Falko Konditormeister, Gullane

IMAG0723My boyfriend and I had a a weekend through on the East Coast recently, and we may have made a pilgrimage to bakery Falko Konditormeister on both the Saturday and Sunday mornings…whoops. Falko Konditormesiter is owned an run by German master pastry chef Falko Burkert (konditormesiter means the highest state qualification for a pastry chef in Germany). The Falko story began in 2005 with a mega-successful stall at Edinburgh’s Farmer’s Market, followed by a cafe in Bruntsfield, then finally the Gullane branch.

First of all – the surroundings. The café is in a lovely sandstone corner shop, and, with its dark wood paneling and log fire, is the perfect place to wile away a winter hour or two.

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A slice of the the Schwarzwälderkirschtorte (black forest gateau), and the Schokoladentrüffeltorte, with a hot chocolate!

We started off with the Schwarzwälderkirschtorte (black forest gateau), and the Schokoladentrüffeltorte  (chocolate trufflecream gâteau). I also ordered one of their specialty teas, opting for a pot of refreshing lemon, while Ian upped the treat ante with a hot chocolate.

Both cakes were delicious, and far lighter than looking at them would suggest. The only slight criticism I had was that I would’ve liked a more pronounced cherry flavour in the schwarzwälderkirschtorte, but that’s a personal taste thing. 

We also bought two further cakes to take away – the Opera Torte, and the Schoko-Orangen-Kuchen (chocolate orange tart). The Opera Cake has similar flavours to a tiramisu, but with a much firmer texture. The boyfriend fell in love with the chocolate orange tart, with its strong rich flavours and rich thick ganache. I have to say, although our earlier cakes were good, these really knocked our socks off – rich, though not cloying – the opera cake was beautiful to look at with perfectly balanced layers while the tart had a deep, bitter ganache and fantastic, light pastry.

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Orangen-Kuchen and the Opera Cake for afters!

In terms of cost, you are talking around £4 per item – not cheap in itself, but compared to the dried up husks you so often find in cafes, the quality is incomparable. I have seen some comments around about the quality of service (surly staff, orders having to be repeated…) but I didn’t experience that myself – our waiters were friendly, if not overly so, and everything arrived as swiftly as it was ordered. 

The next day we decided we couldn’t resist and had to have one last visit while still through in the east, and ordered the pancakes with honey roast banana and bacon. The bananas had a slight hint of curry flavours, which sounds unusual to a British palette, but I think fruit and curry are a fairly common pairing on the continent, and they do work together well.

For me, both branches of Falko, but particularly the Gullane branch, are really special places to visit – the quality of the cakes and tarts can’t be faulted, and curling up next to the log fire with a pot of tea and a treat feel so luxurious.

ETA: Since I initially started drafting this post, we’ve been back yet again, this time taking friends and their toddler. Due to being with friends, I didn’t take any photos, but I can heartily recommend the black pudding and goats’ cheese open sandwiches we had!

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Bread Meats Bread Launch Party and Review

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I was recently tweeted by Bread Meats Bread, asking if I’d like to attend their launch party – well, seeing as the boyfriend and I are massive fans of that kind of American style nosh, it would’ve been rude to say no!

Now, we’re not particularly au fait with launch parties and the likes, so weren’t entirely sure what to expect – we rolled up on a chilly Tuesday night at their new premises on St Vincent Street and were greeted with a lovely glass of prosecco to kick off proceedings.

We grabbed a window seat, and took in the surroundings – I really like the décor (I’m a big fan of a stripped brick wall) and the wooden benches also had cute little display areas at the bottom, which was a nice quirk.

Shortly after we sat down, the lovely waitress started bringing us little baskets of food, sampling plenty of options form the menu and she kindly didn’t stop until we were so stuffed we practically rolled off our seats and on to the floor. 

First up was a duo of burgers – the black and blue, and a classic black. I’m not a great fan of blue cheese, but this was a fairly mild one and did compliment the charred flavour of the burger and pretzel style bun. Both burgers were well cooked with a good beefy flavour.

We also tried the New York hotdog – the kitchen make their own hotdogs in house, and this was nicely flavoured, with a texture closer to a regular sausage than a traditional hotdog, and accompanied with nice slow-cooked sweet onions and a mellow yellow (ha, I’m a poet, and I don’t know it!) mustard.

We were particularly delighted to be delivered a piping hot basket of sweet potato fries with sriracha mayo – we’d fallen in love with these when we were in the States, where everywhere seems to serve them, but they haven’t yet caught on in the UK. The waitress apologised profusely as they weren’t as crispy as the chefs wanted (this is a soft opening after all, the purpose of which is to knock out the kinks), but we scarfed them down in double quick time and found no faults.

Sadly, by the time we got round to the samples of the smoked beef brisket we really were needing rolled out the door, but the half I did manage to eat was absolutely fabulous – super smoky and very soft, in a fantastic brioche roll.

Based on the food and service we experience on this ‘soft launch’ night, Bread Meats Bread is somewhere I would happily pay for a full meal, and have suggested it as the venue for the next girls’ night out – good company, a few beers and fantastic food. Perfect!

Many thanks to the Bread Meats Bread team for their kind invite. 

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Amazing sweet potato fries

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The New York Gourmet Dog and a Classic Burger

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Fries with spicy sriracha mayo

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A classic cheeseburger and the bbq brisket on brioche – a highlight!

L’Oreal Colour Riche Collection Privee Nude Lipsticks

When compiling my recent ‘30 Thing to Do Under 30 list’, finding my perfect nude lipstick was number 15 on the list. Bang on cue, L’Oreal releases its L’Oreal Colour Riche Collection Privee Range – a selection of nude lipstick shades, one for each of its celebrity spokes-models.

Let’s be honest, marketing any lipstick as a ‘nude’ shade is a misnomer – everyone has different colouring and a shade could be too light, too dark, too brown or too pink. For me, tones that lean a little too much on the beige/ brown side make me look dead, and to compound matters, with bad teeth.

Cheryl Cole, Doutzen Kroes, Frieda Pinto, Julianne Moore, Eva Longoria and Liya Kebede have worked with the L’Oreal’s colour designer Orrea Light to create their own perfect nude shade (I believe there are other shades picked by L’Oreal spokes-models available in different markets).

This is a neat idea from L’Oreal and works well given their models all have pretty individual looks and represent a range of ethnicities. The concept behind this range should help take a little of the mystery out of finding your own perfect nude shade, as you can align yourself with the spokesmodel with the most similar colouring – even if the shade isn’t absolutely perfect, it offers a really helpful jumping off point if you’re new to make or just not sure where to start perfecting your nude lip.

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For me, I made a beeline for Julianne Moore as we share a similar auburn-haired, pale skinned colouring. Down to the product itself – Julianne’s nude is a beautiful peachy, rosy nude – a real ‘your lips but better’ colour for me, exactly as it should be! I also love the packaging of these lipsticks – they’ve replaced their standard metallic case with a matt black bullet – I just love the feel of these. There is also a very satisfying ‘click’ when popping the lid on and off – such a small detail but one which I think can make a product feel more luxurious than it is. What is the same however, is the distinctive Colour Riche smell – I don’t hate it, but equally I don’t love it. In general I prefer more fruity notes to my lip products but that is an entirely personal preference and there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with the scent.

In summary, I’d say this is definitely a range to look at if you’re in the marketing for a nude lipstick – especially if, like me, you’ve struggled to find your ideal shade or just aren’t sure where to start.

The collection is available from Boots, priced at £8.19 per lipstick.

Charlotte Tilbury Makeup

Make up artist supremo Charlotte Tilbury has launched her own cosmetics range today, and I for one can’t wait to get my mitts on it!PastedGraphic-31-480x292

Charlotte is one of the world’s top make up artists, having been in the business for over twenty years, and her passion is fueled by the transformative power of make up – every woman can use make up as a tool to give her confidence and enhance her beauty.

As Charlotte mentions in her introductory blog post talking about the range, many women don’t wear cosmetics and it’s largely because they don’t know where to start. I know that for myself, going into a high-end beauty hall can be an intimating experience – the sheer vastness of choice, the different textures and colours and finishes can be so overwhelming it is really off-putting. It’s only recently I’ve started to have the confidence to play with the samples, scrutinise textures and colours and even – dare I say it! – ask for samples.

Charlotte has created a ‘curated’ range of products linked to ten key looks, and I think this idea absolutely inspired (it’s an extension of a similar idea used at online beauty store Beauty Mart of pieces being individually selected to ensure quality) and I am sure will help ease woman into the glorious world of cosmetics with that extra confidence.

The looks that speak to me the most are the fresh, clean Uptown Girl (the day look) and the sexy, smoldering rock chick (the evening look). Charlotte has also posted video tutorials of her creating each look, which I think is a fantastic idea, and for those less confident with make up application they will provide really useful guidance.

Charlotte's key make up looks

Watching Charlotte use the products also gives us an insight into the textures and finishes, as sadly there’s no where to see the products in person before purchasing if you’re outside of London. The eyeshadow palettes in particular looked beautiful, and seem to give a really buildable colour payoff.

I simply can’t wait to get my hands on the range and play with some of these new products, both creating my own looks and also replicating some of Charlottes and I will be placing a cheeky order tonight (bank balance allowing!). I’ll let you all know how I’m getting on once the goodies arrive.

The Charlotte Tilbury Make Up Range is currently available from Selfridges and Charlotte’s own website. I believe it will also soon be available internationally throught Net-a-Porter

Soap and Glory Powders

Soap and Glory was created by Marcia Kilgore, also founder of Bliss Spa and FitFlop, in 2006 and have is a range of bath products, skin care and makeup, available at Boots.

Having heard rave reviews on the powders in the range, I was intrigued to try them out, especially as I’m already a massive fan of the bath products (I own a couple of bits of skincare but am yet to really try them out in full) and the Sexy Mother Pucker lip gloss sticks.

While Boots was doing a 3 for 2, I picked up the One Heck of a Blot face powder and the Glow All Out, plus a Sexy Mother Pucker Gloss Stick in Raplumzel. There is also a powder bronzer in the range (Solar Powder), but I didn’t buy that one – I’m super fair and sadly all bronzers seem to make me a bit oompa loompa faced.

The Glow Powder is absolutely beautiful, a real quality product at a good price point. It gives a lovely, very subtle glow to the skin and after using a big fluffy brush to apply to the tops of the cheekbones and a very light dusting down the centre of the face I can see a marked difference in the mirror – everything just looks a little brighter and more healthy. It isn’t a shimmer powder, there are no large shimmer or glitter particles, so I think this is a great choice if you’re looking for something to give a bit of a sheen and glow for the day time, as there’s isn’t a hint of glitterball about it, just luminosity. There is next to no colour payoff with this, so I’d definitely wear it on top of a touch of blusher. You can see how much I love these by the lack of lettering in the photo – I’m a bad blogger and should’ve taken the photo before using them!

The setting powder is also a really lovely quality, very finely milled and doesn’t cake at all on the skin – something which has often puts me off face powder products – so makes it a good one to consider if you generally prefer to use a spray such as Urban Decay De-slick. I tend to have an oily t-zone, with my forehead in particular being a bit of an oil slick by the end of the day and I found this powder did a really nice job of controlling the oil production and keeping my foundation in place (no minor miracle – it has usually disappeared by lunchtime). I think most women use or need a translucent setting powder, and I would highly recommend this one.

I’ve been using both products every day since I picked them up, which I think is a testament to their quality, and I really would rate them on a par with Benefit (who, based on the packaging, are clearly a brand which inspires Soap and Glory).

Although these products are certainly not the cheapest options on the high street, I think the quality is really fantastic for the price point, and combined with the really cute packaging I think they make a really nice choice if you’re looking for something a little bit more special for your dressing table.

On a side note, I think Marcia Kilgore sounds like quite an inspirational woman and entrepreneur and is someone I’ll definitely read more on.

The powders are priced at £11 for Glow All Out and £12 for the One Heck of a Blot and can be picked up from Boots, online and in most larger stores.

Empties #1

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Time for my first round of empties! No make up this time, just some hair and skin care products.

Neutrogena Visibily Clear Pink Grapefruit Daily Scrub

I picked this scrub up one day when Superdrug was out of my usual, and this was on offer (I also bought the moisturiser from the same range). This has such a gorgeous fresh, fruity smell which I think makes this a lovely morning cleanser. My skin is a real mix of types – sensitive, prone to spots, dry and oily so it’s always a bit of a miracle to find something that actually works! This has left my skin feeling really clean, much brighter and with fewer blemishes. A definite repurchase!

Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Deep Moisture Creamy Oil

Until I started working on this post, I hadn’t even realised that two of my empties were from Neutrogena – I might check out some more items from the range, seeing as these two have been big hits.

I think I’m on to my third bottle of this – it’s super-moisturising but sinks in really quickly and isn’t too scented, so a great choice if you’ve got dry, sensitive skin – the packaging doesn’t feel particularly luxurious, but who cares when it delivers great results?

TRESemmé Keratin Smooth Conditioner 

I picked this up when it was on offer in Boots, along with the shampoo (which I accidentally recycled before taking the photo). I quite liked this at the start, but as time went on I felt it was weighing my hair down and getting a bit too heavy. I used up the shampoo on my hair, but finished the last of the conditioner off as a shaving gel replacement, when my King of Shaves was finished. I’ve tried a few TRESemmé products, but I just don’t think they suit my hair although I know other people have had great success.

King of Shaves Super Gel Ultimate Shaving Gel 

Another non-glamorous purchase, but a necessary one! The skin on my legs can be pretty sensitive and I sometimes get an un-slightly and sore shaving rash – not with this stuff though. It feels really gently, and I by far and away prefer the gel texture to a traditional shaving mousse – for one, it creates far less mess in the shower! Again, this will be a re-purchase.

Let me know what products you’ve recently finished up – and whether you’ll be re-purchasing! – in the comments below!

Monthly Favourites #1 – July

Well, we’re now into month eight of 2013 – where is the year going!?

I thought I’d do my first monthly round-up of favourite products, and there’s a mix of make-up, skincare and haircare this time round.

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Skincare

Nuxe – Reve de Miel Lipbalm

I picked this up when I was in Marseille for the day a few weeks ago, along with some other French skincare pieces. This lip balm is amazingly moisturising, but (and this is my favourite feature) completely matt and not at all shiny. I’m not a fan of shine on my lips, and hate the slippery, gloopy feeling you get with so many lip products. This smells and tastes great as well, so it’s hard not to lick it straight back off again!

Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado
As part of my skincare revamp, I was on the hunt for a simple, effective eye cream that didn’t break the bank and this fitted the bill perfectly. I’m only 28, so I don’t need anything too powerful yet, just something to keep the area feeling fresh and hydrated.

This product has an interesting texture – when you first take a little from the pot it feels very rich and thick, but if you work it between your fingers it turns into a more water-like texture which is really easy to massage into the delicate eye area. I’ll definitely be re-purchasing this one!

Nivea Shower Gel with Oil
I love these – they feel so moisturising and smell gorgeous – like a far more luxe product! They are usually priced at £2.50 per bottle, which I feel is a bit steep as they’re so often on offer – I just stock up then.

Haircare
Toni and Guy Cleanse Shampoo and Conditioner for Fine Hair

I have pretty fine hair, though lots of it, and I’m enjoying using shampoos designed to add some body and oomph, and stop it clinging quite so tightly to my head. This Toni and Guy pairing had left my hair feeling so clean, soft and smooth and with a bit more substance to it – really loving these, and think I’ll repurchase and alternate with my other favourite, L’Oreal Ever Riche, in the fine dry hair variety.

Make-up
Soap and Glory – One Heck of a Blot Face Powder and Glow All Out Luminizing Powder

I’m loving these so much this month, I’m not going to talk too much and instead I’m going to do a full review tomorrow!

Nails
Barry M Jelly Nail Paint in Lychee and Guava

It’s no major surprise I’ve included these I suppose, as the whole blogosphere has been going crazy for these. I will say that I find the texture does take a bit of getting used to, as it is very thick and you can only do one layer at a time (if you try to go straight back over to touch up any area it seems to drag – it needs to be completely separate coats with time to dry in between) but the colour pay-off packs a punch, and the finish is super glossy. These didn’t last massively long on me, but no nail polishes do sadly. I tend to get bored and want to change the colour anyway!

Fragrance
Miller Harris, L’air de Rien

I’d been lovingly smelling this every time I went into Space NK, but couldn’t quite bring myself to splurge the cash on it. A few weeks ago I was browsing the Space NK online sale, and there it was – half price! For reasons unknown in retrospect (why didn’t I go for the bigger bottle!?) I ordered the 50ml size. I also dithered over the candle but didn’t take it – now I wish I had, as it would make a beautiful home fragrance too.

This scent is a stunning oriental fragrance, with notes of oak moss, neroli, amber and vanilla. I just can’t stop smelling my wrist when I wear this – it is undoubtedly one of my all time favourite fragrances – I think the dry-down is really unusual and wearing this perfume makes me feel sophisticated and chic.

Let me know your July favourites in the comments below!