31 August 2013

New Flavours - Bar Soba - Edinburgh

One place Jess and I went to eat while I was visiting her in Edinburgh was Bar Soba. We were actually looking for one of my favourite restaurants, Tampopo, but the directions on google maps took us here instead. Apparently there is no Tampopo in Edinburgh after all! Ah well, we had some tasty south-east asian food at Bar Soba, and I like to visit new places, even if the Vietnamese crystal rolls I love so much weren't on the menu.

Bar Soba is a bar and kitchen that serves pan asian food and cocktails in Edinburgh and Glasgow. If you like Wagamama and Tampopo then you should check out this place. I am a big fan of asian food - the option of spicy and mild dishes is what attracts me - and Bar Soba certainly delivered.

Jess ordered the pad thai and some sort of potato side which I cannot for the life of me remember the name of, while I opted for two starters as I wasn't feeling that hungry (for some bizarre reason!)

I cannot even begin to describe how interesting my two little dishes were. On the left is the prawn and coconut skewer with a dip which I can only describe as a chilli mayonnaise, but I'm sure it was much more complex and interesting than that! It was absolutely incredible. The crunchiness of the deep fried coconut coating was amazing dipped in the mayo, and when I bit into each prawn steam came sweeping out and this sign of freshness pleased me very much! It had such a unique taste and texture to it, I could have eaten a few more despite my lack of appetite.

I ordered the pad thai spring rolls as a substitute for the crystal rolls I love so much. Unfortunately Soba Bar did not have these on the menu! However, these pad thai spring rolls served with a teriaki sauce were absolutely divine. They were sweet and had just the right amount of crunch and filling, and they weren't greasy at all. I was expecting prawns inside these spring rolls, but it was all vegetables - not complaining though, they were perfect as they were.

The only down side about our visit was the service. Upon arrival we were waiting a good few minutes before we realised we weren't going to be greeted or seated. Jess and I approached the bar to ask if it was seat yourself or wait to be seated. A waiter soon came to take us to a table and while they were attentive they were great, but didn't have much consistency. We left early because our second order of drinks never arrived. It's a shame because the setting was beautiful and the food was incredible, but the service was just not up to scratch.

However, I would recommend a visit to this neat little bar and restaurant, as they are open til 3am and the food was fantastic! Perhaps we just went on a bad day?

28 August 2013

Rings and Things

Recently I've been wearing lots of rings. Ever since my Grandpa gave me this beautiful white gold infinity ring for my 21st Birthday I have been keen to decorate the rest of my fingers. Well, maybe not all of them. I don't want to look like Jacqueline Wilson, as much as I loved her when I was little. 
My ring was custom made at RJ Spicer in Cheltenham and I absolutely love it. 

I love the trend of wearing a ring above the knuckle, but it wasn't until last week that I saw them in the shops and bought a few for myself to wear. The twisted band midi ring is my favourite and it was from Urban Outfitters. I like to wear it either on my index finger or my middle finger, but it fits on my little finger, too. The other three rings are from Forever 21. 

I love The Bohemian Collective's above the knuckle rings, especially the rose gold ones, but if you're on a budget like me, Urban Outfitters and Forever 21 do some really cool ones for a fraction of the price.

I have also been trying to take better care of my nails so that they look nicer when I wear my rings. At the moment I am wearing: OPI Nail Envy (which, by the way has been a life safer for my weak and bendy nails), Chanel Paradoxal and Revlon top coat.

Are you a fan of above the knuckle rings?

26 August 2013

Devilishly Different - Fudge Kitchen - Edinburgh

When I was little I lived in Kent and there was a special fudge shop in Canterbury that my Mum and I visited every time we were shopping. The quaint shop wafted maple and butterscotch scents down the cobbled streets and my we could never resist the free samples of this warm, delicious, freshly made fudge.

Up until a couple of years ago I thought this fudge shop was exclusive to Canterbury! Oh how happy I was when I found out that there were branches all across Britain in Oxford, Bath, York, Windsor, Cambridge, Ripon and Edinburgh. I visited the Bath Fudge Kitchen last summer, and because I was visiting Edinburgh I had to find their branch too and get my free sample as well as a slab of a fudge in a flavour I had yet to try.

If you don't like typical touristy-chewy fudge, don't be put off. Fudge Kitchen use cream instead of butter which gives a unique texture and flavour, different from any fudge you have ever tried before and it tastes absolutely amazing.
I think it's so cool that they make the fudge right there in the shop in front of you. Everything is done so traditionally and I love the old fashioned feel about the place.

After a long walk down the high street in the old town in Edinburgh, I found the fudge kitchen and it was unsurprisingly busy. I headed in and was greeted by the very friendly gentlemen working behind the counter. The man pictured above was handing out samples of a warm batch of freshly made mint chocolate fudge - absolutely divine but I wanted to get something I hadn't tried before.

They also sell a range of sauces, drinking fudges, gift packages as well as gourmet butter fudge for those who like a more traditional taste. I've had the chocolate orange fudge sauce and made some super fudgey brownies with it, as well as a drinking fudge gift set last Christmas. All dee-licious but the original fudge wins hands down every time.

When I saw 'mocha choca swirl' behind the glass counter I had to get it because chocolate and coffee has to be one of my favourite flavour combinations ever. There is the worrying possibility that the coffee isn't as distinct as I like, which so often happens in coffee cakes I try when visiting cafes, but the Fudge Kitchen got it just right, balancing the chocolate, coffee and original fudge flavour perfectly. I intended to keep some for my family when I returned back to Wales but I ate most of it... Whoops.

Mmm mm mmmmmm. 

This fudge isn't cheap, but as a special treat I think it's worth the £4-£5 a slice it costs.

You can check out their website here where you can buy their products if you don't live near any of the shops. They make perfect Christmas presents - but be careful, the original fudge is fresh with no additives or preservatives so it only lasts ten days after purchasing. (Gourmet butter fudge lasts longer and they stock it in some stores such as Lakeland and Debenhams).

Have you visited any of the fudge kitchen shops? I think it's such an experience just to go in. The staff are always super friendly and lovely, and the smell of the place just... Oh my goodness. I would love to work there if I lived in any of the towns/cities in which they are based. A box of fudge kitchen fudge is definitely on my Christmas list this year.

24 August 2013

Review - Brunch at The Other Place - Edinburgh

Last week I travelled up to Scotland to see one of my oldest and best friends, Jess. She is currently working at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe at Assembly Rooms as a stage manager for The Shawshank Redemption! Another post will be dedicated to that astounding production but for now I have to write about this great place in the new town - 'The Other Place.'

I arrived late afternoon last Wednesday and wandered around the beautiful city before meeting Jess and embarking on an exciting first night. Of course, the next day we were feeling a little fragile so on our way into town we passed this place, doors and windows wide open, a friendly welcoming vibe about the place drew us in and we sat down for some brunch.

I personally think everyone in Scotland is a million times more friendly than anywhere else in Britain, and the service at The Other Place was no excellent. We were promptly served our drinks by a casually dressed, yet smart and friendly waiter and waitress and when we had finished them we were quickly offered top ups. It took us a while to choose what to have to eat; there was a fair amount to choose from and different sized dishes which I liked because I often only have room for something small.

Eventually I settled on a simple but classic BLT. Jess opted for the 'Lonely Dog' one of the hot dogs on the menu with onions as an extra. There was a bit of a wait for the food but as the kitchen is visible from the seating area we could see that everything was being made fresh and to order, and we were in no rush.

Jess's Lonely Dog was a mix of beef and pork and served in a long bun with lots of onions. It was yummay! 

And here is my BLT... *Salivates*

I can't remember the last time I ordered a BLT, but I'm so glad I did because it was AHMAZIN. The bread was perfect - really rustic. The bacon was cooked well, but not too crispy, and the lettuce and tomatoes were fresh and flavoursome - not at all soggy. It was all glued together with the right amount of mayo and served with a side of coleslaw. It gave me that much needed energy for my second day exploring Edinburgh.

'The Other Place' was reasonably priced - Jess's hot dog came to £7.50 and my sandwich £6. For such fresh and good quality food I was very impressed, and I liked the fact that their menu for lunch was the same at dinner time too. A lot of places up the prices come six o'clock which I don't think is fair. 'The Other Place' charge the same amount no matter what time of day and I think that makes them really stand out.

If you've ever visited 'The Other Place' in Edinburgh I'd love to know what you thought. They have a website which you can check out here. Are there are any other places you would recommend to eat? Tweet me @hello_flower or let me know in the comment box below.

13 August 2013

Homegrown Summer Bean & Herby Feta Salad

I'm not usually a salad lover. I like pasta, sandwiches, cake... But when my parents went away for two weeks and left Sarah and I to look after their vegetables in the garden we found ourselves picking the beans from my Dad's raised bed every day and Sarah came up with a seriously tasty summer green bean salad that I cannot get enough of. I couldn't wait to share it on here because it was that good and now I just want it to be bean season all year round!

There were three types of beans that we picked from my Dad's raised bed: green beans, broad beans (both pictured above) and sugar snap peas. The sugar snap peas are my favourite - sweet and crunchy and super yummy paired with the salty feta.

Pre-dinner drinks and nibbles. Sipsmith is like Pimms, but better. It's paler in colour - pinker, and it has a fresher, peachier flavour. Just tastes great, and the bottle is dead snazzy too. 

Sarah mixing up the cooked beans with some red onion and lettuce leaves.

Mmmm, just looking at that makes me want to make it again right now. That feta! My plate is looking a little empty and I'm not sure why?! Maybe I needed more salad ;) I definitely helped myself to seconds.

Recipe for Homegrown Summer Bean & Herby Feta Salad
Prep & cook time: about 10 minutes.

  • Sugar snap peas, washed and trimmed
  • Broad beans, washed and podded
  • Green beans, washed and trimmed
  • Fresh parsley, washed and finely chopped
  • Spring onion, finely sliced
  • Chives, wash and finely chopped
  • Green leaves of your choice 
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Few tablespoons of rapeseed oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Feta cheese cut into small squares.
I haven't put specific amounts because it really is done by eye. Just go with however much you think you'll eat - if you don't finish it you can put it in the fridge for tomorrow's lunch. 

  1. Cook the beans in a little water for a few minutes - just until they're cooked but still have a slight crunch.
  2. Meanwhile, mix together the rapeseed oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Add the chopped chives and parsley. Coat the feta cheese in the dressing.
  3. Add the beans, lettuce, spring onion and herby feta to a salad bowl and toss together. Add the remainder of the dressing to the salad.
  4. Eat and enjoy!
You can obviously chop and change whatever you want with this salad but I think the main components - the feta, beans and the dressing - work really well together. Thanks to Sarah for coming up with this great summer dish. It's a keeper.

Do you have any favourite summer salads? Let me know in the comment box below. I'd love to hear from you!


9 August 2013

Review - Afternoon Tea at The Angel - Abergavenny

To celebrate my degree results my parents, eldest sister, brother and I went for afternoon tea at the gorgeous Angel Hotel in Abergavenny. It was a boiling hot day so we sat in the courtyard where parties were gathered with pitchers of Pimms and glasses of wine. The atmosphere was relaxed yet sophisticated, and as always The Angel delivered exceptionally.

The hotel also has a bar and restaurant, both of which I have been to and been served outstanding food and drink. A little on the pricey side, The Angel is definitely for special occasions like achieving a first in your degree ;)
If you are looking to dine somewhere luxurious in the town centre of Abergavenny, The Angel is the place to go. It is just a five and ten minute walk from the bus and train station and is situated smack bang in the middle of the bustling market town. 

Now, onto my favourite part - the tea!

The range of teas on offer is incredible. There are more than 30 to choose from and my eyes darted straight to the green tea section - big fan; can't go a day without the stuff. I always like to try something new so I chose the 'Flowering Osmanthus.'

Described on the menu as fresh and fruity with hints of apricot and ripe peach as well as jasmine, osmanthus and China lily flowers, I couldn't resist as I loved the sound of all those things. The biggest attraction for me was the fact that it came in a clear glass teapot so I could see the flower blossoming in the pot - beautiful.

My Mum chose her usual cafetiere of strong black coffee, my Dad an English breakfast tea and Sarah and Craig, Vanilla tea. 

The afternoon tea came out in stacks of stunning plates that sat strategically on the wooden table - we did have a minor accident (clumsy me!) but the waiting staff were excellent and cleaned up the spilt coffee and replaced the few cakes that were dropped. 

On the top plate were sliced strawberries topped with cream poured by the lovely waitresses. The second plate underneath held the decadent selection of cakes and pastries: (rum baba, custard slice, chocolate & raspberry swiss roll, carrot cake, strawberry shortcake, profiteroles, banoffee pie). And on the bottom plate were four types of sandwiches: (savoury cheese, smoked salmon, ham and egg). I gave my cheese and egg sandwiches to my Mum and Dad - I wasn't too keen on those fillings but the salmon and ham sandwiches were spot on.

Soon after we had finished nibbling on our sandwiches, fruit and cakes, the waiter and waitresses brought out our scones. They were warm and dusted with icing sugar, served with a bowl of thick cream and strawberry jam. 
Now, I have heard that everyone assembles their scone differently, and I didn't know there was such an art to it until recently, but after a bit of trial and error I found that I prefer to put the jam on first, then the cream. Just, yum.

If you have never heard of, or been to The Angel then I would definitely recommend a visit if you are ever passing Abergavenny. It is such a gem and the afternoon tea I reviewed in this post was actually the winner of the Tea Guild Award of Excellence 2013 which I think is a fantastic achievement. 

To read more about The Angel and to book a room, table or just to have a nosey, check out their website at: www.angelabergavenny.comand let me know your favourite tea room in the comment box below - I am always looking for new ones to visit!

6 August 2013

Review - Cafe Moochoo - Cheltenham

A couple of weeks ago I went to visit one of my favourite cafes in Cheltenham with my sister, Emily. We were out shopping for the day and fancied something light for lunch.
I discovered Cafe Moochoo in 2012 when I was wandering down the end of town I never usually venture towards because once you get past New Look, it isn't the most aesthetically pleasing area. 
However, if you give it a chance there are some lovely second hand book shops and pubs down this end of the spa town and the relaxed, homemade look about Cafe Moochoo drew me in.

The staff are lovely! Last summer when I lived in a flat a bit further down from this area I was in Moochoo's for my falafel wrap at least once a week. Safe to say they knew my order by the time uni started again and I had to move back to the other side of town.

If you like simple, nice food then Cafe Moochoo is worth a visit. They have a variety of wraps, sandwiches and paninis on offer as well as soup and a hot meal of the day. They also have homemade cakes and sausage rolls on display in the front window which are extremely hard to resist, and at about £1.50 each you can't go wrong with a slice of chocolate cake made by the lovely Lara.

Emily chose lemon San Pellegrino and I chose orange. Both refreshing and quite possibly the best carbonated soft drinks out there.

Everything is affordable and delicious but I can't help but order the same thing every time I visit. The falafel wraps are the best I have ever tasted. They are filled with little falafels, mango chutney and a tomato and red onion salad-relish, an excellent combination of flavours that I never would have thought to put together myself. 
The sweet mango chutney and the cool tomato and onion salad-relish compliment the spicy falafels perfectly.

What I love about this place is that when you order a sandwich, that's what you get, and that's what you pay for. Unlike most cafes these days that charge £5+ for a sandwich and then serve it with crisps and salad you didn't ask for, Moochoo serve what they state on the menu, and you can get the crisps and salad as extras if you really want them.

Emily had a sweet chilli chorizo and mozzarella panini - another tasty combo I have never come across before. 
We were stuffed by the time we'd finished so we passed on the cakes that day and got back to shopping.

Have you ever visited Cafe Moochoo? Is there a similar cafe in the town/city where you live? I love these types of places to eat so let me know your recommendations in the comment box below.


4 August 2013

Morning Bakes - Grandma's Pancakes

Since moving back home from University I have had quite a lot of time on my hands. I have cleaned and sorted out my entire bedroom, washed numerous items of clothing to get rid of the horrid smoke smell from my uni house (previous tenants' habits!), job searched, and in between all that boring stuff, baked!

My oldest sister, Sarah is also living at home at the moment studying for a Masters. She has Fridays off so I decided to make us some brunch. Sarah requested pancakes, and in our house pancakes are the scotch/American type, served with lots of Lurpak and a beverage of your choice. I choose coffee. Strong and black.

Grandma's pancakes come from a very old, tattered and dusted with flour green recipe book. Each recipe is handwritten by my Mum, and many of them were recipes from her Mum, this one included.
Everyone loves these pancakes. I have never had a single complaint. I won my uni friends over when I made these in halls way back in first year, and have made them on pancake day and lazy mornings ever since.

The best part about these pancakes is they are super quick and easy to make. They come out fluffy and brown like the stacks you get in American diners, and are delicious hot or cold. I smothered mine with peanut butter and sliced banana, almond butter and sliced strawberries, and simply strawberry jam. Other toppings I love: nutella, blueberry syrup, maple syrup - any kind of syrup, and of course, nut butter.

If you try this recipe I'd love to hear how your batch turns out. Or is there an irreplaceable pancake recipe in your household? Let me know in the comment box below!

Recipe for Grandma's Pancakes

Makes about 16 pancakes

You will need:
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 25g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 tbsp milk 
  • Pinch salt
  1. In a mixing bowl, rub together the butter, sugar and flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk. Add a pinch of salt.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a knob of butter in a frying pan on a low heat.
  4. Pour the egg and milk mixture into the flour, sugar and butter mixture and stir with a metal spoon.
  5. Spoon a dessertspoonful of the pancake batter into the pan - it should fit about three. Cook until little bubbles start to appear and pop on the top side of the pancake. Then flip with a fish slice and cook for a further minute or so.
  6. Serve hot or cold and eat either plain or with a topping of your choice.
NB To make a wheat-free variety, replace the self-raising flour with 190g spelt flour and 10g baking powder.
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