31 July 2016

Your Poole and Bournemouth guide to food


I'm one of those people who sneakily snaps her food - and it's finally come in useful.

This is one for my local readers (or anyone planning a trip to Dorset). I've reviewed basically every breakfast outing, dinner date and snack stop-off I've taken in the last year to create the ultimate mini food guide!

For ease, I've divided it into the main food groups: breakfast, pizza and snacks.

Breakfast


By breakfast, I mean eggs benedict. I know, always getting the same thing is boring, but the only fair way to evaluate a breakfast joint is by ordering the same thing each time, right? And eggs, pork and english muffin is the ultimate combo. It kicks pancakes' ass.

Jenkins & Sons


Jenkins & Sons might just be my favourite haunt for breakfast. It's tucked away in Penn Hill and located conveniently close to a patisserie. You know, for breakfast dessert.

Their bacon is just perfect: crispy, flavourful - and most importantly - plentiful. For breakfast in a relaxed, modern, stylish venue (see 'Instagram-worthy') this is the one for you.

Urban Reef


Urban Reef has the same owners as Jenkins & Sons (The Urban Guild make very good restaurants). Both places have the relaxed, cool atmosphere down, but Urban Reef is more beachy where J&S is more trendy (note the plates vs. wooden boards). The menus are different too - so it's worth visiting both.

The other difference is the view: Urban Reef is located along Boscombe seafront, so you can enjoy the beautiful sand-sea-surf package with your eggs. This is one of my favourite places for brunch in summer - followed by a long walk across the beach.

Circo Lounge


Circo Lounge sits in Westbourne, henceforth known as 'my future home' - I'm utterly determined to live there. Partly for the proximity to Circo - who make eggs benny in a close second to Jenkins & Sons.

It's a cosy haunt during winter, with a gorgeous outdoor area for summer. But my favourite thing about Circo is that they're always cool with my request: 'and some hash browns with that, please'. Even when I'm ordering a burger for dinner.

Cosy Club


And finally, Cosy Club. If you like a good breakfast in a kitschy interior, this is the one for you. It's in the heart of Bournemouth - perfect when you're planning a spot of shopping for afterwards.

Pizza

Oh, pizza. You lovely thing.

Bellagio


This authentic pizza place in Winton came highly recommended to me. I wasn't disappointed. In fact, I was pretty over-the-moon.

Bellagio's pizza is incredibly delicious (I mean, just look at it) - not surprising, given it's created from hand-thrown dough and cooked to perfection in a stone baked pizza oven. And it's affordable. Really affordable. And best of all, being waited on by lovely Italian staff lets you pretend you're hanging out in Rome or Florence for the evening.

The Wood Oven


A couple of months ago, I found out that The Urban Guild were opening a pizza place next to Urban Reef. My heart stopped. Pizza by the beach? Those are my two favourite things!

And so The Wood Oven opened last month - a little take-away place serving fresh pizza and baps. Do you know what's as delicious as their pizza? The fact that you can eat it on the beach, watching the sun set in a pink sky. Just be careful to avoid the sand-in-the-pizza-box sitch.

The Stable



I was enthused to see an excellent pizza place open in Poole - because frankly, hauling ass to Bournemouth for dough and cheese gets tiring after a while.

The Stable's USP is it's crunchy crust and delicious, generous toppings. They're also pretty good at cider - it's all you need in the summer, isn't it? This delight is called the West Country Porker. You are what you eat (ba-dum-tshhh).

I'd also like to put in a special mention for Baffi - I was very impressed with their pizza but was so ravenous I forgot to take a picture. Oops. 

Snacks

Obviously you want to know where the best places for pizza and breakfast are - but it's also key to know where to pick up a good hot chocolate.

Chocol8


Chocol8 is kind of a dream for me  - a cafe dedicated to chocolate. They do about eight different types of hot chocolate, a whole load of milkshake flavours, and serve a multitude of cake-y type things.

If there's a food I like more than pizza, chocolate may be it. Speaking of which, they make chocolate pizzas! I've yet to buy one but I know it needs to be next on my list.

You can't miss Chocol8 either - it's the bright pink shop in the centre of Westbourne!

The Living Room


This cosy, quirky, vintage-inspired tea room is pretty darn great. I went here for afternoon tea and was terribly impressed with the spread. I'm not that bovv'd about sandwiches, but the scones were perfection - and the cake course included cookies and brownies. In my book, that beats the standard afternoon tea offerings.

So, next time you fancy being fancy - try The Living Room!

Jazz Cafe


I saved the most exciting looking for last.

Jazz Cafe is a quite pricy, so it's not somewhere I'd go too often. It's in Sandbanks - one of most expensive places to live in the world, so the eyebrow-raising price isn't too shocking. The 'special hot chocolate' is certainly worth the price though- flake, marshmallows and a mountain of whipped cream. And you get a pretty good view of the sea at the same time!

They play live jazz in there sometimes, too - so it's a pretty divine, cosy hangout in the winter.

I'm going to end on an RIP for Geneve Eatery, my favourite burger joint in the whole world. You will be forever missed. If someone would like to start a petition to reinstate it or perhaps suggest something that could fill the burger-shaped hole in my heart, do let me know. 

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28 July 2016

Book club (the brilliant women edition)


Whether I'm spending a sunny afternoon lazing in the garden or snuggled up in bed listening to the blissful patter of rain on the windows, a book is never far from me.

As something of a literary nerd, I've wanted to do this book club-style post for absolutely ages. But I had to read an awful lot of books before I could shortlist the ones great enough to share with you. You guys deserve the very best. 

Since I know of lot of my readers are young ladies (hey, y'all), I thought I'd talk about five books that have made me feel inspired, creative and happy. So, here it is - my book club for brilliant women (and men, if you're reading), featuring a few fantastic female authors.

1. Why Not Me? - Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling is my hero. At 24 years old, she barrelled into an all-male writing room and wrote, acted in and sometimes directed the brilliant, award-winning show The Office. And then she produced/wrote/starred in her own sit-com. Goals.

Somehow, she also found the time to write a couple of books. I'm assuming she has access to Hermione's Time Turner. Following the success of her first (and equally brilliant) book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And other concerns), Mindy talks about success, fame, unrealistic beauty standards and - intentionally contrastingly - her eternal struggle to lose weight without making any lifestyle changes. She's unapologetic in the way she swings from body-confidence guru to being completely honest about her insecurities. That's why I love her. 

It’s not dissimilar to Tina Fey’s Bossypants, but reading Mindy’s prose feels like a conversation with your beloved, crazy, best friend. There’s laugh-out-loud and then there’s photographing-the-page-to-send-to-your-mate-while-doubled-over-in-hysterics. This is the latter. 

2. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen 

I know - this is an obvious one. But I’m including it just in case you haven’t read it yet.

Far from being stuffy and difficult to read - as you might imagine a book written in 1813 to be - Pride and Prejudice is genuinely, properly funny. It’s clever. And you’ll realise just how many sit-coms and rom-coms have nicked their storylines from this (hint: pretty much all of them). 

I feel a little bit silly trying to justify why you should read this book because it’s an amazing classic and nothing I can say will do it justice. It's a bit like getting Kim K to describe the enigmatic beauty of the Mona Lisa. Basically, do read it. It's £1.99 on Amazon, you've nothing to lose.

3. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear - Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert is super-famous for writing Eat, Pray, Love - although, cards on the table, I’ve never actually read it. But after seeing a few exciting reviews of her newest book Big Magic, I had to get involved.

As a real-life writer-type person, I love the idea of books about creativity. But hearing such a mystical and mysterious process analysed and turned into a set of rules or instructions completely takes the magic and fun out of it for me. Enter Big Magic. It’s funny, it’s clever, it’s inspiring. It kept me interested, seriously interested - no easy feat with my 5 second attention span.

In a series of essays, Elizabeth walks us through her theories behind creativity, her processes, her experiences - and talks us through how to tackle the things we most fear. It's instructive and helpful without ever losing that spark of magic and mystery. 

4. I Heart New York - Lindsay Kelk

Yes, its chick-lit, but so is Pride and Prejudice. And Lindsay Kelk is a phenomenonal writer and huge inspiration to me.

We meet Angela, a 20-something who finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her, breaks his hand (cue me shouting 'yaaaas') and hops on a plane to New York. She starts blogging for a magazine, gets a haircut (I still love plots that involve a makeover, so strangely satisfying), makes new friends and explores the world’s most exciting city. 

Can you tell why I like it yet? It's the ultimate tale of 'bloody hell, just go for it'. Any story that genuinely makes me want to hop on a plane and have my own adventures automatically gets 5 stars. 

5. #GIRLBOSS - Sophia Amoruso

This book was all over Instagram last year, but I’ve only recently picked it up (a birthday present from my gorgeous friend). 

In #GIRLBOSS, Sophia Amoruso (founder of NastyGal) is incredibly and endearingly candid about her story - her path from an unruly teenager to bad-ass Executive Chairman of a major fashion brand. 

I love this, because it’s nice to see a powerful lady who talks about her life without glossing, writes just like someone I'd be friends with (see chapter: ’shitty jobs made my life’) and gives genuinely useful advice - on everything from cover letters to getting fired. Her message isn't the vague, whimsical sort I'm used to hearing from successful young women either. TL;DR: work your ass off because you love what you do.

If you've read any of these books already, let me know what you thought! And if I've managed to sway you on any of these titles, give it a go and send me a review on Twitter. 

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