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The BEST Chocolate Shop!

Towards the end of last week, my Account Manager and I ventured out on our lunch break to get a present for a client. We had been racking our brains, cogs turning all week trying to think of something and decided on chocolate – It’s always a winner, right? 

My Account Manager picked out a chocolate shop on Brick Lane we’d walked past a few times which sold fairtrade chocolate and off we headed.

Dark Sugars - Chocolate Shop

Sorry about the angle…silly sign post in my way…

Dark Sugars - Chocolate Shop

Upon entering this cocoa kingdom, called Dark Sugars, your senses are filled with the smell of chocolate whilst you’re surrounded by a room filled different chocolates for you to browse and select.

Dark Sugars

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We spoke to the gentleman by the counter, a very friendly helpful man who advised us on pricing (It is £7 per 100g, which you might think a little expensive, BUT it tastes amazing so is worth it, and would be great as a treat! You just can’t compare it to Galaxy or Cadburys!). He also helped us on how much we could get for the amount we had budgeted. He watched us taking in the spectacle of all the varieties before offering a helping hand.

With who seemed to be the chocolate selecting expert by our side, some fab recommendations, and some very tasty testers (the liquid centre salted caramel chocolate is a must buy!) we managed to fill our box.

And look out our masterpiece…

Dark Sugars - chocolate shop

We heard from our client the following day who loved the gift!

This really is the best chocolate shop I’ve seen. Having the chocolate out in the open and someone even preparing new pieces at the front, it really did feel so fresh! The pieces in the pots surrounding the room, which looked dusted in cocoa powder (a bit like the two long chocolates in our box – central), made it feel less manufactured too – perhaps due to the uneven shapes and sizes. It just felt like you’d entered somewhere they did really know about chocolate and it’s origins!

Dark Sugars - Making Chocolate

They offer great friendly service to those a bit over-whelmed (I can say we definitely were!). Most important of all, it tastes absolutely amazing!

I would highly recommend going along…get yourself a treat or it’d make a fab Christmas present!

I don’t even eat that much chocolate myself, but if someone bought me chocolates from here..well I’d absolutely love it! (hint hint….ha)

 

If you go, I’d love to know which your favourite chocolate was!

Chloe xx

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Back into Baking – Pop-Up Baking Boutique

Britain is the baking Nation – I’m sure you will all have heard this saying.

Since The Great British Bake-Off the country seems to have become even more crazy for the pastime. Whether its for cupcakes, cookies or Mary Berry’s Tuiles the country is addicted – and trust me I can see why!

We even had National Cupcake Week in September and National Baking Week in October!

For me…I love baking! It’s a hobby, although as all you regular readers might have figured, I don’t do enough. There’s always so much going on it never quite makes top of the priority list – This needs to change! But first, I want to learn how to be even better at baking…I’ve always had so many burning questions I’ve wanted to ask – How can I always ensure my cakes rise perfectly? What if my Buttercream icing is too runny and it just won’t thicken? What if my cake looks more than cooked on the outside but isn’t done enough in the middle?

I know, that’s what grandmas are for right? And I can tell you, mine is a wonderful bake and cook! I know I can always pick up the phone if needs be for expert advice 🙂 I love reminiscing on all the times we cooked/baked together – home made pizzas, biscuits, cakes…So many lovely memories from when I was little!

But I have been told about these fab masterclasses by Dr Oetker, the top baking brand, and they’re in London at a pop-up at the end of next week!

The Pop-up Dr Oetker Even Better Baking Boutique opens on Brick Lane on Friday 7th November and it will run until Sunday 16th November 2014.

Dr Oetker wants to encourage us to become even better bakers! – Well I’m definitely up for that!

There will be demos, product showcases, taste testing, master classes, and you will be able to purchase the products there too. So no having to search the supermarket after leaving!

There are two fab classes I’m looking into:

On Friday 7th November, Juliet Sear (Cake and baking expert, author of The Cake Decorating Bible and Even Better Baking Ambassador) will host a very special master class, sharing all of her insider hints and tips on perfecting a range of tricky techniques. These include the art of perfect piping, simplifying sugar roses, truly irresistible toppings and Christmas themed modelling.

A little pic of Juliet…JuliettePortrait-15

On Thursday 13th November, April Carter (cake pop expert and baking extraordinaire) will host an exclusive Cake Pop Night, designed to give consumers the confidence to turn their own favourite pop stars into quirky cakes on sticks! You will get to learn from the best and have a go yourself too. There will even be a DJ spinning everyone’s favourite 80’s pop tunes.

There are other masterclasses too! You should take a look, all you have to do is drop them an e-mail to book on and they’re free! – Click here to see the full event list

I can’t wait for this now, super excited to grow by baking brain and try new techniques out. This will definitely be the start of more baking in my life…now all I need is someone to help me eat it!

If any of you spot me there, make sure you say hi!

Chloe xx

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A Spot of TV or a Whole Day? – The shows I recommend…

We all know it’s getting to the time of year where you don’t feel guilty for staying inside, escaping the wind, rain and cold and snuggling up with a hot drink watching some of your fave shows and films.

Ok, so maybe not everyday, but it definitely becomes more favoured. Let’s face it there’s only so many times you can go shopping, spend money on going out for lunch/dinner or a day trip. And with parks now soggy and not really the place to be in winter (unless you’re in Hyde Park for Winter Wonderland!), there’s the free exhibitions to attend, obviously the gym to fit in and some fab days and evenings inside.

So on that note, I thought I would share with you my recommended tv shows which I am either currently engrossed in or have unfortunately finished (Yes, those sad times when you don’t know what you’re going to do with your time….until you find another show to fully consume your attention!), so you can get excited about getting snuggled up too. Don’t worry, no spoilers here!

Blacklist

What’s it about? : Raymond Reddington an ex-government agent who’s been on the FBI’s most wanted fugitives list for decades surrenders to the FBI with a deal – He will help them catch a number of criminals off a list but he will only speak with Elizabeth Keen.

Every episode had me hooked from the start. There’s a few background story lines as you go through which keep you gripped as from episode to episode you hope to decipher another part of why, when, who, what?  

It’s got it’s fair share of action as well as being a detective type show so you won’t feel let down. I watch this with my boyfriend and he thinks this is great too!

Click here for a trailer… Fab trailer, although if you don’t want spoilers just watch the show!

Arrow

What’s it about?: Oliver Queen was deserted on an island for 5 years and finally finds his way home. It’s based on the DC comics character, he’s not a superhero (as in no special powers), but he sure knows how to hunt the criminals in Starling City!

The story lines running through the seasons are amazing. There’s twists and things you might not even see coming! You start to see flashbacks of events from the island, and things start piecing together but there’s always something more you want to know.

Action is obviously a key part, after all it is a DC comic character. But some of the story lines incorporated might appeal to people who like other genres too, so don’t dismiss until you try!

Click here for a trailer… This will get you excited!

Supernatural

What’s it about?: Two brothers, grown up as hunters, on a mission to get rid of all supernatural, evil beings.

Now on season 10 so there’s plenty of episodes to keep you going through the winter, and trust me you will be hooked.

It may sound like a cheesy, witch/vampire infested programme with obvious endings. A bit like twilight. – BUT IT’S NOT! NO WHERE NEAR!

There’s action and some funny parts too, numerous story lines keeping you gripped, the brother relationship being one, and so many things they find along the way. I don’t want to spoil anything so watch it!

Click here for a trailer… They now look so young watching this back!

Flash

What’s it about?: Another DC comic book adaptation. Barry Allen gets struck by lightening during the time the particle accelerator blows at Star Labs and suddenly has super speed!  

This show is relatively new but I’m already loving it! The story line as he gets to know his ability, cliffhangers and the villains he comes to face all make the show a fab one to watch.

It’s not too action-y, so if you’re not a huge action-a-holic then this could be a great one for you!

The Flash trailer can be found here…It is an extended promo trailer though, so again, only watch as much as you want before indulging in the full episodes.

The Walking Dead

What’s it about?: Based in post-apocolyptic America, this “horror drama” sees a group of people fighting to survive against walkers (Zombies), adamant to find a safe haven and out-live the outbreak.

Now in its fifth season, it still doesn’t get boring or repetitive. There’s always something new going on, something new to deal with or problem solve.

This is definitely one for everyone. My family at home also watch this, all love it and if I’m not quite up to date (I sometimes get a bit behind with everything to keep up with) you can tell they struggle not to drop spoilers as they get so excitable talking about it!

For the Season 1 Trailer click here

Breaking Bad:  

What’s it about?: An american crime drama about Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer right at the beginning of the series. He forms a relationship with a former pupil, Jesse Pinkman (no, not that type of relationship), producing and selling crystal meth to make money to secure his family financially before he dies.

At first I found this a little hard to get in to, but after watching 3 episodes I couldn’t stop. I binge-watched series 2 in one weekend!

Absolutely addictive – You have to know what happens next. Incredible. So hard when this finished to think of a life without this show 😛

If you haven’t watched it, do it! This is one of the best shows I have watched.

Click here to watch the Season 1 Trailer.

 

So there you have it, my top list of tv shows to watch this winter. If you have any you recommend for me fire away 🙂

I hope you all enjoy as much as I do, and most of all…make the most of your days/evenings in!

Chloe xx

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Being Ill SUCKS!

Yeah you got it. Last week I was off ill… and it really sucked!

Ok so sunday evening I got a headache and thought oh well it’s just a random headache, it’ll be gone by morning. But monday it still wasn’t gone and yet I managed a whole day at work. By tuesday morning I was squinting at my computer, making silly mistakes and suffering from lack of concentration so the only thing that would make things better – to go home. Eughhh.

Tuesday afternoon I slept – hmmm it was so nice, even though I was adamant I didn’t need extra rest. But wednesday morning my head felt like all I wanted to do was dissolve into my bed and for it to take the pain away!

So another day off was on the cards – great!

I mean, a day off sick basically entails being stuck to your bed due to pain or aching, drifting in and out of sleep, watching the odd tv show if you can really focus on the screen and if your eyes don’t ache so much it’s just too much effort. The only time you leave your cosy covers is to get more water, food or to use the bathroom and you hardly have any human contact it’s depressing.

Now do you see why being off sick sucks?

So Thursday, even though I was not 100%, still feeling a little dreamy but thank god my headache had gone, I was back to it. Not pushing myself but I did make it the office.

This week I’m so much better, feeling more myself too! Back to being positive and happy, and making the most if everything.

Just need to make sure I don’t over do it. Do NOT want another week like last week.

I hope you all had a great week and weekend!

Chloe xx

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My First EVER Afternoon Tea

Last Friday I had my first EVER afternoon tea. Yes I may be English but not all of us have experienced this, right? – my mum had never been for one either!

My mum’s birthday was in August and as I went home a little before and they came to London for my Uncle’s wedding in September, we still hadn’t managed to do anything to celebrate, so I booked my mum and I a champagne afternoon tea for last Friday, in Worcester.

I told mum on thursday night and she seemed to love the surprise! She was already picking out what she was going to wear 🙂

Friday morning we got the train to Worcester and did a little shopping (mainly the window variety) before heading to Bill’s.

Bill’s is reasonably new in Worcester but one of the lovely waitresses said there are more in London – maybe I’ll have to check these out! We entered and were greeted by a friendly member of staff who showed us to our table. We were given a drinks menus for if we wanted to order extra drinks and mum and I sat chatting and awaited our champagne.

Champagne afternoon tea at Bill's

Champagne afternoon tea at Bill's

LOVE the strawberries on the side!

We also got some tap water for the table, trying to keep hydrated and I thought best not get too tipsy at lunch 😛

The gentleman I spoke to on the phone the day before came over and made sure everything was ok and wished mum a happy birthday, which I thought was lovely! (By the end of our time in Bill’s I think almost every member of staff had! – She was worried they’d come out singing haha!)

Our afternoon tea didn’t take too long to arrive at our table, and look how it arrived…

Afternoon Tea at Bill's Worcester

It looked AMAZING! Such a selection. Mum said, do you think we’re only meant to pick one cake, making a joke as there seemed so much! 😛 

The finger sandwiches were soft and delicious. I think the salmon one was my fave, but I’m a sucker for most things salmon. You could tell they put a lot of effort in though with keeping them looking neat and yummy – Not squished from cutting or bits falling out!

finger sandwiches

We then went for the scones. Again delicious. They came with a really cute pot of jam and a small dish of clotted cream. We spread the cream and jam and indulged. Every mouthful was almost ‘melt in your mouth’, they were so good!

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We then slowly made our way through the cakes…Yes we did manage them all 😛 We shared them all, so really it was only 2-3 mouthfuls of each cake – that was us justifying the amount we ate haha. But it was a great way to do it, so we couldn’t disagree about who had what – only joking! We just wanted to try everything! 

Cake selection - Afternoon tea at Bill's

The pink square on the left was a squishy sweet with a marshmallow texture. It had something crunchy on the top, but didn’t taste too sweet. We did think it had a slight cucumber taste – not sure if this was our taste buds after our champagne 😛 But we ate it all.

The slice of cake at the back was a lemon cake. It was moist and a great ratio of cake to icing so not too sickly! It was really yummy.

The strawberry tart looking cake had a biscuit-y texture base with fresh cream and strawberries on top. I’m not a huge fan of cream but this was pretty tasty! The biscuit was nice and crumbly, it hadn’t gone soggy under the cream and the cream had kept its shape and firmness under the strawberries.

Last but not least, the chocolate brownie. Now I think this had to be our favourite as we seemed to be savouring each mouthful! It was divine, maybe if we’d had big pieces it would be sickly but sharing the brownie was perfect. It was VERY chocolatey with a moist texture, and my tastebuds were loving every mouthful! And they’re normally quite savoury lovers! 

Whilst making our way through our last cake we did order another drink, amaretto sours (amaretto, pink lemonade and lemon juice), which were awesome too – I think I might try make these at home soon too after trying them.

Our table was cleared once we had finished our feast and mum and I sat chatting and laughing letting everything settle a little before asking for the bill.

With the bill came a birthday present for mum – I know, how sweet! It really was a fab experience, great friendly service and a pretty good price to match too!

I’m really pleased I got to experience an afternoon tea for the first time with mum. A lovely mother-daughter afternoon, with giggles and delicious food and drink.

 

I would obviously go back to Bill’s for another special occasion, but I would love to hear where you recommend for afternoon tea too.

Chloe xx

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