Meeting Hemsley + Hemsley

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(Photo: Nicholas Hooper for Hemsley + Hemsley)

I can’t remember when I first came across the Hemsley + Hemsley sisters’ column for Vogue but what I do remember distinctly is rolling my eyes. “Here we go again.” I thought. “Former model Jasmine presents smoothies and salads and not a lot else.” *sigh* But something kept me reading. And I’m glad that it did. The Hemsley sisters, Melissa and Jasmine, succeeded in bringing something to pro size zero Vogue that had never been entertained before – a celebration of fats. And stews. And wholesome, hearty fare; all woven between the lines of green juices and clear broths.

The column for Vogue translated into a book deal and “The Art of Eating Well” was born. It is without doubt the most beautiful and useful book I’ve bought in a very long time. I am unfortunately that person that collects recipe books – so much of my cooking is a bit of this, a bit of that, all thrown together in the hope of winging it to the dinner table! Recipe books? They’re all about the pictures, right? In just a week of owning ‘The Art of Eating Well’ I’d already made butternut squash puddings, broccoli slaw and the infamous black bean brownies.

As someone that spent nearly a decade in PR and more recently turned her hand to retrain to be a nutritional therapist, I’ve watched the Hemsley sisters in awe. They’ve graced multiple pages of national newspapers, have made gorgeous videos for high street retailers, have an insanely covetable tableware collection and a wardrobe of outfits I’d love to borrow at the weekend. But the best bit? They’re nice. Like really nice.

Told you they were lovely… Melissa panders to my selfie request!

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Last Wednesday night I went along to a Winter Warmers tasting evening with the Hemsley sisters at The College of Naturopathic Medicine. That’s how I got to know how lovely this pair truly is. It was smiles a-go-go from the outset. It was informed, off the cuff discussion (which has admittedly been delivered at length this summer at a series of high profile literary festivals). It was open, honest and fun. There’s something rather endearing and refreshing about a former, still very beautiful, model talking about poo, counting the number of times you wipe after doing so and the glamorous past time that is tongue scraping. Melissa spent nearly an hour right before the event foraging for organic carrots in central London. Jasmine brought Daal in a Thermos that she took back home to have for dinner. They live very busy lives but they still make time for the important things – especially meal times.

Melissa and Jasmine emphasise giving the right amount of time to enjoying your food. Chew it properly. Savour it. Stop being so seduced by the rustling plastic packets of ‘grab and go’. Take your time. It doesn’t need to be fancy but enjoy it. Warming one pots can often feel more nourishing than cool salads or smoothies; whilst they have their place, they’re no winter warmers. Treat breakfast just like any other meal – Mama Hemsley is a fan of fish first thing apparently. Take small steps to bigger improvements with kids – a sneaky floret of broccoli here, a refined sugar free Frozen birthday cake there.

I understand there’s another event like this being run in February and it’s well worth finding out more.

Do you have a foodie idol? It’s safe to say Melissa and Jasmine have quickly become mine.

This week I….

Back to the usual Friday round up format folks. Hope it’s an enjoyable read.

Ate: 

…At our glorious new local, The Ridgeway Bar & Kitchen. Having somewhere new and awesome on your doorstep is such a treat, right?

It was a sunny Tuesday evening, just the second night of opening for the guys and it was an absolute pleasure. Thinking back to the post I wrote about clean eating out recently it wasn’t an indulgent affair but that didn’t take away from it being a lovely evening.

The Ridgeway has been beautifully renovated to provide a light, airy and wonderfully designed establishment – the mismatched chairs, the hat stand in the corner, the casual uniforms (I want one of those denim aprons!). My Dad plans to ask the proprietor what colour adorns the walls as he fancies the same for his new kitchen!

Obligatory Dad shot (concentrating extremely hard on the wine list, naturally…)

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This haddock dish with chilli and ginger and an extra portion of veggies (in lieu of the potatoes) was full of so much flavour. There were several pieces of roasted butternut squash that were simply divine.

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If you’re in the area, you must go. And rest assured if you’re visiting me at any point, I’ll be sure to take you.

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This week I….

The seventh in a series of Friday posts looking at a very quick snapshot of the week that was.

This week I…

Ate: 

Some superb meat from Roberts & Edwards in Wimbledon. I didn’t ever live south of the river during my time in London but my sister now finds herself in SW19 – and provides an airbed for stop overs during BCNH course weekends.

Roberts & Edwards is a lovely butcher. Their selection is unreal – not an inch of the shop is wasted and you’ll find any cut of meat you could ever wish for, along with a small but perfectly formed selection of seasonal veggies, eggs, cured meats and fish.

The chaps behind the counter crack the worst jokes: “Madame, be careful, there’s a ‘leek’ in your bag” (I fell for it) but they provide an excellent level of service in the process. To date, for all round shopping experience and quality of the meat, Roberts & Edwards secures the spot of my favourite butcher.

This incredibly simple but oh so crispy and delish chicken supreme made my lunchtime.

Roberts and Edwards chicken
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This week I….

The sixth in a series of Friday posts looking at a very quick snapshot of the week that was.

This week I…

Ate: 

At the superb Fish at 85

It was my second trip this year. I seriously love this place. You know when somewhere just gets everything right? Like, everything? The service, the decor, even the loo is a sight to behold for heaven’s sake. It’s like Cornwall but on the edge of Cardiff City centre. I first went there the day after my Mum’s memorial service. It was like everyone knew what we’d been through (obviously they didn’t…) and they were so, so kind to us. I was nervous about my second trip – could it be that good again…?

It was. Maybe even a bit better. I couldn’t resist but to reorder two of the things (squid and seabass) I had last time but went for a new side dish edition of ratatouille. So much crunch and flavour. Blimey, that basil… Mmmmm.

Fish at 85 Collage
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This week I….

The fifth in a series of Friday posts looking at a very quick snapshot of the week that was.

This week I…

Ate: 

A pure Paleo diet for the first time in a long time. I’m running a Paleo Challenge for the month May at my new gym Celtic CrossFit. In the spirit of practicing what I preach, I have decided to join the gang for the 31 days of the month. My own diet has evolved so much since I first tried Paleo in 2011 and has become increasingly less Paleo in fact. That said, Paleo is a great template for eating that bit cleaner and really seeing additional benefits when a love of artisan cheeses, dark chocolate and red wine can sometimes take their toll (what? me? never!) There’s lots I don’t like about Paleo but I’m willing to give it another go and will be sure to post a more detailed round up Continue reading

Book review: Fitter Food – A lifelong recipe for health and fat loss

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I have so much time for Matt and Keris of Fitter London. Their excellent health and fitness knowledge aside, I totally admire their entrepreneurial spirit and these guys are serious grafters. In support of their hard work, I bought a copy of their first book (can you tell I’m hoping there will be more?) “Fitter Food: A lifelong recipe for health and fat loss“. Continue reading