An Evening with Vogue Australia and Enodata Spa…

16th March 2018 / Katy Moore 

During a busy work day and going through my countless emails, one from the holy grail of fashion and beauty publications caught my eye – Vogue’s newsletter, inviting beauty and wellness lovers to an evening at Endota Spa Paddington, including a Q&A with Edwina McCann, Vogue Australia Editor-in-chief.

I was all in and signed myself and my colleague up for what I hoped would be an evening of serious pampering, with a bit of inspirational chat from one of the best in the magazine world thrown in to boot.

I was not disappointed!

As soon as we walked through the door, I was met with what I can only describe as a wave of indulgent and relaxing aromas that instantly made all my work day worries wash away into a feeling of totally serenity. How is that spas have the magic way of doing this?!

We were greeted by the friendly staff, who had just the right balance of enthusiasm coupled with a lulling calm that made you never want to leave. After being escorted into the lounge area, some rather dishy young waiters (an added bonus and sorry I didn’t get a pic) served us little healthy treats and yummy green or orange juices. I had two juices by the way (so I could get double the goodness, obvs) and could feel all nutrients zinging away and reviving me. I must also give a special mention to the absolutely mouth-watering fruit platter, and yes, I got well and truly stuck into that too.

We were then ushered in for a bio face scan, which involved a hydration reading so they could ascertain what products might assist your personal skin needs. Luckily mine was more of a “maintain your skin as condition isn’t too bad”, as opposed to “it’s pretty haggard and you’re likely to need about x20 facials before we can get it back to any sort of normality.”

We were then treated to a heavenly little hand massage, and I bonded with my therapist, who it turns out was from North Wales originally! A little bit of home from home and a great natter added into the mix.

Upstairs is where the highlight of the evening really kicked off though, the Q&A with Edwina McCann, Vogue Australia Editor-in-chief. She talked about how she balances her own wellbeing, having a busy and sometimes stressful job alongside a family. Product wise, she couldn’t stop raving about an LED light treatment, which apparently gives skin a glow like no other, as well as improving serotonin levels. She was literally radiating a sense of calm, so it must be working.

Some further Googling later revealed the therapy is called – New Age Light Therapy:

A non-invasive skin renewal treatment clinically proven to boost collagen, reduce fine lines and wrinkles and defend against the ageing process.

 Feel transformed with this 60-minute treatment as Light Therapy (LED) technology deeply hydrates and penetrates the skin, stimulating cell regeneration and boosting collagen and elastin production.

 Advanced endota spa New Age™ products infuse the skin to further plump and tone. The benefits Skin structure is improved. Skin is instantly rejuvenated, smooth and more youthful.

Might have to start saving for that one!

Edwina also spoke about how having resilience is probably one of the best lessons she’s taken from the people that have become or are successful.

They aren’t necessarily the best at what they do, but what sets them apart is that they don’t let the failures or stresses of life drag them down or make them crumble. They get up, dust themselves off, keep plodding onwards and gain the eventual rewards of reaching the upwards.

The above, along with the quote “This too shall pass,’’ meaning that in the midst of very stressful situations (for her, juggling motherhood and starting as the new Editor of two major publications) it’s important to keep the perspective that the storm will settle, eventually, were the two key takeaways that I took on board. Both inspiring and down to earth, with a flawless composure, it was a fantastic experience to be in an intimate setting and hear Edwina McCann speak.

Last but not least, we enjoyed a super short relaxing meditation, where we were all given a crystal. Ohhhhh so spiritual, I know, but in Sydney crystals are all the rage in the wellness world, I got totally on board. I chose Amethyst, its properties apparently include: healing powers to help with physical ailments and emotional issues, the curing of nightmares and insomnia, and balancing the crown chakra. I am a pretty light sleeper so any help in this department to cure those ‘shopping bags’ under my eyes wouldn’t go amiss.

The Endota spa philosophy, from what I gauged, is all about creating a haven for emotional replenishment. Their focus is on helping you reconnect with your best self through physical and emotional replenishment. Even after a two-hour event in the spa, I could totally see how this gorgeous haven of wellbeing was addictive!

The event was an excellent seller of the spa, backed up by the kudos of having Vogue on board to endorse it. So much so, I found myself in line queuing up to buy the, ironically, eye-wateringly pricey eye cream at the end, which I was recommended during my skin bio scan, so here’s hoping it really does cure those emerging crows- feet! A nice surprise at the till was that the price of our entry ticket was money off the product too, plus we did walk out the door with a jam packed goodie bag, including a wellness journal, so I didn’t feel too bad about splashing the cash.

The recommendation of a monthly facial, now I’m in my thirties eeeek, does seem a little hard to justify, but when one therapist highlighted that it just depends where you put your investment i.e. compared to expensive clothes, shoes, pricey coffees and countless smashed avo on toast brunches that satisfy only momentarily, you have your skin suit on for life. Well, she ain’t wrong there. Maybe it’s just about swapping out a few of those G&Ts and Espresso Martinis for a few more LED light facials?

Korean’s start their skincare regime at the tender age of 13 years old apparently, so we should probably take note, especially in the Aussie climate where the ozone layer is not so kind, and perhaps even more so for us ex-pat Brits, and our love of sunbathing which can cause the ageing process to accelerate – goodbye elasticity and collagen!

On that note, I’m off to deep cleanse my face and pop on the eye cream. Fingers crossed, in a week’s time I will emerge like a butterfly from a cocoon with the skin of a 20-year old!

Advertisements

Why it’s okay to not be okay!

14th March 2018 / Katy Moore

As I’ve grown older and had the opportunity to speak with people from 
many walks of life, the more I realise just how prevalent anxiety in our current society is, wherever you live in the world.

Although in my experience it can certainly decrease if you move from the busy and frantic concrete jungle city of London, to a calmer and more outdoorsy way of life in Sydney, however, it’s still something that can still bubble up from within. Not even a sunnier climate and sandy beach can cure it totally, unfortunately.

I guess it comes as no surprise that although technologically we’ve advanced dramatically in the last few years, our biological make-up hasn’t necessarily caught up and the ‘fight or flight’ mode remains strong, even if it comes in different forms now.

Anxiety and mental health is still a taboo subject, maybe it’s time we all started talking about it a bit more?

I know now what exacerbates my anxiety, but even when I write it down in black and white it seems so inconsequential; namely lack of sleep and those
 dreaded hungover blues, which I’m sure many experience but for me they can feel quite extreme.

Externally the triggers may seem small, but the feeling can be quite overwhelming and hard to rationalise. The best way I can describe my anxiety is a rising feeling in the pit of my gut, a shortness of breath and feeling tense all over with a particular tightness in my
head. It’s a feeling that jilts my normal secure stand point and makes me feel out of control.

Perhaps, I’ve made a mistake a work, or maybe I think I’ve said something hurtful to a friend, or felt like I just had a few too many drinks over the weekend and it suddenly takes a grip, like an iron fist
 clamping my brain and all of a sudden I feel paralysed, and the worry of
the original worry becomes bigger.

Then, the forecasting to the future begins and I think of all the things that could now unravel and start to go wrong. A bit like a nightmarish domino effect, and the worst part is that when it takes a hold it can really hit my self-esteem. I’d say I’m a pretty strong individual but it’s as if I lose perspective on the bigger picture and become blinkered
to the microscopic detail of the worry, which then spawn into worries, plural.

It makes me feel on edge, and un-nerved, out of control. Out of ‘control’ is a key word for me because I’m a perfectionist. I don’t think I’m alone either. In a society in which social media often portrays everyone else’s life as ‘perfect’, even if we all know pictures never
tell the full story, if you feel your own life is crumbling, it’s hard to keep it together! 
In a city full of millions, you can suddenly feel alone.

So what do I do to combat?



I try and sit with the feeling as I feel it rising up, which was really hard and uncomfortable at
first but has become easier over time. It’s like the experience of 
having a really bad physical pain but realising the fighting against is actually makes it worse.
There’s something about embracing the anxiety, an acceptance which has a kind of peace to it. Like being sucked under a wave and instead of thrashing helplessly, giving into it and just learning to float, going with the sensation of being swirled around without a clear idea of when you’ll come up for air but putting
your trust in yourself that
you will, eventually. Maybe I’ve lived in Australia too long, but the ocean analogy just seems to work!

Finding the things that pull my attention away from the anxious thoughts
and into something physical, like the gym, works well for me too. Often people give credit to exercise helping to decrease anxiety and it couldn’t ring truer for me! When I feel my body and muscles working and becoming stronger, I start to feel more in control of my mind and my wondering thoughts.

Maybe most importantly though it’s about being honest with myself, allowing myself to feel okay that I’m not okay. In a world where there is a lot of pressure to be consistently strong and ‘winning at life’, it’s a relief to admit vulnerability, which by the way, doesn’t equate to weakness.

After all, happiness is a temporary emotion, not a promised constant, and our life is to be lived within the whole spectrum of emotions. Striving always to be happy surely leads to unhappiness and more anxiety! Perhaps the key is not to strive for happiness, but a deeper sense of inner contentedness. So, whatever wave of emotion comes over you, underneath there is a calm to help anchor you, a peace inside, which is all yours and nothing can affect that space.

Anxiety is not something to easily dispel from life, but for me aiming to be more at one with it, knowing it’s just a thread, a part of my make-up, but only a facet, and certainly not the defining feature, makes it okay to feel not okay sometimes.

Maybe we need to start admitting this more to each other too, because behind some of those perfect social media smiles there might be someone else feeling not all that okay underneath the filter either.

5 Christmas superfoods

18th December 2017 / Gabriela Czwarnos

It’s definitely more ‘naughty’ than ‘nice’ when it comes to our food choices during December, but don’t just think of the obvious sugar-loaded treats such as gingerbread, boxes of festive chocolates or mince pies. There are plenty of ‘hidden’ calorific sins to be found in butter sauces, stuffing, creamy Baileys and food-of-the-season, pigs in blankets. Not to mention all the prosecco and champagne… it’s no wonder the average Brit puts put on 4.5 pounds during the party season, according to research.

88

But what if we tell you that on your Christmas dinner table you can find healthy superfoods? We’ve asked Nutritionists to give us their 5 top healthy choices:

Brussels sprouts

“Brussels sprouts are cruciferous vegetables that are packed with vitamin K, vitamin C, folic acid, calcium and magnesium. As a valuable source of glucosinolates, they protect our DNA from damage. They can also help to avoid the mid-afternoon slump on Christmas Day, as they are packed with B Vitamins which are essential for energy.

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and will leach into the water if you cook sprouts for too long. Try steaming them instead to keep in their goodness and add nutmeg for Christmas twist”, says Shona Wilkinson, Nutritionist.

Cinnamon

“Cinnamon is one of nature’s most revitalising herbs. Filled with potent antioxidants – more than almost any other spices and herbs – it may help to reduce signs of ageing, boost metabolism as well as aid digestion, gently warming your stomach, supporting the breakdown of your food more efficiently”, explains Dr Marilyn Glenville, Nutritionist.

Do you have a sweet tooth? ‘Cinnamon is also great for reducing sugar cravings. Add some to a cranberry, pear and clementine juice for a festive pick me up on the go. You can also combine it with spinach or kale for a super shot of festive green goodness’, adds Wilkinson.

Nuts

“Nuts are packed with goodness – high in essential nutrients especially minerals and vitamins. They are also protein-rich so are broken down more slowly and therefore stay in the stomach longer, making us feel fuller and wanting to snack less.

They also help to balance your blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity, which is an essential part of healthy weight loss and management. Nuts are high in calories, so don’t gorge on them, but allow yourself a healthy decent handful a day. Make sure they’re raw and unsalted to get the maximum benefit from the delicate oils they contain”, says Dr Glenville.

Turkey

“Turkey is a great source of lean protein. It is also low in fat and low in calories – ‘turkey is also high in selenium, which supports your metabolism, zinc that helps to boost our immunity and vitamin B6, an essential for energy production”, explains Wilkinson.

Do you often feel like snacking? “Carb cravings are a sign of low levels of the amino acid – tryptophan, which is necessary for the serotonin production, a ‘happy’ brain chemical. It plays a crucial role in sleep and wake cycles as well as digestion. A lack of it can lead to low mood and anxiety. Instead of reaching for stodgy carbs go for turkey – it’s packed with tryptophan”, says Dr Glenville.

Mulled red wine

Red wine is a good source of resveratrol… as if you need an excuse to have a glass. Just don’t overdo it! This powerful antioxidant, which can be found in the skin of red grapes, berries, cocoa and red wine, is produced in plants to defend them from invading microorganisms.

It can not only protect you from damaging free radicals, but it also boosts cell replication by promoting a healthy, inflammatory response in our body which delays the premature ageing process and turns excess flab into calorie-burning ‘brown fat”, says Michela Vagnini, Nutritionist at Natures Plus.

Gabs

 

 

 

This week we tried: Hotpod yoga

6th December 2017 / Abbie Tanner  

Who knew that getting up early on a Saturday morning, grabbing a coffee and sitting in an enclosed hot pod doing yoga with half-naked strangers would feel so god damn great. Certainly not me. As a revived exercise fan (well, sort of) I am all about trialling the latest work out craze; anything that gets my heart rate rising and my non-existent abs squealing, then I’m in.

Know what I mean? Well, in that case, let me introduce you to Hotpod Yoga.

87

Hotpod yoga is exactly that. Yoga, in a hot pod. It was launched in 2013 by strategy consultant, Max Henderson and yoga teacher, Nick Higgins, and is based in a cocoon-like studio environment which reaches up to 37 degrees. It may sound unbearable but trust me, it’s not. It’s actually really, really nice. The pod is dark and intimate with all classes having roots in vinyasa flow. I am not a total ‘yogi’, but the more I do it, the more I love it. And this sweaty yet soothing work out has by far been my favourite.

The one-hour session was based in their Hackney, London location and was taught by Lucy. Lucy also teaches self-development workshops which follow Embodied Yoga Principles, plus she’s had her writings published in top yoga publications such as Om Magazine and Yoga International, don’t you know!

Her knowledge guided me through the class with ease, and I reached a peak level of concentration which enabled me to stay focused on my flexibility, pace, and breathing technique. It’s a pretty hard task to get me to completely switch off, so well done Lucy.

Hotpod Yoga is not to be confused with Bikram, yes, both are heated, but Bikram can reach a hotter temperature of around 41 degrees and you’ll find that classes usually run for 90 minutes instead of 60. Heated Vinyasa and Bikram yoga are both Hatha-based practices which are made up of asanas (postures) and pranayama (breathing techniques), but heated Vinyasa classes will contain a variation of a sun salutation sequence (Surya Namaskar).

86

I have never experienced Bikram or heated vinyasa so this was a new and refreshing experience for me. I left incredibly sweaty, incredibly energised and with a clearer mind. This was certainly one yoga class I couldn’t wait to re-book in for.

Who would I recommend it to? This is a great class for all ability levels, it’s super accessible, dynamic and practical so even as a beginner you would settle into it quite easily. There’s no stress if you don’t know each specific yoga term too!

Great for: calming your mind and loosening up your body. Just don’t forget your water.

Hotpod Yoga has their studios nationwide, to find one near you please visit their website HERE.

Abbie

How to feel a tank that’s never full: hunger-busting tips that nutritionists swear by

4th December 2017 / Gabriela Czwarnos

239

If you, just like me, are the unlucky owner of a bottomless pit instead of a stomach, then you know just how hard it’s to beat that constant feeling of hunger. So, if you spend your days thinking about what, where or when to eat, here are some less known tips on how to trick your body and mind into thinking it’s full.

Spice things up a little

Go for Cayenne Pepper, which is a natural appetite suppressant. It will not only curb your hunger due to the chemical capsaicin, it also turns up your metabolism.

Spend an extra hour in bed

Studies have shown that a lack of sleep may cause us to eat 300-400 more calories the next day! And in order to keep energy levels high, we tend to choose sugary or starchy quick fixes. Just one extra hour of sleep each night can increase leptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite,” says nutritionist, Lily Soutter.

Snack on an egg

“These make a great snack as the combination of protein and good fat help you feel fuller for longer.  Try boiling them in advance, and keeping them in the fridge as an easy, snack to enjoy on the go. They will last up to a week,” says nutritionist, Shona Wilkinson.

Breakfast for champions

Shona explains, “oats are brilliant for keeping hunger pangs at bay. They are nutritious and contain a good amount of fibre. They have been shown to help balance blood sugar levels, thus keeping sugar cravings and hunger pains at bay. A small bowl of porridge is a quick and easy snack and much better than reaching for that chocolate bar”.

Are you thirsty or hungry?

“It’s actually relatively common for people to confuse thirst for hunger, that’s why keeping your fluid intake up is really important. Try drinking a large glass of water when you are feeling those hunger pains and wait to see if they dissipate” says Dr Marilyn Glenville, Nutritionist and author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar.

Go green

“Adding a teaspoon of a super greens mixture to your water or juice can help keep hunger at bay. It’s a great way to boost your nutritional intake with greens such as spirulina, chlorella and barley or wheat grass. These superfoods contain fibre, helping you to feel fuller for longer as well as many energy-giving nutrients such as B vitamins to help you get through the day. Try the Natures Plus Ultra Green Juice,” suggests nutritionist, Cassandra Barns.

Tea time!

“The catechins found in green tea also help balance blood sugar levels. An added bonus is that green tea can help to lower cholesterol and triglycerides, as the polyphenols can help the body both eliminate cholesterol and stop its absorption. Try having 2 to 3 cups daily, in between meals” explains Lily. Here at YSV, we LOVE Pukka Green Matcha.

Switch it off!

Do you eat your meals in front of a screen? Dr Glenville explains why you should turn it off. “You can eat up to 70% more if distracted by watching the TV or in a cinema.  Research has shown that eating lunch in front of your computer makes it harder to remember what you have eaten and then you don’t feel as full. As a result, you will then be looking for something else to eat. In one study, computer users then ate twice as many biscuits half an hour later than the non-computer users eating lunch!”.

Keep it clean

A study published in the journal Environment and Behavior found that preparing and eating meals in a messy kitchen/living room area can cause us to eat more by… 40%. So, do the dishes, file your mail and chuck old newspapers away before you start preparing your meal.

Drizzle Vinegar on your salad

Shona says, “it improves digestion by keeping food in the stomach longer, reducing the hunger hormone ghrelin. Vinegar also helps prevent blood sugar spikes after a meal, helping cravings for up to 3 hours after”.

Light a vanilla scented candle

Have you heard of Christmas Dinner Syndrome? This is when the person who has been cooking doesn’t eat as much as their guests because they’ve been smelling dinner all day. There’s a theory that sweet scent reduces sugar cravings and can keep your hunger at bay.

The ‘F” word

“Foods high in ‘good’ fats – such as oily fish, avocados, raw nuts, seeds and cold-pressed oils made from seeds can help slow the release of sugars into the blood and make us feel fuller, preventing cravings,” says Dr Glenville.

Be a smart snacker

Lily explains how: “almonds are rich in protein and healthy fats, giving you the energy boost you need whilst balancing blood sugar. This snack is exactly what we need to prevent carbohydrate and sugar cravings”.

Trick your brain full

When choosing plates go for blue. Why? Research shows that blue is a natural appetite suppressant. The colour is almost never found in natural foods, so our bodies have no natural appetite response to blue. It’s not only colour that matters though. Dr Glenville says that “we tend to put larger portions on larger plates and end up eating more food. If you can’t fit as much on a plate you will automatically be eating less”.

Call a friend

According to a study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, hearing a kind, familiar voice stimulates the brain to release oxytocin, a stress fighting, mood boosting, “love” hormone. “Reduced stress, on the other hand, has been linked to increases in your satiety hormone, leptin,” Cassandra adds.

One apple a day

In one study in Washington, people were asked to eat an apple 20 minutes before each meal. Without making any additional changes to their diet, they lost an average 1½ stone in just 3 months. Apples are packed with fibre and they keep you fuller for longer. The more space an apple will take in your stomach, the less is left for less healthy dinner options.

Instagram your meal

Dr Glenville explains why: “researchers suggest that taking a photograph of food just before you eat, concentrates the mind to eat not only healthier foods but also less of it.  The photograph seemed to deter binges”.

Start with a soup

If you have soup before a meal you will end up eating fewer calories during the meal. The soup gives you the sensation of being fuller because it remains in the stomach for longer and makes you feel more satisfied. In addition, the soup remaining in the stomach stops the cells in the stomach producing your hunger hormone ghrelin and turns off your appetite,” Marilyn explains.

Gabs

 

 

This week we tried: Vinyasa Flow Yoga at triyoga

28th November 2017 / Gabriela Czwarnos 

When it comes to working out, I know the main aim shouldn’t always be weight loss or toning, but general wellbeing and health. The truth is, if I am going to wake up at 5.30am three times a week and drag myself to the gym in the dark, I want to see visible results. Six-pack and peachy bum, preferably, like now, please!

I always thought that a ‘bikini body’ can only be achieved by HIIT and weight lifting. What about Yoga? Surely you can’t get lean from stretching? It’s too slow. And no music? Looks boring. WRONG. After trying Vinyasa Flow class at triyoga I am totally hooked!

tri yoga

With fellow YSV editor and co-founder, Abbie, we deliberately chose the 7.30pm class on Friday, (ultimately to make sure we didn’t get tempted and go out for ‘one drink’ after work). triyoga – we went to the one in Camden – has a very ‘zen’ atmosphere, one that almost makes you want to whisper – it was a perfect way to finish off a stressful week.

230

Our class was taught by Marcus, who uses his Dj-ing experience and plays some great, Café Del Mar-like tunes in the background. Even though the atmosphere was very relaxed, it took literally 10 minutes and a few positions for us to start sweating and engaging muscles that we didn’t even know existed.

Vinyasa means ‘to place with special awareness and intention’. Flow suggests a movement that is continuous and smooth. Vinyasa Flow is a popular form of modern yoga that draws from traditions including Ashtanga and Iyengar yoga, as well as martial arts and dance (we did feel like we were trying to do some sort of Capoeira/breakdance at some point).

As I am still a beginner when it comes to Yoga, the hardest part for me is to breathe properly and coordinate my inhales and exhales with the movements. Thanks to Marcus, who was constantly reminding everyone to actually breathe, I started to control it more by the end of the class, which is a great success.

I left the class, with a great post-workout feeling: tired, sweaty and happy! Not so happy next day – my core, glutes, hamstrings were on fire, more than they usually are after a HIIT class. It makes sense how Madonna looks the way she does at the fabulous age of 60. It’s mainly thanks to Yoga.

Who would I recommend it to? Those, who’ve done Yoga before as it’s quite a fast pace class and it’s good to know the names of specific positions so you can change smoothly.

Be prepared to work on a deeper (both physical and psychological) level, with more challenging asanas, sun salutation variations, inversions and backbends. Not suitable for beginners!

Great for: toning and de-stressing.

triyoga has their studios nationwide, to find one near you please visit their website HERE.Gabs

 

 

 

 

 

Go on, treat yourself! Our top 5 payday buys

24th November 2017 / Gabriela Czwarnos

Finally, another payday! So until all bills are paid and direct debits have disappeared from our accounts, we have 3 days to feel a teeny bit rich again. At YSV we pride ourselves on being budget queens (have you read our budget party tips and how to survive until payday articles?) so even our payday treats (and cocktails) are planned and included within the monthly spendings.

Here are our top five things we will be getting this month – cha-ching!

Metallic gym tights, Puma, £35

218

We might not be exactly gym bunnies but we do try drag ourselves to the gym; attempting barrecore or yoga at least 3 times a week. So, when it comes to leggings, they need to do 3 things: stay in place (no sliding when we squat please!) cover our bums completely during downward facing dog and be pretty enough so we can get excited to wear them (anything to motivate). These gorgeous metallic ones do all three. Boom!

Translucent loose setting powder, Laura Mercier, £29219

December means one thing: after work drinks. If you put your make up on at 7am chances are, that by 6pm, most of it has gone. Not with this all-time bestseller loose powder from Laura Mercier. It works for all skin tones and contains light-reflecting, micro-refined spherical silica powders that help create a soft-focus appearance while diminishing the look of fine lines and imperfections. Bonus: 29 grams will get you through another 20 paydays. God, we’re good to you!

Statement earrings, Topshop, £14.50

215

Thank god big earrings are back in fashion. They’re the perfect ‘desk to disco’ addition. While everyone is currently going crazy for big tassels, we’ve chosen something slightly different – obviously, a red accent is a must.

Espresso spread, Flat Brew, £5.99216

We won’t tell you how much coffee we drink at the weekend while flicking through newspaper supplements and chatting about absolutely everything and nothing over brekkie. Because it’s not normal, and we are not proud of it.

So, to mix it up a little bit, instead of drinking it we are putting it on our toast. Or just eating it straight out of a jar. This espresso blend contains everything we love: Arabica coffee, cocoa butter, cream and… sugar. Oh, well.

How To Be a Grown Up by Daisy Buchanan, £14.99217

We spend approx. 2 hours a day commuting, one part of it including the apparently ‘pleasant’ overground, also known as the ‘misery line’ or the ‘hipster express’. The only thing that stops us from losing the will to live, is a good book. Ideally, something that makes us feel better about ourselves. Daisy’s book covers everything from how to become more successful and confident at work, to turning rivals into mentors, and learning to enjoy spending time on your own. In a witty and warm voice, Daisy is basically saying ‘don’t worry, you are doing just fine!’. And we love her for that!

Gabs

 

 

 

 

 

How to be a girl boss: Natalie Powell from Parcel London

18th October 2017 / Abbie Tanner

Your Style Vaults meets… Natalie Powell

125

Are you always on the hunt for that perfect pressie? A gift that combines style, thought and a little edge? Yep, we know, it’s a tough task! Enter Natalie Powell, Founder and Director of the luxury gifting service, Parcel – this brand new concept is sleek, time-saving and unique.

Natalie lovingly sources a selection of luxe, innovative brands in order to create bespoke gift ideas, which have already been a hit with top bloggers. These are top-notch gifts (our personal favourites are ‘Besties’ and ‘Pamper’) and ones we know people would love to receive – with Christmas around the corner, could this be any more perfect?

So, without further ado, let’s meet Natalie, see what makes her tick and how Parcel came to be such a god damn awesome idea!

YSV: So tell us, what is Parcel and how did it all begin? 

Natalie: Parcel is an online service which offers pre-curated gift boxes full of lovely presents for women. I’ve always been obsessed with giving (and receiving) gifts but it’s hard to find the time when you’re busy with work and distracted with everyday life, to pull off an amazing present with all the little extras. I decided to set up a website that does it all for you! We choose gifts from loads of lovely brands, wrap them, write the card and deliver them to the doorstep. We get the gifts, you get the glory.  

191

Besties Parcel, £85

YSV: What was your background before going it alone?

Natalie: I’ve had quite a varied career but always based in Fashion. After graduating from London College of Fashion, I started out as a make-up artist and then eventually transitioned into shoot direction and production, most recently at Net-A-Porter. I’ve been very lucky to be exposed to incredible brands and products which has helped me to pick gifts for Parcel which I think people will love.

YSV: Who was a big part of helping you embark on your new career? Be it inspiration or support? Family, friends, an icon?

Natalie: My fiancé Mark was an incredible support to me, he was my 24-hour sounding board, as well as helping with all the real-life things that I didn’t have the time or brain space to do during the start-up phase (he’s now head chef at home!) but mainly his unwavering belief in me, you definitely need that in times of fear! I also have an amazing group of friends and ex-colleagues that helped me out with so many important things such a branding, copywriting and digital, they’re wizards! It can be a very lonely time when launching a start-up so it was lovely to have my friends around me to help – especially when they’re so talented in their fields. 

YSV: What is your number one tip for anyone wanting to embark on setting up their own business?

Natalie: Keep a side hustle for as long as possible! There are so many different parts of setting up a business that are scary, the main one being that you often can’t avoid spending lots of money, so if you can keep a small income on the go while you’re finding your feet, it can really help to take the pressure off. I think the tip for this is to pick something that leaves a realistic amount of time for you to concentrate on growing your own business rather than distract from it. 

YSV: What do you wish you knew before you started Parcel?

Natalie: That no decisions are set in stone. When you first go it alone, it’s an amazing feeling not to have a manager to answer to, but I was paralysed by indecision, thinking every single tiny choice had to be underlined in a notebook and never changed. Once you get further down the line you realise that every good business is constantly changing and evolving. I update something every day based on feedback and hindsight, so there really was no need to worry so much before the launch!

YSV: Tell us about the brands you have curated for each box? How do you choose who to work with and why?

Natalie: The quality of brands included in each Parcel is what I’m proudest of and the part which took the most work. I’m very conscious of the types of brands I work with and am a huge supporter of independent and innovative makers. Some of my favourites, which are all based in London are chocolate experts – Land, leather and stationery brand A L’aise, handcrafted candles from Join and Guy Morgan Apothecary who create the most gorgeously packaged natural skin care. When I set out to create Parcel my main aim was to create gifts that not only looked beautiful when you open them, but that are also great quality. The question I asked myself in the early buying stages was ‘would I buy this myself, for myself’ if the answer was no, then the product wasn’t included. 

What was the best piece of advice you ever got? And, the worst?

Natalie: The best advice is from my parents who told me to ‘just go for it’ because it will be worse to regret never trying than to fail. The worst advice – that it would be a viable option to plan a wedding and start a business in the same year. It. is. chaos. 

YSV: When you’re not working, where do you like to hang out in London?

Natalie: Before moving to Surrey, I lived in East London and this is where I feel most alive! I love that everyone has such a sense of personal style and open attitude. My favourite place is Broadway market on a Saturday afternoon, you can wander around for hours, looking in bookshops and eating the worlds BEST chicken burgers from the stall right at the end.

Finally, for some fun…

YSV: Handbag essential number 1?

Natalie: Paw Paw papaya moisturising balm. It’s actual magic!

YSV: That one song which brings all the memories?

Natalie: Kevin Lyttle – Turn Me On. It instantly takes me back to teenage holidays with my best friend Sophie.

YSV: On top of your bucket list you have…

Natalie: To visit the Galapagos islands, I’m obsessed with wildlife documentaries!

YSV: Last three things you bought on your credit card?

Natalie: Pink velvet Gucci loafers – Swoon / A flight to Dubai – Excruciatingly hot / Coffee and cake – because I never sleep or carry cash.

YSV: Give us your usual coffee shop order

Natalie: Almond milk cappuccino.

View the full Parcel gift collection here.

 

Abbie

It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas! 5 candles that will make you feel festive

5th November 2017 / Gabriela Czwarnos

It’s November so we are now officially allowed to talk all things Christmas. It’s the season of gift-giving moans, Mariah Carey blasted three times an hour on the radio, mince pies for breakfast and prosecco fuelled mid-week drunken catch ups (our favourite part!). We’ve picked our top five festive candles, so not only will it sound and look like Christmas, but it will smell like it too…

NEOM, Limited Edition Christmas Wish, £30

Made with 100% natural vegetable wax, this blend of 13 essential oils including mandarin and cinnamon will help you to de-stress and relax.

68

Why do we love it?

The mandarin notes give it a vibrant freshness. Traditional yet original.

ESPA, Winter Spice Candle, £45

ESPA launched this hand-poured candle over a decade ago, and it’s still everyone’s favourite!

69

Why do we love it? 

Spicy aromas of sweet orange, clove, cinnamon and ginger made us instantly think: mulled wine.

Molton Brown, Fabled Juniper Berries & Lapp Pine Single Wick Candle, £42

Nothing less than pure elegance but with that Christmas touch… ahhh good old Molton Brown.

70

Why do we love it?

Musk notes make it smell a little bit like a unisex, sexy perfume. Our choice for ‘Netflix & chill’ nights in.

Elemis, Joyful Glow Candle, £27.50

Warming aromatics of vanilla, orange and cinnamon: this is exactly what Christmas should smell like.

71

Why do we love it?

As anything that comes from Elemis, it’s soothing and calming. The perfect relaxing bath companion!

 Jo Malone, Green Almond and Redcurrant Christmas Candle, £120

The mixture of warming cedarwood and tonka finished with redcurrant and green almond is not your typical festive blend, but this different twist on a Christmas scent is surprisingly refreshing.72

Why do we love it?

If you are looking for something to lift your mood after a cold wintery day, then this is your festive flicker.

Gabs

Erica’s food files: Rawduck, Hackney

4th November 2017 / Erica Cohen

It’s safe to say, the London brunch scene is going through a particularly large growth spurt at the moment, landing splat bang on every self-respecting Insta feed within the M25 area. From weekend boozers to high-end and bottomless, it seems there isn’t a kitchen insight that doesn’t offer a lazy breakfast of poached egg or avocado toast.  But if like me, you’re a) lazy and b) after something a bit different from the usual brunch fare, then Rawduck could be the bird for you.

It was Sunday and I was meeting up with Your Style Vault’s very own Gabriela and our pal Alice for a little catch-up.  Hangry and late, I skimmed the menu and decided to go big! I feel going big on food ordering is a skill only a few have the sheer greed and audacity to really pull off, so I thought why change the habit of a lifetime?

I ordered the hispi cabbage kimchi, green onions, coriander & brown rice broken eggs, as you do.  It was different and delicious, the kimchi was perfect and the eggs not too heavily seasoned or overly spiced.  The girls had sunny fried eggs, coconut rice, chilli sambal, cucumber & roasted peanuts and wild mushroom & cavolo nero galette, fried egg & parmesan. We were not left disappointed, hungry or craving avo toast!

58

Rawduck does simple, wholesome, grown-up food and it does it well.  Serving up sexy British with a hint of Mediterranean through the week, Rawduck’s weekend brunch menu is an altogether more exotic affair with Korean and Indian influences.  Expect chillied eggs, seasonal kombuchas and kimchi rice bowls. Oh hello! As an added bonus, their fermented drinks and foods are all made in-house, not bad for a humble Hackney eatery.

The service is friendly and efficient; the atmosphere cool and relaxed.  The long wooden tables lend themselves to a casual bite with friends or even meeting new friends across the table from you. You’ll also find fresh flowers, biodynamic wines and their very own ceramics range available to buy after your meal.  Alternative weekend brunching at its best!

Erica

You can do this! How to get through the last week before payday

25th October 2017 / Abbie Tanner

How we long to be one of those people in the office that come payday declare, ‘oh, do we get paid today, I totally forgot’. Eugh. Well until then, take note of our top 9 money-saving tips to see you through the final leg. Some might say, it’s the survival of the skintest…

Waitrose do free coffee!

Skint or not, we all need our coffee fix, but those tasty Starbucks mount up if you treat yourself on the daily. The answer? Get a Waitrose card. With every purchase you get a free tea or coffee, so pick up a single banana for 20p, then grab your free caffeine hit on the way out. No Waitrose near your office? OK, there must be Pret, so why not flirt your way to a free hot drink (they’re allowed to give away free tea and coffee if they see fit!). However, if your flirting skills are as bad as ours, they do filter coffee for £1. Treat yourself.

Make your own lunches

Be organised because when you’re on a budget, preparation is key. Sunday nights should be spent meal prepping, so get your Monday to Thursday meals on lockdown. Then come Friday, when the pay cheque gods rock up, you can get your arse back down to the local overpriced sushi bar. Until then, it’s canned Tuna salad. Joy!

Yellow labels are the answer

If food prep isn’t for you then we have a few other tricks up our sleeves: M&S love a yellow label. Time it right and you can get your lunch (and dinner) for a fraction of the price. Just keep your eyes peeled for a member of staff and their sacred reduction gun.

Top tip – catch Itsu half hour before they shut to bag their delicious sushi meals for 50% off. That’s dinner sorted then!

Walk it

Check your route to work, can you walk any of it? If not all of it? If you can save the pennies AND workout at the same time then that’s a win-win, right?

Work out for free

On the subject of exercise, did you know that there are SO many ways to work out for free in London. Take Our Parks, a new initiative bringing group exercises to your local parks, there really is no excuse!

Be cultural, it’s free!

London might be an expensive city to live, work and play in but there are endless options to get out and explore for free (reason 3527485635 why this city is one of the best places in the world). London is home to some of the most iconic museums and, they’re free to get in! So from The V&A and Natural History Museum to The Tate Modern and National Gallery you can get your art and culture fix for nothing.

Top tip – If contemporary art isn’t quite your bag but gorgeous views are, then enjoy the London skyline at the Tate Modern viewing platform, again ALL for free.

Turn your phone off and lock your door

Sounds dramatic but if there’s ever a time to say, ‘I can’t come out’, it’s the week before payday. Turn it into a positive! Spend your evenings – once you have walked the 25 miles home from the office – snuggled in bed. It’s a chance to catch up on those ITV dramas your mum has told you about, or how about that Netflix series they were discussing at work? Don’t worry, it will be a few more days until you can pop that prosecco and blast your hard-earned cash in the pub, but until then, Netflix and chill is the answer. There is the other ‘Netflix ‘n’ chill’ option, a much better way to pass the time and ignore those money worries if you ask us…

Did we mention prosecco?

Thirsty Thursdays can still be a ‘thing’, just make them an ‘indoor thing’. Get your skint butt down to Lidl ladies, because their prosecco is £5.79 and it’s bloody lovely (trust us, we’ve tried it). Let the normal hungover Fridays resume.

Get your salesperson’s hat on

If you know you’ve got a super busy month that’s bound to leave your overdraft aching, then get savvy. Enter, eBay. Without knowing it, you’re probably sitting on a small fortune. It’s either a case of finding pieces you forgot you had (which basically feels like shopping) or, making some hard cash on clothes/shoes/bags that you (let’s be honest) probably won’t end up wearing again. You know what they say, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure…

Enjoy the tips! If you can live by these ALL month, the possibilities are endless. Imagine, that plane ticket might just be closer than you think…

Abbie

 

 

 

 

 

I’m feeling supersonic, give me gin… and tonic?

19th October 2017 / Gabriela Czwarnos

In 2016 Brits drank record amounts of gin; in fact, there were 40 million bottles sold (woah), which beat the sales growth of beer and even our dear friend, Prosecco!

gin flatlay

Of course, the obvious and perfectly paired choice of a mixer is tonic water. We wouldn’t dare imagine a summer (or autumn, or winter, or spring…) in the UK without a good old G&T, accessorised with a freshly squeezed lime.

However, to spice things up a little bit and keep our relationship with gin exciting, we’ve decided to experiment and have put together five fabulous gin cocktails that don’t include tonic!

Just in time for the weekend…

Pink Fizz

35ml gin / 15ml grenadine / 150ml champagne or prosecco

Carefully pour each constituent into a glass in order to ‘layer’.  You should be able to keep the syrup at the bottom, neatly separated. Serve in a flute.

Best with: Kirkjuvagr Gin, 43%

A unique blend of local botanicals from Orkney, including Ramanas Rose, Burnet Rose and Borage. Producers have also used traditional Orkney bere barley in their recipe.

Floradora

40ml gin / 20ml lime juice / 20ml framboise liqueur / ginger ale to top up

Pour the gin, lime juice, and framboise into a highball glass filled with ice. Top with ginger ale, garnish with a lime wedge.

Best with: Tanqueray no. 10, 47.3%

Very subtle yet fresh aromas of grapefruit and a great blend of juniper, vanilla and lime. Slightly sweet, this combination creates a long-lasting flavour and a hint of spice at the end.

Gin Mojito

50ml gin / 7 leaves of fresh mint / 25ml sugar syrup / 50ml apple juice / 2 slices of lime

Clap the mint in your palms to release the aromas and place at the bottom of the tall glass. Add line and sugar syrup, muddle gently. Fill the glass ¾ full with crushed ice and add gin and apple juice. Add mint leaves.

Best with: Fords Gin, 45%

The mix of 9 botanicals starts with a traditional backbone base of juniper & coriander seed that’s balanced with citrus, floral (jasmine) and spice.

Akjurara

40ml gin / 1 nectarine / 20ml pineapple juice / 1 tsp honey

Mix all ingredients together with crushed ice in a blender. Pour into a chilled glass and garnish with a slice of lemon and fresh lemon balm leaves.

Best with: The Botanist, 46%

Rich and mellow in flavour thanks to sweet delicate menthol, apple mint, spring woodlands, juniper, coriander, lemon and orange peel, honey, coconut from gorse, wild mint and summer meadows.

Strawberry Smash

45ml gin / 3 strawberries / freshly ground pepper / soda water to top up

Muddle 2 strawberries and a good twist of freshly ground black pepper, fill the glass with ice, stir in the gin and top with soda. Garnish with a strawberry.

Gin: Bloom, 40%

Enriched with a bespoke blend of honeysuckle, chamomile and pomelo botanicals, this is a perfect gin for refreshingly light and delicate cocktail.

Gabs

 

 

 

Erica’s food files: Opso, Marylebone

16th October 2017 / Erica Cohen

You know those nights when you go and see a special screening of Sister Act in a candlelit church with a live gospel choir?  No, neither did I, till my friend Koh suggested it.  So I was having one of those all singing, all dancing, very cheesy and slightly embarrassing movie nights and we needed some food! We decided on Opso, whose Greek meze menu is enough to make even a fasting nun salivate.

Opso which means ‘delicate morsel of food’ in ancient Greek is all about social laid back dining.  Opso’s modern Greek tapas is a concept that sits very well with me, as you can order everything you fancy, without feeling like a massive fatty, because you’re sharing it. So with our heads full of gospel and sassy one-liners, it was time to order an ungodly amount of Greek food. Praise the Lord!

We started with some classics; Tzatziki, Taramas and Pitta Bread.  Now, these may sound somewhat basic but holy moly, they were the stars of the show.  The generous portion of grilled pitta bread which had been made in-house, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with herbs, was warming and wondrous.  The creamy taramas, came with chopped red olives and herbs and was a reassuring pale pink as opposed to the luminous pink that prevails in most establishments.  The tzatziki was a curious paste-like texture topped with dill and cucumber, again, these little touches helped elevate this humble dip into a dreamy Mediterranean marvel.

15

We moved on to the Mac n’ Cheese from the Greek Street Food selection; a filthy, glutenous mix of traditional hylopites pasta with smoked cheese and corn béchamel and all served up in a street food takeaway box, very cute.  We coupled this with Handmade Spanakopita and Pastourmas which didn’t disappoint, the spiced cured beef perfectly offset with the chive oil and coriander.  We then drank beautiful cocktails while I entertained Koh with my misguided musical theatre ambitions.  We agreed the only thing holding me back from becoming a West End star was the outfit.  It was simple,  I just had to find the perfect pair of leggings and I was good to go.  We left on a high, full of false expectation and authentic Greek cuisine. Head to Opso if you’re hungry for a life on the stage or just simply a tasty Mediterranean meal made of high-quality ingredients. Amen to that!

Average meal with starters, 3 mains and dessert: £24

Address: 10 Paddington St, W1U 5QL, Marylebone, London
Telephone: 0207 487 5088
For reservations e-mail: reservations@opso.co.uk

Monday – Friday
Lunch: 12pm – 4pm (last order 3:30pm)
Dinner: 6pm – 11:30pm (last order 10:30pm)

Saturday
Brunch: 10am – 4pm (last order 3:30pm)
Dinner: 5pm – 11:30pm (last order 10:30pm)

Sunday
Brunch: 10am – 4pm (last order 3:30pm)
Dinner: 5pm – 11pm (last order 10pm

 

Erica

Wine + dinner = winner!

13th October 2017 / Gabriela Czwarnos

Some say you become an adult when you get your first 9-5 job. Others, when you move in with your partner or start to enjoy staying in. In reality, that breakthrough moment is when you actually bother to spend time choosing wine for your dinner, instead of going for that £5 bottle of Blossom Hill.

5.jpg

So as a prime example of full-time adulting, we now know choosing a wine that pairs well with your meal can turn a great dinner into a fantastic one. The question is, which one? With help from James Hocking, Director of Wine, The Vineyard Cellars & The Vineyard hotel, we have chosen a selection of food-friendly wines to go with some of the most popular dinner choices…

Steak

James says: ‘Syrah and steak are a match made in heaven’.

Our choice: Bushland Shiraz NV, Australia, Aldi, £4.59

Of all the red wine grape varieties, one of the most versatile and tasty is syrah, which is also known as shiraz. Our favourite shop (self-claimed budget queens right here), Aldi sells this rich in dark fruits flavours and vanilla oak aroma bottle for… £4.59. Sorry, is that two bottles clunking away in your basket?

White Fish and seafood

James says: ‘Chardonnay is just great with seafood’.

Our choice: Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay, Chile, Tesco, £13

Light yellow in colour, rich and vibrant, there is no question that Chardonnay is the nation’s favourite wine. This affordable bottle serves up tasty white pear, mineral notes and toasty hazelnut. Deeply concentrated with a silky texture and a fresh, long finish. Warning: you most likely won’t be able to stop topping up.

Roast Dinner

James suggests Cabernet Sauvignon, which matches well to all the different elements of your classic sunday roast.

Our choice: Katnook Founder’s Block, Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Australia, £11.99

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the world’s most recognised red wine grape varieties. The wine is dry (not sweet) and has a high level of tannin, which is why your mouth dries out when you sip it. This particular South Australian deep red wine is packed with notes of plums and redcurrants, with a smoky savoury finish. What’s not to love?

Carbonara

James says: ‘Roussanne/Viognier. These aromatic white grapes are just the thing to match to creamy pasta dished’.

Our choice: Marananga Dam Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, 2016, Australia, £15.00

Good old M&S offers this lifted, floral and fragrant dry white wine with richness and a superb length of flavour. Full of texture, the combination of flavours will inject a little bit of class to your basic carbonara.

Shepherd’s Pie

James says: ‘The lightness of Pinot Noir works so well with this British classic’.

Our choice: Daydream Pinot Noir 2015, Australia, £9.99

A bright, vibrant red wine, gently aromatic, with notes of red fruits, violets, spice and wood smoke. You will be able to trace some strawberry notes and plum flavours too. An uber elegant option for under a tenner: winner!

 

Gabs

 

 

Words of wisdom on why turning 30 is seriously fabulous

28th September 2017 / Gabriela Czwarnos

It’s funny how everyone has a different opinion about turning 30. For teenagers, the big 3-0 simply means ‘old’. In their heads, by that age, people have everything figured out: career, relationship and a big house with a garden and dog. It seems so far away, they can’t imagine it happening to them. For those in their 20s, turning 30 is a bloody scary moment: no more sleepless nights and 2-day parties, spending your wages on 3 pairs of shoes and surviving on super noodles, no more trying to get through days in the office on horrendous hangovers. It feels like a cut-off point in life. ‘By the time I am 30…’, everyone keeps promising, what will they finally achieve and who will they finally become.

By the time you are 29, the fear of ageing is so real that you will desperately try to hold on to your 20s by doing things that every 22-year old would be proud of. New tattoo? Tick! Purple hair? Why not! Quit your ‘adult’ job and go travelling? Yolo! You’ll probably find yourself dating someone who is too young to remember what a Walkman looks like? Damn you super hot 25-year-olds…

So, is it really that terrible? Should we cry into our birthday champagne flute? We’ve asked 8 amazing women to tell us what happens after the clock strikes. And, thank god, it sounds pretty damn promising! Maybe life does begin after 30…

“Don’t be afraid of change. Embrace it. Every time I have made a big scary decision and taken a risk to change something, it has been for the better. Even if not immediately.Gemma Harris

Change is good. Trust the magic of beginnings. The fact you aren’t where you want to be should be enough motivation. Leave the comfort zone – there are far better things ahead”. Gemma Harris, co-owner of Lineup Media

“You will become more confident with each birthday. By the time you hit your forties, you’ll genuinely stop caring about wanting to fit in, pleasing others (but not yourself) or what other people think about you. You will never feel so liberated”. Busola, journalist. 

“The thirties is when you find your true love, excel in your career, move into your dream home and have a beautiful baby. What is not to like? It’s a decade when everything comes together and all struggles in your twenties finally cease and it all starts to make sense. Enjoy entering the most exciting decade of your life”. Emma, Founder of EBWPR.

“Don’t settle, and don’t worry about it. Focus on self-love and everything will work out in the end. In words of Steve Jobs, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards”. Joules, PA.

“This is your prime time – you are in control of your life and make the most of it. Use this power to make better choices for your health, career, love life — anything you want. Walk away from anything that upsets you, bad habits, companions or situations”. Sylvia, mum of 3.

“Embrace it – you will know your worth and you will find out what is it that you actually want from life. You will finally stop worrying what others will say or think about you. Make the most it”. Anna, dentist.

You will see life in a new light! There wasn’t a lot that I understood about myself until I hit my thirties – true story. Natasha, Beauty PR

There was no magical and sudden change, but throughout this decade I’ve found myself relating to my nearest & dearest, the world, my possessions, my passions and ME in a completely different way. Your inner world will become richer, life will make more sense, and you’ll be surer of who you are, what you want… You’ll experience a gorgeous clarity and purpose that will continue to grow as you age – exciting! Natasha, Beauty PR

Oh, go on then, bring on my thirties, I don’t like odd numbers anyway…

Gabs

 

Erica’s food files: Ember Yard, Soho

2nd October 2017 / Erica Cohen

I’d just returned from a surreal 5-week eastern European adventure, having eaten a lifetime’s worth of goulash, sausage and potato dumplings. I was back in London, looking forward to trying some different taste sensations whilst catching up with friends.  This essentially involved a week of eating my own body weight in world food, and several gallons of Aperol Spritz, (clearly, not ready to embrace winter just yet).

59

My friend Lottie suggested Ember Yard, part of the famed Salt Yard Group, in our old stomping ground of Soho for a little catch-up.  Its fresh take on Italian and Spanish tapas was just the ticket for my welcome-back-to-London-dining supper.   We started with some dishes from their tapas menu (plates from £5 – £11) and then worked backwards with some sides from the charcuterie and bar snacks menu. Did I mention they have their very own custom built Baroque-style grill, for authentic Mediterranean cooking over charcoal and wood?  Jazzy, right?

1

I went for the Sea Bass Carpaccio, which came with stunning bright green chive oil, smoked tomatoes and anchovies.  The saltiness of the anchovies, encased in a light tempura, was the perfect partner to the clean and light sea bass.  Lottie’s choice of Cornish Plaice, Mussels and Sea Aster was an Instagramable dream topped off with a gorgeous saffron dressing. We chose their light and limey Blanc de Morgex, the notes of citrus worked wonders with our fishy dishes. We shared the Courgette Flower which was stuffed with Monte Enebro goat’s cheese and drizzled ever so delicately with honey (I’m assuming from the fanciest of Spanish bees?)

2

Curious to sample their bar snacks, we opted for their Chips and Smoked Chorizo Skewers which came with a dreamy saffron aioli.  The unsalted chips had a distinctly un-chip like flavour which may be due to being fried in Iberico pork fat as opposed to regular oil – they were different and delicious all the same.

Service was quick and staff are clearly masters of the menu, suggesting and advising based on our personal foodie preferences. The same menu is available throughout their two-story restaurant and the kitchen is open till midnight Thursday-Saturday, which makes it the perfect place for a late night post-theatre treat.

Word of warning, do not go to Ember Yard ravenously hungry, even going by their 3 plate each suggestion, we could have happily kept eating.  Indeed, Ember Yard is all about incredible taste combinations and savouring the flavour of their fresh, locally sourced creations.  Our night of tapas and travelling tales did not disappoint!

Salt Yard Group is a member of the Sustainable Restaurant Group; all 5 of their central London restaurants have been awarded a two-star Food Made Good Sustainability Rating.

 

Erica