“Take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic.”
– Frida Kahlo
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.
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.
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.
Boy, do I excel at awkward wording.
Lipstick aside, red has never really been a colour of choice. I have spent a ruling number of years with rosy cheeks and ginger curls, meaning red often felt like overkill.
This season? With this blonde? And this satchel? I can’t be kept away.