It's been just over a year now since I started recording my favourite food experiences online. As a naturally sociable person, I'd assumed it would be easy to put down onto paper the pride I feel after successfully cooking a new recipe and my enthusiasm for top-quality produce.
However, it turns out that I'm not the wordsmith I thought I was, and that blogging is yet another part of my life where a lot of hard work and determination is required in order to succeed. I've now realised that I need to stop feeling so anxious and pressured to make every sentence fitting of a literary masterpiece, and just focus on the personal satisfaction that comes from publishing a post for anyone in the world to enjoy.
My uber-cool friend Jamie introduced me to Joy's site when I first confessed I was thinking of joining the gluttony of food bloggers, and I was instantly charmed by her friendly online persona and the apparent ease with which she whipped up a cake then taught her followers how to recreate it. My Pinterest boards have become jam-packed with Joy's beautiful baked goods, and I'm determined to try her cinnamon sugar pull-apart bread, individual peach cobbler, and of course these incredible chocolate peanut butter cookie dough toasted marshmallow cupcakes!
Joy also recently celebrated an anniversary, as she launched a weekly podcast with her best foodblogging buddy Tracy Benjamin at the same time as I delved into writing. Tracy's talent for photography shines through her Shutterbean site, and spurred me on to try my own #project366 challenge.
I'd first assumed it would be the cooking tips and technological guidance for budding bloggers that would make Joy and Tracy's podcast worth a listen. But a year on, it turns out that whilst their discussions on seasonal ingredients and the latest culinary crazes provide useful recipe ideas, it was actually their hilarious "real talk" insights into everyday life as a young woman that has got me hooked.
When you hear Joy and Tracy's podcast you realise you're listening in to a phone conversation between two best friends, and they are so engaging that you feel like you're included too. I related so closely to their anecdotes that I couldn't resist using the magic of social media to trick the time difference and contact Joy and Tracy, feeling hugely flattered whenever they replied.
But nothing could prepare me for the amazement I felt when Joy tweeted me asking if I'd be free to meet up when she visited London in April. Me, of all people...surely there'd been some mistake?! Obviously I jumped at the chance to meet the culinary idol who seemed virtually like a friend already, and knew it wouldn't feel right without my real-life confidant Jamie there too.
We saw it as our duty to treat Joy to a truly British experience, so we decided to take a tour round Fortnum & Mason's vast foyer of gastronomic gifts before relaxing with a spot of afternoon tea...what could be more English than that?! Sadly their restaurant was slightly above our price range, so we settled ourselves into their beautifully styled ice-cream parlour.
Fortnum & Mason serves a wide selection of leaf teas but we all opted for the Queen's Jubilee blend, which was served inside ornately decorated silver pots and poured into perfect pastel Wedgewood cups with matching saucers.
During the course of our marathon gossip session we just about finished the “26 mile” sundae, filled with toffee, chocolate and vanilla ice-cream flavours and piled high with nuts, whipped cream and toffee sauce. Its impressive presentation made it the ideal choice to reflect day #114 of #project366!
After our ice-cream feast we were all so stuffed that we couldn't even contemplate this duo of scones with jam and clotted cream, so the classic English treat was boxed up for our American baking royalty to enjoy in her hotel room later.
Feeling like a couple of giggly groupies, Jamie and I took the opportunity to capture our meeting with Joy on camera before finally waving goodbye. If only we'd been wearing blazers too!
If it wasn't for that photo and the purple-penned note inside my copy of Joy's brilliant cookbook, I'd think that afternoon tea had been a dream. Now I have an extra reason to smile when I listen to Joy and Tracy's podcast, as I've been lucky enough to meet the lady who's as sweet and kind as she is talented and witty. I'm just waiting for Tracy to join us for the reunion!