Essex Bloggers Meet ~ Crown Street, Brentwood

A couple of weeks ago, I met up with the Essex Bloggers for the fourth time ( I never got around to writing up a post about the Christmas meet, but that will be forthcoming as soon as I find the photos from the day!). Haydn from Squibb Vicious organised a shopping evening at Crown Street, Brentwood, where we got a chance to take a look round the shops, and then go for a burger at the simply delightful Gastro Burgo Co.

Crown Street is a small pedestrianised walkway leading onto Brentwood high street. I worked in Brentwood for two years, and used to spend a fair bit of time on the high street, but was totally unfamiliar with Crown Street. I probably cut through there to get to the shops I needed to whizz round in my lunch break, but never really took any time to look at the shops I was walking past. On the day that we visited, it was market day – there were a couple of stalls set up on the cobbles, and I had to resist the baked goods that were on sale as I was saving myself for my burger!

We went into all the shops on Crown Street, and had a chat with the proprietors and had a lovely look around. French Quarter is a lovely little shop full of furniture, gifts, and interior items, and everything is so beautiful and individual. We had a chat with Lin, the lady who owns the shop, and she was so enthusiastic about giving local artists and manufacturers a chance to showcase their goods. It’s the perfect place to find a gift!


We also popped into Fusey, the clothes shop owned by Joey Essex. Now, I’m not a TOWIE fan at all, I’m really not. I only know who Joey Essex is because he’s one of those people who does stuff away from the show, and I’ve seen him on panel shows. But his shop is perfectly reasonable, even if the clothes aren’t really my sort of thing.

Deb , Alice, Penny, Haydn, Ria and me – some of the Essex Bloggers outside Fusey

We were lucky enough to be invited into two boutiques after they were closed to have a look around, and talk to the owners. Racquét Boutique carries a lot of big brands, such as Ted Baker, French Connection and Superdry. It’s all very much out of my budget, sadly, but it was nice to have a look at some very lovely items and wish I could afford them. The owner of the shop. Allison, chatted to us for ages, and I think that’s the best thing about individually owned high street shops: the personal touch.


The other boutique we went into was Violet Hill, and the clothes in there were really something special. We were also lucky enough to have a chance to talk to Alison, the owner of this shop, and she was clearly really passionate about bringing new and exciting labels to Crown Street. All the girls seemed to fall in love with the same dress, though nobody bought it. Haydn was umming and ahing over a Jones and Jones dress, and being the dedicated bloggers we all are, we totally enabled her, so she took advantage of her 15% discount and bought it!


After all the shopping, we went into The Gastro Burger Co for dinner. Masterchef finalist Chris Georgiou has taken all his skills and devoted them to making (as far as I’m concerned), one of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten! Before the burger, we had a starter called The Volcano, which I believe is making quite a name for itself locally. It’s a nacho dish, which as you can see from the photo below, is quite enormous, and is very, very tasty. All of the meat used at The Gastro Burger Co is sourced locally, and even the ketchup is homemade! Chris took our order and was a charming chap; between the friendliness, the atmosphere and the food. it won’t be long until I return!


The Volcano and my cheese burger at The Gastro Burger Co. Yumsters!

I was really pleasantly surprised by Crown Street. Although the spectre of TOWIE looms large on Brentwood high street, there’s no denying that it’s a vibrant and busy town centre. And Crown Street is perfect, because it’s tucked away, and the shops feel quite special. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming, and I’ve already told my sister we have to go and take a look (mainly so I can go back to Gastro Burger Co for another delic
ious burger!).


Thanks so much to Haydn from Squibb Vicious for organising this meet up, and to Laurie from Crown Street for being a fabulous host. I had a really lovely day, and count many of the my fellow Essex Bloggers as good friends! We were lucky enough to get goodie bags to take away, and I’m very excited about burning this Made in Brentwood candle that the French Quarter provided; it smells like Chanel No. 5!

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Simple Pleasures #3

You’d be forgiven for thinking that I had forgotten about my Simple Pleasures series. I started it back in February, with singing along to your favourite songs, and continued in in March with reading in the bath. Then things stalled, but it’s back!

Today’s simple pleasure is about food. Food is a pretty simple pleasure in and of itself, if like me, you love eating. But specifically, today’s post is all about the food that takes no time whatsoever to prepare, but is totally delicious.

For me, a snack or meal that has a great preparation time to enjoyment level ratio is a winner. Something like a roast dinner is infinitely yummy, but it takes so long to make, that by the time you go to eat it, you’re exhausted. Hence why a carvery is always a delight; all the fun of the eating without any of the preparation.

But you’d never go out to a restaurant and order beans on toast (at least I wouldn’t), because it’s so easy to make at home. I often have beans on toast for lunch, and it’s the quickest thing to make, but one of the most delicious things to eat. Seriously, I adore beans on toast.

Obviously, any self respecting beans on toast has to have a generous sprinkling of cheese on top (parmesan or cheddar works for me). Just looking at this photo is making my mouth water!

Another snack that I feel has a good ratio is nachos. Or at least, nachos the way I make them! If I have guacamole, I use it, but more often than not I just have tortilla chips, cheese and sour cream.

I know that most Mexicans and Tex-Mex aficionados would scoff at my nachos, but I don’t care. I put some tortilla chips in a dish, sprinkle on some cheese, bake for about ten minutes and serve with sour cream and guacamole where available. Another snack that doesn’t take any time or effort to prepare, but is delicious once it’s ready!

What are your favourite snacks in this category?

Food Glorious Food ~ BEDM

Despite the fact that I clearly like food (a lot), when I sat down to think about what to write for today’s post, I struggled. Although I like to cook, I am not the most experimental person. I tend to cook variations on a theme, involving a limited set of ingredients.

So I’ve decided to share with you a few of the recipes I have pinned to my Y is for Yummy Pinterest board. They are a few things that I am going to try and make in the future.


First up are these Parmesan and Chilli Fries. I have to confess that I do love chips (hence why I am always trying to lose weight), and these look as though they would be a great alternative to standard fries. The recipe can be found here.

Potato Pizza

Potato Pizza is something that I have only eaten three times in my life, but it’s honestly up there as one of my favourites foods. Sure, it’s carb overload, but that kind of thing doesn’t really bother me (hence why I am always trying to lose weight – again). I had for the first time in Canada when I went to stay with my friend, and her Italian mum made it. I have actually made this one myself, but only one, and I always forget how much I love it. I’m going to try and make it again soon! The recipe can be found here.

Essex Spice Cakes

I had never heard of Essex Spice Cakes until I was browsing through an Essex book in a bookshop and saw a recipe. I want to make them because of course, I am from Essex, and also I think that. despite the fact that they are called cakes, they might actually be more like a biscuit. Which means that they would count towards my goal to make ten different biscuits (or cookies, if you are American) before my birthday. I don’t know the history of the Essex Spice Cake, but if I do make them I’m going to try and find out! The recipe can be found here.

So there you have it, three recipes that are definitely in my future. I have a lot of biscuits on that Pinterest board, because of my 31 Before 31 goal to bake those ten different ones. But I’m going to be scouring Pinterest to find more recipes, because it’s definitely time to branch out and get a bit more adventurous with my cooking!

Jane loves blogging

Hello all

It’s weekly post time, so here we go! It’s a WordPress prompt this time, number 82:

What do you want for your last meal?

I was having this exact conversation with my nephew the other day, so I thought I’d post about it today! I don’t ever really want to be in a situation where I know that a meal is going to be my last, as I don’t really want that amount of advance notice that I am going to die; also the idea of a last meal brings connotations of being on death row, and obviously I hope never to find myself facing execution.

As with all questions like this, it’s hard to answer, because there are so many different types of food I like. I have recently come to the conclusion that Mexican cuisine is probably my favourite. I like Italian, and I like Chinese, and obviously I like good old British food. But I love Mexican food! Of course, here is where I issue a disclaimer: I’ve never been to Mexico, so technically, I have never actually eaten Mexican food. But various sources ensure me that fajitas, tacos, chilli con carne, enchiladas, quesadillas and nachos are Mexican in origin, and I love to eat them all. One of the main reasons is that I like Mexican food so much is that, at least the way I eat it, there’s a lot of meat, melted cheese, beans and corn. It’s good honest food that will fill me up, and I love it! If I had to choose one item of Mexican cuisine as my last meal, it would be Chilli Con Carne, I think, because it’s just so yummy. Served with rice or nachos, with a nice dollop of soured cream, and I think I’d die happy.

Chilli ~ source ~

Having said all this, I have to say that one of my favourite meal is Lasagna. I frequently have arguments with myself as to which I would choose, Chilli or Lasagne, as my ultimate favourite. The way it usually turns out is that Lasagna wins right after I have eaten it, whilst Chilli wins right after I have eaten that. Still, a really, really nice Lasagna is also in the running for last meal.

lasagna ~ source ~

So Lasagna and Chilli both have a firm hold on my heart in terms of favourite dinner. However, breakfast is my favourite meal of the day to eat out – I love having breakfast out. When my friend Jenny was at university in Canterbury, Anna, Rob, James and I went to visit her (just the once, shamefully, considering how close Kent is to Essex), and we went out for breakfast twice. Both were good, but one of them included the best piece of fried bread I have ever tasted in my life. The perfection of this fried bread has never left my memory, and I honestly don’t think it ever will! I know that it’s amongst the more unhealthy foods, and for that reason I eat it sparingly. But I love it so much. Just thinking about it now is making me want some, right now, and it’s currently 11pm, and not the time for fried bread. I might have to have some tomorrow though.

Fried Bread ~ source ~

So there it is, I think I’d have to demand Chilli, Lasagna and some fried bread on the side as my last meal.

Until next time!