A simple Friday evening treat: fragrant charcuterie and a crisp glass of white whine. Now the best place for that is Fermandez & Wells at the Somerset House. Beautiful courtyard where the kids can run free, tables outside and inside depending on the weather. But go to the second room - this is where the hams are hanged on the wall. If the grill is on the cooked pancetta aroma is maddening. On the counter: parma ham, chorizo, Jesus… Choose your assortment for a board, or try the organic eggs, fried with a touch of Za’tar spices, sourdough bread and melt-in-the-mouth morcillas. Or a mini-raclette. Simply divine. Jamon forever! (Yes, it’s open for breakfast)
1. On Friday, The Pantaloons reinvent Sherlock Holmes at The Scoop. Oh, and it’s free, even better to start the week-end, right?
2. On Friday, apéritif time! Balvenie celebrates whisky on Tavistock Square, the perfect stop after work and in lovely surroundings too.
3. Download this free app to learn more about Diamond street and its jewellers’ history.
4. Love French? Stop by at the Institut Français to stock up on second hand books.
5. On Saturday, sing and dance on The Blues Brothers. Suits, hats, ties all welcome at the Backyard Cinema, right under railway arches.
6. Jump in joy at this ping-pong pop-up. Or pop-up ping-pong.
7. On Saturday, go wild at the silent disco organised by Yoko Ono on the Riverside Terrace of the Royal Festival Hall. Brilliant!
8. Take your kite to Streatham on Sunday.
9. Don’t miss the Marylebone Summer Fayre on Sunday - the whole street will turn into a party!
10. On Sunday, go backstage at the Polka Theatre for their open day. There will be plenty of kids activities too and it’s all free.
I am a cupcakeholic. Mea Culpa. Something about the tenderness of the cake, the sweetness of the icing, the festive colours. I fall for the most complex ones, the marbled, the red velvets, the black bottoms. Still following the idea of a #NewTradition with Lavazza, official supplier of Wimbledon, why not invite your friends to a coffee party and watch the tennis with you? Just add a shop of espresso to your usual mix to give a lovely intense taste. You can do the same to the icing -a spoonful would be enough – or go for Wimbledon colours, sprinkle with candy confettis as a parallel to the tennis balls. And you know what? They bake perfectly in thos take-away cups! Spoon ready?
Any favourite recipe or coffee twist to a classic? Why not tweet a #NewTradition for a chance to win tickets to Wimbledon or one of 350 iTunes vouchers? (All the details are here)
I love seeing city from high. Rise above the pedestrian view, see the house as miniatures, passers-by and cars as little ants, see the streets unroll their complex carpet, touches of green here and there, rivers reflecting the architecture. In Nantes, the absolute detour to make is via Le Nid. Created by the designer Jean Jullien, the room not only offers a balcony with a 360 degrees view, it is indeed a cosy nest to a giant bird. A cute miz between a heron and the stork, half asleep. You can climb it, sit on it: kids absolutely love it, of course, adopt it immediately. It feels the space, surrounded by egg chairs and tables. The must? Indulge in the special cocktail, white and yellow themed , of course. Even better, entree is free!
Place de Bretagne
Psst! With the Nantes City Card, you will get a free drink there.
Charlie and the chocolate factory. Willy Wonka. Those words are so full of magic that you cannot help smiling - the whole universe created by Roald Dahl comes to mind. You have read all the books, perhaps read them to your children too, seen the movies, laughed and dreamed. The author had a sweet tooth - I believe he invented one of my favourite words, scumptious. In his time were invented the best chocolate bars: Mars, Aero, Maltesers, Quality Street, Kit Kat, Rolo, Smarties… How could this not feed imagination! Did you know there now is a musical, Charlie and the chocolate factory, now playing in London? Even better, in the same street, One Aldwych is now serving a themed afternoon tea, making the afternoon simply complete.
As you step in, look out for the amazing flower arrangement: real cacao beans cascading down, voluptuous purple orchids suspended in test tubes, explosion of lilac coloured allium blooms. This,my friend, is just the introduction to the delicious journey coming your way. Come, follow me! The adventure starts with the Charlie cocktail, served in a carafe that would look superb in a chemist lab. Dry ice smoke curls beautifully out of it, the beverage simmers and bubbles inside for the longest time - how do they do this? It seems to be singing drink me, drink me! On the palate, the strength of Dalmore whisky is cheered up by Cherry Grand Marnier, sparkling champagne, the fruity note of grapefruit and the perfect final note of chocolate bitters. In between luxurious popping candy and the French Mon Cheri sweet, chocolate on kirsch cherries… Arrives a beautiful plate of savoury treats. It took me a couple of minutes to know where to start, I could not choose. being a froggie, I just have to tell you how wonderful the homemade bread is - moist, tender, just perfect. It is such a rarity in England to have ti so tasty too. It matters to us, see, a clear mark of distinction! Delicate roast beef, wasabi on onion bread… Thin slices of cucumber, chive crème fraîche on wholemeal bread, so refreshing… Cured fragrant salmon, lemon mayonnaise on perfect Rye bread, topped with almost candied lemon and just a little dill… You will fall for the mini-quiches - don’t they look like little jewels? Melt in the mouth leek and stilton, crunchy, slightly sweet pastry. The heritage tomato tartlets are very vibrant too, finishing on the beautiful taste of basil. I could not resist asking for an extra one. On the sweet side, prepare for a real feast. Oh, you will almost clap your hands in joy - such a wonderful funfair feeling, you can almost hear the music of the rides. Is it the homemade candyfloss? Spellbinding, intense tastes of pear and lemon sherbet, lingering a long time on the tastebuds, leaving the lips glistening. Or is it the regressive touch of the caramel milk served in retro style bottle, thsoe cute ones you admire in stylish magazines. How long has it been since you indulge in one of those? Willy Wonka himself would love the dessert served in a chocolate egg, cloud-like vanilla cheesecake with superb mango coulis. I so wish I could recreate that at home. I do hope One Aldwych decided to make a book of their best afternoon tea recipes. I did not think they could top the floral one and they just did.
Follows a sweet Eton Mess, with a divine strawberry compote and meringue chips… gorgeous brioche with juicy blueberries… the always-so-perfect scones… and for chocolate lovers, the perfect conclusion: chocolate financiers with a melting, to-die-for heart, shaped as a cacao bean, brushed with edible gold. You feel in heaven, years younger, remember so many childhood favourites you had completely forgotten about. Definitely the most festive, surprising, original afternoon tea in London at the moment, perfectly balance, not too sugary, simply magical.
Love fun and original ideas around coffee? So do I. I can only start the day with a proper espresso, rich, dark, sharp. Ah, waking up to that aroma, the first sip! Later in the day I prefer it sweeter, funnier. Still arounf their #NewTradition campaign, Lavazza invited a few bloggers to a coffee masterclass. We learnt tips to make the perfect dense froth and latte art and delicious ideas. Now this one, the Espresso ai frutti di bosco really intrigues me. Coffee, strawberry jam and red fruit? Really? But, ah, such suppleness, almost a dessert. Gorgeous. You have to try it. It is so very simple to do and it will amaze your friends. The recipe is below in pictures.
I tried to make a different version, around ginger. Same basis: candied ginger, espresso, whipped cream, sugar ginger syrup and sprinkled chopped pistachios, bringing out the spice of the Arabica. Try this with a Cremosamente Dek, decaffeinated to enjoy it anytime in the day. Any idea you want to experiment? Why not tweet a #NewTradition for a chance to win tickets to Wimbledon or one of 350 iTunes vouchers? (All the details are here)
Lavazza is the official coffee supplier of Wimbledon for the third year.
A walk on the golden beach of Camber Sands, pockets full of shells, cheeks all pinked by happiness and sun, appetite sharpened by the seaside. Luckily, the Beach Bistrot is nearby and oh, trust me, this restaurant is worth driving two hours from London for. I did. I still can taste every single dish precisely. Looking at the pictures just makes me want to jump right back in the car and go back.
It’s both relaxed and chic. Beautiful shapes, splashes of colours, shell white, coral candlelights, a little vibrant blue here, or red, washed-by-the-sea wood. Beautiful and elegant for romantic evenings, cocoon enough to walk there after a day on the beach. As I stepped in, I immediately saw the cheese board, lovingly set aside a nice choice of wine bottles : sometimes, you can win a Froggie’s heart (or stomach) with simple touches like these…
In the kitchen, Chef Trevor Hambley shares his passion of local products and refined creations. He worked alongside the likes of Marco Pierre White and Jean Christophe Novelli but definitely has a style of his own. Such creativity, working with the freshest ingredient, simply trying to highlight them the best possible way. Result: an intensity of flavours that will leave you voiceless. They source 80% of the food from artisan suppliers, family fishermen and farmers who live and work within 30 miles of us. And really, you can taste the difference at every bite.
The evening started on a bubbly note, very fine lace, crisp. Pear, zuyu, a little honey, a nice acidity. Being French, I could not hide my admiration. This is a British sparkling wine: Chapel Down brut, made in Kent. Really impressive. Yes, I would buy it. Yes, I would serve it to French friends. Yes, I will definitely bring some back to Bordeaux this summer.
The starter is a little work of art - look at those colours, this harmony… Crunchy endives, juicy orange, tender slices of duck, home smoked (I tip my hat to that), warm focaccia cubes with herbs and sea salt, a chilli and orange dressing. Vibrant, a real dance on the tastebuds. An edible poem. Followed the most gorgeous fish soup I had had in ages. So rich it reminded me of Mary Poppin’s magical medicine bottle, changing every spoonful. Complex, spellbinding. To me, this is a Madeleine de Proust, you see, a childhood winter dish. A holiday treat at Astillero in Getaria, view on the harbour, velvety summer evenings. this brought so many memories back. And served the right way too, with gruyère and rouille. With a twist, a garlic version, perfect.Oh and a glass of Chapel down Flint Dry. Mineral, melon, apricot, apple, just like a summer day.If you want to be totally amazed, try the Rye bay scallops, Hambley cured trout tartar, oyster and champagne jelly. This was first created for a New year’s eve dinner and won everyone. The scallops are just seared, offering a melting heart, infused with lemon zest, topped with a pesto of herbs and nuts. On the right side, the trout tartare, so, so fresh is topped with chopped oyster and a champagne jelly liquefying once on the tongue. The only word is wow. I simply can’t think of any other. Pure sea flavours on a fork.You may have heard of the Romney Marsh lamb. The local grass, fed with the seaside breeze, is very tasty and so is the meat. A beautiful texture. You can never go back to normal lamb again. Roasted to perfection too. Braised gems soaked in the juices, a green sauce that sublimes the dish. A gratin dauphinois you just plan to taste, just a spoonful, you say, I can’t eat anything else, but the cream is light and tasty, the potato slices so thin you finish it. What a feast!
The signature dessert here is the pear tarte tatin. Nicely wrapped in a buttery caramel, pastry still crunchy (a real skill, especially with juicy fruit), a seducing vanilla touch and very fragrant pears. And if you are whisky fan, do sip on the Somerset Cider Brandy… You could share the plate. You could. I’m sure I can finish it all on my own, though.
The Beach Bistrot is sure to get a rosette or a bib gourmand pretty soon. Get there quick!
The Beach Bistrot
New Lydd Road
Even better, the restaurant is part of The Gallivant hotel if you are planning a week-end away.
Why always rush, running from one task to another, only the time for a gulp of coffee. Part of a #NewTradition avec Lavazza, how about slowing down, choosing a single, excellent coffee, refocus. Why not an Appassionatamente, mmh? Intense, dried fruit notes, a hint of caramel. And put some colour back. There is no reason why coffee should always be seen in black or white. Add glitter, neon, fun! La vie en rose.
Your turn - ‘Enjoy Your New Tradition’ and join the competition to be in to win tickets to Wimbledon and there are also 350 iTunes vouchers up for grabs (comp closes 19 June). All the details here!
Rolland Garros is in full action. But hey, the countdown has begun over here too with Wimbledon coming up. Did you know you can go on a guided tour there? Or even just walk through the fun and interactive museum retracing the history of tennis in Europe. The ticket gives you a chance to see Central Court and you can just imagine the atmosphere. You’ll learn… that it is protected from foxes by an electric fence at night, from pigeons by a (real) hawk called Rufus, is made of two kinds of grass which bounce is minutely checked and compared to the other two courts…
1. Indulge in jewel like tiny meringues. Pistachio and rose water, lavender, chocolate-hazelnut… Divine! You’ll find the Meringue Girls at Harvey Nichols and Selfridges.
2. Friday evening, go for a free street dance lesson at the Scoop.
3. Live in North London? have you tried the North London Artisan market yet?
4. At the J&A, art illuminates the courtyard.
5. Saturday is World Naked Bike Ride, always quite spectacular. We love bikers with a sense of humour!
6. Shhh! Silent jazz in Soho this Saturday.
7. The new Serpentine Pavillion is finally there - very geometrical and 3D.
8. Feel like a child again. Fall for the Charlie and the chocolate factory afternoon tea at one Aldwych.
9. 15 contemporary artists reinvent the Tube posters for its 150th birthday.
10. The Soho Food Feast is back. With so many treats, kids workshops and even a cookbook swapshop.
Just say Champneys and my mind immediately wanders to their fabulous spas, luxurious relaxation in exceptional places. They were the very first chain in the UK, pioneers of the concept of holistic wellbeing? Athletes do not hesitate to trust them entirely on their recovery.
Have you seen their sports collection for men? Designed thinking of the most demanding gentlemen, the products are spot on – exclusive, high tech, a sharp, fresh feeling. And this dual action face wash is indeed quite suprising. Cloud like, such a cool, seaside breeze perfume. And suddenly it melts into a satin-like texture, protecting the skin, allowing an extraordinalrily close shave. Our tester guy felt revigorated, could not help touching his cheeks to test that renewed suppleness. And the girls? Well the girls felt like purring. We love perfect skin, inviting a carress don’t we?
To be used on a daily basis, for this wonderful comfort again and again and again.
Just saying. Father’s day is around the corner if you have to find an idea for the kids. Might as well be to your benefit too, mmmh?
Champneys – sports therapy dual action face wash
Ah, sunshine, my friends, finally! Makes you feel alive - the joys of walking barefoot on the grass, of letting your shoulders getting golden. We are taking part in the Lavazza blogger challenge, celebrating the perfect match of Wimbledon and authentic italian coffee. And so we enjoyed this lucky blue sky, took our rackets, made a few tennis balls bouce around. In our picnic bag, we had added a flask of iced latte. Add a few friends, some whipped cream, bliss! Why should coffee be associated with work and meetings? Make it fun. Take it outside, a happy #NewTradition.
Your turn. How do you like your coffee served? Experiment. Add ginger, brownies cubes. Go crazy. Step away from your desk, go on an adventure. And tweet your fun pictures under #NewTradition for a chance to win tickets to Wimbledon with Lavazza!