27 September 2013

Mama Lan

Just a quick little lunchtime post to share with you an amazing street-food style restaurant, Mama Lan. Izzy & I went here one evening a few weeks ago for a quick bite to eat after work & I've been meaning to share the few pictures we took for ages! Mama Lan is the perfect place to grab a delicious inexpensive meal that's a lot more unusual & tasty than your standard Chinese eatery.

Mama Lan is is run & owned by Ning Ma, whose mum & granddad used to run a dumpling & snack stall in the hustle & bustle of the streets of Beijing. Today they serve the very same food in London that was sold on her Grandad's market stall all those years ago.

We ordered a mix of dishes that jumped out to us from the menu & chatted away for a couple of hours before the cosy restaurant filled up with the dinner rush.

Two ice-cold Tsingtao beers. Check.

Smacked cucumbers with chilli & sesame. These were incredible! Crisp refreshing cucumbers with a slightly salty spicy dressing.

Yummy king prawn & chinese water chestnut dumplings. Generously filled with lots for prawn so you get some of the subtle sweet flavour with every bite.

The highlight of my meal were these spicy chicken wings! Izzy was a bit sceptical when I ordered the fried street snack, but she was completely won over by the sight of these beauties. Hands down, the best chicken wings I've ever had. Not at all greasy, faultlessly seasoned & perfectly crispy. Look at them again- mouthwatering!

Beef noodle soup. Beautiful aromatic stock, slow-cooked beef shin cooked to perfection & topped with fresh coriander & chilli. Another winner.

We visited the newest Mama Lan location on Clapham Common, which has a slighter bigger menu due to the larger venue & kitchen. Their original restaurant is located in the heart of Brixton Village.

You can really tell in the taste & excellence of the dishes that the ingredients are of the highest quality. Free range meat sourced from Moens organic butcher & the freshest veg from Brixton Village Market.

If you haven't discovered this little gem already, go & find them here!

Harriet x

26 September 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookie S'mores

Sometimes you need to have a big blowout treat. Something filthy & indulgent that fulfils any naughty chocolately cravings in one ultimate desert. 
This is gooey s'mores recipe is just that (with the added bonus of being oh so easy to prepare).

To make enough for four people (it's very rich!) you will need;

Four large chocolate chip cookies, 
Eight marshmallows 
& a small bar of chocolate. 

Take a baking tray & line with baking parchment.

Place two cookies on the tray & top with the chocolate & marshmallows.

Sandwich the remaining two cookies on top of the marshmallows.

Place the tray into a hot oven for five minutes. 

When you take it out they should look like this.

Serve with a glass of ice cold milk.

We stacked the s'mores on top of each other & divided them up. It was VERY messy but absolutely delicious.
A full on cookie coma hit us as we relaxed & watched movies by the fire. Perfect for a cosy autumn night in.

We took the lazy option & used shop bought cookies but I'm sure it would be even better if you wanted to whip up a batch using your favourite recipe. For other lazy bakers; you can't go wrong with the 'Taste the Difference' chocolate chip cookies from Sainsbury's. 

Harriet & Isobel x

Ps. You might want to go for a run/ walk the next day in the crisp morning air. It makes you feel a lot better after the excessive sugar consumption, blows away the cobwebs & eliminates any chance of a cookie hangover!

25 September 2013

Pay-Day Lust

As always the week before pay-day I go a bit online shopping crazy, putting everything I like from my favourite sites into a fantasy shopping basket. With all these cold misty mornings we've been having I'm all about the hunt for the perfect coat & jacket. Having a browse this morning before I got up (anyone else do this?!) I noticed a few particularly interesting bargains on The Outnet that I thought I would share with you.

If I was going to pick just one I'd definitely go for the gorgeous grey Muubaa shearling coat, it looks so sumptuous & cosy. The hefty 50% price reduction does soften the blow, but it's still definitely an investment item. We'll see if its still there on Friday.

What's on your pay day wishlist? 

Harriet x

24 September 2013

Coconut Water

I love coconut water. As well as being absolutely packed with health benefits it's so refreshing & versatile in the ways you can use it. Earlier on in the summer the lovely people at Vita Coco sent us a coconut treasure chest filled with all their varieties of coconut water. It was possibly one of the best parcels I've received this year & I got ridiculously excited thinking up all the ways I could use the yummy drinks.

(Incase you're unfamiliar with coconut water & its array of benefits, to summarise; it prevents dehydration, the electrolyte rich content fuels your brain & muscles, it's anti-aging, a digestive aid & supports the immune system!)

After sipping away on Vita Coco all summer these are what I have found to be my favourite ways to enjoy coconut water & maximise its benefits.

Number one- Coconut water on its own.
Great for hydration, it's packed full of electrolytes & potassium to replenish minerals lost whether you've just done a sweaty workout or had a few too many drinks the night before. It makes the perfect post-workout/ hangover drink.

Number two- Smoothies.
I would say this is the best tip for people who don't love the taste of coconut water. Use it as the base  for your smoothie instead of milk/juice/yoghurt/water. Once its blended up with all the fruit & ice you won't be able to taste it at all, but all the health benefits will be hidden inside.

Number three- Protein shakes. 
Like smoothies, coconut water makes a great base for protein shakes instead of using milk/water. If you use protein powders, blending them with coconut water makes the prefect post-workout drink, containing everything you need to replenish tired muscles & replace lost salt & fluids from sweat. My favourite way to drink this is to use the pineapple flavour Vita Coco with a vanilla protein powder, it tastes absolutely delicious, like a fluffy vanilla milkshake. 

Number four- Ice lollies. 
I first got the idea for these after seeing really pretty recipes on Pinterest. Lots of people simply pop sliced fruit in an ice lolly mould & top up with coconut water, the finished effect once frozen is stunning but doesn't really taste of much. I prefer to make up a fruity smoothie using the coconut water & freeze it in the moulds to make a guilt free frozen treat. Not as aesthetically pleasing as these but much more yummy. If you wanted to make them with more of an ice cream consistency, blend together ripe bananas, a few dates, coconut water & a few drops of vanilla essence. They taste unbelievably naughty for something that's fat & dairy free!

Number five- Iced coffee. 
This is my take on Coco Cafe, a delicious drink consisting of espresso, milk & coconut water. Whilst it's really yummy it's quite hard to find in the UK (you can pick it up in Wholefoods & some branches of Waitrose), so it's normally easier for me to make my own. Simply blend up a handful of ice, coconut water, a shot (or two) of espresso & milk. If you like coconuts & coffee you will LOVE this! I like to have this as a pre-workout drink to make the most of the caffeine from the espresso & hydration from the coconut water.

I hope you found some of these ideas interesting. I would love to see some of your coconutty creations if you give any of these a go! Tweet me/ Instagram @twoloveslondon 

Harriet x

20 September 2013

Recipe for the 'Perfect Autumn Night In'

Recipe for one cosy indulgent Autumn night in;

1. Set the mood, take your favourite Autumnal/ Wintery candle & light it. My candle of choice is the 'Winter' candle from The White Company, it's gorgeous, just the right balance of warmth, sweetness & spice.

2. Take a big mug that you can wrap your hands around like this 'Big Love' mug from Emma Bridgewater & fill with a hot drink, a warming spicy tea is my current favourite. I love this Higher Living Cinnamon Tea & but for the ultimate cosy drink this Choco Chai Yogi Tea is a winner. A festive blend of cinnamon, ginger, vanilla & chocolate; perfection.

3. Whilst your drink is cooling down, pull on your softest comforting loungewear. You might want to take a look at the Hush website in preparation for this point. They sell the ultimate in lounge clothes, PJs & basics. The whole collection is a gorgeous range of slouchy neutrals, designed to be effortlessly paired together in a manner demonstrated by the model above. Think cashmere beanies & bedsocks, chic brushed cotton pjyamas & ribbed 'cardigowns' (part dressing gown, part cardigan). Warning you will want EVERYTHING.

4. Finally wrap yourself up in your favourite blanket (I rather like this faux fur one from Zara Home) & settle yourself on the sofa with a stack of books/ magazines. I'm going through a slight cookbook obsession & the next on my list are, 'Cinnamon, Spice & Warm Apple Pie', 'Meringue Girls' & 'Bouchon Bakery'.

N.B You may want to supplement these four stages with any of the following, a long hot bubble bath, painting your nails, watching period dramas & a slice of homemade cake.

Harriet x

19 September 2013

Autumn Fragrance- Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay

I love changing my perfume with the seasons & when the weather starts getting colder I'm always drawn to warmer cosier scents.

This week as it has well & truly felt like Autumn (hello central heating, crisp mornings & snuggly winter scarves) I retired my summer fragrance & brought out the gorgeous Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay I purchased a few weeks ago.

This is Jo Malone's inspiration for the perfume;

"Childhood memories of blackberry picking...
stained lips, sticky palms. a burst of deep,
tart blackberry juice and sparkling grapefruit,
blending with the freshness of just-gathered bay.
Softened with delicate flowers. Resting on 
a brambly base of vetiver and cedarwood.
Vibrant and verdant."

How beautiful does that sound? It smells just as beautiful too, fresh & fruity with a soft depth coming from the vetiver & cedarwood. 

It is perfect for this time of year & instantly reminds me of chilly country walks wrapped up in a big winter coat followed by afternoon tea by the fire. In fact it's so lovely I'm tempted to get the candle from the collection too, & fill my whole house with the delicious scent of blackberry juice & brambly woods!

Prices for Jo Malone Cologne start at £39 for 30ml.

Do you change your fragrance according to the season?

Harriet x

18 September 2013

Ajax's Current Favourites & A/W Wishlist

The last time Ajax featured on this blog he was still something of a puppy & the proud owner of a beautiful purple & tan leather collar from Mungo & Maud. Sadly over the summer he outgrew it & I've been on the look out for a permanent replacement since. Once again I'm turning to Mungo & Maud whose elegant pet accessories really are in a class of their own.

Out of all the fabulous collars on offer this chocolate leather plaited number (pictured above) & matching lead are the ones that fit the bill for my adult dog. I love the product description;

"Some dogs just don't suit nylon. Or cotton. Or canvas. They require strong, sturdy, and luxurious leather... Smart as they come, if your dog appreciates a little fuss every now and then, well, this collar will garner just that."

Rotties aren't the most delicate of dogs (50kg+) so I need something that is sturdy & masculine without going down the route of studs & chains. He is also a somewhat of an attention whore & loves nothing more than basking in the glow of compliments & headrubs, so will definitely enjoy prancing around town in this smart collar.

Yes Mungo & Maud aren't cheap (& these are at the upper end of their price range) but you get what you pay for in the design & quality which are faultless. I wouldn't have considered splashing out on these items until he was fully grown, (his last one was a sale bargain) but now he has almost reached his adult size they should last him forever.

I also love this treat jar (pictured above) for storing his bones & biscuits in. 

In terms of what we feed Ajax, we try to feed him a natural, mostly raw diet, close to what his ancestors would have eaten. Raw chicken carcasses & meat, lamb ribs, tripe, goats yoghurt, raw eggs & cooked rice & veg. However when our lifestyle gets in the way of preparing this food its always useful to have some dried or tinned food on hand. 

Up until now no packaged dog food has agreed with him (that is if he even eats it), which when you have a look the ingredients list on mainstream dog food isn't surprising. We stumbled upon Lily's Kitchen a few weeks ago & I'm SO glad we did. 

After reading the impressive ingredients list on the back I was pretty blown away. It reads almost exactly like the diet my health fanatic, strictly Paleo (human) friends eat. Lots of organic fresh meat & fish, fruit, green veg, seeds & pulses & spirulina to name a few. What's more Ajax absolutely loves it & gobbles it up quicker than his raw food. It's very gentle on his stomach so no unpleasant side-effects to report there either. Thank you Lily's Kitchen for creating pet food that probably ensures my dog eats better than I do!
Some of the herbs found in Lily's Kitchen that I would associate with the aisles at Holland & Barratt rather than pet food.

In terms of price the dried food is more expensive than Pedigree Chum et all, but cheaper than the vet recommended Science Plan- which we found to be useless, dogs won't eat it & it can cause havoc on their bellies. You can get a range of selection boxes online, which are great to try out on your pup if you are new to the brand (all for less than £30). 

Harriet & Ajax x

Harriet's A/W Wishlist- Zara

So I started doing this as a general A/W wishlist across my favourite brands, however the shortlist became so Zara heavy that I decided to keep it simple & do my picks of the current (amazing) Zara collection. Even so this selection is heavily streamlined, I could easily have picked twice as many pieces. A/W is definitely my favourite season style wise & as ever Zara have really hit the fashion jackpot with their lust-worthy coats, shoes & knitwear.

1. Duffle Coat with fur Hood. I love so many of the Zara coats it was hard to pick a favourite, for versatility combined with the luxe (faux) fur collar this grey number got the No.1 spot. It's a classic design that will see you through post-Christmas without the fickle fashion world moving on & leaving it for dust. My more trend-led runners up were this tartan jacket, & Zara's casual take on the ubiquitous pink coat that is everywhere this season.

2. Floral Lingerie Style Dress & Oversize Sweater. I think this delicate slip dress would look great with an oversized chunky knit like this one thrown on top. Teamed with some thick tights & ankle boots it would be a perfect cosy & girly winter outfit.

3. Combination Wellies, Ankle Boots & Leather Slingbacks. These are my three favourite Zara shoes at the moment, an elegant pair of wellies for combatting the inevitable rain & snow in the city. A pair of amazingly cheap burgundy Chelsea boots, & elegant evening heels that (thanks to the absence of a peep-toe) won't give you frostbite.

4. Maroon Dress. This jersey dress is right up my street. A throw it on, minimal effort dress that with the drape detailing doesn't require much dressing up. Add a snuggly scarf & some boots & you are good to go.

5. Shopper bag. This would be a great work bag for me, lots of room to pile all my rubbish in & really affordable so I won't be precious about taking it out in the pouring rain & subjecting it to the commute bus & tube floor. I love the burgundy/black colourway for Autumn.

6. Skirt with Buckles & Extra-Fine Sweater. Finally I love this black mini-skirt with buckle detail & ultra fine grey knit. They are both smart & versatile, & appeal to my love of back-to-school preppiness.

Let me know in the comments if you would like to see any A/W haul posts to see what new season items make their way into my wardrobe!

Harriet x

16 September 2013

Isobel's A/W 2013 Picks

Alas, Autumn is upon us in the UK and as I mourn the loss of Summer what else can a girl do but peruse around the shops in search of something suitable to wear in this dreary weather! And what with fashion week here I thought it was only right to put together a few beauties in line with the Autumn/Winter trends this year. Tartan and leather will be huge with punk making a revival. As typical at this time of year layering is key, especially with different textures. Bold and clashing prints have been carried through from the Spring/Summer trends.

Scarf: Burberry
Skirt: All Saints
Jumper: Topshop
Shoes: Zara
Bag: Topshop

Shoes: Nike
Trousers: H&M
Top: Topshop
Jacket: Boohoo
Bag: Asos

Hope you enjoyed! Leave a comment - go on, I dare you ;-)
Isobel x

13 September 2013

Sea & Sunshine

Last week in a bid to capture the last piece of summer I headed down to a magical little place on the north coast of Cornwall called Crantock. We were incredibly lucky with the weather & had a wonderful week consisting of lazy days on the beach, surfing, picnics & lots of wine & fresh seafood in the sunshine.

The long drive down the motorway boded well for the weather ahead, as blue skies & fluffy white clouds stretched ahead of us the whole way down.

The first thing we did was head down to the beach for afternoon tea in the sand dunes.

That feeling when your bare feet first step into the soft sand. Amazing. Living in the city I don't think I'll ever stop appreciating this.

Postcard-perfect English seaside. Windbreaks, beach cricket & little dots of people swimming amongst the waves.

I couldn't resist going in the sea after everyone told me how warm it was. Sans wetsuit lets just say that it was refreshing.

The next day was the best weather of the whole week. One of those idyllic days where you could easily be in the South of France. Perfect blue skies, flat turquoise sea & warm balmy sunshine.

The walk down Crantock beach & round the headland to our favourite beach round the next cove. This walk & beach is absolutely filled with memories for me as I spent every summer here growing up. Its maybe my favourite place in the world. On a day like this (in my opinion) even a stretch of white Fjian sand doesn't compete.

I love the contrast of green hedgerows & wild flowers with the bright blue sea.

This point is where you come round the headland from Crantock & get the first glimpse of Polly Joke. The views from up here of the crystal clear water & rocky shoreline are amazing.


 Three generations.

After a gorgeous day on the beach, we walked round to the Bowgie which has a beer garden with stunning views overlooking Crantock beach. Salty hair, sandy feet, sunwarmed skin & an ice cold beer- the best feeling ever!


One of my favourite parts of the holiday was coming down to the beach everyday before anyone else had got up & doing a workout with the morning sun shining down on the beach. I did a combination of running along the sea & headland, strength circuits on the hard sand & sprints up the soft sand dunes. It was really challenging as I'm not used to running on such mixed terrain but such a fantastic workout, my legs felt so much stronger by the end of the week. Followed each day by my perfect post-workout breakfast, avocado on toast & orange juice.


On Wednesday we walked across the beach to the little shop selling fresh lobsters & crab caught the same morning. We had them that evening with lots of locally grown veg & prosecco. 

Soaking up some vitamin D in the garden. I love lazy mornings just reading & chilling out after a hard workout on holiday. It feels like you deserve to do nothing for a little while.

The last day at The Scarlet Hotel, an amazing luxury eco hotel about an hours drive away from Crantock. I want to live here! The hotel was so beautiful it was the perfect end to our holiday.

Sorry for the picture heavy read- if you made it this far well done! I'll be popping up another couple of posts on some of the amazing restaurants & shops we visited in Cornwall this week, so if you enjoyed this one keep an eye out for them.

Happy Friday, Harriet x