Oakies Weekend

Monday, December 9, 2013

Blogosphere! Long-time no see... Second year at uni proved to be quite challenging and my blogging adventures had to be toned down a little. Sad times.

But... Christmas is approaching, which means holidays! As an early celebration the flatmates and I went over to Ell's hometown for a countryside weekend. Oh and we grabbed a couple friends on the way too.

Since Honor, and Ell have yet to be christened on the GoG (gift of gaby, yup it has an acronym) here is our official flatmate picture!

Lucky guy right?!

We took a short train to Sevenoaks and were greeted by lush green trees, parks, fresh air (in more ways than one!) and deer!
We spent Saturday afternoon watching Disney movies and eating chocolate. What better way to forget all the awful Mechanical Engineering lab reports that have been clogging our brains for the past weeks?

We were more proactive on Sunday and decided to anticipate the big Sunday Roast Lunch by taking a walk in the morning.

Ell lives right by Knole Park, so we walked across it to go visit his old school. It was so nice to breathe in fresh air and see the beautiful autumn trees getting ready for winter.

Honor thought we'd have more luck spotting deer if we "blended" in with the wild life... And she was right! We had a fantastic sighting.

The boys got a little bit fed up with us taking pictures and went off on their own...

We walked across the park to Knole house, one of England's largest houses. Knole house is said to be a calendar house as it has 365 rooms, 52 staircases, 12 entrances and 7 courtyards! Mad right?

On the way to the house we enjoyed the countryside and chatted about christmas plans... it seems like yesterday that we were preparing summer plans, where did the time go?!

We visited Sevenoaks school and played some football to warm up. Well the boys played we watched for a bit, then froze, so decided to join and got our boots covered in mud!

It was soon time for a well deserved and very delicious Sunday Roast...  it was with regret and very full tummies that we said bye-bye to Sevenoaks!

Chocolate Cookie Brownie Cheesecake Cake

Friday, October 18, 2013

Here's a little thought for food for you.. and it's more than a mouthful!

We're talking cheesecake. But not any cheesecake... A chocolate cookie crust, an ooey gooey fudgy brownie mixed into a velvety cheesecake topped with glossy rich ganache. Diabetes on a plate? Maybe. Delicious? Most definitely.

The recipe is in four stages and the brownies can be made 4 days in advance stored in the fridge, or 10 days in advance in the freezer! The whole cheesecake can be kept in the fridge for 4 days. It tastes better with a little time actually as the favours blend and develop.

Chocolate Cookie Brownie Cheesecake Cake Recipe:

*I've adapted Mel's recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe slightly. Always trust her when it comes to cheesecakes!

  • 10 Tbs cocoa powder + 3 Tbs melted butter
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Crumb Crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups (1 packet) chocolate digestives
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Cheesecake:
  • 2 big packages cream cheese, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups chilled brownie cubes (from recipe above)
  • Ganache:
  • 1 tab of dark chocolate (approx 200g)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners sugar
    1. Make the Brownies! Heat your oven at 180C. Line a 20 x 20 cm baking pan with parchment paper and grease lightly. In a big microwavable bowl melt all of the butter and chocolate together. Do it in 30 sec bursts so that the butter doesn't boil, stir after each one. Once the mixture is smooth stir in the sugar. Beat in the eggs one by one and then add the vanilla. Add the flour and salt. Stir to mix well. The batter should be thick. Spread into the prepared pan.
    2. Bake the brownies for about 25 mins or when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with moist crumbs. Let cool and then cut into 2cm cubes. Put these in the fridge to chill.
    3. Make the crust! Take one packet of digestives biscuits and blend them to make crumbs. If you don't have a blender you can put the cookies in a ziplock bag and bash them with a rolling pin until they are crumbs. Pour the crumbs in a big bowl and mix the melted butter and salt until the crumbs stick together to form bigger pea size crumbs. It should all stick together when pressed with your hands. Transfer the crumb mixture to your buttered springform pan. (it must be loose bottomed or else you won't get your cheesecake out!). Press down on the crumbs so that it forms an even base. Press more mixture up the sides of the pan to form a crust all around. Put the pan in the fridge whilst you make your cheesecake.
    4. Make the cheesecake! Reheat your oven to 180C. With an electric mixer (or a whisk and a good arm) beat the cream cheese until smooth, soft and fluffy. Add the eggs beating well after each. Add sugar and vanilla, mix well so that everything is incorporated.
    5. Add the brownies! Make sure they are nice and cold, you should probably taste one or two cubes to check for perfect temperature. Fold 2 cups of the brownies gently into the cheesecake batter. Pour the whole thing into your cookie crumb lined pan. You'll have extra brownies... I'm sure that won't be too much of an issue!
    6. Bake the cheesecake for 40 - 45 mins or until it is "set" 8cm from the sides and still giggly in the middle.
    7. Cool the cheesecake completely. When completely cold top with ganache.
    8. Make the ganache! Heat up the milk and butter until it is just about to boil in a pan. Whilst it's heating chop your chocolate into really small chunks and place in a bowl. Pour the scalding hot cream onto your chocolate and stir until everything is molten and smooth. Pour the ganache onto the cheesecake.
    9. Chill until it is ready to be served! 

Wine and Dine at Altitude 360

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I'm sure you've heard of Yplan. Well if you're in London (and now New York) you probably have. It's a sweet little app that shows you lots of events for the upcoming night, so you don't have to plan anything in advance! J and I were looking for something to do this week and we stumbled upon "Wine and Dine with a View."

We got dressed and headed over to Millbank for some tasting!

We got to taste 6 different wines from... California. I know, I know as a true Frenchie I should've been shuddering at the thought! But they were really excellent and the sommelier was really interesting and hilarious!

J almost took notes on all the interesting facts we learnt that night! We were thought how wine is made and why some are so much more expensive than others. (Usually due to the way the grapes need to be picked up to fit standards!) How the colour of the wine doesn't come from the grape's flesh but it's skin. How the alcohol is made by adding yeast to the wine whilst it's macerating. And how better quality wines have self stopping yeast whilst cheaper wines zap the yeast with lasers once the given level alcohol is reached! Fascinating I know!

The view was absolutely gorgeous and well worth the trip, even if the wines were delicious too!

I'm not very much of a red wine kind of girl but this one was really flavourful. Give it a go if you can!
The Yplan events are always good fun and if you invite friends to join the app you get 7£ free to spend on booking events. Bargain!


Tea at Yumchaa

Friday, September 27, 2013

Ahoy Ahoy all UCL students, (or anyone passing near tottenham court road), your new tea place has been found!

I was introduced to this little gem... and will pass it on to you! I went to Yumchaa for the first time exactly a year ago and went back just yesterday. This is when I thought "Why don't we come here more often?!"It's just as close to uni as anywhere else, cheaper, cosier and has way better tea (and cakes)!

Located in a little nook off Tottenham court road, this little shop is bursting with dozens of herbal teas and homemade cakes. You can check out it's location on my map tab up at the top!

You can smell all the teas before ordering and can take a baggie home if you really love it!

I settled for a Walk in the Woods. Sweet berries mixed with minty goodness. Clarissa went classic with a twist with her Earl Grey and Elderflower tea. We also shared a vanilla pod scone (shhh).

Each tea comes in an individual pot of about three cups and costs 2 Pounds! Bargain right? Plus its all organic and super good for you. The scone, well not so much, but it's home made!

It's a perfect place for a casual meeting, to study or for a chilled out cosy date.

Go check it out, I dare you!


A/W Style Inspiration

Friday, September 13, 2013

Ah back to school days, a new season, a new wardrobe! I've put together some of my favorite items this season. Some of them are wishes rather than feasible buys but hey... a girl can dream! A winter coat (especially in London) is something worth splurging on as you can keep it for many seasons and will probably wear everyday! I tend do go for basic colors that'll go with everything. I'm really loving the red of that Burberry duffle coat though!

Zara came up with really cute bags (hello Celine-spiration!) and boots this season. Affordable too whoopy!
Zara Fall

Zara black skirt, €60 / Zara grey duffle coat, €200 / Zara pants, €45 / Zara black purse, €135 / ASOS hair accessory, €10
Winter Pastels are really in this season. A nice way of adding a touch of color to a otherwise too serious attire!

Zara Leather and Pink with a touch of fur

Zara pink top, €45 / Zara black coat, €120 / Zara trousers, €60 / Zara gray purse, €135 / Zara Leather Brogue Blucher, €38

I love, love, loooove the Sandro Maddy coat! But again... wishful thinking! The Ash Titans Boots are a classic and I've spotted a couple bargains on www.vestiairecollective.com! (Sadly not my size). Cable knits are always my go to sweaters, they're sporty and chic at the same time.

Maddy Maddy- Gosh I love that coat

Vanessa Bruno Athé cable knit crew neck sweater, €260 / Joules cable jumper, €83 / G-Star Raw skinny jeans / Carvela Kurt Geiger black platform ankle booties, €185 / Ash Titan, €270 / Manteau Maddy

Red is a great bold color that still goes with everything. Pair it with creams and blacks for an upbeat sophisticated little red riding hood look! PS: how cute is that cat ring?

Little Red

Mango preppy sweater, €36 / Burberry coat, €805 / ASOS black jeans, €51 / Zara boots, €140 / Kate Spade jewelry, €145 / Folsym Quay Sunglasses in Brown / Catbird :: C A T B I R D :: Lovecats Ring

Moving into a new flat - Bedroom!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

After two years of university halls, aka tiny bedrooms and shared pretty much everything, I am finally moving into a new flat!

I'm moving to Camden and am very excited! Camden has an array of cool bars, weird markets, super awesome ice cream places (more to come on that) and is really close to regent's park! With moving house comes... redecorating! This is at the same time exciting and stressful. Picking a "style" for your house and room is sort of like making the decision to cut your hair drastically. What if you don't like it? What if it doesn't work in the house?

As the good engineering student that I am, I've conducted meticulous research on different styles and colors that I think would work beautifully!

I've put the pictures in a "glossi", you should be able to click on any picture and be conducted to the source site!

This first article is about a new bedroom, and especially bed linen! I think once a color and pattern is picked from the bed linen it is easier to work the whole room in harmony around it. So here we go!

Shwartz's Smoked Meat - Montreal

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Quebec has a couple of iconic dishes... Some of them more glamorous than others! Obviously a lot of them revolve around maple syrup, such as "Tire" or maple taffy. It's a good thing I don't live in Canada, I'm addicted to the stuff. It's boiled maple syrup that you pour on the snow and let crystallise. You then roll it on a popsicle stick and eat it! It's basically the socially acceptable way of drinking maple syrup (which I obviously *never* do...)

Another Montreal dish would be smoked meat! It originates from Romania (Pastrami) and made it's way up north to Montreal. The original, most famous and best place to get it is Shwartz's Smoked Meat. It was founded in 1926, and wasn't renovated much since then! But it's all part of the experience...

I'd say get there early but it's pretty much full all the time... So bring a friend to chat! And maybe don't go as a big group as it's easier to squeeze in 3 people than 8.

Plus, whilst you wait, you get to enjoy the art work on the walls surrounding.

Once you're finally in (hooray!) you will be seated at a big table. Probably with people you don't know. But it's all in good spirit! The menus are on the walls, diner style, but you usually just order the standard smoked meat sandwich with fries. It's customary to add a giant pickle as a side... but I'm not a fan!

When you order the sandwiches you have a choice of three "fat contents". You can pick lean, medium or fat. I usually go for lean but it's true that medium can be tastier!

Look at that sandwich! The rye bread is more for convenience in holding the meat, I mean ratios are way off. The bread is slathered in mustard and oh man is it good! You get melt-in-your-mouth meat with a slight tang from the mustard completed with a delicious smoky after taste.. yum! So good you could "freeze to death" in winter waiting for a place in the restaurant for it!

It was J's first smoke meat and he loved it! It's not so much of an acquired taste like maple taffy is, so no worries you'll like it too I'm sure.

It's also customary to order cherry cola with it, so if you want the full Shwartz experience go right ahead!
We walked it all off on St-Laurent street. It's full of vintage stores and small designer boutiques!

I can't recommend Shwartz's enough, if you're in Montreal give it a try!

Canada - Part 3

Sunday, August 25, 2013

In Canada there's a bit of a competition between people concerning their lake. You see, once you have a house on a lake, the lake becomes yours and is, without question, the best lake. As an outsider with no lake to my name I can sometimes be put in a sticky situation. You visit someone's cottage and say that they have an incredible view and they will undoubtedly ask you "Oh it is the prettiest lake you've seen isn't it?" Uhmm... Well... I mean... Yes of course! Is what you should say. To everyone. And hope they don't speak together.

I can't pick a favorite lake. Especially between mom's or dad's house (sorry mom, sorry dad). They're very different and both equally fun. The first posts were about my mom's lake and this post is my dad's.

We would start the day with a quick run of waterskiing at 7 am before breakfast after breakfast at 9am, whilst the lake was still mirror flat.

J had never skied before and after a couple of tries he got up and did really well!

So well he got overconfident and attempted dropping a ski (without warning us!) and ended up dropping both...

Waterskiing is a bit of an institution in the family... My 85 year old grand-ma only stopped slaloming 5 years ago! And still goes tubbing...

And we start them young...

With Cookie's (yes it's a nickname) personal horsie pulling her on the beach...

Linda showing her moves!

For lunch we went for a hike / trek in the forest and pic-nicked on top of the mountain.

We first walked to the rock and then back down to the beach.

This next picture looks like the scene prior to a murder...

They're both alive and well, although they had to be carried back home... good thing Mr. Strong was there!

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