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Friday, 29 May 2015

A day of pampering and pomp at Re:SPA

Once upon a time, before I discovered the haphazard joys of blogging, freelance journalism and erratic pay packets, I worked as a suited and high-heeled PA in the charismatic corporate bubble of Canary Wharf.

I would trail the designer brand-strewn underground shopping complex during my lunch breaks, contemplating the meaning of life and debating whether it would actually be ok for my mercury levels to consume my fourth Itsu sushi lunch that week.

On one of these contemplative lunch hours, I came across the brand spanking new Reebok Sports Club and decided to take a cheeky gander inside.

I was impressed with the massive climbing wall at the reception area (I'm a bit of a climber me) and completely besotted with the inviting Re:SPA - a pristine pampering paradise emanating with the scent of lavender and rose, beckoning the weary, overworked women of the Square Mile.

I knew one day the time would come when I would return to indulge in this magical place...and indulge I did many years later when I was very kindly invited to spend a day sampling the wares and services of this splendid sporty establishment. 

Not being one to enjoy lonesome indulgences, I was accompanied by my fellow pleasure-seeking buddy Kambiz who arrived determined and bright eyed, optimistically clutching a gym bag filled with appropriate sporty attire with the innocent intention of a full day of hardcore gym frolicking.

Sadly, Kambiz's wholesome plan was foiled after necking a couple of alcoholic beverages and gorging on carby delicacies with me in the club's bustling restaurant - The Pearson Room.



Sweet jesus!

Unlike my good friend's naughty (yet delicious) choice of tagliolini with parmesan and porcini mushrooms, I opted for an ethereal seared tuna and raw spinach salad - although my 'clean eating' induced smugness soon evaporated as I heartily nommed the above chocolate pudding to oblivion, whilst enjoying the skyscraper-lined view in front of me.

Look, its Dave from accounts!

We then rolled ourselves out of the restaurant. Kambiz heading off to work out at the gym (aka lounge about in the steam room), whist I made my way to a luxurious treatment room in the spa for my Aromatherapy Associates Relaxation Massage.

I cannot begin to express how incredible this treatment was. The expert strokes of the therapist combined with the soul-soothing scent of the essential oils lulled me into a deep state of tranquility.


Fancy a good scrub down?
After this blissful experience, I made my way into the chic mani/pedi area where I was treated to an equally relaxing pedicure - complete with a decadent foot soak in essential oil-infused warm water and soothing massage that almost sent me straight to the land of nod.

My day of pampering came to a merry end after a perfect baby pink gel manicure, designed to complement my burgeoning tan and last for two weeks (and I'm glad to report that it did).



The best gel mani in the world maybeh?

I would recommend the Re:SPA, Reebok Sports Club and The Pearson Restaurant to all who crave a much needed dose of lunchtime (or after work) pampering. The good men and women of the city tend to forget to relax and treat themselves when drowning in deadlines and rushing from meeting to meeting like deranged workhorses.

One of my main observations during my frenzied foray in the corporate world was that so many people would neglect their own well-being in order to climb the career ladder and please their bosses. As the great saying goes, "we should work to live, not live to work."

Maybe I have taken this saying slightly too far though..... 




Friday, 15 May 2015

Barmy about Balans Soho Society

There. I said it. Not only am I barmy. I'm barmy about Balans Soho Society.

I recall many long London nights of my yoot ending in a fabulous foodie finale at good old Balans in Soho. Their American-style fluffy pancakes and sizzling steaks would beckon my weary self after eventful evenings in the capital.

Oh how I would gorge on fine meaty succulence and tantalising puddings whilst surrounded by the camp flirty shenanigans around me, swept up in an oblivious haze of gastronomic glory.

When I was recently invited to pay a little visit to the newly opened Balans in Westfield Shopping Centre (Westsiiiiide of course), I yelped with the kind of glee one only really reserves for exciting food-related ventures.

I arrived with a fellow appreciator of fine foods and an empty tum. We marvelled at the alfresco set up of this brand spanking new eatery and nestled ourselves at one of the outdoor tables before scanning the tempting menu before us.

We started with a couple of refreshing cocktails before a plate of chargrilled yellowfin tuna steak arrived before us. This was followed by a dish of golden-hued quesedillia - oozing with cheddar cheese and mango salsa - lavishly presented alongside generous slices of avocado.

Go on...take a slurp

This made me happy because in my book, avocado makes errrrrything better...

The duck spring rolls with picked cucumber were perfectly crisp and slightly addictive, whilst the deep fried calamari evoked memories of balmy (and slightly barmy I suppose) Mediterranean holidays by the sea.

A multi coloured mass of sliced heritage tomatoes then arrived, pleasingly drenched in balsamic vinegar, bearing the hefty weight of a large mound of Burrata - adorned with fragrant basil leaves.

We are ere to please your belleh
With rapidly expanding waistlines and the looming possibility of a food coma to end all food comas, we debated whether we really needed to order a pudding, before deciding to order one anyway. For research purposes of course.

To nom or not to nom? That is the question.

In hommage to my late night Soho feasts of years ago, we ordered the pancakes. They came drizzled in maple syrup and lovingly decorated with a merry multitude of berries, yet sadly minus the camp flirty shenanigans. 

The Verdict: Summer-perfect alfresco venue with gorgeous food, friendly staff and ridiculously close proximity to oodles of your favourite shops. What more could a girl want?




Friday, 1 May 2015

Soulmate Food - Review


As much as I blather on about the importance of eating a healthy diet composed of wholesome, unprocessed foods, there are times when I‘m drowning in a hectic hubbub of phone calls, emails, deadlines and general faff, so can’t find the time to slave over a hot stove, or a chopping board for that matter.

London life can be ludicrously hectic at times. We often find ourselves pushing back lunch breaks and skipping breakfasts – leading to poor health and low productivity levels.

We’re told by smug ‘fitfam’ Instagramers that clever food prep is the way to go to achieve a nutritious week at work. This inspires a rampant tupperwear shopping spree, with the good intention of cooking and freezing kale-based concoctions on a Sunday - but seriously though…..


You know what she's talking about...

This is why Soulmate Food is officially my beloved foodie savior.

Just before I was due to embark on a particularly busy fortnight in the office, this beyond perfect food delivery service very kindly sent me two week’s worth of nutrient-dense breakfasts, lunches and dinners - plus two portions of guilt-free snacks per day.







DO I ?!

I had heard that this splendid company supplied meals to the X Factor house and had an array of celebrity fans and so was intrigued to sample their wholesome wares myself.

All dishes at Soulmate Food are lovingly made from scratch, nutritionally balanced, free from artificial anything, and most importantly, taste as though your mamma made them – if your mamma happens to be an experienced, health-concious, chef that is....

They conveniently deliver on Mondays and Wednesdays, to your work or home address. The food comes delightfully labeled in handy tupperwear containers and is a true joy to unpack – like Christmas Day for the gloriously gastronomically-minded (me).

Soulmate food create a massive variety of meal packages for various needs, including plans for weight loss, vegan/vegetarian living, paleo devotees and post natal women. There's even a special pre wedding plan to help you fit into your perfect dress and "enhance your natural glow" for the big day.

I cannot express how life changing my Soulmate Food weeks were. Yes, some people may scoff at the price (week-long all-day meal plans start from £99 and lunch-only plans from £60) yet if you care about your health and don’t mind making sacrifices in other areas of your life (maybe cutting down on those naughty after work pints/pies), its definitely worth the expense.







I was sent a 7 day vegetarian plan and then a 'maintenance plan' (to maintain current weight and eat 'clean') the following week. Being a ridiculously fussy eater, I was surprised to find that I adored everything I tasted.

Below is a menu (with ingredients) from my first day on the vegetarian plan:


Breakfast
Green Coconut Smoothie: Flaxseed, Papaya, Spirulina, Chia Seeds, Coconut Water, Baby Spinach, Water, Pear

AM Snack
Alkalising Grapefruit Pot: Grapefruit, Pink Grapefruit

Lunch
Italian Salad with Cashew & Parsley Pesto Dressing: Italian Dry Rub, Cherry Tomato, Rocket, Chives, Cashews, Halloumi, Artichoke, Yellow Cherry Tomato, Red Chard, Olive Oil, Garlic, Parsley

PM Snack
Lemon, Cinnamon, Chilli & Ginger Juice: Cinnamon, Chilli, Ginger, Lemon Juice, Apple Juice

Dinner
Chargrilled Mediterranean Vegetables with Tahini Dressing: Red Onion, Yellow Peppers, Red Peppers, Courgettes, Aubergine, Cherry Tomato, Sunblush Tomatoes, Artichoke, Rocket, Pine Nuts, Parsley, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Lemon Zest, Chervil, Tahini, Sesame Seed Oil, White Wine Vinegar, Garlic


And here be a day long meaty menu from my maintenance plan:


Breakfast
Herbed Mediterranean Frittata: Vegetable Oil, Tarragon, Tomato Ketchup, Shallot, Chives, Egg, Red Onion, Parsley, Basil, Cherry Tomato, Black Olive

AM Snack
Vitality Smoothie: Pineapple, Banana, Coconut

Lunch
Za'atar Chicken with Cranberry Tabbouleh: Paprika, Cumin, Chicken Fillet, Sumac, Oregano, Thyme, Chickpeas, Bulgar Wheat, Lemon Zest, Edamame, Dried Cranberries, Red Onion, Butternut Squash, Cherry Tomato, Cucumber, Mint, Parsley, Cinnamon, Hummus, Harissa Paste

PM Snack
Chilli & Rosemary Spiced Nuts & Seeds: Rosemary, Peanut, Cashews, Pecan, Brazil Nuts, Chilli Powder, Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds

Dinner
BBQ Beef Tortilla: Beef, BBQ Rub, Garlic, Fajita Seasoning, Tomatoes, Basil, Onion, Red Peppers, Red Onion, Tortilla Wholemeal, Cheddar Cheese, Chilli, Coriander


As mournful as I felt finishing off my last morsel of Soulmate Food, at the end of the fortnight my energy levels were higher, my skin looked clearer and I was basking in the smug satisfaction one only gets from a massively productive week at work.

Me looking smug after an angelic fortnight of fine foods

My verdict: If you're too busy/lazy/fabulous to cook health-enhancing, taste bud-tantalising food, I advise you put down the generic pies and give this God-send of a foodie company a call....or a sneaky browse when your boss isn't looking.