Sunday, July 27

Wishing on

It was only 4 months ago that I moved into my new place, and though I can't decide if that sounds like a long time or a short time, here in London that's already nearing the longest I've stayed put in one place so far (don't think me a nightmare, both other times were due to uncontrollable external factors!) and I've no plans to move on anytime soon. So it's nice to finally be able to start thinking about investing in nice things for the flat and my room without having to worry about how the devil I'm going to cart them across London. From pretty vases and chest of drawers, extra towels, bed linen and yet more cushions, it's nice to have new things to browse over, or better yet to splurge on. I love summer weather so for me, making my home as airy, fresh and summery year round is the ultimate focus. With that in mind, here's just a few of the pieces I've been thinking about recently.

Saturday, July 26

REVIEW: One Canada Square, the booziest brunch of all

Given how often I go out for brunch and how big the trend was in New York, it surprises me that I haven't come across more boozier brunches in London. In New York (in Astoria in Queens at least) boozy brunches were the be all and end all of life. A weekend wasn't a weekend without eggs and/or pancakes, and more mimosas than you thought possible to consume. But here in London, we've been slow to catch on. Until recently. One Canada Square, one of Canary Wharf's swankiest restaurant, has just introduced the 'Bottomless Brunch' meaning that Saturdays can now be complete with good food, live piano and a lot of glasses of prosecco. Because when they say bottomless, they mean it. I think I had about 5? And I only stopped because I knew I had to cycle home. 

Now this place is nice, think lots of marble, posh jacquard cloth tables and probably best to leave to the sneakers at home. We went on a Saturday with such unpredictable weather that we left the house in shorts and sandals to cycle and got there like drowned rats. Good start. Next time, I'll take an umbrella so I don't have to sit at the table listening to the pianist with hair dripping on the table cloth. 

First up: a drink, obviously. It's prosecco, Bloody Mary's and bellini that are on unlimited, along with red or white wine. The bellinis here are seriously good — an inch of raspberry puree, topped up with prosecco, finished with fresh raspberries. I was already on my second by the time the starter arrived, whilst Ed mixed it up, testing the prosecco (good) and the Bloody Mary (probably good, if you like them, which we don't). They call it 'brunch' but it's definitely lunch. For starters, you opt for either two (£20) or three (£25) courses depending on how much you want to spend, and who has a 3-course brunch!? From the broad option of starters, I got the lightest on the list — the salmon tartare — whilst Ed got the avocado on toast. (You heard, there was avocado on offer and I didn't get it.)  Both delicious, I think I actually preferred Ed's which came as a hefty portion with sourdough toast, smashed avocado, chilli and crispy bacon. Mine was good too and definitely nice and light but I've been spoilt with raw fish of late so a bit too much mayonnaise and I notice it. 

Another bellini and we were on to the next course. And for the mains, I think I won. I got the Dorset crab linguini which was finished with chilli oil and Ed got the burger — mainly because I pressured in him to getting something with hand-cut chips that I could steal. The cheese burger was no competition on The Fable's version, where we visited recently though tasty all the same and the chips were delicious. My linguini was lacking something (certainly not oil!), though it slipped down nicely with plenty of fresh crab in it. 

We sensibly shared a third course and opted for the salted caramel and chocolate delice. I'm very glad we shared because this was a month's worth of decadence on one plate. Rich, gooey and particularly decadent, this was the sort of dessert that stuck to your teeth and required you to physically prepare for each mouthful, though delicious all the while. 

One more glass of prosecco to wash it all down (and a glass of water) and we were ready to cycle home. (Is there an legal alcohol level for cycling?!) 

Would I go back? Sure, for the drinks. The concept of glass after glass of bubbles being delivered without having to cough up each time is still a total treat despite having attended numerous champagne-fuelled fashion weeks. But I would argue the drinks offering holds more of an appeal over the food. But if you've got a lazy Saturday free to spend with friends, especially if it's rainy outside, this is a great — and surprisingly economical — place to spend it. 

Next holiday

Just booked flights to this beautiful place: ISTANBUL. I hate the idea of wishing the time away but roll, on October.


Given it's about 2000 degrees outside I know it seems a little inappropriate timing to disclose my love for a winter jumper but I'm going to nevertheless (mainly because I meant to ages ago and I totally forgot). As you may or may not know, I'm in love with all things Americana and my time living in New York only furthered said appreciation. So when following Ed around Dalston's skateboarding shops I found a guy's jumper that said 'USA' I knew I had to have it. Turns out the brand is all about America too, and is called Brooklyn We Go Hard. Long story short, I didn't get the jumper but a week later, Ed surprised me with it. <3

I wore it over LC:M when I was running round London covering the shows for Opening Ceremony, at which the lovely Wayne Tippetts of Streetstyle Aesthetic took my picture, so now I have a nice momento whilst it's too hot to wear it.

Review: Brunch at Andina

 Usually when I like something, be it a song, a place, an item of clothing or a hobby, I have a habit of overdoing it. Well actually, more like overkilling it. So with the brunch Andina, Martin Morales' Peruvian restaurant in Shoreditch, I've been particularly conscious of taking it easy. Hence why I've only three times in the past six months — and that was a restriction. Raw sea bass for breakfast doesn't sound good but it is. Ceviche is on Andina's best bets and it's not one to overlook. Granted, the idea of raw fish at 11am might not be to everyone's taste, particularly after a late night but if you can stomach it, do, because quite honestly it's amazing. And that's not the only reason to make a pilgrimage, the whole brunch offering is second to none in my eyes.

One recent Saturday morning after an early Friday night, we rode our bikes from Stratford to work up a serious appetite, and after a few wrong turns we definitely had one of those. (Note: don't go to Andina with anything but a very empty tummy.) It was a full house when we got there but luckily we'd booked a table so we could get started with a juice. I'm not talking about your basic orange juice, I'm talking about a carrot, pear, melon, lime, macs and ginger juice, whilst Ed got a kale, kiwi, pineapple, coconut water and hemp protein smoothie. Wow! That's the thing about Andina, they pack every dish and juice full of ingredients and healthy good stuff. There's a big focus on superfoods including a whole bunch you'll never have heard of. Thankfully, there's a superfood glossary on every table to help you out, which has certainly informed me of a new thing or two. We started with the ceviche after being advised that's the traditional Peruvian way. Fresh, colourful and amazingly zingy, we got the Ceviche de Verano which was sea bass in chilli tiger's milk with avocado, watermelon, strawberries and red onion. It was so refreshing and light, the perfect brunch 'starter'. Moving on we took advantage of the Eggs and Street Food sections of the menu. Ed got the Chicharron sandwich (described as 'like the best bacon sandwich', and afterwards that proved to be a serious understatement) and I got the corn cake and avocado along with a portion of quinoa croquetas on the side to share. 

I like open kitchens. You get to spy on what's going on, you know there's no sneaky stuff happening and also, you get a warning of when yours is coming. 10 minutes later, it was all in front of us and there was so much food. My corn cake was amazing. Envisage this: a slab of yellow cake with the moist consistency of carrot cake and the sweet, recognisable taste of sweetcorn, all glued together with creamy feta cheese and topped with a poached egg, sided avocado and my new favourite condiment, Huancaina sauce — a thick spicy cheesy sauce. Amazing. The corn cake is so tasty and so different to your standard toast or English breakfast muffin, it makes for a really interesting brunch. One that going to fill you up all day but not have you feeling weighed down or waddling out of there. Ed was silent for a good 10 minutes whilst he devoured his pork belly sandwich. I don't blame him, it did look good, the crisp pork, the shiny brioche bun and the brightly orange camote ketchup. He's the second person I've brought here who's had that and claimed it to be hand's down the best pork sandwich they've ever had. That's saying something, right? And though I can't speak from experience, for just £5.50 that sounds like a pretty good deal. Finally, lest I forget about the quinoa side, basically a better version of arancini. Balls of moist quinoa, lightly fried so that they were crispy on the outside and dunkable into the awesome aforementioned cheese sauce. Fortunately, we were majorly full or I would have been thinking about ordering another portion, though that didn't stop us fighting about who got the last one. 

We settled up and left feeling surprisingly light despite the epic breakfast feast. We got back on our bikes and tootled around Shoreditch's shops on our bikes in the sun, and surprise, surprise, didn't need to eat until dinner. Now I'm trying to hold myself back from going back to Andina again this month but writing this with my mouth watering has made that a nigh on impossible task. I'll hold out this weekend then we'll see. But if you're in London you definitely have to go.

Thursday, July 24

ICYMI: Dirty fries, for

ICYMI: I recently wrote a piece for Conde Nast Traveler on dirty fries after noticing the growing trend for them London and noting them on almost every menu of the restaurants I've visited recently. Not just your standard cheesy chips any more, a little more digging and I found that chefs worldwide are tapping the basic idea and using it as a springing board for more complex, gourmet and downright delicious dishes (that's right dishes, these definitely aren't mediocre sides anymore).

Click through to Conde Nast Traveler to read the rest of the piece whch highlights some of the BEST places to find them worldwide: Food Trend Alert: Dirty Fries Have Gone Gourmet

Thursday, July 17

Reality strikes

Holiday blues suck, huh? I just got back from my summer jollies on which I spent 2 weeks tripping through Slovenia and Croatia and am already wondering how I'm meant to survive the week, let alone couple of months, without the sun, the sea and the justified midday frozen daiquiris. Yes, London is amid a humid heatwave right now and it is currently 29 degrees outside, but being hot and sticky as you lug groceries home isn't quite the same as sitting in a bikini rowing your way across Lake Bled and diving in at every possible opportunity, is it? As an antidote to being back in reality, I'm adopting the typical 'Where shall we go next?' strategy. There's the first weekend of October that I've already got my eye on which needs to be put to good use, ideally spent somewhere awesome in Europe. 4 days in Budapest was brilliant back in March, so now I'm tossing up between Amsterdam, Copenhagen or Stockholm. Or, if I can stretch it to four cheeky days, it's gonna be Istanbul. Any recommendations?

Wednesday, July 16

Obsessing over street food

Take any given Friday afternoon and there's a pretty high chance you'll find me buried in my phone frantically What's App-ing the group to see who will appease my desires to go to Street Feast, again. 

"But we went last week," they'll say. 

"The stalls change you know," I'll reply. And hopefully/ usually at least someone will give in.  

I can't help but be predictable: I love street food. And what with Street Feast being on my doorstep and within rolling distance to a plethora of bar and watering hole options, it's fast become my Friday night stomping ground. Not to mention the one place I vow to take each and every guest who comes to visit London at the weekend. Before 7pm it's free to get in and thereafter it's £3, but whatever time you go you can guarantee it will be pumping and you won't get a seat at a table. (My regular dining spot is on the floor in the far corner.) 

Half of the stalls stay put each week whilst the others rotate week on, week off. So every visit, you'll be sure to find Pizza Pilgrims, the lobster shack, the jerk chicken, the gelato stall, and — my favourite bit — the secret garden cocktail bar, along with a handful of fresh and returning options in the mix. Granted, on my second visit I was pretty disappointed to go to the space where I'd purchased and polished off the most delicious Korean burrito from Kimchinary to find it was now a burger stall, but at the same time, it does make you mix up your options, try something new, and if not but anything else, lure you back the next week to see if they've come back yet. 

With friends down from Leeds, we wandered around with a pint in hand perusing our options and indulging in a portion of Bleecker Street Burger's insanely awesome Angry Fries — those being the skin-on fries that are covered in melted stilton and daubed in BBQ sauce which I recently wrote about for CN Traveler. Then it was decision time.

Staying within the confines of the 'wrap' world, I went straight to French and Grace, the Middle-Eastern inspired, Brixton-based trader that serves up hearty wraps fit to bursting with wholesome goodness. Being veggie, I went with the halloumi wrap, which, along with griddled, tender pieces of salty halloumi was packed with herby bulgar wheat, shredded red cabbage, grated carrot, sesame seeds, and the ultimate flavour hit, pomegranate seeds. Deliciously sweet and salty, this definitely gave Kimchinary competition. Plus, another reason to go back to Street Feast next week. 

Sunday, July 13

REVIEW: Mayfair Pizza Co.

Getting me to eat pizza isn't a problem. It's getting me not to eat pizza that's the struggle. If a place has even a hint of Italian in its name, I'm there and flicking straight through the menu, tossing up between something cheese and tomato based and piled high with vegetables and/or olives. So a couple of Fridays ago when my boyfriend suggested we went for dinner somewhere around Oxford Street, it didn't take me long to sniff out Mayfair Pizza Co

Tucked away from the hustle of the surrounding tourist ridden shopping streets, MPC is hidden away on the traffic-free, cobbled cul-de-sac of Lancashire Court (which is pretty much straight ahead of you once you've gone down South Molton Lane). On a balmy evening, this hidden courtyard feels just like somewhere in Europe. People are sat outside drinking Aperol Spritz or sipping miniature coffees, whilst others tuck into tapas and plates of pasta. We're going up above it though. We wind up a spiral staircase which opens out into a giant airy space with high ceilings, open sash windows and an open kitchen which has chefs throwing and spinning dough — a sight that never fails to put a beaming smile on my face. We're seated next to an open window, allowing us to look down on the European-esque life below, whilst also having the kitchen in eyeshot. Wine bottles line one wall and a chalkboard showcasing the menu fills another.

Starving, we get straight to it. Nocellara olives to nibble on whilst we peruse the menu, along with naturally, a bottle of something red — the only accompaniment to pizza, non?  Another thing I can't avoid on a menu is burrata. I crave its creaminess on a daily basis, and here, served as a starter on a bed of Puy lentils, it was a definite done deal. We shared that and a rosemary and garlic flatbread to get the Italian juices flowing, and knew that judging by the soft, thin, doughy vase of the flatbread we were in for a treat with the main event. The burrata was as delicious as I've ever had it. Popping it with a fork, the combination of the creamy milk, al dente lentils and chunks of soft cheese was so delicious that it was quite upsetting to have to share.

Moving on, we hit the crème de la crème.  A good sight larger than Pizza East' and Pizza Express' versions, the crust of MPC's pies flowed off the plate. Now I know size isn't everything but it does help. I can't help be a little disappointed when I order something and think, 'Well I'm not going to struggle eating that.' Here, that was definitely not an issue. I, predictable as ever with my Italian choices, went with the Caprina (a margarita topped with goat's cheese, peppers and rocket) whilst Ed went for the meat-heavy salami, chorizo, parma ham and pancetta option. After watching the guys rolling, spinning and flipping our dough, 5 minutes later, they were on the table, steaming hot straight out of the oven. (That's another thing here, the service is top notch.) They were…perfect. An ultra-thin base, a thicker crunchy crust, a rich and flavoursome tomato sauce, and a hearty amount of topping. Ed's mozzarella you couldn't see for the meat covering and mine was equally well loaded, with  dollops of baked goat's cheese, soft, juicy red peppers and peppery fresh rocket. There wasn't the oil baths you get with some nor the OTT inch of cheese which looks like a good idea but has you feeling guilty for the 3 weeks that follow. They call it gourmet pizza and they're right. Too good to stop, I powered through to complete 7/8 of the pie before handing in the towel and giving the last slice to Ed. 

Then, after a digestive half hour pause, not that we needed it, we got dessert (of which I like to think I only ate a quarter). Despite the delicious sounding lemon and mascarpone cheesecake or trio of gelato, there was only one real contender here: the Nutella calzone, complete with marshmallow and hazelnuts. And yes, as gluttonous, rich and delicious as it sounds. Somewhere between an American s'more, an eclair, and a sweet cornish pasty, this is something that dessert-lovers should make a pilgrimage to.

Ready to pop whilst simultaneously not feeling too weighed down or stodgy like you do when you'e demolished a Domino's, on our way out, we ended up in the cocktail bar right below. With its intimate, '20s Great Gatsby vibe, Cartizze is the perfect end to a date night. We cozied up on a sofa and rested our full tummies, whilst sipping the products of a first class mixologist. I got the Olive Oil Gin Fizz (party to echo the flavours of the meal but mainly because it was too interesting sounding not to) whilst Ed got the Amor Y Amargo — that being Amaretto, Cynar, apricot liqueur, egg white and prosecco. After polishing those off we were definitely replete and well satisfied. Next time, we might have to leave more room for the liquids! 

Mayfair Pizza Co., 4 Lancashire Court, New Bond Street, London, W1S 1EY. 

Saturday, June 28

Bikini season

3 days and I'll be swimming around the serene waters of Lake Bled. In the fortnight that follows I plan to be diving under waterfalls, floating in glittering seas, and soaking up the sun along the Croatian coast. It's officially holiday time and nothing gets you more excited and in the mood than bikini shopping. I've just stocked up, abandoning the thousand mix-and-match tops and bottoms that fill my bottom drawer and indulging in a brand new matching set instead. Well, three matching sets. Who ever got just one thing from Asos?

Wednesday, June 25

Bacchus Sundays

This weekend was a good one. Not just because of the blazing sun making it an outdoorsy one but because it was all long days and full of activity. It was an earlier start than usual on Sunday morning because Ed was running the Hackney Half Marathon. How anyone could run 13.1 miles is beyond me, let alone in that hot sun. But, he did. I was zonked just sitting in the sun waiting, but loving the energy and positive vibes at the start line and finish. If anyone is looking for inspiration to get moving and get running, just go and stand on the finish line of a race. 

Showered and rested a little later on, sun still shining we headed to Hoxton for a much needed feed. Now, I haven't had a roast dinner in a long time. The last one would have been Christmas, and being a vegetarian I can't say I get the same pining for a classic Sunday lunch. But the I heard about Bacchus Sundays, a roast dinner pop-up concept in East London from the team that used to run Bacchus Pub & Kitchen. Sundays were their busiest day and The Guardian voted their roasts as one of the best in London, so when the pub shut down they weren't willing to let their Sunday dinners slide. Until recently they've been occupying a space in Shoreditch on Sundays, but this weekend marked the start start of a new residency on Fanshaw Street in Hoxton. Given it was still roasting and we could sit outdoors, had the afternoon free, and Ed was in need of a serious feast, this was the perfect opportunity to try it out. 

Even having followed the directions of the chalkboard sign, we weren't 100% sure we were in the right place. It was a standard black garage with its door open and two small tables outside, one occupied. When we got in the garage it was more obvious. A waitress was working working her way around the 15 or so tables, all with white cloths and shiny silver cutlery and there was a make-shift bar in the corner. This place feels cool. The juxtaposition of the raw, underwhelming garage space against the upmarket, polished nature of the tables was typically East London.

We sat outside to make the most of the sun and enjoyed a couple of cocktails in the sun — Ed's margarita served in a small glass beaker felt endearingly make-shift, just like being at home when you want a marg but don't have a coupe glass to hand. From the handful of starters we chose the asparagus with poached egg and parmesan (delicious) and the smoked salmon with beetroot puree (also delicious and a large serve with salad and capers on a wooden platter).

For the main ordeal ('the roast') there were 5 or 6 options, which is quite ambitious given they're making this out of some DIY kitchen out the back. I went with the only vegetarian option whilst Ed, as fickle as ever, got The Undecided, a medley of beef, pork and chicken. Now from the very few that I've had, I know that veggie roast dinners out are pretty hit and miss. One Sunday back in university we went to Wetherspoons at which my 'vegetarian roast' was just the meat version, with any meat nor gravy. So whilst the standard was pretty low to impress, this majorly triumphed, beating even the likes of Christmas dinner at home (sorry parents). 
A hearty slab of flavoursome nut roast was crisp on the edges and soft and chewy in the middle. It was piled on top of the stack of trimmings —  a giant crisp Yorkshire pudding, fluffy roast potatoes, sweet glazed carrots, roast beetroot and shredded cabbage — and moistened with a generous serve of a thick mushroom gravy which was more delicious than a homemade mushroom soup. These guys don't skimp. It's not Aunt Betty's Yorkshires and your plate isn't just loaded with cheap carbs. It's been put together by foodies, for foodies, not sacrificing a thing. Ed's Undecided went down a treat. The same trimmings came with a thick meat gravy and a carnivore's heaven. A full plate with a roasted chicken thigh, several slices of beef and a juicy slab of pork had him quiet and concentrating for a good 20 minutes. Too full for a pudding each, we shared the apple crumble and ice cream. A failsafe option, Bacchus' didn't disappoint, being small but in the perfect ratio of oaty topping to fruit.

At £25 for 3 courses, this place is pretty damn affordable. Particularly when you think you can spend that in somewhere like Pizza Express without trying, this is definitely more worth the money for the experience, the relaxed atmosphere, and the real homemade nature of it all. And there's something about sitting on the middle a council estate in Hoxton, eating a hearty Sunday lunch in the sun that is just pretty awesome. Make sure you plan a lazy Sunday around it this summer.

Bacchus Sundays,

Tuesday, June 24

New era

It's been a weird few weeks. I found out my company, Metro International is consolidating its European operations and relocating, which consequently means my job is being consolidated too. As of Friday, I'm officially jobless. Finding out you're not going to have a job next week is unnerving and scary but exciting too. I'm not sure on my next move. I want to spread my wings, write more, do more, see more, and a couple of months off will let me do that. I'll be road-tripping through Slovenia and Croatia as of Tuesday with my boyfriend and I think getting lost in the middle of clear lakes, dunking my head under raging waterfalls and cruising, windows down, for miles along the Dalmatian coast is the perfect start to this next bit of my journey. (Don't worry, I'm going to be telling you all about it.)

Onwards and upwards, I think I really mean that. 

Thursday, June 19

REVIEWED: The Fable, Farringdon

I think I've found London's quirkiest new resto. The Fable, which recently opened in Farringdon is all fun and games. From the pretty edible pansies peppered throughout the dishes, to the cosy table booth made out of books, and the gin cocktail served in a plastic bag with a toy goldfish, it's a great time. Coming from the team behind The Refinery, The Anthologist, The Drift and so on, this new addition is located on Holborn Viaduct and is a great, huge space with 3-floors open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Arriving in the evening for dinner, the lovely waiter (who knew the cocktail menu better than the back of his hand) entertained me while I waited for my boyfriend to join me. Waiting, thirsty, I got the White Wine & Grapes cocktail that he had suggested, which was peardrop-infused vodka, elderflower bitter and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. It was refreshing, delicious and different — how often do you get a small bunch of grapes as the garnish in your cocktail? The cocktails here are worth writing home about. When Ed arrived, he got the equally delicious My Idea Of Fun, which was tequila, blueberries, plum bitters, tonic, sage and citrus.

The food menu is extensive and varied, sort of like a British pub menu but with far more panache and exotic additions. Looking around to eye up everyone else's dishes (my favourite thing to do) helped us make some decisions and it was obvious that portions were generous and serving styles were eccentric. For the starter, we shared the salmon ceviche and the Mediterranean mezzé board (I'm a sucker for good baba ganoush). The mezzé was delicious, with olives, salad, a pile of flatbread, hummus and ganoush. I've grown to love ceviche from one too many trips to Andina, so thought I knew what to expect. What I wasn't expecting though was for it to come served in a sealed jam jar with orange, coriander and pansies. I told you this place was eccentric. 

Deciding on the mains took a little more time (and a little more looking around). After much um-ing, ah-ing and ogling, I went with the market fish and scampi with chips, and Ed got the Daily Specials burger which came with stilton and tomato chutney. The sides sounded too good to pass up on so we got both the beetroot salad and the roasted butternut squash. 20 minutes later, it arrived and there was barely enough room on the table. Mine looked the best. The scampi, battered fish and chips all came in my very own deep-frying basket, with a giant portion of mushy peas on the side which put other places' to shame — in my eyes, you can never serve too many mushy peas. The scampi was juicy and delicious and the batter was nicely crisp. I wouldn't say I was a chips person but I didn't exactly struggle to make my way through the  basket. I can't report on the burger but the yummy noises from the other side of the table and the lack of any remnants suggested it delicious. Polished off in record time, the stilton sounded to make it extra juicy and über flavoursome. Lest I forget to mention the sides. Oh, for the sides. Would it be lame to say the beetroot was my favourite bit? Served with mascarpone and pine nuts, it was seriously moreish and definitely one I'll be replicating at home, taking to BBQs and calling my new signature salad. Likewise, the roasted butternut squash was amazing — just the way I like it, cooked as huge chunks which melt in your mouth.

Somehow we found room for dessert and shared the lemon syllabub. After asking what a syllabub actually was, I can tell you that it is in fact a traditional English sweet dish made with whipped cream, sherry and lemon, which is as delicious as it sounds — particularly when served with homemade shortbread, perfect for scooping. 

Waddling out of there we were well impressed. The place was still buzzing at 10pm with many of the diners having retired upstairs to the more relaxed, lounge-like mezzanine. It's definitely one to hit up with friends or parents, and I'm looking forward to going back to try out the brunch some time. Corn fritters with halloumi and a build-your-own Bloody Mary sounds good, huh? 

The Fable, 52 Holborn Viaduct, London, EC1A 2FD. 

Monday, June 16

Counting the days

Sublime, huh? Just booked 2 weeks here for the start of July. Slovenia, Croatia, see you soon. 

Wednesday, June 11

REVIEWED: Modern Pantry

Declaration: I love breakfast. And I mean, love it. Muesli, good. Eggs, better. Avocado, winning. So when time permits, I make a thing of it. A big thing. Going out for breakfast or weekend brunch is arguably one of my favourite pastimes so it's no surprise that I've scoured London, tasted numerous and found my ultimate favourites that I go back for time and time again (shout out to Nopi and its Shakshuka). Going forward, I'll be peppering this blog with more and more foodie posts and restaurant bits, having settled into London properly now and living life like a local, and wanting to share the best bits with the world.

So first up, it's Modern Pantry in Clerkenwell. Who's been? I went for a breakfast meeting on a drizzly Wednesday morning, and at 9:30am it was already packed, full of bearded men in suits and women in Cos ensembles. The place feels posh but not too posh. Like, it's trying to be casual, but a leopard can't change its spots - or clientele for that matter. Though it's open and airy with high ceilings and pretty flower boxes sitting on the windowsills, some of the space is slightly compromised and the tables are pretty packed in. If you're lucky enough to get a window seat, don't be surprised if you find yourself grazing your knee against the suited man sat next to you. 

Then for the food. There's certainly no compromising there. The menu is diverse, including all your standard brunch favourites — granola, avocado on toast, poached eggs and so on — but each delivered with a little extra panache. That'd be Anna Hansen's doing, the restaurant's founder who was born in Canada, raised in New Zealand, and trained under numerous revered global chefs, so it comes as no surprise that there are some more eclectic, quirky dishes on the menu. The one that caught my eye was the corn and feta waffle. Sweet waffles are too much for me at breakfast time (that's probably because I insist on a stack of at least 4), but I like the texture and the variation to toast so this was the perfect option. I substituted the bacon for a poached egg, a clever move I later found as the runny yoke provided the perfect 'sauce' for the waffle. 

Light yet wholesome, it was delicious. Sweetcorn has a distinct taste which I've found I prefer much more when it comes in a different guise to its standard kernel form. The feta melded it together, whilst keeping it light, and the green chilli and curry leaf gave it a flavoursome kick. A light drizzle of sweet stuff (I'm assuming it was maple syrup but next time I'll ask to be sure) was enough to satisfy my morning sweet tooth and gave an extra flavour hit.  

Tuesday, June 10

REVIEWED: Red Market, Old Street

Last Wednesday, I headed to Old Street for the reopening of East London's inaugural street food market, Red Market. Now in its 4th year running, this summer it's back, vowing to be better than ever thanks to new vendors, new sponsors and new delicious offerings to chow down on.

I knew I was looking for a graffiti entrance but that doesn't really help when you're in Old Street and every gate, wall and crevice is coloured and covered in graphics. We found it eventually (it's literally on Old Street roundabout if you find yourself in the same predicament) and despite having only been open for an hour and a half, the 20,000 sq. ft car park was already packed with your usual young, trendy street-food market crowd. Filling one corner was a giant wood-decked bar, in another was a fake beach full of people reclined on sun loungers (the sun was almost shining) and around the edges were different stalls all smelling delicious. The rest of the space was full of sheltered picnic benches, like an outdoor canteen. 

We got drinks from the busy canopy-covered bar so to stall the decision making process of what to pick to eat. Everything smelt good and when faced with street food, I'm particularly terrible at deciding what to get. When there's stone-baked pizza on offer it's fair to assume that I will be getting that (if not already actually eating it) but aware of my addiction, I was determined to go for something different here so it was a toss up between Mexican and Indian.

The toss of a coin crowned Indian the winner, so the paneer wrap it was, whilst my boyfriend went for the chicken burrito. Followed by the pulled pork burger. (That's not because the burrito wasn't good, that's more just how he rolls.) Now, I'm putting it out there: paneer is underrated. Granted I am a non-meat eater so veggie wrap fillers do get more love from me but nevertheless, it definitely doesn't get enough airtime. We all rave about halloumi but when marinated in a curry dressing and griddled in chunky cubes, before being wrapped in a flatbread with raita and fresh salad, paneer definitely triumphs. So much so I almost welled up when it was all over.

Though open 'til midnight, we cut our trip short (this time) as I had my shiny new bicycle to pick up across town. More on that another time, but let it be known, Red Market is worth a visit (or two, three) one evening this summer. 

Wednesday through Saturday nights, from June 5.
Red Market, 288-299 Old Street, London, EC1V 9DP.

Dangling love

Maria Francesca Pepe Broken Heart Charm Earrings, Asos

Want, no, need these precious little hunnies in my life for the summer months. For those days when the sun is so hot and the sky is so blue that wearing any shade darker than pastel is simply forbidden — accessories included. They're pretty, they're prim and they're not going to pull off my ear lobes, all the while having the power to make a simple city shorts and singlet outfit look polished. 

Sunday, May 25

An ode to eggs

Is there anything that beats eggs in the morning? I'll take mine with extra greens, avocado and a drizzle of rapeseed oil, please.