Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Folks, It's Pimm's-o-Clock

Spring has finally hit London: the evenings are longer, the birds are my alarm clock in the morning, and the pollen count is high. As soon as the sun's out around this part of town, I always, always order (or make!) a glass of Pimm's. It's a ritual. The first sip brings me right back to the first time I'd tried it: on the Cherwell riverbank in Oxford, celebrating the completion of John's final exams Trinity term. We'd rented a punt for the afternoon with friends and spent our return nibbling at a picnic on the grass and drinking Pimm's and lemonade from red plastic cups.

Since then, Pimm’s has become somewhat of an “official” signifier of the summer season for me. The familiar, sweet taste instantly makes me think of balmy, lazy days spent in the park. It’s also so undeniably British, which is why I think it’s super popular in the US! 

Last weekend, we invited our neighbors over for a Sunday roast - which was so much fun. Instead of offering them wine or prosecco when they arrived, I made these Pimm's cups, which felt celebratory but relaxed. It also felt much more grown-up to be able to offer a variety of cocktails and drinks other than just ... water, which we totally used to do when we were moving from tiny flat to even tinier flat! It seemed like too much of an effort to keep spirits in the apartment since it was too small to host in, so I secretly love seeing the bottle of Pimm's perched at the front of our drinks cabinet now.

Here's the original Pimm’s recipe, but I like to use ginger ale in mine and load it up with heaping amounts of fruit. Ginger ale has a more subtle taste than ginger beer, and it's something we often drink in the States (I always ask for it on flights to settle my stomach!). It’s also not quite as sweet as lemonade (AKA Sprite/7UP for my American readers).

For these, I used slices of orange, lemon, cucumber, strawberries and a generous helping of mint, which was pretty restrained! On any other occasion, I would have thrown in some raspberries, blackberries and probably even more cucumber. I love picking out the Pimm's-drenched fruit at the end and I secretly judge pubs for the amount of fruit they put in their jugs of Pimm’s.

What's your favorite take on Pimm's? The classic, or a twist? Here are more great recipes from thebar, which I'm excited to try outdoors this summer (especially this tasty-looking Pimm’s Royale) assuming our gardens ever get "done"!

This post was sponsored by thebar. All opinions are my own.

Friday, May 20, 2016


You guys! This time, tomorrow, I'll be en route to SeaTac airport to spend a week in Seattle with my family. I'm so excited! I'm going to hit up Target, eat all the dim sum and donuts my stomach can hold, and give my mom a big hug as soon as I get off the plane.

I can't wait.

We're also escaping for a little mini spa-break at Salish Lodge & Spa, which I've never been to and am excited to visit! Apparently, they serve up a great brunch, which is why my parents booked it - they know me too well!

I'll be publishing a couple of posts here and there next week, but I'm really just going to focus on enjoying some quality time with my family. So, if you want to follow along, head over to Instagram or Snapchat (which I've recently joined and am loving!), where I'll be posting snippets from my trip.

Until then ... have a great weekend xo

Thursday, May 19, 2016

An Unexpected Gift

Yesterday, I had one of those days. You know the type. The kind of days that just feel so demanding. Colleagues being demanding. Heck, even strangers being demanding. Heavy rain that started just as I stepped out of the office to meet my friend for lunch.

After being talked over on the phone (one of my biggest pet peeves!) and groaning at an irritating email that pinged into my inbox just as I hung up, a curious envelope landed on my desk. It felt thick and heavy.

Inside, I found a beautiful card from India. And when I opened it, these stunning vintage postcards tumbled out. I was disorientated at first; the buildings looked familiar, but I couldn't quite place why. Then I looked closer: Bordeaux. Postcards made from photographs by Marcel Delboy (what a name!) that Karen Harvey (the talented writer and photographer behind I Don't Like Peas) happened upon in an antiques shop here in the UK.

So she sent them to me, knowing how much I'd loved our recent trip to the city and how much I adored the antiques we brought back as souvenirs.

Isn't that the nicest thing? The loveliest, kindest thing?

I read her card and her lovely words to me and my eyes pricked with tears.

Snail mail seems to reach me with unfathomably precise psychic timing these days. Days when I just need that little extra boost. I had no idea that the contents of that small, unexpected envelope would turn my day around so quickly. But they had, and I studied the monuments in each card closely, remembering where I'd stood just a few weeks ago to get the exact same views; where we sat sipping wine as little dogs that were let off their leashes came to patiently beg for food.

So, thank you, Karen. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.


Friday, May 13, 2016

Brünch in Bed this Weekend!

Nope, not trying to be all fancy with the umlaut: brünch, the über-cool (sorry!) Berlin brünch pop-up founded by my super-talented friend, Noemi, is delivering their famous Berlin-inspired spreads to London homes across Zones 1 - 3 via EatFirst.

So you can have all of this:

And even this:

Delivered to your door. Which means you could (if you wanted to - I know I would!) eat it in bed. Prosecco and Bloody Marys** available too (**order a "Virgin Mary" on the EatFirst app along with a bottle of Our/London vodka to make your own - EatFirst will provide the pickles, cucumber, and celery!).

I'm just gonna let that sit out there for a minute.

Udita and I sampled the menu last weekend at The Little Yellow Door in Notting Hill and it was - you guys - it was epic. It's also wholesome, healthy, (mostly) vegetarian and vegan-friendly.

From open-face sandwiches piled thick with avocado, beetroot, and butternut squash to rote grütze, a delicious German red fruit compote, this brünch + EatFirst collaboration is one of the best little luxuries you could wish for on a Saturday morning.

Here were my favorites:

'The Berliner' - which consists of "sliced smoked cheeses, French Brie, Cumin Gouda, German pepper salami, tender smoked pork loin (Kassler), Berlin fleischsalat,  egg, and celeriac remoulade (so good!) accompanied by fresh fruits, pickles and a selection of artisan sourdough and bread rolls".

I loved picking at this - I could totally picture myself taking it out into our garden (when it's finally overhauled this summer - fingers crossed!) and enjoying it on a warm summer's morning with a cafetiere of fresh coffee.

Sourdough topped with quark, almond butter and banana, drizzled with honey and topped with chia granola and thyme. I'm not even kidding when I say that I preferred this over my usual brunch favorites, French toast and waffles. It satisfied my sweet tooth AND is delivered pre-sliced, which means I don't even have to get out a knife and fork. L. A. Z. Y. This is something ideal to have in bed with a mug of tea balanced on a tray/nightstand.

Smoked mackerel paté with fresh horseradish, grated gala apples, créme fraiche and lemon juice served with that delicious celeriac remoulade and - here's the clincher - artisan rye bread. I probably wouldn't eat this in bed because I'm clumsy as heck and would probably end up dropping mackerel onto our White Company sheets, but I'd definitely take this out in the garden to split with John, as he'd be a big fan. It feels so fancy and indulgent to have this for breakfast/brunch!

I also loved the rote grütze as a little dessert. It's topped with sour cherries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, so that counts as my five-a-day, right?

Also featured on the menu are roasted butternut squash and feta sliders, avocado and beetroot sliders, and the (stunningly visual) goat's cheese and strawberry sliders - all made with thick slices of rustic sourdough.

Noemi gave sweet explanations of each item on the menu before offering us bottomless glasses of prosecco and Bloody Marys. Also: can we just stop for a second and appreciate how beautiful she is in this photo (and IRL)? Everytime I speak to Noemi, I'm enthralled and inspired by her enthusiasm for cooking and creating. Have a look at brünch's festival line-up this year, if you don't believe me.

After sampling every option on the brünch/EatFirst menu, I knew we had to order it to our door. The great news? No, the best news? Delivery starts tomorrow.

You're welcome.

Udita and I were generously hosted by brünch and EatFirst - thank you! Download the EatFirst app to see if they deliver brünch to you. The brünch menu launches this Saturday, May 14th. Happy brünching!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Just Did.

You know, I spend a lot of time on the internet looking at beautiful things, buying beautiful things, and pining after beautiful things. I spend a lot of time admiring other people's work, wishing I could produce such emotive writing; wishing I could take a photo that was worthy of enlarging into a poster-sized, frameable piece of art to be hung over my bed; wishing I could get an article published in this or that magazine.

Then, the other day, I was doing my usual pining after someone else's work (in this case, it was a  photograph of the beach) when I thought, 'Hey, wait a minute. I just came back from the beach. I took some nice photos at the beach. Hang on, let me - yep, they're more than nice, they're actually really good.' So, I ordered a poster-sized print to frame and put over my bed. I plan to lie there, looking up every morning, and think: 'That's my own damn photograph hanging over my own damn bed.' Yup.

Because why? Because I'm good enough. Because I'm capable of creating something that even I would pay money for.

This was a revelation.

Why did it take me so long to figure out?

It was always:

I want to start a business, but ... I don't have enough experience. I don't know what I'm doing.

I want to pitch an article to this magazine, but ... they probably get thousands of submissions every day. My writing isn't good enough. It's not precise enough, not witty enough.

I want to frame some of my photos, but ... they were edited in VSCOCam, not Photoshop, which is still sitting unopened on my counter at home.

And then I see someone do ALL these things and the results are half of what I could have achieved. And I'm all, "Oh my gosh, I could have done a much better job!" The difference? They had a shit-ton of self-belief and the audacity to just do it. And for them, it wasn't a matter of "could have done", it was a matter of "just did". That self-belief goes a long way. It goes a long way in convincing other people (people like me) that you can do it - despite all those "buts" above.

After that, I gave myself permission to believe in myself. Because if I don't do it, who will?

So, here it goes: I am an excellent writer. I am a fantastic photographer. I have a great eye for interior design. I am a talented musician. I am a "creative" (thank you, thank you, thank you, Rebecca Pitts for believing in me enough to refer to me as one in this article).

Now, your turn.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Interior Inspiration: Market Baskets (Plus, A Giveaway!)

When we were in France (I promise to stop using that as a conversation piece soon, I promise!), everyone carried a market basket to the Marché des Capucins - it looked so chic and so very French! I nearly bumped into someone carefully placing a punnet of bright red strawberries into his basket, which was already overflowing with leeks, fennel, and carrots WITH THE GREEN BITS ON THE TOP (you'd only feel my excitement on this one if you spend your time buying vegetables which come pre-packaged in cellophane wrapping).

I decided that I wanted one, then got a little depressed at the notion of taking it to my neighborhood Co-op/Tesco. But we do have a village market every Saturday, so I thought I could take it there and return with a wedge of fancy cheese and artisanal bread to enjoy with the bottles of wine we brought back from Saint-Emilion.

When I discovered that Postcards Home stocked this handwoven Moroccan market basket by Bohemia (along with a lot of other beautiful homeware and accessories), I was ecstatic.

Not only is it great for shopping and picnics, but it also makes a wonderful little storage basket for our house. I know that the founder of Postcards Home, Lucy, uses hers for storing wrapping paper but I like to throw things like towels, blankets, and magazines in mine. It's easy to forget that storage can be functional and attractive at the same time!

Alongside homeware, stationery, and gifts for children, Postcards Home also stocks a beautiful selection of accessories. I'm super excited to be hosting a giveaway for a gorgeous piece of brass jewellery from South India over on my Instagram account! All you have to do is follow me (@angloyankophile) and Postcards Home (@instapostcardshome) and either tag a friend in the comments under my photo of the giveaway or repost the photo to your account. The winner will be randomly selected on Friday, May 13th.

Good luck! And happy browsing.

p.s. this pretty, nautical-inspired quilt and these gorgeous cups - in case you're looking for gift ideas!

My pretty market basket was generously provided to me by Postcards Home, whose products I love and adore. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Angloyankophile!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Soda Folk: It Floats My Boat

Root beer was a firm staple in my American household. We had a specific, oversized glass mug reserved for root beer floats, which my dad would make for me after dinner: two scoops of vanilla ice cream, root beer filled up to the brim with a long spoon and straw stuck in the middle. I'd sit at the dinner table, my legs dangling off the chair as I swirled mixed the two together to make one, delicious iced treat.

When I moved to London nearly a decade ago, root beer didn't exist. Or, it wasn't readily available. So when Byron came on to the burger scene and started serving it on their menus, I was ecstatic. Today, they stock Soda Folk root beer and cream soda (another beverage from my American childhood) - a company with its roots in Colorado and one that was founded by an American expat like me.

I love Soda Folk's root beer because, unlike other brands on the market, it's made in small batches using natural ingredients and sweetened with cane sugar. If you've never tried root beer before, it's the best place to start: Soda Folk's cans have a lovely, maple syrup finish that lingers on the tongue long after you've taken the last swig.

After a dizzying week at work, my friend Caroline and I headed to Byron for burgers and - you guessed it - root beer and cream soda.

I'm often asked about my favorite burger in London. Fair question, since a lot of American chains have now opened in the city and other burger joints have their own cult following (and special sauces). But my friend (and fellow American expat) Jodi and I have always loved the burgers at Byron. They're simple, well made, and the staff always give me extra pickles when I ask (nicely!). Pickles that are cold, tangy, crisp, and satisfyingly crunchy - just like the ones back home.

Case in point (I'll ask for one and will normally get three or four):

I order the same thing every time I go to Byron: cheeseburger (with American cheese and extra pickles), a side of fries and a Soda Folk root beer. And it always hits the spot.

After we polished off our burgers, we headed straight for the root beer and cream soda floats. As I stirred the ice cream into my soft drink, it brought back so many memories of sharing the dessert with my dad before his diabetes prevented him from having any sweets at all. It made me a little teary!

The taste of Soda Folk's root beer makes me feel like I'm getting a little slice of "home". It's comforting and familiar.

Have you ever tried root beer or cream soda? What did you think? John doesn't like it! I prefer it to any other kind of pop (yup, I said "pop" - I'm from the Pacific Northwest! Here's a handy and hilarious map that explains it all!). I'm thinking that I should keep a supply at home. Anyway, if you haven't tried it, I'd highly recommend popping down (pun intended) to your local Byron for a burger and a root beer float. Let me know what you think!

Caroline and I were generously hosted by Byron and Soda Folk - thank you! All opinions are my own.
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