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Chloe Tries || Foodie Monthly – September

Say hello to my new regular feature!

At the beginning of each month, I’ll be showing all of you, what I’ve been craving, loving, indulging in. I did try to do a foodie finds feature each month, showcasing something new, which some of you might remember. But I found there’s actually a few little spots, new food/drink finds or refound loves I wanted to share each month. These usually end up sandwiched in and between my Instagram stories and don’t get the love they deserve. So from now on, I’ll be doing a monthly roundup of my top picks.

I know I’m a little late for September, as I was away in New York, but I couldn’t resist starting now – September was a good one. So cast your mind back, pretend it’s just hit October, and read on to find out what had my heart last month.

Thomas Fudges Florentines.

Ok, so a florentine is never on my shopping list. Ever. But that’s definitely about to change.

September favourites

We tried Thomas Fudges Florentines recently when I visited the family, as a cheeky little mid-afternoon treat with a cuppa, and they were super delicious. Sweet pastries, made from fruit and nuts, these were soft and sweet. They were a little sticky, not overly chewy. I loved that they had a light chocolate coating too! Now I only usually buy biscuits or treats like this occasionally if I have people over, but these will definitely be making more appearances!

Campari.

This is one drink I wasn’t sure on. It’s got an acquired taste that’s for sure. But I don’t even think I’d had a decent Negroni before. And that definitely made a lasting impression, making me not order again.

However, last month I went along to the Campari Creates The Mostra popup and my mind was changed completely. Aside from the popup being super cool – it was designed to make you feel as though you’d stepped inside a cocktail! – the drinks were also fantastic.

September favourites

I tried the Campari G&T (a refreshing serve I didn’t even consider before), Sbagliano (named the mistake, as it uses prosecco instead of the usual ingredients, but it was delicious) and Negroni (super smooth and tasty). It was a fab evening, and I’ll definitely be choosing a Negroni again when out in future. I might even start using Campari in cocktails at home!

September favourites

KIND bars.

I’m addicted. These aren’t just a standard cereal bar. KIND bars are made with fruits, nuts and spices, and bound together with honey – that’s it. Pretty simple, yet SO GOOD. With up to 72% nuts, they are pretty crunchy and keep my constant nut craving at bay.

I actually took a few to New York with me, for the flight and any peckish moments. They went down a treat! Great for on the go.

My faves right now are Madagascan Vanilla Almond and Maple Glazed Pecan & Sea Salt. But I’m still yet to try the protein ones – The same style bars, with 12g of plant protein. The Crunchy Peanut Butter one is calling out to me!

The Shake Shack Crispy Pickle Burger

Ok, this was amazing.

September favourites

In September, Shake Shack launched the limited edition deep fried pickle burger – a double¬†Provolone cheese burger topped with crispy fried pickles, fresh onion & garlic mayo. I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch to try it. And I can confirm, it’s something pretty special! I mean, Shake Shack burgers are pretty awesome anyway, but this one…I’m a big pickle fan, so it sure hit the spot. Even though I could have had a little more pickle (think I’m a pickle fiend), it still topped my usual order, the Shackburger. I’m secretly hoping they’ll add it to the menu permanently after the two-month period.

September favourites

Branston Pickle

Chunky. It’s got to be chunky!

I hadn’t had pickle in years. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I even picked up a ploughmans sarnie in the supermarket for lunch, as there are so many options – and for some strange reason I’m a sucker for an egg sandwich when at work.

But during a visit home recently, mum and I had the chunkiest cheese sandwich, made with fresh wholemeal loaf cut into doorstop slices. Packed with salad too, I couldn’t resist adding a thick spread of pickle. It just had to be done. I was in my own personal heaven. It was a seriously dreamy sandwich!

September favourites

I’ve since been wondering what else I should put pickle with – because you know, it can’t just be for sarnies or cheese and crackers. Watch this space. Any recommendations obviously welcome.

And there you have my top five September picks. I told you it was a good month.

What were you loving last month? Have you tried anything new recently you think I’d love?

Chloe xx

*This post does include food/drink from events I’ve been invited to, or samples I’ve received. All views my own.

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Eating Out || Trullo, St. Pauls Road

There are a large number of pasta places in London. But I hardly choose an Italian when dining out. Even with my love of carbs. Partly because I think I can make it myself. Partly because it can easily be disappointing and hardly worth the trip out for dinner. There’s nothing more frustrating than going out for food and finding yourself tucking into something you think you could have topped yourself.

Trullo had been on my must-visit list for a while however. I’ve strolled past a few times, it always looking sophisticated and classy, yet relaxed. Always drawing me in. I’d heard great things too. Lots of great things. So I had to try it for myself, and see if it could really live up to the reviews.

Trullo, italian, st pauls roadTrullo, italian, st pauls road

Trullo is on St. Paul’s Road, literally a 3 minute walk from Highbury & Islington Station. From greeting to leaving, it had that sophisticated feel, as expected. The service was spot on too. Friendly but not constantly at your table. We all know, it’s a hard one to balance. I popped along on a Monday evening with Kim and Katy, and it was even pretty buzzy then. Definitely one to book at, as they miraculously take reservations!

The wine menu is pretty extensive, with over 40 different varieties. There’s also beers, aperitifs and soft options. The Trebbiano Rubione 2017 Vin Vita (white) was light and not overly dry. A delicious accompaniment to our vegetarian options. I love a veggie option anyway, but I’m actually trying to eat more vegetarian foods in the week. Little life insight for you there ūüėČ

Trullo, italian, st pauls road Trullo, italian, st pauls road

I’ll be completely honest, the food menu overwhelmed me a little. Although succinct, it was filled with so many delicious sounding options, both for meat eaters and vegetarians. There were a couple of vegan options when I went too. Even with cutting out the meaty ones, there was still plenty to choose from. It actually changes daily so the menu could be slightly¬†different each time you go.

Luckily, we did the whole sharing thing and just picked several between us.

I never would have been able to choose one or two for myself.

Trullo, italian, st pauls road

The Bruschetta of Slow Cooked Green Beans with Pecorino Toscano made for one fab starter. The green beans cooked beautifully, the toast lightly crisp, it was one fresh, flavoursome dish.

The Fettuccine with Scottish Girolles was a big hit. Scottish girolles being fungi/mushrooms, for anyone who almost googled, as did I. I love a mushroom number, so I had high hopes for this. It did not disappoint. It was mildly creamy, although not coated in sauce. The mushrooms added that signature umami flavour, and it was fantastic. This is a must order.

Trullo, italian, st pauls road Trullo, italian, st pauls road

You can’t get much more simple than the Tagliarini with Black Pepper and Parmesan. Tagliarini pasta with minimal additions. The traditional way. This is how you can tell a good pasta spot. And I can say, this was delicious! The parmesan and pepper adding depth, but not overpowering.

Trullo, italian, st pauls road

We got sucked in by the burrata too. Well when can you not?! The fresh Burrata came with grilled polenta, courgette trifolate and salsa rossa. The grilled polenta was crisp on the outside, fluffy in the middle, a lot like a potato waffle. But corn-flavoured and superior. The courgette trifolate was mild in flavour, the courgettes themselves soft but not mushy. The salsa a contrast, vibrant, flavoursome. This was my other fave of the evening. Although only just, as everything really was SO good.

Trullo, italian, st pauls road

We also tried the marinated aubergine with mint and golden garlic, and a fresh side salad, which were both fab accompaniments to the other dishes. The aubergine tasty, but not quite a show stopper for me by itself.

The dessert menu looked to good to ignore. With a hand-picked selection of desserts, including tarts and ice cream, how can you not have one to taste. Even between three. The panna cotta was a boozy number, made with grappa. It was creamy and smooth, and delicious with the fresh juicy blueberries.

A great way to end a fab meal.

Summary:

  • Price: With individual dishes from ¬£4 through to ¬£20, the price of dinner can vary. The white wine we had was ¬£22 for the bottle, which was fantastic!
  • Food: You HAVE to try the pasta. Even the simplest dish is delicious! The ultimate sign of a good pasta spot. As mentioned, the menu changes daily so it could be a little different to this. I have all faith all the dishes would be fab!
  • Drinks: The¬†Trebbiano Rubione 2017 Vin Vita went beautifully with all of our selected dishes, but there are plenty of options.
  • Atmosphere: Sophisticated, classy, relaxed.
  • Wait: Book if possible. It was pretty buzzy on a Monday.

If you’re a fan of italian, you HAVE to try this spot. Where does the best pasta you’ve ever tried?

Chloe xx

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Lifestyle|| Taking the stress out of moving…

It’s said that moving is more stressful than break-ups or a new job – according to a research study a couple of years ago.

Having moved recently I can certainly vouch for it being stressful. So many things to think about. Everything to remember. Liaising with the managing agent/landlord on viewings etc. Cancelling bills – the faff (why can’t they all be with one provider? But no, there’s like 5). Selling/getting rid of unwanted stuff – that huge clear out. Making sure the flat looks in the same condition to get as much of your deposit back as possible. Actually finding a new place (with nice housemates). Thinking about the extra bits and pieces the new place needs.

And this doesn’t even take into account the actual process of packing your whole life up, finding a vehicle big enough and transporting everything you own to the new location.

It’s safe to say it’s not something I like doing regularly. But once you’re in and settled, feeling all homely it’s so worth it.

As I went through the whole process only a few weeks ago, managing to stay reasonably calm (with the help of some awesome friends and my super helpful family), I wanted to share my top tips to help make it a more relaxed experience.

Making moving stress-free

Once you have a date for the big move, ask friends/family if they’re free.

Don’t feel like a burden. Most likely, they’d love to help and know you’d do it for them if it was the other way round! Set dates with friends to do packing over a glass of wine, and make dinner afterwards. It’s all about the little rewards and making it fun, to cancel out the stress.

Moving is the perfect time to have a huge clear out. So start early, and be ruthless.

Do you really need that old bedding just in case? Or those boxes for your electrical items you’re never going to sell? You will feel so much lighter. And moving will be easier without all the stuff you don’t need anymore! If it’s worthy of selling, I’ve found Facebook Marketplace to be great. People will come and collect, and although they do try to haggle, you just need to be firm (consider listing for slightly higher so you get the price you really wanted in the end).

Alternatively, charity shops are always grateful for donations, big or small. The British Heart Foundation takes beds and mattresses, as well as furniture for resale, you just need to book a collection online. Anything smaller you can drop into stores. And if you have any old fabric such as old sheets which aren’t good enough for them to resell, some charity shops run a fabric recycling scheme too, so it’s a good thing to ask about! For anything you’re left with at the end, which you just want to go, there’s always Freecycle – an app where people list free items for people to collect, or just list for free on Facebook marketplace.

Make lists. I know, I know. Lists for everything.

Just use them how works best for you. For me, it was more towards the end, as I was moving out first so leaving a few communal bits behind, and wanted to ensure I remembered all of my belongings. I did really enjoy the list of all the things I needed for the new place to be homey…built after a girls trip to Ikea. Yes, there were meatballs involved.

Making moving stress-free

Ikea bags over boxes.

Yes, those big plastic blue bags are the best for moving. They’re pretty spacious, you can easily see what’s in them which is great for helping you group things together as well as for unpacking, and the straps make them so much easier to carry. No slipping fingers on large box edges, wondering how you’ll get your arms around it, or forgetting what you packed with what. We all forget to list absolutely everything on the outside of the box!

Transport?

Obviously, this depends on how much stuff you have to move. My parents rented a large people carrier style car, and with so many hands we managed to take suitcases on the London overground too, meaning we moved all my stuff in one go. Consider all routes. If the car isn’t big enough, is there another way around doing several trips? Suitcases are so handy!

I was also recommended zip van for van hire in London. You can rent by the hour, making it a pretty cheap alternative. There are plenty of pick up locations, and you can drop off at any other nearby location which accepts the vehicle. Super simple.

The clean.

I almost wrote the dreaded clean. Let’s face it, when you’re all packed and ready to go, you hardly want to spend a few hours thoroughly cleaning your old place. All the skirting boards and areas hidden by furniture, inside cupboards…the oven. Getting the flat back to a similar condition as when you first moved in is a top priority on most people’s list – you don’t want any issues with the landlord and it helps with getting the deposit back. But you also don’t really need the additional stress.

I’d highly recommend booking an end of tenancy clean with Fantastic Services. You can start moving out, leave them with an empty flat (clear of all possessions), and they’ll get to work. They do a sparkling job, intense clean, and they even think about the things you didn’t, like inside the oven (which was glistening) and all the cupboard shelves. Something I couldn’t have dreamt about getting done in the time they did. Prices obviously vary depending on the¬†size of the¬†place, but I think it’s really worth it. They were running pretty late last Saturday as they were held up at a previous clean, but I’m definitely using them again next time – for how good the flat looked after and helping reduce the stress at such a busy time.

Making moving stress-free

Get unpacked, but settle in slowly.

I unpacked in one afternoon, and it was amazing. By the evening everything had its own place, so I could sit back, do my nails, eat dinner and chill. I wanted to get straight back into a routine, so having everything sorted was great. But it didn’t mean I was immediately settled. It doesn’t need to be perfect. As you spend more time in your new place you can reshuffle, add the homey bits and really figure out how to best have your room/space to love it the most. It doesn’t need to all be done immediately.

I might have unpacked on the same day, but plants were added within two weeks or so, and I’m still adding every now and then. Pictures have also been held up until I’ve been on my first big adventure, my trip to New York with Katy. I want to really think about the best photos to have in my frames to represent my life and loves now. My family and friends, the things which make me happy.

Making moving stress-free Making moving stress-free

I’ve still a little way to go, even though I moved mid-september, but that’s fine. I’m just taking it slowly, avoiding as much as stress as possible.

There you have it. My tips for making moving as stress-free as possible. I hope these help. Trust me, it can be a little bit more a chilled process ūüôā Have you moved recently? What did you find helped you to keep a level head?

Chloe xx

*This post is in collaboration with Fantastic Services. All views my own. 

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Chloe Tries || The New M&S Italian Collection

My love of a good pasta dish is no secret. I’ve recently found a couple of fab spots for dining out, but really, I love making pasta at home. It’s quick, easy and the simplest of ingredients can make a truly delicious dish.

M&S have some fab pasta deals, which I regularly keep going back for – it always pleases after a long day in the office. What’s more, it’s just ¬£5 for fresh pasta, sauce and salad/garlic bread! And when the range is all sourced from traditional Italian family run businesses to bring authentic recipes and taste, you know it’s going to be good.

They have some fantastic new launches on their Italian collection, which I had to share. I’m slowly making my way through them – but there are so many more I need to try….

The Gorgonzola & Walnut Ravioli was delicious.

A blend of gorgonzola, ricotta, mozzarella cheese and chopped walnuts inside Italian egg pasta, it was creamy and mild, with a subtle blue cheese taste coming through after. It sure was one sophisticated, beautiful pasta.

M&S Italian Range

I’m addicted to fresh filled pasta right now. There are so many new flavours at M&S I’m excited about including the Pea & Mint Girasoli and Basil Pesto Girasoli. All of the¬†fresh filled pasta from M&S is made in Verona, Northern Italy – so although I’m dying to go to Italy next year (for the food of course), I feel like I’m still getting to taste something pretty authentic!

There’s a new fab sauce in the range too…

…a flavoursome chunky vegetable, with smooth tomato sauce, red & yellow peppers, red onions and courgettes. It tastes rather autumnal, with chunky vegetables adding something extra to each dish too – Sometimes you need a bit more than just pasta and a creamy sauce!

M&S Italian Range

I do like shaking it up with the sauces, however I do LOVE the fresh pesto and the tomato and mascarpone which will always be my faves. I just toss through some additional veg to help with the five a day, and give some extra texture and juiciness/flavours.

The M&S pasta sauces are actually made by a small family run business in Calabria, Southern Italy! How good is it to know exactly where the products are produced, and that even the sauces are from authentic family run businesses too! They are classically made like you would at home with a soffritto base (vegetables slowly cooked in Italian extra virgin olive oil then combined with Italian tomatoes and fresh herbs, grown in the fields outside the factory) – here’s to family recipes. We all know how important and loved they are.

Salad or garlic bread…

That is the question. It all depends on the mood, and sometimes I like to do both…I just alternate between picking up salad and garlic bread, and stretch out the sides. Salad is great to add some green (which I always need with dinner), but garlic bread…mmm…now that’s what we’re talking about.

Of course there’s a new bread too…a cheese and pesto flatbread…

M&S Italian Range

It’s made using a slowly fermented dough, and is hand topped with basil pesto and mature cheddar cheese. It’s seriously delicious! So much flavour. A beautiful soft bread!

I love the garlic ciabatta sticks from the pasta deal too. Sometimes I add a little cheese, because who doesn’t like extra cheese?!

And for those super speedy meal nights…

There’s a range of ready meals. But not as you think you know them. Even the ingredients in these microwave and oven ready dishes are sourced from the same traditional businesses! So I don’t mind picking one up every now and then, when all I want to do is pop something in the microwave or oven.

There are several new meals in the range – so many delicious sounding (and looking) combos; from roasted mushroom risotto (Italian Carnaroli rice with earthy portobello mushrooms and a rich, silky true and mascarpone cream) to Crab Linguine (Italian linguine with sweet Atlantic crab, dressed with parsley and a chilli and shallot sauce and rocket). I tried the King Prawn Bucatini last weekend, and it made one fab lunch to help refuel for an afternoon of packing…

M&S Italian Range

Made with Italian pasta, marinated prawns, and chilli dressing, and finished with sweet Santarella tomatoes, it was packed with flavour, yet not overly saucy (just the way it should be). There were plenty of prawns too, which sometimes tend to be lacking in other ready meals. A great quick pick!

SUMMARY:

  • Quality: You know you’re getting good quality, and authenticity, as everything is sourced from traditional Italian family run businesses. The ones I’ve tried from the new collection so far, have all been fab – and that just adds to my usual choices (I love the filled pasta!).
  • Ease of cooking: Super simple to cook – perfect midweek meal!
  • Best bit?: Not sure I could pick. The Gorgonzola & Walnut Ravioli is SO good though!
  • Price: The pasta deal is ¬£5 and includes a pasta, a sauce and garlic bread/salad, serving two people – bargain! The ready meals are priced between ¬£2.75 and ¬£4, which isn’t bad either!
  • Would I recommend trying? ‚Äď YES! I tend to get this pasta at least once every two weeks! It’s super simple and always pleases – so yummy!
  • Availability: In store – I’ve found them in the larger and smaller M&S food stores so hopefully you shouldn’t struggle to get your hands on some!

What’s your fave go-to speedy, convenient meal for mid-week?

Chloe xx

*This post is in collaboration with Marks & Spencer. All views my own. 

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Lifestyle|| Dealing with Home Sickness

I think some of us never grow out of feeling homesick. We might get more used to the idea of being away from home, but you never stop missing it really. And when you feel ill or if something more major is happening, all those feelings come flooding back.

Needing to escape reality. Having your parents look after you, or be there with you just for a little while. Wanting to be in the home you class as a safe space. Somewhere nothing can get to you.

homesickness

I’ll be honest, I’ve really struggled with being homesick over the years – it’s getting easier since I now love my job, and my social life (including my chosen family away from home) but it’s been tough. I’ve been in London for over five years now, but since my little sister announced she was having a baby in Feb 2016, and with other things happening in the family last year, I think the fear of missing out on everything, being there for them all and wanting them close too got more intense. I just get homesick.

But I know I’m not the only one, and you can’t have everything you want. If I want the London life, excitement and to be near the majority of my friends, I need to stay here. So I started a number of different things to deal with my family FOMO and feeling hopeless. They have really helped me to manage it, not to feel so low about it all, and so I wanted to share in case it could help anyone else in a similar situation too. So here they are.

Dealing with home sickness

Video calls or FaceTime is invaluable these days.

You don’t just get to hear your family on the other end of the phone, feeling so far away, you can see them too now and so easily. Almost like they’re there with you. It somehow makes me feel closer to them, like I’m not really that far, and I even get to see my niece so I don’t miss out on quite as much. It sounds cliche but they really do grow up fast! Schedules can be busy, so you could even plan a video call every week to make sure you get the face-to-face time with family. My sister and I like to do a Sunday to finish the week.

Make plans to go home.

Once you’ve had your visit, plan the next one. This gives you something to look forward to and helps to feel like it’s not really long until you’re snuggled up at your parents house again, with tea being delivered every half hour – just in case you fall asleep from being so comfortable. It really does help to know when you’re going back next. You can make all those plans for what you want to do inbetween too!

Focus on the positives and what’s keeping you away from home.

Whether it’s the career you love, partner and soul mate (if you believe in that) or your group of friends, there’s got to be something rooting you to the town/city you’re in right now. Whatever it is, think how happy it makes you, what it’s adding to your life and focus on that. Your family will ALWAYS be there for you no matter what, or where you are.

Change the things which are making you unhappy elsewhere in your life.

Think about what’s making you doubt being where you are right now. Is it a crappy job, a toxic relationship, a flat you hate? Now think how you can change that. You’re in control of you own happiness. So grab it by the horns and makes some alterations. Get job hunting, hire a cleaner or set a cleaning rota, leave that relationship that’s dragging you down. It could do you wonders and totally turn your life around. Chances are, like I said before, if you’re enjoying life where you are then your homesickness shouldn’t be as prevalent.

Talk to someone about it.

Chances are, a number of your friends who also live away from home will be having similar feelings. Sometimes knowing there are others in the same boat helps. Either way, friends/partners can be there for you. They can help you look at the up side, make plans to give you something to look forward to and help you evaluate what’s making you happy and what isn’t. Don’t keep it all bottled up..share the load. These people care about you so they want you to be happy too!

I hope this helps a few of you who might be feeling the same as me. It is hard. It’s not easy to get through. But we can do it!

Do you use other techniques to manage home sickness?

Chloe xx

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