Kopapa, Seven Dials

Yes, yes I’ve been brunching again! I just can’t help it it’s become one of my favourite things (in fact I may have mentioned this already but Jen and I have already decided we’re swapping our monthly afternoon tea adventures for brunch ones in 2016 so expect to see more eggs on the blog next year for sure!)

Anyhoo, Michael and I were actually meant to be going for brunch at Roka as they had an insane deal through one of those discount voucher sites (I can’t remember which one) but sadly by the time we had settled on a date they had all gone – boo! Then our friend Rob decided to come into London for the day and join us and I had to think of somewhere else we could try sharpish. As usual Zomato to the rescue and I soon had a table for the three of us booked at Kopapa in Seven Dials. Did you know you can book tables via the app itself? I didn’t but it’s linked to OpenTable which does it all for you automatically (without having to talk to a human being – I can’t be the only one who hates using the phone can I?!) and even better you can earn points which can be exchanged for vouchers which means money off food! Literally my favourite thing.

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Sadly Michael couldn’t join us in the end so after we caught the murderer in Primrose Hill we hopped on a bus for our well-earned meal. Kopapa is a Kiwi restaurant and while I have enjoyed an Australia brunch from Granger & Co I’d never had food from New Zealand so was interested to see what spin they would put on their dishes.

The first thing that caught my eye on their menu was the Crosstown doughnuts – naturally – and the second their sea salt caramel & vanilla milkshake. I actually just really wanted a nice cold glass of coke with my brunch but Rob took one for the team and ordered one just so I could photograph it! (OK maybe he actually did want to try it a little bit too)

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Choosing what to eat was a more difficult but I was determined to go for something different from my usual avocado on toast with poached eggs (although here they do mix it up a bit with some added goats cheese) and decided to try the chorizo hash.

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It came with two fried eggs, rocket, sriracha chilli sauce and crispy shallots and it was… hot! In the spicy sense. I don’t know if it was just because the first bite I took had a lot of sauce on it or if I’m a wimp (Rob didn’t think it was very spicy at all) but I found the sauce pretty overpowering and wished I’d asked for it on the side. The chorizo hash itself was really good though. I think the dish would have worked better with poached eggs rather than fried but that’s really just personal opinion.

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Rob went for the hot smoked salmon on toast with spinach, poached eggs & yuzu hollandaise sauce which looked incredible although as happened at Caravan there was a distinct shortage in the toast department!

We were satiated but not full so thought we would treat ourselves to some of those lovely doughnuts we’d spotted when we arrived but sadly our waitress never actually offered us the dessert menu or asked if we wanted any more drinks so we gave up waiting and called it a day. To be fair it was probably the right call as I don’t think the spicy sauce sat well with my stomach! I appreciate that the restaurant was packed but the service really wasn’t up to scratch and the tables are all super close together which makes it really noisy as well. Probably not somewhere I’d return any time soon.

BitBS Rating – ££
Click to add a blog post for Kopapa on Zomato

*I’m not being paid by Zomato to feature them, I actually just think their app is fab!

Murder on Primrose Hill

Two years ago (I didn’t realise it had been so long until I started writing this post!) I won a Treasure Trail of my choice on my friend Karen’s blog Tiny Bird Heart. Given that I had never been, I chose the Primrose Hill Murder Mystery Themed trail and vowed to try it on a nice sunny day. Well that day finally arrived when my friend Rob came to town for the day!

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Treasure Trails are self-guided walks around a particular area with clues to solve along the way. Given that ours was a murder mystery these clues allowed us to disregard certain suspects and murder weapons until we were left with one of each. The trail was meant to take around two and a quarter hours and we had a brunch booking at 2.30pm so we headed for Camden Town station arriving around 11am.

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In the end it took us three hours to complete the trail, partly because we went the wrong way in the beginning and partly because some of the clues were no longer current (my fault for waiting so long between getting the damn thing and doing it) and there were a few that were painfully obvious as soon as we discovered the answer – it’s funny how you’re more likely to look up when looking for something than down at your feet.

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Interestingly very little of the trail actually took place on Primrose Hill but I did get to see some of those spectacular views people are always talking about! The trail looped back to the station which was great as we were able to hop on a bus to central from there.

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We had great fun figuring out the clues and it would be a lovely day out with little ones too (although maybe try to pick a not so busy area of London) and at just £6.99 per trail it’s a really cheap activity for a couple of hours entertainment. It’s a shame that the download is the same price as having a trail delivered though as I think some sort of discount should be offered given the saving on postage etc but I would definitely consider one of these again and have my eye on one of the treasure hunt themed trails!

BitBS Rating – £

Holy Cupcakes Batman: Cake Me Baby

I’m bringing back the old Holy Cupcakes Batman feature to tell you about the excellent Cake Me Baby. These guys are so great I don’t even know where to begin!

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It all started with an e-mail inviting me to celebrate the end of Afternoon Tea Week with them at their adorable little store in West London. The place almost has a wonderland theme to it with beautiful tree branches giving it an earthy feel and some incredible works of art from Rococo Wonderland Neon Art and Sonia Hensler.

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Upon arrival we were greeted in the best way possible; by name and with prosecco cocktails! Zizi made us all feel so at home and introduced me to Maria and Andrea who had also arrived on time and we chatted away while we waiting for the others to arrive (sadly none of them turned up, shame as it gives us bloggers a bad name) and let me tell you these girls are a riot! (And no, that wasn’t just the prosecco talking, that didn’t take effect until much later)

We took our seats and my eyes popped out at the incredible menu. The evening had been very cleverly themed as Hair of the Dog with two savoury and six sweet courses (seven if you include the PeaNutty Bulletproof Coffee which I don’t because yeuch coffe ;) ) I was impressed. Then the platters arrived and I was blown away.

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How incredible is this presentation?! Definitely Instagram worthy in my opinion. I decided to follow the menu from top to bottom and started with the Bloody Mary Pizza. This was utterly divine with the small focaccia being hollowed out to make room for the mozzarella and tomato and the wee lid popped back on top like a teeny tiny bunnychow.

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The mini mushroom and cheddar quiche was also jam-packed full of flavour for its size and for someone who doesn’t particularly like mushrooms I could have eaten an entire plateful!

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But I’m not gonna lie, what I was really there for was the cakes and more beautiful cakes I don’t think I have ever seen. The “Berocca” Jelly had sadly not set but the attention to detail down to the apricot tablet at the bottom of the glass was brilliant.

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I skipped the Panna cotta because again yeuch coffee but the moans of appreciation from my fellow bloggers told me that it was a hit. Instead I went for the Big Breakfast Cupcake, the bakeries most famous creation, and I have to say I was sceptical. Bacon? On a cupcake? Are you sure?

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I was completely and utterly proven wrong and this was my second favourite sweet delight of the evening. My first favourite was Da Bomb – no I’m not going gangster on you that’s what it was called! Afternoon tea ganache with passion cream, mirror glaze, butter biscuit and Greens of Devon edible flowers, this was as much a visual treat as it was a culinary one.

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You’d think by now we’d be reaching out limit but there were still two more cakes to go! The Little Blue Pill (blue raspberry cake pop with popping candy!) and The Real Bourbon (basically a giant Bourbon cream laced with… you guessed it, Bourbon!)

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All of the sweet treats with the exception of The Little Blue Pill were gluten-free and I can tell you I did not notice any difference in taste whatsoever. What I did notice after leaving was the fact that I wasn’t as bloated as I quite often am after indulging in afternoon tea (thank you Crohn’s disease) and didn’t feel uncomfortably full in the slightest just nicely satiated.

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Alessandra, the brains behind Cake Me Baby, joined us throughout the evening easily chatting away to us and answering any questions we had. She even gave us a quick peek at her kitchen although I think I may have crossed the line when I started singing Let It Go! The bakery offers an exceptional bespoke cake services (Seriously, check out some of the cakes they’ve made) but they do NOT do Disney!

Thank you so much to Zizi and Al for an incredible evening. If I’m ever out West you can be sure I’ll be popping in for a cupcake or two!

Cupcake Rating – Batman- Capture (118x70) (113x62)Capture (118x70) (113x62)Capture (118x70) (113x62)

Click to add a blog post for Cake Me Baby on Zomato

*Disclaimer: I attended this event for free in exchange for blogging about the event.
The above opinions are still my own and not influenced by this in any way.

August 2015 NET Worth

Credit

Cash – £31.81
Santander – £541.50
Halifax C/A – £27.78
PayPal – £28.78
Credit total – £629.87

Debts
Capital One C/C – £41.09
MBNA C/C – £3,577.89
Santander C/C – £2,990.18
Virgin Atlantic C/C – £930.85
Debt total – (£7,540.01)

Net worth
£629.87 – £7,540.01 = –£6,910.14

Staycation Inspiration with Parkdean

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I love nothing more than a holiday abroad exploring the culture of another country but sometimes a trip closer to home is just as exciting and eye-opening. Living in London means a lot of places are much more accessible for a staycation and over the last two years I’ve had visited Wales (the Brecon Beacons are one of my favourite places in the UK), the Norfolk Broads and more recently Birmingham. But my favourite staycation memory happened before I made the move to the big smoke when we surprised my dad for his 60th birthday.

We’d tricked him into thinking he was dropping off my mum and niece for a weekend with other grandparents who look after their grandchildren but in actual fact as soon as he left to pick them up my sister and I snuck into his house, packed him a weekend bag (while my mum desperately tried to stall him) and got a half hour head start on the journey to Silver Sands caravan pack in Lossiemouth – where we’d spent many happy childhood holidays. We decorated the caravan with balloons and banners then hid behind anything we could when we heard them approach.

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As he came in with their luggage we jumped out yelling Happy Birthday at the top of our lungs to which he laughed out loud and then exclaimed “but I don’t even have any clothes with me” when we told him we were all there for the whole weekend. Then my uncle snuck up on him from behind for an added surprise!

The weekend itself seemed to slip by in a lovely relaxed haze. We built sand castles on the beach, net fishing in rock pools (we even found a starfish!), took a walk up to the lighthouse where we found apples and berries growing in the wild. It was perfect!

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Top of my staycation wishlist is Cornwall and since I haven’t been able to make it there so far the lovely people at Parkdean sent me a luxury cream tea hamper so I could have a little taste of Cornwall from the comfort of my own home!

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From the pictures I’ve seen Cornwall is a little slice of heaven in the UK with beaches to rival those of the Mediterranean, picturesque walking trails and of course the most delicious of cuisine; from Cornish pasties to scones and clotted cream!

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If all this talk of staycations has you itching for one of your own why not enter Parkdean’s competition to win a 3 to 4 night stay with them in either Cornwall (or Devon), worth £499.

*Disclaimer: I was gifted the cream tea hamper in exchange
for advertising the Parkdean competition.

The above opinions are still my own and not influenced by this in any way.

The Weekend #50

I had the busiest weekend ever last weekend I think I’m still tired from it! Despite good intentions I had a bit of a lazy morning on Saturday before heading into central to meet up with some friends for lunch. I’ve already blogged about Pix here but if you haven’t read my review you totally should ;)

Having friends across the country is hard as you don’t get to see each other a lot but when you do meet up it is so much fun. The same can be said for meeting new bloggers and I had the pleasure of meeting both Marie from MsFoodBlogger and Angela from SheLives2Eat at an intimate event to celebrate the end of afternoon tea week with Cake Me Baby.  I was however, extremely disappointed in the number of bloggers who let the bakery down and failed to turn up for the evening – jokes on you! It was a super fun evening and we were absolutely spoiled rotten.

I'm sorry but this is the best blogger pic I've ever taken #flatlay #lblogger #fdblogger

A photo posted by Leanne Fraser (@brokeinthebigsmoke) on

After getting home late (I don’t usually travel that far West simply because of how long it takes to get home afterwards) I was feeling very snoozy indeed but I had to be up and ready for 11am as my friend Rob was coming to town for a days adventuring. We spent a good 3 hours getting lost in Camden thanks to Treasure Trails and working up an appetite before having brunch at Kopapa which I’ll review properly in another post.

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I managed to get home in time to receive my Hello Fresh delivery before heading out once again! This time to Kings Cross where myself and a few other lucky bloggers enjoyed a night onboard the floating cinema watching Mean Girls courtesy of Currys.

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How was your weekend? Any exciting plans for this one?

Pix, Covent Garden

My friends Stephen and Vee were up in London from Brighton for the day and asked me if I would like to join them and some of their other friends for lunch. I hadn’t seen them in so long so of course immediately said yes. When I asked where they had in mind I was asked for suggestions of places I hadn’t been yet but wanted to try.

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As you probably know by now I have a to try list longer than my entire body let alone my arm (my Zomato bookmarks currently sits at 155) so I set about finding somewhere in Central London that wasn’t too pricey, could accommodate vegetarians and would hopefully make everyone happy. I offered Stephen a couple of suggestions and between us we settled on Pix, a small tapas bar on Neal Street just off of Seven Dials. We were seated through the back which was fab as it was entirely empty to start but the place soon filled up with hungry diners!

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Inspired by the pintxo bars of Barcelona, Pix offers loads of different food options with only two prices. Those with small sticks sticking out of them cost £2.25 and the big ones £3.25 which makes adding up your bill super simple. After a couple portions of patatas bravas to share between us while we waiting for drinks we checked out the days offerings.

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I went with the Serrano ham on tomato bread, diablo meatballs, Serrano ham & bechemal croquetas and the four cheese fritter. Some items were better than others and while the meatballs were delicious the bread that came with it and also the Serrano ham was a bit of a let down. My absolute favourite dish however were the cheese fritters, crispy on the outside while still being wonderfully gooey on the inside – truly delicious!

Yes my friends (and their friends) let me take pictures of their food before they started eating. That's how you know they're good friends!

Yes my friends (and their friends) let me take pictures of their food before they started eating. That’s how you know they’re good friends!

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I could have quite happily gone back for more but of course wanted to save room for not only the cava we were drinking but a cheeky little pudding too! These churros with chocolate sauce were the bomb and an absolute bargain at the short stick price.

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I may have got sugar absolutely EVERYWHERE trying to eat these in a half polite manner but man were they worth it. The sauce wasn’t really a sauce though, more like milkshake which made an excellent chaser at the end of the meal. In total the bill came to around £20 each including drinks which for central London is pretty much unheard of.  I for one am a definite convert!

BitBS Rating – £

Click to add a blog post for Pix on Zomato

Pizza East, Shoreditch

As mentioned we stopped half way through out street art photography tour to refuel on pizza from Pizza East. This place has shot straight into my top three pizzas of London so I felt that it deserved a post all to itself!

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We were actually accommodated in the downstairs area of the venue which is apparently usually a club area rather than part of the restaurant so there weren’t any other diners around us. This was probably a good thing as bloggers are a) noisy and b) take a LOT of pictures before anything can be eaten!

Those weird round stands in the middle of the table were to hold the pizza’s – genius! – although there were actually too many pizzas to fit so some had to be squeezed onto the table underneath. I for one will never, ever complain about too much pizza.

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We were served pizza with salami, tomato, mozzarella & chilli flakes along with Prosciutto cotto, wild mushroom & fontina cheese and of course the standard Buffalo mozzarella, tomato and basil for the veggies. I cheekily tried all three and enjoyed the salami one most although some slices had more chilli on them than others! The crusts were super crispy while the base was still nice and doughy in the middle. Everything you could want from a pizza really. I’ll definitely be returning!

BitBS Rating – ££

Click to add a blog post for Pizza East on Zomato

#LumiaStreetArt photography tour

One dismal, dreich Tuesday night after work myself and some other extremely brave bloggers headed to Shoreditch (in some cases sans umbrella) for a Street Art photography tour. The fabulous guys at Microsoft had arranged for us all to be loaned a Lumia 930 device with which to capture amazing pictures of the area.

After admiring the Lumia’s bright orange casing, testing out the selfie camera and catching up with some bloggers I hadn’t seen in a while it was time to set off on our little wander. You may remember that I took a graffiti tour of Shoreditch last year and it was interesting to see what had changed over the course of the last 18 months and more importantly what had stayed intact. We were guided through the streets by Karim of StreetArtLondon.co.uk while at the same time being given photography tips from Phil Hibberd.

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I had intended to take pictures with both the Lumia and my own iPhone 6 as a comparison but the rain got the better of me and I stuck with the single device. Although I did capture one of the first pieces we saw with both devices. Can you tell the difference?

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The top picture was taken with the Lumia and the colours are so much more vivid than the iPhone picture. This is probably because the Lumia  is one of the only smartphones out there that you can actually change the white balance on at the touch of a button which makes taking pictures in any environment so much easier.

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Karim’s enthusiasm for street art was very apparent and he showed us many pieces that I hadn’t seen on my previous tour. Art of this kind is very fleeting as it can be painted over at any time and only those artists who are well-known within the scene command the respect for their pieces to be left untouched. I was sad to see that octo-elephant by La Pandilla had been painted over. Although it was replaced with an equally beautiful piece of art.

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We stopped for a much-needed break at Pizza East where we had the chance to relax and chat with good food and wine (there’ll be a separate post up about that later because the pizza was EPIC!) before heading back into the night to see how the phones cameras coped in the night.

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This is where those photography tips from Phil really came into their own and made the subjects of our photos stand out so much better than if we just used the regular settings on the phone. Tired and a little bit wet we said our goodbyes and headed our separate ways. Huge thanks to Karim and Phil for their time!

*Disclaimer: I attended this event for free in exchange for blogging about the event.
The above opinions are still my own and not influenced by this in any way.

 

A beginner’s guide to the Rugby World Cup

This year the Rugby World Cup is being hosted in England with some of the games happening right here in lovely London. If – like me – you know very little about the sport, here’s a beginner’s guide to help you swot up before the tournament begins in exactly 30 days’ time.

  • A game of rugby has two halves each of which last 40 minutes total (plus injury time).
  • Each team consists of 15 players; eight forwards and seven backs.
  • The first tournament was held in 1987 and they are scheduled every four years making this the 14th Rugby World Cup.
  • A try is when a player places the ball on the ground while in the goal area and is worth five points.
  • After a try a team gets the chance of scoring an additional two points by kicking the goal through the posts. This is called a conversion.
  • A drop goal is when a player drops the ball and kicks it through the posts on the half-volley. This is worth three points.
  • You can only pass the ball backwards.
  • Only a player in possession of the ball can be tackled.

Those are just some basics, the rules of the game are a LOT more complicated than that and there’s no better way to learn than by watching so if you would like to see your first ever game in person or indeed are a huge rugby fan who hasn’t got round to buying tickets yet fret not as MasterCard have got you covered.

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They are offering the chance to win a pair of tickets for the upcoming games being held at Twickenham Stadium. To enter all you have to do is count the number of balls hidden in the illustration of Trafalgar Square above and enter your answer on the Priceless London website.

Final day for entries will be 26/08/2015. You have one week to enter!

Competition Terms and Conditions
– The prize draw is open to residents of the UK only

– There will be 5 prizes available:
1 x pair of tickets to England v Fiji at Twickenham Stadium at 8pm on 18/09/2015
1 x pair of tickets to France v Italy at Twickenham Stadium at 8pm on 19/09/2015
1 x pair of tickets to England v Wales at Twickenham Stadium at 8pm on 26/09/2015
1 x pair of tickets to England v Australia at Twickenham Stadium at 8pm on 03/10/2015
1 x pair of tickets to Australia v Wales at Twickenham Stadium at 4.45pm on 10/10/2015
– Final day for entries will be 26/08/2015
– For full terms and conditions see Priceless London’s website.

*Disclaimer: This post written in collaboration with MasterCard
The above opinions are still my own and not influenced by this in any way.