1 February 2016

Getting my Swiss on at Truc Vert's Raclette Night

I don't think it's a secret that I love cheese. 
Felicity, They Called It The Diamond Blog

You know some people say they love cheese but then there are people that are in love with cheese. I fall firmly into the latter category. It's in my blood, with my Swiss heritage and all. And then this is when it gets weird. Despite being Swiss and loving cheese, I have never had Raclette. I've felt ashamed about it for ages, but my family are all firm fondue fans so it never gets a look in at home. My mum said she had a Raclette gizmo once, but if it ever existed it lies sadly forgotten in a house where dipping into cheese is central to our well-being. When I asked my Grandmere about Raclette once, she said she didn't like it so if I wanted to try it I'd have to go elsewhere, wagwan this is a fondue house gurl (ok she left off the gurl but you get the jist). So when the lovely people behind Truc Vert (aka Frankie, Russell and Louise) asked me if I'd like to come and try out their Raclette Wednesday Night (now also held on Saturdays!) I was intrigued. Then when they said Sophie, Gianni and a bottle of wine were coming I was more than willing to cast my fellow Swiss fam's feelings aside and open myself up to this cheesy event. 

First off, I'd been invited to Truc Vert a while before, where me and a table of ladies and gents sampled their tasting menu (read about it here, it was absolutely delicious), so I already knew it was going to be good, but I couldn't contain my excitement about the spread that was placed before us. To give you an idea, all that food was there to feed four of us and there was tons. If it wasn't for my carefully concealed cheese stomach, I'm not sure we would have finished it.

24 January 2016

Happy New Year! & A Wake Up Swim

3...2...1...Happy New Year!

Ok so it's slightly belated but Happy New Year! We're now well into the start of the year, the holidays feel so long ago, but meeting up with friends the chat is still turning to how was your Christmas/New Year/Winter Solstice? Dan, my long-term man friend, and I are one click away from booking our next trip soon as we decide where to go! There's so many places I want to visit, but we might be going to New York (sooooooo excited) to visit our friend Louie (featured topless later in the post) this year so we're going to have to make some harsh choices about where else we go away in 2016. Decisions, decisions. Currently we're toying with the idea of going to either Berlin, Amsterdam or Copenhagen (help me make a choice, which one has the best bakeries?! Jokes but no jokes). But seriously planning holidays is hard, the dream is to visit them all eventually but which one first?!

Anyway, New Year normally calls for a bunch of resolutions that we all know I'm not going to keep and then I'll feel the pressure building up towards September because I know I haven't done that thing that I said I'd do this year (this is normally always learning to drive, oh no! You know my secret, I'm in my twenties and I can't drive, the shame! Where's that woman with the bell from Game of Thrones when you need her!). Which is why I never make New Year's resolutions. If I want to eat healthier or learn to drive/knit/sing my name backwards I'll do it but if I pressurise myself into it, it's just going to go one way or more accurately won't happen at all. That's right, this girl does not respond to peer pressure, even if the peer is herself...wait, that makes no sense (on with the post!).

Moving on, I don't make New Year's resolutions but I do make plans. And this year my first plan of 2016 was to get some friends down to Broadstairs for New Year and do the New Year's Day swim off Viking Bay. I'm going to get it out of the way and say it was bloody freezing. Definitely worse coming out of the sea than being in it, however, it also has to be the best way to get rid of a hangover. Honestly, we all felt amazing afterwards, don't know if it was the adrenaline, cold or the copious amounts of Bailey's coffee drunk afterwards but it worked a treat, leaving us open to going to the pub afterwards...It's safe to safe we did not repeat the swim on the 2nd January, but it probably would have helped a couple of us.

21 December 2015

Chocolate & Cranberry Alternative Christmas Cake with Lindt

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer
Had a very shiny nose
And if you ever saw it
You would even say it glows
Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer

I'm not going to lie, after my birthday last weekend I feel like I have overindulged and been absolutely spoilt rotten already, I'm not sure I'm ready for Christmas (who am I kidding?!). Last Saturday, my friends and I went for brunch at Marcus Wareing's restaurant Tredwells (post to follow but in summary amazing cocktails, great company and some great food albeit in quite small tasting portions!), before chilling out at the Southbank Christmas market and laughing the day away with a fair few glasses of prosecco/hot rum/mulled wine in hand. It was exactly how I wanted to spend my birthday, just having a relaxed care free today with my closest friends...and Han Solo. Oh my God, have you seen it? Are you a huge fan? I love all of the old 70s Star Wars films, me and my brother were obsessed with it growing up, and Princess Leia was my ultimate role model. Yeah, she's a princess who occasionally needs rescuing, but she also does the rescuing, leads the rebellion, fights on the front line and sets herself free (after strangling Jabba the Hut). In my eyes, that's a perfect role model (maybe minus the strangling but desperate times call for desperate measures). 

Anyway, instead of a birthday cake this year, because we were out eating lots of goodies all day Saturday at the Christmas market, I decided to make a cake for our Friendmas on the Sunday, where me and my friends exchanged presents, ate 'Christmas' dinner together (basically lots of brie) and went to my friend's carol service. Because the lovely Mai at Lindt had sent me a box of Christmas chocolates, I knew it has to be a chocolate cake, plus you know it was my birthday weekend and I love chocolate cake. One of my favourite cakes is black forest gateau, but obviously cherries aren't in season right now, so I decided to make a cranberry butter icing to adorn my cake and up the festive factor. In the box from Lindt I also had a couple of reindeer which I thought would be perfect cake toppers, they're good on their own but again birthday gal's cake means birthday gal's rules and that means covering them in glitter and lots of it. 

My boyfriend, Dan, has been getting a bit frustrated with the amount of glitter in our lives, since I wrapped all our presents (need gift wrap inspiration? See the post here). He's pretty much had glitter living in his beard for a couple of weeks now, which has only worsened following the introduction of boxes full of chocolate with glitter in from Lindt and you know glitter boots (sayyyy whaaat, amazing birthday present to myself seen here! I adore them). But Christmas is a time for a bit of sparkle so I flaunted his no more glitter rule and went full steam ahead painting my Lindt reindeer with gold glitter dust, because I'm a rebel with a festive cause. And that festive cause is Friendmas!

17 December 2015

A Very Merry Mulled Wine Apple & Cranberry Strudel

Ok top 5 favourite desserts of all time, go! It's hard but mine have to be chocolate brownies (see here and here), cheesecake, banoffee pie, trifle and apple strudel. Phew, it's tough, but there it is, my top 5 desserts. Now I've made most of these, some with varying degrees of success (aka not baked cheesecake: liquid cheesecake everywhere), but I'd never made a strudel up until a couple of weeks ago.

In truth, I've always seen it as that fiddly dessert that's just going to be an absolute flop at home and is much easier to buy from the frozen aisle in the supermarket. I always try to avoid processed foods but  I canny resist frozen strudel and, in the spirit of honesty, fries. That was till I made it, I can honestly say this is the best strudel I've ever eaten and yeah it is a little fiddly but what it takes in effort it makes up for in pure buttery delicious. My boyfriend's brother seemed to think so too and seems to have told everyone how good it was, as I got a text from his Dad the next day asking me if I could make it for him when I see them over Christmas.

I'll be honest, putting mulled wine in recipes has become a bit of an obsession of mine. We're talking strudel, mince pies, sausage rolls (I'm lying about the sausage rolls). I just always seem to have some lying about, in a glass, with a slice of orange, normally in my hand. I don't know how it gets there, but the next thing I know it's in whatever I'm making. This idea actually came from making mulled wine pears, which then turned into mulled wine pear frangipane (Mmmm almonds). Admittedly my frangipane was no way near as good as Dan's mums and that's why this recipe is for apple strudel (#frangipanefail, definitely a hashtag that'll catch on). 

15 December 2015

That's a Wrap! With a Little Help From Lindt

It's Christmaaaaaaassssssssssss!
Merry Christmas Everybody, Slade

I don't want to alarm anyone but there are only 10 sleeps till Christmas. Everyone to your Christmas panic stations! Speaking of panic, I need some help. Particularly from anyone that has also had to buy presents for one of my brothers, I'd really appreciate that because when I ask my brothers what they want for Christmas the answer is always a pony (cute if you're 10 but they're fully grown men). 

Aside from buying my bros' presents, I've got it all sorted. Seriously I'm never normally this organised, I'm a leave it till the last possible second, then do it slightly late kind of lady. But I've had so much going on this December, I've had to plan ahead (who knew doing things early meant less stress?). Last Saturday my plans fell through which in a way was a bit of a blessing because it meant I actually got to sit down watch lots of Christmas movies (why is Love Actually and the Holiday not on Netflix/Amazon Prime/Sky Movies?!), make some mince pies and do some much needed Christmas wrapping. 

To make my day in extra Christmassy, the lovely Mai at Lindt sent me a big box full of the best chocolatey goodies we're talking bears, santas, bears, some cheeky elves, bears, reindeer and did I mention a heck load of bears. Honestly when I got the box I was like what am I going to do with all these bears, after eating half of them, I had an epiphany. Use the bears (and a couple of cheeky santas) as my present accessories, because it's all well and good giving a normal wrapped present, but at Christmas you kinda need to push the boat out and put an accessory on it. That means bows, candy canes, poster paint, glitter (my all important Christmas accessory, look at my new boots!!!) and chocolate bears (who doesn't love chocolate? In fact don't tell me, I don't want to know). Don't hold back, free flow your accessorising, hell put some prajazzles on there (aka present vajazzles).

9 December 2015

Christmas Time, Mistletoe & Mulled Wine Recipe

Christmas time, mistletoe and wine
Children singing Christian rhyme
With logs on the fire and gifts on the tree
A time to rejoice in the good that we see
Mistletoe and Wine, Cliff Richard
Got to love a bit of Cliff's Christmas Song. It's Christmas! Almost, sort of, not really. I mean it's actually my birthday beforehand but you know when you turn 21 for the umpteenth time it's not as exciting as the first time. Anyway I'm excited for Christmas it is providing a welcome escape from the fact that I will officially no longer be in my early twenties next week. Ohhhhhhhh I hate getting older, I mean I'm excited for brunch with all my friends (including you dear reader) but Lord no I don't like it. The only way I'm going to get by is with copious amounts of bucks fizz and mulled wine, maybe chuck in some gin as well just for good measure.

Speaking of mulled wine, I've got this super easy, guaranteed idiot proof recipe for mulled vino to share with you. I can't guarantee it's easier than opening a bottle of mulled wine and heating it up in the microwave (genuinely you can buy it premulled and it's not always terrible) or sticking a teabag of spice in it, but it definitely is (in my humble opinion) more delicious.

30 November 2015

The Lake District, Lambs a Leaping Part II

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils
Daffodils, William Wordsworth

I know what you're thinking, 'when was Part I?'. That's a really great question, it was roughly 3 months ago (see here), yep, I've been slack on uploading the second part of our wet walks in the Lake District. A fact that has not been forgotten...least of all by my mum. Every other conversation I have with her ends in 'when are you going to upload our holiday photos?'. The problem is, I take too many. This is probably obvious from any post I've ever posted. As Dan, my main man, has now ruled, I am no longer allowed to take any photos of sheep as I have just shy of a gazillion (not a real word) shots of them. As well as taking multiple photos of the same thing for the fun of it, I'm also doing it because I've been trying to improve my manual photography this year since Dan lovingly bought me a DSLR last Christmas (I think he feels like this is the biggest mistake he's ever made, at least I'm using this gift...unlike the mittens and egg timer of 2012). That's mean, the mittens and egg timer were part of a larger array of gifts who's first letter of each present made an anagram for Merry Christmas Felicity (yeah that's right I got twenty two gifts...who's sounding spoilt now? Still me). Spoilt-ness (also not a real word) aside, I've finally finished editing all of the sheep photos out of our Lake District snaps, I may have left one or two (or perhaps 10) still in but look at the little lamb's face, he was practically begging me too. (SPOILER ALERT FOR MY MUM) So this year for Christmas, along with an actual real gift, I'm giving my mum a copy of our holiday photos (but no you still can't see the ones from Iceland, it's going to take me years to narrow down which Icelandic horse photos to keep).