Archive | April, 2012

Showers and sponges: cakes to reveal a baby’s sex

29 Apr

Just a quick post today on an article I very much enjoyed in today’s Observer. As a nation, we often jump on the bandwagon carrying the latest craze from across the pond, however ridiculous that load maybe. Be it dieting on baby food, religiously baking cupcakes or keeping fit to Zumba, we’ll eventually be taken down.

And I have a feeling the next one will be no exception. We’ve already succumb to baby showers, but taking it one step further, American mothers-to-be are now revealing the sex of their baby to their loved ones with a rather over-dramatic (in my humble opinion) cake cutting ceremony. Friends and family gathered, the knife comes out and the cake is sliced: pink sponge for a girl, blue sponge for a boy. It’s way too much for me!

Some parents are even asking the doctor who carries out that all important scan to seal the sex of the baby in an envelope, which is then passed straight to a cake-maker, so at the party, the sex is a surprise for even the parents. Seriously, is nothing private any more?

The Observer tells of some early UK adopters of this crazy craze, looking forward to watching how this one pans out…

So it's a girl then?


My Marbella Menu

22 Apr

La Sala, Puerto Banus (picture courtesy of La Sala)

There aren’t many jobs that come with a surprise trip to Marbella for the end of year party, but luckily for me, I have one! My sleepy colleagues and I arrived at the office at 5.30am, the cat finally let out of the bag after a short bus journey to Leeds Bradford airport where boarding passes were handout out by the world’s best boss.

Arriving in Puerto Banus just in time for lunch, the afternoon was jam-packed with a bit of work but mostly play, before heading back to the hotel to get read for a night on the town. After our only celeb spot of the trip (a bit of cringe worthy but very fun hob nobbing with Strictly dancer James Jordan) we arrived at restaurant, La Sala.

The table booked for a laid-back 10.30pm, we arrived early to enjoy drinks on the terrace where the outdoor heaters took the edge off the evening chill. A couple of bottles of Sauvignon and a few cold beers later, the 14 of us were shown to our table to enjoy a beautiful three-course dinner. The restaurant was bustling, clearly a popular hot spot, with live music being enjoyed by a mixture of locals and tourists in the bar area, although I do think we were the only party dancing at the table…

Spoilt for choice from a mouth-watering set menu, I opted for; deep-fried Camembert, grilled sea bream with lime risotto and asparagus, followed by a selection of home-made ice cream. Knowing the amount of drinking that was on the cards after said meal, I wanted to keep my choices as light as possible. Dinner was really incredible and I clearly played it well given the amount of wine that was consumed during the hours that followed (no nap required) however, I had super food envy at my neighbour’s spinach and ricotta tortellini with pine nuts. When she was full I ceased the opportunity to tuck in, it was so rich and creamy I could have finished the whole bowl but resisted. An option for next time for sure.

Dinner done we finished the evening nightclub Seven. An Arabian-inspired club with great music and generous measures of spirits. Both venues come highly recommended and made for a great whistle-stop tour of this popular destination. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to nurse my headache…

Fab friends

Iron Cupcake: Leeds

1 Apr

Sunday night cupcake tasting at the Adelphi? Go on then.

Forget the Sunday night blues, this evening I swapped homework for home baking, paying my first visit (why have I never been before?) to Leeds’ own iron cupcake competition.

Not quite yet brave enough to enter, tonight I played the roll of judge.  Armed with my ‘eater’ badge and favourite foodie friend in tow, I made my way around 13 batches of cupcakes, each with their own take on this month’s theme: Easter.

The cupcakes were to be marked on both appearance and taste and each interpreted Easter in a different way; from hot cross bun and simnel cake cupcakes, to sticky gooey, chocolatey Easter egg cupcakes. But they all got me in the mood for spring (and made me feel very nicely full.)

The winning cupcakes were a chocolate, Cadbury’s Creme Egg concoction, all put together in a delightful chick-tastic display that had clearly taken a lot of time and effort. They were yummy. But my personal favourite were a lemon and white chocolate variety, with colourful, flowered decorations. Coming in a respectable third, the lovely lady who baked them let me take the last one home!

Iron Cupcake competitions originated in the states and the lovely Zoe runs the Leeds-based battles with the help of her delightful mum, who even hands out baby wipes at the end for all those sticky fingers! Fabulous. The competitions are held monthly at the Adelphi in Leeds and I’ll certainly be there next month – although not sure yet whether my badge will say ‘baker’ or ‘eater.’

What I have learnt this weekend: people who bake professionally are the nicest people in the world.

These were my favourite...but the others were yummy too!