A Tour of Innocent HQ: The Art of Good Taste

innocent hq 1
Last week, I traipsed on over to innocent HQ (aka Fruit Towers) to spend the evening chatting, nibbling, learning, and juice-making – all in an ode to The Art of Good Taste.

Welcomed to the evening with my own Lela London-branded innocent smmoothie (I’m genuinely going to make this happen), I was then taken on a tour of innocent’s headquarters; all inclusive of lego walls, phone boots, juice labs, train track-covered meeting rooms, and more…

Between taste training and catch-ups with friends old and knew, we enjoyed moreish nibbles from The Dip Society (including a so-called ‘Crack Brownie’ that had everyone loopy like it was served with a side of Ryan Gosling).

After undergoing innocent’s official sensory training (I passed! #SUPERPALATE) and trying our legs at juicing fruit and veg with a cycle-powered blender, we capped things off with an interactive talk by the authors of the best-selling ‘The Flavor Bible’, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg.

All in all, a fabulous evening.

innocent hq 2
innocent hq 3
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In Review: Vapiano Soho, London

vapiano soho london
The well-reviewed Italian ‘chain’ restaurant Vapiano recently opened their third UK site on Wardour Street in Soho.

Try as I might to avoid chains, my intrigue finally got the better of me.

Dragging my best and hungriest guy friend along for the ride, we decided to spend a long lunch hoisted on the bar stools of Vapiano’s least-busy location (the Great Portland Street restau is always heaving with The Lunch Crowd).

The concept, in theory, is ingenious: upon entering, you’re given a Vapiano card that gets charged every time you order an item from one of their various food and drink stations. When you’re ready to leave, you simply hand the card over to the F.O.H. team and settle your bill.

The issue? There is something lost in translation. Do you wait for your food to be made and take it back to your table? What if you have an issue with your food? What if you want multiple items – or courses – but don’t want to leave a conversation or wait in a queue? What if you’re in a large group and other people get their food much quicker than others (I saw this happen a few times between antipasti lovers and patient pizza lovers)?

Regardless of the card hoopla, I really enjoyed Vapiano. I found it to be great value, fresh, and a lovely atmosphere to dine in. The card system is simply not being executed in a way that does the food justice.

Lucky enough to arrive before the lunch rush, I got through a gorgeous strawberry and fresh spinach salad (dressed with goats’ cheese, red onions, pine nuts and homemade raspberry maple dressing), a plate of carpaccio, and the ‘death by chocolate’ cake – all of which totalled under £20. While my friend opted for a carby mix of bread-based antipasti, an ‘internationally inspired’ barbecue chicken pizza (topped with smoked cheese, red onion, tomato sauce, mozzarella, and barbecue sauce stripes), and a classic baked vanilla and lemon cheesecake, his feast was equally cheap and equally delicious.

My advice? Avoid the lunch rush, go with no more than three friends, and stagger your ordering. The food is worth it.

vapiano soho london review
vapiano soho london review
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What’s In My Handbag: Saying Hello to the LG G3

whats in my handbag
It has been quite some time (and quite a few handbags) since I last conducted a blog tour of my day-to-day haul around town.

Since then, my business has grown aggressively, my tech kit has taken on a life of its own, and this beautiful double-zipped handbag from Pied a Terre has found its rightful place on my arm.

What’s In My Handbag?

Front compartment:
To be frank, this post is mostly an excuse to gush about the new LG G3. While my keys, passport, rail card and multiple Oyster cards all serve their purpose, my star of my handbag is the new LG G3. In my opinion, it is far superior to every other smartphone on the market.

Though a full video review of the G3 will be coming (you have to see some of the features to understand just how groundbreaking and intuitive the smartphone is), two of the main reasons I love it are:
- The camera (the 13-megapixel camera has laser auto focus and dual LED flash!)
- The weight (with the amount of stuff I need to tote around during a work day, having a slimline device that lets me control my inboxes, Google Drive, social media, photos, and more – all on a quad HD display – is incredible).

With all that said, just stay tuned for the full review!

Rear compartment:
To keep everything neat and tidy, I use a small silver purse to hold my cards (front pocket), business cards (main pocket) and money. I then use a slightly larger gold purse to hold my ‘diabetes paraphernalia’, L’Occitane hand cream, and go-to lip products (a day and night red lip, as it were).

Outside of the purses I have my blue mirror-lensed Guess sunglasses and a cookies and cream Quest Bar, leaving the small zip compartment for receipts and tissues.

Obviously, the first compartment totally wins.

Not pictured: my laptop (only in the handbag during business hours) and SLR (though the bag has plenty of room for it, I have no desire to lug it around town when I’m not specifically out to take photos).

What is your favourite item in your handbag?

whats in my handbag
whats in my handbag
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Recipe: The Golden Red Velvet Champagne Movenpick Sundae

red velvet champagne sundae
Yes. I have made The Golden Red Velvet Champagne Movenpick Sundae an actual thing.

Why? Because:
a) Every time I see a sundae on a menu, it is loaded with bizarre chemical purees, cheap ice cream, and toppings that add nothing more than a crunch. (We deserve more from our sundaes, ladies and gents!)
b) Movenpick is running a sundae-making blogger competition in which the winner receives a two-hour masterclass with Th Langham’s head pastry chef, Cherish Finden. Not even a lactose intolerance could keep me away.

The Recipe

Ingredients (all from Ocado, if you’d like to recreate the recipe exactly!):
- Movenpick Vanilla Dream ice Cream: if you’re looking for ‘The One’ of ice cream, I would suggest nothing but Vanilla Dream. The quality of the Madagascan vanilla that they use is unparalleled, and only the seeds are added to the ice cream after the flavour is extracted. Quality like this – especially for the base of a sundae recipe – is imperative.
- G.H. Mumm Rose NV (you can use any champagne of your choice)
- Sweet Freedom Choc Shot (all natural and low GI liquid chocolate that tastes much more indulgent than it is!)
- Prestat Red Velvet Truffles (I would say you could use any old truffles, but you really can’t. These taste like real life cupcakes)
- Edible gold lead (I used Cake Professional Finest Gold Leaf)

Directions:
1. Scoop your Vanilla Dream into a champagne glass, filling almost to the top.
2. Pour a shot (or two, if you’re feeling like a lush) of champagne over the ice cream.
3. Before the champagne fully settles into the cream, squeeze a bit of Choc Shot over the top and watch the champagne pull the chocolate through the layers of Vanilla Dream.
4. Sprinkle a bit of edible gold leaf over the top.
5. Finish by topping the sundae with a red velvet truffle. Though some guests might prefer to crush it into the sundae, or eat it as a ‘starter’, I prefer to save mind until the end so it tastes as if it has been infused with champagne.

Enjoy!

champagne ice cream
red velvet champagne sundae
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In Review: Takeaway Afternoon Tea, The Park Tower Knightsbridge

take away afternoon tea
My last trip to The Park Tower Knightsbridge was almost five years ago. 2009 – and The Park Tower – mark my first-ever business meeting with a designer brand.

Having had so much change, bewilder and humble me since that meeting, The Park Tower holds a very special place in my heart. When welcoming one of my close friends and recent London transfers to the city, it seemed more than appropriate to take a pit stop at the hotel and take away their afternoon tea for a picnic in Hyde Park.

Their ‘Take Away Strawberry Afternoon Tea‘ – as you can see – is beautifully ingenious.

In their three tier cardboard tea platter, The Park Tower include:
- London smoked salmon and green asparagus (sushi style) with keta caviar on nori bread (IT. IS. UNREAL.)
- Norwich farm chicken caesar with baby gem chiffonade on carrot bread
- Surrey peppered beef pastrami with horseradish cream on malted grain bread
- Silver Hill duck egg mayonnaise and mustard cress on viennoise briochette
- Scones with strawberry and rhubarb marmalade
- Strawberry Valrhona white chocolate truffle
- Strawberry marshmallow
- Whole strawberry dipped in Valrhona milk chocolate and nibbed sugar (
- Strawberry pâté de fruits
- Strawberry and crème chantilly pavlova
- Strawberry Victoria sponge cake tennis court and lemon tennis ball
…and…the most amazing pastry I have ever laid eyes on…
- Strawberry petit choux pastry swans with pistachio cream mousseline.

Truth be told, stretching out in the sunshine, listening to an insane Beatles cover band, and devouring the petite platter between us was the most gratifying way we could have spent an afternoon. Quintessential London luxury.

The takeaway afternoon tea is priced at £19.50 per person or £69 for two with a half bottle of Moët & Chandon Rosé (GO FOR IT) and available through August 31st. I advise booking 24 hours in advance (by online form or phone) to ensure availability.

take away afternoon tea
take away afternoon tea
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