Sunday, 30 November 2014

My Week in Instagram

I haven't done one of these posts before, but as I use instagram a lot (too much) it is probably worth showing you what I got upto! My username is @leannemaskell - follow me for a random collection of pictures showing my life (most of them are of food!)

A very true ASOS selfie to start the day..

After a month of giving up my 'healthy' diet (mulled wine calls my name... everyday) I have decided to get back into it. Dima cooks all his meals for the week in advance which is pretty snazzy as I usually can't be bothered to cook and go for something nutritious and quick, like lindt. This week I simply boiled up some potatoes, leeks, carrots, broccoli and onion, gave it a whizz and voila - the easiest, healthiest soup ever! It was really good too.
Today I plan on making another one as that did so well to sustain me throughout the week, so I'll post a recipe!

The healthy soup was mildly counteracted by a gigantic roast at Tommyfield, which was rather excellent and good value. It was Elena's birthday (next to me) and lovely to get everyone together again.


On Monday I officially started my work experience in the Advertising sector of Virgin Media. It was such a fun day (although I am 100% sure not everyday is like this) - the Discovery Channel put on an event for Virgin Media and showcased incredible things in different rooms relating to their channels. I heard from Ed Stafford, who walked the entire Amazon/has his own show called Marooned where he lives on deserted islands for 60 days; the British motorbike champion whose name I forget and an actress portraying an ID watcher. My favourite rooms were the TLC room, where I iced cakes with the bosses of Virgin which was quite surreal, and the Animal Planet room where I met loads of amazing animals - racoons, snakes, hedgehogs, lizards, chinchillas, meerkats, sloths. I'd quite like a job to just go to these events!


I was lucky enough to peek at the offices of advertising mega agency BBH - every floor has these amazing quotes and there is free breakfast for all. Had a really interesting day doing work experience :)

I don't know about you, but when it the wind is howling and rain is pouring outside the last thing in the world I want to do is layer up and go to the gym. All I really use at the gym is a treadmill, so when I spotted one online for £130 (reduced from £400!!) here I decided it would be worth giving it a shot and cancelling my gym membership. It is of the quality you'd expect for the price, not fast enough to do any serious sprinting but just the right speed for a crap  'steady' jogger like me. It is also super easy to store, folding up in the corner of my bedroom so I have started watching I'm A Celebrity whilst jogging on it. It works pretty well - I'd definitely recommend if you are looking for an alternative to the gym! (Although I'd better come back to you after a month's use!)


A day at glamorous Everything5Pounds - this day they had a new make up artist who did a really good job (my caption was 'wish I could do my make up like this' - I am hideous at make up and tend to stick with concealer/mascara).

And another ASOS pic as they uploaded the new pictures this day - I can usually be found here.


A beautiful breakfast by Lisa  - often known as the queen of breakfast. They are always beautifully presented and healthy, filled with random Wholefoods bits like bee pollen and cocoa nibs. Check out her blog for her post on my next picture..

Bodos Schloss! Definitely one of my favourite clubs, especially at this time of year when it is decorated so Christmassy and the schniztel, strudel and drinks-in-giant-dogs are flowing. Thursday is an amazing night where they play old, amazing music. We made friends with X Factor's Stereokicks this night, who were all a very nice group of guys.


This is the BEST THING I HAVE EVER EATEN IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. I am a major fan of chocolate souffle, and the magicians at Lindt have found a way to incorporate it into their fab chocolate. If you see this, do whatever you have to do to get it. (I got mine from Waitrose).

And here are some beautiful new Chelsea Boots bought from ASOS (ASOS feature way too heavily on my instagram/life), for £40. They are my Christmas present from my mum (which I chose and paid for... so technically my present to myself), fit perfectly but are a little more green than I realised, especially in the light! I still looove them very much indeed :)

A Korean feast at Tohbang, and Sketch's amazing bathrooms (see my last posts)


A random hand transfer tattoo from Unique Freak Tattoos - I really love these! I put this on before my driving lesson to hope for good luck (kind of worked), as my test is on Monday. I am truly terrified.

And here is a cute snap of me and Dima at the Southbank yesterday. We went and filled our stomachs with incredible food, and checked out the Christmas market. It is all lit up and beautiful, I can't wait for Christmas!

Hope you enjoyed my mega insta-post, what are your instagrams??

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Sketch Cocktails

After our feast at Tohbang. Dima & I went in search of a delicious cocktail. He is quite into his cocktails, where I am happy with anything remotely like a pina colada. We found ourselves near Sketch, of which I had heard amazing things, but as it was 9.30 on a Friday night I was doubtful they'd have room. 

How wrong I was! We walked straight in without a reservation, through the buzz of christmas trees dripping in fairylights, teacups adorning the walls. We were directed through the restaurant to the doors at the back (which look quite a bit like kitchen doors) where we were faced with a gigantic spaceship in a completely white room. 

This is what I love about London. You can just find yourself in the most bizarre, incredible places within the blink of an eye. One minute we were strolling Oxford Street in the rain, the next we were in a giant spaceship sipping cocktails. 

The only thing I knew about Sketch was that they had unusual bathrooms. The spaceship had two staircases around it, leading up to about 20 egg shaped pods. They were very futuristic, with weird spaceship sounds and crickets playing inside the egg. These were under a beautiful coloured roof.

It's difficult to explain, but the spaceship has a giant (UFO) hole in the middle of the roof, through which colour beams. The bar itself is quite small, but we found a seat easily and perused our menus there (which were on newspaper). The walls are covered in crazy murals, which when you take a closer look appear to be quite on the 'strange' side but you would expect nothing less sitting in a spaceship bar. The music is also completely batty - steady house beats suddenly turn into a song which is a mash up of 'Snow is falling' with 'Jenny from the Block'. It actually really worked - the future of music?

(Sorry for the picture quality - lighting isn't great, and Dima's phone is useless compared to my trusty iphone)

Cocktails are definitely on the pricey side at £16 each but I would say probably worth it. If someone else is paying. As we are lucky enough to usually get free drinks when we go out, paying the same amount as a meal in a restaurant for a drink does pain my soul quite a lot but Dima loves cocktails and was willing to ~flash the cash~. Maybe go there and get a non alcoholic one, at £8.

The cocktails were seriously impressive though. Dima went for 'Kicking the Ketel' - a mix of cucumber and lychee, which he was very happy with. I went for an 'Avocolado' - pretty much a pina colada with avocado. I was also very very very happy with my drink, being an avocado fan. It was amazing! 

Next up Dima wanted more so he went for the 'Hummingbird' which was delicious - it tasted like honey and strawberry. I chose the chocolate sounding drink of which I can't remember (you'll find it if you search for the £18 drink!!) and it took a bit of getting used to, but was pretty good. Very strong, as it should be. 

We tottered home throughout the buzzy London streets, I love London so much at this time of year. Everywhere is lit up and people are smiling. 

Find Sketch here.

Date Night

Last week, I went to a restaurant called Tohbang with some friends and was seriously impressed. The food was excellent value, and exactly the kind of salty, sticky, Asian cuisine my boyfriend Dima loves - so this week I took him along for a Korean feast

To start, we had some on the house tidbits - crunchy vegetables and potatoes. This was a nice refresher before the avalanche of food arrived, we may have ordered a little bit too much! The menu is huge and as it is very traditional can be a little overwhelming, but I had my previous order to hand and our lovely waiter was very patient and explained everything for us. 

We had korean (barley) tea which was amazing, and some Sake in this cute little pot! 

Out first came Dima's favourite - Mendoo - dumplings! Fat, crunchy little things stuffed to the brim with pork and vegetables. These are some of the best I've had in London. 

And my favourite - Pajeon! This can best be described as a 'seafood pancake' however it is so much more than that. Absolutely massive, it could be a meal on it's own and it tastes like yorkshire pudding. With squid. Odd mix, but it works - so well.

Glass noodles with beef, very addictive and will have you shovelling hard to grasp noodles into your mouth quite fast. 

Ox Tail broth - the meat in this is so tender, it tastes like it has been cooking for three days on a spit roast. The soup is a little bland until you put in the accompanying salt, which instantly transforms it to a warming, meaty broth. 

This was the pork belly, something I knew Dima would love. Basically just a big bowl of fried, salty fat and bacon, it is incredibly flavourful. We were recommended to get the lettuce and spring onions, then you make little wraps out of it! 

So, we ended up with quite.. a bit.. of food. More than we could fit onto the table. 

But that's what winter is for! Stuffing yourself with as much hot, good food as you can before venturing back outside into the cold. 

And good company, of course. 

Dima wanted ice cream (?!!??!?!) which came in green tea form and was very good.

Tohbang is a lovely date restaurant. Oriental music plays as the incredibly lovely staff buzz around you serving steaming plates of food. Their service is so impressive - I dropped my chopstick (not a seasoned chopstick user over here) and before I could even reach down to grab it (three second rule!) they had zoomed down, retrieved it and given me a new set. 
The place was packed out on a Friday night, rightfully so, so it is worth booking ahead (though we booked 30 mins before, so not un-bookable at all). Great atmosphere, staff and food. 

Find them here

Monday, 24 November 2014

Taste of London Winter

I do love a good food market, so when I was very kindly invited down to Taste of London I was more than up for going! Held at Tobacco Dock, it is a really nice place for food markets being mostly covered up but with nice open roof areas complete with blazing fires and big comfortable places to chill out. And of course, it is huge which means more room for food!

Taste of London is a little different to other food markets as it brings together chefs, restaurants and producers rather than just the usual street food vendors. First stop was to see my friends at Office Pantry - these guys have a great concept which is providing boxes of British-sourced snacks for offices, to banish vending machine trauma and the 'hunger grumbles'. I used to intern for them, so can assure you that every snack is excellent and they are getting bigger and bigger.

Giles & Charles were cleverly challenging every passerby to a Rock, Paper, Scissors match promising a free box of snacks if they succeeded.

Then it was off for some snacking! First of all we found ourselves (I can't imagine how..) in the Gu Garden of Temptation, complete with tasters of their amazing puddings! I do love GU.

There was a swing, too!

Then we... somehow... found ourselves in the Green & Black's room! Complete with free flowing samples, me and Dima did happen to find ourselves in here munching away madly on three separate times. They gave us little samples of port too, which I had never previously considered but actually goes really amazingly with chocolate - give it a go.

Then Dima dragged me off in search of other treats - he somehow doesn't like chocolate!?? But the good thing about this is that I get to eat his portions!

We found a birthday cake Baileys stall - little shots of baileys topped with whipped cream, marshmallows & sprinkles. My kind of drink!

Came across our regular West-end haunt in the East, slightly surreal..
(That dog you see in there is a drink!)

We first stopped by Ember Yard's stall, as I had really wanted to try it since working on the restaurant in my PR internship. The food was as good as I had imagined, but portion sizes quite small - we paid the equivalent of £5 for a small skewer of two pieces of octopus and one bit of chorizo. The truffle mac & cheese was much more satisfying, but it is difficult to go wrong with that!

We then stopped by Shake Shack which I was previously pretty unimpressed by (though that may have been due to queueing in the rain for a long time!) - a burger for Dima, pumpkin pie flavoured frozen custard for me. Both were pretty good, especially my custard :)

I picked up a coconut, my major weakness.

Which I sipped happily whilst Dima munched on a gigantic yorkshire pudding and chicken liver mousse from Hixtons.

We came across some beautiful stalls...

Meringue Girls are consistently amazing, and it is nice to see them grow - they have their own cookbook out now!

All in all a lovely day out, but pretty pricey! I would probably not pay to go again but it was a great, very tasty experience :)

What are your favourite food markets? I love TASTE which was at Tobacco Dock last year, hope it will come back soon!