Sunday, 26 October 2014

Russian dumplings!

Something you might not know about me is that my dad has lived in Russia for the past 25 years, for work. I visited him when I was about 15 (that age is scarily getting further and further away!) and had incredible Russian food, which I didn't expect at all! As Lisa and Dima are both Russian as well, I have pretty much been surrounded by such food ever since but have yet to find pelmeni since visiting my dad. However, as Dima's parents are currently staying with us there have been new hearty Russian dishes everyday made from scratch, and I was so happy to see Dima's mum making pelmeni! I sat down and helped her for the afternoon, a strangely therapeutic way to spend a Saturday..

Dumplings with meat in them are called pelmeni, and SO GOOD. We also made ones with cheese and with potato fillings, which are called Vareniki - also incredible! These are super homely and filling, perfect for October weather.

Probably better than I could tell you are recipes here and here - my idea of cooking tends to be sneakily eating everything as someone else does the important parts (like measuring!) but I can show you the dumplings I helped to finish off, and tell you how fantastic they are! 

Once you have your dough ready you roll it into a line, and chop off little sections ready to be rolled out into little flat circles, ready to embrace their fillings.

These ones, with the edges simply pinched together are Vareniki 

And these chubby little things with the sides sealed together (by simply crossing over the edges and pinching) are Pelmeni 

It helps to distinguish them so you don't accidentally eat raw meat (errr I may have eaten a few cheese/potato ones raw, bad habits and a taste for dough!)

Pop them in the fridge until they are ready to cook, where you will place them in boiling water for twenty minutes..


Then tuck in! The Russian way to eat pelmeni (and potato vareniki) is with a scoop of butter and sour cream, and for the cheese Vareniki, slightly more dessert-y, they are eaten with a generous dose of jam and sour cream. I know it sounds odd, but it works! 

Enjoy your dumplings!

P.S - I have also started learning Russian this week, finally doing something about not being able to understand everyone around me! I would definitely recommend this book, it's amazing :) 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Work Lately

So Autumn has officially arrived and so have oversized knit jumpers, cosy coats big enough to get lost in, knee high boots and umbrellas. I manage to lose my umbrella literally every time I take it outside!

I have been shooting a lot of grey, as can be seen in the Sun Newspaper..

And  the Sunday Mirror magazine, Notebook, with the incredible photographer Dan Williams -

Grey grey grey. It's all good though, because grey is a really nice colour to wear - it's flattering and looks expensive.

Also shot for my favourites at Fabulous Magazine..

I love doing shoots where you get made up all grungy as it is such a change from normal, apparently my 'bitch face' is quite a good one too so it helps!

Also a cool little shoot for New Magazine, with a really lovely model called Marieke. It is really fun when you have other models on shoots - half the work and double the fun :)

Also everything £5 - look out for it soon on buses (!)

A shoot from the Summer came out in Velvet Magazine, which was such a fun day playing tourist.. 

A bit of my favourite Asos..
Image 1 of Hilfiger Denim Long Padded Jacket With Faux Fur Trimmed Hood

Definitely time to buy a parka like that one from Hilfiger..

Finally, super excitingly I got to shoot at Missguided HQ this week. The team, who I previously met shooting their Awesummer campaign with Joanna Halpin, are so lovely and welcoming. Their office literally looks like a tumblr explosion - there are print outs of awesome shoots and images all over the walls, their models, poses, inspiration, polaroids of everyone, models - everything you can imagine is on their pastel coloured walls. It was such a fun day and I completely fell in love with every thing I wore - at least I know how to find it now!


Thursday, 16 October 2014


An hours train ride away from Brussels lies the picturesque town of Bruges. Tourist heaven, it is laden with more chocolate shops than you can shake a stick at, horse drawn carriages, quaint houses next to huge masterpieces of architecture and lots of beautiful canals.

When we arrived in Bruges, it was raining. And we had no umbrella, and failed to find one for some time. It left us looking like this..


Until we took refuge in a cosy cafe where literally every person was warming themselves up on carrot soup, and we did the same

 Refreshed and a little bit drier, we set off exploring properly - once the rain stopped Bruges became much more attractive!

Excellent croissants from Le Pain de Sebastian - it had a huge queue of people waiting patiently in the rain, so we knew it must be something special (it was). 


Having seriously underestimated the size of Bruges, we had a rest on a peaceful canal boat trip, meandering through the beautiful buildings, tiny roads and swooping under low bridges.

Definitely recommended, although a little packed & cramped, it is a beautiful way to see the town and scope out the bits you want to visit most.

My favourite thing we did in Bruges, and possibly in the whole trip (non-food related, of course) was attending the harp concert of Luc Vanlaere. I knew it was something Dima would enjoy, being music obsessed, but I actually loved it. Luc was really touching, he puts on 3 totally free concerts everyday (except Sundays I believe) and explains why (for people who can't afford to attend concerts), and how you can purchase his music directly from him in support, to quote him 'you'd be buying your potatoes straight from the farmers'.

A 35 minute concert, with 4/5 very touching songs, it is definitely worth going to if you are ever in Bruges. Luc is insanely talented and played a tonne of different kinds of harps and instruments he had picked up on his travels (like a Chinese harp) - really interesting and excellently played. More info here.

Then we proceeded with more cultural activities, discovering the chocolate of Bruges! We made regular hot chocolate stops, due to the odd showering of rain..

Dumon chocolates - the spoon with chocolate is swirled into the hot milk! 

We found the top rated chocolate shop on tripadvisor (I am something of a tripadvisor geek, and if you go on holiday with me I will have memorised it - incidentally their app is really great, it works offline if you download the relevant city before going) - The Chocolate Line. It is filled with bizarre chocolate concoctions - chocolate massage oil, lipstick, pills.. and chocolate flavours including absinthe, maize, bacon, iced coffee, cookies and so on.

Me & Dima got a selection of the most intriguing ones and sat down on a bench to share them and gleefully exchange the 'OMG' face. Although Dima is not a chocolate fan, he loved all of this chocolate which is quite an achievement. Up there we have the raspberry, blueberry, ganache, caramel, mint, maize and bacon chocolates. All were amazing, but the clear winner was the bacon chocolate - increeeeeedible.

Before we knew it, it was dinner time, and we needed food that wasn't chocolate. We went to Gruuthuse Hof, a beautifully tiny, cosy restaurant. Dima prebooked (as the restaurants seem to close from 3-6pm) which is definitely recommended as it was fully booked when we ate there, as they only have 22 seats. We were given a romantic window seat to watch the people try and escape the rain outside, very happy to be inside!

They had a very good offer on which was basically 3 courses for 17 euros (and when one main costs 17 euros, this is very good) but we decided to go for the Flemmish stew, which unfortunately wasn't included in the deal.

It was worth it - the beef was incredibly tender and the stew was amazing. There was also a giant bucket of chips next to us (the best I ate in Belgium)!

For dessert I went for a super tasty waffle, 'Belgium style' - just plain with sugar. Dima opted for Creme Brulee, which was also excellent.

Gruuthuse is highly recommended, the food was all amazing!

Definitely make a trip to Bruges if you have time, it was a really romantic place (when it wasn't pouring with rain), beautiful with a lovely vibe to it. The only thing I regret is not staying there longer!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014


On 10.10.10, I started 'officially' dating the most incredible person I have ever met. He is still my boyfriend four years later, and we have gone through so much in that time - finishing high school, getting into university & moving to London, getting through university and finally finishing university! Some major life changes right there, and I feel so lucky to have had him by my side for every moment of it. Now we are living together, and I couldn't be happier.
To celebrate our 4 year anniversary, we went to the land of chocolate, beer and chips - Belgium! We caught the 2 hour Eurostar and spent three days eating our way around the beautiful country and suffering regular sugar highs and lows together. We were staying in Martin's Brussels EU hotel which was really lovely and great value for money - comfortable beds, in the center and with a spa/gym (which we obviously didn't use)!

Brussels is beautiful, with amazing architecture, statues and gardens everywhere you look. 

We spent a lot of time trying to soak everything up by walking around aimlessly, and getting lost! 

Ok - as pretty as Brussels may be, there was one reason we had come and that was simply chocolate. Although I would say I am a pretty die hard chocolate fan, even I got sick of chocolate after three days in Belgium. I consumed SO MUCH chocolate from morning to night - warm, thick hot chocolates, delicately perfected pralines, slathered on waffles or speculoos biscuits, ganache macaroons. Brussels has a lot of chocolate shops - they are literally on every street, I saw far more of them than Starbucks or Mcdonalds which is saying something! 

Magical waffles from Maison Dandoy 

We bought 5 bags of speculoos-chocolates from Laurent Gerbaud 

Waffle stuffed with belgian chocolate & speculoos from The Waffle House 

Above - magical chocolates from Pierre Marcolini, renowned chocolatier - the best hot chocolate and macaroons ever. 

We also had in Bruges (coming in the next post) probably the best chocolate of the trip from a shop called The Chocolate Line - with bizarre concoctions like absinthe, iced coffee, maize and bacon chocolate we didn't expect it to be as mindblowingly incredible as it was. 

I was shocked at how international Brussels is, although I guess I shouldn't have been. Dima rejoiced as he found a kebab that was apparently better than those we ate growing up in Cyprus (after long nights out), so of course he ate three of them. He also indulged in the beer opportunities Brussel held, but as I hate beer I wasn't as impressed. 

I'm not sure if we just didn't find the right place, but the chips in Brussels were a little overrated (but chips are chips, and I don't discriminate) 

We also went to visit the Atomium, which was pretty impressive although very random. Great views though, and a bit of random atomic history along the way. 

And of course visited the famous statute of 'Mannekin Pis' - a little boy peeing who owns 365 outfits which are changed daily. We found these outfits in the museum we visited after.. I wish I had that many clothes!

Overall Brussels is a really lovely place to spend a weekend, but I think two days is just about the right amount of time to spend there. It is beautiful, but quite expensive and city-like, with quite random attractions - but great food! However, the town of Bruges (coming soon) is beautiful and I wish that we had had more time to spend there.