Friday 29 August 2014

Holiday planning: Florence

I always get to the point just before I've planned a holiday where I suddenly realise that - oh god, it's SOON. And then I start panicking and looking up stuff to do, because god forbid I'll end up having a terrible meal, right?

We're off to Florence next Thursday, and so I've been hard at work compiling a list of places to go, things to do and restaurants to eat at. So many restaurants. I'm not leaving Italy without having excellent pasta and pizza, incredible sandwiches, garlicky tomato bruschetta, the famed Florentine Steak and all the street food I can manage. Arancini in my belly oh yes please. And gelato upon gelato upon gelato. And lashings of red wine.

Top 8 Lists of Top Things To Do
As much for my reference, and hopefully for yours, I'm compiled a list of all the best articles I've found online:

1. 11 completely free things to do in Florence
Although this list is dated February 2012, most of it seems pretty in date. There's a good list of all the markets in Florence, plus a link to a free walking tour - we should probably get some culture in, after all.

2. Top 10 restaurants in Florence
I'm keen on a lot of the items on this list, as it covers a variety of meals (rather than just, say, pizza) and a few bits of insider knowledge. Ever since reading it, I've been obsessed with trying blueberry steak at Acqua al Due!

3. Top 10 romantic things to do in Florence
I know, right, eyeroll. But I am going away with Matt, and we are probably going to be sickening and coupley at some point or another. I like the sound of the Boboli Gardens!

4. Top 10 Cheap Eats
Going through TripAdvisor, it seems like an expensive meal out in Florence for two people costs around 100 Euros including wine - that's about £80, which really isn't too bad to me... but maybe I'm jaded by London life! It's not hard to find places where you'll pay half that though, and this list is full of some great recommendations. I really want to go to Il Teatro del Sale!

5. Time Out's Top 20 things to do
I can't get enough of a good list! Time Out's recommendations are usually pretty good - I love the idea of the aperitivo. Buffets 4eva.

6. The best places for brunch in Florence
I got distracted looking up brunches, as I'm incredibly obsessed with brunch at the moment, but I've actually talked myself out it a little. Brunch isn't really a Florence thing, and if I want to have an American style breakfast, there are plenty of places back in England I can visit. Might as well take advantage of the light breakfast at our B&B and then skip straight to lunch. With wine!

7. Best Pizzerias in Florence
Well, you can't go to Italy without pizza, can you?

8. Best Ice Cream parlours in Florence
See also gelato. I've been to a couple on this list - Vivoli is great!

Food Places To Try
1. All'Antico Vinaio - awesome cheap sandwiches, apparently, and number one on TripAdvisor!

2. Acqua Al 2 - they had me at blueberry steak

3. Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco - glowing reviews

4. Il Vinaino - we went here back in 2012 - amazing steak!

5. Alla Vecchia Bettola - unlimited Chianti for 5 euros... and apparently the food is really good too!

6. Enoteca Boccadama - comes highly recommended from a friend, and I suspect we went there in 2012 too

7. Trattoria al Trebbio - another recommended one - great reviews!

My Own Recommendations
Oh, and not to forget looking at my own posts - this will be my third trip to Florence, I went in 2011 and again in 2012 for a day trip. I posted some top tips back in February, before we'd even thought about booking a holiday (it was actually a full month before Matt and I started dating) but it's good to see some reminders - the pizza at Toto's really was incredible. The bag I posted about in 2011 is still going strong - I can't wait to hit up the leather markets again and get something new! We'll probably pop to Pisa on the way home - there's not really much there apart from the tower but it's worth seeing, and as we're flying from there, it's pretty convenient.

Have you been to Florence before? I'd love more recommendations, if you have any!

Saturday 23 August 2014

Sweet-talkin', sugar coated candy man

I've had boxes of retro sweets sent to me before as a gift but I've always been a bit disappointed - they never include my favourites! But I still said yes when I was offered to review a box by Sweet Memory Lane, and I was so glad I did. Rather than sending a big box or jar of wrapped up sweeties, they sent cute little paper bags full of all my favourites - including snowies, my absolute favourite. Why do those little circles of white chocolate and hundreds and thousands taste so good?

As well as their shop in Ashby, there's a huge selection on their website so if you're having a sweet craving you can get it delivered right to your door. And if you want to show someone some lovin', you can send them a hamper like this one. They also sell a bunch of speciality sweets like sugar free ones, gluten free, vegetarian etc. But I must confess, I don't really care about that. I care about ordering a kilogram of giant snowies.

Now, don't give me those judgement eyes. I laid out all these sweeties and took some pictures and MAYBE a few of them found their way into my sticky little mitts but I promise I shared the rest. Scout's honour.


Thursday 21 August 2014

Where I've Eaten Lately

I'm trying to eat less burgers at the moment, so as a way to make me feel better about that, I'm ogling my instagrams (foodstagrams, if you will) and reminiscing about awesome burgers of the past. I like these posts, because I often want to share info about great places that I've eaten, but don't always have the time to write a full on blog post about it. So, like my last foodstagrams post, I'm going to share some of my favourite recent meals with them. Go! Seek them out! You will not be sorry.


Tuesday 19 August 2014

Candy Kingdom

It was my birthday a few weeks ago, and Matt organised a ridiculously awesome day out in London to celebrate. In a stroke of luck though, I was invited to a blogging event in the evening which I was allowed to bring him along to (he's doing quite well out of this whole blog thing lately) and I'm so glad we went. Spun Candy have partnered with Candy Crush to bring out a range of themed sweeties, and they invited a group of bloggers to make candy in their Covent Garden store.

They started off showing us how to dye sugar, shape it and mould it into sweeties and then they let us get a bit creative. We learned to make roses, candy canes (check out the monstrous one Matt made!) and lollipops, and it was really interesting to see how it gets done. There's only a small team in Spun of two people, but they make everything there themselves - pop in, if you ever want to see a demonstration!

You can see more information on Spun's collaboration with Candy Crush here.


Sunday 17 August 2014

Slow Cooked Honey & Garlic Chicken

Do you know anyone with a slow cooker? If you do, I’m sure you’re used to them singing its praises – oh, it’s changed their life! Oh, it’s just so easy! Oh, they don’t know how they got along without it!

I’m going to drop some knowledge now, so prepare yourselves accordingly – they’re right. They’re totally right. Slow cookers are AMAZING. I actually don’t have one, but Matt’s housemate does and we’ve kind of claimed it for our own (we’ll give it back, promise!). We first tried it out with pulled pork a couple of months ago – remember that awesome Dr Pepper and Jack Daniel’s recipe? I sure do *hungry face* We made the pulled pork a second time for a party, but decided to try and do a chicken recipe too for those people who don’t eat pork. And I am here to tell you it was an epic success. And also to tell you the recipe!

Friday 15 August 2014

Italian street food with the Moretti Movement

Lately, the direction of my blog has been much more food than fashion themed, and I'm pretty much okay with that. Especially when I get challenged to make epic ice cream sundaes, and invited to events like this one, which involve all the Italian street food I can eat. Oh, I'm so in.

For a few nights in August, Birra Moretti hosted the Birra Moretti Gran Tour in a factory in Shoreditch, where some of the best UK street food vendors including Pizza Pilgrims, Forza Win, and Cheeky Italian got together to bring us the best in Italian street food.


Wednesday 13 August 2014

Cocktail hour: Gin Blackberry Smash

I have a weird problem. I like gin, but not tonic. I’m sure some of you are laughing at that, and I get it – it kind of makes me look like an alcoholic! But it’s not like I order a G&T “without the T” – I’m honestly not quite THAT bad. But it’s kind of a sad little problem, as I always think G&Ts seem super chic and they look oh so refreshing – but no, not for me.
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