Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Brunching at Beagle

Hoxton has been my new neighbourhood  for a few months now and I have grown to love the area more than ever. Whether it is the  dangerously close proximity to Dalston ( causing a few hangovers along the way)  or Broadway and Columbia road flower market being just around the corner and offering the perfect walks for weekend afternoons, I have rarely left the area on my weekends off. I have also been exploring the culinary options near me and have made some great local discoveries. Though I am only slowly persuading my inner fussy foodie to trial the famous Vietnamese establishments literally outside my front door ( Viet Grill and Song Que are known to do some of the best Vietnamese in the capital) and have enjoyed the occasional and very good takeaway pizza from hole in the wall Sicilian pizzeria Due Sardi, my favourite food discovery so far has been Beagle bang next to Hoxton overground station. 

I had passed it a felt hundreds of times on my daily walk ( or more often than not run) to the station and had been increasingly intrigued by its location in the converted arches of the overground bridge and always bustling atmosphere inside . While the dinner  menu is a little pricey their brunch not only offered great sounding options but was also very reasonably priced ( mains hovering around the £10 mark) and being two minutes from my house was too enticing to not try after managing to crawl out of bed on a Sunday morning. The interior is simple, slightly industrial with exposed bricks and open kitchen and light flooded and gives Beagle an instantly welcoming feel. Service is also friendly and informative. I always value menu advice on a first visit and prompted by my waitress's words of recommendation went for a savoury rather than my usual sweet option, a wise move as what was served up not only looked cookbook worthy but also tasted exceptionally good. 

That is the thing at Beagle their mains may sound simple on paper, think cinnamon French toast with berries and creme fraiche or in my case mushrooms on brioche with poached eggs and hollandaise but what is served up is far from it and highlights the skills of the kitchen that can easily justify the higher dinner prices. Flavours are on point, the brioche generously spread with an onion jam flavoured  with a punchy yet subtle hint of wine, topped with juicy mushroom, a hollandaise to challenge the best and finished off with that illusive perfect poached egg. I was oohing and ahhing the whole way through, something that with my long career in brunching doesn't happen all that often. Everything that passed our table looked equally enticing and as I am a stones throw away has seen me already plan return trips to sample the French toast ( thickly crusted with cinnamon and sugar) or granola with honey poached figs and pistachios if in a more healthy mood. Not that Beagle is simply a choice of convenience- it's confident, flavourful food in a grown up yet laid back environment and worth a journey. It's a real gem that I am lucky enough to call my local brunch place.



Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Monochrome

Jumper / Zara
Skirt / Warehouse
Shoes / Miss Selfridge
Bag / Zatchel

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Nikes & Stripes

Beanie / Zara
Jacket / H&M
Top / Chinti & Parker
Skirt / & Other Stories
Trainers / Nike 

Monday, 21 October 2013

My Brief Affair With Tinder

It's a sad yet true fact that 70% of young Londoners are single. Bearing this in mind it is rather unsurprising how successful the Tinder app has become  in the last few months, spreading like a wildfire around the capital and beyond. In fact most if not all of my friends, bizarrely whether in a relationship or not,  are swiping their way across hundreds of faces a day trying to find their "match". If you aren't acquainted with tinder already it's premise is simple. Download it to your smartphone, link it to your Facebook profile ( and don't worry no one on your actual Facebook will know) and pick 5 photos most representative and no doubt flattering of you. You can then set a distance ratio around you, say three miles and with a bit of tinder magic you will be shown all possible matches in your area. On top of the immediate visual impression from the pictures you are also shown shared interest ( anything from music, films or bars) and mutual friends. You can either swipe them to the left indicating a big fat NO or to the right and if they have done the same to you a match is made and you can start chatting to them. 
This all sounds fun yet I for one deleted Tinder after a week or so. Why? There are several reasons.
Of course you can never be sure of peoples intentions for being on there, many like me and my friends that have downloaded it no doubt did so for the novelty, out of curiosity and for the public transport entertainment it provides. However some will be in it for one thing and one thing only which is fair enough for them yet takes on a decisively darker tone when their profile shots show them with wives, at their own wedding (!) or with their children.
What upsets me more however about this tinder craze is that it further encourages an  investment  into  an online persona rather than our real and none virtual one. With the right pictures, the right likes and the right area you can almost pre-empt who will "like" you. All decisions indeed are based on the most superficial of factors, a sort of human trumps game where we take the snap judgements we may make when meeting a guy in a club and magnify them by ten in the safe environment we are in when swiping away all these probably perfectly nice people. Paradoxically we tend to condone online bullying yet in the Tinder world we become more shallow and indeed mean than we would ever be in the real world without bating an eyelash. Of course many would argue  they would never seriously date anyone that they match and talk to but what is the point of Tinder then?
Instead of meeting real people in real life we are holding pointless conversation with people that like the same burger place than us or happen to wear cool trainers in one of their snaps. Meeting someone is meant to be about chemistry and though I in no way say online dating is wrong tinder is symptomatic of a generation that is too busy to socialise outside their packed weekends yet still yearn not only for attention from the opposite sex and validation in their looks and taste but also  for a boyfriend or girlfriend that ticks all the boxes,  incapable of compromising  and as result more than willing to swipe you to the left at the smallest of faults. 
I would recommend downloading tinder to anyone just to see what all the fuss is about but for me it was not only the many former dates, friends with girlfriends and a worrying amount of lads on the beach with their tops off and men with small animals that made me delete it. If anything Tinder made me sad about the lack of trust we have in fate when it comes to finding romance these days and highlighted  how preoccupied we have become with being an all round presentable and successful online representation of ourselves. For me tinder hasn't destroyed romance quite but it definitely hasn't replaced it either. 

Friday, 18 October 2013

Collared

Dress / Minju Kim for H&M
Clutch / Monki

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Minju Kim For H&M

I was lucky enough to be invited to the H&M showroom last week to try on some pieces from Minju Kim's debut collection that is launching in stores this thursday. With the campaign themed around the idea of best friends I couldn't help but take my very own best friend Abigail to try on some pieces too! She has been with me through the best and the worst of times so it was great to see what outfits we could create with the collection.
 Kim won H&M's annual young designer competition whilst studying fashion design in Antwerp and I can definitely see why. Taking inspiration from her native South Korea with subtle nods to Asian design tradition whilst sticking to a pastel colour palette and hints of neon to give it a modern edge, it is a great debut for the designer full of statement pieces that I can't wait to style ( keep your eyes peeled for an outfit post tomorrow featuring the dress). Now it's your chance to get your very own part of the collection. Simply tell me how you style the leather collar as shown above and drop me an email at stellalexandra@aol.com and be in with the chance to win 1 of 4 of collars! Competition ends next Wednesday 23rd October! Good Luck!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Gem Stones

Hat / Topshop
Earrings / Topshop
Top / Monki
Skirt / Topshop
Shoes / ASOS

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Voodoo Ray's

For me there is not much in life that is better than a good slice of pizza or a great cocktail which is why I was almost guaranteed to love Voodoo Ray's. Why? Well at Voodoo Ray's in a strike of culinary genius they have combined the two to create one of my favourite late night haunts in London. That is not only because of its convenient location a few doors up from Dalston Kingsland Station and thus the perfect place to begin a night of dancing with drinks and those all  important carbs to line the stomach with enough space take a big group of friends along. No, it is also because they really know their stuff when it comes to food and drink. Of course one could quite easily assume Voodoo Ray's is more style than substance with its neon signs, barren walls and hip hop playlist, but the pizza that is served here by the slice is fresh, tasty and extremely good value for money with slices  around the £3 or £4 mark. 
Toppings mix the traditional with the innovative ( bacon dust anyone?) and are baked right in front of your eyes in one of their ovens. My favourite is the Green + White, an irresistible combination of ricotta, spinach, pints, grana padano and mozzarella that has  become an almost  essential part of any night in Dalston. Cocktails are equally great, with anything from their fantastic Amaretto Sour ( and I am an expert as its my favourite cocktail), to their frozen margharitas or Bloody Maria, their take on a bloody Mary, all well made, cheap and are real joy to sip on whilst you wait for your pizza to be delivered to your table on one of their paper plates  in real NY pizza style. Voodoo Ray's is one of those places you want to introduce all your friends to and spend hours drinking, eating and catching up at. It wins you over with it's good food, good drinks and complete lack of pretentiousness ( which in this part of town can sometimes be a bit of an issue) so don't be surprised to find me here, for better or for worse, for many more Friday and Saturday nights to come! 


Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Flower Duo


Beanie / Topshop
Dress/ Topshop boutique
Shoes / Russell & Bromley

Monday, 7 October 2013

Music Televised


Jumpsuit / Topshop Unique
Jumper / Topman
Shoes / Russell & Bromley

Sunday, 6 October 2013

1 Year On.


Anniversaries are great and something we look forward to if they are celebrating and commemorating a happy occasion. However annivessaries of a more somber nature are, as I have been finding out in the last few days, a lot harder to deal with. On the 17th October it will have been a year since I received a phone call after my 9 am lecture on Catherine the Great  that my dad had died from a heart attack during the night, two days after his 56th birthday.  In the year that has past I have become an adult, graduated from university, found a job I love and have managed to become near completely self reliant. It sounds easy on paper and in my stubbornness I have powered through it, my ambiton and determination to succeed edging me on. Of course it hasn’t been that simple. From one minute to the next the structure of a normal family that as much as I had issues with my father ( and there were no doubt many) at once disappeared. I had to find a job after university because I could no longer fall back on parental monetary support. I had to quickly learn how to deal with adult responsibilities because I could no longer pass these annoying little tasks on to anyone but myself.
In a way I was lucky to have made a life for me in London already. Indeed one of the main struggles was not about me but about witnessing my mother essentially loose her purpose in life. Coming from a generation that was only ever meant to be a housewife she was plunged into a lonely, dark and lost place that she is still struggling to find her way out of. We are so used to being the child in the relationship with our parents no matter what age that it was extremely hard for me to suddenly having to be a parent like figure in terms of emotional support and reason to her whilst of course also dealing with the turbulences of deciding on and setting off on the rest of my life after the end of university. Seeing someone that you love so much confused and volatile to the point where there seems to be no solution but to let them make their own mistakes and not knowing when and how she will be happy again has been heartbreaking. I have had great friends that have become like my family and that have offered me the support and also fun to keep  me a slightly more sane and balanced person but there are always moments of worry and uncertainty of the remainders of what was once my family which cannot be fixed that I don’t wish upon anyone.
October is going to be hard month for me. A month were snippets of this Wednesday morning will return, where I will consider if I have made my dad in some way proud with the grown up life i have made for myself and where I will think about my mother even though right now I can do no more than love her and hope she will be a complete person one day again. Maybe this first anniversary will be the hardest but maybe it is good for me to actually let the memory make me  terribly sad that one time a year. A human life is precious with all its flaws and when ended to soon can’t just be forgotten. The family I had may be gone forever but will always be part of me in some way and October will remind me of this each and every year. 

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Taj Mahal

Dress / Charlotte Taylor
Earrings / Ottoman Hands
Shoes / Kat Maconie

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