March 17 being a Monday this year, St Patrick’s day parties will take place a little in advance. The famous parade will happen on Sunday, finishing with a giant party at Trafalgar Square with concerts and a delicious market. You will even learn a few traditional dances there! Want more fun, maybe a great bar, Irish food or a Céilí? Scroll down, we have 10 super ideas to celebrate the day with Irish fellows in London.
1. Go to the most famous Irish pub in London – the Waxy O’Connors from March 11 to 17. There will be a different celebration each day: whisky tasting, music, rugby watching with cheerfulness, special menus…
2. Until March 17, discover more about Irish delicacies at Corrigan’s, “The home of Irish cuisine in London”. The menu is to die for: Crispy Crubeens with Beetroot and Horseradish, Collar of Bacon with Truffle and Cabbage, Treacle and Guinness Tart with Whiskey Cream. There is no point in resisting. I know you feel hungry now, too.
3. On March 14, Vinopolis will have its own Céilí, under their beautiful brick arches. The band Licence to Ceilidh will mix Celtic and Irish sounds with more modern ones, to make you want to dance till the end of the night.
4. Still on March 14, the HMS President will turn green. It’s party-time on board with traditional music, DJs and themed decor. It’s supposed to be the best shindig in town.
5. Feel like a nice bowl of Irish Stew with soda bread? Head for Hennessy’s on March 14. Music, complimentary canapes and giveaways too.
6. Lancaster London will serve a St Patrick’s themed afternoon tea in their Island Grill restaurant March 14-17 with, amongst other treats, Jameson Whiskey Macaroons and Guinness Top Cupcakes. From £22, with a view over Hyde Park. You can also come for lunch and enjoy an Irish inspired meal: Potato Scones with Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese, Chocolate & Baileys Irish Cream Opera, etc… £9.50 for 2 courses, £12.50 for 3. Now that is quite a good deal! Have a look at their Facebook page for details.
7. On Saturday March 15, why not join the Greenwich Dance’s Céilí in a superb 1930s art deco hall? Novices and experts are both welcome. The music will take on a jazzy and classical note from time to time and this is sure to get your spirits high.
8. From March 15-17, The Water Poet will do Full Irish Breakfasts. There aso will be a special Guinness bar, Kilravoc Spit Roast Hog, Irish stew & soda bread, live music and many more Irish dishes.
9. How about St Patrick’s special chocolates and biscuits at Cocomaya?
10. Make a detour via Honky Tonk on March 15 for Irish concerts, Jamesons Whiskey marinated ribs and a good pint of Guinness, of course. There will be more music Sunday and Monday, this time with the best Irish burgers in town, so they say.
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I was recently telling you about the gorgeous, gorgeous beaches in Cornwall, absolutely perfect to let kids run in soft waves and build sand fortresses, let alone invent a thousand adventures. Tempted by a family break there? I have just the hotel for you. Bedruthan Steps is THE ideal place. I am not exaggerating. It is entirely thought through for parents, allowing them an “us and me” time altogether, even if you have forgotten half of the essentials. And whatever the age of your little ones.
First, super comfy rooms, simple but elegant, each presenting Cornish artwork, a painting, a sculpture. And there’s space, lots of it. For an extra bed or two, more still for suitcases and for the kids to play. A working space too should you need one – well balanced worlds. We had a splendid view on Mawgan Porth beach, just down the hill, there is a path you can quickly take to get there. It’s easy to spend the whole day on the sands, up to sunset. In the bathroom, you’ll find Cornwall Soap Box toiletries - herb-filled shampoo and soap bars all handmade locally, organic too. I had to keep one intact just to make the clothes fragrant with this in our suitcase – just imagine: lavander-rosemary-patchouli. It leaves your skin ever so soft after the salt and sand.
The building is… amazingly huge – so many places to explore! Lots of cosy lounges to relax with fantastic armchairs and sofas. And cushions. And toys, even for babies and toddlers – allowing you a pause to drink that coffee. Even better: they have a children’s club with a full program of activities and even softplay. Yes, this will be a holiday for you too. How about a massage at the hotel spa, mmmh? They also propose baby massage lessons and family yoga ones. In the summer time, you can enjoy the outdoor swimming pools (yes, plural) but for cold or rainy days there is a heated indoor one with a smaller paddle-pool for kids who can’t swim yet. The green spaces have a play area with slides, etc… and a picturesque view.
Coming with a baby? The rooms are well sound-proofed. I am still amazed at never hearing a cry at all during my stay. None. Very quiet. But if you’re wondering – there is a microwave available to anyone at any time. And you can go down to the lounges whenever you want in the middle of the night. The reception will listen to you, offer a hot drink, help you de-stress and sometimes that is all you need to in turn soothe your little one. This is all about you here. They will even provide a baby monitor with coverage all the way to their restaurant.
During the day, The Wild Café will welcome you – Scandinavian deco (Skandium touches, Orla Kiely mugs…). Kids friendly, of course: high chairs, patience, round and colourful cutlery, special menus. And, once again, wow, what a view. There are lots of mouthwatering cookies on the counter and treats to take back too, all homemade: Bramley apple, bramble and lemon curd, wild rosehip jelly… This is where breakfast is served: local apple juice, charcuterie, cheese, yogurt, fantastic muesli, even French pancakes! It is open till late evening when replaced by The Herring: more adult (kids from 12+), more gourmet, more refined. Watch this space, I’ll show you very soon what that is all about…
It’s the best family pause I can recommend, really covering all you could dream of. Between everything the hotel has to offer and the nearby beach, I even doubt you need the rest of Cornwall!
Bedruthan Hotel & Spa
I rebel. Against the boring triangle sandwich, mostly eaten above a keyboard, barely noticed, just because it’s noon, mechanically consumed. I demand colours and taste and a little moment of happiness. There may not be time to have a real break, it might have to fit within 20 mins. But hey. It does not take much to transform the corner of a desk. Bring a nice fabric napkin, a bowl with designer graphic. And a lovely, inspiring salad with interesting ingredients, not just three leaves and two cherry tomatoes.
How about trying the Marks & Spencer collection? I am a huge fan of their Crayfish, Mango & Coconut Rice salad, a nice exotic mix, juicy mango, peppery rocket, tender crayfish and a superb coconut-chilli sauce that gives it just the perfect kick. For two minutes, you will not care whether that phone rings or not. Bonus points: it’s soooo good but only 275 calories!
Or how about the super wholefood salad? Cheerful green tints (edamame, borlotti and cannellini beans, green lentils, broccoli) on a bed of nutty quinoa, creamy feta, raisins and pomegranate pearls for a touch of sweetness. Barely the need for a dressing really, but ah, pure indulgence with lemon and mint. Rich in proteins and well balanced in carbs, it’s the ideal lunch to save energy for the afternoon and leave you satisfied enough not to fall for a chocolate bar around 4pm.
Have a look in store. It makes such a nice difference to just a sandwich and much better for your too. There is also the Chicken and Pistachio Koftas with Couscous Salsa… Asian spiced chicken on a bed of noodles, with a creamy coconut and lime dressing… Tender chicken with smoky beans, tomato salsa and sour cream… All at only £3.50!
If you’re in Covent Garden, this is a must-try restaurant. Yet, from the outside, it remains discreet, so integrated in its surroundings you could easily walk past it. Still, the inside space is quite impressive, crossing all the way to the parallel road, even including a clever space in the basement, overlooking the kitchen. Stylish grey brick walls are softened by light falling from skylights, an industrial feel to the architecture mixed with designer touches, focusing on being a warm, welcoming cocoon. The perfect balance between contemporary Scandinavian chic and traditional Asian values. Because, yes, surprise, this chain is Danish, yet recognised in their country as a leader of Japanese cuisine. Their philosophy is all about quality, freshness, sustainability and a good sense of humour. Result? A zen impact, down to the pebbles supporting the chopsticks…
First – let the cheerful touristic bustle of Covent Garden fade away, relax, enjoy the peacefulness. Order some spicy edamame beans, served warm with a miso, chilli and sesame glaze. As addictive as popcorn and you won’t mind getting your fingers sticky. This is a good address for cocktails too, the list clearly oriental inspired. If you are a Hendrick’s fan, you will find the Kamahi much more interesting: a surprising mix of sochu, mint, cucumber and elderflower. Sweet, crisp green taste, very refreshing – definitely replaces Pimm’s in my book of summer drinks. If you prefer martinis, go for the Yuzu Zoo, a variation using gin, honey, umeshu and yuzu. Nicely sour, it will make your gaze sparkle, suave lyricism.
As the name suggests, Sticks’n'sushi will keep everyone happy. Sushi for me – yakitori for you. Or vice-versa. Or both, why choose after all? Bonus points for the menu illustrating every single option (since not everyone knows their kaburimaki from their futomaki). The problem is, you then want everything, really, you do. Take note to bring lots of friends next time to steal from their plates. Thankfully, a separate menu offers assortments. They did prove a lot bigger than we had imagined, always a nice surprise, especially as we passionately devoured everything.
We decided on the Greenkeeper, served on two plates. How to explain? Look at the first picture. The top line is of avocado maki, marvelous creaminess. The middle one is a mix of vegetarian daikon/cress rolls, nice and crunchy with hosomaki, avocado, cucumber, rice, spicier. It’s quite extraordinary, once you start a row, that’s it, no way to stop. Last, 3 nigiri, little cushions of happiness: tender brocoli, velvety tomato, tofu & tamari (a kind of soy sauce, sweeter with a richer texture). The wasabi has been sculpted as a delicate flower, pleasure for the eyes and tastebuds alike.
That’s not all – the Greenkeeper also includes on a separate slate a selection of yasai (raw vegetables: broccoli, carrot, juicy daikon, cabbage, peppers) with a delicious miso dip, very moreish. Another corner offers grilled edamame, another great way to enjoy a classic, smokey, charred. The yakitori skewers are lovely too – grilled vegetables really enhancing the flavours and oyster mushrooms with such a natural richness they remind me of my beloved cèpes… This is the perfect healthy treat while not sacrificing taste. Indulging without once considering the calories.
We had also ordered the Sashimi De Luxe, a feast for two, sure to delight sashimi snobs and to convert sushi fans. And what a beautiful presentation – sparkling, glacial freshness, gradually transforming throughout the meal like a Nordic ice flow. It feels like… exploring a new land but culinary wise. We started with extra thick slices of delicious salmon, tuna and yellowtail kingfish, a celebration of freshness and obviously well sourced; responsibly so one can enjoy freely and happily. Time simply stops, such difference in texture and tastes between these three varieties, barely the need to chew.
Rightfully presented on a little wooden plinth are succulent scallops, beautifully accented with orange trout roe and green lime, little saline bursts seasoning the palate. Amazing how melt-in-the-mouth this is when you are used to it pan seared… These are flanked by shake daikon rolls, white radish enclosing such divine flesh, a touch of avocado and crème fraîche on top. Crisp and refreshing, a fantastic low-carb alternative to sushi.
The tasteful squid salad offered a delightful alternative to the usual ginger, in perfect sympathy with the sea. But the Pièce de résistance, in our opinion, is the spicy tuna wrap. What an understatement! Tuna tartare, small, shiny morsels, luteous quail’s egg nestled in the midst, a touch of spring onion… and in our case, a teaspoon of decadent caviar. Wrapped in just a lettuce leaf a kaleidoscope of flavours illuminates your mouth. For some time after, those tiny black cherrybombs of sea-essence keep delighting your senses. Very tempting to eat in one go, so just as well it is slightly too big… otherwise you will have one very jealous partner!
Two vibrant sauces in cute artisanal jugs: ginger infused ‘ultimate soy’ and tangy, citrus ponzu for dipping.
Japanese restaurants usually stop their creativity at dessert, advising matcha or sesame ice cream. Not here – with two whole pages of not seen before treats. We did not even consider resisting. At least, try the Small and Sweet, a perfect selection when you have had quite a feast but need the finale. Three original bites, each on a drop of chocolate fondue: dark chocolate and caramel wrapped in sesame… white chocolate and miso with crunchy popped rice… and a very interesting raw cake with dates, coconut, orange, goji cardamom, cinnamon and more. You really have to enjoy this one slowly to understand its complexity and fully appreciate there is no flour nor egg in it.
If you still have a little space for decadence, then order the Lemon, Yuzu and Meringue: sumptuous lemon curd mixed with juicy orange flesh, contrasting with a zesty yuzu sorbet and crunchy meringue. And mini marshmallows. Because it makes the world a sweeter place. Great balance, not as sugary as you might expect and crowned with tiny lime pearls for a tequila effect.
Finish on a frothy matcha, prepared energetically with a proper bamboo whisk at your table… But you will have to come back, you know. You barely have tried a tenth of the menu!
11 Henrietta Street
London WC2E 8PY
For a long time, I only wore Un jardin sur le Nil by Hermès. A sparkling fragrance reminding of green mango and lotus flowers, waterfalls, a slow boat ride, hand tracing a line in the chilled water. I rediscovered the brand recently with their Eau d’orange verte, more intense, taking you by surprise, sweet on a woman’s skin, spicier on a man’s.
And then, I saw this bottle. Discreet seduction. Catches your eyes, draws you nearer. Un jardin sur le toît, reference to the urban garden situated on the roof of Hermès’ headquarters in Paris, Rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Crystal curves, illuminated by this radiant green, the one seen on the first spring leaves, on in the French Venise Verte, between jade and celadon. Light but precise scent – pear, rose, basil, magniolia, cut grass, grapefruit. Ode to the seasons metamorphosis.
London, queen of trends. Let’s see… we’ve got 10 foodie pop-ups this month, worth checking out, some exotic, others very surprising. From Death by Burrito to Darjeeling express, fun culinary stops all around the city. There was a time when chic was about having a canteen in a hype neighbourhood, to be a regular at a favourite restaurant. Now it’s all about dining in a place that will soon fade away, that exclusive, VIP feeling. Oh, there’s also a beer burger to be tried at the moment, served in the Honest Burger joints. And of course, if you scroll down, 10 super ideas to enjoy London this weekend.
1. Did you know that the Horniman Museum organises a farmers’ market every Saturday? Lovely way to keep the kids happy and get your shopping done. Or even to have a picnic in the garden on a nice day!
2. Discover more of Yorkshire at the Old Spitalfields Market through a crafts market - From Yorkshire with Love, on Saturday. Creations by independent designers but also ale, jam, chutneys…
3. Gastropub The Water Poet celebrates British Pie Week in association with Timmy’s pies. What will you have? Bombay sweet potatoes? Venison, stout and prune? Chicken, Leek, Camden Wit Wheat Beer (roasted lemon, bergamot)?
4. The British celebrate Shrove Tuesday with pancakes. In Scandinavia, a different treat is on the menu, Semlors, a little chou filled with cream. You can find them in London too, at the Scandinavian Kitchen café.
5. Want to wow a lover? Book dinner at The Greenhouse, one of the finest Michelin restaurants in London, with 2 stars, no less. A real experience, a very wonderful team and prices not as sky high as you might think.
6. The Aquatics Centre, built for the Olympic Games is now open to the public. You can pretend to be a top athlete for a while and swim where the heats took place for less than £5.
7. Everyone has an A to Z guide of London. Behind this map book is Mrs P who meticulously looked at the city, street by street. Her fabulous story is now on stage at the Southwark Playhouse.
9. Looking for an idea to keep the kids busy? The Museum of Childhood hosts a free craft workshop on Saturday, to make super medals with colourful buttons. And you could indulge in a nice quiet coffee while they’re having fun.
10. On Southbank has appeared an intriguing black box. In it, a multi-sensory experience by Pepsi. Go and have a try, it’s free.
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A little while back, a Kusmi Tea boutique opened in Marylebone. It’s like having a treasure chest close to you. Like going to a beautiful parfumerie, but tea-based. Instead of gorgeous bottles: silver tin boxes, some round, others vintage-style tea caddies (sadly, they do not sell the huge ones. I dream to one day have quite a few of these!). Such a luxurious pleasure to flitter from one to the other, opening them, appreciating the perfect shape of the leaves, all slightly different, the alliances with dried fruit, petals. Like opening a storybook each time, taking a journey to a far away country.
The range really is impressive. You think you know, you have some at home, you’ve seen them in the glossy magazines. Yet, it only really hits you when you step into the shop. I was already quite fond of their Genmaicha, a green tea with toasted rice, often nicknamed popcorn tea. Their BB detox – nothing to do with dieting, it is what I would call THE anti-blues tea. You only have to smell it to feel better. Yep, that kind of tea. But there is so much more to marvel at. Like the Euphoria, well named, a blend of Argentinian maté, orange and chocolate. The almond one, as if you had just opened the pod and pressed the core between your fingers. Ginger and lemon, which must be spectacular iced on a summer’s day or as base for a fruit salad. The Zubrovka, that special grass used in vodka, intriguing. I wonder how long it would take to try them all? Could we hope for a Kusmi calendar, one teabag per day?
I inherited from my mother a love for Lapsang. Real ones – one of the first things I learnt in Paris, at the Maison des 3 thés, was that most are fake, chemical aroma. If you look closer, you’ll notice a slight oily substance in your cup, discreet but there. Most often, it is indicated on the packet but very few pay attention to it. This never happens with Kusmi Tea and I love them all the more for it, you can choose with your eyes closed and trust them. They have a classic, of course, but also a smoky Earl Grey (my favourite twist on bergamot), a Samovar, lighter but spicy and a really nice surprise, the Traktir, more intense, citrus notes and cinnamon, really robust structure.
Another amazing creation, if you fancy something really different, the Algothé. Black tea, seaweed, mint. Not too seasidey but a beautiful minerality, very refreshing. Like a light breeze, a soothing spa effect. Quite wow.
Each selection can be bought as loose in a metal tin (iconic, these days for Kusmi), refill bag, tea bag or muslin. On the shelves are all the accessories you need from a bamboo whisk for matcha to infusing spoons. A lifetime of shopping I tell you.
Do take the time to sit down, let the noise of the world fade away as they teach you about the delicacies on offer. There is a small tea room at the back and, oh! a tempting selection of cakes, all made by a French pâtisserie in London. Need convincing? Look below. The chocolate mousse, light in texture, has all the intensity of cacao and you know what? It’s sugar free. Brilliant. I personally fell for the rose cheesecake, crunchy biscuity base, perfect creaminess and a floral syrup for icing. The teapots are huge, such a good deal for £5 when you consider the price of a normal cup of tea from a chain these days! All sweet treats are at £5 and again, in this area and what that level of refinement, that’s not a bad price.
A moment of quietness, finally, in such a rough world.
15 Marylebone High St
London W1U 4NU
Ah, those recipes promising “Prep time: 20min”… but forgetting to mention that the ingredients should already be in front of you, weighed, ready to be chopped or thrown in a pan. That no, contrary to what you thought, you only have balsamic vinegar and not the white wine one required but hey, cross your fingers and take a chance. And, ah, didn’t the soy sauce live on that shelf last time you looked? From 20min, you have skipped to 45 and forgotten that this was supposed to be soothing.
Gousto is here to make your life easier. This special gourmet box will take care of almost everything. Recipes? Just choose 2 out of the 10 mouthwatering ones online. Shopping? Leave it to them. They will source organic fruit and veg, meat from fantastic farms. Packing and preparation? Impeccable. So well refrigerated that even picking it up the following morning having missed my delivery, the freezer packs still had ice! Each ingredient has been carefully weighed, down to the garlic and sauces so that you can jump right in. We loved the touch of humour on the labels too: Small bag, big taste… Thyme to cook! Allspice it up!
The idea? No waste. Of food, nor time or energy. It’s all there, in front of you, just pick and use. Almost no thinking involved! The ingredients are listed for 2 and 4 people (depending on which box you chose but also practical next time you have friends around). Instructions are super clear, easy to follow, each stage illustrated to reassure that you are on the right track. There is no way, even for someone as easily distracted as me to get it wrong.
We tried the Jerk chicken with cinnamon rice and the Roast artichoke with cranberry-orange bulgar. Instinctively, this would have been out of my comfort zone to try on my own but that is the whole point of Gousto. To take you on a different culinary adventure, a healthy one too. Put the fun back into cooking by taking the small frustations out. But also to give you extra confidence, proving you can do restaurant-quality food at home. And it is, indeed, very wow. It does not take huge skills to make it look as on the picture. The food is supercalifragidelicious. That crispy chicken, a sweet but spicy note, fragrant rice are simply unforgettable. When 11.00 comes and I start to feel hungry, this is the dish that comes first to my mind. I cannot think of going back to “normal” bulgar: the orange touch, the dried cranberry making it so luxurious in a few single gestures, very Persian like, almost jewelled. And how come roasted artichoke with only a little olive oil and pumpkin seeds never came my way before? Such a perfect lunch pack treat!
You will make these recipes again. It’s easy to separate the vegetables, the sauce to give a twist to other dishes. The instructions stay rather clearly in mind, making it instinctive to recreate them. It will not take you long to go back to the website and check the new menus. Just for the love of being surprised. And someone else gets to do the shopping and carry it right to your door. That feels so good.
Little Green Acorn. Love at first sight.
I have always loved vintage holiday posters. Stirs a little nostalgia in me. That summer feeling, jumping on a train. Soft drawings rather than pictures, allowing you to drift away. Touching slogans, singing still in your memory years and years later. I found that exact charm in their tea towel collection, inspired by the region: New Forest, Milford on Sea (The place to be), Lymington, Life by the sea (is the life for me). Unfolding He smiles, she smiles on the seashore, I suddenly felt like jumping in the car to the seaside, just to walk barefoot on the sand, fill my pockets with shells at Camber Sands or at Mawgan Porth.
To me… this is more like a fabric postcard. I can sit it front of it and picture myself there. It brings back all kinds of memories, entire days of freedom. Running towards seagulls to make them scatter, adventures as a child. It’s like a little key to happiness, perfect blue sky included. Such a lovely present to give – you almost want to get it framed!
My friends, it’s almost Pancake day. Don’t you love it? It seems we forget this treat most of the year. It’s suddenly such a feast! Here are our favourite 10 London ideas to enjoy Shrove Tuesday on March 4th. On a budget? There will be free pancakes at Lowndes (between 08.30 and 10.00 by quoting LBK Crepe), at Shoreditch thanks to Golden Syrup (11.00-15.00) and at Dirty Dicks (between 12.00 and 14.00). Any other tips? Do leave the details in the comments below!
1. My favourite pub in Old Spitalfields Market, The Water Poet, will propose on that day booze infused pancakes, savoury as well as sweet ones: Wild mushroom & spinach pancakes, with Prosecco & Ragstone goat cheese velouté…Pernod infused South Coast lobster tail pancakes, topped with tomato & saffron soft herb crème fraiche… Apricot & almond ‘cannoli style’ pancakes, rolled in cinnamon sugar & served with amaretto cream…
2. Take the Breakfast Club challenge. If you succeed to eat 12 pancakes in 15 minutes, the bill is on them.
4. A chocoholic special. Scoop Gelato will have no less than 8 different chocolate ice cream creations on the menu to top their pancakes. Trust me, they are to die for.
5. Cheers! The Strip Bar & Steak has invented a liquid version of the American pancake, infusing The Griffin cocktail with it. And with amaretto, maple syrup, citrus.
6. Don’t forget the traditional pancake races. MPs and Lords will be running at Westminster. Then there’s the Spitalfields one (often lots of disguises)… and Bankside (which will be in the Borough Market, quite something) and also the Greenwich one. The profits all go to good causes.
7. Are you more on the Canary Wharf side? Gastropub The Gun Docklands will tempt you with a Hog roast pancake; apple, watercress, smoked paprika version. Quick, get a fork.
8. Pure decadence at Hix Mayfair. Dorset Blue lobster pancake with steamed coastal greens? Devilled Lamb’s kidneys with hedgerow garlic on boxty pancake? Blood orange pancakes with Neal’s Yard Dairy crème fraiche?
9. Aqua Shard will celebrate pancakes all week long. We can’t resist the idea of a corn pancake with goat’s cheese and rosemary cream for breakfast, can you?
10. Stop at Shutterberg after work for a Caribbean Mardi Gras. Pancakes and rum cocktails, hooray! From 18.30.