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Craft Beer Tasting at Hof Ten Dormaal Brewery, Leuven

Pouring beer into a glass

Imagine a brewery and what kind of place comes to your mind? Metal containers, huge vats and a sterile environment. Sure there might be a great bar attached to it, but from my experience, breweries are either in an industrial estate, or somebody's garage. Hof Ten Dormaal* is absolutely NOT what I've come to expect. More reminiscent of a beautiful vineyard, the rustic setting makes it pretty clear that what you'll taste from their barrels is undeniably unique.

A Tour of the Meantime Beer Brewery, Greenwich

Two pints of meantime beer

There's very little pressure like getting into a new relationship and having to celebrate your new bloke's birthday a few weeks in. You can plump for a generic meal out to celebrate or take a wild stab in the dark at planning something a bit more interesting. And that's how I ended up booking a tour around Meantime's brewery in Greenwich. Referencing early Bumble conversations about craft beer and a first date that saw us supping pints of, well, everything, I was pretty sure I was on to a winner.

Codebreaking and Cocktails at The Bletchley, London

Secret entrance to The Bletchley

Throughout my childhood, I went on approximately 18 million school trips to Bletchley Park. It's the only place of real historic importance within my hometown of Milton Keynes, a city that celebrated its 50th birthday this year, and as it so happens I used to go to school 10 minutes down the road from the famous WWII site. So obviously I was intrigued and slightly baffled when I heard about The Bletchley, a pop-up centred around codebreaking, devised by the team who ran the recent Breaking Bad 'meth lab' bar.

Wine Tasting in the Cape Winelands, South Africa

Pouring red wine

My relationship with wine is long but probably not overly complicated. In my student days I indulged a bit too enthusiastically in the boxed variety; glugging vinegar-y whites with the sole purpose of improving my dance moves. In the last few years I've discovered an appreciation of red wine, but my knowledge of what I like exactly is pretty limited. Essentially I know what I like when I try it, but it's kind of hit and miss.

Three Super Easy Whisky Cocktails

Johnnie Walker Gold Label

In the ten years I've been of legal drinking age, I have received many undesirable bottles of booze as sub-par unthoughtful gifts. Take, for example, the relative who gave me a bottle of Malibu two years in a row, despite me being allergic to coconut. Or the bottle of Cava that was two years out of date and actually had dust on it in the gift bag it came in.

The Restorative Power of Tea

woman drinking tea

It's amazing what a good brew can do for your mood. Whether it's chatting over a pot of builder's best with my nan, clutching onto a mug of Assam for dear life on a hangover, or desperately searching for a decent mug of the stuff abroad - tea makes me feel grounded and at home. Even as I write this, I'm sat in a beautiful hotel lobby in Singapore, with an art deco style cup and saucer plonked next to me.

Gin Journey: Exploring London's Best Cocktail Bars

gin journey london

As the weather gets warmer, I become more and more partial to a cold and crisp G&T. Yet as I've got older, I'm less fond of a bog standard Gordon's and have started to discover other gins that really do tickle my tastebuds. When gin connoiseur and total beaut, Emma told me she'd won tickets to Shake Rattle and Stir's Gin Journey and wanted little old me to go with her, it was like I'd hit juniper jackpot.

Cocktails in the City 2016

Cahoots gin cocktail

I'm a list maker. I have lists for everything; from reminding me to do that thing to suggesting that I try that place, but primarily telling me what I want to eat and drink. It's never ending because I am constantly adding somewhere new to it and there just ISN'T ANY TIME. Where do I even begin when everywhere looks so flippin' delicious?

Whisky Tasting with Geronimo Inns

best london food blogs

I'm a relatively new fan of whisky. Along with red wine, I could never quite understand how people would enjoy supping on a glass, but over the last two years my tastes seemed to have changed and I've ditched Sauvignon Blanc for Malbec and Grey Goose for Wild Turkey.

Alcoholic Architecture

alcoholic architecture london

London is stupid. I live in a city where the simple act of going for a drink just doesn’t cut it for most of us. We’re presented with ‘immersive’ experiences, pop-ups and quirky concepts. I’ve drunk cocktails from vintage jelly molds, consumed hot buttered rum inside a giant rooftop wigwam and craft beer straight from the brewery, but Alcoholic Architecture takes the top spot for ‘most ridiculous alcohol consumption’ ever.

Degustabox: August

degustabox august review

I love getting my monthly Degustabox*. It’s such a little treat to get post and not know what’s inside, as opposed to the unpleasant surprises bills can bring or another coupon for a dodgy local pizza place. August’s theme was ‘back to school’, with the box being full of products you can prep or pack for your lunch box. I try and take breakfast and lunch to work with me as many days as possible, so these were some great additions that I hadn’t previously thought of.

Brunch at The Soda Works by Square Root

pancake brunch

A couple of weeks ago, the wonderful Jasmin Charlotte invited me to a meet-up she was holding in Covent Garden. I got to meet lots of lovely bloggers including Etta from The Brunch Diaries and Lucy from Lucy Loves to Eat, and we instantly clicked over our mutual love of food. When I spotted an obscure Hackney pop-up I automatically knew that these two would definitely come with me, and so through the power of Twitter, we arranged to meet one Saturday morning for brunch and a catch-up.

Degusta Box: February

degusta box february

Who could possibly say that having a box of food delivered right to your door isn't appealing? I spend an unholy amount of time wandering the aisles of Waitrose and willing myself not to buy something new that I just do not need. A recent trip home to Milton Keynes included a visit to the massive ASDA there where I gleefully skimmed the shelves for ingredients I may not be able to get on a regular daily shop (helloooooooo to a massive bag of chana dal). This month's Degusta Box* was true to form in its variety and surprise value; I had a whale of a time looking through as always!

[Drinks] Cocktail Making Class at Mixology

I'm more than comfortable in the kitchen, following a recipe or baking up a storm, but when it comes to mixing a decent drink I get as far as vodka + mixer and potentially add a straw if I'm feeling fruity. I love a cocktail, but they are so overpriced in London and any old barman seems to think they can get away with serving up something brightly coloured and slapping a £10 price tag on it. A really amazing cocktail, like a good meal, sticks in your memory though. The one that springs to mind for me is the the Italian Job at The Connaught Hotel bar - a blend of orange, passionfruit, vodka and Campari made it worth the hefty cost. So I was pretty excited but also apprehensive about a cocktail making class, a part of me was expecting to be taught Woo Woos and Tequila Sunrises, the sort of drinks I used to drink in vast quantities as a student (and that's definitely not a good thing). 

Mixology is based on an unassuming street near Old Street and looks amazing inside. There are work benches with all the tools we would need, set up in the centre of a room surrounded by alcohol of all sorts, vintage mixing paraphernalia and ingredients that you would never guess to put in a drink (although it turns out the chorizo we saw on our arrival was just a pre-class snack for our teacher. Phew!).

We were taught the official names of the tools on our work benches, directed towards the liquids we'd be needing and then we cracked on with our four cocktails: a french martini, an elderflower julep, a triple rum daquiri and a flaming zombie. The daquiri was, without a doubt, my favourite, although each drink got progressively stronger (and more delicious) as we went through the evening. Cocktail making is a fine-tuned business, the measuring needs to be precise or the flavours are all wrong, even the type of ice can change the way a drink tastes. And it's physical work! If you don't have any upper body strength like me, then shaking your cocktail for a full minute and then attempting to break the shaker away from the glass are both hard tasks! The night finished with us hollowing out half a lime, filling it with overproof rum and setting it on fire - not the safest of tasks around flammable liquids and increasingly flammable humans. Did you know that shaking cinnamon over a flame makes it do that exciting blue sparking thing? Far too much fun.

Mixology Studios are in Shoreditch but they also have cocktail making class venues in North London, Central London, West London, South London, The City and Canary Wharf. Check out their Mixology website for more info.

Disclaimer: I was invited to Mixology with eBuzzing with work colleagues and was not expected to write a review. But I enjoyed it, so write about it I did!

Cocktails at the Shangri La, Sydney

Sydney has one of the most recognised skylines in the world; the curves of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge are the most well known tourist attractions in the city, if not the country. I was lucky enough to see these iconic structures every day as I traveled into work at the Sydney office, but the best way to see them is from above.

On the 36th floor of the Shangri La Hotel is Blu Bar, with the best views in the city and some not too shabby cocktails to boot. It's free to get up there but annoyingly you can't book a table up there, so you may have to wait for the tables with the picturesque view. In the meantime, you can wait at the bar and look over the west of Sydney instead, which isn't exactly bad. On the whole, I wasn't a huge fan of Sydney. I felt it was pretty soulless and suburban, lacking the culture and vibe I was expecting from such a metropolitan city. However, these views helped me warm to the place. As I looked over now familiar streets, I realised the city was starting to grow on me, I just had to give it a bit more time.

We managed to get a window seat overlooking the main sights just as the sun started to set, meaning we got to see Sydney transform from a beautiful Summer day into a dusky streetlight utopia and made it one of my favourite evenings in the city.

I'm wearing:
Jacket - Cotton On
Tee - Topshop
Necklace - Vintage

I Drink Tea Now

I always consider myself a disappointing British person when I turn down a cup of tea.
"Coffee then?"
"No thanks, I don't like either."
Considering my family, boyfriend, and housemate all base their day around when their next brew will be, I don't know why I've never taken to it.

In an attempt to be healthier at the end of last year (I refuse to use the word 'detox' as I like calories far too much for that), I tried out green tea. Antioxidants and all that. But it turns out that green tea has more caffeine in it that regular builders tea, and now I can't spend a morning without it. It's taken me on a natural progression to 'real' tea, and you know what? It's not actually that bad.

I get the ceremony of it now: the teapots, the favourite mug, the biscuits on the side (who am I kidding, that's definitely the best bit!).

Are you a tea fanatic? Can you function without caffeine in the mornings?
(This post isn't sponsored by Twinings, we just happen to have a lot of their tea in our flat!)
As of 20th November 2014, any products marked with an asterisk (*) have been provided as a sample for unbiased review