdays and of course Alice got to pick where she wanted to go. She chose CĂ´te, a French style restaurant with food inspired by Paris bistros sold at affordable prices. It’s a lovely restaurant with attentive, friendly waiters (they moved us to a window table because we were originally at an isolated table in a corner), simple decor, a relaxing atmosphere and a decent menu.

The Good Food Guide 2011 described CĂ´te as having “Robust French flavours, cheery continental vibes and brilliant value for money“.

Being a French style restaurant they specialise in meat and fish so perhaps not the ideal choice for vegetarians although they do have a couple of meat and fish free lighter options. It’s a great place to eat with a group of friends or to go for an after work meal. They have a decent selections of wines, beers, spirits and soft drinks and you can even treat yourself to a rather indulgent Kir Royale before your meal.

There is a definite theme with my meal – I went down the fishy, breadcrumbed, tartare route…

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Calamari – Breadcrumbed squid sautĂŠed in garlic, lemon, parsley and butter with tartare sauce

To start I went with the calamari because it is one of my absolute favourite dishes to eat in a restaurant and I was pleased I did. Sometimes calamari is a bit of a risk as, cooked badly, it can be somewhat rubbery and bland but this was lovely and the homemade tartare sauce was perfectly balanced. I polished off the entire thing!

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Cod Goujons – Breadcrumbed slices of cod fillet with frites and tartare sauce 

For my main course I chose the cod goujons which are essentially like posh fish fingers. These were excellent, the breadcrumb coating was really light, the fish inside was wonderfully cooked and came apart with my fork. The chips are just how I like them, perfectly golden, thin, and crispy. My advice for this dish is to order a vegetable side to accompany it, I went for the green salad, as to my taste it needs something fresh to go with it. Otherwise a great (if a little filling!) dish.

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Lemon Sorbet

Those of you who know me quite well will know that I have a major sweet tooth, certainly never let it be said that I am not a dessert kind of girl! However, after two delicious courses I was feeling pretty full so I opted for the light, refreshing option of sorbet. There’s not much to say about this other than it was the perfect way to finish off a delicious meal and meant that I left the restaurant without the taste of fish in my mouth.

All together I really enjoyed all of my food. If you are more of a meat lover than a fish person, my sister, her boyfriend, and my father all went with the sirloin steak, it looked and tasted really good (I stole a bite of Alice’s steak) and they would all definitely recommend it. We all had a lovely time celebrating Alice’s birthday with fantastic company and brilliant food and I would 100% recommend CĂ´te if you like French cuisine and are looking for a relaxing meal at a reasonable price. My sister and I now have plans to try out their breakfast menu in the near future!

Have you ever eaten at Côte?
Are you a fan of French cuisine?

Sophie x

Happy Day.

On the 19th March seventeen years ago, one of the best, most special people in my life, was born. My little sister Alice.

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Alice, you’re one of the funniest people I know, you always make everyone laugh, you’re also one of the most passionate people I know, and you are one of my best friends.

I have loved watching you grow up and each year I’m amazed at how much you’ve grown as a person. (And physically too, I can’t believe that you are now taller than me!) One of the absolute best things about transferring home this year has been being able to spend another year living with you. I just hope we’re as close for the rest of our lives 🙂

I love you so so much lovely girl, I hope you’ve had a fantastic birthday and I hope you have another great year!

Sophie x

Life Lately #3.

Happy Sunday and Happy St Patrick’s Day to any Irish folk out there!

I thought I’d come back with another Instagram round-up post to show you what I’ve been up to for the last few weeks. I adore my camera and I love how wonderful the photos turn out when I use it but Instagram is just fantastic for snapping quick photos throughout my week and I really like being able to share them with people straight away.

In the past few weeks I’ve been to visit Tom a couple of times, I’ve been out with my uni friends, sorted out my house for next year (so exciting!), written another essay – this time on the endings of Great Expectations and Ruth, been to the hospital, been shopping (oops), eaten a lot of delicious food, been to the theatre, baked a cake… I am developing an addiction to hot chocolates and I already have a lipstick and nail varnish addiction. It feels good to have my essay done, hopefully I’ll do well in it! Visiting Tom is always lovely, it’s the perfect time for me to relax with him and forget about all the stresses of daily life.

So here is my life in photos for the last few weeks (it’s pretty food heavy!):

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These just smell of spring | Chocolate croissant bread and butter pudding | Pancake day!

 

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Taramasalata love | Hot chocolate and almond croissant (the best kind) | Lasagna lunch

 

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Brunch in London | Film night pizza in front of The Hobbit | Snowdrops heralding the spring

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Daffodils | A spot of afternoon baking | Dressed for a neon themed birthday night out!

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Afternoon tea with Grandpa | Romeo and Juliet at the theatre | Breakfast

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Favourite speedy pasta | Pink | Orzo in a wok

 

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Feeding my addiction 😉 | Eggs for Sunday brunch | Essay writing with Poppy

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Delicious avocado on toast | Cheeky rhubarb and vanilla ice cream | Mini Revlon haul

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More… | The loveliest cafe – Notes in Covent Garden | Spaghetti with sun-dried tomatoes and red onions

I only have one more week of lectures before a three-week break for Easter and I have to say I absolutely can’t wait, lately I’ve been so tired that the holidays sound like a God-send! This Tuesday it’s my sister’s 17th birthday and I am baking her a triple layer chocolate cake with caramel buttercream (if all goes to plan anyway!). We’re going out for dinner too which should be fun. Then on Sunday Tom is coming back for a week’s holiday, the following Tuesday (the 26th) is my birthday 🙂 I have plans with friends for cocktails and dinner which I’m so looking forward too, I haven’t seen some of them in months. Then on the 28th Tom and I are celebrating our five year anniversary which feels amazing and somewhat astounding too!

What have you been doing in the past few weeks?
Do you have any time off at Easter? Any holiday plans?

Sophie x