Lenny loves…possibly the best coffee you will every try!

It took me 30 years to like coffee, and its opened up a whole new world for me. The discovery happened by accident whilst I was on holiday when I was accidentally given, or accidentally ordered, a iced mocha from the hotel bar. It was just what I needed at that time and I was addicted to them for my whole holiday.

Back at home was where the real discovery started, or so I thought. Was I a Costa, Starbucks or a Cafe Nero kinda gal. I whittled it down to not really liking Cafe Nero, I could do Costa, but Starbucks was my favourite.

Well that was until I discovered the hidden gem that is Bora Coffee based on the Stratford Road in Shirley. Run by Ross and Danielle, there little baby opened on 24th July date and all started back in 2014 and focuses on their charitable work in Uganda.

Ross is a complete coffee geek and their aim is to provide you with ‘ethically sourced, delicious coffee from the African Continent’, and I can certainly vouch, their coffee is delicious.

Having driven past their new social enterprise it pipped my interest and I decided to check them out. The coffee shop has a very basic, clean but on trend design where the main focus is the coffee. Their menu is small but concise, and their prices are extremely good considering the quality offering you are getting.

On my first visit, I took my sister and boyfriend on Saturday afternoon. When we arrived, it was fairly quiet but it soon got busier. I went for their V60 coffee with the Rwandan blend. V60 is just the way the coffee is brewed.

Perfect measures of water are poured over the ground coffee beans, which were freshly roasted only a few days before by their specialist roasters based in bradford. This method takes around 5 minutes to filter but it was worth the wait. Served in a preheated mug (no small cups here) with a talk through demonstration by Ross himself, it was a fascinating process to watch.

Once it was ready, it was poured with a little space left for milk. Now, I am normally a milky sweet coffee drinker but I am glad that I tried this coffee without adding anything except a small bit of milk, as it needed no additions. It was perfect. Smooth, balanced, fruity. Just perfect.

My boyfriend and sister both went for a hot chocolate, which was also pretty great and came with a nice elephant detail on top. Alongside the drinks, we opted to try a selection of their handmade cakes. My boyfriend and sister both went for the super dark brownie, and I opted for the Pear and Ginger loaf. Both were extremely good and very yummy.

I was sad to leave that day, but knew it wouldn’t be long before I would be back, and I wasn’t wrong. Just a few days later I took a few work colleagues there in our lunch break. Me and Hannah, who seems to be my partner in crime for coffee shops, decided to go for the Chemex for 2 and try the Kenyan blend. The chemix looked like something off breaking bad, but again is very similar to the v60 and is another brewing method that Bora coffee offer.

Again, there was a little talk by Ross as he was going through the brewing process which took around 6-7 minutes as there was double the amount of liquid this time.

The Kenyan blend was a touch stronger than the Rwandan, but again I didn’t feel the need to add any sugar, just a tiny bit more milk. Hannah was very impressed by the geekiness of the whole thing!

A visit wouldn’t be complete without another sample of their bakes, so I went for the toasted coconut and dark chocolate flapjack and Hannah went for the cocoa orange bar. The flapjack was lovely, not a sticky lump like a normal flapjack, I could almost get away with saying it was healthy. Hannah informed me that her cocoa orange bar was also delicious.

I do have a slight feeling that I am going to become a regular here and only hope that this lovely little social enterprise thrives in its little location in Shirley.

Lenny xx

p.s. whilst finishing this blog I am currently sat in Bora Coffee for my third visit!

 

 

Lenny loves…house update

I have been pretty quiet around the whole flat/moving situation and that is because it all went tits up at the very last minute. I was quite gutted at the time as it had been 11 months since I first put my offer in on this new build for it all to fall through, plus a considerable amount of money on mortgage surveys and other fees.

However, like they say everything happens for a reason, and a week after the flat fell through I found somewhere else!! This was very much unintentional as I was going to take a couple of months off and recoup some money and sanity, take a holiday and just chill, but I spotted this little place on rightmove and thought I would go and have a look and fell in love pretty much straight away.

The location of this flat is great, being only 5 minutes drive from where I am now, and is also a bit more spacious, but most importantly it has a bath!

I am hoping this process will go a lot smoother, with the mortgage offer having already been agreed and sorted and technically there is no chain as the seller will happily move out before she finds somewhere new.

I am just keeping my fingers crossed and hopefully will have some positive updates to post along with some lovely interior posts once I am in!

Who knew that buying my own place would be so stressful!!!

Lenny xx

Lenny loves…Hub by Premier Inn Tower Bridge

I often travel to London for work and luckily for me I’m in charge of finding accommodation. As with all companies we have a limited budget for the rooms so finding something decent within our budget is often challenging.

Step in Hub by Premier Inn, a new concept by Premier inn which focuses on compact rooms in great locations. The rooms come with the latest technology, a hypnos bed, monsoon shower, towels, shower gel and a hair dryer, along with a 40” smart TV and free wifi. The hub hotels also house artisan delis to satisfy those coffee cravings.

London, it seems is awash with this stylish boutique-style hotel chain with locations including, Covent Garden, Tower Bridge, Westminster and Spitafields. They also have two hotels in Edinburgh, another location that can break the bank when it comes to accommodation, and more hotels are on the horizon.

The bed, which takes up the main space in the room was super comfy and access to the touch screen panel, which controls the lights and temperature in the rooms, is just at the head of the bed with USB and HDMI ports on the sideboard of the bed. All the controls can be used via an app too, which is pretty cool!

Quirky little touches include a bottle opener attached to the wardrobe area, along with under bed storage to maximise floor space and a pull out desk. My room didn’t have windows, however, this didn’t bother me as it was really just a place to get my head down and freshen up. There are rooms available with windows.

In terms of location, Tower Bridge, as it suggests was literally two minutes from Tower Bridge and also from Tower Hill underground station so really handy to get around the city either by foot or by tube.

I would definitely recommended and consider using the Hub by Premier Inn hotels again, especially if it was just for one night or somewhere to get my head down. They were clean, fresh and the staff were extremely friendly and helpful, they even let me store my luggage for the day whilst I went shopping! 

Have you any great budget London hotel recommendations?

Lenny xx

 

Lenny loves…brunch!

Brunch, that lovely meal between breakfast and lunch that can be dragged out to last a considerable amount of hours and apparently the fastest growing food trend in the UK at the moment!

Me and my friend Hannah took ourselves off to canEAT in Stirchley to check out this much talked about café situated on the Pershore Road not too far from Loaf.

The first thing you notice about this casual eatery is how lively it is. It is fairly small in size, so gets quite busy but we managed to grab a table right by the counter. There are also smaller tables for kids to hang out along with a selection of toys and books to keep them occupied. We even witnessed two little girls having an early afternoon tea session with scones and juice!

Although the menu is small in choice it certainly didn’t lack in enticing options and I could have easily eaten everything on there. It was a tough decision to make, but myself and my friend both went for the Giant Beans, Egg and Feta on toast. I also went for the Vietnamese Coconut Coffee (Cold) which featured on the menu that day.

The coffees came first and my Coconut Coffee, after a quick stir, was just what I needed after the walk down to Stirchley. The coffee was made with Coconut milk which was great as usually most coconut coffee options are made with coconut water, which despite being massively good for you, I cannot stand!

Up next was the food. Our jazzed up beans on toast looked fantastic on the plate, I just hoped it tasted as good as it looked. It didn’t disappoint. There was a lovely tang to the sauce that the giant beans were cooked in and the beans still had a bit of a bite to them and weren’t all soggy and mushy. The soft boiled egg that perched on top of the beans like an orange jewelled crown gave the sauce a bit more creaminess and the feta, whilst there wasn’t a lot on the plate, it was the perfect amount not to overpower and just give it that something extra.

We were both pretty full after that, however, I couldn’t resist ordering myself a little dessert, as who said you can’t have dessert at brunch?! I went for the warm banana bread, peanut butter and blueberries as I have a soft spot for anything with peanut butter. It looked stunning on the plate, but it didn’t stay that way for long as it was soon completely demolished. The banana bread was moist but crumbly with a thin layer of peanut butter so it didn’t take away from the flavours of the bread along with little bursts of blueberries along the way, and of course another coffee to help it down.

Although the café was busy and lively, it was still quiet enough to chat and hear yourself think and at no point did we feel rushed to vacate, with the table next to us looking like there were set for the day there.

This lovely small, but perfectly formed offering in the heart of what is fast becoming the up and coming area to be seen in South Birmingham, is certainly a hit with the community and I will be keeping my eyes open for bigger things from them.

And I mustn’t forget to mention Isherwood Florists who are right next door to CANeat. A lovely little florist with what I can only describe as selling beautiful natural fresh flowers. Brunch and flowers on a Saturday what more could a girl want!

I am intending on going around a few other popular brunch spots to see what this lovely time of day has to offer across the city, so recommendations please! Next stop is Bloom in Kings Heath 

Lenny xx

Lenny loves…it’s been a long time…

A very long time! In fact nearly 6 months since I last blogged!!

No apologises are necessary here. Life has simply been challenging for me over the last 6 months, and blogging has not even crossed my mind.  I hadn’t really planned on when I was going to return to blogging, but this evening after a lovely weekend I had the urge so thought I would take advantage.

So whats been going on?

First on my list to update you on is I’m still not in my new flat (boo!) but I should be all moved by early July (Yay!) fingers crossed! I am getting really excited and a bit antsy to get in there and start putting my stamp on the small space (no joke!) I will have. It’s kinda weird to not have to ask someone their opinion on furniture and decor or to have to listen to their opinion. If I want a bright yellow sofa or a teal sofa I can have it (although I am probably going to go for grey!). No doubt when I get down to buying the serious stuff and moving in I shall bring you along with me.

Secondly, I have spent a lot more time at home since November where as before I was staying at a ‘friends’ house most of the time. That ‘friendship’ as turned slightly sour but these things happen. I have mostly enjoyed being back at home, I kinda think that this time round I’ve been a bit calmer and the knowledge that soon I will have my own space has made it a lot easier to bear, although it still has it’s moments.

Thirdly, work has been great! I have really found my place at work and doing really well. Although it has been hectic at times and no more so than the last few months but I have finally found somewhere that I can see myself staying and settling.

Finally, I have met someone new. We met just before Christmas and we have taken things slow and steady. We get on so well and he makes me feel really good about myself so its looking really positive.

I do hope that I feel the urge to blog again soon, as the next few months are going to be so exciting and it would be lovely to share it with you guys!

I’ll check back in soon!

Lenny xx

Lenny loves…V for Vegetarian @ 1847

Last week the lovely Vicky from Brumderland kindly invited me and a few other bloggers to the lovely 1847 restaurant located in the Great Western Arcade in Birmingham City Centre.

1847, the year that the vegetarian society was formed, is also the given name for this modern small chain of vegetarian restaurants located in Brighton, Bristol, Manchester and of course, Birmingham and was founded by Damien Davenport.

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1847 Birmingham is a small place, but the decor compliments the space with a minimalist light and airy feel which is only emphasised by the lovely mezzanine level, which is where we were being hosted.

Smoked Olives and Garlic

Welcomed by a glass of Prosecco and lovely smoked olives and garlic on the table, we all sat down and perused the specially formed menu which was put together by the chef just for us. This gave us a taste of the type of food featured on their a la carte menu.

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To get our taste buds going we were treated to a beautiful piece of focaccia bread with shakshuka hummus. The bread, still warm from the oven, was delicious as was the hummus, lots of flavour and topped with the smoked garlic, perfect!

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As soon as we had finished the appetiser, the starters or ‘small plates’, started to arrive. They all looked pretty spectacular and I was getting some serious food envy, but once mine arrived I was pleased with my choice. I decided to go for the Sage and lentil croquettes with carrot puree, pear and winter leaves. The dish was very colourful and the croquettes were delicately flavoured. Even as a small plate, this dish packed a punch and was just enough to kick things off with.

During and in between each course, Vicky kindly kept filling up my wine glass with a lovely white Portuguese wine, Alandra Branco Alentejo. I am usually quite fussy with my white wine, but this was very good indeed and I would definitely choose this from the menu again.

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My main course of Pressed Potato Terrine, burnt aubergine puree, charred broccoli, braised quince with a red pepper jus arrived. There were a lot of components to this dish, but they all complemented each other really well. Everything on my plate was cooked to perfection, the potatoes weren’t stodgy and starchy, they were light and fluffy, the flavours and colours of the puree and jus were incredible and the presentation of the whole dish was outstanding (along with being gluten free and vegan). This, however, didn’t stop me from eyeing up the other dishes on offer!

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The choice of desserts was narrowed down for me between the chocolate brownie and the lemon yoghurt panna cotta, as the other choice was a coconut malabi with apple donuts, and unfortunately I am allergic to apple, big sigh! So I went with the lemon yoghurt panna cotta, which was beautifully light and zingy with the added sharpness from the accompanying buckthorn. I have had buckthorn once before at Carters in Moseley (check out that review here) and found it a really interesting flavour, one that went well with the lemon.

I am very much of the opinion that whatever you ordered off this menu, you are going to be pretty darn pleased, although you will still be eyeing up everyone else’s choice! The dishes were beautifully presented and very instagramable, but the presentation didn’t distract from the amazing flavours, textures and taste of the dishes.

Even though I am not vegetarian, I would strongly recommend anyone, meat eater or not, to give 1847 a try. The atmosphere was lovely and relaxed, and the staff were very friendly and knowledgeable about the ingredients in the dishes and the food was delicious, and, you certainly won’t miss your meat or fish.

Here are the other beautiful dishes that were on offer that night…

Have you been to try 1847 or can you recommend any other great vegetarian restaurants in Birmingham for me to try?

Lenny xx

Lenny loves…Santorini

When you picture Santorini, you picture beautiful blue and white domed buildings, black sand and sunshine. And that is exactly what I got when I arrived. Well, not exactly when I arrived as it was more or less midnight when we got off the plane at Santorini airport, but the next morning on our walk around the local area, that was pretty much what we saw.

I went at the beginning of September and booked my trip through Solo’s Holidays, who organise holidays for single travellers.  Santorini has always been a place I have wanted to visit, so when I saw that Solo’s offered it for a decent price (no single supplements!) at the sort of time I wanted to go, I decided to go for it!

Solo’s provide a forum where you can chat to other people who are going on the same holiday as you or who have been before and can tell you a bit about what to expect. This was quite useful and meant that I had introduced myself to a few people before we got there and agreed to meet at the airport before we travelled.

We flew from Gatwick with Norwegian Airlines, which was a bit of a chore for me to get to, even more so when I flew back home! Not 100% sure if I would fly with Norweigan again, but I suppose they were as good as any other budget airlines for a short-haul flight.

We stayed in a lovely area called Perissa, which is quite famous for its long black sandy beach and is quite a lively place to be, without paying the prices of Oia or Fira and was the perfect location to explore the island.

Beach in Perissa

The B&B we stayed in was quite basic, but clean, which is all I ask for nowadays! One thing I did like about Solo’s holidays is that even though there are no single supplements, you don’t have to share a room – something which bugged me a bit when I went travelling.

I did a few trips that were organised by our tour rep for ease and to be with people I knew, but if you were visiting with friends/family there are plenty of local travel agents offering a wide variety of excursions on and around the island. Check out Lucy from Absolute Lucy for her tips on organising a trip in Santorini!

I also braved the public bus and took myself off to Oia for the day. Getting the bus from Perissa was pretty easy and I only had to change once in Fira at the bus station, and there are staff all around to let you know which bus is yours.  It was lovely to have a bit of time to myself, without needing to be somewhere at a certain time to meet the group.

There were so many highlights of the trip, but for a quick overview it was all about the views! The view from the Volcano, the views from Oia, the views from Santo Wines at sunset, everything was stunning!

Sunset from Santo Wines

The food, well that was pretty good too! I will do a separate food post, but everywhere I ate and everything I ate was gorgeous! I put on around 10lbs on this holiday!! And it was worth every pound! Lots of fish, feta cheese, pitta bread and fava!

Overall, would I visit Santorini again? Absolutely! Would I go with Solo’s again? Yes and I would probably use them to visit other parts of the world too.

Keep your eyes peeled for that food post and also some highlights of the trip coming soon!

Lenny xx

Disclaimer: This holiday was paid in full by myself. Solo’s were not aware that I was reviewing the trip for my little blog!