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Life: May 2012

Reading The Hunger Games trilogy in a matter of days
Mum making homemade beef burgers
For once I didn't make up a fake name and they got it wrong anyway!
Zombie Audrey Hepburn tee from Threadless
Enjoying cider in the sunshine
Man taking his shetland pony for a walk in Covent Garden!
Making ice cream with liquid nitrogen at Dinner by Heston
Embellished shoulder pads
Retro theme at Ed's Diner
My Mockingjay pin
2nd attempt at nail art
Monkey at Battersea Park Zoo
Models Own splurge
Limited edition 'Like' post-its
Cluedo
The perfect book for living in London

Follow me on Instagram @charlienin
All photos property of Shopped and Dropped, do not re-use without permission.

Food: Dinner by Heston



If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll know I'm more of a Wahaca/Pizza Express type girl. But on Friday I had the opportunity to eat at a restaurant that's just been voted the 9th best in the world, and I couldn't not write about the experience.


And Dinner by Heston is definitely an experience. Of course it is world class food, but it is also based at the beautiful Mandarin Oriental hotel in Knightsbridge, and our table looked out over Hyde Park on one of the most stunning days we've had this year. 



The menu is suitably extravagant; full of courses I'd never heard of and even the list of ingredients beneath it didn't always help explain what I could potentially order. Next to each course was a date telling you what year the recipe originated from, and on the back was the name of the book each recipe came from. 



But on to what I ate! For my starter I had the roast scallops with cucumber ketchup and borage, from the year 1820. The ketchup was sweet and tangy and the scallops were enormous and tasted perfect. Borage is apparently the herb starflower. I've no idea what it is, but it tasted good!


I also got to taste a bit of the famous meat fruit dish. This basically looks exactly like a satsuma, but inside is a delicious chicken liver pate. It's so bizarre, and just shouldn't work, but it has to be tasted to be believed.


My main course was black foot pork chop with hispi cabbage, lardo, ham hock and Robert sauce from 1860. Don't ask as I have no idea! You pretty much had to take a risk with the food, as although the waiting staff were extremely knowledgeable, sometimes I still didn't understand what it was after they'd explained! This pork chop however was like no other pork chop I'd ever tried - soft, tender and melt in the mouth. I could eat it every day quite happily. There was also small things that looked like popcorn on top of the ham hock but in fat was the finest and most delicious pork crackling. 




For pudding I had the simply named chocolate bar from 1760. It was anything but simple though. It was essentially a bar of the most dark rich chocolate, like a ganache but smoother, topped with specks of gold leaf with passionfruit jam running through it. My god. 




I thought that was all, but no! Then came the best bit. The ice cream trolley had a hand operated mixer where the waiter poured a vanilla cream concoction into it and then poured LIQUID NITROGEN to freeze it on the spot! We were then served it in a delicate waffle type cone, with fresh strawberries in the bottom and our choice of toppings. I went for half apple and popping candy, and half dried raspberries. I didn't want it to end.


Step1: Add the vanilla

Step 2: Add the liquid nitrogen

Step 3: Eat!
An incredible place to spend an afternoon, if you're lucky enough to go please do let me know what you tried out!


All photos property of Shopped and Dropped, do not re-use without permission.

Shopping: Harrods Food Hall

Until recently I hadn't been to Harrods for about 10 years. It seems a bit daunting when you know just how expensive everything is inside, but that doesn't mean that you can't just go and have a wander around inside. The interior is lavish verging on tacky, with an Egyptian theme scaling the escalator halls that take you from the ground floor where you can see the Dodi and Diana Memorial, all the way up to the 5th floor: kids and pets. Of course I had a look around the ridiculously expensive furniture, the obscenely pricey jewellery and even tried on a pair of Acne boots (which I swear I actually dreamed about!). 


But my favourite part of Harrods is the Food Hall. I could look around this place forever! From the edible glue for cakes, to the Devils Penis chillis, there is such an area of the weird and wonderful that my foodie instincts go into overdrive. I wish so much that I could do my weekly shop in there, I know now why the characters in Ab Fab refuse to go anywhere else!




You can eat at some of the concession stands too, with a choice of oysters, steak, rotisserie chicken and heaven knows what else. I honestly wouldn't know whether to pick from one of those or somehow pick from the deli counters. There is so much choice including pies with every filling imaginable, cheese to make your eyes water, Scotch Eggs as big as my head (pretty much...) and a Moroccan section that I was pretty much drooling over.




I think I may have to treat myself to something small from there at some point. But what would I pick?!


1st photo from http://lucindaville.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/old-harrods.htmlAll other photos property of Shopped and Dropped, do not re-use without permission.

Food: Ceviche



If I asked you to name a national Peruvian dish, could you honestly answer? Everyone know Argentina for their steaks, and Mexico for their tacos and tequila, but Peru's food isn't as obvious.


It turns out it's ceviche, the dish that the new Soho restaurant is named after, and I had my first taste of it last week. Ceviche, the restaurant, is located on Frith Street, very unassuming but with a great atmosphere. Like many London restaurants, it's small, bookings are necessary, and there's a bar almost as popular as the kitchen.




I was with a group of 6, and although the menu isn't vast, there was a lot of small dishes to try so we basically ordered everything and shared the lot! But before food, we ordered Pisco Sour cocktails as recommended by basically every review I've read for the place so far. A mix of egg whites, amargo chuncho bitters, lime and sugar syrup, it was like smashing your face into a wave of tequila - sharp, sour and bloody tasty. I wouldn't recommend more than one or two though, unless you don't want to remember how you got home!




Ceviche is essentially raw fish, 'cooked' in lime, chili and salt. I wasn't blown away by it, I didn't like just how cold it was, and as it came in slices it felt almost slimy as I chewed my way through. It all looked beautiful; brightly coloured, decorated with fresh ingredients ranging from corn to satsumas.


Seabass ceviche
We then went on to have a selection of the antichuchos, or grilled skewers, which were much more up my street. Tender, flavoursome, and hot (I just can't do raw food it seems), they were easy to peel off the skewers that held them together and just as easy to wolf down and order more. The braised octopus with chorizo was absolutely incredible, and I even ate the salmon, which I'm normally not a fan of, as it practically fell off the skewer and melted in the mouth. 


Octopus & chorizo skewers, with the steak ones in the background
If you're looking for a lively place where you can share food at the same time as sharing conversation then Ceviche is great. I wouldn't go for a romantic date, but that's mainly just so I wouldn't have to share the skewers and could have them to myself!


1st photo from www.cevicheuk.comAll photos property of Shopped and Dropped, do not re-use without permission.

Fashion: An iPhone Case a Day...


I've finally ditched the Android party and joined the iPhone brigade. I don't have a preference over the technical workings of the phones, I just wanted to give the iPhone a go. But iPhones make their owners inherently vain because it's so easy to 'pimp' your handset. I've started looking for a case for mine, but I can't choose just one!

Do I go for style or geek?

Style

Aztec design £11.04 from Fundakcases
Beaded design £64.30 from Shopbop
Customised Instagram case £22.11 from Casetagram
Studded case £10.38 from Shining Gift
Totem design case £22.15 from Society 6
William Morris case £12.99 from Decorative Designs
Geek

Robots case £22.15 from Society 6
TARDIS case £9.74 from Keep Calm Case On
Sherlock wallpaper case £24.72 from Redbubble
Hogwarts uniform case £24.72 from Redbubble
Marauder's Map case £24.72 from Redbubble
Sherlock '3 patch problem' £25.54 from Redbubble (and designed by my little sister!)

So how many cases do you have? Pretty tempted to just buy all my favourites and alternate every fortnight!

Shopping: Almost Famous Sample Sale


It's been a while since I hit a sample sale. London is full of them but they're often ridiculously busy and at times of the day when I'm at work. This one was almost directly across the road from my office though, so a lunchtime hit was perfect.


Almost Famous can only be normally only be found in selected House of Fraser stores, but they have a flagship store on Percy Street, W1 that stocks their entire range.  




Normally priced £100+ for their selection of day and evening dresses, tops, knitwear and accessories, the sample sale had shoes from £15, tops from £10 and other similarly priced bargains.


I picked up this dress for £30. 


                          Front                                                            Back
I don't really wear evening dresses anymore, not the sort people go out in on a Saturday night anyway, as I'm not that type of person. But I could wear this day or night depending on the accessories or shoes I put with it.


This top was only £10 (excuse the fact it's straight out of the bag and not ironed!).




It has slightly padded shoulders which I love, and the style and mesh panelling are perfect for the sports luxe trend I'm struggling to suit.


Don't worry if you missed out on the sample sale this time, you can also shop Almost Famous at their online store.


All photos property of Shopped and Dropped, do not re-use without permission.

Comedy: Rich Fulcher and His F***ed Up Friends at The Vandella

You probably know Rich Fulcher as Bob Fossil of The Mighty Boosh fame, but don't pigeon hole him - his bizarre, close-to-the-edge brand of comedy isn't the work of Barratt and Fielding, but all his own and is just as fresh on the stage as it is on DVD.


His new show sees him compere between relatively unknown but hugely funny acts (or his 'f***ed up friends') on the tiny stage of
The Vandella in Shepherd's Bush. A new venue, The Vandella sits on Goldhawk Road swathed in black and looking very unassuming. However, just glancing over their line-up you can see they have a massive range of up-and-coming, as well as well-established, comedy talent. This could be the new place to see big names before they hit the mainstream.

Pic from www.thevelvetonion.com
But on to the show. There were six people in the line-up, but I don't want to bore you all so I'll just review my two favourites (who both happen to be musical too):

Looking at Carly Smallman you would never think that she would be so hilariously bizarre but that she is. You'd think that singing about being in love with your brother would only be uncomfortable, but she is the perfect mix of ridiculous and funny without becoming a caricature. 


Abandoman was easily everyone's favourite - he completely brought the house down. Billed as a hip-hop improvisation act, I quickly formed my opinion before he hit the stage. But that was shattered as soon as I saw him. This middle-aged white man picked up a mic and did not try to pretend he was the next big star - his act, although musical, was firmly based in comedy. The audience was his only prop, asking questions and creating songs from the answers. It was absolutely genius, and means that whenever you go to see him, you're guaranteed to get an entirely fresh performance. I'll definitely be going to see him again soon.


Rich Fulcher and His F***ed Up Friends will be returning to The Vandella next month.


All other photos property of Shopped and Dropped, do not re-use without permission.

Beauty: Sally Hansen Nail Pens

My favourite thing to look at on Pinterest is the amazing pics of incredible nail art - a fashion that seems to be going from strength to strength on beauty blogs and on the red carpet.


Zooey Deschanel is celeb Queen of nail art - her tuxedo
nails at the Golden Globes were fabulous!
Find the sources of these pics and more photos of nail art on my
Pinterest board all about my favourite beauty looks.
There's so many different nail products you can buy now to jazz up your talons from transfers to magnetic polish, and I wanted to get ahead of the game and try some out as well. I bought these Sally Hansen Nail Pens on eBay in Hot Pink and White


I'm not particularly artistic and I struggle to paint with my left hand, but I managed to do this as my first attempt:


What do you think? If you have any tips for nail art I'd love to hear them!


All other photos property of Shopped and Dropped, do not re-use without permission.

Explore: Battersea Park Zoo

Yes, I am aware that this is a childrens zoo. I should probably pretend I took my niece and nephews, but I'll be honest with you, it was just me and The Bloke, both in our 20s and possibly just as excited as the kids it was intended for.


Everyone has heard of London Zoo and London Aquarium - they are huge tourist attractions and hold some of the world's biggest and scariest predators. Battersea Park Zoo is very small. We both have a small obsession with otters (they are so damn cute, if you don't believe me just look at this picture) and went specifically to see otter feeding time. Those little things are mental! Running round and round, squeaking, falling over, and one of them was lying on its back juggling a pebble. I went into cute meltdown!



The zoo also has emus, monkeys, some amphibians, a couple of reptiles and some adorable meerkats.

Sleepy meerkats under their heat lamp
They also have animals that you can pet such as donkeys, ponies, goats and rabbits.

Just stroking a goat
The place is covered in play areas, hopscotch paintings and arcade toys just to reinforce that it really is a place to go with small children. We were only there for about an hour, but with feeding times throughout the day, picnic areas and gift shop there is more than enough to fill up a sunny Saturday with some hyperactive children once the weather perks up. 

I love these little gems hidden away in London! 

1st photo from www.batterseaparkzoo.com. All photos property of Shopped and Dropped, do not re-use without permission.

Read: The Hunger Games Trilogy


I'm very late to this party. I'll be honest, I hadn't even heard of these books until about a year ago when my little sister practically burst with excitement at the announcement of a film remake. The film starring Jennifer Lawrence came out a few weeks ago, and with nothing else to read I figure I might as well give them a go.

I am, quite frankly, gutted that I didn't start sooner. 

 The books are based in a future version of America called Panem, a dictator state ruled by an evil President, and the country split into 12 districts. The protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, lives in District 12, and like every child between the ages of 12 - 18 in Panem, has her name included in the yearly draw to take part in the country's Hunger Games. The Games take one boy and one girl from each district, place them in an arena, and make them fight to the death - only one can win. 


I know what you're thinking, and I thought it too: Oh good, the bastard teen-fiction child of Battle Royale and Lord of the Flies. Admittedly, having a load of kids rip each other to shreds isn't the most original idea, but this The Hunger Games is never gory or violent just for the sake of it. The entertainment in the book isn't to imagine children destroying each other in the worst ways imaginable, it's about the fight to survive regardless of whether it's in the arena, or out. And not just to survive physically, but to remain the person you are without letting the state destroy your entire being. It's hardcore heart wrenching that's for sure.


The entire trilogy is based on cliffhangers. That's why I read all 3 books in a week - I just HAD to know what happened. It's been a while since I've read a genuine page-turner; I'd tell myself I'd read just one more chapter but then I'd grab a sneak peek of the next sentence and couldn't sleep if I didn't continue. From the torments of the Hunger Games arena to the confused love stories, the sub-plots were so seamlessly linked that I somehow managed to feel like I knew everything about Katniss while also never knowing what she was thinking. This basically all added up to make a story that made me do all of the following at least once: cry (alone and in public), physically throw the book across the room, hit the book against my face, place the book in another room and refuse to look at it for at least an hour while I recovered emotionally.

I'm not going to provide any spoilers, and not because I don't want to tell you EVERYTHING, purely as a push to get you to go and buy the books. Whether it's on Kindle or paperback, get them, love them and talk with me about them!

Photos from www.amazon.co.uk

Music: Blood Red Shoes, Heaven 03/05/12

This isn't the first time I've written about a Brighton based male-female duo performing at Heaven. It seems it's the place to hold a gig  if you fit that particular description. But this isn't another gush about the wonderful Bitter Ruin, this time it was Blood Red Shoes. A pretty illusive band on the touring circuit, I was very excited to get tickets to their only London show.


I first discovered Blood Red Shoes when I bought the soundtrack to Scott Pilgrim vs the World (I am NOT ashamed) - check out the whole album if you can, it's ace. Their song 'It's Getting Boring By the Sea' was the stand out track for me. Since then I've bought both of their albums and now they've released their 3rd: In Time to Voices.


They first 3 songs were my favourites from each album - perfect opening setlist! 'It's Getting Boring...', 'Don't Ask', and 'Cold' were enough to get me more than enthusiastic with the rest of the set. They did what many bands fail or just purely refuse to do: they played songs from all of their albums. Yes they have a new release to promote, but they gave the audience what they knew and what they wanted - which in my case was plenty from 'Box of Secrets'.


I've been to Heaven before and it hasn't been too bad, but I have to say this time the acoustics were awful. I could hardly hear the female vocalist (unless she just wasn't going for it the way I hoped), but the drummer was so addictively energetic it was hard not to enjoy the whole performance. It's pretty impressive to see someone sing, drum, and basically dance all at once!

Despite not touring that often, Blood Red Shoes are back in London performing at Shepherd's Bush Empire in October. Check them out!


Photos from www.bloodredshoes.co.uk

Shopping: H&M Fashion Against AIDS

H&M have had a number of high profile collaborations, the most recent being Marni and David Beckham, but less frantically publicised are their 'good cause' ranges. If you been in to any of the stores recently you'll have been bombarded by the Conscious Collection, however hidden upstairs is the amazing Fashion Against AIDS range.


Pics from www.hm.com/gb/
Full of brash, bright clashing colours; the range embraces this season's trend of obnoxious prints with ombre and big ol' jewellery to have a riot on the high street. It's basically the must-have wardrobe for Coachella-goers.


Obviously the massive added bonus on top of all the shiny stuff is this range gives 15% of all profits to AIDS research and support charities.




I bought this amazing necklace which essentially looks like it's made from a load of ball bearings, which had its first outing the other night with my Lulu Guinness cameo tee.




The range has definitely made me even more excited about the upcoming accessories collaboration with Anna Dello Russo, as that is bound to be 10 times more eccentric than this!


All other photos property of Shopped and Dropped, do not re-use without permission.
As of 20th November 2014, any products marked with an asterisk (*) have been provided as a sample for unbiased review