Dedicated to the pursuit of the very best from Doughnuts to Roger Vivier

How do you like your Coffee?


There is something exquisite about sitting down with your favourite mug/cup and your favourite coffee. How do you like yours? Americano in a tall elegant mug or possibly a latte in a local pottery mug. Drinking fine coffee in your favourite cup/mug is a fine art no matter what time of day. It’s also a time to take stock, rethink or possibly veg while you drink your favourite drink.  I have a Nespresso* machine which is great but got slightly fed up having to order the cartridges online in bulk. I was invited by Carte Noire to preview their new coffee cartridges.  They have recently launched compatible cartridges available in leading supermarkets that will remove the financial pain of ordering in bulk.  However, it really depends what rocks your boat. Sometimes it’s easier ordering in bulk but its really useful to know you can buy compatible cartridges in smaller numbers.

My tester is someone whose coffee rituals are legendary. No matter what is happening in his world he stops religiously for coffee twice a day. Sometimes at leading independents in the City and sometimes the well-used Nespresso machine at work. I agreed to review the cartridges as I know many people who have been desperate to buy smaller batches.  They are available in 4 different strengths: No3, No5, No7 and No9 in ascending strength. We did a blind testing 4 identical cups (different colours) and he had quite a lot to say about them. Carte Noire packaging

Carte Noire launch coffee cartridges compatible with Nespresso Machines pre - 2013

Carte Noire launch coffee cartridges compatible with Nespresso Machines pre – 2013

Coffee and Cake from Fortnum's

Carte Noire Packaging




No3 was mild and for someone who likes their coffee mild this is the one for you.

N05 was stronger and smelt of old fashioned grocers who still grind their coffee to order like Monmouth Coffee Company. This was definitely the most attractive smell and we were all excited at the prospect of the taste based on this lovely just ground smell that is hard to recreate.

No7 stronger still and had a stronger depth and lasting taste that the first two didn’t have.

No9 very strong, possibly too strong for our seasoned taster.


Verdict: No5 and N07 came out joint top based on taste, aroma and much discussion about how he was feeling at any particular time. Would he buy them? Yes. They were easy to use and for a quick fix they did the job. However, we do feel really loyal to Nespresso and although he would feel guilty it would mean the Carte Noire Cartridges would become a guilty pleasure rather than forsaking the original cartridges. The packaging design is  smart but I would question the use of so much packaging. The boxes could be smaller and each cartridge is individually wrapped which is a lot of plastic. With increasing concern about plastics in the environment it might be worth revisiting after the launch. He enjoyed them with some leftover cakes from a Wolseley and Fortnum’s Afternoon Tea the day before.

Disclaimer: I was sent cartridges to review by Carte Noire. The opinions above are from my discerning tester who has years of experience trying and savouring a whole range of coffees and has a lot of experience of Cafe Culture in Central London. This is a sponsored post and all opinions are honest based on sampling mid-march 2014.


This post is an entry in the Foodies100 Espresso Collective Challenge, sponsored by Carte Noire. Each box of Carte Noire Espresso capsules contain 10 single servings and are available in supermarkets at an RRP of £2.79 and are available in four intensities. To find out more about the new Carte Noire Collection Espresso click here 


*Nespresso® is a registered trademark of a third party without any link with Mondelez International group. Compatible with all Nespresso®* machines bought before July 1, 2013. After that date, compatible with most Nespresso®* machines bought. For additional information regarding compatibility, please see UK:















The Hungry Vegan Week 1

For lots of reasons I’ve had to radically refine my diet. I’ve ditched lots of things I truly love for a 6 month challenge. Dairy, Wheat, Gluten, Sugar, Animal Protein have all been put in a pending file. I’m concentrating on fresh, seasonal, organic veg, legumes and trying to eat as much raw, living foods as possible. This choice is not faddish like most people who radically change their diets its in the hope it will transform my body and help it start working optimally.

Anyway, we’ll see. The most important thing is I’ve discovered some great food and health advocates, vegan cafes and restaurants and of course great blogs and books about eating well on what is a much more healthy diet. My family still eat dairy, animal protein and sugar. If you have any suggestions re: vegan living please comment as I’d love to hear your suggestions. Salad whole bowl

Today, I’ve eaten


Guacomole with Falafel and the biggest Purple Power Juice



Salad with Broccoli and Guacomole and a large Green Juice



Bombay Potatoes, Daal, Mushroom Rogan Josh and Brown Rice

The Buddha In The Attic – Julie Otsuka

The Buddha In The Attic – Julie Otsuka


Some of the best things come in small, slight packages. The Buddha In The Attic ticks these boxes.  A collective, lyrical narrative about Japanese mail-order brides travelling to the US recounting very different stories and experiences as a collective narrative in such a slim book is no mean feat. It left me and the other members of the @BritMums Book Club wanting more.

The book tells us in a very short time how difficult and challenging it must be to be removed from one culture and thrown into a completely different one. Stories of love, abuse, abandonment, wealth, poverty and great hardship are told in gentle, poetic strokes. The Japanese experience  at this time in the US was quite diverse until the internment of Japanese nationals after Pearl Harbour. Then it was consistently cruel ripping people from their communities. Absolutely terrifying. A great read.

Exterior of Daunt Books Fulham Road, London


For the rest of  summer reading I’m looking forward to Otsuka’s first novel When the Emperor Was Divine and Damian Barr’s Maggie and Me brilliantly serialised on BBC Radio 4 recently. Damian’s Biography charts his life while growing up under the shadow of Margaret Thatcher. Anyone as charming and funny as Damian deserves to be read and this will be my non-fiction reading over the next couple of weeks.

You can catch Damian talking about Memoir Writing  with members of BritMums here and find out about his Literary Salon –  a great idea.

Disclaimer:  As Editor of BritMums Book Club I recieved a  review copy of the book for free (as do the first 100 UK based members who sign up for a review copy). I will be buying a copy of Maggie and Me from my local independent book shop and  thank Jen Howse from Jenography and Co-founder of BritMums  for introducing me to another interesting author.

The Buddha In The Attic by Julie Otsuka published by Penguin £7.99 RRP  UK Sterling

The Art Car Boot Fair – 10June 2013 London

The Art Car Boot Fair

If you know what you’re looking for or are up for a surprise get there early and you may find some jewels. Arriving with the hordes later on is not the best way to experience this. I found this out. There were some great pieces but the queues were too long to stand in mid-afternoon!


Designer and Artist Pam Hogg next to Vauxhall Car



Gavin Turk selling inflatable balloons



Watermelon in Vintage Vauxhall


Polly Morgan stand at Art Car Boot Fair

for more info on next year’s Art Car Boot Fair