Chambord Chapter Eight Games

When I saw an event listing for the Chambord Chapter Eight games, I knew within a heartbeat that I had to pick up some tickets. Flamingo croquet and an Alice in Wonderland theme? French-American food from Le Bun? Chambord cocktails in London Fields? OBVIOUSLY yes.
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All credit to the event company, because the whole roof terrace at Proof was decked out perfectly. Rose coloured chaise longues, pastel and jewel coloured wooden huts, flower bombs, and the fluffy flamingo mallets as a centrepiece. Mine was called Celine, by the way. There were four different Chambord cocktail options on the menu, utilising ingredients like gin, grapefruit, raspberry and rose. Le Bun had also incorporated the theme, and their usual burgers featured new additions such as Chambord coulis, champagne slaw, and freeze dried raspberries.

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Sipping cocktails in the sunshine while overlooking London Fields, we loved having a go at the course. Regular hoops had been replaced by tiny topiary hedges, topped with cocktail shakers, martini glasses and gold pineapples. I’m a big fan of activity based fun instead of just heading to a normal bar, and this didn’t disappoint. Chambord had really explored the silly, French, OTT theme their latest campaign seems to be based on, and to great effect. The whole thing was entirely joyous, and if you’re not a regular croquet player you should have a go at it.

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While the Chapter Eight games are over for now, I’d keep an eye on Chambord as I’m sure they’ve got some equally exciting things still to come. I would also strongly recommend heading over to Playground and Proof, as it’s a fascinating space and definitely worth stopping off at. Combine it with a trip to Broadway Market and Hackney City Farm as we did, and you’ll have a delightful day.

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Midnight Apothecary at the Brunel Museum

I’ve been very excited about writing this post, because I couldn’t wait to share what I got up to last weekend! (Well, a bit at least. If I told you everything, I’d have to kill you.) Hands up if you’ve ever been to Rotherhithe? If you’re like me before the weekend, your hand will remain floppily by your side. Well, I’m encouraging you to change that, dearest chums, and raise that wrist heavenwards with pride. Rotherhithe is actually rather ace, and I’ll tell you for why.

I can’t remember where I first read about Midnight Apothecary, but I’d like to thank that publication whole-heartedly. Botanical cocktails on a roof garden, marshmallows to toast, AND a tour of the Brunel museum sounded like a heavenly way to spend a Summer evening, and after coming back from Sludgefest 2015 (Secret Garden Party), I was ready to hit an actual Secret Garden in the sun.

IMG_20150801_181751 IMG_20150801_181828Luckily, it was a gorgeous evening as we wandered down from Rotherhithe station – via Shadwell, which I can’t talk about in the same glowing terms, sadly. We spotted the museum straight away, a substantial tower rising up from the residential street with an unmistakeable waft of barbecue. Clambering up slender steps to the roof, we were soon greeted by the sight of a proper English garden, full of laughter and sun, and the scent of burning sugar from the marshmallows. If you’re unclear as to what that translates to, I’ll tell you: that, my friends, is sheer happiness.

IMG_20150801_192932 IMG_20150801_191706The cocktails are provided by Lottie Muir of The Cocktail Gardener, who is by all accounts, a bit of a whizz. We managed to make our way through all but one of the 7 strong menu, and I tried everything from Douglas Fir vodka to hibiscus syrup, via a lavender gin fizz, and a strawberry and thyme concoction. Pretty AND lethal, just the opposite of how I like my men. I truly believe the soul can be entirely soothed just by sitting calmly in a garden, spotting birds flying overhead, inhaling the scent of gas lamps mixed with herbs, with a shot of vodka or two by your side. After a day in Shoreditch and surrounding areas, it felt awfully calm and peaceful.

IMG_20150801_193651 IMG_20150801_182135We moved from the outskirts of the garden into the centre, round the campfire, and grabbed a couple of stakes to toast our marshmallows on. Never has there been such a feeling of being simultaneously entirely masculine (large pointy wooden stake) but entirely girly (tiny pink marshmallow), and I enjoyed it immensely. As it turns out, my toasting skills are VERY poor. My phone is still bathed in a kind of marshmallow ectoplasm, and I was mercilessly made fun of by my Canadian pal who is adept at these kind of essential life skills.

Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly get any happier, an effervescent and actorly chap leapt out in a red hat and told us he’d be giving a tour of the railway tunnel itself – this is absolutely not to be missed. We clambered through a small tunnel and went down into a huge underground room, where we learned all about the two Brunels and what they’d created. It was quite thrilling to sit there and imagine people banquetting all the way underground, and Queen Victoria making a visit.

IMG_20150801_202258 IMG_20150801_181846If you’re a bit fed up of the usual pop ups and the same old bars, and you like your cocktails with both a botanical AND a historical twist, there’s nowhere better than the Midnight Apothecary. Book some tickets through Design My Night (a mere fiver each), and have a truly unique and relaxing evening in Rotherhithe!

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Week in Photos

Lazy Sunday post to cheer me up as I’m lying on the sofa feeling sorry for myself. After a couple of weeks of tearing around, far too much alcohol, way too much exercise, not enough clothing to combat the cold weather and heaps of late nights, I’ve unsurprisingly got a bit ill. For the first time in my entire life, I’ve lost my voice. Yesterday evening it went completely and utterly. So I’ve been lolling around watching Gossip Girl, writing my To Do list, and drinking many cups of lemon and honey. I was hoping to do a micro-project today, and create an inspiration board (‘real life Pinterest’ as I’m dubbing it.)

It’s another exciting week coming up, so hopefully I’ll be able to talk again by Tuesday, although not all my friends agree, the meanies. I think they’re quite enjoying me not being able to talk. On Tuesday I’m off to the launch of a new ‘cocktail initiative’. Yeah, that’s a thing. Dubbed ‘Skinny Sippers vs Huge Hitters’, it’s this new concept in the drinks world, being launched at Apres London. I’ve seen a list of some of the cocktail, and they sound AMAZING. I’m a cocktail freak anyway, so I’m really excited to be going to the press launch. Then Wednesday I’m off to the Nelly.com launch party in London, more info on that later in the week. Nelly.com is like the Nordic equivalent of ASOS, now being launched for the UK. Apparently the first 300 girls to turn up get free shoes, so…elbows at the ready. Then the rest of the week will be spent writing and working. Also got something very interesting coming up with ace jewellery website MyFlashTrash.com, who have the most beautiful selection of jewels, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

In the meantime, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going back to Gossip Girl and my sofa. Even blogging has really taken it out of me!

(virgin) Margarita cupcakes

To buck my trend of boozy cakes, I decided to make margarita cupcakes. Virgin style (there is an alcoholic option available, if you really can’t help yourself.) This comes again from ‘Eat Me!’ by Cookie Girl: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Eat-Me-Stupendous-Self-Raising-According/dp/0091925118/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1284395018&sr=8-1
As I mentioned earlier, my stupidly expensive icing kit has given up the ghost, so I’m on my own. Hence these rather messy looking cakes, which I’ve only allowed you a brief glimpse of at the end. Still, the taste made up for their hideousness. I loved them unconditionally, as I would my future hypothetical socially inept children. (I joke, I joke. It would be social services for them.)

Sponge ingredients
4oz unsalted butter, room temp
4oz sugar
2 large eggs
4oz self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp lemon juice
Makes 12

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Fill a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.

2. You got this down now. Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl until fluffy. Add the eggs one by one, then sift in the flour and baking powder. Then add your lemon juice and mix until smooth.

3. Put a tablespoon of mixture into each cake case, and bake for 15-20 minutes until as springy as a spring lamb.

Filling ingredients
1oz butter
2 fl oz fresh lime juice
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
4oz caster sugar
grated zest of 2 limes
(1-2 tbsp tequila….optional. I don’t judge. You total alcoholic)

1. Prepare the filling. Ok, so, you put the lime in the coconut and….not really. Sorry. But that’s in your head now, isn’t it? What you ACTUALLY do is heat the butter and lime juice in a pan over a medium heat until the butter melts.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolks and sugar together. Then add the hot butter mixture slowly to the egg mixture. Pour all of this back into the pan and continue cooking over a medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until it reaches boiling point and thickens
3. Take it off the heat and stir in the lime zest. If you were to opt for tequila, you could stir it in just about now, you old smoothie.
 

Icing ingredients
4oz unsalted butter, room temp
4oz cream cheese, room temp
1lb icing sugar, sifted (I just make up quantities, but this is your actual proper recipe measurement)
Juice and grated zest of 1 lime
1 tbsp triple sec
Green food colouring
Sea salt flakes, to decorate
Grated lime zest, to decorate1. Ooh, you lucky thing. It’s your favourite bit, isn’t it! The bit where you get to keep ‘tasting’ it to make sure it’s ok, and eating half the bowl in the process! Yes, everyone loves icing. Beat together the butter and cream cheese, beat it more than Alex Reid gets beaten in a fight. Yeah! I’m topical (ish). Add the icing sugar and mix well, then add the lime juice and zest, Triple sec and green food colouring.

2. I did something a bit cheaty and bad. Yes, dear reader, I will confess all to you. My hideous secret, you’ve dredged it out of me….the idea that sparked all this was a £3.99 bottle of margarita mix (sans tequila) in Waitrose. I KNOW! I hate ready mixed, ready made, pre-prepared rubbish. It makes me no better than Delia. I will NEVER do it again. But I used this mix in place of the triple sec and lime. (It’s really hard not to type ‘triple sex’. Try it)
3. When the cakes are cool, remove the inside with a spoon or a knife. Or a knifey spoony. Fill them with your sweet, sweet, limey filling. Then spread the icing on top, sprinkle with lime zest and add a bit of salt. (I used Jamie Oliver’s pink himalayan sea salt. It rocked my world. Get it? Rocked? Salt? Oh, come on.)

Cosmopolitan cupcakes/sexy beasts

I came across this idea while cruising that inter-web thingy everyone seems so fond of these days. Anyway, it’s a blog called ‘A cup full of cake’. These took my fancy because they are a)boozy, and b) sugary, which sort of means they’re like my two favourite things colliding. A bit like if Russell Brand and Matt Smith collided. You know. Sort of amazing. Enough of this rubbish, now to the cakes! Oh – the ingredients are all in cups, because that’s how the Americans roll. I’m into it if you’re into it, as Flight of the Conchords once sang.

As a footnote (so I can pretend I’m still at uni) I am not at all a fan of Sex and the City. However, if you do like watching a bunch of facially challenged women discussing the latest bout of chandelier-swinging they’ve been engaging in, then you might like to make some before watching. No offense. I’m sure it’s a great programme. Honest.

Another footnote. The actual cake is pink. Pink sponge. I’m not sure I’d impressed on you quite how cool that is. (Probs time to get out more.)

Sponge ingredients
1/2 cup butter (room temp)
2 cups sugar
2 eggs (room temp)
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 cups plain flour
1/4 cup buttermilk (Waitrose stocks this. True story.)
Zest of 1 lime
Pink food colouring

Makes about 20 million. Or, in non-hyperbolic terms, 24.

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees c, and line your muffin tin with cases (oooh, that sounded positively RUDE. muffin tin. ha.)

2. Just beat it! Beat it….beat that sugar and butter. Then add your eggs one by one and beat after each. Add your lime zest.


3. Combine your dry ingredients and set aside.

4. Make up a batch of cosmopolitans (can be virgin if you so choose) according to the recipe at the bottom. Set aside. Do not, I repeat, do NOT drink the whole lot. See picture below – that’s right, kids – put your alcohol in a mug, it doesn’t make you look at all like a tramp.

5. Now take it in turns with the wet and dry ingredients, adding a bit at a time. This stops the mixture from curdling.


6. Add as much or as little food colouring as you like. I found this groovy all natural stuff called ‘Queen’ in Waitrose, so I went nuts and poured in a fair amount. Then fill your cases, about two thirds up to the top.

7. Into the oven with you! Around 20 minutes should do the trick nicely.


Icing ingredients
1 1/2 cups butter room temp
4 cups confectioners sugar
Pinch salt
1 tsp lime zest
Pink food colouring
3-4 tbsp of Cosmopolitan mix (told you not to drink it, didn’t I)

1. Now, icing wise, I am a wild child. I don’t conform to ruuuules, man. I tend to just chuck random quantities in the bowl and play it by ear. But I also understand that this does not a good recipe make. So feel free to shake off the shackles of the recipe and do your own thing, or equally follow it to the letter. You are your own person. Don’t ever let them take that away from you.


2. My icing bag is broken. Yeah. Life treats me very badly, you’re right. As a result, I ‘drizzled’ (slopped) icing on my cakes. Then grated lime across the top, and added a few dried cranberries on top, you know, just to make it mega healthy.


Have crazy fun, little ones.

Cosmopolitan recipe – makes roughly 15 ounces.
5 (1.5 fluid ounce) jiggers vodka
1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon cointreau
1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
3/4 cup and 3 tablespoons cranberry juice