Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Brunch at Ben's Canteen, Battersea

Ben's Canteen serves possibly my favourite type of food. And d'you know how I would describe that type? Delicious. 

Having visited for dinner a couple of times, I'd been thoroughly wooed by their burgers. But I was absolutely desperate to brunch at Ben's.

I seem to be getting into a habit of making my way over to Clapham/Battersea for brunch and then slowly ambling my way back to Brixton on a leisurely Saturday or Sunday. It's fun.

Ben's Canteen was buzzing when I arrived. Almost as buzzing as I was to be there. (Srsly, you should follow them on Insta as then you'll be the same.)

I went to their Battersea branch which has a fun, relaxed, friendly vibe - most conducive to brunching, I'm sure you'll agree.

My pal Alex and I sat ourselves down and prepared to satisfy our rumbling tummies.

The brunch menu at Ben's is so fabulous that I wanted to order just about everything. Sadly, however, eating five meals in one sitting is apparently a) frowned upon, and b) unhealthy, so I restrained myself.

Because Alex is a functioning human and not a borderline alco like me, he ordered a smoothie and I followed his lead - we both went for the tropical one.
Ngl, it tasted pretty much solely of pineapple but I for one am a big pineapple fan so this was cool with me.

Then it was time for the main affair.
I ordered the courgette and sweetcorn fritters and sweet lord, I bloody loved them.

Clearly deep-fried, they were super crisp outside and soft inside.
They were served with a perfect poached egg, halloumi (my fave), and sticky, sweet tomato chutney.

It was a decent-sized portion although I totally could've done with more halloumi. But then again, when do I ever not want more halloumi?

There were many textures and flavours which was particularly enjoyable given my our choice of sides.
We had the smashed avo with feta but it was actually more like guac - I am very particular about this because I LOVE smashed avo and don't particularly like guac because of the tomato. Blergh.
Unsurprisingly I also couldn't resist the cheesy hash browns. They were GREAT! Big, chunky delights. Why do people not add cheese to hash browns more? You should.
For his part, Alex had the burrito. He enjoyed it and said all the flavours really complemented each other well, although it could've been improved by more chorizo.

I love the crockery at Ben's too - trendy but a little bit kitsch.

To be honest it was one of the best brunches I've had in a long time and I'm already desperate to go back.

Alex and I were guests at Ben's Canteen but my opinion is unbiased and I will totally return and pay myself.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

On body positivity and chocolate

A few years ago, I started following a load of "fitspo" accounts on Instagram.

You know, they post gym selfies, colourful vegan meals and transformation pics showing how their bodies have gone from flat-stomach to defined-abs.

And you follow them in the hope that they might inspire you to be fitter, healthier, stronger, slimmer and better.

That they might help you lose a few pounds, muster the motivation to go to the gym when you just want to go home, and find the strength to resist the box of biscuits when it's passed round the office.

Lord knows it's bloody hard.
(Re the above: never get between a woman and a chocolate fountain.)

But I've recently realised that these Instagram accounts aren't helping me at all.

Because whenever I see pictures of these tiny women with their thigh-gaps, bikini-bridges and slim, toned bodies, it doesn't inspire me, it makes me feel bad about my own body.

I don't look like them. I have a wobbly tummy and a layer of squidge all over my body. I'm not even sure if I have ribs, collar- or cheekbones because you sure as hell can't see them.

Now I'm sure the women behind these Instagram accounts did not set out to make others feel bad about their looks.

I'm sure they want to inspire us.

But I've realised that's not what's happening to me.

I applaud the influencers lifting the curtain and revealing how you can make your body look completely different based on how you stand.

❌THIS IS NOT A TRANSFORMATION PHOTO❌ I've jumped on the #30secondbeforeandafter 🕐 challenge and have decided after much hesitation to share this photo. In the photo on the left I am tilting my pelvis forward, bloating my stomach as much as possible (btw I've got mad bloating skills), hunching my shoulders and slumping. In the photo on the right, I'm standing tall, I'm flexing my stomach, my spine is in proper alignment. Girls, for me this photo really reaffirmed how important it is to take your progress photos with the same posture, lighting, etc. It's not about how big of a transformation you've had. It's not about how skinny you appear to be or how heavy you were when you started your journey. It's not about how you compare to other girls who are on the same week as you. I'll tell you what it IS about: strength, integrity, fortitude--things we strive for each and every day that we wake up and choose to be honest with others, but first and foremost, honest with ourselves about our insecurities, our hopes, our struggles, our triumphs. At first this picture embarrassed me. I wasn't going to share it and I've hung onto it for days debating. I'm doing it now because it's REAL. So jump on the bandwagon or don't--either way, let's work together to keep this community transparent and goal driven! #transformationtuesday #not #honest
A post shared by Cristina Stief (@cristinastief) on

However more than that, I applaud body-positivity Instagrammers.

I recently decided to replace fitspo with body-posi, and d'you know what? I feel much better about myself.

When I first came across bodyposipanda, all I could think was "YAAAASSSS! My body looks like that! This is what most women look like! And she's BEAUTIFUL!"

I'm pretty sure the majority of women dislike their bodies which is totally sad. But I think the reason for that is we're told we have to be slim and toned, yet also have boobs and a bum and a waist and look womanly AND PRACTICALLY NONE OF US LOOK LIKE THAT!

Our bodies just don't do that.

And stressing out about not being slim takes up so much valuable brain space.

Think about how much more we could achieve if we stopped thinking about our bodies all the time?

I don't look like a Victoria's Secret model or a fitness blogger because I really really like chocolate.

I love it so much.

And this is why I'm thrilled to be teaming up with Ferrero Rocher and giving you guys the chance to win some delectable choccies.

They are hundy P some of my favourite chocolates of them all because I live for the chocolate-hazelnut combo - the crunchy roasted hazelnut pieces, the crisp wafer shell, the smooth chocolate...

Excuse me while I wipe drool off my keyboard.
The texture is so unique and I genuinely don't think there's any occasion that wouldn't be improved by a Ferrero Rocher (or three).

So here's what I want you to do: eat chocolate, enjoy it, and don't let yourself feel guilty afterwards.

It's not easy, it's really hard in fact (the not feeling guilty part - the eating part is exceptionally easy). I get food guilt really badly, but we need to stop being so hard on ourselves.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet and nourishing our bodies is important, but so is loving them.

And I don't know about you but chocolate makes me happy.

So enter below and win yourself some delicious chocolatey goodness!

Firstly, you should head to Ferrero Rocher's Facebook page and enter their March competition to win a dinner party for four cooked in your own home. The prize includes a starter, main course and the Dolce dessert plate, alongside drinks pairings, which sounds pretty sweet to me.

Oh, I've actually had the dessert plate and can confirm it is sweet as a nut. (Runners up get boxes of Ferrero Rocher too!)
You literally just comment on one of their posts to enter so you'd be a fool not to, really. A FOOL!

But that's not all, folks. I've also got a lovely little giveaway for you to enter.

I'm so thrilled to have five of these insanely awesome giant Ferrero Rochers (see pic further up this post) to give out to you lovely people so you can enjoy the chocolatey nutty goodness and feel fabulous and sassy and gorgeous like you are.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
So tell me, chums: how do you make sure to focus on feeling body positive and enjoying delicious things like Ferrero Rocher?

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Dinner and many many cocktails at Browns, Canary Wharf

'Tis a funny place, Canary Wharf. It's so shiny and corporate and I never have any reason to go there, but on the rare occasions I do, I do always find myself a bit in awe of the big buildings (and feeling like I'm in The Apprentice).

It's not a place I would ever think to go for dinner and yet that's where I was on Friday evening.

After getting rather lost on what should've been a seven-minute walk from the tube station, I made it to Browns by the river.

I'd never seen a Browns before I moved to Bristol for uni and for a long time I thought it was an independent restaurant. Yeah, lol. I was wrong. I believe there are about 25 branches of Browns across the UK so it's not exactly as chainy as Pizza Express, but there are a fair few.

I was looking forward to tasting some delicious things from their new menu.
My old school friend Tash and I kicked things off with cocktails and they were so fab that we drank different ones all the way through dinner. At around £7, the cocktails are really reasonably priced too (for London especially).

The place was packed and the vibe was fun.

We decided to get the sharing plate to start, and the staff kindly agreed to amend it a little for us.
Neither Tash nor I being huge pork fans, we asked if we could skip the pulled pork and pig cheek crostini and have more of everything else - 'chicken lollipops', salt and pepper squid, prawn cocktail, beetroot houmous and crostini.

It wasn't the most exciting sharing plate ever but it was perfectly nice. The bruschetta was crisp but the chicken was a bit oily for me.

On to the mains (and more cocktails)!
 Tash had the lobster risotto with parmesan, chives, courgette and lemon which she loved.
 I decided to have the beetroot and avocado salad with added feta.
Beetroot houmous, quinoa, avocado, asparagus, baby kale and feta - it was genuinely one of the best salads I've had in some time. I loved it.

It was also huge and just seemed like it wasn't going down, as much as I ate!

I absolutely loved that after I ordered my salad, our waitress asked, "Would you like some chips on the side?" Like, she literally read my mind.

That's like the law of having salad, right? You have to have chips as well? (And pudding?)
So yeah Tash and I got the truffle parmesan chunky chips and asparagus with hollandaise on the side.

The chips, were, amazing. So crisp! So fluffy! Could've done with a touch more truffle oil in my opinion and they were better once the cheese was meltier, but they were still fantastic.

And the asparagus was super too, even though I don't believe it's currently in season - not overcooked or stringy.

I did notice that there weren't loads of options for veggies on the menu, so you may want to bear that in mind if you're not a meat- or fish-eater.
For pudding we both decided to have the apple, cherry and almond crumble (and another cocktail).

It was HUGE, but I am always ok with that. It was also v hot, which is good.

Cherry and almond is always a winning combo in my book and I loved the almondy topping - Tash thought there wasn't enough topping in the crumble to fruit ratio, but I was on board with it.

I don't think the cherries were fresh, but I could be wrong - and hey, when they're in a crumble who really cares? The fresh berries on top were a random but nice touch.

All our cocktails had lovely fresh berry garnishes too which I loved. Probs got one of my five a day through sheer alcoholism.

It had been a delicious Friday evening that just happened to be in Canary Wharf.

Tash and I were guests at Browns but all opinions are my own, natch.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Pancakes and Prosecco (amongst other delicious things) at Bill's

How was Pancake Day for you? I’m pleased to say I had three different pancake sittings: there was the feast I had with my flatmates on Pancake Day Eve (don’t try and tell me it’s not a thing), the ludicrous live broadcast pancake-eating challenge I did for work, and then this sizeable dinner I had on actual Pancake Day evening.

And yes, you’d be correct in thinking I wasn’t exactly hungry given the pancake-eating challenge had been mere hours earlier, but a gal’s gotta eat, right? It’s Pancake Day!

This is not going to be of any use to you now, I'll concede, but Bill's were doing a rather swell pancake and Prosecco deal in the week leading up to the big day. And who can resist the lure of pancakes and Prosecco?

Not this gal.

And thankfully, neither could my willing chums, Anna and Frankie.

I'm not usually one to eat at chain restaurants, especially here in London where we're blessed with so many new, exciting, interesting independent eateries all the time. But I really do like Bill's. I like the interior, I like the menu and I like the whole ethos of the place.
We kicked things off with cocktails - bramble mojito for Frankie, ("enjoyable, fruity and alcoholic, would drink again") ginger smash for Anna ("strong but good - nice goblet") and a classic bellini for yours truly, which is always a winner in my books.
For starters we shared the spiced tortillas and crumbed halloumi sticks.
I've had the halloumi sticks before and they are so so tasty - the salty, soft, chewy cheese, warm, with a crisp coating... Just divine.

We definitely could've done with more than five of them tbh. Next time I'm ordering a portion just for myself.

The tortilla chips were a new one for me but were excellent - unlike Doritos (which are still delicious, for sure), they were homemade and super crisp. Spiced but not spicy (thanks God), we demolished them with the guacamole, tzatziki and red pepper tapenade.

On to the mains (and a bottle of Prosecco)...
I went for the chicken burger with added avocado and cheese, because avocado and cheese duh.
It was super tasty (I recommend adding cheese and avo to stop it being too dry) and I loved the chipotle mayo for my sweet potato fries. The girls thought the fries were a bit soggy, but for my part I thoroughly enjoyed them.

Anna opted for the South Indian fish curry.
She informed me she liked it and appreciated the curry's garnish, but would've preferred it a bit spicier.

Chicken skewers for Frankie...
Served with giant couscous salad and a flatbread, Frankie enjoyed the 'build your own' approach. She did, however, feel that the dish wasn't super flavoursome without the sauce.

Obviously by this point we were perfectly satisfied but it was Pancake Day so we were not done.
Banana split pancakes for Frankie - this was a stack of three pancakes layered up with strawberries, banana and ice cream. Hard to go wrong there really, isn't it?
Lemon cheesecake pancakes for Anna - she loved the lemony filling, but wasn't 100% convinced by the cool creamy centre and the warm pancakes. Horses for courses eh?
And salted caramel pancakes for me. Served with a sprinkling of cinnamon, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a sprig of mint, mine were undoubtedly the simplest of the three pancake dishes.

So I was super pleased when Frankie offered me her banana (she's not a fan) - I do feel my pancakes could've done with some caramelised nuts or fruits to add a bit more pizzazz, but they were still delicious as they were.

I really enjoyed how despite the fact that the actual pancakes were the same in all three dishes, each was very differently presented.

Needless to say we practically rolled home - happy and flipping full. It had been delightful.

Frankie, Anna and I were guests at Bill's but all opinions are unbiased.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
© Handbags and Cupcakes. All rights reserved.