Thoughts on Byron

So every time I see a blog post raving about Byron, I pretty much 100% of the time, absolutely disagree. Everyone loves Byron Burger and I'm always left scratching my head as to why.

Yes, they do a good burger, and they'll ask you how you want it cooked (medium rare, medium or well done), which admittedly brings a touch of finesse to the whole ordeal, but I'll be honest, I wasn't wowed by Byron. I first tried Byron around this time last year at their Soho branch, as an impromptu team lunch. I was so underwhelmed, I was actually angry afterwards. I believe I went for the cheeseburger but all I remember is that it looked tiny on the plate, the bun was dry and unremarkable and the burger itself? Well, I was just disappointed on the whole. And for £8+, I expect more from a burger.

So fast forward to yesterday, after countless rave reviews from Shay - he works close to a Byron - and a convincing speech on how I must have just been unlucky, we decided to give it a go before going to watch Jurassic World (which was amazing btw).

After perusing the menu for a little while, I decided to go for a Le Smokey burger, which boasts a 6oz hamburger, smoked cheddar, streaky bacon, crispy fried onions, shredded iceberg, pickles and smoked chilli BBQ sauce. Despite not being a massive lover of that fake BBQ flavour, I really enjoyed it because it had a lovely smokiness to it, I guess hence the name. I had my burger cooked medium rare, and it was delicious to be fair. I don't remember much of the streaky bacon but the crispy fried onions were such a good addition as was the iceberg and pickles. The smoked chilli BBQ sauce, was smokey as mentioned but did also have a lovely kick to it - I'm not afraid of chilli on any dish but it may have been too much for the more sensitive tongued.

We did also have a bowl of olives to start, while we waited for our burger to arrive (we didn't wait long at all) and then a bowl of skin-on fries to share, which accompanied our burgers.

Overall, for £30 including two beers, I'd have to admit that my opinion has most certainly been altered when it comes to Byron. I can honestly say I was stuffed after the meal and I did enjoy the burger. I still don't feel overly enthusiastic though because even thought the burgers are good, tasty and most certainly filling, I know I can get something more special elsewhere in London - as we all know the burger market is completely saturated at the moment. So although if I had the choice again, I wouldn't avoid Byron completely but I won't go out of my way to visit.

Is there anywhere everyone raves about but you can't see what all the fuss is about? Or anywhere you've changed your mind on? Let me know!

Nike Women's 10k Race | Victoria Park, London

I did it! I totally did it!!

It was the Nike Women's 10k race in Victoria Park, London on Sunday, my first ever 10k race and it was so brilliant.

As you may have seen for the last few months on twitter or instagram or even on this here blog, I've been ramping up my efforts to be ready for this race and all the effort paid off. It was such a glorious day in the end, it began quite cloudy and a little moody but as the start time grew closer, the skies opened up to become a lovely sunny day. Not my *ideal* for running, as I personally like it a little cooler but lets be honest, I'd rather the sun than the torrential downpour we'd seen the day before.

There was such a good atmosphere in the event village before and after the race, with around 10,000 ladies - and yes, a few men - milling about enjoying the different stands, and the free glass of champagne for after the race! There was a warm up in the starting lines which I did find a little cringe-worthy BUT alas, it was all in good fun.

So times, I finished the race in 1:00:34, which unfortunately wasn't the sub 60 minute time I was after but I'm still really pleased with that for my first ever race, particularly as a year ago I couldn't even run a mile, let alone over six of them... in a race... with loads of other people around. I was worried that being around so many other people would make me run too fast at the beginning and therefore knacker my legs for the rest of the race, but the race was segregated off well and I managed a really consistent, steady pace the whole way round, including a slight sprint at the end.

If you're thinking of getting involved in a race, I couldn't recommend it more. It's given me something to work towards, and look forward to, as well as being good for me and fun all at the same time. So much fun that I'm about to sign up for another 10k in September... somebody stop me!

Homemade Pizza

I don't think I know one single person who doesn't like pizza. Pizza is pretty much a universally loved food isn't it?

I have my favourite brands of oven pizzas, takeaway pizzas and pizzas eaten in restaurants, but I don't know how it's got to the point of close to 24 years being on this earth and having not yet made my own homemade pizza dough and creating my own pizza at home. Shame on me. And as is always the way that these things go, now I want to eat homemade pizza all the time. I even heard Shay utter the words 'why would you ever order pizza again?' but I'm not sure we're ready to turn our back on Dominos just yet.

I love the whole process of bread making, I find it really nerve wracking because I invest a lot of emotion in my baking, for example the pure elation of seeing your dough successfully prove and also the utter tragedy of a dough that has failed to rise. Sad times.

I literally just used the first recipe I found, but I'm now really intrigued to improve on this first attempt and really get my pizza making skills down to a tee, so if you have any pizza dough recipes that you have tried and tested or ones that you swear by, please let me know in the comments, I need some guidance here.

We went for a simple passata base with some seasoning and garlic, and then just put basically every topping you could think of on top. I have to admit, it made the trip to the supermarket quite fun, literally just throwing things into the trolley! I went for mozzarella, pepperoni, red and green peppers, red onion, mushrooms, black olives and asparagus (because it's still British and in season). A slight drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and in the oven the went for about 10-15 minutes until the dough was cooked and verging on crispy and all the veg had cooked through.

I still am astounded at just how easy the whole process was and I cannot wait to experiment more with this. As mentioned, if you have any good pizza recipes for dough, base or toppings - let me know!

White Chocolate & Salted Caramel Cheesecake

Yes, you read correctly. There are some flavour combinations that just work like a match-made in heaven and white chocolate and salted caramel is one of them, and I've made no bones about my love for these two ingredients previously, here and here

A couple of week's ago, Shay's work were holding a bake off, so when discussing what he should bake we decided on cheesecake. I ran with it and found this amazing recipe. Needless to say Shay's amazing effort in the kitchen won first prize, but as he had to take it to work I didn't get to try a single bit of it.

This weekend was a really chilled one so baking this bad boy again had to be on the cards, so we baked it together. It's a real show-stopper dessert in my opinion, from title to the actual result, everything about this cheesecake screams 'yum'. And although there are a number of elements to it, it's surprisingly easy to make.

We made a couple of amendments from the original recipe, this one is smaller than the recipe calls for, because I didn't have a 10" cake tin and didn't really think it would be viable to buy one especially either - this obviously had a knock on effect onto the baking time. I think overall we baked it for about 1 hour 30 mins. We were also left with a little extra mix but I don't mind. I also used low fat cream cheese and according to Shay, it didn't make a blind bit of difference to the flavour or texture in comparison to his original.

We made the salted caramel ourselves, using this fail safe recipe and instead of just drizzling each slice, we cooled the cheesecake in the fridge, piped the cream and then poured the caramel on top, so the cream acted almost like a barrier to stop it dripping down the sides. A whipped cream barrier - just brilliant.

When completely chilled this cheesecake is absolutely divine and I wouldn't ever hesitate to serve this at a dinner party, or... any other time really. If you're looking for a dessert for an occasion, I'd thoroughly recommend giving this a go.

The Best of High Street Sportswear

I try not to talk about fitness and exercise too much on here because, quite frankly, I know it bores a lot of people. STILL, I'll carry on because this is MY blog, and I like it and.. and... I'll cry if I want to!

I tried desperately not to fall into the 'making sure I look good whilst working out', because who really needs to spend loads of money you're ultimately going to sweat buckets in and end up looking like a mess anyway? Not me. I'd still never spend loads on leggings and tops for running but, there are quite a few good high street shops that offer lower price alternatives that work just as well as your Lululemon, Sweaty Betty and God knows whatever else.

So here's my round up of affordable high street sportswear. Some of these items I have bought and do use, and can recommend highly.

Because looking good whilst working out doesn't have to just be available to those who can afford to spend £80 minimum on a pair of flashy Nike leggings...

Karrimor Running Backpack, Sports Direct - I have been using this bag for 6 months (in the high-vis yellow colour for extra cool-points) and it is brilliant, I wouldn't think about using anything else.
Nike Running Tights, Sports Direct - Just an FYI these are currently much cheaper than on asos, thank me later.

Chorizo & Spinach Baked Eggs

Never did I ever think that work would consume my life so much that I didn't have time for, well anything else. But this is what the last few weeks has brought. I'm ok with it, in fact I really enjoyed the excruciatingly tiring last couple of weeks, but I'm even more glad to be back infront of blogger, fingers ready to tip, tap away until my little heart's content.

At the end of the event last week, I slowly waltzed down to Westfield on Friday to treat myself to a well-deserved brunch, giving the hotel breakfast a swerve. I ended up at Le Pain Quotidien and ordered myself some baked eggs with chorizo and sourdough bread, a big pot of tea and a fresh orange juice - ain't nobody telling me I don't know how to relax. The breakfast was good but I immediately knew it was something I wanted to recreate at home, so when I saw two ramekins in asda later on that day for a quid each... and knowing I still had chorizo in the fridge at home, well game, set and match. It was on.

I decided to jazz it up a bit with some spinach and a sprinkling of cheese half way through oven time, as well as adding grilled asparagus - got to make the most of it - and some of Shay's speciality garlic chestnut mushrooms alongside a few slices of sourdough bread.

This was a really easy and quick yet utterly indulgent and wonderful Saturday breakfast, and I can't wait to have it again! It's pretty self-explanatory but I've included the recipe below if you'd like to try this - and I'd highly recommend doing so. As mentioned the ceramic ramekins were a steal from asda at £1 each, making the whole ordeal so much sweeter. I have to admit here, I left the eggs in longer than I should as I'm not proficient in the art of egg baking, but now I know they need abot 10-12 minutes on a high heat to ensure the whites are cooked through.

Chorizo and Spinach Baked Eggs
(with garlic mushrooms, baked aspargus and sourdough bread)
Serves 2

What you need:
Two eggs per person
Two handfuls of spinach
1/8 of a chorizo picante ring, chopped in
50g of cheese of your choosing, I used cheddar as it's what I had
A pack of chestnut button mushrooms
A small knob of butter
About 4 garlic cloves
A pack of aspargus
Sourdough bread
Salt & Pepper for seasoning

What you need to do:
Preheat your oven as high as it will go, mine goes to 250c (fan oven)
Prepare your ramekins by coating the insides with a little butter or oil
Place your spinach and chorizo in the ramekins in equal measures, then carefully break in your eggs making sure not to burst the yolks
Season with salt an pepper, place the ramekins on a tray and put in the oven for 5 minutes, keeping an eye as you go
Place your mushrooms, butter and garlic cloves (roughly broken up) into a small saucepan and place on a low heat with a lid on, keep shaking the pan every now and then to ensure the mushrooms don't stick
Place your asparagus on a small baking tray, spray with oil and season ready for the oven
After the eggs have been in the oven for 5 minutes, take them out and sprinkle with some cheese and place back in, with the asparagus on a higher shelf, leave to bake for another 5-7 minutes making sure the eggs don't over cook - you still want a gooey yolk at the end
Toast your sourdough bread (we did three small slices each)
At the end of the 5-7 minutes and when the eggs look cooked, take them out of the oven, leaving the asparagus for another minute or two
Turn off the mushrooms, they should be cooked in a garlicky, buttery sauce - really healthy I know
Remove the asparagus from the oven and serve