EatStreet at Festival Place, Basingstoke

This weekend, Basingstoke’s shopping centre, Festival Place, turned into a celebration of international flavours thanks to EatStreet, an event dedicated to showcasing cuisines from around the world, and offering free samples from the restaurants from the centre. Free samples, demos… yes please!


The star of the show was Levi Roots – restauranteur, inventor, inspirational speaker, and musician, who is a passionate spokesman for Caribbean cuisine. Bringing his charm and cool to the stage, he demonstrated a variety of recipes including home style jerk chicken wings, hot and fruity Caribbean fruit slaw and Martinique coconut chicken curry, all the while regaling the crowd with stories and insights into the rich culinary heritage of the islands.

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Autumn Pumpkin Festival at Royal Victoria Country Park

Recently, I popped along to my local pumpkin festival at Royal Victoria Country Park, and I thought I’d share some of the photos of the day!

Pumpkin montage 1Central chapel / prize-winning pumpkins / Mulberry logo scarf / matte nails with OPI top coat and Ciate’s Hopscotch / heavenly chilli / the remains of Royal Victoria Hospital

Royal Victoria Country Park is one of my favourite places to visit. Nestled on the shores of Southampton Water, the site used to be home to the Royal Victoria Hospital, which was much used during World War I and visited frequently by Queen Victoria herself, as well as Florence Nightingale. Little of the original hospital remains except for the chapel, as a fire devastated the rest of the building in 1963. However, you can still walk the grounds and even visit the patients’ graveyard on the site, which has some fascinating grave stones.

The annual pumpkin festival is an October highlight for me, but this year it was strangely devoid of pumpkins to actually buy! I usually pick up loads of munchkin pumpkins for decoration for Halloween and Thanksgiving, but they were thin on the ground. Luckily, we managed to swing by Pickwell Farm Shop on the way home to stock up!

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The light green pumpkin is one of my favourite eating varieties, called Crown Prince (my other favourite is Kabocha). Although good meaning types will tell you to save the pumpkin flesh from your carving varieties to make soup and avoid waste, I have to say, it’s a good way of making rubbish soup. Literally, soup from rubbish. If you actually want to enjoy eating pumpkin, you need to purchase culinary pumpkins, which are delicious. The carving types are generally watery, tasteless and very stringy.

So I piled up my little trolley with some delicious pumpkins in order to make some pumpkin hummus from the first Leon cookbook – along with some other tasty tapas dishes from the same book, including sesame chicken wings, flatbread, sweet potato falafels, Imam Bayildi and magic beans. I highly recommend the book if you like healthy, hearty food. I’ve never had the pleasure of eating at a Leon restaurant, but the recipes are amazing.

Pumpkin montage 3Pumpkin votive from Cox and Cox / tapas spread / inside of a Crown Prince / pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks / trying to decide between three shades of orange nail varnish / pumpkin votives, munchkins and Design Ideas black Sherwood tree from John Lewis

The rest of the month has been a pumpkin-flavoured blur – I’ve been getting loads of use out of my gorgeous pumpkin shaped candle holders from Cox and Cox (no relation – I wish!), and downing as many pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks as my stomach can handle (a lot, it turns out!). I also bought some more orange nail varnish, as my Ciate Hopscotch was actually a cheat – I nicked it out of the advent calendar ahead of time. Naughty! (I ended up with Orange Attack from Maybelline.) Finally, I picked this pretty black Sherwood tree from John Lewis, which looks awesome bare as a Halloween decoration, or can be accessorized with baubles, birds and blossoms you can buy individually!

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Restaurant review: Chez Lindsay, Richmond

For my husband’s birthday, we went to Chez Lindsay in Richmond for some delicious crepes at the weekend! Unfortunately, we were running very late because of motorway traffic, so by the time we arrived I was feeling pretty tense – as you can see from my strained expression!

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I was wearing my Cezanne Paintbox pleated dress in Destiny from Great Plains – I bagged it in the sale for £15, so I was pretty pleased with the purchase! We didn’t really take any better photos of this outfit, but I did pose with a dragonfly I rescued from a Starbucks!

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When we got to Chez Lindsay, we realised my great plan of finding a car park, which was ‘I saw a big car park on the map nearby, it’s fine’ was actually very flawed in reality. What we did instead of finding one, was drive around Richmond in a circular fashion until we hated each other and wanted to murder everyone. Eventually we rang the restaurant and found the car park they advised (thank you, helpful restaurant folk!), which could only be reached by driving in more circles down very unpromising residential roads. So, by the time we arrived we had driven for around two and a half hours to get there, and were on the verge of minor nervous breakdowns.

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Luckily, the food was amazing, and a real trip down memory lane for both of us! My husband lived in Cherbourg for nine months at university, so I visited him often and we had a favourite creperie we went to all the time. These crepes were not only delicious, but a real blast from the past and very comforting to boot.

First of all, though, check out this awesome butter knife:

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I ordered the super complete, which is a buckwheat pancake (or, galette) with egg, cheese, ham, onions, tomatoes and mushrooms. If you’ve never had a buckwheat pancake before, you really should try them – you can get buckwheat flour from lots of supermarkets these days, and the texture and nutty taste is so much better than plain flour pancakes – and makes a great match for savoury flavours. These galettes are very traditional in Normandy and Brittany and you can find creperies all over the place in these regions selling these delicious dishes.

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The galettes are always served like this, with the corners turned up, containing all the delicious toppings underneath.

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My husband had the same as me, except no mushrooms, because he has a challenging palette (ha – he drives me nuts!). Would you like to know how it was?

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Superb, of course! The restaurant was very pretty too – light and airy with a great atmosphere, even though it was fairly quiet when we went in.

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And the waitress and hostess (who I presume was the owner, possibly Lindsay herself!) were charming and helpful, despite our probably incredibly frazzled expressions!

If you love Bretonne cuisine and buckwheat style pancakes or French food in general, I’d definitely recommend a trip there – and visit Richmond and Kew Gardens whilst you’re there, too! On a sunny day I can’t think of many things more pleasant.

The website with menus can be found here. The restaurant is located on 11 Hill Rise, Richmond upon Thames.

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15 Dec: Ciate Mini Mani Month – Headliner

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Today’s shade was Headliner, a strong, pastel-hued teal creme. The formula today was really impressive – a very thick liquid that went on well and gave great coverage!

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Ciate’s site says: “Turquoise, an extraordinary cocktail of blue and green and a marriage made in fashion heaven! If you love to colour clash, this is a perfect mix to your colour scheme by adding a unique blue tone to your collection.”

Quite by accident, the colour exactly matches the boxes of Nintendo’s new Wii U console games!

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Pretty funny coincidence – I thought it was neat, anyway! Any Nintendo PR girls should take note!

The pics above were taken in daylight, but I also took some shots later in the afternoon (in Starbucks actually, getting my Eggnog latte in!).

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