Day 7 – 19th February

Inspiration, Uncategorized

I didn’t sleep all to well, the birds at the hotel were up early and making a lot of noise. We had breakfast which was fairly basic, but after the lovely buffet last night I wasn’t overly hungry. We headed to the Dambula Cave Temple dating back to the seventh-century. This is one of the most well-preserved temple & cave sites in Sri Lanka. There were 4-5 caves lined with beautiful Buddhist paintings and statues. This compared to the Temple of the Tooth Relic was far more interesting and impressive. We also saw the huge gold Buddha. 

After this we then headed to a farm. We had a delicious lunch here. The aubergine curry was especially delicious. This farm had around 700 acres of land. We saw buffalo, mangoes, bananas, rice paddies and coconut trees. They grow lots of fruit and vegetables. They have 1000 workers and they get paid 1,000 lkr per day. It was very interesting. 

After this we headed on an optional excursion to Minneriya National Park. This wasn’t on the itinerary so I was totally ecstatic at the thought of going to a National Park renound for Elephants. This was something I had considered doing in my free time at the end of the trip, but with a 4 hour journey each way it really wasn’t worth it. There are about 100-150 elephants in this park and we were so lucky that we got to see the majority. Buddhists see elephants as a sacred animal, and this has probably been the highlight of my trip so far. 

We went for dinner in a restaurant in Dambulla called Mango Mango, then headed back to the hotel for a good nights sleep. 

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,
Maria 

Day 2 – 14th February 

Inspiration, Photography, Uncategorized

I felt very refreshed this morning after a great nights sleep, making the early wake up much easier. After a shower and some breakfast – a little fruit, yoghurt and a fresh omelette and doing my signature move of slipping over in the marble bathroom (take note Maria, mosquito spray makes floors slippery) we headed off on our bus. We had a tour of Colombo, stopping off at the Independence Memorial Hall and continuing on a very long journey to Nuwara Eliya. 

After about four hours driving we stopped for lunch at a restaurant over looking the Kelani river, I opted for an omelette (again) it was fresh and delicious. 


We continued our journey which lasted about another three hours. Stopping on the way to look at some tea picking ladies. This work is extremely skilled, and they have a target of picking about 30kg of tea leaves per day which takes around four hours, paying only 1000lkr. This is around £5 which makes me feel incredibly guilty that I would spend that on lunch without thinking about it. 


On route, we also stopped at a couple of waterfalls with breathtaking views. The weather at this time was very cloudy, it looked as if the rain was catching up with us but nevertheless it was still beautiful.  

We finally arrived at our hotel, called ‘Grand Hotel’ at around 5.15pm – a very long day but we’re greeted with a hot towel and delicious cup of tea. After freshening up, we are going for dinner and then I shortly after I will  head to my room to get an early night. Another early start for us tomorrow. We are leaving the hotel at 5.15am, travelling to Horton Plains National Park for a 9km hike/walk. We will have a picnic breakfast whilst we are there. We will then enjoy a city tour on a tuk tuk as well as high tea in the Grand Hotel. 

Having a really good time, 
A girl with an appetite for all things creative,
Maria x

A girl with a creative appetite goes to Sri Lanka

Inspiration, Photography

I know conventionally a food blog is all about posting recipes however I’m going to use it as a space to write about my trip to Sri Lanka… after all it is my blog! 
After a ridiculously long journey, leaving my home at 5.15pm Saturday and not arriving to my hotel until about 9pm I was relieved to finally be in Sri Lanka. I have never done a long haul flight before and as an anxious person I was worrying about every single little thing…where do I check in my luggage, will it get there, will I make it to the gate on time, how will I know where to go when transferring flights?!?!
Classic me though left a little too early and had tons of time, no queues when checking in my luggage meant I could have a little browse at the airport and then I went on to my gate. Transferring flights was a breeze as I knew deep down it would be. My first flight was a little uncomfortable – maybe due to nerves as well as the seat. I watched a couple of films in hope that I would get a bit more sleep on the next flight. Thankfully I did. After stopping in the Maldives for an hour and a half (which looked beautiful from the plane seat) we went onward to Colombo. 
I nervously waited for my luggage exchanging glares of desperation with a couple of ladies from Manchester. Eventually, after about an hour it came along on the belt, and I heaved a sigh of relief! Theirs came along at the same time so we plodded off happily! I was so tired I felt my legs were going to collapse underneath the weight of my rucksack. I exchanged some money and found my airport transfer, smiling widely when I found my name written on a sign. It was about an hour to my hotel (although it only seemed about 30-40 minutes) but I arrived and boy was I pleased to hear that I’d been upgraded to the executive suite. I came to my amazing room and had a lovely nights sleep. 


Day 1 of tour: 13th February

I woke up, got ready and had breakfast. I wasn’t feeling too hungry – partly due to nerves, I always seem to loose my appetite after flying. I was also feeling anxious about the fact I had a whole day to myself before meeting my tour group this evening. Little me in a country I know very little about. I decided to go out and have a little explore though. As lovely as the hotel is, I didn’t want to stay in all day. 

I’m glad I did, as I was approached by a Sri Lankan man, he chatted to me as I walked down the street, trying to give him little information and before I knew it I was getting into a tuk tuk with him. Going against everything that I was told as a child and scared shitless that I had no idea where I was, and no idea where he was taking me. I clocked a bottle of rum that belonged to the driver. This was full. He took me to a temple as it was their public holiday for their full moon festival. I got to see a real life couple getting married, we then went to another place of meditation, it was beautiful. Back in the tuk tuk and the bottle of rum was now two thirds full and I’m a little edgy. He then took me to a gem stone shop where I got roped into buying myself my birthstone. Typical of an English person feeling like they can’t say no. I did stand my ground and made sure I didn’t spend too much. The tuk tuk driver then took me back to my hotel. The ‘guide’ was lovely though, they really are very friendly here.

I then just took it easy and sat by the pool, with a book. Chatted to a lady who was on her own, she commented on my nail varnish and found out she too was on my tour. I met the rest of the group this evening and everyone seems lovely. From Canada, Chicago, Switzerland and England. 

We all went out to dinner with our guide and eat outside as a group in this place called the Dutch Hospital. (Not a hospital any more, it used to be in the 1700s) I had a vegetable curry and it was absolutely delicious. The perfect amount of spice, really tasty and the fluffiest rice. I am now off to sleep as we are leaving the hotel at 7.30am for a tour of Colombo and a long bus journey to Nuwara Eliya. 

Night all,

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

X

Culinary Canvas

Food, Inspiration

Lauren Purnell, is an artist I stumbled upon after reading an email from Zizzi’s. She created and shot some promotional images for their new autumn menu. See below.

Lauren Purnell has been creating images out of food over the past year for her project ‘Culinary Canvas’. You can follow her work on her tumblr here. Her work exhibits the beauty of using fresh ingredients, which inspired me to start looking into food markets and fresh produce. Her work is absolutely beautiful and she has worked for clients such as Zizzi’s, Randall Beans, The Juicery Co. , Wildberries Marketplace, a local grocer in Arcata, California and many others. To me eating well is important, and with current emphasis on fair-trade, and eating local produce to support farmers and producers this reflects in her work, and gives out an important message in a creative way. As well as photographing in markets, I also want to take produce into the studio and photograph it.

Some of my favourites.

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Emily Blincoe

Food, Inspiration, Photography

I stumbled across this photographer on one of my favourite sites This Is Colossal. I use this site when looking for inspiration to create work etc. Born in Austin, Texas Blincoe finds “inspiration in faces, shapes, colors, light and quiet little moments. most days you can find me wandering in the tall grass somewhere between austin and nashville with my dog, eleanor. ”

I love all of her work, but particularly her arrangements that she creates with food. She selects her food types and meticulously arranges them by colour. “Blincoe collects every color permutation of tomatoes, oranges, eggs, and even candy and then sorts them into groups and gradients for each image.” This inspired me to take my own images of singular food types in Borough Market, and I hope to take this into the studio, and perhaps do some similar arrangements as Blincoe. The images I have taken in Borough Market, try and capture one singlular food item in each frame, and I feel a series of these would be really successful, and I could experiment in the studio also with these same food types and compare them.

See more of Emily Blincoe’s work here.

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Bakes and Cakes Show

Baking, Food, Inspiration

On Saturday the 25th October I went to the BBC Good Food Bakes and Cakes show at the Design Centre Islington. The day involved interviews with bakers and chefs, book signings, demonstrations, master classes, competitions, food stalls and a theatre where celebrity chefs did a demonstration.

We arrived at around 10am and began our day with a book signing with Mary Berry, she was lovely and sometimes it’s easy to forget that we are all human and we are all ‘normal’. My mum being my mum commented on her dress at the Pride of Britain awards. We then continued to listen to some interviews/question and answers with Eric Lanlard, I also watched him do a demonstration later on in the day. We browsed the food stalls and bought some sweet and savoury treats to eat. A delicious sausage bap, macaroons, brownies and meringues from the Meringue Girls.

We then sat and watched a question/answer interview with John Whaite (Bake Off winner 2012) , who was extremely funny, and had a good relationship with his friend and interviewer Jo Wheatley (Bake Off winner 2011). We then watched a demonstration by the Meringue Girls, who I had the pleasure of meeting. Read more about this here.

The day ended with watching Mary Berry in the Bakes and Cakes Theatre, where she made a chocolate roulade, and some apple muffins. Chocolate roulade is a family favourite in our home, we have it every year on christmas eve. It is a tradition, and one I hope to carry on in the future.

My mum and I then went to dinner in the evening, to Gourmet Burger Kitchen. I had the Salvador, a pork and chorizo burger, with avocado, garlic mayo, fiery chipotle ketchup, crispy onions, in a brioche bun. Finished off with my favourite oreo cookie milkshake.

After a long, but thoroughly enjoyable day we headed home and crashed out on the sofa reading my new Mary Berry cookbook.

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Meringue Girls

Baking, Food, Inspiration

My instagram feed is full of all things food related, or photography related mixed in with the occasional selfie. (Probably more selfies than I’d like to admit) I follow David Loftus, who photographs for Jamie Oliver, and through this stumbled across a company called the Meringue Girls, founded by trained chefs Alex Hoffler and Stacey O’Gorman after working together in a restaurant in Hackney. “We bonded over our love of sweet things, especially meringues”. They make brightly coloured meringue ‘kisses’ in an assortment of flavours. They are stocked in Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, as well as working with a variety of other clients. They also do food styling. 

I was lucky enough to meet them at the BBC Good Food Cakes & Bakes show, which you can read about here. I watched them do a demonstration, and spoke to them afterwards and showed them a cake I made which was inspired by their work. I am now doing some baking with them in January at their bakery in Hackney. I’m super excited for this, and hopefully it may result in a career in the food industry somehow, as I feel right now this is all I want to be doing! Food and cooking relaxes me, and is one of the only activities where I forget the stress of reality and feel in a world of my own.

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x