Wednesday, March 10, 2010


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Tuesday, March 9, 2010


12 of the UK's 20 most expensive streets in Kensington & Chelsea

House price and property valuation website have released their annual list of the UK's most expensive streets, organised by region and then collated into one list for the country as a whole. Somewhat surprisingly (I would have thought there would be some expensive addresses somewhere else in the country!), the UK's top 20 most expensive streets for 2010 is merely a replicated list of London's priciest streets. Of course, the data is based on prices actually paid for properties taken from the Land Registry with an attempt to calculate current values accordingly; I assume there must be some upmarket streets out there in the UK which simply don't have a high turnover of owners!

As with the title of this post, 12 of the UK's top 20 priciest streets are based in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea. These streets are located in the SW3, W8 and W14 postcodes - none are in the W11 postcode that encompasses much of Notting Hill!

The Kensington & Chelsea streets featured in the list are:
  • Carlyle Square, SW3 ranked 4th (with an average property value of £5,625,100)
  • Cottesmore Gardens, W8 ranked 5th (£5,503,500)
  • Essex Villas, W8 ranked 7th (£5,121,900)
  • Ilchester Place, W14 ranked 9th (£5,099,300)
  • Victoria Road, W8 ranked 10th (£5,007,300)
  • Chelsea Square, SW3 ranked 12th (£4,913,400)
  • The Vale, SW3 ranked 13th (£4,905,900)
  • Eldon Road, W8 ranked 14th (£4,893,000)
  • Albert Place, W8 ranked 17th (£4,669,400)
  • Thornwood Gardens, W8 ranked 18th (£4,558,800)
  • Upper Phillimore Gardens, W8 ranked 19th (£4,535,900)
  • Douro Place, W8 ranked 20th (£4,510,000)
The most expensive street in London - and therefore the most expensive street in the country - remains Chester Square in SW1, with the average value of a property there reaching £6,596,000.

The full report can be read here:'s Annual Street Rankings 2010 (PDF file)


Monday, March 8, 2010


French Toast cupcakes recipe from Eat Me

Having last week made a rather successful (if not overly pretty) attempt at making one of the recipes from Eat Me: The Stupendous, Self-Raising World of Cupcakes & Bakes According to Cookie Girl by Xanthe Milton, here's the recipe from the book for anyone that may be interested. I would certainly recommend giving it a try; the cupcakes taste absolutely delicious and will be eagerly snapped up by your family and friends...a little too quickly!

French toast cupcakes
When I first invented these cakes my family simply couldn’t get enough of them. They really do taste like the French toast they are named after. I think they look cute with light brown icing and miniature gingerbread men sprinkled on top. Makes 12.

170 g/6 oz plain flour
1 & 1⁄2 tbsp baking powder
1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
1⁄4 tsp salt
110 g/4 oz unsalted butter
225 g/8 oz granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp maple syrup
50 ml/2 fl oz milk

For the icing
110 g/4 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
110 g/4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
450 g/1 lb icing sugar, sifted 1⁄4 tsp cinnamon brown food colouring
(optional) sprinkles to decorate

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F/Gas 4. Line a 12-hole non- stick muffin tray with paper cases.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt into a bowl. Melt the butter and let it cool slightly.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the sugar and eggs together, then add the melted butter. Mix the vanilla, maple syrup and milk in a separate bowl or jug.
4. Now stir the flour mixture into the sugar, eggs and butter, followed by the milk mixture. Beat until everything is well combined.
5. Divide the mixture between the paper cases so that each is about three-quarters full. Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Check with a skewer – it should come out clean if the cakes are cooked. Remove the cakes from the oven and place them on a wire rack to cool.
6. Meanwhile, make the icing. Using an electric whisk, mix the butter and cream cheese. Add the icing sugar, a third at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add the cinnamon with the last of the icing sugar. Add a dot or two of food colouring if you like.
7. Using a piping bag with a straight- edged nozzle, pipe icing onto the cakes, working from the outside into a peak in the centre. Decorate with sprinkles – I like to use gingerbread men.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Review of Cookie Girl's "Eat Me" book!

Up until a year ago, I wasn't one for cooking. Or rather, I fell into that typical category of "won't cook" rather than "can't cook". I'm ashamed to admit that most of the meals I did attempt were of the easy boil-pasta, fry-sausages, oven-cook-pizza category. But over the past year, I've become (I think, at least!) a dab hand in the kitchen, whipping all sorts of delicious meals from scratch - which I then devour, before complimenting myself vigourously!

One area of cooking that I'm a complete novice in, however, is baking sweet items: cakes, cookies, cupcakes, that sort of thing. I tried making some biscuits a few months ago which ending up being a semi-disaster, with dough that wouldn't stick together and too long a time in the oven.

But in an attempt to review the new book Eat Me: The Stupendous, Self-Raising World of Cupcakes & Bakes According to Cookie Girl (see my earlier post on the book: New book by Notting Hill's Cookie Girl) I thought that there would be no better way than to actually try one of the recipes - regardless of my beginner status in baking desserts.

Flicking through the beautiful book, a number of recipes caught my eye - from the straightforward French Vanilla cupcakes (which are actually recommended as a good place to start) to the exotic, such as Margarita cupcakes (the ingredients of which do actually include tequila, triple sec and salt) and Bollywood cupcakes, to the traditional, such as pastel macaroons and butterscotch cookies. (I'll definitely be giving those Margarita cupcakes a whirl one day!)

But it was the French Toast cupcakes that I decided to give a go - partially because they didn't seem too tricky, partially because I seemed to already have most of the ingredients - and especially because I'm a big fan of French toast.

Following the recipe was very straightforward and I found all the steps just right for someone at my level - it felt a bit like someone was holding my hand, much need for a cake-baking novice such as myself! And after a bit of whisking, sifting, stirring and mixing, plus 20 minutes baking time in the oven, a batch of perfect cupcakes materialised.

At this point, all that was left was to decorate the cakes. Here's where I failed slightly - not because I couldn't adequately decorate, more that my local supermarket failed to supply with appropriate cupcake making items. (Note: the book has a useful guide to where you can buy better cake decoration supplies.) So I had to make do with a rather sickly sweet pink food colouring for the icing, together with some rather basic chocolate sprinkles. And this is what I ended up with:

They may not look especially pretty (or be anywhere near as beautiful as those depicted in the book), but they tasted absolutely delicious! And yes, as I'm sure you're asking, they did actually taste of French toast. A big thumbs up from me and all those I fed the cupcakes to in the taste test.

Overall, Eat Me is a lovely book featuring some truly delicious cupcake recipes. For any baking beginners (such as me) there's a section on baking basics, and all recipes are easy to follow. As I've said in my earlier post, this book is also delightful to read in its own right with its wonderful introductions to each section and its beautiful photographs. Give it a try - with the cupcakes and cookies you end up making, you won't be disappointed!

Stay tuned as I'll be posting the recipe of the French toast cookies I attempted in a couple of days.

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Kensington & Chelsea property news roundup

Barely a week goes by without more news and stats about the property market in London and, given the affluent status of the borough, most mention Kensington & Chelsea! Here's a roundup of some recent news:
  • Easier Property reports on a recent study which reviewed the size of properties that £1 million gets you. Unsurprisingly, London came up with the smallest properties in the country, with Kensington & Chelsea the "worst" value. A £1 million property here will only get you 1,443 square feet; by comparison, a million pound home in Liverpool will stretch to 4,000 square feet in size.
  • In related news, £1 million properties have seen a recovery for a number of areas of the capital, including Kensington & Chelsea. Your Mortgage report that, overall for London, the number of properties sold in this price bracket rose by 2% in 2009, whilst in Kensington & Chelsea this figure stood at 11%.
  • Meanwhile, Businessweek reports on data compiled by estate agency Knight Frank, who say that the value of properties above the £1 million mark in London have risen in value by 3.2% from January to February, and by 17% from February 2009 to the same month this year. Knight Frank takes its data from a number of wealthy neighbourhoods in London, including Kensington & Chelsea; prices for these areas are still below their peak, though their rise is fueled by a shortage of properties by strong demand from buyers, particularly foreign buyers who are attracted by the current weak Pound. The same article also states that developers are being brought by this upward trend in the property market; new "construction starts" increased by 43% between July and December 2009 in Kensington & Chelsea.
  • Nothing to do with £1 million homes (well, maybe not...or maybe?!) Country Life points out that almost 8% of properties in the Kensington & Chelsea are "second homes" (i.e. pied a terres and similar) which apparently equates to 7,000 properties in the area.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Pop up restaurant at Sipsmith distillery - 18th-20th March

Here's a opportunity for you to experience a rather special dining event. Over the course of three nights - Thurdsay 18th, Friday 19th and Saturday 20th March - a pop-up restaurant will be hosted at Sipsmith distillery in Hammersmith that will feature a six-course dinner plus specially distilled spirits.

The six-course tasting menu has been created by Peter Gordon and Michael McGrath of Providores restaurant, whilst Jared Brown, the Sipsmith Master Distiller, has devised six special spirits to accompany each course - such as a very intriguing Wasabi vodka.

Sipsmith is an independent spirits company co-founded by Sam Galsworth and Fairfax Hall in 2009. The company creates batches of a few hundred bottles distilled using a bespoke copper-pot - Prudence (pictured above) - which you'll be able to see at each night, hence the name of the event, Providores & Prudence. Sipsmith has the pleasure of being the first company for 200 years to be granted license for a copper-pot distillery in London.

Marylebone Village-based restaurant Providores opened in 2001 by Peter Gordon and Michael McGrath, and has won a number of awards and rave reviews over the years with its innovative and exciting fusion food.

Tickets cost £90 per head, including all food and spirits. There are only 90 places on offer, so be sure to book soon to avoid disappointment - Thursday 18th March has already sold out.

Providores & Prudence
Thursday 18th, Friday 19th and Saturday 20th March
Sipsmith Distillery
7.30pm for 8pm
27 Nasmyth St
W6 0HA

To book, please call 020 8741 2034.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Cinderella on Ice at the Royal Albert Hall

Out of the normal confines of Notting Hill, but worth the trip a little further south, this definitely deserves a mention! Tonight sees the opening performance of the fabulous Cinderella on Ice at the Royal Albert Hall - an occasion for which the main arena floor is being frozen with ice for only the second time in its history!

The world-renowned Imperial Ice Stars provide a new interpretation of the classic Cinderella tale, told through unique skating routines. Choreography is by Tony Mercer, one of the leading creators of contemporary theatre on ice, and two times Olympic gold medallist Evgeny Platov. The score has been composed by highly-regarded Tim A Duncan and Edward Barnwell, and recorded by the 72-piece Moscow State Cinematic Orchestra, plus 10 soloists from the Manchester Symphony Orchestra. The score will also be complemented at each performance by a live 20-piece orchestra.

The 25-strong skating cast of Cinderella on Ice includes World, European and National Championship skaters and with stunning special effects - including fire, rain and flying - and extravagant costumes and sets, this is sure to be a very magical experience!

Cinderella on Ice runs from 24th - 28th February, with performances at 7.30pm each evening. Matinee shows at 2.30pm are also on Thursday 25th, Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th February. Tickets can be bought from the Royal Albert Hall's website at


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