Anything that I feel like contributing two cents to. Fashion and beauty reviews.

In Review: The Oil Can Cafe at The Carding Shed, Holmfirth

oil can cafe carding shed
As a vintage lover, my little perusals around West Yorkshire have proved to be explorations of high reward. This past weekend, the Manfriend and I sat-navved our way through Hepworth with the hope of arriving at the reclaimed warehouse that now serves the public as The Carding Shed.

From floor to ceiling, The Carding Shed is a pandora’s box of vintage motors and memorabilia;it may only be a wanton step into bygone days for me but it is a trip (or literal drive) down memory lane for many of its patrons. A mesmerising oasis for anyone with a penchant for retro wonders. So mesmerising, in fact, that it took me two hours to notice the vintage clothing shops – e High Society Vintage Clothing and Retro Shed – nestled in its sidelines.

Decidedly, our distraction for the day was food and automobiles. The latter resulting in a lusty affair with a scorpion-topped 1969 Fiat 850 Abarth. The former providing a chance to settle in and appreciate the atmosphere, but not much more.

Though we initially set out to enjoy the Oil Can Cafe’s afternoon tea, we were quickly deterred by a singular ‘festive’ afternoon tea option (far too rich-sounding for our tastes) and a list of £7-ish sandwiches, therefore opting for a cream tea (tea or coffee with a scone, cream, and jam) and a cheese & pickle sandwich to share.

The scones took fifteen minutes to arrive, were cold and tough, and arrived an additional fifteen minutes prior to a sandwich plate that warranted no more than two minutes to put together. The value comes in the sandwich’s size and sides (coleslaw, potato salad) with the choice of ‘build your own’ pickle jars, but did not warrant such a wait.

Now, I refuse to write a dishonest word and try to avoid less-than-wow reviews, so while it pains me to not be able to give The Oil Can Cafe the highest praises, I am hoping the gastronomy and service were hiccups that will improve with time and support.

On my inevitable return to The Carding Shed, I will simply settle for a china teacupped coffee, homemade cake, and exuberant use of my credit card.

oil can cafe carding shed
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In Review: Peyton and Byrne, London

peyton and byrne 1
Having spent most of my adult life freelancing in one way or another, I have come to know the cafes of Londoner better than most yummy mummies.

And the yummy mummies know their cafes. The proof was in my first visit to Peyton and Byrne in Greenwich. As soon as I walked through the door I was met by a sea of suspiciously fuss-free pushchairs and worried my long working lunch might turn into a scene from Children of the Corn.

A misconception, of course; as it turns out, a harem of mothers is the sign of a genuinely lovely cafe.

With no initial intention, my partner and I shared one of the best vegetarian lunches to memory. For him? A lusciously creamy parsnip soup served with a two giga-slices of fresh bread. And for myself? A mushroom-packed savoury tart (just the way I like it) alongside a fresh goat’s cheese and aubergine salad.

In fact, we were so pleased with our rustic veggie lunches that we got stuck in to two hours of client work without leaving our seats.

It’s not like we were going to leave without trialling the bakery’s treats.

With digestion on the horizon, we paused for a pot of green tea, a silky latte, a ‘Strawberry Cheesecake’ fairy cake (a light vanilla sponge topped with smooth strawberry cream cheese icing and milk crumbs), and a classic treacle tart. I have a particular abhorrence to the sticky stuff but the treacle-loving gentleman thought the home-made bread crumbs took the tart above and beyond.

Survey says? You’ll find me with the yummy mummies. Peyton and Byrne is a gem.

peyton and byrne 1
peyton and byrne 1
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In Review: Bubba Gump, London

bubba gump london
As a franchise, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company beat all odds and managed to tickle my heart-strings – something no other American chain (or European counterpart) has been able to do.

Of course, this has a lot to do with my decade-long attachment to the movie on which it spawned from. I am a Forrest Gump pioneer through and through: an obvious alliance to all tourists who watched me squeal when passing the ‘Coming Soon’ posters in Piccadilly Circus just a few short months ago.

Mindful that Bubba’s London outpost would be playing house in an indisputable tourist trap locale, I had a better time than I imagined I might.

For my first date with the shrimping company, I decided to fast for ten hours. Portion size notoriety preceded itself (and thank the Shrimp Gods it did).

Kicking things off with a glass-branded ‘Lieutenant Dan’s Pomegranate Punch’ and ‘Louisiana Strawberry Lemonade’ for two, we nibbled through the Run Across America Sampler’s arrangement of chilled Peel ‘n’ Eat shrimp, spicy boneless chicken wings, Mama Blue’s fried shrimp (nested on top of some moreish corn-filled HushPups) and The Holy Grail – Bubba’s Far Out Dip with torilla chips (spinach, artichoke, and monterey jack gets me every time).

Blanketed, the food is stereotypically American: enormous, seasoned within an inch of its life, and loaded with as many fries as a plate can physically hold. Some people will hate it, without a doubt, but if you leave your pretention at the door (and enjoy the idea of boxing up your leftovers for home; GOD, I MISS YOU AMERICA) then you’re in for a treat. I have an obsession with coconut shrimp and Bubba’s – Dumb Luck Coconut Shrimp – was a comforting example, if not a tad overwhelmed by the Attack of The Fries.

Leaving over half of our plates behind, we chose to leave a little space to sample the dessert menu. With each table covered in little film-themed trinkets, the Key Lime Pie had been staring at me – via ping pong bat menu – for far too long already.

The pie was my Floridian youth cuisinified; all sunshine and happiness and smothered with a generous helping of lime-zested whipped cream. I’d say the Manfriend’s single serving of ‘Mama’s Best Strawberry Shortcake’ could compare, but nothing could carry the wholesome pang of that pie.

So go, play, geek out, stuff your face, and remember: life is like a box of chocolates.

bubba gump london
bubba gump london
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In Review: Green People and milk_shake

green beauty review
Time for a bit of a ‘green beauty’ update, my loves. It is not often that I switch my products around (that is, at least since I hung up my Beauty Editor hat) but these two brands have tempted a few switcheroos.

First up is beauty brand Green People and two of their epic staple products: the Volumising Mascara and organic pressed mineral powder. As well as having a SPF of 15, the latter is incredibly finely milled feels like air on the skin. A simple, natural matte finish with no nasties? I’m not sure it gets much better. Alas, the mascara is just as impressive: a plethora of volumising bristles, conditioning vitamin E and plant oils, and a super strong pigment. All without mercury, formaldehyde, parabens, petrochemicals, phthalates and synthetic colourants (you’d be surprised by the number of mascaras which do).

Next comes the hair story.

Having coloured so recently, the inevitable search for natural recovery products has led me to haircare brand milk_shake. To put it as simply as I can, these products work. Though they are SLS and paraben-free, the ‘color maintainer’ shampoo and conditioner combine milk proteins, apple juice, and ‘Integrity 41′ (sunflower extract) to create a natural and healthful cocktail for coloured manes.

The ‘conditioning whipped cream’, however, takes the proverbial cake. When used through damp hair, the simple foam acts as a weightless leave-in conditioner and well as an incredible fragrance (not its intention, I’m sure, but an intense plus). It is one of those products that you fall in love with while simultaneously developing anxiety about running out on a particularly frizzy morning.

Well deserving switcheroos, if I do say so myself.

green beauty review
green beauty review

In Review: Hotel Chocolat Autumn/Winter 2014, Leeds

hotel chocolat
The menu read:

Ten years ago the founders of Hotel Chocolat bought an old
1745 cacao estate in the Caribbean called Rabot. The cacao
and the culture were the inspiration for this menu.

A dinner celebration with the Manfriend’s family wasn’t intended for review, but the second the Anglo-West Indian faire from Hotel Chocolat’s restaurant – Roast + Conch – hit the table, all bets were off.

I mean, if tuna tartare with cacao guacamole, lime-ginger dressing and crispbread doesn’t do it for you, nothing will.

The other half went for my old flame, the Not-So Scotch Egg, while the others swooned through bites of their new Yorkshire Pudding starter (filled with rare-seared parkin-spiced
beef, white chocolate mash and cacao red wine gravy) and a crispy duck confit potato cake (served with braised red cabbage, and cacao-orange sauce).

Whipping the SLR out was a nessecity.

For the main event, all three men couldn’t resist the chopped rump steak burger (served with aged cheddar, cacao beer braised onions, french fries, creole chutney and crisp dry cured bacon), and I can’t say I blame them; a single bite and I was making a date to return for one of my own. This is not to say I didn’t enjoy my own main, of course. My crapshoot order of pork faggot meatballs (bucket listed) was an elegant surprise; alongside pork belly, crisp dry cured bacon, cacao beer braised onions, white chocolate mash and roast jus. I was delighted with what could have easily turned out to be an unpleasant choice, just as the Manfriend’s mumma was with her Caribbean ‘fish run down’ (though the market fish used changes by the day, the light coconut curry and vegetables would be a flavourful friend to any white fish).

As indulgences go, we were all a tad overwhelmed by the idea of solo treats and opted to share the BAFTA dessert (50% milk chocolate mousse, cacao beer caramel, roasted mixed nuts, and almond dacquoise) and sticky toffee and cacao beer pudding (with insanely moreish cacao-infused whipped cream) between us.

Roast + Conch is a divine treat for chocoholics and foodies alike. Praise Cacao Jesus.

hotel chocolat
hotel chocolat
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