EL&N Cafe – The Most ‘Instagrammable’ Cafe

Matcha Rose Iced Latte
Paper Straws, Spoons and Stirrers
Cups
Toppings: marshmallows, chocolate chips and Lucky Charms cereal
Baked goods
More baked goods

Here’s a post I’ve been wanting to write for ages… EL&N Cafe.

This cafe is known to be the most “instagrammable” – with its filter-perfect foods and drinks.

I found a branch in Kings Cross St. Pancras International’s train station and the rest is history.

I remember going in there wanting the ‘Lucky Charm Latte’ but sadly it was out of stock, so instead I went for the Matcha Rose Iced Latte. Yes, I know initially I wanted a hot drink, but crazy story: while I was in there, the temperature outside shot up 30 degrees Celsius. 🤣 [It didn’t, I’m just unpredictable]

Did I get any baked goods? Nope, unfortunately I need to watch what I eat and drink to control my leg’s flare ups [mostly sugar-related], so I’ve been on a mostly no baked goods diet. I do have them from time-to-time, but I ration when I know I’ve got big sweet-eating events such as: birthdays and Christmas. They did look insane though! 😍

Having said that, I might get a cheeky ‘huge macaron’ and stick a candle in it to sing myself ‘Happy Birthday’ on the 9th… I’m turning 30, so… It’s gotta be done!

What do I want this year? To chill. In fact, it’s not a want, more of a need. I NEED to chill.

Hans & Gretel – Camden Town, London U.K.

Welcome back to my blog!

Today, I’m posting about one of the best dessert places I’ve ever come across… Hans & Gretel, in Camden Town – at the heart of Camden Market.

Now, I’m no stranger to a pre-diabetic’s supply of sugary treats… Trust ‘mii when I say, I am known for skipping the main course and going straight to dessert, because: I’m savoury like that!

Is this place which you’re going to read about a Candy-Man(sour)’s dream? Yes.

Were we the only adults not accompanied by kids at this establishment? Also yes.

After discovering this place on Instagram, we thought there’s no time like the present to pay it a visit (in lbs)!

Hans & Gretel, Camden Town
Queue outside Hans & Gretel, Camden Town

Upon arriving, there were two queues – one (pictured above), and another way, way further back towards the back of Camden Market!

It took us around 15 minutes to get from the back of the queue to the front. Which, in the grand scheme (and candy-floss) of things, is no time at all!

Hans & Gretel, Camden Town
Entrance of Hans & Gretel, Camden Town

When we finally made it into Hans & Gretel, we marvelled at the decorations, pick & mix station and sweets dispensers stuck to the walls… For a small shop, it packed a huge amount of goodies!

I mean, the first thing we saw was a mutant candy-floss on a stick! 😋

Hans & Gretel, Camden Town
*Jim Carrey’s jaw-drop in The Mask moment*

What did I order from Hans & Gretel, Camden Town?

Menu at Hansen & Gretel, Camden Town

Unfortunately, the infamous Chimney cake was sold-out at the time due to a faulty grill (all the more reason to go back, of course).

So, when it came to choosing what we wanted, I chose the Fantasy Candy-Floss Cone in blueberry cheesecake [ice cream] flavour. In terms of toppings, I asked them to surprise me! (…& boy was I surprised 😍!)

Hans & Gretel, Camden Town
You can’t even see the cone or the ice-cream, but they’re there!
Hans & Gretel, Camden Town
The size of it was bigger than my head. For context, my forehead is pretty sizeable!

The ‘Cotton Fantasy Cone’ was incredible. I loved everything from the candy-floss (which wrapped around the cone like a life-size halo), to the ice cream and toppings.

Special shout-out to the mini-cone on top of the ice-cream, you were a super cute touch!

Personally, I didn’t think there was enough ice-cream in the cone which, judging by the size of the entire dessert, I’m not surprised about. Although the ice-cream was sublime and I would’ve loved more of it, I feel like if there was any more of it, I’d probably need an insulin injection to keep me alive.

We also tried the bubble-waffle, which was nice as well! The ice-cream flavour of choice for that was Snickers, which in hindsight we regretted – for the sole reason that it tasted the same as the standard Snickers ice-cream we can get from the shops. But, it was delightful nonetheless.

Hans & Gretel, Camden Town
Ice cream flavours

How did I look after finishing my Fantasy Floss Cone?

I was delighted when I looked to see that I’d managed to keep the ice cream and candy floss off my white & floral dress. It was melting all over the place, so that’s a relief!

Hans & Gretel, Camden Town

What was it like inside Hans & Gretel, Camden Town?

It was magical! I felt like I was in a fairytale candy-land, with Christina Aguilera’s Candy-Man playing on repeat.

To be honest, I was half-expecting the staff to be dressed up like Oompa-Loompas and the manager to be dressed as Willie Wonka, as it was mad crazy and over-the-top (in the best sense)!

My favourite part of the store was the secret room – it’s relatively well hidden, although…it can’t have been too hidden, because I managed to find it!

The secret room seemed to be decorated for Christmas, so I’m planning to go back next year to meet Mr Santa Claus himself.

Hans & Gretel, Camden Town
The Secret Room

My review of Hans & Gretel, Camden Town

The prices aren’t cheap – £6.99 for pick & mix and over £7 for a bubble waffle or candy floss cone, but when they’re that good, it’s definitely worth thinking twice!

I recommend paying Hans & Gretel a visit, in £££. The pictures don’t do the taste and overall experience justice, I’m serious!

Please enjoy the gallery of images below, and let me know if you’ve been – or plan to go – in the comments (below-er).

Small Business Spotlight: 7Marvels

7marvels

I’m excited to launch and bring you my ‘Small Business Spotlight’ series… 🙌🏼

Each week, I’ll be introducing you to a new business! This is the first instalment, and what better way to start than with 7Marvels – an independent home/online bakery based in Richmond Upon Thames?!

I got the chance to ask the wonderful Cristina Popescu, founder, director and head baker of 7Marvels, some questions and you can read the full interview below…

7marvels
Cristina Popescu, founder of 7Marvels

Tell us a little bit about yourself & your small business: ‘7Marvels’

CP: I’m a homebaker based in Richmond Upon Thames. I started 7Marvels two years ago.

A fun little fact about my business is that I made the decision to start it at our annual street party in 2018!

Here is a link to my website for more information about me and my passion for baking

7marvels
Macaron Stack

Why did you decide to open your small business?

CP: Since a very young age I’ve always been passionate about cooking and baking in particular but I never really took my passion up until recently when I started my baking business.

It originally started as a macaron business but later went on to be a bakery with a myriad of different treats (birthday cakes, celebratory cakes and french pastries)!

7marvels

What are your hopes for the future?

CP: I am so grateful for the fact that I am able to do what I love for a living; and so with that said I hope that my business carries on to thrive and flourish in the coming years.

As we all know, Covid has hit most small businesses hard… So, this next part of the interview with Cristina at 7Marvels delves into how Covid restrictions and these past lockdowns have affected her home business.

7marvels

How has 7Marvels been affected by COVID?

CP: I am lucky enough to have been able to stay open amidst those uncertain and turbulent times.

Having an online-only shop has helped me in various ways to stay open and carry on making cakes; I was able to bring a smile to people’s faces with my cakes and pastries which matters a lot to me.

7marvels
Mille-Feuille

How has your business had to adapt since COVID?

CP: Having a business open during Covid has to a certain extent confirmed my initial decision of opening an online shop in spite of having a cake shop on the high street.

Have you noticed any changes in your business (sales etc.) since the COVID lockdowns?

CP: I have noticed changes in customer tendencies as they are more inclined to buy online.

7marvels

What advice would you give other small business owners – or those looking to start one?

CP: Get all the resources and equipment needed to start an online business alongside with the rest. I believe that e-commerce is becoming progressively more powerful and prosperous than it was before.

The most important thing is to do what you love and be passionate about it, and you need to have the resilience and determination to carry on with it even if it gets difficult. Your love and devotion will be apparent in what you do and the customers will become recurring ones.

There you have it… Luckily for Cristina, Covid hasn’t affected her business, as it was very much online-based to begin with.

A massive thanks again to Cristina for giving up her time to do this interview, and for giving some awesome advice for self-starters too. What a sweetheart! 🥰

7marvels
Paris Brest

7Marvels’ cakes/bakes look 😍😋 incrEDIBLE! (you’re welcome! 🎤⬇️)

Here’s an added bonus, Cristina’s business caters for most dietary requirements, offering treats that are vegan, low-sugar, eggless and gluten-free! What’s not to love about some delicious guilt-free goodies!?

I’m planning on ordering one for my birthday this year, and I cannot wait! Judging by how quickly last year went, I’ll be 30 at the blink of an eye!

Follow 7Marvels on Instagram

LIKE 7Marvels on Facebook

There’s lots to come in this series… So watch out for more interviews with small businesses in the coming weeks. I’ve got everything from crystals stockists, candle makers, hairdressers and beauty salons! ✨

Epiphany Feast Day

Epiphany

** This post is inspired by Dream to Cook **

January 6th is known as the ‘Epiphany Feast’ day in the Christian faith. It’s the day of the three Kings, when Jesus got baptised and when some say is his official birthday.

The 6th of January (day of Epiphany Feast) is also recognised as the 12th day of Christmas, the last chance to take down the tree and all decorations.

Epiphany

Tonight, my household and I celebrated the Epiphany Feast by ordering a Galette des Rois (King’s Cake) from ‘So Choux’ in Fulham, London.

If you’re in England and looking for a French patisserie that offers the full Parisienne experience, choose So Choux!

Epiphany

Fun fact: hidden inside the Epiphany Feast pastry is a special prize, the person who finds it is crowned the King or Queen (hence the gold crown). Traditionally, the special prize symbolises prosperity for the whole year.

What does a Epiphany Feast Pastry (Galette des Rois) taste like?

It’s pretty much like an almond croissant – but in filo pastry pie form. The inside is filled with layers of filo and frangipane (identical to an almond croissant).

Epiphany

What’s the best bit?

Everything about this Epiphany Feast pastry (Galette des Rois) was amazing – from the filo, to the filling &/or the glazed pattern on the top.

It’s fresh and divine. The showstopper for me, aside from the taste, has to be the flower pattern on the top – it truly is a work of art. These pictures don’t do it justice!

Joining the Galette (in the picture) was a teapot filled with chamomile tea, and raspberry still lemonade in the jug.

Also, you may notice the tea-light candle in the back which used to resemble a purple cactus before it melted gracefully… I bought it from Lourdes. 💜 🌵 🕯

Have you ever had a Epiphany Feast pastry (Galette des Rois)? Let me know in the comments. ✨

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Gloria Italian – Shoreditch

gloria italian

Happy International Women’s Day, Gloria Italian!

In a change to the usual theme of food blog posts recently – burgers, I’m reviewing one of London’s best Italian restaurants, Gloria!

Stepping into Gloria Italian

Stepping in from the hustle and bustle of kitschy/hippie Shoreditch, this restaurant looks grand and very up-market. The decor and ambiance has a very regal vibe!

If you know me, you’ll know I’m a massive fan of gardens and nature in general… Well, Gloria looks like an indoor and outdoor garden. I know what you’re thinking: ‘it looks like Christmas decorations in there…’ Nope, this is what it looks like all year around!

gloria italian

If you’re a lover of wine, the walls in the back room double up as a four-wall in-built wine rack with an array of wine bottles stashed in each compartment… So, if pollen isn’t your thing, alcohol might be!

Let’s discuss the food… We got a very delicious Focaccia Della Nonna for the table to share – which – I sadly didn’t get a photo of, but was delightful! There was a thyme aftertaste to it that is an acquired one for sure, but I ‘acquired’ it (like Facebook does absolutely everything nowadays).

Gloria Italian – Pizza

What did I get for my main course? PIZZA, of course!

gloria italian
Pizzagiana

Think parmigiana (aubergines) – but on a Neapolitan pizza with San Marzano tomato, buffalo mozzarella, mozzarella fior di latte and basil. Honestly, this pizza was one of the best I’ve ever had outside of Italy!

The base: fresh and doughy – just how I like it! The only thing I would say RE: the flavour is that I’d have preferred it to have a little bit of a spicy kick. However, I know not many people like chilli, so I can see why it wasn’t added as a compulsory ingredient. I’m pretty sure it’s optional and something that could be requested.

My final thoughts on Gloria Italian

Do I recommend Gloria Italian? Yes, because it is glorious! This restaurant is the Gloria Gaynor and Gloria Estefan of the catering/restaurant industry!

Rating: 4*

Ciao bella/bello!

Le Bun – Shoreditch

le bun

I’m not even going to pretend I haven’t been on a burger craze lately…

I’m not French, but I’m willing to convert for Le Bun! Hidden away down an Old Street slip road in Rotate, Shoreditch is where you’ll find it!

Where to find Le Bun in Shoreditch

Rotate is a coffee shop / cafe that sells CBD infused food and drinks, by the way! However, BURGERS!

(I’m pretty sure there’s a CBD infused burger but I haven’t and won’t try it)

I always thought my last meal would be sushi… Turns out, it’s Le Bun’s Truffle Cheeseburger!

What’s a ‘Le Bun’ burger like?

Described as: “aged beef patty, American cheese, truffle mayo and potato brioche” – I don’t think anyone ‘can even’, let alone “I”!

See the menu for the full list of deliciousness! Oh, they have Instagram too!

Vegans, don’t worry – they’ve got you covered!

Le Bun’s opening times are a bit weird, they’re closed on Sundays and Mondays but open from 12pm-10pm on Saturdays, and 12pm-3pm (before opening again from 5pm-10pm) on Tuesdays to Fridays.

If you can’t get to London’s Shoreditch, you could find Le Bun in Smugglers Tavern, Warren St – Fitzrovia or The Sebright Arms, Hoxton.

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Halo Burger – Shoreditch, London, UK

halo burger

Halo Burger, ‘the UK’s first 100% plant-based bleeding burger joint’ (flagship store at Pop Brixton) serving Beyond Meat, opened its second branch in London’s Shoreditch, this January.

Veganuary‘ was a real test for me, and Halo Burger made it a lot easier!

If you follow them on Instagram, you’ll know that they have an account, plastering their feed with delicious ‘food-porn’ images and videos.

Tell me more about Halo Burger

Halo Burger’s menu is insane – it claims to be the first “plant-based bleeding burger” (made with beetroot juice, and the burgers contain protein from peas, rice and mung beans). Don’t even get me started on its vegan signature sauces and cheeses… That’s not all, their breads are, get this: GLUTEN-FREE!

I popped in and gave it a go last month, ordering a cheeseburger. I was not disappointed. I am in no way a vegan or vegetarian, and this tasted almost as good as the real thing. Also, knowing the bread was gluten-free is what sold it to me.

Details of the cheeseburger: “1/8LB BEYOND BURGER PATTY, AMERICAN STYLE CHEESE SLICE, DICED ONION, LETTUCE, TOMATO, GHERKINS, SIGNATURE SAUCE”

halo burger

My review of the Halo Burger

I was advised to try Halo Burger’s vegan-stilton cheese instead of the ‘American’ and was pleasantly surprised! I can’t stand blue cheese usually, but this seemed ‘okay’!?!

I’m not kidding when I say that their signature burger sauce is something else… Packed with flavour, I’d describe it as a mild spicy-mayo (without eggs, obviously). One thing to note though: be prepared to get it everywhere! The sauce is just as messy as the ones you’d find in its meatier counterpart…

The bun? I felt like I was eating air: soft, fresh and gluten-free. For me, this (along with the sauce) was one of the best bits.

The patty? Okay, I’m going to be honest… It didn’t taste of anything. It just tasted like mush, but the flavours from the bread, cheese and sauce compensated. After taking a bite, I did check if it was “bleeding” and it was.

It feels weird to say but… The burger, although healthier than its meatier alternatives, tasted pretty good overall.

Final words on Halo Burger

I’ll be taking my brother to sample the Smoky Carolina BBQ because, that just looks and sounds like it would taste bonkers! (Oh, and not forgetting their ‘chicken’ nuggets with ‘Don’t Have a Cow’ fries – dashed with Himalayan pink salt).

After doing some mouthwatering research, I found out that Halo Burger’s Pop Brixton branch sells fried vegan Magnum ice creams… So, umm… This begs the question: why am I still typing and not there right now!?

If you’re in Brixton (or Shoreditch) and fancy some dirty, filthy junk food *with a healthy, vegan twist* – make sure to drop by Halo Burger. You won’t regret it!

P.S. why not play their arcade game while you wait for your order? Situated right next to the counter, you can’t (and won’t want to) miss it!

Overall rating: 3.5*

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