marcos new york italian
Somewhere between dining at Marco Pierre White’s Marco’s New York Italian and sitting down to write this review, my memory card got well and truly corrupted.

I spent more than a few days trying to repair the little square’s wrongs, to no avail, before I released my growing indignation wasn’t very, well, Marco of me. And everyone could stand to be a little more Marco.

Pierre White is, and will always be, the enfant terrible of celebrity chefs. I knew it the second my bored teenage curiosity sat me in front of a copy of White Heat, I knew it the fateful day I somehow shared a kitchen with the man, and I – unexpectedly – knew it when I left his new Milton Keynes restaurant impressed.

Truth be told, I wasn’t expecting much. The shiny-but-simple New York Italian is attached to the Holiday Inn Milton Keynes and, if experience has taught me anything, I know to keep most hotel-connected restaurant expectations to a minimum.

As the fact that I’m even blogging this might suggest, I had to surrender my caution almost as soon as I sat down. The staff were lovely. The food was lovely. The drinks were l- well, actually…the drinks deserve an adjective of their own.

Marco’s new menu is Pierre White done unobtrusively; classic American starters, mains and desserts dusted with Italian flavour and flair. Affordably. It fits the perfect hole that Bardolino, Mr. White’s, Wheeler’s of St James, Koffman and Mr White’s and his eponymous steakhouse had yet to fill in the chef’s portfolio.

We started with as-you’d-expect calamari fritto misto (with salsa-ed mayo) and buffalo wings before being blown away by the surf ‘n’ turf – a rare 10oz ribeye, New Orleans blackened shrimps in garlic and rosemary butter, with some subbed-in sweet potato fries.

The dish – and the bloody behemoth wine list – was incredible. We took our time with the Amarone della Valpolicella Classico throughout the meal – an incredibly elegant and rich Venetian made for red meat. Though it wasn’t a two-bottle sort of night, the Waipara Hills Sauvignon Blanc, – one of my favourite Kiwi wines – stood out as another unexpectedly fantastic option.

It’s not a restaurant I’m going to travel to Milton Keynes for, but it is absolutely a restaurant I’m going to want to visit when I’m in Milton Keynes. It’s an experience that sent my eyebrows up to the high heavens in an oblivious candid. And that counts for something.

* A decade later, it would be described as “the most influential recipe book of the last 20 years” by my equally-beloved Jay Rayner.

leopard coat
HAPPY NEW YEAR, TRIBE!

I’ve been having a bit of a ponder about New Year’s Resolutions; their importance (or lack thereof), their success rate (or lack thereof) and their true intentions (yep, same again). It is the latter, specifically, which sent my brain a-spiralling.

More people seem to berate those making resolutions than make ones for themselves these days and I’ve decided to avoid becoming that person. Instead, to get on board with the resolution makers. To support each desire spurred by the simplicity of a spinning planet. If there’s one thing we don’t need at the moment, it’s a world where people feel belittled for attempting to better things themselves and, increasingly more so, others.

I don’t need a real public declaration of the things I hope to achieve or people I hope to help in 2019 (not my jam), but I do promise to increase the frequency of your oft-request outfit posts. And I genuinely wish you the best with everything you’re setting up to achieve.

What I Wore:
Karolina embellished heels from Ruby Shoo
Leopard coat from ASOS (similar here)
Premium tights from New Look (best bargain everyday pair I’ve found!)


leopard coat
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pork and apple burger recipe
I get really excited to cook over the Winter months. Though I get a decent amount out of rustling up something special throughout the year, being forced to spend more time indoors offers a great excuse to test new recipes; in this case, HelloFresh‘s Pork and Apple burger recipe reimagined.

It is fast food done healthy and, with my little tweaks, a lunch or dinner full of festive flavour. Treat yo’ self.

Pork and Apple burger recipe (with rosemary chips and festive tweaks!)

Ingredients:
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 small potatoes
1 green apple
250g pork mince
2 brioche buns
A few raisins and walnuts (if preferred)
Cinnamon
A few walnuts/raisins (optional)

Directions:
1. Take the pork out of the fridge 40+ minutes beforehand to get it to room temperature.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees and strip the leaves from the rosemary before chopping super fine.

3. After scrubbing the potatoes under water, chop them into fries or chips and toss in a swig of olive oil. Add the rosemary and salt/pepper to taste.

4. Cook on the top shelf of the oven for roughly 30 minutes, turning once.

5. Peel the apple and grate 3/4 of it into a bowl. Add the pork to the bowl with some cinnamon (to taste – I like a lot), high-quality ground salt and pepper.

6. Form the mixture into 2 patties (they’re best if they are held together, not pushed together – it allows the meat to cook evenly).

7. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil on medium-high heat in a non-stick pan. Once hot, place the patties in and cook for roughly 5 minutes on each side. It is important for each side to form a crust before flipping so they don’t break up.

8. Cut the remaining apple into small chunks and add walnuts and raisins, if desired (they tie all the flavours together beautifully).

9. Get everything out of the heat, place your chopped apple mixture on top of the finished burgers, and chow down!

pork and apple burger recipe
pork and apple burger recipe

toblerone christmas
Christmas quite literally crept up out of nowhere, didn’t it?

It’s been a little bit different to the traditional ‘sands through the hourglass’ surprises of yesteryears for 2018. I have been so genuinely bogged down in work, life and their inconsequential demands that the shops seemed to trade their bikinis for baubles in the blink of an eye.

Stress, naturally, set in. While I’m fortunate to spend Christmas with some of the most unbelievable people this universe has to spare me, I am an impossibly idealist gift giver. My partner needs perfection. My Secret Santa needs every sensation £50 can afford. The children in my life need Christmas magic.

They’re not unattainable ideals. But they’re not really Christmas, either.

Through most of my adolescence, Christmas was marked by transit. Being chaperoned to people across land and sky. Always hoping snow would be a halcyon. And always gazing longingly at duty free Toblerone bars.

It seems a little ridiculous, doesn’t it? That triangle-shaped blocks of chocolate could form memories that last decades. But they did.

Sadly, long security queues and no money to call my own worked against me. I would scuttle past the mass of mini-mountains year after year with just enough time to question how I might, one day, get my hands on the holy grail.

Somewhere between the airports and adulting, I forgot. I forgot how the smallest gift would have meant the world to me. A £9.99 mountain of milk chocolate and nougat. A super-value selection pack of milk, white, dark or fruit and nut chocolate (at £7.99). To this day, I still think of these simple Swiss chocolates as the perfect gift; for Secret Santa surprises, for stockings, et al.

A sweet gesture, at one time, would be more than enough for all of us. Whether you’re buying for one or one-hundred this Christmas, gift with that in mind.

(Just please don’t buy me any more Toblerone, friends and family, because this realisation has instigated something of a hoarders situation.)
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A lot has happened since my first trip to Doha. Both personally and…Qatar-ily. In the three years that followed the country has pushed full steam ahead to build all things World Cup 2022, fallen into an unexpected diplomatic crisis (severing ties with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain), and developed faster than any country I’ve visited in my lifetime.

The skyline is no longer a skyline. What was once a handful of aspirant skyscrapers has become a pop-up book of investment, expansion and pride.

One which now harbours much more than you’d expect from the eminent stopover destination…

(All outfit details at the end of the post!)
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