Archive | April, 2012

The Cake and Bake Show

30 Apr

This autumn, London will host the first Cake and Bake Show, a two-day live event exhibiting the art, science and world of baking.  On the 22nd – 23rd September 2012, head to Earls Court for tasting sessions, how-to presentations, guest speakers, stalls, a special chocolate area and even a tea room, created in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support.

You can try your hand at sugar-craft, take part in a variety of other workshops,  sample some freshly baked delights or listen to your favourite bakers talk about their passion.   Fans of  ‘The Great British Bake Off’ will see the familiar faces of both judges and contestants,  including Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.

Whether you are an amateur home-baker, a professional in the business or just a lover of cakes, this is definitely one to add to the calendar!  Just visit  their site for more information and to book your tickets!

Reach Out and Touch Me

26 Apr

Head to Shoreditch this week between the 26-29th of April for ‘Reach Out and Touch Me’, an exciting new performance from Outbox, an all-LGB theatre company. Outbox focuses on dramatising the untold stories of the LGB community in a dynamic and interesting format.

With the aim of bringing people and their ideas together in a creative and enjoyable way, Outbox uses theatre to bring the LGB community together, and acts as a social platform for all generations of LGB people, which is something we feel is an amazing cause!

‘Reach Out and Touch Me’ examines what it is to be part of a community, how we connect to each other and the true definition of the lesbian and gay culture, all in the fantastic location of the vaults of Shoreditch Town Hall.

Tickets are free, so it’s a perfect opportunity to explore the LGB community and have an evening of cultural amusement. We are all excited to see it, and think you’ll enjoy it too, so visit  http://www.outboxlgb.com/ for more information and to book your tickets.

What’s in a name?

24 Apr

image courtesy of wikipedia.org

The cappuccino is the one of the most popular drinks in coffee shops all over the UK, but how much do we really know about where this tasty coffee based beverage comes from? What exactly is a cappuccino and what brought this delicious drink to our coffee tables today?

The cappuccino originated in Italy in the early 1900s, and had developed into the drink we know today by the 1950s.  As one of Italy’s most popular coffee exports, the cappuccino is a strong contender for the world’s coffee favourite.  Constructed with precision and care, a shot of dark, rich espresso is given a helping of hot milk and topped off with beautifully crafted steamed milk foam.  It can be served with a dusting of chocolate or left a blank canvas, but either way it is certainly a delicious-tasting, delicious-sounding beverage.

But the history of the cappuccino dates further back than just a century ago. The naming of the cappuccino comes from the Capuchin, or ‘cappuccini’ in Italian, monks in Italy in the early 16th century.  Legend has it that the cappuccino was named as such because the milk added to the coffee created a shade of brown that resembled the robes of the Capuchin monks.  So we have thanks to give to the monks in Italy for the name of such a delicious drink!

In the UK, this popular Italian import is seen throughout the day; a morning pick me up, an afternoon treat with friends or an after dinner alternative to a dessert.  In Italy, however, the idea of the post-breakfast cappuccino is considered a sin!  The cappuccino -either alone or with a delicious pastry accompaniment- is seen to be the ideal breakfast, and drinking milk after the morning is something most Italians would never contemplate!  Don’t let that put you off reaching for the coffee cup though –  we feel everyone should enjoy coffee anytime, anywhere and for any reason.

Whether you like yours wet (a cappuccino chairo) or dry (a cappuccino scuro) there’s no question that the cappuccino is here to stay in cafés and on coffee tables all over the world.

The True Artisan Café

21 Apr

This year’s London Coffee Festival is home to a coffee-lover’s dream, the True Artisan Café – a chance to indulge in London’s best coffee offerings all in one convenient location, a pop-up coffee shop in the Soho Zone of the festival.

2012 brings the launch of La Marzocco’s True Artisan Café, a unique coffee experience for the festival and for London itself.  It’s the only place to be this April to get some of London’s best independent coffee shops all in one location!

This pop-up coffee shop is a perfect opportunity to experience the best of the best, with baristas from around 18 micro-roasteries and coffee shops bringing their signature drinks for your enjoyment.  The baristas will have three-hour slots over the three days of the festival, with an assortment of different blends, roasts and recipes to discover.  An opportunity to find your new favourite is waiting, and with so much on offer you’re sure to find something you love!

While you’re watching the talented baristas at work, you can bask in the knowledge that it’s all for a good cause! Project Waterfall is the festival’s chosen charity, with proceeds from not only the True Artisan Café but other areas of the festival supporting their current project: bringing clear water to 7,000 people in the Chini Ward of the Mbulu District.  For just a small price,  you get to sample a delicious blend and support a charitable cause whilst experiencing the craft of third wave coffee.

There’s so much more to see at the London Coffee Festival!  Fancy discovering delicious delicacies to go with your steaming coffee?  Head to the Shoreditch zone for ready-made delights including hog roasts and Mexican food in the Street Market, or build a gourmet feast at the Artisan Market with cheeses, breads and meats.  The festival isn’t just a haven for coffee fanatics, and with a Tea Garden, Chocolate Factory and live music, there is so much on offer for all tastes.  There’s no reason not to explore, so we look forward to seeing you there over something delicious!

Feature: The Fall of the Alpha Male

15 Apr

It seems like the role of the “alpha male” has begun to decline since our passing into the 21st century. The image of the aggressive, hairy-chested, overtly macho, and mostly sexist man is being passed over by the more intelligent, geeky, fashion-conscious and more considerate “Metrosexual” man.

As the shift to a more “politically correct” society had seen the behavior of such alpha males now frowned upon, “beta males” like Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg have risen up to show the world that you now don’t necessarily have to beat your chest to be heard in business anymore.

This trend is also being seen in other professions as well, with men like lead singer and songwriter of the Arctic Monkeys Alex Turner demonstrating that you don’t have to be brash and cocky like Liam Gallagher to be a rock and roll superstar.

And let’s not forget probably the most influential beta male on the planet, the current President of the United States, Barack Obama. With his smooth, easygoing nature, smart dress sense and calm but authoritative manner, he is single-handedly showing the world that a man doesn’t need to be a ruthless dictator to command respect.

The times are changing, and it’s time for those who still cling to the Gordon Gekko mentality to dust off their caveman attitudes and embrace their “beta” halves!

http://www.shortlist.com/home/the-fall-of-the-alpha-male

Legendary buns: the history behind your Easter treats

8 Apr

image courtesy of wikipedia.org

Whether it’s halved and toasted, eaten cold and whole, with lashings of butter or a scraping of jam, shop-bought or home-made, there is no denying that Easter isn’t complete without munching on a hot cross bun (or a few!). But what do we really know about where this delicious Easter treat came from?

We all know hot cross buns to be part of the Easter celebrations, traditionally eaten on Good Friday. However, the presence of the hot cross bun isn’t just rooted in Christian celebrations, but can be seen all over the world throughout history. One belief is that the Saxons made buns for their ‘Eostre celebrations’, offering the spiced cakes to Eostre, the goddess of spring. This pagan tradition is one upon which our own Easter celebrations are based.

There are also links to ancient Greece, where buns were offered up to Artemis and Hecate, the bun representing the four stages of the moon. It is also said that the Babylonians offered the hot cross bun to Ishtar, the Queen of Heaven, on the same day every year that we celebrate Good Friday.There are even signs of the hot cross bun in China, Mexico and Egypt!

While the religious significance of the hot cross bun is well known, there are other strange customs and superstitions that have been passed down over the years. Who would have thought that hanging a hot cross bun made on Good Friday by the front door could protect a house from fire, or if taken on a sea voyage would protect sailors against being shipwrecked. It is even said that they have magical powers and will never go mouldy even if you keep them from one year to the next.  Some believe that the hot cross bun has medicinal properties, and legend tells us that if a piece of it is eaten by someone who is unwell, its special healing powers will cure them of their illness.

However, not everyone was happy about the hot cross bun and the superstitions it held.  In 1592, the Queen passed a law stating that hot cross buns could not be made or sold at any time except for funerals, Good Friday and Christmas. Luckily for us, this couldn’t be enforced and we can enjoy them all year round. We can see how much the hot cross bun became part of the community. The Chelsea Bun House holds a legend surrounding the popularity of the hot cross bun. It is said that on Good Friday in 1829, around 240,000 buns were sold to over 50,000 people who crowded outside.

Bringing us forward, popular bakery retailer Gregg’s sold over 3 million hot cross buns just over the Easter period last year! So let’s take a moment to think about the challenge our nation’s bakers meet every year to bring us all these delicious treats. Bakers work hard to make sure we get our hot cross buns, not only in time for the Easter celebrations but all year round.

Hot cross buns are perhaps the hardest of all cakes to make in a bakery, always sticking to the machines and needing constant attention. Even today, the hot cross bun still works its magic, as told in this charming baker’s tale. In one particular bakery, no matter how many they bake, however many buns get burnt or go wrong, there are always two buns left from the batch.  These two buns get to be eaten by the baker who made them. This is Easter’s gift to the bakers for ensuring we all get our delicious hot cross buns in time to celebrate!

The hot cross bun is a symbol of Easter, and this simple cake holds so much history, tradition and legend. So remember how the hot cross bun came to be part of our yearly celebrations when you tuck into yours!