10 Best Soups in Southeast Asia

In the midst of British summer time, I’m sat here dreaming of soup. But in Southeast Asia, soup isn’t reserved for cold nights, or when you’re feeling a little under-the-weather. It’s quite literally eaten morning, noon and night by the locals, and I ate as much of it as I could whilst I was travelling.

Here’s my round-up of the top 10 soups and broths I ate whilst backpacking, including links (where possible) so you can go try them out yourself!

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My Sydney Cheap Eats List

Food travel blog

This week I’m letting you in on the best (and cheapest) things I ate in Sydney.

I was visiting over Christmas 2016, and was at the beginning of a long backpacking trip; so being careful not to spend all my money. I was there for two weeks an whilst staying on-budget, I tried to get out to as many foodie hot spots as I could afford.

Sydney is an expensive city (£3 for one avocado?!) so all my ventures out were of the ‘cheap eats’ variety. Here’s my top five recommendations:

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Life after backpacking

I’ve been home for three weeks now, and after all the usual questions about which country I loved most, and did I have the time of my life (India/Thailand/Vietnam and YES), the other question people keep asking me is “how’s it been, adjusting back to ‘real life’?”

So I thought I’d share a post on how I feel about it all. But if you’re here for recipes or reviews, click the links!

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Five Of The Best Vegan Dishes in India

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Ahh, India. You beautiful, beautiful place. As part of my six months backpacking I spent a month in India earlier this year and it ended up being one of my favourite countries in the world (so far!)

It’s culture, vibrancy and colour just completely captivated me. And so did the food. I’ve always loved Indian food in Britain, but that of course is a whole different cuisine. Chicken tikka masala or lamb vindaloo are rarely or never actually eaten in India, so I was excited to see what new dishes I could discover.

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Five Reasons You Should Eat Like An Asian

When we think of Asian food, our minds likely conjure up images of our favourite Indian or Chinese dishes. Last year, Just Eat conducted a survey to find out the nation’s top takeaway dishes, and 6 out of the top 10 originated from Asian countries. But, the day-to-day Asian diet is much healthier than you may think. Compared to a Western diet, the daily eating routines in the East are said to ward off obesity and disease, but how? Here’s my top five ways Asian eating habits can make you healthier, just by making  a few simple switches… Continue reading “Five Reasons You Should Eat Like An Asian”

12 Reasons To Visit George Town

Ahh, Malaysia. A breath of fresh air after three rainy weeks in the Philippines. As soon as I landed I had a good feeling, mainly because of the good things I’d heard from family and friends. But, with so much on my travel agenda my time was fairly limited. From 18th January to the 2nd February I visited Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Langkawi.  Continue reading “12 Reasons To Visit George Town”

Best Places to Eat in Bali

I know I’ve kept you all in suspense and it’s taken me months to publish my first travel post. Truth is, I’ve been enjoying every minute and making the most of it; filling my time with eating, drinking, meeting new people and exploring new places. Southeast Asia really does offer some first-class ways to procrastinate.  Continue reading “Best Places to Eat in Bali”

Why I Quit My Job to Travel (and Eat)

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It’s 2:03 am on May bank holiday Monday, 2016. My best friend and I are locked in a gaze as she walks backwards, down the street, her eyes sparkling with tears but she is smiling. Beaming in fact. At this moment, I am not sure when I am actually going to see her again. But I focus on waving her off, putting on a brave face and trying not to get teary myself.  Continue reading “Why I Quit My Job to Travel (and Eat)”

A boozy, foodie weekend in Aberdeen

food and lifestyle blog

Last weekend I visited my good friend Annie in her new(ish) place of residence: Aberdeen. Probably my most well-travelled friend, Annie used to fly as Emirates cabin crew and be based out of Dubai, before falling in love with a Scotsman and making the move over to the granite city to settle. Though saying that, these pair love to travel, so I think they’ll try a few others places before they settle for good. Oh, and they’re getting married early next year.

So, it was my first time in Aberdeen, but not Scotland. I have previously visited Glasgow and really enjoyed it; the bars, live music, shopping, it was all fantastic. But with Aberdeen I wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s so far away, kind of out in the sticks, right? Hence my choosing to travel by plane, which was fantastic having saved so much time and effort… as seven hours on a train or in a car did not sound like my idea of fun!

I was told by a Scottish lady I was working with to ‘bring a coat’ to Aberdeen, so naturally I was expecting gale-force winds, torrential rain and freezing cold, almost Baltic conditions. There was, however, a timely torrential downpour, just as we left the flat to go to dinner on Saturday night. But, aside from that, the weather was G L O R I O U S. Yes, you read that right. G-l-o-r-i-o-u-s. ☀️☀️☀️

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Ice cream on the sea front

As soon as I touched down, as the weather was stunning, so we headed straight to the beach. Annie was keen to show me this side of Aberdeen, and it was best to get there sharpish in case it rained the rest of the long weekend. A refreshing breeze of clean, sharp sea air blasted us in the face as we strolled along the seafront. which was scattered with cafes a few popular chain restaurants and an old-school amusement park. The tide was in and the waves were crashing, but most people were steering clear of the sea and just taking in the views. It wouldn’t be a trip to the seaside without an ice cream; I tried Scottish tablet flavour, which was delicious. It’s like fudge but with a crumblier, more biscuit-like texture.

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After a good walk up and down the seafront, we headed back to the flat. Just five minutes drive from Aberdeen centre, their flat is really modern but with lots of home comforts. I stayed in their guest room, which was so beautifully decorated (Annie may have something to do with that!) and had full use of the bathroom, as they have an en suite. It felt like a hotel. We cracked open the pink Champagne, as we were, after all, celebrating Annie and Jamie’s engagement. So a toast and a catch up, and then to get ready for a night of food and drink.

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Saturday night eats in Aberdeen: Adelphi Kitchen

Planning ahead for my arrival, Jamie booked us into the gorgeous Adelphi Kitchen, a charcoal-cooked meat and seafood restaurant tucked away down a side-street off the main shopping road in the city. The place probably seated no more than 40 people, and was so warm and welcoming, clad from top to bottom in rustic wood with grey tartan covered seats. The specials were boldly displayed on a large blackboard that covered the entire right-hand wall; I saw immediately they served craft beers and dessert cocktails alongside exquisite sounding dishes…. I knew we were in for a treat.

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We ordered ourselves a beer whilst we read the menus and wine list. I persuaded Annie to try the Fierce brewery ginja ninja pale ale with me, and Jamie went for the granadilla guerrilla, both were exceptional. After concluding the menu was awesome, we decided to share two starters between us, as to maximise on options but save room for mains and afters too. We opted for the slow-rib beef mac n cheese: a stunningly creamy and flavourful pot of deliciousness packed with chunks of slow smoked beef short rib and topped with crispy shallots… AMAZING.

food and lifestyle blog

food and lifestyle blog

We also got the mussels; a little cauldron of creamy garlic West Coast mussels with the most amazing smoked bacon (Piggery Smokery Pepperback Fin Bacon, according to the menu) and cider sauce. Some of the best mussels I have ever eaten, and the sauce was so delicious I practically drank it from the pot. One happy lady.

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As for mains, I saw the Surf and Turf on the specials board and had to have it. The langoustines were so plump, veggies were all really fresh and beautiful and the fondant potato was fluffy in the middle (I hate it when they’re under cooked!) The hanger steak had so much flavour and was really well seasoned. It was little on the tough side but as a whole the dish was incredible. Annie had the ribeye steak which absolutely melted in the mouth, and Jamie’s venison dish was a delight too. Washed down with a bottle of red, we really were three content and merry bunnies at this point. But of course, there was room for cheese! Three glasses of port and a huge cheese board later, we were done. The service, cosy atmosphere and attention to detail of the menu in this place really did make me fall in love with it. Highly recommended if you find yourself in the area.

food and lifestyle blog

food and lifestyle blog

Hungover gin journey with Georgia

After our stunning meal at Adelphi Kitchen, we hit some bars, and typically, made some new friends. One lovely girl in particular, named Georgia, who we soon realised was as obsessed with food as I am. She also knew and awful lot about gin, thanks to her time working at No. 10 bar in Aberdeen’s west end.

She said we should come along to No. 10, to try some of the gins they have on offer, and as we were planning a trip there anyway making gin the focus just seemed like a no brainer. We headed there on Sunday afternoon, most other people winding down their weekends ready for work on Monday, whilst Annie and I sat smug on a table in the bar sipping gin like it was going out of fashion.

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At this point, I would like to say that Georgia makes a mean gin and tonic. She has a great ability to get the gin-ice-tonic balance just right, and served each gin with a dash of Fevertree tonic (my personal favourite).  We started with a handcrafted Scottish gin, Rock Rose, and tonic. This stuff is amazing, so delicate, you hardly need any tonic just plenty of ice. It doesn’t need a garnish either, just simply on the rocks to let the fuity, berryful botanicals speak for themselves.

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We tried five gins in total, including an elderflower one which was sweet and delicious. But there were two others that really stood out, both Edinburgh gins, the first their rhubarb and ginger liqueur which Georgia served a shot of in a glass of Prosecco (think modern take on the Kir Royale cocktail) which was absolutely divine. Gin connoisseurs: if you have not yet tried this combination, I URGE you to. And their raspberry liqueur gin topped with plain tonic; such a stunning, easy drink that managed to be tart and sweet at the same time. What an evening of gin, girlie chat and giggles with my bestie… A night to remember indeed ❤️

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Hangover part II: The Dirty Burger Fest

This might have been a two day hangover, but surprisingly we felt pretty good on Monday as the gins we drank we so clean that we managed to swerve the foggy-head type hangover. Instead, we were ready to tackle a day at the shops and, the one thing I had been hankering after all weekend; a big old dirty beef burger.

We had two options, Brew Dog or Boozy Cow, and after consulting Twitter we decided (with the help of some Scottish foodies) that Boozy Cow was the place to go.

When we arrived, the sun was BEAMING and there was space to sit outside. Being a Monday, it wasn’t overly busy, so we were seated straight away and ordered some beer and some water to help with the heat (yes, at this point it reached about 24 degrees!)

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The very enthusiastic waiter talked us through the menu and their ethos, Annie had been many times before, but for my benefit; no plates as they encourage you to eat with your hands, everything comes on a tray and is put in the middle of the table, to encourage sharing. They bring out a whole roll of kitchen paper, as it’s guaranteed to get messy… I could barely contain my excitement at this point.

Annie ordered the Dirty Chicken Burger, no tomato. A HUGE fried chicken fillet dipped in hot pepper gravy served with lettuce, pickled slaw and a slice of pineapple. Considering when I first met this girl, about five years ago, she was a vegetarian, who I have, over the years, encouraged to work meat back into her diet… I was amazed watching her literally demolish the burger and sides, no bother. Kinda like a proud mum moment. 😂

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I ordered the special Beef Stroganoff burger; a beef pattie topped with steak shavings, cheese, gherkins and a crumb-coated rice patty on top that was filled with homemade Stroganoff sauce. THE messiest burger I have ever eaten… But man, it was amazing.

We also shared the cheese skinnies (thin fries with spiced cheese, sweet onion and mustard) and their take on Popcorn Chicken (peanut butter chicken pieces, toffee popcorn and hot chili dip). Absolutely sensational – all of it. The Boozy Cow also specialise in boozy shakes too, which all sounded amazing, but we were just too full. They also give all profits to local charities in Scotland, which is so good to see. Catch them on Twitter here and if you’re ever in Aberdeen or Edinburgh, go see them!

Overall all you can see I was very pleasantly surprised with Aberdeen’s indie food and drink scene and can’t wait to go back to try more.

Where are your favourite foodie hotspots in Scotland? Or do you have a speciality gin you can recommend? Use the comments below, me and Annie would love to hear from you! xx

Weekend Away with Five Fitness Foodies

If you follow me on social media, you will know that a few weeks ago I went away with some of my girl-friends to West Yorkshire, where we rented a stunning cottage via AirBnb.

Not just any girls, however. I met these chicks on Twitter, via this very blog, and they’re all like-minded ladies who share my passion for food and fun and who have inspired me to love fitness and health too. So Pamela, Katie, Vicki, Sophia and I all packed our bags and travelled up the hills to a little village called Slaithwaite. We stayed in a stunning cottage named ‘Swallow’s Nest’ – a beautifully renovated stone cottage with stunning views across the green and hilly peaks, and a wonderful kitchen.

Here’s a little snippet of what we got up to…

Indulgence

As we arrived on Friday afternoon, we were in full holiday-mode having been to the local Aldi to stock up on essentials. I’d bought along some food items from my local deli to try, so for our evening meal we teamed them with all sorts of deliciousness: baked Brie and Camembert, fresh crusty bread, pesto olives, a chickpea and paprika hummous we whizzed up in the Nutri Bullet and loads more. The Noureni (Bulgarian) dip from the deli was amazing; roasted peppers, feta, nutmeg and almond oil topped with chilli flakes. And I picked up a little pot of Lebanese halloumi salad too which was delicious.

To drink, we made cocktails with Rose Diamond, gin and tonic garnished with fresh mint and strawberries.

We also indulged in some homemade baklava from the deli (Park Lane Deli, Sandbach) which I took along with me for the girls to try as a treat. The traditional nut baklava was our favourite and washed down with the sharp rose water gin & tonic it was actually a match made in heaven.

Fitness (yes, you read that right)

I don’t usually exercise on holiday. Last year, in Tunisia I did the odd bit of yoga and stretching, which I must admit felt great. I always try to swim as much as possible when on a beach/pool holiday, but let’s face it: hols are about relaxation and indulgence for the most part which of course, means eating and drinking waaaay too much.

But on this getaway with the girls, we incorporated outdoor, active and fun workouts that we did together each day and boy oh boy, did it feel GOOD! It also meant feeling less guilty for over-indulging in food and drink, and, that we took in our stunning surroundings more. Win win win.

We did a biiiig hike around the hills, town, reservoir and woodlands which was fantastic. I really do love a good ramble.

One morning we got up early for an outdoor 30 minute HIIT session before breakfast; involving things like sumo squats, lunges and hill sprints. Fuelled by coffee, this intense workout was enough to energise us for the day. It also gave our metabolism a kick-up-the-arse meaning we could scoff more scran without the guilt. Which is, in all honestly, the main reason why I exercise.

We were also lucky enough to be invited to a local gym, to do a Les Mills “Body Balance” class; a mixture between yoga, tai chi and pilates. It was complimentary, as their manager came across on us on Twitter and saw we were in the area, which was awfully kind of him to reach out. All hail the mighty power of Twitter.

To refuel ourselves after our workouts, we made protein smoothies and brunch of smoked salmon, poached eggs, spinach and kale with chili flakes and smashed avocado with lime juice and sumac. Heavenly.

Eating Out

Of course, it wouldn’t be a holiday without exploring and getting booked into some of the local eateries. We discovered a cute little cafe called Vanilla Bean, had some lovely coffees there and realised they also served tapas style evening meals. The menu was full of gorgeous things like homemade falafel, deli boards, cicchetti, pizza and pasta. We booked in for the Saturday night and literally had a feast: a mixed deli board to start with fresh buffalo mozzerla, the finest quality Italian meats, delicious olives and balsamic dressed salad.

Then we went all-out and got a great selection of their cicchetti (Italian small plates) and shared them between us. We had everything from roast vegetables with goats cheese and breadcrumbs, king prawns with garlic butter, spicy chorizo sausage, Cajun French fries, chicken skewers and mixed salads. It was a truly delicious Mediterranean style feast and it really made us feel like we were somewhere a little more exotic.

Healthy Treats

It wouldn’t be a holiday with these girls if there wasn’t some truly delicious healthy treats involved too.

As planned, Spamellab donned her healthy baking apron and rustled up some delicious, healthy, dairy-free chocolate cookies topped with a nut butter drizzle made by Sophia. Unbelievable! Just look at them!

Being outdoorsy

As well as our outdoor HIIT session and a full-in ramble we also did a 5k run around the local town and hill sprints next to the cottage.

Being outdoors so much really made me feel nostalgic.  I love exploring, it reminds me of when I was younger, when my little sister, brother and  I would go on adventures in the Welsh countryside whilst on holiday at my Nan’s caravan.

Exploring the local area and discovering things like Vanilla Bean café, the most amazing green grocers and taking in some of the best views I’ve seen in the UK really was a lot of fun. It’s times like this I really appreciate the UK and what it has to offer.

All in all the great company, location, consciousness to achieve balance and food made this a weekend to remember.

It’s so easy to over-indulge and get lost in drinking and eating: and I like nothing more than these two things, trust me. But, this weekend really showed me how easy it is to also strike a balance and make the most of your surroundings to stay feeling great.

The girls and I are planning some more trips in the future, so if you want to sign up for updates you can do so on the sidebar above, just under my profile picture. Or, give us all a follow on Twitter, using links at the top of the post. ❤️