Now that I’ve been to a few cocktail masterclasses, I’ve come to the conclusion that making cocktails is quite an operation and the people who make them are quite the entertainers. Our teacher at Mint Leaf just oozed charm, the one at Rum & Sugar seemed to have endless energy, and not one to buck the trend, the resident mixologist at Reform Social at The Mandeville Hotel was cracking jokes all over the show. All three had their audience in raptures while mixing up delightful cocktails – I can barely pour a glass of wine while talking. Note to self, that needs some practice.
Actually, that’s not the only thing I need to work on. You might expect that after attending at least three of these so-called masterclasses I might be on my way to being a master at making my own cocktails. Well if that’s what you thought, I haven’t managed your expectations particularly well. I haven’t rushed out to buy any of the essential (and very cool) equipment required and I haven’t stocked my shelves with a wide range of spirits. In fact, I haven’t even come close to recreating any of the delicious concoctions I have been taught to make. Why?!
A forecast for the slightest bit of rain over the weekend was enough to send the doom and gloomers into overdrive, proclaiming that the British summer was well and truly over! It probably is and it would be very un-British to not have a whinge about that fact, but let’s not get too down in the dumps about it… I’m going to be bold and say we had a rather good run of the sunshine and warm weather. There were a couple of false starts and unbearable heatwaves but overall, I can’t complain. We’ve spent some quality time in the deck chairs we lugged home on the tube about two years ago, and I’ve enjoyed many al fresco lunches at the office!
The only thing that stopped me from all out declaring that it was a good and proper summer was when I realised I hadn’t made the customary trip to the beach. In my humble opinion, no summer is complete without dipping at least my toes in the sea and enduring the hilarity of finding sand everywhere for weeks. If I can tick that off, then yep, this has been a goody.
Deciding what to make for an office shared lunch can be quite a challenge. You certainly don’t want your colleagues to think you are incompetent in the kitchen (even if you are, some things should be kept out of the office) but you also don’t want to get too complex. No one likes a show off, or to be accused of trying to pass off a shop-bought item as one of their own. Then there’s the added issue of actually getting the food to the office – there’s no way I’m carting anything bigger than a standard sized tupperware box across London on three tube changes and a bus ride. Yeah, my commute is worse than yours; I know.
Given the list of dietary requirements, general likes and dislikes, and the scrutiny of some discerning diners in your midst, I would recommend you do what I do and play it safe. Chocolate brownies are the answer; a guaranteed crowdpleaser. If by chance there is someone in your team who doesn’t like chocolate brownies, someone else will no doubt be rubbing their hands together with delight because that means there’s another one going spare…
If someone told me they had found a great crab restaurant in the City, I’d be double checking exactly which city they were referring to. The City as in the one in London? I’d say they were having a laugh. When I’m craving some crustaceans, I’m picturing a little beach shack and cheery fishermen, not a concrete jungle filled with stuffy offices and suits chasing their next step up the corporate ladder. But such wild claims are just calling out to be investigated and luckily for you, a certain someone and I took one for the team.
Arriving at Broadgate Circle on a Friday evening did nothing to quell my suspicions that we were on a bit of a wild goose chase. The mosh pit of City-slaves were definitely more interested in letting loose and popping open the prosecco than they were about any food, decent or otherwise. But undeterred, we sidestepped around them and made our way to Crab Tavern to see if there could possibly be a decent crab dinner to be found in the City.
Over the last few days, weekends jaunts and week-long holidays have dominated our lunchtime conversations in the office. It’s the time of the year where everyone has either just come back from a trip or are about the jet off so there have been plenty of stories, recommendations, and even some debates… Where’s best for a beach holiday? What’s a great cheap and cheerful destination? Any hidden gems to reveal? And we couldn’t go past discussing our favourite destinations! I immediately piped up with Barcelona, and I was not alone in picking this Spanish city as a favourite!
We all agreed that Barcelona has a bit of everything which could almost make it the perfect city. Huge call. If you like strolling, it has endless streets to wander and admire the architecture. If you just want to laze in the sun, there’s a choice between park or beach. For the shopaholics amongst us, there are a mix of markets, boutiques and familiar favourites. And finally, if you’re all about the Spanish food and drink like I am, Barcelona is overflowing with fantastic restaurants and food stalls at every corner. The hotspots, and there are many, from high end to tapas to markets are fairly well-known so I thought I’d share some of my favourite alternatives…
If your geography is as bad as mine you might well be scratching your head a little to try and place Sofia on the map. I’ll give you a couple of clues – it’s around a three hour flight from London, their currency is called the lev, and they speak Bulgarian… dead giveaway right? Sofia is the capital city of Bulgaria, which isn’t a hugely popular tourist destination just yet but we think a gem that’s definitely worth visiting if you’re after a relaxing time in a compact city with stunning architecture!
Within an hour of arriving in Sofia, I was sitting in the beautiful rooftop bar of our hotel with a glass of remarkably good local wine in hand, plotting what we could get up to that weekend. I know many of you probably do your planning before you arrive in a destination but that’s not really our style and I don’t see that changing anytime soon… Besides, it just made the challenge that Travelex UK set me just that extra bit more interesting. This weekend was all about finding luxurious experiences without breaking the bank and I think we did rather well…