Notting Hill Carnival!

Notting Hill map

Being a resident of Notting Hill, the bank holiday carnival is always a highlight of the neighbourhood calendar and my friends, family and I gather every year for a big party.

If, like me you are a huge fan of West Indian cuisine, then you will be in your element at carnival as there are so many amazing stalls, in particular along Westbourne Park Road. The smell of simmering curried herbs and spices alone will be enough to tickle your tastebuds. A particular favourite of mine is jerk chicken, which is best eaten with your hands!

My brother Tom’s amazing Mexican restaurant, Crazy Homies, will be serving the best margaritas in town over the weekend and his pub the Cow will become home to a reggae dukebox in collaboration with Rough Trade. There will be an upstairs dance hall in the Cow on Sunday and Monday, which will be well worth a look in!

My friend Gazza’s bar on 103 Talbot Road is also worth a visit. He’s been keeping carnival alive since 1976 with his amazing, vibrant and upbeat music.

I hope you have a great time if you go, let’s hope the weather is sunny for it and come and say hello to me if you’re there! Sophie X

 

WIN 2 VIP Tickets to Decorex 2014!

Image: Decorex

Image: Decorex

I really enjoyed my live Twitter chat I did with Decorex on Thursday afternoon and loved answering all the interesting questions as they came in. You can view it here! http://ubm.io/1oOaP0I  I’m so pleased to announce that Decorex have very kindly offered to give away 2 VIP tickets to their fabulous exhibition at Syon Park on 21st-24th September. All you have to do is head to my Facebook page and like and share the post. I can’t wait to go this year and am so looking forward to seeing all the fabulous exhibitors. Looking forward to meeting the lucky winners there. Good luck! Sophie X

 

Moving Office!

Image: Poppy Tinkler-Hunt

Image: Poppy Tinkler-Hunt

The ever-expanding Sophie Conran team has officially moved offices after 8 years in my home in Bayswater. We are now located between Hammersmith and Olympia in a gorgeous light and airy studio. The move itself was very therapeutic and great for having a good old Spring clean. I couldn’t believe some of the things I found hidden away in the drawers. There were copious trips to the rubbish bins and lots of sorting through samples. When we arrived at the studio, we had a chair assembling competition, which Julia, my fabulous PA won. Only once had you assembled your chair could you have a celebratory glass of champagne. However it all became a bit too much for some who didn’t want to get left behind so sipped and assembled at the same time. Very multi tasking!  Sophie X

Port Eliot Festival

Last weekend, my family and I went to Port Eliot Festival down in Cornwall. It was an amazing weekend full of lots of music, good food and seeing lots of weird and wonderful things. It took place in the grounds of an amazing medieval stately home, which added to the magic of the weekend and brought everything to life. It was a treat for the senses wondering around the grounds seeing all the amazing things, like fascinating talks by William Darlymple, amazing cooking demos from Mark Hix and tantalising crochet lessons. Sharing the fun and music with my family enhanced the magic of the festival and I would really recommend going next year for all those seeking weekend adventures! Sophie X

Image: Michael Bowles

Image: Michael Bowles

Lemon Meringue Pie!

This is a totally delicious summer recipe and one that I really enjoy baking. It’s perfect after a long, lazy Sunday lunch or as a delicious tea-time treat. These heart embossed plates are from my online shop, I love using them to serve delicious puddings such as this one.

lmp copy

 

SERVES 10

You will need a 22cm (8.5 in) tart ring

 

For the Pastry:

250g (9oz) sweet shortcrust pastry, made with 75g (30z) butter, straight from the fridge, 25g (1oz) caster sugar and 150g (5oz) plain flour, pinch of salt and enough chilled water to bind (see page 14)

1 egg yolk beaten

 

For the Filling:

4.5g (1.5 oz) cornflour

1tbsp cold water

juice and zest of 2 large organic lemons

300ml (10fl oz) boiling water

90g (3oz) caster sugar

4 egg yolks, lightly beaten.

 

For the MERINGUE

4 medium egg whites

250g (9oz) caster sugar

 

Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F/ Gas 4). Roll out the pastry and line the tart ring. Prick and blind bake, using baking beans, for 15 minutes. Remove the beans and brush the pastry with the beaten egg yolk.

Mix the cornflour, cold water and lemon juice and zest. Stir in the boiling water until is smooth and transfer the mix to a pan. Simmer over a medium heat until thick: about 3 to 4 minutes.

Beat together the sugar and egg yolks with an electric whisk until pale and creamy. Then, whilst beating, slowly pour in the lemon mixture until thoroughly combined. Pour into the tart case and allow to cool and set.

Preheat the oven to 220˚C (425˚F/ Gas 7). Meanwhile, using an electric whisk, whisk in the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Continue whisking and slowly pour in the sugar, until combined. Don’t go too fast or the meringue will collapse; the slower the better. Once all the sugar is mixed in, use a palette knife or spatula to spread the meringue over the top of the tart, then bake for 15 minutes.

Serve with fresh cream and a few raspberries, if you like.

 

Picnics!

Eat Kit BB-EAT copy

Sophie- I am always enamoured when I step into the garden in the square where I live in London. It’s not a huge garden, but it feels incredibly spacious and the flowerbeds are full of lots of wonderful flowers. There are wisteria trees in the middle, which are just magical. There are lots of wooden benches and chairs dotted around, which means you can picnic quite comfortably! There are always lots of lovely helpers from the picnic party taking dishes, glassware, jugs and pretty much everything from my collection to and from the kitchen down into the garden but what I couldn’t live without are the salad bowls.

Sarah- My favourite picnic spot is Richmond Park. If you haven’t been there before, go! It feels like you have stepped into the heart of the countryside, and there are secret gardens full of beautiful flowers and 700 year old oak trees. Plus the deer are incredible, there are 2 types; Red and Fallow, and they are magnificent. My favourite spot in the park is at Pen ponds, which consists of 3 huge lakes surrounded by trees and wildlife. On my picnic, I couldn’t live without the chopping boards, for last minute preparation and they are so easy to serve and pass around, plus they look great!

Hattie-My favourite picnic spot is on the meadow in Bosham, a tiny village in West Sussex which sits on a peninsula in Chichester Harbour. The meadow is situated between the beautiful Saxon church and the quay-side, so you can sit looking over the water to Chidham. In the summer there is always sailing going on, and the finish line for the racing is right in front of the meadow. It is such a peaceful place, and very “Swallows & Amazons”! I would take the Drink Kit! 

 

Rosie- Hampstead heath is definitely my favourite picnic spot. Its amazingly wild and there is a gorgeous cafe which sells honey made from the local bees! I love the view of London from Hampstead Heath, it is amazing how the skyline is constantly changing with skyscrapers being put up at a rate of knots. Yet Hampstead Heath is so peaceful, which makes it an ideal place to go for a picnic. I couldn’t have a picnic without the champagne flutes. In my opinion, a glass of fizz is a perfect way to kick off a picnic!

Poppy – Winterton Beach is my favourite picnic spot. You can either drive up the hill and park in the beach carpark, or you can park at the bottom and walk all along the dunes. In the summer and in low tide, you can paddle in the lowes, which are pools of water the sea leaves when the tide goes out. Plus there is a classic English beach cafe where they have 99′s, seaside fish and chips etc. You can see along the Norfolk coast for miles on a clear day. I would take the camp kit, so then the picnic can run into the night and you can toast marshmallows and kip under the blanket after swimming in the sea!

Julia- My favourite picnic spot has to be Bolt Head in Salcombe; the combination of the stunning views out to sea, the little pockets of shelter provided by the unspoiled rocky landscape, and the feeling of being on top of the world, make it a truly breath-taking place for a picnic.  Even in the summer though the wind can be bracing, so I would definitely fill the Burgon & Ball Drinks Flask in Allium bloom with hot fresh mint tea to take along.  You really feel like you’ve earned it once you make it to the top!”

 

Bottoms Up!

 

blogGlasses

Here in the Sophie Conran office, we absolutely love a good cocktail. Cocktails were first invented in the early 19th century and were quite simply, a concoction of spirits, bitters and sugars. These days, cocktail lists are endless. Here are some of the team’s favourites. All glassware and crystal is available from www.sophieconran.com/glass. Bottoms up! Sophie X

Mojito! 

1.5 limes, cut into wedges

30 fresh mint leaves

2.5 tsp granulated sugar

handful of ice

65 ml/2.5 oz white rum

splash soda water, to taste

fresh mint sprig to garnish

Place the limes, mint and sugar into a sturdy highball glass and give it a mash with the end of a clean rolling pin. This bruises the mint and juices the limes. Add the ice and pour over the rum. Add the soda water and stir it well. Garnish with a mint sprig and serve.

 

Champagne Cocktail!

Ingredients

1 white sugar cube

2 dashes bitters

20ml/¾fl oz cognac

enough champagne to fill the glass

 

Place the sugar cube onto a spoon and add the bitters.

Drop the soaked sugar cube into a champagne flute and add the

Top up the glass with champagne and serve.

 

Espresso Martini!

Ingredients

50ml/2fl oz vodka

25ml/1fl oz Galliano, or similar anise and herb-flavoured liqueur

1 tsp sugar syrup

25ml/1fl oz freshly brewed coffee

3 coffee beans, for garnish

Preparation method

Place the vodka, liqueur, sugar syrup and fresh coffee in a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice and shake hard.

Strain into a martini glass and garnish with three coffee beans.

 

Margharita!

Tequilla

Cointreau

Lime

Lemon juice

Fine Granular Sea Salt

Add two measures of Tequila, one of Cointreau and one of lime juice into the cocktail shaker and shake over crushed ice. Prepare the glass by rubbing the with with a wedge of fresh lime and then dipping the glass into a shallow saucer of sea salt. Strain the mixture from the shaker into the glass and serve.

A Night with Valentine Warner at New Tom’s!

Tomorrow evening, my fabulous brother Tom will be opening his restaurant doors, New Tom’s in Notting Hill, to the highly acclaimed chef, Valentine Warner. He will be hosting an unmissable one-off dining event where he will give a quick talk about the preparation and cooking of the menu before serving up a delicious 4 course dinner while guests can enjoy a complimentary pink grapefruit and campari cocktail. Not only does this event showcase an incredible chef at work, but it is also is a chance to see Tom’s amazing new restaurant. There’s an incredible atmosphere in there and tomorrow night is sure to be a hugely enjoyable evening. Tickets are £60 per person, which also includes a caraf of wine. To book, contact sian@tomconran.com. Hurry, the event is tomorrow and tickets are selling out fast! Sophie X

NEw Toms blog

 

Lidded Storage Jars- NEW IN!

Take a peak at my brand new lidded storage jars! I am going to use them in my kitchen for storing rice and my kid’s cereal, plus any bits and bobs that I come across! The lids are air tight and  will keep the contents fresh for a long period of time. Plus, they will look effortlessly chic in any kitchen and will be gorgeous additions to your Sophie Conran collection. I hope you enjoy using them! Sophie X

Small, Medium and Large Lidded Storage Jars available. From £35

Small, Medium and Large Lidded Storage Jars, from £35

 

Easy Entertaining

Tea cloths in blue and pink from www.sophieconran.com

Tea cloths in blue and pink from www.sophieconran.com

I don’t know about you but I absolutely love entertaining; whether I’m having a cosy dinner party in with friends or a large picnic in the garden , I am in my element when entertaining! Follow my 5 simple steps which I always go by when organising parties, large or small. They’re so easy to follow yet very effective.

1. Start with a story board – I always look at lot of books and magazines to make an inspiration board, which then leads to a theme.

2. Keep it intimate – Avoid small parties in large rooms as too much space stops people feeling connected.

3. Choose your colours – All colours have an effect on your mood. Pink can make people excited, while white is pure and uplifting.

4. Light candles- Arrange tall ones in candlesticks and place lower ones in pretty glasses.

5. Don’t overstretch yourself on the menu- It can become quite stressful to cook complicated meals: there’s a bigger margin for error. Keep things simple.