Kuriya Keiko: A Masterclass in Sushi

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I love re-creating my favourite dishes at home, but some of them are more intricate than others. Sushi is one of those dishes. The California roll may not be authentic Japanese sushi (not surprisingly) but it is a great lunch staple, especially in the hotter months. In fact in the Summer you’ll find me rolling sushi most evenings, as it’s as healthy as it is tasty. So when Zomato invited me to a sushi-making masterclass at Kuriya Keiko – a Japanese restaurant-come-cookery workshop space in Islington – I was eager to learn more.

We started the evening with a plum wine cocktail (heavenly) and an introduction by Keiko, who told us all about her background as a chef, and her love for sushi. She proceeded to teach us all the best way to prepare sushi rice (1.15 cup of water to 1 rice), before giving us an in-depth tutorial of how to make a California Roll, and an Inside Out Roll – the latter being the more technical of the two. Keiko was vibrant and energetic, offering us words of advice and encouragement as we battled with our rice (key tip: keep your hands wet!). We were given ingredients to place inside the rolls, such as smoked salmon, avocado and ham. Yes, ham! Keiko told us how she loves experimenting with flavours, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear that one of her favourites is Italian ham and olives – certainly not your usual Japanese flavour combo.

After we were all finished with our creations, we were told to tuck in. They always say something tastes better if it’s made by your own hands, and I would have to agree. My sushi tasted so much more tangy and refreshing than any I had made before. It reignited my love for the simple California Roll, and I made a pact that from here on out I would always make it this scrumptious. As we ate, Keiko gave us a presentation on how to make another Japanese favourite – gyoza. Afterwards we were given some freshly made gyoza to try, accompanied by a traditional sake from Kyoto. I love gyoza so much that I actually burnt my mouth as I shovelled in one of the delectable dumplings. The moral of the story? Wait for your food to cool down before you eat it!

Kuriya Keiko often holds cookery workshops and you can get involved at a great price! I would highly recommend it for food lovers, and fans of sushi. Doing it with a friend or group is even more fun too.

We also enjoyed a lovely meal after our masterclass, but that’s another story for another post.
You can read more of my restaurant reviews on Zomato.

The Bloggers Cake School with Konditor and Cook

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My baking skills have drastically improved in the past few years, although I still have a long way to go. If I had to sum up my baking technique it would be all substance and no style. For all of the delicious cookies I have made, there are a ton of badly decorated cakes. As happy as I am with my technique, I would love to be able to create something beautiful too. So when Nuffnang invited me to a bloggers cake school event with Konditor & Cook, I knew I had to say yes.

We started the evening with a short introduction to Konditor and Cook. One I did not actually need, as I am a regular customer at their stores. Even so it was lovely to hear how passionate the brand is about bringing delicious food to their customers. Laure was our teacher for the evening, and she began by showing us how to create a pipping bag from scratch and how to do some basic piping techniques – among them, hearts and calligraphy. Of course we all got stuck in straightaway, practising on a few biscuits Laure had given us. I tried my hand at creating a gingerbread self-portrait…until I ran out of icing and gave up. I don’t think I did too bad (just look at that pout), but it’s safe to say my fellow bloggers definitely showed me up. Still, I was optimistic about my cake…

The Curly Wurly cake is definitely one of my favourites at Konditor & Cook. I can’t even begin to describe how deliciously chocolatey and indulgent it is. Everyone really must try it! I decided to go for a chic, minimalist design for the top of my Curly Wurly cake, so I went for polka dots (read: I wanted to do the least amount of damage possible)! The final product didn’t turn out too bad, and when I shared it with friends the next day they were all too busy saying how delicious it was to bother with the decoration. Luckily I was saved by K&C’s expert baking!

I had a wonderful time at the first Bloggers Cake School and I left feeling that my decoration skills had certainly improved. Now I just need to get practising at home on my own creations. Luckily I left with Konditor and Cook’s new recipe book Deservedly Legendary Baking, and a few treats to nibble on whilst I plan my next big bake!

Christmas at Hyper Japan

This year saw the first Hyper Japan Christmas Market come to Kensington, Olympia. Compared to the Summer HJ event, this one was much smaller, but they still managed to fit in a whole lot of stuff to see and do. As for the Christmas aspect, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It turned out to not really be as festive as I had hoped, with only a few exhibitors bringing Christmas themed items (such as Roxie Sweetheart). Maybe because it was held in November it was a little difficult for people to come round to the idea. Still, the tree in the middle of the hall helped a bit.

Keep an eye on my Hyper Japan tag to see more on fashion & beauty at the HJ Christmas market.

Japanese Fashion at Hyper Japan Christmas Market 2014

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Intricate headpieces from Le Chateau des Gateaux
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Accessories and Kokokim from Dreamy Bows

Traditional Japanese fabric designs from Kokon
Tie-dye boots from Typical Freaks

It may seem only a few months ago that I was at Hyper Japan. Well that’s because I was. No, another year has not passed that quickly. This November the Japanese culture expo has opened it’s doors for the Hyper Japan Christmas Market for the first time.“HYPER JAPAN brings a Christmas market you won’t find anywhere else. Don’t miss the chance to source truly unique gifts; from food and drink to videogames, anime and fashion.Whether you want to find gifts for loved ones or immerse yourself in Japanese culture, the HYPER JAPAN market has something for everyone. Experience premium sake and traditional treats such as takoyaki at Eat-Japan and give your festive feast an Eastern twist at live cookery demonstrations.

Once you’ve filled up on delicious snacks, discover genuine anime character merchandise and take part in gaming tournaments with the latest releases. If you have a passion for fashion, get an exclusive look at the HYPER J-STYLE collection on the runway with a mixture of the latest trends and classic looks. Plus, you can recreate the hottest hair and beauty styles with demonstrations to help perfect your new look.”

I stopped by to see what they had on offer, so I’ve decided to bring you all the fashion, beauty, food and kawaii in the usual manner. Keep an eye on my Hyper Japan tag to see more.

Feeding a Fashion Bloggers Addiction…

Some might think us fashion bloggers are a lost cause. Buying up new pieces as soon as they hit the shelves. Constantly placing new items on eBay to help fund our addiction. Reinforcing our wardrobe poles so they don’t break in half from the weight of all our clothes…I could go on and on. Thankfully, Voucher Codes came up with a solution for all our problems – the VC Swap Shop. An event where bloggers could bring their old/unused clothing items and swap them with pieces from other bloggers and high street/designer stores.

You may remember that I visited the last VC Swap Shop back in February. This time round I had more of an idea of what to expect. So I headed down to The Music Rooms with Sarah, Sara and Steph (we also picked up Catherine on the way). We had our tote bags ready, full of once-loved (but never forgotten) pieces. After collecting our point we grabbed a delicious Grapetini before scouting out the venue. Vanity Van were there to bring a bit of glitz to the event (see my burlesque ready glitter lips). Anna Mae tempted us with her delectable Mac & Cheese, and the Rife guys were there to help us capture it all with an Instagram Polaroid. In fact there was so much going on that I didn’t get the chance to see and do everything. The highlight of the night though was not the clothes or the entertainment, it was seeing so many lovely familiar faces.

What did I get? Well I’m not going to tell all just yet, but if you keep an eye out on my Twitter and Instagram you may see some sneak peeks.

Where to Eat in London: The Cicchetti Bar, at Piccolino

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The Cicchetti Bar, at Piccolino* | Dinner/Bar | Mayfair | Website
– reservations available –

Like most Londoners I avoid Oxford Circus like the plague. Pair that with living in East London and you’ve got one little lady who does not often venture into the dark realms of tourist hell – aka Regents Street. However that all changed when V.A (of Chopstickpanorama) invited me along to Piccolino’s new Cicchetti bar. An Italian friend had actually been recommending cicchetti (Italian tapas) to me a few days earlier, that had to be more than a coincidence, right?

Piccolino itself is nestled amongst a small set of restaurants in Heddon Street, just off Regent Street. The quiet courtyard feels miles away from the hustle and bustle of the main road, which accompanied with the fairy lights hanging above, gives it an almost fairytale-like quality. When we arrived at Piccolino we were greeted by the hostess who kindly showed us down to the cicchetti bar in the basement. The bar has just been renovated in a somewhat contemporary take on art deco. One wall is covered by large sections of mirror, which reflect the bar taking pride of place in the centre of the room. The dark green, black and gold accents won me over straightaway.

We were offered a selection of cichetti as we waited on two bellinis at the bar. I started with the ‘bruschetta con burrito e fichi’ (Turkish black fig on mozzarella and toasted ciabatta), which was refreshing, but slightly bland. However we followed it with a slice of crispy ‘picante pizzette’ (spicy calabrian sausage, roast red pepper, tomato and mozzarella pizza slice), which had tons of flavour – namely spice. It sat on the verge of being too hot for me to handle, but that made me enjoy it even more. Of course you can’t have Italian without Arancini, and the ‘Arancini Bolognese’ (Sicilian risotto rice fritter, beef ragu, peas and mozzarella cheese) was not a let down. The ‘spiedini di pollo’ (skewered chicken wrapped in pancetta) was tender, juicy, and perfectly salty. It was my favourite, alongside the ‘zucca fritta’ (crispy fried pumpkin and sage) which was so incredibly delicious I was left craving more – the foodie’s sign of a perfect dish. Oh yes, the bellinis! I’d almost forgotten about them amongst the heaps of food I’ve been fondly recalling for you. As far as cocktails go, it wasn’t the best bellini Ive ever had, but it wasn’t the worst.

For my first taste of cichetti I was pleasantly surprised. The experience left me wanting more, as did the menu. I love sharing food and connecting over it, so I can’t think of anything better than heading to the bar after an evening of press events. I’ll certainly be going back, and I’ll be bringing my friends with me.

You can read more of my restaurant reviews on Zomato.

My Trip to The Organic Pharmacy

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What do you do when a lone parent visits you in London and demands entertainment? You take them to be
pampered of course!

I had only told my mum about my secret plans the night before, but her excitement had reached fever pitch by
the time we arrived at The Organic Pharmacy’s Covent Garden store. We were greeted with green smoothies – my favourite! Our invitation? A morning of facials, health consultations and makeovers.
After we were introduced to the staff, my mum was whisked away for her first treatment. Although she was slightly embarrassed to admit it, it was her first facial. I could hear her giggles (a family trait) from the other side of the treatment room door, but they soon subsided as she fell into a pleasantly relaxed state (I was told after). It was around this time that I went in to have my health consultation. My consultant was named Ursula – a lovely lady who made me feel completely at ease. I was to have a treatment to gauge my vitamin and mineral levels. This meant having various wires and straps attached to me – I felt as though I’d been given the starring role in a sci-fi movie. Thankfully nothing untoward happened, and it turned out that my levels were pretty spot on, apart from a couple that needed to be worked on. However Urusula told me that I could combat these by eating certain foods, and taking particular supplements. After our consultation she handed me some notes about my results, with recommendations on products and
techniques for me to try out. I left with some tablets and a view to start meditating again.
As my mum went for her makeover it was my turn for a facial, and it was every bit as relaxing as my mum’s. After a good exfoliation, cleansing and moisturising treatment I was ready to fall asleep. I have a habit of falling asleep during massages, facials…even whilst getting lash extensions! Luckily I didn’t embarrass myself this time. Instead I left feeling relaxed and refreshed. The lovely make-up artist had left my mum with a glow. Naturally I was eager to see what he had in-store for me. I shuddered as he picked up the pink metallic eyeshadow…anything but pink, I screamed internally. Yet with a wave of his wand brush he created a natural look that left me eating my words. The make-up was nice, but I could feel it on my skin for the whole day. I found it a bit odd as the MUA had said that this wasn’t the case with their make-up, so I’m putting it down to having sensitive skin.
My trip to The Organic Pharmacy was enlightening, not only for my mind but for my skin also. I’m always up for finding new brands and products, especially if they are natural/organic. Thank you to Get The Gloss and The Organic Pharmacy for a lovely pampering session.