miss b's quote

'I haven't been everywhere yet but it's on my list' Susan Sontag

Monday, 23 December 2013

miss b loves ...... festive decorations, classic, modern and quirky too!

Decorating for Christmas is all part of the festivities and this year like last, the lounge has a classic deep red and gold theme .........

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

miss b loves .........almond and mincemeat tarts

The fruity mince pie is a classic component of a British Christmas. Supermarket shelves are stacked high with boxes of six ready-made ones but nothing beats home-made. Last week I came across a recipe for almond and mincemeat tarts which a friend passed on to me a few years ago. A variation on the traditional mince pie... almond and mincemeat is such a delicious combination........

Thursday, 12 December 2013

miss b loves....London..... all dressed up for Christmas.

I'm so fortunate to live just two hours by train from London and December is always a special time to visit. My two day trip last week certainly put me in a festive mood.....and I managed to fit in some Christmas shopping and a stroll around the V&A museum too!

This year the Oxford Street lights were inspired by falling snowflakes and there are apparently 1778 baubles twinkling above the mile-long shopping street .......

A huge sign outside Selfridges reminds everyone that the festive season has arrived!

The Selfridges windows theme, 'The Wish List' featured oversized gifts in snowy landscapes including this enormous Charlotte Olympia shoe.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

miss b loves ........Peggy Porschen's festive treats and some stylish decorations.

I'm just back home after spending a couple of days in London ......amazing Christmas lights, exquisite and creative window displays....a visit to the V&A 'Pearls' exhibition and ......Christmas shopping (of course!)

I knew there would be plenty of festive sweet treats at Peggy Porschen's boutique bakery and I couldn't resist a visit before starting my shopping ........ 

The windows had been hand-painted with cute festive scenes and characters.......

.... and inside, as expected, there were some very special cupcakes .....

Festive Chocolate, Red Velvet Snowman,
 Sticky  Toffee, Festive Vanilla,  Sugar Plum

.....and what did I choose?......

Thursday, 28 November 2013

miss b loves ........a weekend in Wales with a French twist (Part 2)

Our Sunday in Montgomery, Wales began well with the most delicious Welsh breakfast served with homemade toasted brioche .....

The dining room at The Checkers is elegant and comfortable ...

...... with more French touches, another reminder that the chef proprietor Stéphane Borie is originally from France ..........

The staff are so helpful and recommended a walk up to the Montgomery Monument where we were rewarded with a stunning 360 degree panorama, gorgeous autumn colours and a rainbow!

The monument commemorates people from Montgomeryshire who have died during all past wars. It was built originally to honour those killed in the First World War but has since been rededicated.  

Back in the town, we were ready for a second visit to the Castle kitchen to try the famous Welsh bara brith ... delicious with or without butter!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

miss b loves.........a weekend in Wales with a French twist!( Part 1)

A weekend in Montgomery, Wales ..... with a French twist, was the perfect way to celebrate our wedding anniversary a couple of weeks ago.

Montgomery is steeped in history having been fought over in the past by the English and the Welsh. Close to the Shropshire border, it's a picturesque Georgian town which has retained an unspoilt feel. 

The imposing Town Hall  dates from the 18th century.

We were initially attracted to Montgomery as it is home to The Checkers, one of only three Michelin starred restaurants in Wales. It's run by  'The Frenchman and the Farmers' Daughters'

'The Frenchman', Chef Proprietor, Stéphane Borie trained and worked with Michel Roux at the Waterside Inn for seven years, later moving to Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons.

Sarah and Kathryn are 'The Farmers' Daughters' and grew up on a dairy farm. Sarah, also an accomplished chef and Stéphane's partner, met at the Waterside Inn where she was the first woman to work on all sections. Kathryn runs front of house and shares their love of good food.

This is a 'restaurant with rooms' ....just five with French names rather than numbers and we had chosen Le Petit Jardin... so tastefully decorated.

Fresh ground coffee, home-made cookies and L'Occitane toiletries were a welcome touch too.....

It was time for a stroll around the town ....

Thursday, 14 November 2013

miss b loves..........comfort food ......spicy carrot and coriander soup.

It's so cold and wet here that we need all the help we can get to keep warm and this spicy carrot soup is the perfect comfort food. It's from another recipe leaflet I picked up last year while shopping at Sainsbury's.


1tbsp olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
pinch ground cumin
pinch crushed chillies
1.25 litres vegetable or chicken stock (I used just less than 1 litre for a thicker consistency) 
500g carrots peeled and roughly chopped
1tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves plus a few sprigs to garnish
20g vegetable crisps, to garnish

1. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and cook for 3-5 mins, until softened.

2. Add the cumin and crushed chillies and cook, stirring for a further 1 min. 

3. Add the stock and carrots, bring to the boil, then simmer for about 15 mins, or until the carrots are tender.

4. Transfer the soup to a blender and whizz until smooth. Stir through the chopped coriander, then ladle the soup into serving bowls. Sprinkle on some freshly ground black pepper and garnish with the extra coriander leaves and the vegetable crisps. 

I served it with chunky slices of walnut bread (not home-made but still delicious!)  

PS Above is the traditional method but I made it the easy way with our soup maker. I love my kitchen gadgets but this one is definitely one of the most useful. It sautés, cooks, simmers, blends and the best part ...... there's no pan to watch over ...... and it stays hot until needed.  

I'm definitely ready to experiment this winter making more warming soups using different flavour combinations .......let me know if you have any suggestions! 

Thursday, 7 November 2013

miss b loves ....... Doha, Qatar, a city of contrasts (Part 2)

After our stroll along the Corniche, the fascinating tour of The Museum of Islamic Art and lunch with a spectacular view, we made our way to Souq Waqif (You can read Part 1 of our Doha trip here)

 Souk Waqif literally means standing market ...... With the threat of floods from the sea, many traders in the past would conduct their business standing and sometimes they would be in water up to their ankles! There's been a market on this site for 250 years and it's where the Bedouin gathered to trade sheep and goats for essential items. In 2004 the area was restored without losing its unique character.

This is very much a souk for locals too with everything on sale from pots and pans to gorgeous fabric, toys and pets!

There's no hard-sell here. The souk has a relaxed, friendly feel and I was mesmerised by the vibrant colours .......

and the vast array of goods on sale .......

Traditional coffee pots 
and brass-studded chests

The police on horseback looked so dapper ....

Thursday, 31 October 2013

miss b loves ....... Doha, Qatar, a city of contrasts (Part 1)

Having read about the rapidly developing city of Doha, the capital of Qatar,  we decided to take a closer look as it's just a one hour flight from Dubai so ...... during our recent week in Dubai we headed over there ......

Qatar  is a constitutional monarchy ruled by the Al Thani family since the 19th century and it tops the list of the world's richest countries per capita by Forbes.

Urban development is more restrained than Dubai but it's an ambitious country and is due to host the 2022 World Cup. 

It's a fascinating, contradictory place with both traditional culture and futuristic buildings. The iconic Doha Tower (Burj Doha) was designed by renowned French architect Jean Nouvel ...... 

....and the beautiful, intricate façade was inspired by ancient Islamic screens .......

A quick tour of the Msheireb Enrichment Centre was a good starting point and gave us an insight into the history of Qatar ....

.......and its plans for the future. It's impressive that they are keen to retain their culture and traditions whilst at the same time embracing the modern world.

Wherever we went we received a warm welcome and as we strolled along the Corniche everyone we passed either greeted us with a 'Good Morning' or a wave!

Along this sweeping promenade with its palm trees and manicured lawns there are outdoor gyms ...

Now that's what I call a gym with a view!

Along the Corniche, walls are covered in colourful mosaics which depict Qatar's history, traditions and wildlife........

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