29. Where have you travelled?
That’s a bit of an open-ended question… is that travelled today, this year or travelled in my lifetime? We’d be here for a while if I opted for the latter that’s for sure…
So instead I’ll write about the last press trip I went on before I left NG Kids last year. I was sent to Slovenia in October to check out Postojna Cave and the mysterious olm that live there.
Postojna Cave was discovered in 1818 by a local caver, called Luka ČeČ. This vast underground kingdom boasts extraordinary natural sculptures that sprout from more or less every surface. It’s so huge that you have to take a train to get into the main part of the cave! The stalactites and stalagmites here begun forming as far as two million years ago, by the water seeping through from the Pivka River. An easy way of remembering which formation was a stalactite and which was a stalagmite, was all thanks to one letter. Stalactites hang from the ceiling and stalagmites form on the ground. Clever right?!
Then there’s this little guy, which are thought to live up to 100 years old! Nicknamed the human fish, it was once thought that they were the offspring of dragons. These cave-dwelling salamander have adapted to life in the darkness in the most peculiar of ways. Although born with eyes, they soon stop developing. By the time they are four months old, skin begins to grow over them. They are still sensitive to light though, which is why it’s so tricky to get a decent picture of them. To combat the loss of vision, their hearing and sense of smell is highly developed. They’ve even got electroreceptors in their heads to help them hunt for food!
Talking about food… that’s one thing I did thoroughly enjoy – even though we were given way too much of it! Each day we were given a four course meal for both lunch and dinner, and each course came with a different wine. Needless to say, I was severely ill the second day of the trip because my body just wasn’t used to that much food – I felt I had to clear the plate each time otherwise I was given a disapproving look and asked if I didn’t like it. No pressure! However, here are some of my favourite dishes… I can’t remember exactly what was in each of them now but I just remember how amazing they tasted – especially the desserts!
On the trip, we also took part in extreme caving, visited Predjama Castle and even was given a tour of the caves underneath the castle, where there were loads of bats!
27. Post your favourite recipe
My most favourite recipe at the moment can be found on page 140 of Jordan and Jessica Bourke’s book, The Guilt-free Gourmet, for their sticky toffee pudding. My flatmates and I made it this Sunday, and were not disappointed in the slightest. It’s a really simple recipe with incredible results, so I highly recommend that EVERYONE gives it a go!
For the pudding
- 225g/8oz dates pitted and chopped
- 200ml/7fl oz boiling water
- 100ml/3½oz rice milk
- 90g/3¼oz dairy-free butter (such as sunflower spread)
- 150g/5½oz coconut palm sugar
- 3 free-range eggs
- 2 tbsp date syrup
- 180g/6oz gluten-free flour or rice flour, plus extra for flouring the moulds
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the toffee sauce
- 100g/3½oz dairy-free butter (such as sunflower spread)
- 175g/6oz coconut palm sugar
- 1 tbsp blackstrap molasses
- 100ml/3½oz maple syrup
- 230ml/8oz soy cream, plus extra to serve
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of sea salt
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease and flour the moulds, then line the bases with a disc of oiled parchment paper.
To make the pudding, soak the dates in the boiling water for five minutes, then blend in a food processor until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and blend again until well combined.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared moulds (but not right to the top, as they rise quite a bit) and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until they are risen and firm. (You can check they are cooked by inserting a skewer into the middle – if it comes out clean, the pudding is ready.)
Ten minutes before the puddings are ready, make the toffee sauce. Melt the butter, coconut palm sugar, blackstrap molasses and maple syrup in a saucepan over low heat, then simmer for a few minutes. Gradually stir in the soy cream, vanilla extract and salt and bring to the boil for 1–2 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Keep warm until ready to serve.
Leave the puddings to cool in their moulds for a few minutes, then turn out onto serving plates. Spoon the toffee sauce over and around with a some Madagascan vanilla custard (or vanilla ice cream) to top it off.
21. Your 10 favourite foods
Oh well this is going to be easy as I absolutely LOVE food! I’ve never been able to understand when people say they don’t like trying new foods or they only like one food group/cuisine… it baffles me since there’s so much variety out there for the tasting – quite literally!
So in no particular order…
- Fajitas, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, frijole…
- Lamb dupiaza with garlic rice, garlic naan and mango chutney
- Pret’s tuna and cucumber baguette with a packet of salt and vinegar crisps
- Dim sum
- Afternoon tea (of any variety)
- Cake or the dipping pot from Choccywoccydoodah, with a banana and white chocolate milkshake
- Vegetarian cottage pie
- Chocolate tea cakes – especially the giant ones!
12. What’s inside your fridge
Not much to be quite frank.
This week has been insanely mental so I just haven’t had time to go shopping or cook proper dinners (shhh… don’t tell my mum!) Work is normally busy on a Monday and a Tuesday anyway because it’s press deadline, but this week we began to host flat viewings as our newest housemate is leaving to go travelling next month.
So, currently in the fridge is some mature cheddar, salad cream, a selection of tomatoes, Quorn turkey, tomato ketchup, eggs and butter… totally living the dream right!
7. Your pet hates
Originally I thought I’d reply to this prompt with people spitting in the street or when you’re on the tube (London Underground) and someone catches their sneeze, but then proceeds to use the same hand to hold on to the handrail, but yesterdays events changed all of that…
I was in my room getting ready to go out to celebrate one of my best friends birthdays when I saw how late it had gotten and realised I still hadn’t eaten anything. As I entered the kitchen, I saw this mess. Anyone would think that this was just the drunken leftovers of the night before, but freakily I’d been the only one in the flat for a few days and the front door was still on the chain as I hadn’t gone out yet, so it couldn’t have been a person…
It didn’t look like a pigeon could have done it because, quite frankly, it most likely would have pooed everywhere. Plus their table manners are shocking – they would have shaken the chocolate and wrapper everywhere and not been able to unwrap it so neatly. And then I saw these…
The culprit had left evidence… footprints! Or maybe, paw prints…
Somehow, and this is my theory, a squirrel managed to scale the front of our block of flats to the seventh floor and hopped through our kitchen window to pinch the last remaining (unopened) Kinder Bueno bars that were on the kitchen table. There had been two left and the above was all that was left. I think the squirrel had tucked into the first one and realised how much it enjoyed them. That’s when it decided to make off with the other full, unopened bar, too!
So that’s my new pet hate… thinking you’re safe leaving the kitchen window open because the city was hotter than Ibiza this weekend, to find your treat stash mysteriously plundered!
#329: Tell us about the favourite dish or food that you simply cannot turn down.
I was really struggling to think of something because I’m fairly temperamental when it comes to food – I can be in a sweet mood, I can be in a savoury mood. But it’s something I’ll never know until I’ve sat down in the restaurant and soaked up the atmosphere. For example, one of my favourite Mexican restaurants is Las Iguanas and I absolutely love their gooey, chocolate orange Aztec cake. However, after gorging on Totopos (nacho chips with freshly made salsa) and a huge burrito, I can very really fit it in!
And then, I had a magnificent lightbulb moment – Choccywoccydoodah! Of course! Shamefully, in the past I have been known to already be full before heading to this incredible establishment and STILL ordering a wedge of cake or a delicious dipping pot! I will never be able to say no to their delights.
P.s – photographs to come (they’re on my iPhone, which I forgot to pick up this morning as I left for work – doh!)
#219: Have you ever gone to a new place or tried a new experience and thought to yourself, “I’m never doing that again!” Tell us about it.
TODAY! This type of prompt always seems to come up on the same day as the event – so spooky! For the past couple of nights, I’ve been getting a sort of heartburn feeling in my chest before I went to bed and thought that maybe it could be related to what I was eating for lunch (it was a chicken caeser baguette most days – not the healthiest option either, I know). So, I thought today I’d try something different. I chose the roast beef, horseradish and rocket baguette… oh boy, what a mistake! I’ve never eaten something so disgusting in all my life! I attempted to remove the rocket and the horseradish dressing/sauce, but it had soaked into the bread, so was impossible to take out. Bleurgh! Never, never again!
#204: If a restaurant were to name something after you, what would it be? Describe it.
Hmm… maybe a collection or exclusive range called Petites, since I’m only 5″2? The restaurant would of course have a French theme, which would be evident in both the food and the decor. The Petites would consist of the best pastries and desserts in London, just in a miniature form! They’d carry a slogan so to speak, that would describe how one of these is all you need or just enough. I always hate when you start to feel sick half way through a dessert, so this would be perfect!
I’d eat there…
#161: Write about something that happened over the weekend as though it’s the top story on your local paper.
WOMAN HAS BEST DAY OF HER LIFE
A woman claims to have had the best day of her life, even though she is only 25. On Saturday, she visited London’s Choccywoccydoodah branch with one of her closest friends and introduced two new “recruits” (as she calls them), her close friends boyfriend and another close friend from work. She was recognised immediately by staff due to how many times she visits and introduces new people to the wonders of Choccy. Everyone loved the cake, although there was no doubt in her mind that they wouldn’t… Favourite food. Favourite friends. If only there was a way to enjoy this event every weekend without getting incredibly obese and/or inducing diabetes.
#53: Describe the most satisfying meal you’ve ever eaten, in glorious detail.
My first thought was any meal from Las Iguanas, but then I realised the most satisfying meal I’ve ever had, is from our local Indian restaurant, Raj Vogue.
You can always depend on Raj Vogue for every meal to be to the same, perfect standard. My most favourite meal combination is: Lamb Dupiaza, Garlic Rice, Cheese and Garlic Naan, a Poppadom and lots of delicious mango chutney. The greatness about this is that I can only ever eat half, so there’s always plenty for the next day too!
The fact that we only indulge in this meal on special occasions makes it even more satisfying. I plan to treat myself for my birthday in a couple of weeks time… I can’t wait!