PUREARTH Juice Cleanse – Day 4

It’s HUMP DAY!! I made it half way, and then some, and I am feeling really proud of myself for making it this far without caving in to temptation. The temptations to eat are far from gone, but they are fewer and that can only be a good thing. I didn’t get enough sleep last night; I went out for dinner with some friends (and was the only person not eating) and got home fairly late, I then had to be up at the crack of dawn to go house-hunting and Christmas shopping in the rainy gloom that is so typical of winter in London. Despite this obvious lack of rest I still felt absolutely great today; I seem to have more energy with each day that passes and I can see and feel my body cleansing itself. The first 3 days of the cleanse I could feel my skin flushing out toxins, it felt heavy and oily, but today was the first time it felt clear; I woke up with a bright complexion and had several people comment that I was ‘glowing,’ which made me very happy indeed. On the first and second day of my PurEarth Juice Cleanse I felt as though the world was against me and I almost didn’t believe I could do this, but now that I’ve managed to pass the half way mark, and do it with such enthusiasm and energy, it’s made me realise that I am capable of far more than I once thought.

People may have mixed views about juice cleansing, but if it makes me feel this good, and right now I feel better than I have in a very long time, then it must be something special. It’s not easy, I’ll give you that, but it is more than worth it. This isn’t a trend that I see disappearing any time soon; it’s rooted in the basic knowledge that raw foods, particularly in liquid form, are extremely beneficial to the body as well as the mind. This is not new science, this is ancient history, quite literally. Our ancestors ate mostly raw fruit and vegetables, as well as the occasional portion of meat when it was available, which indicates that our bodies are best suited to these types of basic food sources. Over time we have modified our food and most of it now contains numerous toxins and additional waste that our bodies cannot process and which therefore have a negative affect on our systems. Organic fruit and veg is not a new thing, it’s simply our way of trying to get back to our roots and eat as naturally and healthily as possible without the addition of harmful chemicals. When organic fruits and vegetables are consumed in juice form, our bodies are able to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients possible without having to process the parts we do not use. This means we are getting all the good stuff, and none of the bad, or anything which is surplus to requirement. Not only am I getting everything I need in terms of daily nutrition, but my mind is clearer and my body lighter because I have far fewer toxins weighing me down. Basically, the bottom line is, if it feels good, it probably is.

PUREARTH Juice Cleanse – Day 3

Aside from the fact that today just happened to be a gorgeous sunny day in London town, it was also the best day I have had on this detox so far. I felt a little tired when I first woke up but once I had a shower and left the house for a busy day of work I suddenly had incredible energy. Talk about positivity, today was the most productive, fun, nourishing and positive day I have had in a long time, and I didn’t think about food once. This must be the first day in my life I have not thought about food, or at least it feels that way since the past two days I have barely stopped thinking about food; my new food-free thoughts are making me very happy. I was in a rush this morning as I’d woken up late and had no time to do anything before heading out to my meetings, so I packed my MORNING detox juice and MID-DAY detox juice along with 1.5 litres of ph Super Green Water, and off I went. Apart from the weight of carrying the juice around all day, I really enjoyed knowing that even if I had to sit through a lunch meeting I would still have something to drink which would substitute actually having to eat. It makes a big difference and I wasn’t envious of anyone who was eating around me at all; I happily drank my juice and chatted about it when people started to ask questions about my detox. It felt good to be outside and be keeping busy, and I imagine it probably helped keep the thoughts of food at bay.

So, day 3 and still going strong, stronger than ever in fact. I am impressed with my self-will and sheer determination, as well as my ability to overcome the cravings and stay positive throughout. It’s amazing what we can do when we simply put our minds to something and change the way we think. I have a feeling this is going to have a profound effect on my health as well as my attitude towards other challenges I face in my usual diet and fitness regime. It’s easy to give up on things when we feel tired or defeated, but sticking it out is always far more rewarding and there is no guilt involved, only a sense of accomplishment and self-satisfaction. We all have bad days, we all fall off the wagon occasionally when we are dieting or trying to keep fit and healthy, and that’s natural. When you set out to do something as specific as this however, there needs to be a greater sense of importance placed on it in order to make it through each day without giving up. It’s fair enough to have a couple of bad days in a month of healthy eating and training hard, but this is different, this is not a long-term operation, it’s short and intense and should be treated with mindful respect. I have had an immensely eye-opening and positive day and feel grateful for my strength of body and mind for getting me through this so well. I am looking forward to tomorrow and am excited about the effect this is having on my life.

PUREARTH Juice Cleanse – Day 2

So today is the second day of my juice cleanse and it’s been a quiet day on all fronts. I started the day well enough, pretty much the same as yesterday, just with a little less energy. Today has been a peaks-and-troughs kind of day; I’ve been a pendulum of energy, one minute I have absolutely none, and the next minute I have what feels like boundless energy that might well last forever, but doesn’t. In fact, my short energy bursts seem to last no more than 20 minutes, during which time I try to make the most of them by writing furiously or doing household chores as I have been working from home all day. Then I have energy slumps which last much longer, anything up to an hour and a half. Once or twice today I almost nodded off, although I didn’t get very much sleep last night so I won’t be blaming this entirely on the detox. On a more positive note I am craving food far less, and the hunger seems to come occasionally, though not nearly as often as yesterday, which is a big step in the right direction for me. I’ve been very distracted today too so work has been somewhat drawn out and painful; again, this may be due to my lack of sleep and not the detox. I was heading out for a Bikram Yoga class this evening and am quite glad I ended up having to work instead since I’m not sure I would have managed an hour and a half class in a hot room feeling the way I did. Still, not feeling too bad, no headaches or anything strange to report. I think the test will be day three; tonight I plan to have an early night and catch up on some much needed sleep before tackling the third day of this detox. I am considering a light jog in the morning too, if I feel up to it, which might actually help with the energy levels.

Now, there is something I should tell you about this detox that I am really quite impressed with. The Juice! Yes, it’s a juice detox and there is no food involved and perhaps that sounds quite tedious, however, with juice that tastes this good it’s actually become quite a pleasurable experience. I have found myself drinking much slower than I normally would because I want to savour the flavour, and then when it’s gone I start looking forward to the next one. Not because I’m hungry or because my body needs it, purely because I genuinely enjoy drinking them. When the juice arrived 2 days ago I thought I might not enjoy having the same juice every day; today I had the same juice as yesterday and somehow it was still interesting and still refreshing. There is only one part of the cleanse I don’t enjoy quite as much, and that’s the Bentonite Clay and Psyllium husk drink; it tastes a little like oats and chalk in water, and although it makes my tummy happy, it’s not exactly the most exciting thing on the menu. This is a small price to pay for the incredible benefits of the whole process though, and its not bad in any way, just somewhat flavourless. I can live with that. I am thoroughly enjoying the juice; I’m even thinking about taking this to new extremes and trying out the 14 Day Juice Cleanse in January once the Christmas season has restored my toxin levels and I start to feel the need to be clean again! I’m not committing to anything yet though, let’s just see how I do on a 7 day cleanse first; if everything is still running smoothly on by 7 then I will definitely be doing this again very soon.

PUREARTH Juice Cleanse – Day 1

This might sound extreme to some of you, and perhaps it is a little, but this morning I embarked on a 7 day juice cleanse courtesy of my lovely friends over at PUREARTH. My first juice delivery arrived last night and I could barely contain my excitement; I had been looking forward to this for some time and was eager to get to grips with it all, as well as begin mentally preparing for what lay ahead. Delivery number one included enough juice for two days (6 juices), some Green Superfood powder to be mixed with 2 litres of water (which is then consumed throughout the day), 2 small ‘energy shots’ which seem to be a concentrated juice made from even more good things to give you energy, and a bag of Bentonite Clay and Psyllium husk powder to be mixed with water (about 300ml) and consumed 90 minutes after the first detox juice of the day. The box also included a home enema kit. Now, I know what you must be thinking right now and when I first opened it I thought the same – How? Why? What For? I was nervous, felt awkward and had a million questions going through my mind; I had never really tried anything like this before and have always had somewhat mixed feelings on the subject. Nevertheless I went for it, guns blazing, and so that is how my morning started. I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least; I won’t go into detail since that might be a step too far, but I would recommend that you at least try it before you pass judgement as it’s quite relaxing and not nearly as intrusive as one might think.

I then began my day with hot water and lemon, as instructed by my daily schedule, followed by the first juice of the day which was a bright green and utterly delicious MORNING detox juice. This was followed swiftly by the small ‘energy shot’ a few minutes later, and then a Bentonite Clay and Psyllium Husk drink a little while on. So far everything was working out well and I felt full and totally satisfied. I was heading out for the afternoon and decided to mix up my ph Green Superfood Water to take with me, along with my MID-DAY detox juice, as I thought that between the two they would keep me going until I got home. Now, this is where the little ego started creeping in; our monkey mind has a nasty habit of obsessing over things when we deprive ourselves of them and today was no exception. Every smell of food I encountered throughout the day induced some sort of strange, face-twisting hunger pang that can only be describes as pure ego; on any other day food wouldn’t enter my mind until I remember that I need to eat, usually because I am waist deep in whatever I happen to be working on. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE food, I live for food, and to me there is no pleasure more pure and unadulterated than good food. Generally though, on an average working day, I don’t obsess about food or crave it, I simply eat when I am hungry or when it’s a normal meal time. Today was a little different, today I went through six worlds of hell as the streets of London unfolded before me in entirely new ways and I saw things through the eyes of my food-starved monkey mind. It eventually subsided and I learnt to ignore the sights and smells, but I did find it quite astonishing how my mind had heightened my awareness of food and desire to eat simply because an emphasis had been placed on food being disallowed. It always amazes me what lengths the mind will go to in order to keep itself entertained; I know it is simply an illusion and can easily be overcome.

Day one is now complete, it ended on a high note and I am happy to report that I am neither hungry nor craving food; I am enjoying feeling so light and clean and I am looking forward to tomorrow. I hope it’s as good as today as I am planning to throw in a little exercise to keep the momentum going and up the endorphins. Watch this space!

Over Indulgence and Fine Dining

London is full of great restaurants, there’s no denying that simple fact, although some really are in a league all of their own. ‘Chef Alyn’ Williams has long been known among the fine-foodies of London for the fabulous dishes he served during his 5 years at Marcus Wareing’s restaurant at The Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge. Now the man is making strides as an independent chef with his very own self-titled restaurant at one of London’s premier hotels, The Westbury Hotel in Mayfair. Alyn Williams at the Westbury has been open since late 2011 and has already earned itself a Michelin star as well as 3 AA rosettes; Alyn was also awarded ‘National Chef of the Year 20012’ and while all these fancy titles and awards may sound pretentious, they are undoubtedly well deserved since the food here is, if I dare say so, far better than that of his former workplace.

The price, quite surprisingly for such a fine establishment, is rather reasonable, which only adds to the appeal and gives you all more of a reason to try it – which I highly recommend you do. The restaurant itself is comfortable and quiet, the wood panels and carpeted floors are warm and inviting while still being clean and modern. My favourite part of the restaurant though, is the ‘private dining’ area which is situated in plain sight in the centre of the restaurant, and is encased by glass walls which double as wine racks and are stacked from floor to ceiling with fine wines (the room will only seat 8 guests, 10 at a squeeze). It’s not so much the room that I am drawn to as the concept behind it – when you book the area you are required to select your wines  for the evening in advance, you will then be served a customised tasting menu on the night to match your wine selections – I just love this twist on the usual wine-food pairing and the wine-encased dining room adds to the overall experience.

The food, as you might have guessed, was sublime. We were treated to a tour of the kitchen followed by our very own bespoke 16 course tasting menu, chosen by Alyn himself, which included a little of everything from the restaurants seasonal summer menu. A rather unexpected surprise and an absolute treat, for which I cannot thank him enough. This was quite simply one of the best meals of my life, and although I would love to share every detail, SIXTEEN courses would be quite a lot to write about in much detail and I simple couldn’t do it justice if I tried.

Alyn, along with his incredible team, serve up some of the finest food in London, the restaurant boasts a simple but carefully selected and very impressive wine list; and the service, well all I can say is that I’ve yet to experience better. All in all, an incredible experience, and one I will be coming back for much more of.

Favourite dishes: Risotto Balls and Tempura Oysters (canapes) – Chicken Wings and Sweetbreads with Baby Gems and Sherry Sauce – Langoustine with Watermelon – Slow Cooked egg served in a cup with Celeriac and Truffle Brioche – Wild Salmon with Sea Vegi’s and Oysters – Pork with Sweetcorn, Mushroom and Corndogs – Lamb with Chickpea and Aubergine – Strawberry Shortcake – Honeycomb and Passionfruit – THE BEST DISH IS THE WALNUT WHIP (which is why the picture above is dedicated entirely to this mind bending dessert)

Alyn Williams at The Westbury | The Westbury Hotel 37 Conduit Street, London, W1S 2YF| www.alynwilliams.co.uk | alynwilliams@westburymayfair.com | +44 (0)207 078 9579

 

Dalston Street Feast and THE RIB MAN

When it comes to ribs, there is always a great debate about how to cook them, where to buy them, what restaurants make the best ribs and why. Well there are ribs, and then there are the Rib Man’s ribs. I’d been avidly following the twitter account of @theribman whilst I was away in Cape Town and as soon as I arrived back in London I decided it was time to pay him a visit at the new Dalston Street Feast market (open on a Friday night) – although you can find him at Kings Cross on a Thursday and Brick Lane on a Sunday, or here on his very own website. This man is ‘The Real Deal’, his ribs are as good as they get; Mark does all the prep work and cooking himself and you can see he truly loves what he does and cares about the food he makes, where it comes from and how it’s prepared, cooked and served; be it the plain and simple rack, or stripped off the bone and piled high on one of his famous ‘rib rolls,’ topped off with lashings of his home made hot sauce. Simplicity is the key, and love – a lot of love.

When it comes to ribs this man can’t be beat – and his hot sauce is something you will definitely want to write home about – they say food made with love tastes better and there’s no denying that this man truly loves what he does. Each and every rack of ribs is carefully marinated by hand and lovingly slow-cooked to absolute perfection before being served to his adoring fans (customers).

Back to the hot sauce; I am a chili lover through and through, I was raised in South Africa and due to the huge influence of the Portuguese cuisine from our neighbors in Mozambique, we get some of the best peri-peri (chili) sauces in the world and Peri-Peri Chicken is a staple meal in any South African’s diet (just look at the guys who started Nando’s). As I mentioned before, the Rib Man makes his own signature hot sauce; there are varying degrees of WOW when it comes to heat in these magically hand crafted bottles of chili sauce and not only that, they are also made-to-order so they taste fresh and there is limited supply at the markets so order online (here) to guarantee you get what want. The signature ‘Holy-Fuck’ sauce is pretty hot, but there’s ‘Christ-On-A-Bike’ which gets the taste buds really tingling, and then there is the ‘Holy-Mother-Of-God’ hot sauce, which comes with this warning: The absolute hottest of my sauces to date! Do not buy this if you have a weak heart or are worried about your eyesight! 

All sauces are made with scotch bonnet chili peppers and – the hottest of the hot – and I would recommend approaching with extreme caution. If, like me, you LOVE chili, then please do yourself a massive favour and get yourself some of this amazing sauce!

THE RIB MAN | KINGS CROSS EVERY THURSDAY http://www.eat.st/kings-cross | STREET FEAST LONDON FRIDAY NIGHTS http://www.streetfeastlondon.com/#!home/mainPage | BRICK LANE EVERY SUNDAY  http://www.theribman.co.uk/directions.php

Pure Luxury Breaks

Last week felt like it would never end, I was exhausted, worn out, and in desperate need of a break; by the time Thursday came knocking and the weekend was almost in sight I had already started planning my escape (some ideas were a bit extreme I’ll admit, particularly the one about hijacking a boat and sailing to Madagascar). I opted, instead, for a much safer and less complicated plan B – armed with 2 good books, 1 laptop, 1 iPod (complete with newly downloaded playlists) and 2 haphazardly thrown together outfits (1 smart-casual, 1 casual) all stuffed into a small overnight bag along with minimal toiletries, I headed for Franschhoek – a small and exceptionally beautiful town in the Cape wine region, about 75km outside Cape Town. The streets of Franschooek (French Corner) are lined with French restaurants, patisseries, small European clothing boutiques, wine shops and organic farm stores; perfect for a weekend getaway.

Perhaps I should have titled this post, ‘in search of perfection.’ I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I booked myself into La Residence, since this was my first time staying in the area and my first experience of any of the Royal Portfolio hotels. The hotel itself is situated on a private 30-acre estate in the heart of the Franschhoek valley and enjoys breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains as well as the private vineyards of the estate; once you get past the surrounding beauty you will notice that it boasts the most uniquely exquisite rooms, decadently decorated entrance way, phenomenal food cooked by their in house chef, and service on par with that of any true Royal residence (or at least what I would imagine Royal service might be like).

View from my awesome bedroom / balcony / palace

Despite the torrential rain and bitter cold outside, I felt as though I had just found my very own slice of heaven. Quietly tucked away in my palatial room with it’s underfloor heating and super king sized bed (the bed even has stairs, and even those have underfloor heating), I was as comfortable as I could possibly be and as warm as toast; with little to do except drink the complimentary bottle of bubbly, disappear into the pool sized tub and dive into a good book, I decided to do exactly that.

Everything about this unique property screams luxury – although perhaps luxury isn’t the most fitting description, it’s more than luxurious, it is a personal oasis; the entire place creates a feeling of euphoria and a sense of complete serenity, as if there isn’t really a world beyond it’s walls.

La Residence is part of a portfolio of three boutique establishments in South Africa, The Royal Portfolio, which was established and is wholly owned by Liz and Phil Biden; Liz Biden is considered a South African icon as well as a global hotelier of note. Before these properties were hotels however, they were once the family’s holiday homes, and each one has been entirely designed and decorated by Liz.

Liz has an exceptional eye for detail; from the moment you step into the entrance hall at La Residence you begin to notice the exquisite decoration, and the breathtaking interior design extends far beyond the main building as each of the 11 rooms is individually colour coordinated and decorated to specific design. The finishing touches are added on a daily basis by the hotels tireless staff who are on hand at all hours of the day to tend to your every need, and the hotel’s dining room is already famous in South Africa as one of the Wineland’s most accomplished.

From the very second you arrive, to the heartbreaking moment when you leave, this haven of luxury will put all of your worries at ease; from the mind-altering food and endless flow of drinks, to the warmth and hospitality of the staff at La Residence – it really is in a class all of it’s own.

I think this may possibly be the most exceptionally relaxing, purely indulgent, completely luxurious weekend I have ever had – a big thank you to the incredible staff who made my stay so unforgettable, you are one of a kind.

La Residence | Elandskloof Private Road, Elandskloof Farm, Franschhoek | +27 (0) 21 876 4100 | reservations@theroyalportfolio.com