Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Mars bar & Peanut Butterscotch Caramellos

It’s official.

Baking definitely brings out the worst in me…


Here are 3 reasons why:

1.       Impatience: As soon as these babies hit the fiery furnace, I suddenly revert to being an overly excited kid who has nose constantly pressed up against the screen of the oven, compulsively  on the contents within every 2 minutes or so...

 I’m 99.9% convinced that the slowest 35 minutes of all time, ever occurs whilst caramelized Dulce de Leche is laid to bake with buttery chocolate chips and daintily browned, sugary butter, like so:

Even the rooms of the house become helplessly weak-kneed and start to surrender to the waft of the sweet and crumbly, gooey pea-nutty goodness that is so totally happening right here, and right now in our oven. (Past tense).

“Are they ready yet?”

“Are they ready yet?”

“Are they ready yet?”

It didn’t ease the anticipation much, seeing as only other company I had today was that of my 16 year old brother (6”4 with the appetite of a buffalo experiencing a major growth spurt) - who turned out to be equally enchanted by this strange sweetness that was mysteriously oozing out of the kitchen and upwelling into his room…his equally eager presence simply made the wait yet more prolonged….

As a result, we ended up diving into this beautifully warm and sticky, gooey, molten mess just a little too early...

 It was bound to happen.

My heart shattered a little as my perfectly baked babies irreversibly decided to explode molten chocolate caramel all over them-selves. As a result, the pictures turned out slightly stripped of their natural beauty and the prospect of a square cut presentation became slightly doomed (as you can see)… 

We desperately turned to the freezer for help. Into the ice they went; the garden peas, emergency Warburton’s buns and a whole tray of ice cubes sacrificed themselves in the process. (What mum doesn’t know won’t hurt her…)

You can probably gather the moral of the story…gracefully waiting out the 35 minutes of life in slow motion = totally worth it if you want those happy + healthy Caramellos that have just swallowed up your peanut butter and precious 100g of chocolate chips.  

I definitely should have listened to Josh…
Josh: My brother, Drake - he's all about immediate gratification. 
Drake: [points to the oven] There's brownies in there, and I want 'em. 
Josh: They'll be ready in about... 25 more minutes. And you know what? They'll be worth the wait.
Drake: I am not waiting. [puts an oven mitt on and gets the brownies out] 
Josh: Ya see, Drake's gonna learn something tonight. He's gonna learn that some things are just worth waiting for.
Drake: [tasting the batter] Ohhhhhhhhhhh…. it's like…. warm brownie soup…

Josh: You realize that patience is a virtue.

Drake: My god, why didn't I do this like five minutes ago? [a blue arrow wooshes and goes to the upstairs window, then a green arrow wooshes]

For any of you who have watched the ‘Demonator’ episode, this will be one of those unforgettable J+D opening scenes. Also, extra brownie points to any of you who understand the ‘arrow wooshing’ part too! I’m getting so many childhood memories just thinking about it! I miss that show so much!

2.       Indecisiveness: My total in ability to make a rational win-win decision flies totally out of the window when the time rolls around to actually crack down on a recipe. Chocolate? Peanut butter? Caramel? Cinnamon? Coffee? Chocolate, cocoa? Chocolate?! Cookies sounded like a great idea, but just a tad too mainstream for today…Bars are so easy to make. But how do we fit all of the cravings into a single tray bake without leaving anyone behind?

 If you can’t beat them, join them…

So I did. 

I beat them eggs into that mixture compromised of every single ingredient that had been dancing around in my mind:

·         Peanut butter! Swoon.
·         Butter, like, duh.
·         Chocolate – he without the substitute.
·         Caramel – Folds of substituted luxury (The Dulce de Leche worked wonders in place of condensed milk)
·         Toffees, melted (and yes, you heard that right) - simply cuz I can, and simply cuz I shouldn’t…
·         Brown sugar, somewhere, somehow. Dem moist molasses…
·         Mars bars: AKA: The urge. The stars of the show. Totally gotta get me some nougat, asap.

Keep scrolling down to the recipe where you can see how these sweet dreams actually managed to become a blissful reality.

Still, I must confess  that since I was so ridiculously keen to get going , pretty much 70% of the cup ratios were pretty much made up right on the spot and/or jotted down in between spoon switches and the frequent pings of the microwave melts. Impatience strikes again.

Amazingly, however they turned out pretty damn fabulously…

3.       My diabetic destiny: Given that type 2 diabetes has gone absolutely haywire in my mum’s side of the family, I probablyyyyyyy shouldn’t be taking these devilish peanut butter brownies - both spiked with mars bars and laced with triple chocolate & toffee so swiftly into But YOLO. I guess I just liked the clever alliteration of diabetic trait number 3 a bit more than the actual idea of it…

Because FYI, since these brownies (AKA Caramellos - which clearly don’t have a consistent name) are made with 100% natural butter, dark chocolate, organic sugars and the protein, as well as magnesium packed peanut butter (just for starters)…I totally defend the health and nutrition side of them and THUS, I shall continue defending the vital role that they play in a healthy + balanced diet.


These Caramellos are an insanely rich kind of soul food...the kind to be promoted.

I could swear that the taste actually changes depending on whether or not they are consumed with a fork, spoon or with sticky fingers….or when served with different flavours of ice cream…*note to self*.  


What me and my family noticed most as we sunk our teeth into these blocks of caramelized & fudgey-like lava, was that they actually tasted way more like Snickers bars than they did Mars bars.

They tasted significantly more like Snickers bars than any Mars bar which I’ve ever eaten.  

If anything, they basically are Snickers brownies smothered in crunchy peanut butter and stuffed with excessive caramel, heat and goo. Perfection, I think not?
Although the toffee +caramel pooled inside definitely does makes itself obvious in the flavour, the peanut butter + the general texture reminded us way more of Snickers bars than anything else! I reckon that this is because I had chucked in the super crunchy, whole nut kind of peanut butter which has a grainier and more earth kinda taste to it, as opposed to one which was more smooth + refined. It’s easy to tell how the tastes between brands differ so much, so if you prefer smoother + creamier bars, then definitely go for your favorite brand of smooth pb!

SO! Are you ready?

Patience aside (nice one) because the wait is over! Here I present to you the recipe for these botched up, invented by chance + ultimately patience testing: 

Peanut Butterscotch Caramello Mars Bars….


Wet ingredients:
·         2 Small/1 Large egg
·         1 TBSP Vanilla
·         1 tsp baking soda/bicarbonate of soda (not powder)
·         3/4C butter, salted.
·         1/4C white granulated sugar
·         3/4C brown sugar
·         100g/1C of dark chocolate drops. Alternatively, just put any leftover chocolate into a food processor and hit the ON button.
·         3/4C peanut butter – smooth is probably better, but don’t use all natural/homemade – since you really do need the yummy emulsifiers of processed pb if you want the peanut butter to actually hold the recipe together.
 I also added 2 tbsp of Greek yogurt because it makes stuff moist. I'm not sure what difference it made, but it's worth putting it in :)

Dry ingredients:
·         1C white flour.
·         Sprinkle of cinnamon.
·         Throw some oats in if you want for extra texture. E.g. 1/2C, but you may need to up the wet ingredients proportionally depending on how stiff your batter is.
·         Optional: I added appx 5 tbsp of cocoa powder – which is what made the Caramellos look like brownies. I had originally planned to make them look more like cookie dough (which has more distinguished layers) but the cocoa turned out to be last minute that was actually worthwhile in the end…so it is definitely recommended…
·         2 tsp instant coffee powder – the spontaneous ingredient. You definitely cannot taste this in the final product – the idea is that it brings out the full flavour of the cocoa. This is pretty standard for any brownie recipe. Again, recommended.
·         3-6 snack sized Mars bars/supermarket equivalent.

For the caramel dousing sauce
·         1 x 250g pack of those supremely chewy vanilla toffees which every confectionery aisle has. My entire bag cost 29p from Asda - your argument is invalid.
·         4 tbsp butter.
·         Optional, 3-5 tbsp of Dulce de Leche (It’s pretty expensive, about £3.70 for a jar – though I only bought it because it was new to me and constituted as an impulse buy of the eye candy kind).  
·         If you cba with the above. Just get a can of condensed milk and mix it with 4 tbsp of butter over a high heat for your caramel sauce.

1.       Wet: cream the butter + sugars together. Add the peanut butter and the rest of the wet ingredients.
2.       Mix the wet ingredients with the dry at the same time, gradually adding the eggs to get a proper bind.
3.       Line a 9x13 inch baking dish with parchment paper.
4.       Spoon half of the chocolate cookie dough into the dish
5.       Chop up the Mars bars and throw them on top of the half of the dough inside the dish.
6.       For the sauce, melt the toffees with the butter + dulce de leche (or condensed milk recipe). Stir and pour evenly over the first layer of chocolate cookie dough.
7.       For the third layer, spoon the remaining dough/batter on top of the caramel sauce. Smooth it out as best as you can.
8.       Bake at 176*C in a pre-heated oven for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes after switching the oven off – this will help it to crisp up. (Use your judgment as to when to do this)
9.       Don’t do what I did. Wait for it to cool completely before cutting them into squares, getting sticky and ruining the photo’s that could have been…
10.   Serve with ice cream if you are eating them whilst they are still warm though! The combo of crumbly goo with firm, rounded cream is immense. Vanilla yogurt goes great too though.

Otherwise, they definitely do fudge-ify after having been left out for a few hours and are fab by themselves with some milky, milky breakfast tea (the best kind of tea). 

How many can you manage?

P.S. in America Mars Bars = Milky Ways, and vice versa in the UK. I wonder how the inverse combo would turn out though.

Are there any other good combinations out there that you know of?

I also have seen so many recipes for brownies topped with salted caramel pretzels! 

I was so tempted to do that here too, but clearly patience was running way too low today...

Thanks for reading!

Tash xo

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Yumchaa Café: London - Review! + A summery bank holiday

A summery bank holiday Sunday... & a delightful trip over to Yumchaa Café: Tottenham Street, London. 

 Happy days...

Yesterday was simply the most fun, & spontaneous day out ever.
For starters, I got to spend it with this beautiful girl: AMY!!

And, on top of that, it was just super sunny, and so, so warm. We had such a chilled out, girly afternoon sunbathing on the steps of UCL with the lovely Yuan, reflecting on first year and reaping the opportunity to have mini photo shoots in between sips of our frozen frappes; whilst simultaneously warding off nosey pigeons who were coming waaaay too close for comfort (Although we will blame that on the chip eating chick behind us).

We also got round to planning the final details for our week in Italy - which is looming becoming excitingly nearer!  (Praise the lord that the university Wi-Fi works outside). Bring on Venice, Florence & Rome!! We simply cannot wait!!

We had also gotten the chance to visit the amazing Yumchaa café in Fitzrovia – this was actually great, since I’ve wanted to go there for ages (it’s just so pretty!) but have never really got the chance to visit it before.  We were in the mood for a lunch that was both light and cheap (student lyfe, ha). We were actually just en route to M&S food for a classy ‘not just any’ sandwich type-of lunch, when Amy spotted these elegantly squared white windows just off of Tottenham Court Road belonging to the cute little Yumchaa café, and remembered that she had actually been there before so it was guaranteed to be a second-time scrumptious. We were totally sold out on this and headed straight over. I was actually surprised when Amy described it as a café – doesn’t ‘Yumchaa’ sound like an upmarket sushi bistro?  Nonetheless…

The inside of the café is pretty cool. It is just so white, clean cut and airy. The counter is directly perched at the far end of the café so that you can see it as you walk in, but it means that you also have time to look around the place/check out the seating situation (there was plenty) before the staff jump on you. I thought that this was kinda nice; since I can’t really stand hose café’s where the counter is pressed right up to the adjacent entrance and you feel under pressure to order something right away. Here however, the staff were super welcoming and let us dawdle around + eye up all of the food for a bit before we were ready to order (we are 2 of the most indecisive people ever, so the fabulous cake selection was destined to be tricky).

I asked the woman at the counter if she was cool if we took photos and she said this was fine (I know that some places can be a bit funny with it), so we just used this an excuse to delay our decision making.
Soon enough, we both addressed our uncompromisable sweet tooth’s, and took the chance to go halfsies on a generously stuffed falafel wrap duo, in addition to 2 cheeky slices of cake mania….

If I’m being honest, the brownie had originally looked kinda dry and not very dense or rich (Love my stodge). I’m not even too sure why I got it since at the time I was actually battling a carrot cake and butter cream-type craving…but omg! How wrong was I…it was dense, fudgy, buttery, moist and just…purely heavenly. It tasted like milk chocolate – and not just cocoa! Maybe they had put chocolate chunks in the recipe?

Even though it was super rich, it wasn’t as sickly as some brownies that I have had – such the ones I’ve bought at borough food market which must be about twice the size (somehow!). But then again, this isn’t that surprising since brownie recipes are so easy to vary but create a product which can’t really change that much in appearance…If you decide to get this then, beware: I’m 90% sure there were nuts in it, so be ask before you buy. The picture really doesn’t do this brownie justice. Go and try it for yourself!

Amy chose the chocolate velvet cake with icing. I had a taste of it and it really was literally pure velvet - just so ridiculously smooth and moist, – is that even possible for a crumbly cake? I don’t know! But Yumchaa struck the balance perfectly. Not too sweet either! (And as I say, we have utterly unrivalled sweet tooth’s, so this is really saying something!).

As you can tell, I have stuck to the dessert first rule, but here’s our yummy falafel wrap half. Amy had hers toasted. I don’t know why I didn’t either, but I kinda semi-regretted my decision half way through…*note for next time*.

We didn’t actually try any of the loose leaf tea which they are apparently famous for – but this is definitely something to go back and try!

The atmosphere of the place is so lovely! Pure tranquillity! The design is based on simplicity and minimalism, but in a detailed kind of way. The end of the restaurant where the counter was had a load of really unusual décor + design on the walls; I especially liked how the ceiling & lighting were done, I guess this is the trend nowadays!

There was also a bunch of folk chilling out with their laptops, teas and coffees since they have free Wi-Fi – I only wish I had known about this place during term time! Yumchaa is such a breath of fresh air in contrast to the mainstream coffee chains and bakeries. But then again, maybe it was only quiet since it was a sunny bank holiday Sunday- it’s hard to imagine that this place wouldn’t be popular as a working lunch spot.

Then something funny happened. We walked out after our beautifully satisfying afternoon tea – only to march straight into Starbucks to buy 2 giant frappes. I blame Amy - but Amy blames Happy Hour -(The amazing buy one - get one free frappe deal which conveniently started as soon as we walked in).

The little guy behind the counter had the nicest eyes ever. We have no idea who he is, but he was just so friendly and couldn’t stop smiling at anyone and everything. We can just call him eyes man of TCR Starbucks who fills cookie crumble frappes so high with chocolate cream that they overspill through the lid + explode all over your hands and pale denim jeans (fab life experience). Definitely not complaining though, the frappucino’s were 100% perf...

Frappucino’s. Quad. Sunshine. Friends. Can a summery bank holiday Sunday even get any better than this? We definitely felt sorry for all of the people who were still drifting around the campus going to and from the library…studying is a tough life.
Yuan joined us for the last half of the afternoon :)

It was so peaceful. Uni was pretty quiet since the majority of exams are slowing down here now. The air smelt like summer. You know that tropical, grassy + humid smell that lingers in the air right after sunny BBQ’s and long afternoons at the beach? That was all around.

All in all:
1.       Spontaneous meet ups are the best.
2.       Triple that if it’s sunny.
3.       And triple that if you are with the best company.
4.       We will definitely return to Yumchaa to try the carrot cake, teas, and the Wi-Fi.

Today is bank holiday Monday. Its 7am and I’m writing this before a 9 hour waitressing shift. Fun times! Hopefully the weekend will keep me going for the rest of the week! L

Have you been to Yumchaa? What’s your experience of it? Is there anywhere else in London comparable to it that we can try too?!

Did you do anything special this bank holiday weekend?

Tash xo

The classification of a Foodie: Are you a Foodie?

“Do you think about food, all the time? Do you read the blog posts and the restaurant reviews and the culinary magazines? Do you derive meaning from eating...?

This is Joshua Ferris asking you approximately what % of your life is consumed by consumption. As compulsive as it may sound, pretty much any of the many Foodies alive today will respond to every single one of these questions with a heartfelt and resounding yes. And no, there is absolutely nothing wrong with them...

So, are you a foodie? 

I am going to explain to you why you most probably are a foodie - whether you realize it or not. Undeniably, we all live in a world which is becoming increasingly dominated by an emergent new food culture that has sparked mass international interest…

Foodies according to Ferris
“We make pilgrimages to the great restaurants. We commune, we perform rituals, we pore over holy texts, we proselytise. We celebrate and sacrifice. And of course, we make war.” 
Although I must admit that I’m not entirely sure what the phrase: ‘make war’ actually refers to, the ambiguity conveys just how patriotic a foodie can be about his her own ‘cult’…Vegan? Nutrionista? Solylenite – “An individual  so immune to the pleasures of food that he will willingly consume a beverage with the taste and consistency of mucus so long as it provides an unfussy meal with the minimum daily nutritional requirements?”see Ferris’ complete list here. Cynical as the titles may seem, we all really do belong to a food cult; albeit if that cult boils down to “he of the 99p cheeseburger” - who simply doesn’t care to add yet more dimensions to simplicity of human fuel.

In his article for the Guardian, Ferris tried to highlight the sheer changes which he experienced for himself as he transitioned from being a crappy, gluten addicted eater (later diagnosed with celiac disease) , to being a re-born again foodie who has himself become rather ‘religious’ and mindful about his body + taste sensations...

Ferris documents how this journey has hugely impacted the quality of food that he begun to select, and the transition has also greatly changed the way which he chooses to enjoy it.  Having reverted from “cupboard snacks of nuclear cheese” and “vegetables boiled to nutritional obsolesce”, he probably strikes a blunt chord with most of his readers, the majority of whom at some point in their life have indeed succumbed to the luxury of man-made plastic-like snacks and anything else quick, be it skittle-like cereal or microwave dinners...
“We ate without thought, without intention, simply to feed our bodies and derive the predictable comforts that fat and sugar provide”.
This is an easy trap to routinely fall into. After-all, 'food' itself is a staple of a basic kind. However, in certain forms it is perfectly capable of making us all too-comfortable with the stodgy comfort that it  lends us with when we are promised a 2 minute fat-fix or the much needed sugar high which has been circulating in the health + fitness columns of late.

I for one, have actually felt this lazy and addictive affiliation with bread, or specifically: bread and peanut butter. (When it becomes your 3rd meal and 2nd snack of the day, bodily differences are well and truly felt. It gets to the point where any of the pea-nutty, micro-nutritious health benefits are pretty much offset by the surplus of stodge sitting in your lower belly that is weighing you down and refusing to digest – nevertheless, exams came first and this routine becomes way too enjoyable). 

As an alternative, Ferris  implies that it isn’t just the bare consumption of any old ‘food’ whichthat is important, but rather, the entire sphere of thoughtfulness and mindfulness into which we are allowed to invest in under the title ‘foodie’. As the article title “Holy Guacamole” suggests, an avocado is will no longer be an avocado. Instead, sacredness becomes a vitamin of its own. This is the supplement to foodie conversion. How deficient are you?

In her 2013 book: “Food and the Self”, Isabelle De Solier distinguishes how the ‘Foodie’ is a product of globalization: trans-national flows of “food, tastes, media, capital and people”. It seems that all of these special ‘pilgrimages’ to places of food and keen investment into the world of healthful culinary infusions stems from our ability to access the worldwide communication (I.E. the internet), and the knowledge which has been generated through the sharing of recipes, photography, blogging, culture, and health trends. 

You see, what Solier shows is how the identity of the ‘foodie’ is tightly woven into the existence of the blogging world and the ability for absolutely anyone to publish their own beliefs, rituals and cookery ‘books’ into their own customized space…The internet has given these hungry newborn foodies an ambitious refuge. 

We are consciously moving away from the once favored realm of convenience and into a world of effort, customization, and design of food.
Simple things such as cooking or dining out have become leisurely inside of this ‘runway world’ - the foodie just totally enjoys every single bit about his hobby. Like this, we can see that the foodie himself is a product of production and consumption. Foodies simply love being able to create, eat, and repeat - on repeat. Sounds like fun. How can you become involved? 

Being a foodie is an easy identity to become carried away with – whether this is conscious or not. After-all, the foodie has recognized this life-long sense of self-formation and the aspect of themselves which for some reason, really does become defined by the captivation of a uniting food culture. 

Essentially, food is an art – be it the presentation of a dish, or the choice of ingredients; the excitement of a dinner party or even the decision to bake blondies on a rainy day…And this is all utterly reflected in the 21st century’s visible knock on obsession with health, nutrition and things ‘clean eating’ and even body image. The legacy of one foodie onto another is endless in a world where beliefs + ideas are easily inflicted. After all, you are what you eat. #preach. 

But Ferris writes that: 
“Food was a revelation. I explored and studied and tasted and learned how to judge. Eating became a way to know myself, my preferences and the limits of my adventurousness. I became that most irritating but apt of designations – a foodie”.  
Like this, I think that the most important message here is that the foodie does not deserve the obsessive and la-la identity assigned to them by those who don’t cherish food, production + consumption in the same way. Sure, there are cults, fads and trends in the world wide web of cooking, nutrition and dining – but at the end of the day, the pleasure derived from these things starts from the inside – the foodie’s ability to get in touch with their senses and pair material practices from daily life with their senses and sentiments. It is all too easy to become fazed in an era where everybody is routinely talking about all things health, fitness and food – there are a scarce few of us who haven’t been somehow tainted by contemporary health crazes or beliefs about what we ultimately should/shouldn’t be eating.

Food has been made into a way of life, and as a result, it has different meanings & associations for every single person in the world. An interest in food starts differently for everybody; for Ferris, his happened to be the recognition of a lifestyle where he had been dismissing the luxury of choice + variety, to such an extent that he began to harm his own health. 

Every aspect of 21st century culture blends into the world of foodies. To me, it makes perfect sense to see the food-opshere exploding so rapidly in recent times. Everybody has their own findings and interests to share, or an 'other' that they want to become involved in. As Ferris emphasizes, once you have established a sense of mindfulness, and you have begun to serve your own culinary + cultural curiosity (and nobody elses), then you are “in heaven”. Ultimately, I guess that this is the end which the foodie seeks…. since being a foodie brings with it an innocently blissful sense of unity into an otherwise mainstream life.    

And hey, that explains my blog, your blog, and all of the other blog you follow and their followers too. Food critics, restaurants, diners, reviewer’s travellers, food photographers and readers of food, health + lifestyle columns are all actively involved in the foodie world more than they realize. Kinda cool, huh?

What does being a foodie mean to you?

Do you think that the networking of foodies is an unexplored aspect of modern society? Is it possible to not be a foodie in the 21st century? They are all good questions! 

Let me know what you think! J




Friday, 23 May 2014

The Breakfast Club Soho - Finally! (Review)

This post has been a long time coming. Firstly, I would just like to highlight my sheer excitement at the fact that EXAM SEASON is over! The intensity has dissipated and I am once again FREE to trawl London, take long walks and day dream in peaceful, undisturbed bliss! The fear of procrastination no longer looms, and I am SO excited for summer! 

Anyhow, let’s digress….

On one warm and breezy August summer morning in September-ish last year, myself & a co-worker chilled out at work before our restaurant opened for breakfast.

“Yo, check this out” he said to me, nearing his phone screen enough so that I could see the wildly portioned eggs Benedict breakfast that he’d ordered the morning before at ‘some restaurant called the Breakfast Club’.


You had me at an eggs Benedict you, Mr Breakfast Club.

I mean, I served eggs Benedict for breakfast, lunch and dinner during full time waitressing work. The sight of regular ole’ huveos and hollandaise was getting pretty damn boring – (bearing in mind just how much the staff food menu totally exploits eggs). You see, attractive eggs of any kind were becoming rather scarce in number. The breakfast club must have had something very special about it…
Over the next few months; friends started to go in and come out.

A particularly cool thing about this place was mentioned by an enthusiastic friend of mine following this recently past British Pancake Day:


(Pancakes @ the Breakfast Club, Hoxton. This is not my image, see http://www.hoxtonradio.com/breakfast-club-pancake-day-challenge/)
#BreakfastClubRespect #Genius #TooGoodToBeTrue

“…And did you manage it?”

“No. They are absolutely huge, Tash. I wanted to enjoy them.”

Say what? You turned down 17 free pancakes because you couldn’t tackle the stack? B*tch please!

Like, I NEEDED to go here and simulate this challenge for myself (I say simulate since the 17 deal is only on for pancake day – so mark that in your diaries for next year).

Yet, for some crazy reason, (and a million + 1 different conversations later - with all of these other, super lucky BC enthusiasts who had already visited the breakfast club without me)…I didn’t actually make it there until yesterday. May 22nd 2014. And man, man was it a nice day….

Pancakes, berries, vanilla whipped cream and maple syrup at the Breakfast Club Soho. 
As measly as 4 whippy vanilla-y cream pancakes topped with berries and a truckload of maple syrup may sound next to this yardstick stack of 17 whoppers…They took a good long 40 minutes to get through.  

However, most of the pancake munching time itself was consumed by the most amazing company which I was accompanied by...

Now let me diverge a little and tell you this crazily cute story about 3 breakfast club lovers who were also united over continuous eggs Benedict’s.  

Ellery and Sarah are 2 gorgeous US university students who have hungrily been roaming the streets of London and beyond (Ireland, France) since New Year’s Day (- 1 day for Sarah thanks to snow induced airline slacking). Here a few things that you should probably know about Ellery and Sarah:

Ellery & Sarah 
Ellery ( The Blondie, left)
·         She has this insane weakness for Eggs Benedict. It brought us together.
·         She loves England, but she’s pretty certain that given the chance it would be France > London.  For some completely unjustified reason, she reminds me of Taylor Swift. I blame the accent.
·         She studies film and writing; so naturally, she’s super creative and insightful + passionate about the treasures of the world and the small things in life – and yes, that 100% includes Disneyland.
·         She’s also Gemini - so this really shouldn’t surprise you ;)
Ellery & I!

Sarah (The Cutie, right):

·         Sarah too, has the same insane weakness for Eggs Benedict as Ellery, but her passion for Elvis slightly outweighs the eggs Benedict dedication.
·         She is seriously considering a bigger move to London in the near future. Exotic Memphis or smoggy London? The latter apparently. This girl has some huge London appreciation as well as a soft spot for Dublin and Belfast.  I love it.
·         She is also mightily disappointed that 2014 hasn’t brought any snow with it so far...

“You guys don’t like snow here? Does it mess up your lives?”

“Why don’t you keep wishing for it and then just see what happens...?”

Every Londoner knows that London does not do snow. Like, it just doesn’t. If anything, it is a blessing that 2014 hasn’t let the roads turn black with polluted icy road sludge, or exposed the true inefficiency of our transport and salt system.

·         Lastly, Sarah is just utterly loveable. She is so kind and chilled out. She also gave me a card with an onion on it. Onions are my favourite vegetable and this had actually gone totally unspoken. Thanks shallot Sarah <3.

Sarah & I. 
Pulling their 2 characters together, Ellery & Sarah used to come and visit the place where I worked every single Tuesday for a couple of months. They were customers (the best customers ever).  6pm never put them off. It was “Eggs Benedict!” every single time (except for once). Upon interrogation, they one justified their compulsive choice with: “We don’t know…the sauce here is just so good…like…we don’t have sauce like that back home in the US.” ... Egg addiction, anyone? We got talking. Somehow the Breakfast Club became exchanged as a mutual recommendation. As a result, we were pretty much destined to be diner buddies from there onwards.

Sadly, my workplace + their brunch date place closed suddenly. We were so used to seeing each other every week that we hadn’t exchanged Facebook or numbers yet. Apparently they turned up to the gaping vacancy which once served them brunch for dinner…only to be greeted by empty windows and closed doors. Where had Benedict gone? 

But, a couple of weeks later, they had managed to find me on Facebook! We quickly organized a brunch at our new favorite spot (The Breakfast Club, where else?!) and spent the afternoon catching up together.  It was a total infusion of (rainstorms) chit chat, maple syrup, and sweet shakes. Bliss @ the BC.

I always remember how my mum always used to say that, as great as it may be to eat out with your friends – all you guys will do together is chit chat; meanwhile, all of the food which you looked forward to so much will be inhaled and vanished before you even know it… I think this is kinda funny (since my mum loves her lunch dates more than anything) even if is true – But the whole experience and laughter that results from great lunch company totally cancel this phenomenon out every single time…

Okay. So that was a long introduction. But hey, let’s swiftly cut to the bit which you were all waiting for.

PANCAKES! *Insert fireworks here*.

The Breakfast Club which we had selected was the Soho Branch, D’Arblay Street which is subtly tucked behind the back roads of Oxford Circus/Tottenham court road. We were already well aware that queues here are a regular occurrence. By meeting at 1:30pm in such a prime location, there was a definite risk that we would have to queue. Upon arrival, it was a pleasant surprise that the ‘queue’ that was consisted of a less than 10 minute wait (it was a weekday after all). We were seated quickly and were given super friendly service. (Shout out for Neville – the super cool Australian dude with long-ish dark hair who promoted to us the fantabulous Elvis shake, and basically gave us an excuse to return – you were fab).

The menu is pretty extensive. Ellery and Sarah got some healthy green shakes which had mango in it (Unpictured – I just remember that they were absurdly green). Here is Ellery looking happy with her pancakes though! 

Whilst I got the Elvis shake 

Elvis shake = Vanilla ice cream, banana + peanut butter; 3 ingredients with hint of absolute genius. Apparently Mr Elvis put peanut butter onto everything. From here, I draw the conclusion that Elvis and I are long lost twins. (So Sorry Sarah, he’s mine).

According to E+S it tasted “EXACTLY LIKE A REESES PEANUT BUTTER CUP”. I was sold by the plain old menu description of it… let alone the heavenly thick and creamy reality…it was simply a blitz of pure, pea-nutty & viscous-y bliss.  Although £4.90 for it was pretty pricey for what it is, I’d say that it serves as one of those one-time, no excuses kinda things that just pairs super well with pancakes. If you classify yourself as a peanut butter fanatic, then do not be deterred by the price because: YOLO. (This is coming from a piggy bank chick who only ever orders tap water with a meal).  I don’t think managed to picture it though, Oops.

And as for the stars of the show…these pictures genuinely do not to the pancakes justice. They were huge. We were all super keen to tuck in so the shots aren’t fantastic. They were thick + dense. Some people may prefer the ‘super fluffy kind’ – but it is pretty hard to complain about the quality of the pancakes when you are faced with a stack like this. The vanilla cream was lovely, relatively thick and…just…oh so vanilla-y. (I bloody love vanilla). The berries were a nice addition, though I personally would have preferred some starchy banana to go with the pure stodge that is pancakes. However, I think many people would genuinely pick the berries over anything else. I’m just one of those rare few who can’t stand the natural freshness of berries with sticky + heavy indulgence…

Pancakes, berries, vanilla whipped cream and maple syrup at the Breakfast Club Soho.

Speaking of sticky, the absolute cherry on the cake was the bottle of maple syrup which comes with the pancakes. You know how in a pizzeria they give you a bottle of chilli olive oil to drown your pizza in upon consumption, and this makes one super happy? The bottle of maple syrup was the brunch-time equivalent, - a generous touch which probably doesn’t cost the company a penny; but makes the customers day anyway. My bowl became an utter basin for streaming rivers of maple syrup. The pancakes were suffocating in a golden and gooey sticky mess. Understandably, my hands were way too occupied with having to deal with this sticky mess so I couldn’t picture the post-dousing stack state. E+S gracefully stuck to the berries and the recommended sugar dose. We talked, laughed & enjoyed the atmosphere.

Pancakes, berries, vanilla whipped cream and maple syrup at the Breakfast Club Soho.

Overall, the breakfast club is absolutely fantastic value for money. Although people from other parts of the country may find the prices a little too much (I.E., my best friend in Durham claims she can get a gigantic fry up for little over £3 in her alternative ‘local’ Breakfast Club fakery) – considering that we are in central London, any place where breakfast + drink together averages at around £9-£13 is absolutely incredible.

The portions are gigantic. As we entered, the smell of a hearty brunch hit us, simultaneously to the sights of other customers being served mountains of eggs, sausages, cinnamon French toast, bacon and beans. Yes, - beans! It is super rare to find places that chuck the baked beans in without question. Too many brunch places in London skimp on the baked beans in the name continental European authenticity or whatever – since they don’t exactly go with “cwoissants or pan doo chocolatz” … Baked beans are 100% necessary and I’m super proud to announce that the Breakfast Club respects this component of a healthy brunch/lunch/breakfast or whatever you consider your trip there to be. 

So, the bottom-est of the bottom line? The BC is amazing. It was totally worth the 9 month wait. My only complaint is that there are only a mere 5 of them in London! (with a 6th in progress). Unfortunately I didn’t manage to snap any pictures of inside the Soho branch this time around, but, since it was kinda small, I really think that they should somehow increase the capacity of their restaurants since they are well and truly in high demand from people all over the capital and beyond. Nevertheless, I’m sure that they have established this problem. I for one will most certainly be back (Even if E+S can’t join me, sad face). For starters, I cannot wait to try out the other branches, have an Elvis shake take two and attempt to order something different! (I’m not sure how much will power I have for variety though). But what can I say? The eggs Benedict prophecy must be fulfilled sometime soon…

And most finally, it is just so cool how a pair of regulars turned out to be such great friends. I call Ellery and Sarah my Trans-Atlantic buddies now. I cannot believe that they are flying home tomorrow. The BC was the perfect way to say goodbye. Time has gone so quickly and I wish that they could start their 6 months here all over again! Nevertheless, I know that we will be seeing each other again soon!  Did somebody say Perth?! Tee-he. 

The Breakfast Club, Soho. 

Thanks for reading my review of the BC! I am absolutely PSYCHED that exam seasons are over. I have so much planned for summer and I cannot wait for it to all unravel over tealightsky! It is the greatest feeling to be able to invest time in the blog once again, exams are crazy. Thank God they are only so intense for such a short amount of time! 

What’s your experience with the BC?

Anyone know of any other well portioned and decently priced brunch places in London with lots of variety? Preferably with pancakes? (Pancakes constitute variety for me, but I encourage new suggestions too!) 

What kind of places do you like to eat out at most? 

Tash xo