In Review: The Forge Cantina, London

the forge cantina
My last visit to The Forge (then Forge and Foundry) took place over two years ago. Since then, the most exciting change for the venue has been the launch of The Forge Cantina.

The Cantina – an authentic Latin-American culinary residency – has found a home in The Forge’s upstairs bar and kitchen area which, thankfully, also looks over the venue’s popular world music event space and stage.

Though the Cantina is open for both lunch (Friday-Sunday / midday-2.30pm) and dinner (Tuesday-Sunday / 5.30pm-10pm), I chose to take my beloved friend and empty tummy to dinner last night with high, spicy expectations.

The food – and pomegranate mojitos – did not disappoint. As men and women twirled and salsa’d underneath us, we began our feast by sharing an incredible deep-filled pabellon arepa (shredded beef, black beans, cheddar, guasacaca, and salsa fresca encased in a Venezuelan corn pocket).

The generous potion would be more than enough for an ordinary lunch or dinner, but we were here to go hard.

To continue, my friend opted for the pescado a lo macho (hake fillet with squid, prawn & mussels ina peruvian style tomato, onion + garlic sauce served with rice and salad) while I went full-force classic with a cuban sandwich. The Cubano combined pulled pork, glazed ham, swiss cheese, fresh dill pickles and mustard in the most perfect and familiar way, forcing me to sacrifice half of my accompaniment (plantain fries) so I didn’t miss a bite.

Signing off with a plate of miniature churros (a bold move for two very full women), I was already checking next week’s schedule to find an opening for a follow-up Cubano.

the forge cantina
the forge cantina
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Things to do in London: August 2015

printworks kitchen
Since the Destination: London video was released, I have noticed a huge spike in the number of ‘things to do‘ recommendations I am approached with each week.

Because of this, I have decided to start compiling monthly lists of suggestions for London-lovers and travellers that bridge the gap between my restaurant reviews and scheduled lifestyle blog programming.

Continue reading for an introduction to Printworks Kitchen, Oliver B at W London, Melt Room, and The Piano Works.

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Magnum Pleasure Store

magnum pleasure store
Spending so much of my time writing about food, it is rare that a pop-up peaks my interest the way it did when I found out about the new Magnum Pleasure Store in Covent Garden.

Whether you’re a casual Magnum consumer or a diehard fan, the brand’s short-term pleasure takeover is sure to get your tastebuds racing. Upon entering the store, you are welcomed by a friendly team of Magnum Pleasure Makers who help you dip, top, and drizzle your selected Magnum to indulgent perfection.

We’re talking everything from black lava sea salt to honeycomb to chilli flakes; quite literally thousands of customisable Magnum combinations.

Of course, it would be better if it were free, right?

In efforts to waive the £4.50 fee for a handful of lucky fans, Magnum collaborated with award-winning fashion designer Holly Fulton to create the stunning Key to the Pleasure necklace seen above and below. Though less than 100 have been made, the graphic necklace has mass appeal: it is the quasi-proverbial key to free freshly-dipped Pleasure Store Magnums.

Speaking about the collaboration, Holly Fulton said; “As a designer, I love the challenge of working with different brands and interpreting their signature style with my own. Magnum have a strong following as a decadent contemporary treat and I wanted that to be encapsulated in the necklace we have created together. The cracking chocolate and classic vanilla ice cream are translated through laser cut perspex and subtle crystal touches whilst the overall shape of the hand produced necklace echoes the synonymous shape of the Magnum. The piece acts as a key to the pleasure store and we are excited to be partnered with Magnum on this project; I look forward to seeing people enjoying their necklaces and the delights of the store over the Summer!”

For details on how to win your very own Holly Fulton, Magnum-inspired Key to the Pleasure necklace go to pleasurestore.mymagnum.co.uk.

The craving is all too real, you say? Head down to Covent Garden and “coat it, top it, drizzle it, set it” the Lela London way (recipe below!).

The Lela London: Vanilla Magnum covered in white chocolate, topped with rose petals, silver pearls and goji berries, then sprinkled in white chocolate with a white chocolate button.

magnum pleasure store
magnum pleasure store
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Game of Thrones (Khaleesi/Daenerys Targaryen) Hair Tutorial

khaleesi hair tutorial 1
As far as hair goals are concerned, Game of Thrones’ Daenerys Targaryen has got that ish on lockdown.

Of course, no-one outside of Meereen wakes up with such tresses. Not even Emilia Clarke. For the actress, platinum hair perfection is achieved via the use of full lace wigs but mere mortals don’t have it so easy.

Or, we didn’t until now.

With the assistance of my beloved and very talented hairdresser (Serafina of Gro London‘s Hampstead branch), we have brought epic Khaleesi hair to DIY life.

Inspired by her most intricate Season 5 ‘do, we have spelled out the how-tos for your Halloween, cosplay, or just-because pleasure, below. Enjoy!

What you’ll need…
Redken Stay High 18 High-Hold Gel to Mousse
Pureology Perfect 4 Platinum Miracle Filler Treatment
Hairspray
1-inch barrel curling iron
Hairbrush
Mini hair ties (clear, if possible)
Hair grips/bobby pins
Clip-in hair extensions (I review the ones used here at the end of this post!)

Khaleesi/Daenerys Targaryen Hair Tutorial

1. Blow dry your natural hair completely. As we’ll be using extensions, the more volume we can get at this stage, the better. Layer Stay High 18 over Perfect 4 Platinum to ensure protected, enormous results. (Big/fluffy is okay as we’ll be curling everything later).
2. Separate your extensions into weft sizes (you’ll have everything from 1-clip 2″ wefts to 4-clip 8″ wefts).
3. Leave two small sections of hair loose in front of your ears. If you’d like, place a playing card or small piece of card under a clip to hold the sections away from the rest of your hair.
4. Section most of your hair on top of your head, leaving room to clip your largest weft roughly 2 inches from the base of your neck.
5. In sections, curl the extension hair with your natural hair.
6. Take another inch or two of hair down from the top of your head and place the next-largest weft securely against the scalp.
7. Repeat, checking each weft blends seamlessly into your natural hair with a mirror.
8. At the top of the head, finish with your smallest wefts and remove your card clips to curl both strands in front of the ears.
9. Take two equidistant sections of hair from the front of the hairline and create two modified french braids which only incorporate the hair between the sections (no strands from the outside or underneath). Stop 1/4 of the way down the length of the hair and tie the braids with mini hair ties.
10. Bring the braids together in the middle and wrap a small section of the unbraided but sectioned hair around the hair ties, securing in the back with a hair grip. Use clips to hold the hair together if you find it difficult to ‘hold and wrap’.
11. Using slightly larger sections of hair below the first braids, repeat steps 9 and ten incorporating the ‘fall’ of the first braids into the centre to keep everything symmetrical.
12. Hairspray to secure.
13. Be Mother of Dragons.

daenareys hair
khaleesi hair tutorial 1
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In Review: The Meat Co, London

meat co london
In hot pursuit of the latest and greatest restaurants and watering holes, it is rare that I find myself in the same establishment twice.

Edible commitment issues at their finest.

It has taken almost two years for me to return to The Meat Co in Shepherd’s Bush and it has officially become one of the places that continually surpasses all expectations.

Time for a little blog love.

When the time came for my long overdue return visit, my lady friend and I were completely spoilt for choice. While some serious protein was a given from the get-go, I had forgotten how varied and rich the multipaged menu actually was.

To start, we indulged in some incredibly moreish chocolate & beetroot bread (if you’re going to carb load, there is no other way), curly boerewors-topped polenta, and braised rib meat cigars which melted inside their light mushroom-filled pastry casing.

Completely intoxicated on rib meat, we continued the affair all the way to the mains. For my lady love, a naked rib meat burger served with chips (normally served in brioche) while I opted to tackle sea and land via the rib meat scallop trio.

Aided by some incredible cocktails, we weren’t sure we had the capacity for dessert but the Madiba Charity malva pudding swayed us otherwise. Presumed to be Nelson Mandela’s favourite dessert, the sticky toffee-esque creation felt extraordinarily fluffy, moist, and indulgent all at once.

I would do it all over again without hesitation. And sooner, this time.

meat co london
meat co london
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