Food Glorious food.

I love food and it really is my life so it came as no surprise when I started gaining a few pounds. I’ve tried everything from the Atkins diet, personal training ( at £75 per hour – gulp) and punishing myself at the gym. My weight has always YoYo’d and my dress size usually varies between three/four sizes.  I decided to give Weightwatchers a try. I mean I love Oprah and I also wanted to be accountable. Meaning, I want to be weighed every week ( as hellish as that sounds) I think I have been really lucky in finding a fantastic leader( Ayse Hime) at a local group in Broxbourne. It’s given so much more than weight loss. I’m not on a diet, I have full control of what I eat.

I still have a long way to go but I have lost quite a bit of weight. I have times where I overeat, like this week for instance but I know it probably due to be really tired ( we have a new Shih Tzu puppy and he is like a little baby) 

I’m delighted, thrilled and excited to be in April’s Weightwatchers magazine. I can honestly say if you are thinking of joining DO IT!!! Honestly you will learn so much and meet some great people.

 

https://www.weightwatchers.com/uk/

 

 

My interview and recipes

I’m in Aprils Weightwatchers magazine


Hosting the Super Theatre at the Cake & Bake show

Hosting the Super Theatre at the Cake & Bake show

A good time was had by all at the 2016 Cake & Bake show, London. I met some wonderful people including the Great British Bake Off winner, Nadiya Hussain. I always love working with Eric Lanlard as well as all the talented chefs. We have such a good time. Next stop is Manchester! Email me if you would like a ticket. Info@thecocoabox.co.uk

It is a wonderful day out.  http://www.thecakeandbakeshow.co.uk

 

With the lovely Nadiya Hussian at the Cake & Bake show

With the lovely Nadiya Hussian at the Cake & Bake show

 

Big crowds at the Cake & Bake show

Big crowds at the Cake & Bake show


Today is a very exchange day as I’m taking over the social media account of Weightwatchers UK. I love instagram ( I’m @Lisamarleychef) as so many talented people post beautiful cakes and bakes.

Please do have a look at weightwatchersuk’s Instagrams page.

I’m posting all my favourite things to eat in the day. It’s lovely to work with a fantastic community of people.

 

About to start some baking!

About to start some baking!

 

 

 

Avocado with smoked paprika on toast

Avocado with smoked paprika on toast


1.30 hours of Ashtanga yoga at a barn in the countryside.

1.30 hours of Ashtanga yoga at a barn in the countryside.

St Albans has lots of interesting walks

St Albans has lots of interesting walks

I do love Sundays. Me and the rest of the country. We are all looking for the perfect Sunday, so that can sometimes make it a nightmare. Pubs are so full that we tend to avoid them. However, the urge for a good Sunday roast and a long walk was too strong so I booked a 5pm lunch ( only time I could get at short notice) at  http://www.brunningandprice.co.uk/praewoodarms/ The Prae Wood Arms, in St Albans.  Firstly, I needed to do some Yoga. I go every Sunday to a barn in Hertfordshire where they teach Ashtanga Yoga. I go with my friend ( who also runs baby and mother classes ) Jeri,  http://www.mybabybrain.com/contact/

After Yoga and feeling very Zen, Nathan and I decided to do a two hour walk to try and burn off some of the calories we were about to consume. We parked in the Prae Wood Arms car park and set off.

The Prae Wood Arms

The Prae Wood Arms

It was actually quite hot but the public footpath ( we took the river walk) was beautiful.

Nathan in a field

Nathan in a field

 

St Albans has lots of interesting walks

St Albans has lots of interesting walks

The Old Mill. What a treat to find!

The Old Mill. What a treat to find!

I love bread and cake. No, really, I do… So this was a thrill to find. Also, I was ready for some sugar at this point. All this lovely fresh bread, made with flour from the mill.

Bread found at the mill.

Bread found at the mill.

You can walk around the mill. You get an information sheets and it gives you a bit of background. It's really interesting

You can walk around the mill. You get an information sheets and it gives you a bit of background. It’s really interesting

As they only accepted cash we went for a bit of bread pudding. 50p! Yes, 50p!! and so delicious

Delicious Bread Pudding and only 50p

Delicious Bread Pudding and only 50p

So, I would say if you are near St Albans, please do visit! http://www.redbournburymill.co.uk

We took a stroll back to the pub and had a fantastic Sunday Lunch. Yes, it was very busy but they have quite a few dining areas. The staff are supper friendly. Service was a bit slow but everything, when it arrived was worth the wait. Good prices for such lovely surroundings. It has fresh ales and a good wine list. I would go back.

A hearty roast beef dinner ( well, lunch)

A hearty roast beef dinner ( well, lunch)

 

My starter was a winner, simple but really good. Asparagus and crispy egg.

My starter was quite delicious

My starter was quite delicious

A waffle with toffee sauce ( we shared this, honest )

A waffle with toffee sauce
( we shared this, honest )

All in all a lovely Sunday.


Jul
22
A food lovers dream - Barcelona

A food lovers dream – Barcelona

AVECI HOTEL

The roof top pool and the Acevi hotel, Barcelona

I was pretty excited to be going to Barcelona for three days. I’ve never been and I had heard good things. http://www.ba.com were offering great deals on return flights from Gatwick, £140 return for two. I also found a great hotel on http://www.booking.com For three nights it worked out at £297. Yes, you can get cheaper but this was a lovely hotel with a swimming pool.   The deal didn’t include breakfast but to be honest I hate Buffett style eating and I like the freedom of trying new places everyday. The brilliant thing is, you can get a queso y jamón rollo, café fuerte (ham and cheese roll and a strong coffee) for three euro. It’s a great breakfast. the bread is fresh, the ham is off the bone and the cheese is delicious. Like most cities, you can spend as much or as little as your budget will allow.

 

TIP: If you don’t want to spend 100 euro on a round trip in a taxi from the airport, take the airport bus for five euro. It runs every 15 minutes, has zircon and is a great service. We did it ( & believe me, we are normally the ‘jump in a cab’ type of people) and it was perfect.

 

We were staying in the Eixample area of Barcelona. A fifteen minute walk from plaza catalunia. It’s a great area. Not as busy as central or old town Barcelona. Lot’s of amazing Tapas bars. We walked EVERYWHERE.

TIP: It might be best to avoid going in July. It was SO HOT. Walking all over a hot city had it’s challenges. However, we were determined to make the most of it, so we soaked up as much as we could.

BEST TAPAS IN EIXAMPLE AREA :

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The best prawns in Barcelona

The best prawns in Barcelona

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Tender meat with baked cheese on fresh, soft bread. SO GOOD

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Patatas Bravas at Cerveseria Catalana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would also HIGHLY recommend     http://latavernadelclinic.com/eng/index.php

La Taverna del Clinic rossello, 155 – 08036 BCN

I can honestly say the service and food were outstanding. We had one of the best meals EVER. Please do try to go if you are ever in Barcelona. I am sorry to say the photographs aren’t as good as I would’ve liked, I didn’t want to use my flash.

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Look at the beautiful presentation

You can see the chefs working. They are artists

You can see the chefs working. They are artists

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The lobster was tender, tasty and perfect

 

Tuna belly.

Tuna belly.

Natalia recommend a wine for us. As you can see, it was perfect.

White wine chosen by Natalia

White wine chosen by Natalia

I started with a glass of Cava. The Cava in Barcelona is nothing like the Cave I have tired in the UK. I can honestly say, it’s the best Cava I have ever tried. Better than any Champagne ( albeit in my limited experience)

*******************

Just walking around, trying out bars and cafes, we really got a sense of the city. We are huge food and wine lovers that we couldn’t wait for lunch and dinner. Seeing all the sights was a great way to work up an appetite.

Are Wales winning?

Are Wales winning?

My top sights to see:

  1. Palau de la Musica Catalana http://www.palaumusica.cat/ca/
  2. Casa Ballto https://www.casabatllo.es/en/
  3. Tapas in Eixample area
  4. The Food market http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/en/tour/barcelona-city-centre/guide-la-boqueria-barcelona.html
  5. The Sagrada Familia http://www.sagradafamilia.org/en/
  6. La Taverna del Clinic http://latavernadelclinic.com/eng/index.php
  7. http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/en/tour/barcelona-city-centre/guide-la-boqueria-barcelona.html

  8. La Boqueria - I could move to Barcelona just of this

    La Boqueria – I could move to Barcelona just of this

  9. Delicious Tapas in Exiample

    Delicious Tapas in Eixample

  10. https://www.casabatllo.es/en/

    https://www.casabatllo.es/en/

Palau de la Musica Catalana

Palau de la Musica Catalana


In between recipe developing, whilst sat at my computer I love looking at different hotel offers. If you are flexible with your time (as we are, self employed, work most weekends etc) you can find some great deals.

The Hotel Du Vin hotels are beautifully decorated and we always get a warm welcome. We decided to take advantage of the settle in Sunday offer. Starting at £25 the deal is if you spend £75 or more in the bistro you get a room for £25 plus.

They say ‘Nestled in a valley in the Chilterns, you’ll find the delightful 12th century market town of Henley-on-Thames. And on the banks of the Thames itself, with the river gliding slowly by, you’ll find our Henley-on-Thames hotel. Behind the classic Georgian façade of this old brewery, you’ll find a typically warm Hotel du Vin welcome – a tranquil haven to moor the soul. A world-renowned centre of rowing thanks to the Royal Regatta, Henley has quaint architecture, quirky independent shops, and a peppering of museums and galleries. While the annual Festival of Music and Arts is always a cultural treat.’

It’s my good friend, Miceal Murphy’s birthday and as a birthday treat I have booked tickets for us to go to the Henley festival. As I’ve not been to Henley before, Nathan and I thought we would take a Sunday drive and have a look around. It’s only an hours drive from where we live ( traffic permitting) so within no time we were wandering around the pretty village. As ever, we stopped for a sharing board at Cote. Good value and delicious.

Address: New Street , Henley-On-Thames, RG9 2BP

Telephone:  01491877579
Email:  info.henley@hotelduvin.com
Utterly delish!

Utterly delish!

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I found this white house. I think I could live here. It was hidden away but I spotted it.

Lots of people enjoying the sunshine

Lots of people enjoying the sunshine

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We love a pretty vista

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Henley has a shop dedicated to Teddy Bears. This one was my favourite. What a cutie!

Henley is getting ready for the Royal Regatta

Henley is getting ready for the Royal Regatta

 

 

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After walking around for a few hours we decided to check in to the hotel. Hotel Du Vin really have got it nailed with the decor. It has a luxurious, opulent feel but also quite sturdy and comforting. We were upgrading to a superior room and it was beautiful. Huge, with a stand alone bath, air con, shower, mini bar, snacks, wifi. TV, Massive bed, dressing gowns.. I could go on!

 

Our lovely room at Hotel Du Vin, Henley on Thames

Our lovely room at Hotel Du Vin, Henley on Thames

Dinner didn’t disappoint. We ate at 6pm and the bistro was half full. It had a buzzy atmosphere but not loud.

We ordered fougasse to soak up the vino. In French cuisine, fougasse is a type of bread typically associated with Provence but found in other regions. Some versions are sculpted or slashed into a pattern resembling an ear of wheat

In French cuisine, fougasse is a type of bread typically associated with Provence but found in other regions. Some versions are sculpted or slashed into a pattern resembling an ear of wheat

In French cuisine, fougasse is a type of bread typically associated with Provence but found in other regions. Some versions are sculpted or slashed into a pattern resembling an ear of wheat

Nathans starter. Tender and melt in the mouth

Nathan’s starter. Tender and melt in the mouth

Carpaccio (UK /kɑːrˈpætʃioʊ/ or US /kɑːrˈpɑːtʃⁱoʊ/; Italian pronunciation: [karˈpattʃo]) is a dish of raw meat or fish (such as beef, veal, venison, salmon or tuna), thinly sliced or pounded thin and served mainly as an appetizer.

I enjoyed the walnut brioche muffin with pate. It was excellent.

Brioche is a pastry of French origin that is similar to a highly enriched bread, and whose high egg and butter content give it a rich and tender crumb

Brioche is a pastry of French origin that is similar to a highly enriched bread, and whose high egg and butter content give it a rich and tender crumb

My main was the braised lamb and Nathan went for the pork belly. TBH I preferred our starters but maybe we were so full by the time our mains came (We can’t resist warm bread )

Braised lamb with peas and carrots

Braised lamb with peas and carrots

Nathan's main - Pork belly and a creamy mash

Nathan’s main – Pork belly and a creamy mash

Here we are being slightly merry and very full!

Enjoying a lovely get away at Hotel Du Vin, Henley-On-Thames

Enjoying a lovely get away at Hotel Du Vin, Henley-On-Thames

I look forward to going back for the festival in a few weeks time.

 

Lisa x

 


I love Spain, I could see myself and Nathan living in Spain for most of the year to get away from the cold weather. We try to go as much as possible and plan to travel around for a month or so next year.

The dream being to learn Spanish and be able to work and live in England and Spain. I guess you can tell I’m an ‘IN’ but lets not go down that road.

Flying to Malaga is pretty easy for us Brits and I must say I never usually look around the area. It’s always straight to the hire car and off we go. However, on this occasion we decided to stay a couple of nights in Malaga to see what it is like. We weren’t disappointed.

Malaga is a lovely city, friendly and easy to get around. We stayed at a great hotel with a roof top pool. The views of the city were incredible.

stunning views of the city

 

Not a bad way to spend a few days

Not a bad way to spend a few days

 

Top of the world

Top of the world

One of the reasons I love Spain is the food and wine. As I mentioned, I haven’t seen enough of Spain to fully appreciate it but we plan to change that. In fact, one of my favourite things to do is watch Youtube clips of Rick Stein on Spain. He knows the best places to go and we are going to follow in his foot steps. Hopefully having our own adventure on the way.

This was a dish we had in Malaga. We found a small restaurant, just by our hotel and ordered an array of Tapas. This was tuna, chill, avocado and lime. Simple and delicious and quite easy to replicate at home. Ideal for a Summer dinner party starter I believe, served with icy white wine.

A healthy and delicious dish

A healthy and delicious dish

 

Typically Spanish. Fresh, plentiful and delicious

Typically Spanish. Fresh, plentiful and delicious

After a few wonderful days exploring Malaga we headed to Tarifa.  Tarifa is a small town in the province of Cádiz, Andalusia, on the southernmost coast of Spain. It is primarily known as one of the world’s most popular destinations for wind sports. It has a laid back vibe. I’ve never been to Australia but I imagine some parts are similar.

We stayed at a gorgeous hotel called Hotel Punta Sur      http://hotelpuntasur.com

Hotel Punta Sur

Ctra. N-340, km 77
11380 Tarifa
Cádiz, Spain
Tel. +34 956 68 43 26
Fax +34 956 68 04 72
info@hotelpuntasur.com

HOTEL PUNTA SUR

Honestly, the food was AMAZING. We had the salt-encrusted beef tenderloin, a hotel speciality and it was one of the best meals I have ever had. Great wine selection as well.

 

 salt-encrusted beef tenderloin

salt-encrusted beef tenderloin

Salt-encrusted beef tenderloin

Salt-encrusted beef tenderloin

Salt-encrusted beef tenderloin

 

 

A good drop I believe

A good drop I believe

As far as a little evenings entertainment, Tarifa old Town is a great place to walk around, see and be seen. Again, a very chilled out, relaxed vibe with bars and restaurants. Little stalls and interesting shops to look at. We felt very safe as well. It was a good mix of local people and tourists.

A bit of shopping

A bit of shopping

Tariff old town at night

Tariff old town at night

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Cocktails in Tarifa Old TownSo, I have a confession to make. Even though I would love to come across as cultured and arty, I fear that if I didn’t admit we did take a detour to Niki Beach in Marbella. We like to mix things up and we wanted to see what it was like. I have to say we had fun hanging out with the beautiful people and the food was VERY good, but the one day was enough. Then we hot footed it back to our charming hotel and the old town.

At lunch I had fresh tuna. I was cooked perfectly. We did drink a bottle of wine… oh well, YOLO as they say.Hanging out at Niki beach for the day DSC_0930 DSC_0921

My fresh salad at Niki Beach All in all I cant wait to see more of Spain. Starting with Barcelona in two weeks time! VIVA ESPANA

 

Lisa x


 

Truffle shop at Topshop

 

 

The Cocoa Box had so much fun this Easter Bank holiday weekend. We were at Topshop’s flagship store on Oxford Street for three days. Customers got to pick their favourite topping for our chocolatiers to use on their own hand made truffles.

The truffle Shop was a huge success.

Who doesn’t love chocolate???

 

We set up early Thursday morning.

We set up early Thursday morning.

 

Out three day Pop-Up at Topshop

Our three day Pop-Up at Topshop

 

 

3 day pop up at Topshop topshoptopman_easter_lowres_026-2


I seem to be making a lot of cakes lately… I do love cakes but it takes time to perfect the art of cake making.

Even though I have an advanced level 3 in Patisserie and Confectionary, I still need to keep getting better.

As they say, practice makes perfect!

 

BURGER CAKEcakeCUPCAKES 2BARBIE CAKECUPCAKE GARDENCUPCAKES 6CUPCAKESBigs Bug Band

Chocolate fudge cake

Chocolate fudge cake

Bad girl cupcakes

Bad girl cupcakes

 


Happy New Year!

We wanted to let you know we are running Valentine Chocolate making workshops on the 13th and 14th of February.

We always have a great time in the workshops and it helps that you drink a delicious chocolate martini.

The workshops are 2 hours on length and you take home everything you make in the workshop.

We offer packaging and a recipe sheet. In fact we supply everything including gloves and aprons.

This year we are running the workshops at the Hampstead Britannia Hotel, Chalk Farm tube.

Please email us if you would like a ticket ( currently on offer at £35pp!) info@thecocoabox.co.uk creative Valentine chocolate workshopHandmade chocolate MAKING TRUFFLES

Chocolate truffles

Adding the zest of an orange works really well