Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Manchester Restaurant Review: Cabana


There's been so many new restaurants springing up in Manchester that I'm struggling to keep up; my 'must dine' list is becoming too long to comprehend.

One source of such new eateries is the recently renovated Corn Exchange - the grand old Edwardian building between Selfridges and the Printworks that you'd have been forgiven for bypassing prior to the big relaunch.

The focus for the Corn Exchange is definitely dining. With lots of new restaurants pitted around the grand central atrium inside, it's become a real hub for food and drink.

Itching to try some of the new restaurants there, I was delighted to be invited to test out Cabana, a laid back 'Brasilian Barbecue'-style venue.

Cabana Manchester Brasilian Barbecue
Manchester Corn Exchange Review
Cabana Brazilian Restaurant Review

Brazilian street party vibes are definitely the order of the day at Cabana. We visited in the evening and found that the dark interior lit up with eccentric neon signs and string lights gave the place a great ambiance, though admittedly we did feel a bit left out of the party being seated in the outer area of the restaurant - I'd definitely recommend waiting for a table inside!

We were promptly seen by friendly and helpful servers who were more than happy to offer their recommendations. We didn't need much time on the drinks after seeing that they served Sagres - a definite contender as one of our favourite lagers, much loved during quite possibly our favourite holiday to Portugal a few years ago.

Cabana Brazilian Manchester Street Food

On to the food. I decided to opt for Cabana's signature 'Malagueta Chicken', marinated chunks of chicken chargrilled with sweet peppers; I didn't regret my choice. The chicken was beautifully sticky and flavoursome, with a underlying spice which gave it just enough Brazilian kick.

Teamed with sweet potato fries (my favourite) and 'homeslaw', I also chose to supplement the dish with a side order of pitta from the streetfood/starter menu. Now this stuff is seriously good! The pitta was so pillowy and soft - if it wasn't made in house, it certainly fooled me. I wasn't sure what to expect of the chimichurri dip it came with but was pleasantly surprised. Really tasty with a distinct smokiness, it was the perfect soak for the hunks of pitta.

Chris decided on the rack of barbecue pork ribs, which were huge! The ribs would have easily been enough on their own, though come with a dish of the homeslaw too, and Chris also teamed them with a side of the cassava chips. Having never tried these before (neither had I), they were a bit of a gamble. We thought they were a bit lacking in seasoning but were great to dunk in Cabana's signature Malagueta sauce which was on the table, with the same great flavours as my chicken main.

Cabana Brazilian Manchester Chocolate Cake Doughnuts
Cabana Brazilian Raindrop Chocolate Nutella Doughnuts
Cabana Manchester Chocolate Cake Dessert

I have a huge sweet tooth so had been looking forward to the desserts all throughout the meal. We decided to get two different plates and share them. We went for the 'Nega Maluca' Brazilian chocolate cake and the 'Chocolate Raindrop' doughnuts. 

Warned that the doughnuts were very hot, we tucked into the cake - which was beautiful. With a rich chocolately taste and a dense, fudgey texture there was just enough here to happily share. The caramel sauce was an interesting but welcome accompaniment too.

The waiter wasn't kidding, the doughnuts were ridiculously hot! After learning my lesson the first time, we waited a little longer to tuck in. Once optimum temperature was reached, these were heaven. These fried doughnuts were filled with Nutella, with extra on the side for dipping. Washed down with Coconut 'Batida', made with cachaça and sweet condensed milk, my sweet tooth was satisfied. A perfect end to a tasty meal!

Cabana Restaurant Manchester Neon Sign Inside
Cabana Brazilian Restaurant Beer Sagres
Cabana Restaurant Manchester Corn Exchange inside

I'd definitely recommend Cabana for a tasty lunch while out shopping in Manchester or maybe a casual dinner date. I fell in love with all the interior finishing touches that give the restaurant wonderful personality. Next time I pop by I will head upstairs to the 'Caipirinha Bar' for sure, which has hammock seating!

Date night dressing can be tricky if it's just a casual affair and wearing a white shirt to a Brazilian Barbecue restaurant was definitely a risky decision but luckily I covered most of it with my super-versatile light waterfall blazer jacket from Luxemme.

My go-to evening piece of the moment, this is ideal for dressing up the simplest of outfits. Luxemme are one of the best sites I've found for higher-end looking high street.

Blogger Black Waterfall Jacket
Fashion Blogger Black Blazer

Star choker - ASOS
'K' Letter Chain - Vintage
White Shirt - Warehouse
Black Jacket - Luxemme*

 Have you got a fail-safe date night look?


Monday, 21 December 2015

#JLTAW15: Autumn/Winter Trends at John Lewis


I recently attended a great fashion show at my local John Lewis at Manchester's Trafford Centre.

We were treated to a glass of fizz and took our seats ready for the show. We were introduced to trends and seasonal looks chosen by the staff, presented with models of different ages with a new spin on how to wear the looks for each group.

A distinct 1970s style was present in many of the trend sets. Some of my favourite pieces were faux fur gilets, tops and dresses in shades of Wine, knee high suede boots and glam clutch bags - perfect for a Christmas party!

The local team did a brilliant job with the show and it was lovely to see real John Lewis ladies modelling! They even sent us home with a jam-packed goody bag. Some of my favourite products I found inside are below. I love the beautiful candle from Kew, subtly fragranced with citrus notes and the Burts Bees Almond Milk hand cream tester - which is so amazing that I'll definitely be ordering full size!

Admittedly, John Lewis is sometimes more of a walk-through store for me when visiting the Trafford Centre - but no more! The huge range of brands the store carries is staggering. I was surprised to find that JL stock some of my favourites like Kurt Geiger, French Connection, Miss Selfridge and All Saints.

I've put together a selection of my favourite current season pieces at JL, below.

John Lewis have been firmly in the limelight recently after launching their eagerly anticipated Christmas ad this year. I wasn't sure about it at first, it didn't seem to make much sense, though after I learned that the retailer teamed up with Age UK on the ad to raise awareness of the loneliness that elderly people often feel at this time of year, it gave it much more impact.

Love it or hate it, it's definitely been a talking point this year!

What's your favourite Christmas ad this year?


Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Style By Portobello Second Unboxing


Today I've got the second unboxing of my monthly Style by Portobello vintage accessory subscription boxes!

So for those of you who don't know, I am testing out these £35 a month boxes of Portobello Road Market-sourced vintage goodies for three months as a style ambassador for the brand. You can learn more and see what I received last month in my earlier blog post.

So, let's get to the big reveal.

Seriously, wow! I think I love this month's contents more than the last.

I think the belt is my favourite piece. In black and gold, it's classic but also really unusual with the little figures adorning the full width of the belt. It's quite small but is perfect as a waist belt - I've already worn it several times and got loads of compliments.

I love a good vintage scarf and have amassed quite a collection over the years. Just my style; I'm always drawn to the ones with Versace-esque chain designs like this one. I think these kind of scarves are really versatile accessories - worn traditionally around the neck, as a headscarf or even around the handles of your bag as I've done, below. It's a really easy way to update a plain bag.

Faux fur patchwork gilet - River Island*
Jumper - Warehouse
Cord Disco Jeans - New Look
Chunky 70s style Suede Boots - Topshop
Bag - Vivienne Westwood
Vintage Scarf - Style By Portobello*

I mentioned that I bought the River Island faux fur gilet above with the voucher I got from the recent Premier Inn Shopping Event. I have such a ridiculous collection of faux fur coats that it was high time that I got myself a furry gilet too. I didn't think I'd get much wear out of this but it's already become a weekend essential.

What are your go-to pieces this season?


Saturday, 14 November 2015

UD X GWEN: Urban Decay | Gwen Stefani Eyeshadow Palette


This post is all about an uber-exciting new product launch that beauty buffs and music fans are going to go crazy for!

I have always been a huge fan of No Doubt and by association, the absolute babe that is, Gwen Stefani. So imagine my excitement when a parcel from Urban Decay landed on my desk, containing the not-yet-released Gwen Stefani collaboration eyeshadow plaette* and a CD of No Doubt's greatest hits!

Urban Decay's eyeshadow palettes are pretty legendary (who hasn't heard of the iconic Naked range?) but collaborating with a music legend and style icon like Gwen on this limited edition has proved to be a really interesting, creative partnership.

For starters, what an incredible pairing. UD was founded in Southern California - where Gwen hails from! UD confess that they've been dying to collaborate with the singer for years. Her music started to gain popularity around the same time that the makeup brand was founded and was a real inspiration to the brand's core values of individuality, self-expression and creativity.

UD X Gwen eyeshadow palette

The Palette

The packing of the palette is awesome! Apparently Gwen had a hand in every part of the process and the packaging was no less important. The bold monochrome paired with the gold is so her.

I love that the casing has her personality and even little touches like a 'Magic's in the Makeup' quote on the mirror inside - another No doubt song.

UD X GWEN packaging paletteUD X GWEN palette case design

The Shades

There's quite a few nudes and neutral shades in the palette - which is pretty true to Gwen's style. She doesn't tend to wear coloured shadows and instead opts for a bold lip (usually red) as the focus of her look (keep your eyes peeled for a lipstick range too!).

The shades are really quite interesting, with most named by Gwen with some connection to her music; like the spangly gold colour '1987' which is the year No Doubt formed - I bet that makes some of you feel old! She says that she wore lots of gold during the days of the Rock Steady album.

I think my favourites of the bunch are 'Anaheim' (a matte taupe brown and also the place Gwen grew up), 'Steady' (a rose gold/brown shade with a subtle gold shimmer - and named after the Rock Steady album) and lastly, 'Danger' (the incredible metallic royal blue, the most daring in the palette).

I did a few swatches of the darker colours below. It's hard to pick up all the different finishes; the shades have so many facets - irridescent shimmers and sparkles which have a beautiful sheen in the light.

UD X GWEN eyeshadow shades
UD X GWEN eyeshadow colour shades
UD X GWEN eyeshadow swatches


All in all I think this is a really versatile palette and considering it's a limited edition collab, it's really classic too.

The colours are really pigmented and have great staying power (made even better with UD's eyeshadow primer that I was lucky enough to get hold of recently). I can see this palette being a real go-to for day or night.

The palette retails at £40. You can sign up to be notified by email for its launch on Urban Decay's site - I anticipate it's going to be really popular!

Gwen's look has always struck me as really bold but classic. She's not afraid of colour and has always lead the way in terms of crazy and controversial outfits, though her make-up tends to be very classic - like old Hollywood with a rockabilly twist. I love her signature combination of winged black eyeliner, bold red lips and strong brows (well, in recent years - she definitely rocked the noughties skinny brow trend at the time!).

Below are some of my favourite beauty looks from Gwen over the years; from the crazy blue hair, bindi and space buns, to classic bombshell.

Gwen Stefani makeup
Gwen Stefani No Doubt shoot
Gwen Stefani blue hair bindi festival
Gwen Stefani makeup pink

Are you a Gwen Stefani fan?


Friday, 6 November 2015

Italy Part Two: Liguria


So here we have part two of my Italy adventure! After spending a brilliant couple of days in Milan, we headed to our Italian coastal destination - Liguria!

Liguria is on Italy's North West coast, with its coastline also known as the 'Italian Riviera'. As we flew to Bologna, we knew it would be easiest to stay fairly northern and deciding to go somewhere less touristy than Rimini on the East coast, Liguria was our first choice.

The Riviera is peppered with little old-fashioned seaside towns in pastel colours. We chose to stay in Rapallo which is a pretty quiet resort but close to the more lively Santa Margherita Ligure and also luxurious Portofino - it sounded like a great base!

The train from Milan took around two hours and we arrived later in the afternoon. It was gorgeous to sit by the sea and have a few drinks and nibbles (you seem to gets snacks with your drinks almost everywhere in Italy!) as the sun set. We sat close to Rapallo's 'castello' - a medieval mini castle that sits in the water just off the shore.

Our hotel in Rapallo was my favourite of the three we stayed in during the trip. A pastel pink renovated (actual) palace from the 1600s, it was like my very own Barbie Dreamhouse! It also has a spa which you can book into for free and have all to yourself - I'd definitely recommend it.

Playsuit - In Love With Fashion via Topshop sale

Rapallo was a brilliant base for exploring Liguria as nearby Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino were just a short 1.80 EURO train ride away. On our second day in Liguria, we took the train and enjoyed exploring Santa Margherita, before taking the boat over to Portofino.

Portofino really is incredible for a day trip. It's where the wealthy choose to take their yachts and as soon as you step off the boat, you're greeted by boutiques like Dior and Louis Vuitton - which is quite surreal considering how small this little fishing village is!

We enjoyed the views from walking up the hill where there's a beautiful church and even further up, a castle. The photo above was taken from the top of the castle.

Playsuit - Boohoo

We were lucky to enjoy some of the best meals of the trip in Liguria. I think my favourite was our meal at Gli Angeli on the first night; I had the lobster soufflé above, followed by tiramisu. We obviously also tried a few pizzas too...

Our last day in Rapallo was up there with the best of the trip. We took the rickety old cable car up the mountain, where at the top, there's a religious sanctuary built in 1557 after a farmer claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary in this very spot. It's absolutely breathtaking to see something so beautiful and intricately built in the absolute back of beyond up a mountain - amazing!

We had lunch at the top of the mountain in a lovely family-run restaurant. Eating fresh pesto spaghetti with the most insane views over the coast is something I'll never forget.

Outfit 1: 
Sunglasses - Ray Ban
Off-the-shoulder top - Primark
Patterned shorts - bought at Milan train station somewhere when I was too hot!
Velcro sandals - Vagabond

Outfit 2:
Jacket - Luxemme*
Necklace - Zara
Dress - Motel
Patent Sliders - Primark

The black jacket above from Luxemme was my absolute savoir on the evenings. Stylish and versatile, yet light enough to fold away into my bag - perfect!

While you wait for the third and finally instalment of my Italy diary, why not read my part one in Milan?

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