Billies Kitchen: from Mexico to Vietnam.

Hey yummies! Won’t trouble you with the crazy week I’m having. The good news is I have the keys to my new place and am hoping to move in next week. I will write another post with further details but I would like to ask that you are patient with me during this time. The new apartment is bigger and nicer but I am still searching for the details and furniture, so it may be a little sparse for the first couple of weeks (sparse meaning no bedside tables and so on – rest assured it will still be comfortable and there will be wine! haha)

 

In the meantime I have been rustling up some delicious creations in the kitchen as usual! This was my first time making Vietnamese summer rolls. It’s very tricky to wrap them, so they were a little rough round the edges, but were still very delicious. I added some edible flowers, raw veg, prawns and a little five spice and coriander. I’m not fully convinced by this recipe, perhaps because I used hoi sin sauce which overpowered everything… I shall work on the recipe and try again in the future.

 

The next two images are my own recipe that I made today. I now have the ability to walk through the supermarket and pick up ingredients in an ad hoc way, making up a recipe as I go along, which is what I did for this delicious little lunch dish. Tomato and buratta tacos, with red pepper and almond pesto, spring onions, and topped with olive oil, oregano, and a little smoked chilli. Now I’m not one to blow my own trumpet (I’d much rather blow yours!) but this was an excellent creation and despite my usual self critical nature, I would not change anything if I were to repeat it. I was going to add blood orange for acidity and sweetness, but I forgot to add it and I’m glad I did. I like this taco idea and it’s my first time making them. Tomorrow I will attempt pulled chicken katsu tacos with pak choi and sesame (another recipe I have imagined). I cant wait to be in my bigger kitchen so I can really enjoy my cooking. Perhaps you’ll agree to taste some of my creations when you visit?!

 

See you soon – big kisses everywhere!

 

Billie x

Billie Visits: Berry Bros and Rudd

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"Never waste a good wine on a bad mood."

- A quote from my favourite Sommelier

Buying a special bottle of wine and decided to stop in to Berry Bros for some advice. This was my first time in this beautiful, historic shop, that I pass on more than a twice weekly basis and always promise myself I must pop in to. It’s one of those quintessentially British shops – what can be more British than over priced alcohol and pretence (joke!). This place was founded in 1698! To think of all the people who have walked the same steps I did: King George, Lord Byron, and of course the most regal of them all – me!

 

I really appreciate that feeling of continuity. There’s something very reassuring about brands and places that have stood the test of time. Berry brothers has over 4000 wines for sale – meaning you could have a different wine every day for a decade and still not finish them all. Anyway this is starting to sound like I’m becoming a Berry Brothers official spokesman, but I’d really recommend stopping by. Despite having been to some incredible places, I often get a feeling of apprehension before entering new places. I think they call it “imposter syndrome”. That feeling that maybe you don’t belong there and everyone will laugh at you. Silly I know! I needn’t have worried, they showed me great hospitality and invited me to their fine wine room (locked with fingerprint entry) to show me the fine selection. Wow! Still at the stage where I’d have to remortgage my flat or sell a kidney to afford some of these, but I can only dream to one day be able to crack open some of the truly special vintages.

 

My wine story is a short and sweet one. I didn’t touch alcohol until 23 years old. I’m not sure why, it just never interested me, but rest assured I’ve been making up for lost time! The first wine I ever loved was a Riesling that I had at the restaurant Pied a Terre. I was amazed! Slightly sweet and with that typical petrol Riesling taste. Since then I’ve branched out in every direction and could name a wine I like from most countries. I don’t know that I have the most sophisticated palate yet, I think that comes with time and experience, but I also really enjoy Rioja, Malbec, Gavi, Sauvignon Blanc (£10.99 New Zealand Villa Maria with the screw top is my go to “fridge door wine”!). I’m starting to enjoy the bigger and more prestigious wines (hilariously autocorrect just tried to change “prestigious” into “pretentious”! Admittedly it’s a fine line…). Currently a truly epic old bottle of red is wasted on me, as I’m just not there yet with my palate, but some of my favourite dates have been wine tastings where I can try a little of everything, including some delicious reds. A good sommelier is such a skilled person. I have a massive crush on one of the Berry Brothers Masters of Wine (any man with “Master” in his official job title becomes immediately sexy to me haha!) I love how they can say such precise things like “this wine tastes of burnt beetroot, cut grass and liquorice” and that feeling of wonder and ecstasy when you realise YES! That’s EXACTLY what it tastes like!

 

I would love to visit the great regions and spend weeks doing wine tours (“wine tour” = posh term for a piss up in France – not that I’m complaining!). I was recently introduced to Sauternes Chateau d’Yquem, the Rolls Royce of Sauternes… yum! I absolutely love cheese and it goes so nicely paired with a pungent blue cheese and nothing else. So delicious, tastes heavenly! Apparently with this Sauternes they do not simply pick the bunches of grapes, they go around the whole vineyard individually picking only the best and most ready single grapes to use. Only the French (and possibly the Japanese) are capable of something so painstakingly refined. Amazing to think that to make my glass, every single grape was specifically chosen to be there. Another dessert wine I really enjoy was introduced to me by a gentleman who lives in Hungary. Tokaj, a Hungarian dessert wine, which is a little more malty depending on which one you get, and is a delight paired with dark chocolate. I’ve also enjoyed British sparkling wine (after we leave the EU we better get used to it haha, say hello to a constant diet of gin and potatoes!) and find English sparkling it to be delicious, but… not quite champagne! One of my guilty indulgences (not to be consumed more than once a month) is good champagne with bad food. I first discovered this combination in a restaurant where a sommelier recommended we try champagne and fried chicken(!) The immediate reaction is… absolutely not! But the combination of a crisp, dry, ice cold champagne, with salty fatty food is soooo good! Open a bottle with your Friday night takeaway and you will be amazed, and the whole meal immediately has a decadent modern day Henry VIII type feel to it! I know what you’re thinking. KFC and Krug? Really Billie!?!?! Yes really. Let’s do it!

 

You bring the wine I’ll bring something to nibble on 😉 See you soon!

 

Big kiss,

Billie x

Six Smooth Songs

Favourite lyric:

“You’d kill yourself for recognition; kill yourself to never ever stop
You broke another mirror; you’re turning into something you are not”

 

I love because:

The piano arrangement is gorgeous.

Favourite lyric:

“Let there be wind
An occasional rain
Chile con carne
Sparkling champagne”

 

I love because:

This is the perfect song to listen to during any romantic moment. An unparalleled classic.

Favourite lyric:

“A man needs something he can hold onto
Nine-pound hammer or a woman like you
Either one of them things will do”

 

 

I love because:
He writes his own lyrics and has such a beautiful voice.

Favourite lyric:

“When your belly’s empty, the hunger’s so real
You’re too proud to beg, you’re too dumb to steal”

 

I love because:

The arrangement is simple and perfect. Plus, there’s something pretty special about someone singing a Sting song, back to Sting, better than he originally sang it. 

Favourite lyric:

“Sometimes, even the good things get lost along the way
I had to let you go, but I wanted you to stay”

 

I love because:

I’m a big fan of acoustic versions of my favourite dance songs.

Favourite lyric:

“Just as hate knows love’s a cure
You can rest your mind assured
That I’ll be lovin’ you always”

 

I love because:

It’s impossible not to love!

Billie Takes On: Le Cordon Bleu

Hi yummies!

 

January has begun in great style, with a fantastic trip overseas to [Country name redacted due to Official Secrets Act] somewhere I hadn’t visited before which has already become one of my all time favourite places (I know, I say that about everywhere!). The environment, the food and the history of [City Name Redacted due to Official Secrets Act] were second to none, but as we both know, it’s people that truly make a place, so luckily for me, my company was second to none.

 

Started my course at Le Cordon Bleu, and am LOVING IT. I am starting to think “you only live once, take the Grand Diploma”, but I simply don’t have the time right now as some of you may know I am still getting my advanced PT and Nutritionist qualifications. Have already learned so much on my course and am irritated at myself for having not pushed myself further, sooner. I am currently a very good home cook, but everything I do is based on intuition- a bit like an artist or musician with raw talent but no classical training. I can make a stock, I can butcher a chicken, but its all… a little bit “Billie Style”. This course is teaching me finesse, and classic skills. I have so much respect for all things traditional, and am getting so much pleasure from learning in such a quality, historic institution.

 

Anyway, I’ll save the rest of the details for our date – see you soon x

 

Bis kiss!

Billie x

An Ode To Champagne

You
Trickle
From my lips and
Reach my
Fingertips like
Ecstasy,
You
Coax
The very worst
But first
You
Cultivate the best in me,
Artful and arresting
Sinful and suggesting,
My affliction
And my anodyne
Not
Beer
Nor brandy
Whiskey,
Wine.
As if a gift
From Gods above me-
It’s fizz that loves me
Fizz that fucks me
Fickle fizz that’s worth my time.
Fickle fizz can make
The dullest dinner sparkle as you dine.

Fizz will never leave you
Fizz will delude and deceive you
Fizz will galvanize the glory days and
Guide you through
The times of grief too.
Oh I love you
Oh I need you
Trust you and believe you,
Must you make a fool of me?
Bubbly?
I gratefully
Receive you.

I am proud
And I am confident
To
Have you on my arm
I love
Your class,
Your cool,
Your
Chivalry, your
Candid classic charm.

I’ve had Prosecco in a penthouse
I’ve swigged Cava in a car
Yes, of course I’ve tasted others,
They’ve been
Close
But no cigar.
I raise a
Toast to you
I’m lost in you
You glorious and gentle beast
You graceful and gregarious
Hilarious and
Humble
Feast.

 

And as I drain the final drop,
And as we take our final kiss,
I wait ‘til you are gone and
Begin
Flirting with
The cocktail list.

 

 

-BF

Gift Appreciation ♥

A quick but very heartfelt thank you, for the lovely gifts I have received over the last few weeks. Much Appreciated!

 

Billie x

Hello, 2020

Hi yummies,

 

A happy new year to you and your loved ones! Feeling so sexy and full of energy so make sure you’ve eaten your Wheetabix before our 2020 date!

 

Just back from a luxurious holiday in the sun, and I feel as if I’ve leapt straight from a bikini into a wool coat! Have had such a busy and adventurous year it was lovely to finish things on a high. I’m definitely a warm weather person (other than ski), I love walking around in a sundress and heels and the feeling of the sun on my skin. Have you noticed that in the sun even food and wine tastes better? So many times I’ve been away and had what I thought at the time to be excellent local wine. So I bring a few bottles home and the exact same wine… just doesn’t taste the same. The right people and the right surroundings in life can make such a massive difference to any experience. And I’m very tanned!

 

I love London in the winter, even with the rain and cold, but there’s nothing better than giving yourself a mental and physical holiday from lifes stresses. I think it’s very important to take time, whether a couple of hours or a couple of days, to put your feet up and unwind. I feel lucky to connect with people who have a similar outlook and also believe in finding time to prioritise their pleasure(s). Also, (rather late than never) I wanted to say a massive thank you to those generous enough to have sent a Christmas gift. Very much appreciated and noted 🙂 You shall be on my nice list (or perhaps naughty list) this year!

 

As you may know, I never make New Years Resolutions. “Be healthier” “Enjoy life more” and all those other pointless promises are usually forgotten within a month, so instead I create a Bucket List of specific experiences I would like to have, which I have also added here on my page. I’m not naturally organised, so for me, a list is a way of staying focused. If you would like to help complete a 2020 Bucket List item, I would love to hear from you. In past years I have managed to complete everything on my list, so here’s to an interesting year ahead and many more adventures! One of my favourite quotes is “life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage”. So true! It’s not exactly a secret that if you spend most of your life being risk adverse and running between the office and your living room, you miss so many opportunities (like some time with me!)

I’m back in town and have my hair tied up and am in deep concentration working on a new recipe (very predictable haha). Also I recently discovered a lingerie brand called Anoeses, which hand makes the most beautiful things, they are making something special for me. Can’t wait to show you! I always feel a tingle of excitement getting new sexy things. I have a massive lingerie collection with everything from fine silks and chantilly lace, to leather and silver to cotton Calvins Kleins. The pieces I’ve ordered are both a BDSM aesthetic. Very sexy… keep checking my page and I’ll let you know when they arrive.

 

My case is barely unpacked (okay, to be honest I havent unpacked at all yet) and I’m already getting ready for another adventure. I used to be such a terrible flier – terrified of airports (not flying, the airport itself), and absolutely useless at packing and organisation. These days I can survive 5 days from a single carryon luggage, and find travelling a much more relaxed process. I’ve only ever missed one flight in my life; I remember very clearly, two years ago, my first time going to see the Opera (Le Nozze Di Figaro) at La Scala in Milan. My flight was around 5pm and I arrived with very little time to spare. I was also going through a phase where I always travelled well dressed and in high heels (perfect for selfies and strutting round Duty Free, less perfect for running to a soon to be closing Gate – once I had to take my heels off and run barefoot like a maniac haha). So anyway I scanned my boarding pass and it wont let me through. There’s an automatic system where if you arrive less than 45mins before the flight they dont let you through to security. Now I’m not a diva (honestly!), but I almost have an epic diva moment! I am about to miss my flight and my date, I’m stood helpless at Heathrow in my pretty heels and silly designer luggage and big sunglasses (eeep I wanted to cry) so I run to “Special Assistance” and explain to the lady on the desk and she says “Well you’ll never make it wearing those!” pointing to my strappy heels (how rude! When everything’s going wrong there’s nothing like highly sarcastic customer service to brighten your day!) She put me on the next flight and I made it just in time for what was actually a very magical night and unfortunately my only time in Milan. Other than that I can say I’ve never missed a flight and hopefully never will! I am prioritising travel this year and please remember overseas dates are flexible(ish).

 

My top travel destinations for this year (see my bucket list for details) are: Venice, Norway, Lisbon, Singapore, Vienna, Sardinia, Capri, and Milan. Let’s see… a girl can dream 🙂

Anyway, I’m sure it was not your intention to spend the remainder of this year reading my blog, so I shall let you get back your Monday evening.

 

See you soon! Let’s start this decade as we mean to go on and grab it with both hands (not me, the decade… although I wouldn’t say no!)

 

Big kisses and hugs, and more kisses!

 

Billie x

Tasty ‘n’ Turkish

Just finished a working lunch at Barboun (a new restaurant very local to me. Actually I am still here, waiting for my dessert to arrive) and WOW! So delicious! I love Turkish food anyway (I was almost going to bundle in Greek and Cypriot food, but I do appreciate these cosines have separate identities). Some of the best places are those very low key family run spots – they all follow the same formula. An ancient relative sits in a corner overseeing everything, there’s a wall with lots of black and white photos commemorating that time Michael Caine had a mixed grill there, tablecloths are not a thing, and they’re a sort of lost in time (or perhaps, timeless) class of restaurant. There is an Epic one in Dalston, the name of which I forget. But I think there is more than enough room for an evetated modern Turkish restaurant,. and so I tried Barboun, and decided to bring my laptop with me for a working lunch. The restaurant was totally empty (it’s the 29th Dec after all). It doesn’t bother me – I love my own company, I enjoy eating alone… just as long as the staff are friendly (I once dined at a 2 Michelin place in Holland and they didn’t give me a menu for 30 mins because, and I quote, they “thought you were waiting for your husband or something”) Ouch! Way to kick a single girl when she’s down!

 

Anyway, the meal was amazing. The only downside to dining alone is that when it comes to small plates restaurants (my new favourite kind), you’re limited to 2-4 plates, whereas with friends you can order many more plates for the table and taste a little of everything. I picked the beetroot fritters with whipped feta and mint (I do a MEAN grilled lamb cutlets with whipped feta and mint, it’s a great combination), the grilled prawns with chermoula and lemon, and the Muhlama (kefalatoryi cheese fondue, with a black – perhaps charcoal – sourdough). The fondue is the most PERFECT thing for a cold winters day. It took me right back to my last trip to the alps, skiing (alright, falling) down the mountain, and ending up at a lovely little alpine restaurant. Hot fondue for one, grilled prawns, an the most delicious fritters, pure bliss! I have already planned net time to try the Halloumi Saganaki, and the zaatar baby chicken (za’atar is actually more middle eastern than Turkish, and a herb mix I use to make my own chicken and chickpea dish).

 

Ooo dessert just arrived. A Tahini fondant with ice cream, that I’m having with Turkish tea (trying for the first time – just tried it and I’m not sure.. it’s very strong!). Stick a fork in me I’m stuffed! Such a delicious meal, I couldn’t finish it all, but still can’t wait to come back … Shall we go?

 

Have attached some photos of my delicious meal. Tasted even better than it looked 🙂

 

Billie xxxx

Pheasant (Fiction)

You are sat in the far right corner

Of the bar

With champagne on ice

Flicking through BBC World News

On a cracked iPad

In a black leather case

And the

Domino chain

Of

Curious

Turning

Homogenous heads

As I pass

Causes you to glance up,

Catch my eye,

Down your

Champagne

Instantly

 

And pour two more.

 

In your haste,

Everything that was

On your lap

(iPad, wallet, The Times, bar receipt, £1.08 in change, room key)

Is

On the floor and you

Haven’t noticed and you

Haven’t

Attempted

To rectify this.

 

An unhappy woman on her third martini

Sneers at me over her

Brand new

Nose

Scrutinizing head to toe

The brand and value of my clothes;

 

Jesus.

 

I don’t belong here.

But

I have gained enough

Respect from

Managing

This dress and those heels

So

Effortlessly,

That when I stop,

Bend over,

And retrieve your items from the floor

The bar has decided

I should

Probably

Stay

 

My heart is beating as I sink into a

Chair

And

Kiss your cheek.

 

10:03

Your tie is off

And we have decided that

We

Both

Love

Formula 1

And Panerai Watches,

Wasabi peanuts,

And think the rooms at the Sanderson

Lack personality,

Both sway center-left-rightish

And

You are showing me

Photos of

You and your

Friends

In tweed

Making the most of the last

Day of

Pheasant season.

 

I find some irony

In our story
I find some

Humour

In the fact that

I-

High on champagne and anticipation,

Flapping about

In your presence

Trying to escape lust;

My soul flying

Freely

Through wicked and wanton woods

Think myself any less

Vulnerable,

Any less

Susceptible

To The Hunt

Than a pheasant-

 

Nestled in a chair and

Pecking at your neck.

 

You’ve stopped drinking but you

Pour me

Another

As I

Coo

In your ear.

 

*****

 

Finally

I lose

And

Fall into your lap.

 

-BF

The Problem With Christmas

(Satire – sort of)

On previous years, my Christmas shopping tactic has been a simple one. If it cannot be purchased on the John Lewis website – to put it simply – I’m not buying it. I would buy everyone’s present in a single gargantuan John Lewis delivery, not even bother to wrap anything (would pretend this was me trying to be environmentally friendly, although the whole Greta-Thunberg-packaging-is-the-devil act was of course immediately abandoned the moment the individually wrapped chocolates emerged). Anyway, so everyone gets stuck into these massive boxes of John Lewis things. Socks! Everyone gets socks! Not only that, they get the most pointless socks in existence – Christmas Novelty socks! Which become utterly useless and embarrassing to wear 24 hours later when Christmas is over (sorry Greta!). Then you know how it is – this one wants a drone, this one wants one of those game consoles which I am now too desperately uncool to understand. Mum wants alcohol and to be left alone, this one wants a Chanel perfume. And voila! Christmas shopping is complete and delivered with quite possibly the least possible stress and effort expenditure. It’s worth mentioning that I love giving gifts. I am a thoughtful and prolific gift giver. I have sourced rare books and vinyls, Goodwood tickets, holidays, you name it, for loved ones. But Christmas is simply not the time to be wrestling a granny for the last pack of mince pies at Fortnums. I’m a lady after all… tis’ the season for Christmas cocktails and pampering.

 

This year I have thought of an even more masterful plan. Everyone is getting a hug and an improvised lecture about the dangers of Brexit. Should anyone complain, they shall then receive another improvised, and deliciously hypocritical lecture about the dangers of capitalism.

 

The problem with Christmas is it’s a bit like hosting your own party. A lot more fun in theory, if you allow yourself to take it too seriously. Between the pressure to cook the perfect turkey (something I achieve using Gordon Ramsays method of completely removing the crown and cooking it separately from the legs), and the pressure to constantly BE HAVING A GOOD TIME, the pressure on your stomach of consuming a weeks calories in one sitting, and the pressure to produce meaningful and well received gifts, I have found some years the process to be stressful (admittedly I am one of those people who can be an overthinker, could you guess haha), and I think the best way to get through it is simply to give yourself a break! Dear Santas reading this, do not stress (I can offer some stress relief should this be the case)! Life is way too short to feel bad about a dry Turkey (we invented gravy for precisely this reason), or that thing you wanted to buy not being in stock. So one of your relatives has had the audacity to turn vegan? No problem! Nothing a baked mushroom and a shot of vodka cant fix (the mushroom for them, the vodka for you). What I love about Christmas the most is turning off my phone, and enjoying a hearty meal whilst in the company of loved ones. The problem with Christmas is that we tell ourselves certain things only happen once a year because they are exceptional, but in reality it’s because those things are often exceptionally bad! If turkey, Brussels sprouts, mulled wine and extended periods of time in a confined space with the family whilst The Queen lectures us was all such a good idea, we would “enjoy” these things all the time! There’s a reason you’ve never woken up on a mid-July morning with an unstoppable craving for Panettone. I’m not entirely convinced Christmas wouldn’t be better with a group of your best friends, all sharing a giant lasagne and a couple good bottles of red, with a film that doesn’t involve Macauley Culkin playing in the background.

 

I’ve never spent a Christmas overseas in the sunshine because I’m British, and putting myself in completely avoidable situations then complaining about them is an intrinsic part of our national DNA. But one of these years I just might do it.

 

Just some thoughts…

Merry Christmas! Big kisses and thanks for a lovely year. See you soon xx

 

Billie x

A Cook and Her Kitchen

In order to excel at anything, it is said that you need to have practiced said thing for at least 10,000 hours. I have calculated, very roughly speaking, that at some time within the last few years, I exceeded 10,000 hours of cooking. Cooking is a massive source of joy to me. Not just the act itself, but everything peripheral- beautiful cookware (I am obsessed with Mauviel and of course Le Creuset), sourcing ingredients, and also over the last few years, having the competence to create many completely new recipes of my own.

 

My dream kitchen is the size of a very large master bedroom. It has a large island, a window box stuffed with growing herbs, an ice cream maker, teppanyaki grill, a massive larder, a gas hob (I miss cooking on gas), a double oven, commercial standard appliances (like Gordon Ramsays kitchen if you’ve ever seen it),  oh and of course a fleet of staff to clear up after I’m finished (the cleaning up is the only bit I like to delegate!). Outside – a pizza oven, two outdoor BBQs – both an American style gas BBQ, and a traditional coal fired grill. The kitchen counters should be a strategic height – perfect for being bent over whilst a chicken or whatever else is roasting in the oven (this bit is very important; I like to multitask).

 

I am becoming, if you hadn’t realised, an absolutely obsessive cook. Sex drive and food drive are almost the same thing. Just now I took some preserved roasted peppers from the fridge (I made these myself a few days ago, there is also anchovy and roasted garlic in the jar). Then some ciabatta, toasted in the oven, a smear of ricotta, and because I could tell this could benefit from acidity, just a few drops of lemon juice. Something just rustled up from what I have in the fridge. WOW! You know it was good because I’m a millennial and I forgot to take a photo haha! Absolutely delicious and an almost orgasmic experience. The crunchy ciabatta (roughly sliced on purpose), creamy mild ricotta, then these sweet, smoky, silky peppers, good olive oil, a savoury hint of salty anchovy, and then the zing of lemon to cut through the fat. Almost perfect. Almost! But next time some herbs, perhaps some thyme in the jar to infuse the peppers, for that final, floral note.

 

Next year I start a short course at Le Cordon Bleu (more geared towards professional chefs but they’ve let me on because… well, because I asked). I am so excited! In the age of Uber Eats and Deliveroo-amazon-google-whatever-you-call-it cooking has become hopelessly uncool. I love eating out. In fact, there are few things better than being taken to dinner. So romantic! Picking out an outfit and heels, and entering a beautiful quality restaurant. I never check menus beforehand (I’m aware most people do, but it’s completely against my personality type as I love surprises). I love to take an aperitif – almost always a rose champagne, a peach bellini, or some other champagne cocktail – and then the excitement of opening the menu. A moment of ecstasy! A girlfriend and I recently went to the Waterside inn, in Bray; We had the tasting menu with wine pairing and it was absolutely magical (we were supposed to also go to Hestons Fat Duck, but embarrassingly I messed up the reservation somehow and we ended up eating at the pub instead (oops!). In the same month (October) I also visited Lympstone Manor – Michael Caines place in Exmouth. Both seriously good! Anyway, that feeling of being looked after by a good restaurant is definitely something special, but on a Tuesday afternoon in December, freezing cold outside, and with an extra hour on my hands, I can think of no better way to use that time than to spend it creating something new in the kitchen. I suppose my main outlets in life are fitness, cooking, writing, and sex (not a bad combination!).

 

I’ve spent this year expanding my skills as a cook, and thought it would be nice to share with you some of my creations. I cook every cuisine, but you see this year I have focused on Mediterranean and north African cooking (last year I was cooking a lot more Asian cuisine). I have hundreds of dishes, so am just sharing a small selection.

 

Enjoy!

 

Billie x

Taking the Political Biscuit (and a bit about cars)

The political climate is now like a hellish Christmas Selection Box of gargantuan proportions:

 

Increasingly stale and unpalatable, the choice really comes down to which candidate you dislike the most. I was saying the other day how much I miss the Hague/Prescott era of politics but then I remembered there was a literal recession! A sad indictment of the current state of things that I should look back on the recession as the “good old days” of politics!

 

Have you ever thought of your favourite politician as a biscuit? (Entirely rhetorical question based on the principle that you almost definitely haven’t).

 

Well, I have! (Too much time on my hands, clearly!) My thoughts are as follows:

 

Boris: Ginger Nut. Ginger, obviously. Nutty, obviously. Can survive multiple hard knocks thoroughly unscathed. Talks a strong game but fundamentally crumbly when put in hot water. Cannot be trusted to sustain a thorough tea dunking.

 

Corbyn: Fair Trade Chocolate Digestive. Ideologically driven but financially unviable. Supposedly the people’s biscuit of choice, but known to be a bit of a melt.

 

Nicola Surgeon: Shortbread. Short. Strong. Sweet. Scottish. Deliciously retro (those suits are so 80’s they’ve almost come back in fashion). Easy not to like, but impossible not to respect.

 

Nigel Farage: Jammie Dodger. No further explanation necessary. Not to be consumed by those with a fully developed brain.

 

Caroline Lucas: Pink wafer. Soft, sweet, easily broken. Can not be taken seriously or compete against other biscuits but still maintains a place in the nation’s heart.

 

Tony Blair: Jaffa Cake. Cake or biscuit? Hero or villain? Can a jaffa cake be held personally responsible for my expanding waistline? Can Tony Blair be held personally responsible for Iraq? Valid questions, valid questions…

 

David Cameron: Tunnocks Caramel wafer. A once much loved staple, which has now almost disappeared from the landscape and no one seems to have noticed.

 

Theresa May: Rich Tea. A lovely old dear. Hopelessly uncool, and brilliantly uncomplicated. Not at all deserving of negative reputation. Somewhat lacking in flavour, but can survive a thorough dunking and remain in tact.

 

Jacob Rees Mogg: Party Ring. Something not quite right – no one needs to be trying that hard. Under the icing, average at best.

 

John McDonnell: Jacobs Cream Cracker. Really dry: but here to remind you what it feels like not to have running water and that there’s more to life than material pleasure. Happiest when smothered in margarine (or so I’m told).

 

***Bonus Politician***

Donald Trump: Fig Roll. Smells a bit wierd but no one’s brave enough to mention it. Can only be consumed in miniscule amounts, so best not to consume at all. Even the people that like it, don’t really like it. Squishy and pliable on the outside, a nondescript mess on the inside.

 

Hmmm,
All this selection box talk and I’m now peckish! Still preparing for my shoot so the closest thing I’m having to a biscuit is half a tangerine sat on top of a Ryvita (something I’ve obviously invented and wouldn’t recommend). My running is going so well! So nice this week to connect with others who are interested in fitness too! I have been cooking up a STORM as well, all healthy recipes to combat some of the lovely meals I’ve been having. Can’t wait to move west in the new year, hoping to find somewhere with a bigger kitchen so I can poison, er, I mean, delight you with some of my dishes! Still shopping for the last few bits for my shoot and it’s so much fun picking out which heels, lingerie and outfits to wear. Also if you like vintage cars (who doesn’t) you’re in for a treat!

 

I will save cars for a separate blog because OMG so many ones I would love. I have a thing for the American vintage cars (Chrysler/Chevvy) because theyre so beautiful and feminine, all that chrome and polished rosewood and leather (too bad about the left hand drive). Even the old mustangs are nice (actually the new mustangs aren’t really my thing but are surprisingly good too). My dream day to day vintage car – if there’s such a thing – would definitely be a Chrysler vintage pick up truck (my fun side), or a Mercedes SL (my classy side). Actually I would also love a Ford Capri complete with the outrageously dated tan interiors. A properly restored red Capri is such a cool car! You dont see them often but I think those boxy 80s cars are ripe to come back in fashion (everything from those old Volvos right up to the Ferrari Testarossa).

Anyway I said that’ll be another blog so I shall be on my way. Off to enjoy an evening of tapas and temptation!

 

Epic week this week – thanks!

 

Kiss,
Billie x

A Gentleman’s Guide to Restraints.

(They say knowledge is power, but they also say, with great power comes great responsibility. Please use this guide responsibly, I will not be held personally accountable should you decide to tie your postman up!)

 

Hi Yummies,
Suspense is one of my favourite feelings. I’ve had holidays where I’d been told to pack my bags and didn’t know where I was going until I got to the gate. I love excitement and the thrill of the unknown. As you may imagine, this personality type is an integral part of why I have always lead my life in a way which allows me to constantly explore and experience new things. This manifests itself in many ways, and one of those ways is a love for restraints. If you are a gentleman who likes a little spice, or perhaps one who would like to try, please allow me to share with you, my Gentlemen’s Guide To Restraints (informally known as “How To Tie Up Your Girlfriend”).

 

Cuffs.
Probably the easiest way for a simple, instant restraint. Metal ones if you’re being naughty, fluffy ones if you’re being nice. Leather ones if… well, they look very sexy paired with nothing but black heels! These can fasten the hands in front of the body or behind, or perhaps above her head, can be attached to a bedpost or other fixed item, and can be paired with ankle cuffs for a visual and erotic treat both for the dominant man and the woman who loves to be dominated. I have leather cuffs which are soft, supple, and beautifully (hand) made. They’re probably my favourite. The metal ones work best in a role play scenario (how dare you arrest me, officer!), and the fluffy cuffs are a feminine entry level pair, that are softer to the touch and work well in sensual girlfriendy experiences.

 

Bondage tape.
This is a tape that can be used on hands, legs, over the mouth, or any other body part. The main appeal is that it’s very visual, and you will find the experience of hastily duct-taping your girlfriend, to be more exciting than the simple click of the cuffs. It’s far less tacky than normal tape but not so easy to get off, but still fun to use and if anyone catches you with it in your bag you’ve got more plausible excuses (er… leaky bathroom pipe) than should a pair of fluffy cuffs fall out of your briefcase.

 

Rope.
A classic. The dry martini of restraints. Secure your girlfriend anywhere (within reason) and in any position (without reason!) Rope is a lot of fun, and there are an infinite amount of combinations you can use. A fun example is the thighs and ankles bound together, or the hands bound to the feet. This is a kinky experience, and a very erotic process that is best with someone you are very comfortable with (tape is secure and not so easy to remove). The word “comfortable” is undeserving of it’s bad reputation. There is nothing more sexy than being around someone you trust and are comfortable to be uninhibited with.

 

Improvisation.
Your tie, a scarf, my stockings; Some of the most fun and sexy moments are those that are improvised. Hands bound together with your tie is visually very sexy (use your favourite silk tie at your own risk!) and the DIY aspect means virtually anything can become an improvised restraint. The possibilities when it comes to improvisation are endless and outrageous (if you’ve never spanked a pert bottom with a Gideon bible you’ve been missing out!). The waist tie from the hotel bath robe offers a gag, a blindfold, and a restraint all in one, your belt can be bound round your girlfriends wrists, or her torso with her arms pinned down. Improvisation is the true spice of life, and how we have the best experiences. Going with the flow, and not over thinking or over planning situations is sure to excite your adventurous girlfriend.

 

Please use your new found knowledge responsibly, (or alternatively contact Billie immediately to use it irresponsibly!)

 

See you soon…!

Billie x

Eat. Hike. Love.

Bonjourno yummies! Hope you are well.

 

Back from a delicious adventure in the Amalfi. My first time there and my first time doing a longer (more than a few hours) hike. Have that wonderful feeling of being tired, happy, glad to be home, and at the same time very appreciative to have had such a wonderful experience. Excellent food (I’d love to say you can’t go wrong in Italy, but you absolutely can. I’ve often irritated myself when falling into tourist traps in Rome, Milan etc, but this time it was a wonderful mix of Michelin stars and low key Italian places – no English menu, where ordering was a case of a smile, a point, a “grazie mille”, and a hope for the best). Wonderful company, and the sun made a much welcomed appearance.

 

Feeling lucky to enjoy such a variety of adventures and am currently unpacking quickly so I can go for a run before it gets dark. I have a photoshoot coming up in two weeks so I’m adding some extra cardio to my usual routine. I’m a sprinter by design, but have been working on longer distances (by longer I mean 5K – don’t laugh!) and am making slow but consistent progress. Whatever I do in life, gym, golf, cooking… I love to have all the gear! So I got myself a polar heart rate monitor and some “I know what im doing” running shoes, and have been hitting the park as much as I can. It’s a humbling experience – in the gym I usually out-train most people my size, but in the park it’s another story! When I first started I was being overtaken by pretty much everyone. Long distance running isn’t really my thing (I used to sprint competitively and I’m a fast-twitch muscle type) but if I can get a decent half marathon time in by the end of spring I’ll be happy. I love that feeling of getting in after a run, hot shower and a juice (I’m back into my juicing and smoothie making in a big way – my juicer was probably one of all time favourite gifts). Really sets you up for the day, and despite my frequent exclamations of “are we there yet” whilst scaling the Amalfi, I’m glad I started the running because some areas were not just off the beaten path- they had no path at all!

 

*****

London at Christmas. I love it! I don’t own a television so luckily I avoid most of the adverts advising me that if I buy a new leather sofa I won’t have to pay it off until the year 3018; but there’s something about those massive Christmas trees and all the green, red and gold. I’m even partial to a mulled wine (I’m possibly the only person who genuinely likes the stuff). I love anything that sparkles and can’t help but feel festive, but I have to say surviving Christmas as a foodie is a task of Herculean proportions! A friend of mine has a ridiculous/borderline genius way of eating that she calls the One Bite Policy. The OBP stipulates that in a large dinner or breakfast buffet, you have absolutely everything, but just one bite of each. Thus not over eating, whilst still avoiding that all too formidable “fear of missing out”. Its great in theory but the bad news is, I dont think it’s humanly possible for me to be at breakfast and have one bite of a croissant then put it down, and I’m probably not going to have one bite of roast potato at dinner either!

 

Speaking of missing out – I hope you’re remembering to treat yourself this Christmas season. Should you be looking for some festive cheer and sparkle of a more personal nature, please do get in touch! I’m a busy bee as always – it would be a shame to miss each other.

 

Hoping to see you soon…

Arribadetchi!

 

Billie x

Ascot For a Game Bird

Hi Yummies!

 

Recently had my first Ascot experience. Was invited to the National Hunt (jump) racing and it was amazing! I’m hoping it won’t be my last. First of all, I love horses anyway (I have a country life photoshoot in the pipeline, but it’s been postponed due to weather), so despite the grey skies, one of the most exciting parts was seeing how amazing the animals are at close range, absolutely beautiful, proud, and muscular: true athletes! I’m a big lover of nature and the outdoors and the racing reminded me of the Grand Prix, or a woman getting undressed: great to watch but over too soon! I’ve decided I want to own a racehorse, I shall call him Curly Billie, and he’ll loose every race he enters. When he finally dies I’ll turn him into a giant lazagne and serve him up at a dinner party (this is one of my slightly more surrealist blogs).

 

Luck was most definitely a lady – I managed to make a small fortune (okay, I’m exaggerating the term “fortune” somewhat) from a £5 bet, where I managed to predict both the first and second horses finishing! I’m not really big on gambling, but every time I’ve ever gambled I’ve done really well. I remember being early for the Cirque Du Soleil in Vegas, so sitting down and putting a dollar into the most old and decrepit fruit machine. I guess it hadn’t paid out in decades, because 10 seconds later, I won £400. The only problem with this type of experience is after a few wins (and a few drinks) you start genuinely believing the reason you’re winning isn’t luck, it’s some sort of divine gift (I do have many devine gifts, they’re just of a totally different nature!). But anyway, the races was a great experience and I empathised with the horses somewhat: I too, have spent many an afternoon being mounted and whipped by a small irishman and it was no fun at all.

 

Hmm.. I do sometimes wonder if my humor comes across to people who haven’t met me!

 

Ooo by the way I’m writing this whilst watching the most amazing show about Rick Stein travelling around France eating and drinking in the most wonderful little locations. Maybe I will do the same this spring. I was lucky to have a lunch date with one of my favourite people at Rich Steins place in Barnes- I love seafood. This show reminds me of Keith Floyd (do you remember him!?). Ugh… makes me long for sunshine, red wine simple food.

 

Wait, I lost my chain of thought for a moment. Back to Ascot! If you know me, you know life as Billie is a tale of two halves – half modernist, half traditionalist. Traditional Billie has been enjoying game season (had suchhh a delicious dinner at Game Bird at the Stafford). I do love traditional things, and such a treat to be finally at Ascot (have had opportunities to go for several years but somehow it never quite worked out). Anyway, was a lovely day out and I really enjoyed being in an environment so steeped in history, and I would love to go to Royal Ascot in the summer (hint hint if you’re reading this Prince Harry!).

 

My next adventure?

 

Currently packing for a short break hiking the Amalfi Coast this weekend. Jimmy Choo hiking boots at the ready – what an utter embarrassment to the hiking community I am! You’ve heard of models walking a catwalk? Well, the Amalfi hasn’t prepared itself for it’s very own one woman cathike! And another new place for me to explore. Can’t wait to stomp around in my hiking boots pretending I’ve got a sense of direction (I have none, I frequently get lost between the hotel reception and the room I’m staying in, and despite having been a Lononner my whole life, last week a tourist asked me how to get to Madame Tussauds and I had to consult google maps (it was across the street!)). I’m really enjoying my travel dates and there’s nothing like the thought of a Diavola pizza at the other end to get me over a mountain! You know I love the city lights, fine restaurants and all that jazz, but this year I have really enjoyed mixing things up with some wellness and activity holidays too. I think my dream holiday would definitely be a 3 days foodie, shopping and culture, then 4 days fitness and beach. 

 

Have so much to tell you, it’s been a CRAZY year for me! But I’d rather tell you in person than on here.

 

See you soon,

Big hugs,

 

Billie x

Dream Hikes

A couple of hikes that I’d love try. The Routeburn Track in New Zealand, and the Kings Trail in Sweden:

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Steak (Fiction)

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Please take this poem in the good humour that was intended at the time of writing!

 

STEAK.

 

2017
19:57
Some central London steakhouse.

 

I should have known
Not to trust a man
Who proudly announces that he
Takes his steak
“Very well done”.

 

I like my men
Slightly more
Ashamed of their sins.

 

I want you
To have very well done steak
Behind closed doors
But in public to
Do the right thing
And have it medium.

 

Your steak is sat in front of you
Cremated
Grey
Tough
Dead in vain
Asking why you show
Such a humble creature
So little mercy
As you drown the very last
Of its beauty in
Peppercorn sauce.

 

Has no one ever
Had the decency
To tell you
You are eating your steak
The wrong way

 

You decide on your cut.

 

A
Rump steak
“Very well done”.

 

I wish you’d stop saying it –
Blasphemy.

 

I’m highly suspicious of you.
And that very well done steak.

 

*****

 

Mine is
The right way.
I roll up a pressed, pink
Silk sleeve
And reach for my steak knife

 

I can’t stop
Staring at your meat.

 

You’ve
Been unfair to the animal.
It’s a dry
Hunk
Of unpleasantry
You might as well have ordered
Goat.

 

Christ,
I’m a lady,
You can’t just
Casually order up a
Well done steak and
Expect me
Not to
Notice such a
Vitriolic
Vandalism

 

It’s sadistic,
We can’t be together when you treat a
Steak
Like that

 

There are only two types of people:
Those who eat their steaks like this
And
Those you can trust.

 

It’s a sirloin for me.
There is no other way

 

Well,

 

T Bone, debatable, but I like the
The fat;
The only one I don’t like is the rump
And
That’s what you’re having
And you’re having
It the wrong way and you’re also
Having
To saw at it just to get through

 

Like a
Heavy handed lumberjack to a
500 year old oak

 

Filthy.
Utter filth.
That knife (a Laguiole with a birch handle)
Is a work of art-
Watching you eat is like watching a man
Piss
On a Picasso

 

I want to help you
I want to tell you

 

About the feeling
When the knife slides through
Like a guillotine:
Ecstasy.
Hardly any resistance
Colour on the fat
Just enough juices
To be absorbed by a
Ready
Willing
Potato.

 

Slicing that rump
Should be
An act of subtle perfection like
Penetrating a woman.

 

Soft.
Beautiful.
The right way.

“Medium rare”.

 

Brown and then
Blushing and then
Pink and then
Red

 

We are talking about
The EU or something
But I don’t care about your opinions
Because of what
You did
To your steak.

 

Two thirds of the way through you’ve had
Enough
And I
Tentatively
Suggest
That you might bring your steak home
To use as a door stop.

 

After you finished
Flossing your teeth with your
Very
Well
Done
Steak

 

You ask me on another date
But it’s sushi.

You probably take your sushi well done too.

 

But,

 

That’s another poem.

 

-BF

Five Favourite Cookbooks.

 

When it comes to books, I am a prolific page folder, so if you wanted to tell which cookbooks are my favourite, you need look no further than the top right corner, where my most treasured volumes are punctuated with frequent folds and post-it notes. Defacing cookbooks is something of a specialist subject of mine, an artform passed down from my mother, who would often tear whole pages out of cookbooks (the horror!), scrawl her annotations over them in biro (including a conversion from gram measurements to pounds and ounces) and fix them to the fridge with magnets. She would watch cooking shows, and jot down recipes in short hand, and they too were fixed to the fridge, along with magazine cuttings, and hand written recipes (most of which she knew from memory) for household favourites like scones, cheese straws, and so on. Over the years, our fridge became something of a cookbook in its own right, a hub of recipes: some copied, some reimagined, and some invented, that with hindsight instilled in me a real appreciation for the musings and creations of passionate cooks. This progressed to a love for cookbooks, which if chosen and used correctly, can be one of the most infinite sources of pleasure and inspiration you can have in your kitchen (other than eating!). As someone who imagines herself to be competent in the kitchen, cookbooks usually act as a starting point for me, and I inevitably end up changing and substituting ingredients as per availability and my personal taste. Here are my favourites:

 

1. FOR THE SHOW OFF: Institut Paul Bocuse Gastronomique. One of the most formidable books a cook can have on their shelf; the unrivalled bible of cooking. Bocuse, who sadly passed away last year, has pain stakingly put together one of the prettiest, most well illustrated cook books in print, which takes you through all the basics in classic style: how to prepare a mushroom, how to stuff a ducks leg, how to make a shellfish stock, how to fillet a dover sole, and so on, progressing to walk-through recipes of Michelin standard (Bocuse had three). This book, which is unapologetically classic in content and presentation, is a constant point of reference for me, and is so much more than just a cook book – with pointers on hospitality, wine pairings, service and presentation, all combined with a wealth – 500 pages or so – of culinary knowledge and helpful tips.

 

2. FOR THE CASUAL COOK: Eat, Nigel Slater. A little gem of a book, and one of my all time favourites to dip into for a weekday lunch or dinner. Full of what you expect from Nigel: Recipes that are big on flavour, paired with his own thoughts and musings. Pages I have folded include “sausage lasagne” “Goats cheese frittata” and “Cucumber, fennel, and ricotta salad”. Recipes are loosely arranged, and one could open this book to almost any page and be delighted with the result. Unusually the recipes consist almost entirely of ideas and flavour combinations that I had never considered before, so prepare to be pleasantly surprised, and for those of us who lack imagination – each recipe is illustrated. If you’re looking for a “does everything” cook book, that focusses on no nonsense flavour packed recipes, this is a great place to start.

 

3. FOR THE CARNIVORE: Prime – The Beef Cookbook, Richard H Turner. Red meat has taken something of a bashing over the last few years, but I remain a humble devotee to the cow and it’s produce. This book is a bible for beef lovers – not just how to cook the meat itself, but a whole section dedicated to accompanying sides, rubs, and a collection of recipes from all over the world: tataki, stroganoff, curry, and pasties, to name but a few, not to mention the very best steak salad I have ever eaten, which remains one of my all time go-to recipes. Richard has also taken the time to explain farming processes, butchery, and what breeds to look out for, so that we can make the right decisions as responsible carnivores.

 

4. FOR THE HEALTH NUT: Ultimate Fit Food – Gordon Ramsay. I take extra due diligence when picking healthy cook books, as I have often bought home ones that have massively underdelivered on flavour and originality (I don’t need to be told how to arrange beetroot and goats cheese on a plate). Ramsays offering however is a breath of fresh air, and you certainly don’t feel like you’re compromising when tucking into chocolate mousse or a fried chicken sandwich. All the recipes come with a nutritional breakdown (most servings average 250 cals), and Ramsay has added his own narrative on fitness and how to approach healthy eating.

 

5. FOR THE PURIST: I Know How To Cook – Ginette Mathiot. At almost 100 years old, this book rightfully takes it place as the Daddy of culinary inspiration. See Mathiot as a sort of French Delia Smith- This is a book that can be found in many a French Household, and was finally translated into English a decade ago. The book takes you through each month, listing which meats, vegetables, and even fruits are in season, and the recipes that follow are for the most part simple, rustic French cuisine; most recipes are to the point and can be explained beginning to end in less than a paragraph. These recipes are not so much dated as they are timeless. This is not a book for style over substance food, but what many of these recipes lack in frills, they more than make up for in flavour. For those ambitious foodies amongst us, the last section of the English translation also includes some more complex recipes from celebrated “guest chefs” – Pascal Aussignacs Stuffed Baby Quid with Black Escabeche, Francois Payards Bouillabaisse, and so on. This book was a gift early on in my culinary journey, and remains my most treasured.

 

So there you have it – my Big 5, that hopefully cover something for everyone – Happy cooking!

 

Billie x