Normally the only time I'm awake at 5am on Saturday morning is when I haven't made it to bed yet, but a couple of weeks ago I tucked myself up in bed early(ish) on a Friday evening, ready for my alarm to go off at 5am the next day. Bleary eyed and not quite capable of anything involving make up or matching socks, I stumbled downstairs to a waiting taxi, to be whisked off to Billingsgate Market where I met a group of equally foggy food bloggers. We were there for a day with the ever flamboyant and way-too-lively-for-that-time-in-the-morning wine expert Douglas Blyde, who wanted us to go shopping for fish and seafood that we'd use to make a dish to eat with a glass or three of Muscadet later in the day. We stumbled into the market and found our way to Piggy's CafĂ© for some breakfast.
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If you're in Soho this week or next, then promise me you'll pop in to The Sun and 13 Cantons on Beak Street to try out some of Milli's amazing Spanish food?

Milli's doing a Spanish pop up at lunchtime and dinner time at The Sun and 13 Cantons, serving up delicious dishes like squid ink croquettes, sliced sirloin steak with potatoes and aubergine with honey, to name just a few. The tapas dishes range from £4-10 and there are about five vegetable, five fish and five meat dishes to choose from. They're also serving sherry, and smaller nibbles, so even if you haven't got time for a whole meal, I'd really recommend you pop in for a nibble and a drink!

Lunch is from 12-3pm Tuesday - Sunday, and dinner from 6-10pm with spaces still available on 26th, 27th and 30th October, and 2nd, 3rd (when I'm going) and 4th November. To book a table email info@milliscatering.co.uk or if you're going for lunch then just drop in.

Photos 100% stolen from Milli's blog, and taken by the wonderful Bec
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I'm not really sure how it's already Autumn, and all the shops think it's nearly Christmas, but somehow it's getting towards the end of the year!! I've got two more public pop ups lined up, one in November, and one in December, so wanted to let you know about them in case you want to come along to one (or both!?) I've had great fun with pop ups this year - I've raised over £3,500 in total for charity from various events, and have done pop ups in Gloucestershire, on top of the BBC centre car park and lots of other weird and wonderful locations. We did one in the garden during summer where we ended up having to move all the furniture and guests inside after the starters as it started raining!

So what have I got planned for my last two events? The first one's on Saturday 21st November - I'm still confirming a location, but it will be in West London, within walking distance of Shepherd's Bush. The menu for 21st is as follows, and if you want to come, but there's something you don't like or can't eat on the menu, just mention in the comments section when booking and I can make you alternate courses.

Pomegranate fizz welcome cocktail
Tempura oyster, cured salmon, pickled leeks, homemade bread
Game pie, parsnips, wilted raddicio and winter greens salad
Sticky toffee ginger pudding, pears, gingerbread ice cream
British cheeseboard with salted biscuits and chutney
Spiced chocolate truffles with Teapigs tea or coffee
As with most of my events, both my November and December pop ups are bring your own booze, so you can bring a bottle of two of your favourite. Tickets for the November event are here. Tickets for both events are priced at £35 per person, which includes a welcome cocktail, four courses, and tea or coffee with homemade truffles.
Saturday 5th December sees my final public pop up this year - between doing lots of private events for Christmas, hen dos and annual functions. Again, the 5th December is BYOB, and anything you don't like on the menu or can't eat can be replaced with something you do eat!
The menu for December is: 

Welcome cocktail - cranberry fizz
Venison tartare, horseradish, juniper pickled onions, homemade bread
Ox cheek bourginon, cauliflower puree, wilted raddicio, greens and squash salad
Chestnut pavlova, candied hazelnuts, chocolate sauce
British cheeseboard with salted biscuits and chutney
Spiced chocolate truffles with Teapigs tea or coffee
I'll leave you with some photos that were taken at my September pop up by the lovely Karin Pringsheim.

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Girly nights out have been a real blessing recently - time with old friends, where you chat about everything and nothing for hours and hours. One of these recent evenings was spent with Georgie at Leicester Square's Hippodrome Casino - a huge, 24 hour casino, that houses two floors of gaming, as well as a lovely restaurant - the Heliot Steakhouse - and a theatre that hosts up to two shows a night. We went along to try it all out, starting with dinner at the Heliot.

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Last weekend I went to Paris for a couple of days, and in between lots of walking and drinking coffee and wine (not at the same time!) I ate as much French food as possible - snails, steak, rum baba, steak tartare, oysters and a croissant for my final breakfast. Then yesterday I went to check out the soon to open Les 110 de Taillevent on Cavendish Square - an exquisite French restaurant that serves up lots of classics, alongside newer dishes (lamb sweetbread and crayfish vol au vent) with wines paired to each dish. So you could say I'm enjoying French food and wine at the moment! With all these great opportunities to eat out, it is also nice to cook at home, so I've been working with Expedia on their "world on a plate challenge" which celebrates the ultimate foodie holiday destinations around the world, which obviously include Paris. I've come up with a couple of recipe ideas below - not necessarily 100% French, but using delicious French ingredients with a bit of a twist.


Serves 2
2 confit duck legs
Half small celeriac
250ml whole milk
25g butter
25ml double cream
Salt and pepper
4 plums
1 shallot
2 star anise
1 tsp coriander seeds
100ml water
50ml soy
50g caster sugar
Pomegranate seeds

Put the duck legs, flesh side down, in a frying pan and heat gently for 20 minutes.

While the duck is cooking, peel the celeriac and chop in small squares. Add to a saucepan with the milk and top up with water so the celeriac's fully submerged. Cook for 10-15 mintues, or until soft, then strain, and blend with the butter and double cream, and salt and pepper to taste. (You could also make this dish with pulled pork instead of duck, and add some truffle paste or truffle oil to the celeriac puree at this point).

To make the plums sauce, finely chop the plums and shallot, and add to a pan with the star anise, coriander, water and soy sauce. Cook for 10 minutes, then blend and sieve.

After the duck has cooked for 20 minutes flip it over so it's skin side down and cook for a further five minutes.

To plate up, take two flat soup bowls and divide the celeriac between the two. Top with shredded confit duck, chopped coriander and pomegranate seeds, and finish with the plum sauce.

Photos by Chelone Wolf - Twitter / Facebook / Instagram
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As I eat out a lot in the evenings I try and eat as healthily as possible during the day to balance it out. That means a banana for breakfast and greens or salad for lunch. For me, this works well and means I can indulge in the evenings without feeling guilty. However, an invite to Lima Floral for breakfast looked too good to turn down, so Lucy and I went to check out their new morning menu. Lima Floral is the sister restaurant to Michelin starred Lima, and is on Floral Street in Covent Garden. They've just launched a new breakfast menu taking inspiration from the Peruvian flavours of their main menu.

We started with coffee and fresh orange juice. Both were great, and exactly what was needed that early in the morning.

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I love Paris. It's such a beautiful city, it's cheap and quick to travel to from London, and it has so many great restaurants serving brilliant food. I booked a little weekend trip for myself and popped over last Friday. Having recently visited the lovely Rendezvous Bar in London, part of the trio of Les Gourmets des Ternes restaurants (one in Knightsbridge, where Rendezvous is, one in Maida Vale, and one in Paris) I was invited to try out the Paris branch while I was there. The Paris branch is the original restaurant of the three, having been open since 1962. It's a celebrity favourite and the walls are adorned with photos of the owner with various celebs, while the paper tablecloths are covered with prints of handwritten messages from them.

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Bombay Brasserie is something of an institution. It's a beautiful restaurant near Gloucester Road serving classic Indian dishes. I went along a couple of weeks ago to check it out post its recent refurb, and when I put a picture up on Instagram a friend commented that Bombay Brasserie was her grandpa's favourite restaurant, and that he took them there about 20 years ago for a meal for a special occasion! It opened in 1982 and has been going strong ever since. Owned by same group as Quilon this is the more affordable but no less impressive little sister restaurant, and one you should definitely check out if you want to eat exquisite Indian food in beautiful surroundings.

We started our evening with a drink, naturally, before going on a behind the scenes tour of the kitchen, prep area, and tandoor ovens. It was a fascinating insight into the workings of a restaurant, and the chefs swooped around us, carrying on with their business as if there weren't an extra 15 or so people blocking up their kitchen!

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A couple of weeks ago, pre-ankle injury, and wearing a pair of heels for the first time in forever, I tottered down to Covent Garden for the re-launch of newly refurbed bar/restaurant/cabaret venue, Circus. I've said before that I'm lucky enough to be invited to some pretty cool places because of my blog, and this was definitely one of those. You walk into Circus through an almost unmarked door, and a huge room opens up in front of you. A large table runs down one side of the room while the rest of the space is filled with regular tables, and a cocktail lounge at the back which is where we headed to start our evening. I'll get to the bit later where I say you have to go to Circus for a night out, but if you can't go for the whole thing, then you must go to try the cocktails. They're real works of art. Even the cocktail menu is beautiful, with each drink illustrated by the very talented Andrea Wan. I started with the most delicious cocktail. Made from Mezcal San Cosme, fresh lime juice, red chilli syrup and apricot brandy, it was served with a little dish of pineapple chunks that had been dusted with smoked chilli salt. Libby, my plus one for the evening, wasn't drinking but they made a gorgeous fresh juice mocktail for her, which tasted almost as good as my cocktail.
My second cocktail was as good as the first - called the Mystic Cactus, it was made with Olmeca Altos Blanco, fresh lime juice, Asian spiced blood orange, chipotle chilli, dash of citrus bitters and orange blossom mist. A lovely, tangy long cocktail served in a tankard - my perfect kind of drink!

After our fill of cocktails we took our seats at the long table I mentioned, that runs the length of the room. There's a new pan Asian menu that's now being served at Circus and we sampled most of the starters between us. The food at Circus is seriously good, and highlights from the starters included lobster tempura with white truffle aioli and lemon ponzu, which had the lightest batter and richest sauce.  
Yellow tail sashimi with kizami wasabi, truffles, shallots, garlic and tomato salsa was fresh and light, and a great starter option if you're indulging for mains. The dressing was delicious - I really liked the wasabi that added a gentle kick.

Shredded duck and watermelon is a typical pan Asian dish found in many restaurants across London, with this being one of the best versions I've tried. A great balance of flavours and ingredients, with enough green to combat the rich duck.


Dumplings are a favourite of mine anyway, but the ones we had at Circus were really special and impossible to choose between - on the left the chicken truffle shumai with lemon ponzu and on the right the black cod and prawn dumpling with saffron and soya beans.

Full with starters, here's where the night got really interesting. The long table we were sitting at wass completely cleared, the lights dimmed and this sign projected on to the table.

We did as instructed, and before we could do anything else, acrobats jumped up on to the table and put on an amazing show. We were entertained by belly dancers, contortionists, hoop spinners and nearly naked dancers between each of the courses.


As you can see, the performances happened just inches from where we were sitting!!

After each act our table was re-laid and the next course served.

Mains were Scottish black angus fillet steak, shitake and caramelised butter soy, Chilean sea bass, chilli bean, black bean, shaoxing wine, garlic and ginger, and sides of baby bok choy with soy, ginger and garlic, and smoke aubergine, white miso, and chipotle chilli, which was the most delicious aubergine I've tried.


So much delicious food! The night, food and performances continued until it was time to slope off home, drink lots of water and try and get some sleep before work the next day. I was grinning from ear to ear having had one of the best nights out I've had in a while. Circus really is a unique experience, and unlike other venues that try and offer it all, every element of the evening was top quality, from the drinks, to the food, to the entertainment. If you want to try it for yourself, make sure you book ahead. Full details of how to book can be found on their website here. Circus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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It's been all about the food round here recently, but I've been testing out lots of drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) over the last few months, and have got a round up for you today on what's hot in the liquid world. There's some I'm sure you've heard of, and others that maybe you haven't, but you should definitely check out....

Cocktails to make at home...

Aperol Spritz. If you haven't heard about Aperol (an Italian aperetif made with orange, rhubarb, herbs and roots) then I guess you've been away all summer?! This year's seemingly most talked about drink has been everywhere, including my house! I was sent a bottle to try out, and have played with various concoctions using it. There's the obvious - the Spritz, made with 3 parts prosecco, 2 parts Aperol and 1 part soda water, it's a slightly bitter yet very refreshing long drink that's topped off with a slice of orange, to accentuate that fruity bitter taste. Another way to drink Aperol that I really like is with whiskey and ginger beer, finished off with mint leaves.

Cocchi Rosa Spritz. Another Italian aperitif that's not dissimilar to Aperol is Cocchi Rosa. Made with a wine base that's blended with aromatics tasting of wild rose and summer berries, its ingredients also include herbs, fruits and spices, as well as ginger and rose petals. Make your own version of Cocchi Rosa Spritz at home by mixing the aperitif with prosecco, strawberries, basil and soda. 

VII Hills. VII Hills is a new (1 year) to the market gin that was created by the team who work at Mr Fogg's. It's made with ancient Roman botanicals and tastes of juniper and sweet orange with a slightly sweet, peppery aftertaste. Perfect for tonic and citrus based cocktails - keep it simple with a shot of VII Hills, a dash of lemon juice, topped up with champagne, or mix it up a bit by combining VII Hills with lemon juice, egg white, grapefruit juice and soda.

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I love it when a pop up I've watched grow and develop gets a permanent (ish) home, which is what's happened for the boys at Smoke and Salt. One of the original Grub Club pop ups, they're now residing at Platform 1 in East Dulwich, a beautiful space with a bar full of homemade syrups and a garden where they grow as many herbs and vegetables for the kitchen as possible. I sadly missed the press night, but popped down a couple of weeks ago with Erica to try out the food. Dulwich isn't particularly close to where I work or live (nearly a three hour round trip) but it was SO worth it.

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