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

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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In Review: Shake Shack, London

shake shack london
Since New York’s most infamously queued burger joint moved to London, I have spent more than a handful of lunchtimes at the Shake Shack in Covent Garden.

Most recently, I headed to the market building to sample the SmokeDog and Pumpkin Pie Oh My Concrete on their limited edition Halloween menu. Because nothing keeps an American from pumpkin pie.

Though I was craving a Shack Stack – their all natural cheeseburger and Shroom burger (a crisp-fried Portobello mushroom filled with melted cheese) topped with lettuce, tomato, and ShackSauce – on the day of this visit, the Manfriend’s SmokeDog – a flat-top dog topped with cheese sauce, chopped cherry peppers and Wiltshire cure smoked bacon – was more than worthy of permanent menu residence.

After polishing off a perfect little bucket of crinkle cut cheese fries, we decided to wrap things up with a Conrete procession. My choice – the ‘Pumpkin Pie Oh My’ – was a starred and striped extravaganza; rich and creamy vanilla frozen custard blended with a slice of pumpkin pie from Cocomaya. A swoon and a half. (The gentleman’s Sticky Toffee Concrete – a blend of vanilla custard, paul.a.young chocolate chunks, chocolate toffee, salted caramel sauce and malt powder – also received a rave review, though I may have been too engrossed in my own cup to dip a spoon in).

Today is the very final day the two Halloween specials will be available, so in the most American way I can offer, I suggest you haul ass to Shake Shack, like…now.

And for the foodies who miss the menu by a day or two – never fear! Next Sunday (November 9th), Shake Shack Covent Garden are collaborating with acclaimed chef Massimo Bottura (!) to release the limited edition ‘Emilia’ burger. There will only be 500 burgers available, but with the first 100 completely free, the burger made of a 100% Aberdeen Angus beef patty ground with cotechino sausage and parmigiano reggiano (and topped with salsa verde and Villa Manodori balsamic mayonnaise), AND Massimo himself in attendance, it is a burger journey well worth taking.

shake shack london
shake shack london
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In Review: The Galaxy Tab S

galaxy tab s
It isn’t often that I feel the need to call an inanimate object sexy, but – after trialling my fair share of tablets – there is no better word to describe the Samsung Galaxy Tab S.

The Tab S is golden. Quite literally. The ‘Dazzling White’ version is lined in a thin strip of gold and not much else besides the 8MP back shooter and 1.2MP front shooter. It is the chicest tablet exterior I have come across and – impressively – as functional as it is sexy.

One of my biggest pet peeves with tablets is the ‘usability factor’. More often than not, high spec tablets forgo style for substance. Often far too much substance. Substance that makes it hard to use without a specialist case or a flat surface.

The Tab S? Best of both worlds. With a stunning (Super AMOLED) display, USB 2.0, multi-window (imperative for the bloggers and entrepreneurs among us), 1.9Ghz Octa-core CPU, and remote PC capabilities, it still manages to be fast and light. The only one of its kind.

When you can’t fault something – try as you might – it more than deserves some blog love.

galaxy tab s
galaxy tab s

In Review: L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, London

latelier joel robuchon 9
I have been thinking about this review for a number of hours. Fretting, almost.

The jist of the matter is not-so-simply that L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon showed me the best meal I have had all year, and putting something like that into words is never an easy feat.

Every single factor a restaurant could be judged on was inarguably faultless – even when presented with the ‘challenge’ of my vegetarian, alcohol-free, and nut-allergic girlfriend. Though we are both knowingly aware that her list of ‘can’ts’ throws up a challenge or two, the manager, chef, and kitchen team took it completely in their stride. And then some,

Opting to dine around the counter area on the ground floor (the first floor is a tad formal for a catch-up between two expressive women), we nestled in alongside our Michelin-loving countermates and gawked through the bar as we watched the chefs creating a flurry of meticulous masterpieces.

Variety may be the space of life, but I’m not sure anyone could convince me to sit away from the action.

Juiced from the arrival of a berry-filled mocktail and glass of champagne, we decided to leave our food choices up to gastronomic fate (while informing the chef of my dear accomplice’s food restrictions) and sat back to let the chips fall.

And this is where the review gets tricky. Something about chef Xavier Boyer’s menu feels sacred…experiential in a way that begs for trial. Some of the less extravagant-sounding dishes ending up becoming real highlights and pinnacles of innovation (rather than an afterthought, as I’ve experienced in quite a few Michelin-starred restaurants). I wouldn’t dare to review dishes on their own; the menu is ever-changing, seasonal, and merits fresh, explorative eyes.

(Though I will say you’d be a pesca-fool to miss out on the caviar-topped salmon tartare.)

As far as its Theatreland locale is concerned, L’Atelier is the only restaurant you’ll find where dinner is the show.

latelier joel robuchon 8
latelier joel robuchon 13
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