Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sushi Crash Course at Kuriya Keiko

As much as I like cooking, I'm definitely not a cookbook kind of girl. Looking at a recipe, following the instructions and trying to measure every ingredient accurately - it's just not my thing. So when I learned cooking from my mother, it was all about knowing what goes into a dish and how it's supposed to taste like. The problem here is that you don't always know someone who can show you how to make your favourite dish, right? One of the reasons, why I've never tried making sushi before, even though it's one of my most favourite dishes. So when Zomato invited me and a few other bloggers to a sushi crash course at Kuriya Keiko, a Japanese restraurant/cooking workshop in Islington, I was more than excited to attend.

After Keiko welcomed us with a lovely a lovely plum wine cocktail, we  moved to the workshop area to learn how to make sushi from a real professional. We started with best practises on preparing sushi rice from the ideal water to rice ratio (1.15 cup of water and 1 cup of rice) to the easiest way to spread the rice on a nori sheet (wet your hands and spread the rice evenly without putting on too much pressure to keep the rice fluffy). First she taught us how to make California Rolls, traditionally not on a Japanese menu but no less delicious, before we moved on to Inside Out Rolls that were just as tricky to prepare as you might expect. Though, Keiko's enthusiasm in teaching us, definitely helped in easing the struggle we faced in keeping all the ingredients tight together on our first attempts. And the results? They didn't look too bad, did they? They definitely tasted heavenly, even more after having prepared it yourself. While we were trying our own sushi rolls, Keiko also gave us a little sneak peek of her gyoza-making class. Watching her prepare these delicious dumplings made me anticipate the dinner that followed afterwards even more!

After the "hard" work of learning Keiko's sushi-making tricks, we were treated to a mouth-watering taster dinner.  All the dishes were prepared so deliciously, with this feeling of home-cooked food I miss in a lot of restaurants that claim to be authentic. The hearty pork miso soup with ginger, spring onions and vegetables was one of my favourites from the evening. Though, the dish I couldn't get enough of was the Katsu Tofu, fried tofu bites in breadcrumbs: Crispy on the outside, soft and a little chewy on the inside. They were marinated so perfectly that I couldn't help but stuff myself with them. We also tried the Salmon Teriyaki, the Pork Teriyaki and the Crispy Chicken. Especially the later two stood out to me. While the Pork Teriyaki was hearty and flavourful, the Crispy Chicken felt refreshing thanks to its Yuzu seasoning (Japanese Citrus). And as if we haven't eaten enough already, we finished off the evening with a dessert: Azuki beans filled hot pastry and vanilla ice cream. Perfect end to a perfect evening!

Whether you want to taste great Japanese food with a feeling of home-cooking or want to learn to learn how to make Japanese food yourself, Kuriya Keiko is your place to go to! Keiko's cooking classes are so fun at such a great price that it would be a shame not to try. I highly recommend it.

Kuriya Keiko
Studio 7, The Studios Islington
5 Hornsey Street
London N7 8GR

Also read Emma's, Sarah's, Connie's, Kasha's, Courtney's and Carla's impressions of the evening. Thanks to Zomato for inviting me to Kuriya Keiko. You can read more of my reviews on Zomato.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Max Factor Creme Puff Blush

I'm usually more of a tint or cream blush kind of girl. Considering I have oily-combination skin, you'd think that I'd rather use powder blushes, maybe I should. However, practical speaking they save the extra step of getting another brush out and especially tint blushes tend to be quite long lasting (perfect for someone like me who hates touching up her make up). I also find them much more natural looking than most of the powder blushes I've tried so far. So when Max Factor UK sent me their new Creme Puff Blushes*, I was happy to try them, but didn't think they'd make me re-consider my current make up essentials. The reason: regardless of the name, they are actually powder blushes!

On first look, they are indeed some gorgeous blushes, maybe one of the prettiest drugstore blushes I've seen before. The simple gold and black design looks really sophisticated and is great to carry around. I love how you can see the colour and of course the beautiful marbling instantly, thanks to the see-through plastic lid.

The range comes in 6 different shades: 05 Lovely Pink, 10 Nude Mauve, 15 Seductive Pink, 20 Lavish Mauve, 25 Alluring Rose and 30 Gorgeous Berries. I was quite surprised when I first swatched the blushes. They are so insanely pigmented and look incredibly natural! While they are called "Creme" blushes, they are definitely not creme blushes, but pressed powder ones. Nevertheless, the texture is really velvety and smoothThey all have a light shimmer to them, which makes them ideal for the season. Especially 10 Nude Mauve and 25 Alluring Rose are perfect for my tanned skin colour (even though the names are quite misleading), as they are both peach-toned medium shades. Great for daily use! Another favourite is the colour 30 Gorgeous Berries, the darkest in the range. I like to apply it carefully, when I'm getting ready for a night-out. I liked those 3 the most, since I'm not too much of a fan of pink coloured blushes for my warm skin tone. However, Emma tried them on her fair skin and the other 3 colours suited her so much better than me. Especially Lovely Pink looked great on her, while it was more of a highlighter for me. As for the longevity, again, it really depends on what skin type you have. While it lasted around 6 hours on a normal work day for me (I have oily-combination), the blushes stayed on all day for Emma (she has dry skin).

Contrary to what I expected, I actually liked the blushes so much, 25 Alluring Rose is part of my daily routine now. I just love how natural it looks on me, so I don't mind touching up a little, if I want to go out after work. I mean, it's too pretty not to carry around, isn't it? At £8.99 it's not the cheapest drugstore blush, but you should definitely try it in store to see how beautiful it looks.

(Update to everyone in Germany: The Creme Puff Blushes will be called Pastell Compact Blushes (which I find makes more sense), and it will be available at the end of March in 4 different shades.)

*Thanks to Maxfactor UK for the samples.

05 Lovely Pink - 10 Nude Mauve - 25 Alluring Rose - 20 Lavish Mauve
15 Seductive Pink - 30 Gorgeous BerriesFrom Top clockwise: 30 Gorgeous Berries - 15 Seductive Pink - 25 Alluring Rose 
05 Lovely Pink - 10 Nude Mauve - 20 Lavish Mauve

Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Perfect Sunday

Another week full of start up craziness, after-work get-togethers and newly added binge-watching of How To Get Away With Murder is finally over, ready to be restarted in less than 24 hours. So to refuel my energy levels, on Sundays I like to spend my day either admiring the flowers at Broadway Flower Market, while munching on some street food goodies from Brick Lane, or simply staying in and having some me time. Last week Emma and I squeezed our way through the crowds, trying to get a good deal on some fresh eucalyptus for my room. It was such a beautiful day, I couldn't care less when someone called me a hipster while posing with my purchases. No chance in destroying my good mood! And the eucalyptus still looks gorgeous and makes me room smell all fresh and summery.

Though, today it's all about having some quality time by myself. It's nice to sometimes just switch your phone off, read a good book and have cup of tea. Though, there's one Sunday ritual I'm sticking to, no matter how hungover I might be from the night-out on Saturday or whether or not I spend most of the day walking around East London: soaking in a hot bubble bath, putting on a relaxing face mask and finishing off this home-spa experience with a manicure. Okay, I don't always get to the manicure part, but at least I'm trying. I've never bothered too much about how my nails looked like. However, now that I'm friends with Emma and she's on top of her nail game, I feel like I need to keep up. Seriously, her nails always look good! Is it just me and I'm the only lazy girl out there, or is she just at a different level altogether? Maybe I should get my nail polishes out, instead of wondering about this...