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Empori- Um, What Now?

17 Feb

Yes, I finally made it to the Emporium… And let me tell you, it did not fail to impress!

Not only is the Fortis Green road tea shop a fantastic, um… tea shop (Captain Obvious at your service), it is also home to a beautiful craft, tea ware, trinket and gift shop, and is a sanctuary for all things homely and arty. If the place had been any cuter, I would have already choked in my awe and died (lovely imagery, perhaps a little too graphic. Moving on…)  

Thankfully, my friends were actually able to make it this time, after last week’s snow debacle, which left us all suddenly feeling very lazy and of the belief that it was impossible to tread anywhere when a soft layer of white had laced every street.

First things first: Tea. I ordered an ‘English Breakfast’ tea and was delighted when served with my own personal tea pot, complete with strainer, milk, sugar and of course, a delicate, vintage-style tea cup and saucer. The antiquity and quaintness of the whole thing almost made me feel like bursting- either into song, ‘The Sound of Music’-style, or into tears of tea-infused joy- both very extreme and opposing reactions, but my reactions all the same. 

And what better match to make with a good ol’ afternoon tea, but scones? Served with strawberry jam and clotted cream, I almost felt I had died and gone to tea heaven. Needless to say, the scones were delicious and the tea superb.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we actually visited the Emporium on Valentine’s Day (which for me, might I add, was just a normal Tuesday like any other… Don’t worry this is not a pity party… Unless instead of a ‘party’ it was an afternoon tea, and instead of ‘pity’ being the main theme, it was all about cakes? This could work…) so my friends (who like me, are in fact very single at the moment, which perhaps makes this three times more pathetic) bought these stunning Valentine’s-inspired, baking creations:

Baked with love (see what I did there? Haha, I feel so witty).

 

After our marvelous tea/cake experience, we moved onto the shop next door, also part of the Emporium. It was a wonderland of all things arty, vintage-esque, and of course, tea. Subsequently, a friend actually mused that it looked as if all the things that go on inside my head had been mixed together and splattered (pardon the violent imagery) across the walls of a room.Needless to say, it was my dream shop.

 

All manners of tea ware, from tea cosies to cups, were displayed like treasure around the shop, along with various gift items, trinkets and a number of vintage to contemporary art pieces.

 

 

See this tea pot? This tea pot will be mine. It’s £25.00 worth spending as it’s larger than most tea pots sold these days and comes with its own fitted strainer- no more balancing on the rim of your teacup, no no– let the pot do it for you! Also, the design is lovely…It will be mine, I tell you!

Overall, what a fabulous day! The staff at the Emporium were charming and the homemade cakes, unique breakfast menu and marvelous afternoon tea truly sold me!  I will definitely be visiting again (as soon as possible) for my next afternoon tea fix. Recommend, recommend, recommend.

Night all!

Whoopie Pies

4 Feb

Ah, I was so close to naming this post ‘Whoopie Pie-berg’, but just had to stop myself despite the hilarity (explicit indication there that I find my own jokes hilarious… This is slighty awkward).

Anyway, it’s baking day! Today I made a batch of Whoopie Pies for a group of visiting friends and, luckily, they went down a storm!

‘What’s a ruddy Whoopie Pie, you crazy person!’ I hear you scream. Well to be honest, I hadn’t heard of them either, up until recently  when flipping through my trusted Hummingbird Bakery cookbook- my version of a Bible. The only way I can describe them is this: Imagine soft, spongy chocolate chip cookies glued together with a luxurious chocolate buttercream filling. Oh yes, it’s about to get real up in here… Oh and yes, I realise that these don’t exactly look light and fluffy and perfectly-shaped, but do keep in mind this was my first attempt (ever!), and that they taste much, much better than they look (if I do say so myself)! 

Here’s the recipe: (For the sponge)

  • 1 large egg
  • 150g (5½oz) caster sugar
  • 125g (4½oz) plain yoghurt
  • 25ml (1fl oz) milk
  • ¼tsp vanilla essence
  • 75g (2oz) unsalted butter, melted
  • 275g (10 oz) plain flour
  •  ¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ¼tsp baking powder
  • 150g (5½oz) dark chocolate chips

(For the filling)

  • 170g (6oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 280g (10 oz) icing sugar
  • 220g (8oz) vanilla marshmallow fluff.

1.) Whisk the egg and sugar until pale and fluffy. Pour the yoghurt, milk and vanilla essence into a jug. Mix together then gradually add to egg mixture. Pour in the melted butter and mix again.

2.) Sift together flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder, then add these dry ingredients to the batter in two stages, mixing thoroughly. Stir in chocolate chips, then place finished batter in the fridge to cool and set for 15-20 mins. 

3.) In the meantime, preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F), Gas mark 3, and line two baking trays with baking parchment.

4.) Spoon the batter onto trays, making 16-20 mounds (the size you choose per mound depends on how big you want your pies to be, as they usually rise and spread when baking), making sure they are around 2-3 cm (1¼ in) apart.

5.) Bake in the oven for 10-13 mins or until lightly golden. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before you add the filling.

6.) While the sponges are cooking, mix together the butter, cocoa powder and icing sugar until smooth. Add the marshmallow fluff and continue to beat until frosting is soft and fluffy. Chill in the fridge for 30 mins to firm up.

7.) To assemble the whoopie pies, take one sponge and spread about 1 tbsps of the filling on the flat side and then sandwich together with another sponge, flat side facing down. Continue doing this until all the sponge and frosting has been used.

Voilà– delicious Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies! Now go and bake, eat, then have pie-induced heart attack.

NB: These beauties can also be made in various different flavours such as banoffee, chocolate and peanut butter- these are just the chocolate chip version (and my favourite!).  

Just a quick note before I go… Is it just me or is Lana Del Rey’s new album ‘Born to Die’ absolutely superb?! I couldn’t care less about the negative media attention she’s been receiving, or the rumours of her past, her image and whatnot. The girl’s vocals are stunning, her songs  pieces of art, and her lyrics beautifully heartfelt and captivating. This is all completely subjective of course… But bah, who cares? Everyone else is putting their two cents in, and I want in! Particular highlights are songs Off to the Races, Diet Mountain Dew, Radio, National Anthem and Summertime Sadness. I love her. That is all.

Night all!

Ponch Me I’m Dreaming

1 Dec

Christmas is fast approaching… and with it, the bitter, winter weather!

I don’t know why I sound so excited about this cold weather business- I guess I’ve become a traitor to my own June-baby roots and have opted for winter weather preference this year… I have to be honest, I did get rather fed up with the summer lingering around through the autumn months this year (I know this makes me a crazy person!), and I’ve been so desperate to speed up the approach of winter, that I’ve practically rain-danced my way through the last few months in a desperate attempt to spur it on! Perhaps it’s just because I’ve subconsciously been longing for Christmas time; or perhaps because I’m a secret summer Scrooge, and therefore in general, just a miserable person; or, in a shamelessly tenuous link, perhaps it’s because I’ve been impatiently anticipating the arrival of A/W fashion!

For the sake of this post- and my dignity- I’m picking the latter.

I’ve recently bought this bright, jazzy print (“Too jazzy?” Sorry, that hilarious line from The Inbetweeners always seems to echo in my mind when I mention the word ‘jazzy’!) poncho from Dorothy Perkins for £35. I’ve been wearing it with a black high-waisted skirt and black body, with tights and boots in the mild weather, but am planning to replace the skirt with jeans when it turns colder! I realise this seems like a lot of black, however with such a jazzy print (Sorry, just had to say it again…!) I feel it works better to keep everything neutral (or black-tral, whatever!), and the poncho just seems to stand out that little bit more. Moreover, it may not actually look like a poncho, but I can assure you that it is! It said ‘poncho’ on the label and eveything… Even so, I admit it seems more like a half-cape, half-poncho crossover, therefore I’ll call it a ‘Ponch’ as it hasn’t really made it as a fully-fledged poncho yet (as much as it pains me to admit it).

In other news, I’ve just finished reading Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ (It actually only took me a day and a bit! I mean, ’tis a wee book), and thought it was great, of course. It may be a basic, short read in other readers’ minds, however it was the content which captured me, not its length. And for those who haven’t read it and don’t want a spoiler, I’ll just say this: The story itself was a fantastically clever metaphor based around the Communist regime, whilst the ending of the story was particularly chilling and fascinating.  

 

That’s all for now then! Happy blogging folks.