Celebration

Happy Easter!

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

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 馃檪

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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聽skater聽dress from ASOS聽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聽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聽scrumptious food in a good atmosphere was Jamie’s Italian. I’ve been a big Jamie Oliver fan for a long聽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聽–聽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聽–聽Fried garlicky prawns, shaved聽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聽thoroughly聽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聽–聽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

In Which Sophie Eats : C么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聽C么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 2011described聽C么te聽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 –聽Breadcrumbed squid saut茅ed 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 –聽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聽C么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聽C么te?
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聽you are now taller than me!)聽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 馃檪

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

Small Steps.

Ah life’s little ups and downs. You learn to take each day as it comes.

This weekend I was reminded of how rich my life is despite anything that may seem to be difficult or draining.

I have a wonderful partner who makes still makes me incredibly happy after almost five years. (Our five year anniversary is in just over a month!) I have the support of a fantastic family who always have time for each other in times of need and when the good times roll in. And I have some great friends, both old and new, there are some lovely people without whom my life wouldn’t be anywhere near as enjoyable.

Recently I’ve been on a slightly downwards sloped hill. My fatigue has been hitting me particularly badly and it just makes everything that little bit more difficult. I wake up every morning feeling sore and stiff and it takes me a couple of hours to feel fully able. It’s tough but I always take the time to stop and think: it could be聽so much聽worse.

And it really could.

There are so many people who have huge聽challenges聽to surmount in life, so many people who suffer, so many trials that are pushed on people completely outside of their control. I can’t imagine what it is like for those who truly suffer.

The other day a few people at uni commented how chirpy and positive and perky I always am and it made me realise how good I am at presenting the majority of the world with a happy front. It’s not really a facade, I am genuinely quite a happy, optimistic person. It’s more my way of keeping life going, of not giving in to my condition, of getting on with the world.

So I will continue smiling, continue saying hello to everyone I meet, continue enjoying the simple things in life and getting excited at the smallest positives, and just continue feeling lucky that I get to be the way I am.

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I hope you all had a brilliant start to the week!

Stay bright and chirpy for me 馃槈

Sophie x

Life Lately.

Having had a week mostly by myself with plenty of time to catch up on sleep and relax, I have to say that I needed this extra week off. I hope everyone who is back at work aren’t finding going back after the holidays too difficult, I imagine you’ve been looking forward to the weekend!

This week I had a lovely evening with my sister at one of our favourite eateries… (can you guess where?)

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Wagamama! (Of course)

Alice had the Chicken Katsu Curry which was absolutely delicious, I loved the breadcrumbs on the chicken.

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Isn’t my little sister (who is actually taller than me!) pretty?

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I went for a dish I haven’t tried before called Yasai Yaki Soba and it was fantastic. It’s a vegetarian noodle dish full of vegetables and lovely flavours. I’m glad that I pushed myself away from my comfort zone and the dish I always get, this was definitely worth trying! If you live in the UK you should definitely check Wagamama out 馃檪

The rest of my week has been pretty calm. I’ve spent my days doing chores, baking, reading, writing and watching nature programs on my laptop. All the whilst cuddled up with Poppy obviously, she makes for the best company.

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This is more or less what my days have looked like this week.

I’m currently reading Adam Bede by George Eliot and so far I much prefer it to聽Middlemarch.聽So far this January I’ve read聽The Bell Jar聽by Sylvia Plath and聽Artful聽by Ali Smith. I have plans to write mini reviews of the books I read before term starts, sound good?

Tomorrow is my Father’s birthday and I have a fantastic present for him, can’t wait till he opens it! We’re about to go out for lunch with my Grandfather to celebrate and then tomorrow evening my Father has picked his favourite meal for dinner – steak with peppercorn sauce and chips. So lots more good food to be had…

Have a great weekend lovely people!

Sophie x