Posts Tagged ‘London’
I love pubs - such a bubbly atmosphere - but flee the heart of London. Too touristic, too commercial. I prefer jumping on a tube and find a quieter neighbourhood, listen to the locals who keep its memory alive, find a place with character. The Lord Palmerston is one of those: a cosy, welcoming gastropub, a natural joie de vivre. If i lived nearby, this probably would be my extended living room. A good book, a flass of wine or a craft beer, fire in the chimne: irresistible, right? It is the perfect transition coming back from work, the short pause that allows you to leave the files behind, get your zen feeling back. To celebrate… the week-end, a minute of sunshine, a girlie evening, a delicious place… we ordered a jug of Pimm’s, the first of the season. Well balanced, filled to the rim with fruits (which makes it healthy. Of course. Trust me). Looking at the blackboard, we found a sudden appetite. For starters, we tried the London cured salmon - just a little salt, not too much smoke, melt-in-the-mouth, juicy caperberries, suprising golden pea shoots with fascinating spirals, very tender and tasty. The roasted quail won us too, crunchy skin, cooked beautifully and served with a saffron aioli. From Porto, I keep amongts other memories, the one of perfectly grilled sardines. Holiday feeling. Intrigued, wanting to compare, I ordered the Cornish ones, very refined flesh and what a superb presentation, almost theatrical! It really makes you want to be close to the seaside but this is a more luxurious dish - brioche, superb broad pea mash with a hint of mint, a green sauce that adds a little intensity. The wood pigeon also was a delight, so much more refined than I expected, gorgeous juices, unctuous potatoe croquette, buttery Savoy Cabbage. Nice to see those choices on the menu, less mainstream and indeed so satisfying. We matched these to a glass of Aperol Spritz, yet much more refined, with prosecco. It just has this sunset touch that brings a smile to my face. Dessert decision was easy, unanimous: dark chocolate and Guinness brownie of course! Good quality cacao, moist, light texture, a nice warm and cold contrast with the extra ice-cream on top. Perfect conclusion. The only missing thing would be guest rooms. You really feel so good here, you’re likely to stay until closing time just chatting the night away…
THE LORD PALMERSTON
33 Dartmouth, Park Hill,
You have seen them in the most beautidul cities, those love locks. Paris, Millenium bridge… Initial, a message, symbol of endless love. Did you know a fence is dedicated to them too close to Shoreditch Station? Go on - add yours. if not for the romance, just say it is your contribution to street art!
Celebration time with a genmaicha and a Green St Petersbourg: Kusmi Tea has just opened its first boutique in London! Rainbow of elegant tea caddies, a tree revealing the aromas of the collection and even a tea room to sign in perfect happiness…
15, Marylebone High Street
Open every day from 10.00 to 20.00
It’s 11.00 on a Saturday. Chelsea is in full buzz. You are walking along and suddenly you see it in the window. The mountain of festive meringues. The collection of cute éclairs. The so inviting lines of croissants. You won’t even realise you have stepped in the café already, hypnotised, mouth watering. The secret is to go down to the basement room, recently redecorated to a cozy lounge with vibrant colours. Now choose your atmosphere – the tender spring green chairs on the garden side? Or the tall armschairs you just want to settle in for the rest of the day towards the chimney? The room is perfect for parties too – ideal with friends, perfect for children to run around. How, don’t you feel like filling it with balloons?
A look at the menu and that’s it. You forgot the idea of just a quick coffee and a treat, you settle for brunch instead. Eggs royal with a perfect lemony Hollandaise sauce on fragrant salmon and toasted sourdough bread. And a salad – have a look at the counter, they are beautiful. The couscous one is very rich: mint, coriander, pinenuts, spring onions, parsley, tender chicken and juicy jewel pomegranate. Or try the delicious, unctuous Spanish red pepper dip. Wow. A brilliant alliance of feta, almonds, garlic, smoked paprika, olive oil. Divine and healthy, what a perfect combination!
The menu also offers a fabulous selection of freshly pressed juices. The classic ones, of course but also mint-apple, banana and acai, carrot/beetroot/celery/ginger or this one mango, papaya and apple, silky, so very re-energising. Enjoy, stay a little longer. Have another one. Read a magazine. Remember the pastries, plan a sweet break along the Thames later on. Or maybe just come back tomorrow morning for your first coffee with the perfect croissant…
Chelsea Quarter Café
29 Kings’ Road
There are Sundays I just want not to do anything. I do not mean crashing on a sofa – rather just be taken somewhere, be taken care of and be completely wowed. A chic late breakfast, with glistening glasses, flowers on the table, a family brunch I wouldn’t have had to prepare, a cocoon feeling. Effortless refinement. Well, effortless on my side. Well, Cucina Asellina, part of the gorgeous Me Hotel, a few streets away from Covent Garden is my slice of heaven. A luxurious background, yet very warm and welcoming, thought almost as an architecture with its geometrical lines, its play on straight angles and curves. We loved the leather banquettes, the wine wall where each bottle looks like a jewel or a piece of art, the mosaic mirrors reflecting a hundred details of the room. Bonus - a simple thing, space between the tables. Space away from your neighbours, so soothing. Wander round, have a look at the open space kitchen with its pizza oven in a corner.oi The menu is mouthwatering so do start by ordering an assortment of bread. Crunchy, tender, moist, just the touch of salt to make you want to have another bite - don’t count on having some left for the rest of your meal, it will disappear in minutes.
Our love at first bite were the stuffed Cerignola olices (red giant olives, buttery notes) with roasted veal, mortadella, thyme, parmigiano in a crunchy polenta crust. Each forkful is slightly different, such a sharp, fine taste. You could easily bring me a small mountain of these to dine on – that alone would make me happy anytime. There is no kids’ menu here and yet you will be grateful for it. Why? Because the staff will simply adapt to your request. Nothing is impossible, nothing is difficult, there always is a smile on - stress free. For once, you do not feel you almost have to apologise for asking and that, my friends is extremely precious! The children had a real feast with the melt-in-the-mouth scrambles eggs on rich salmon and real toasted bread (sorry, the detail matters tremendously to French people!). We quite like, on the menu, the idea of family pasta dishes to share – for 2 or 4. The descriptions are quite inviting too: square spaghettis/pomodoro/olive oil/basil… saffron Strozzapeti/prawns/spinach/squash… Lasagn/spinach/pecorino…
We focused on the meat dishes. My husband is classical but aims for excellence. He was delighted with his grilled beef rib, juicy, sprinkled with fresh herbs, served with triple cooked chips and a perfect gorgonzola sauce. I was similarly seduced by the roasted lamb, pink and oh-so-tender with braised chicory sublimed by the fragrant juices, superb roasted fennel, almost creamy, infused with rosemary. Match this to a glass of Castello Banfi Rosso di Montalcino, a tuscany wine balancing notes of cherry and blackberry, a long finish, final hint of tobacco and grilled hazelnut.
Dessert wise 9always my favourite part of the meal. I tend to choose that first!) , the tiramisu is almost cloud like, focusing on the quality of the mascarpone, highlighted by the chocolate, not drowned in alcohol as they too often are. The chocolate cake is soaked with a lip-licking good caramel syrup. Do not, as I did, tempt your children into trying it. You will never get your plate back… Now, to really wake your tastebud, have the passionfruit cheesecake with its tropical fruit salad, and passionfruit sorbet. Zesty, tonic, a concentrate of sun and vitamin C!
Verdict: such a relaxing moment, refined tastes, a friendly welcome and such attention brought to the kids who were so proud to be as considered as the adults they were extra quiet. A wonderful address for an elegant meal and to let go of the routine.
Funny how a station can come alive. St Pancras switched from just being a passing place – commute, drink a coffee, jump on a train or a tube – to being a place to experience too. There are two pianos in the hall, available for anyone to use and it is such a delight to hear amateur or “real” musicians playing a few notes on it, stopping you in your tracks, putting a smile back on your face. Until May 09, a free music festival gives a new vibe to the station too.
On the art side… Look up. Dream. Fly away. The famous olympic rings were recently replaced by a suspended work by Studio Orta, fluffy clouds reminding you there is more to life than work. A sort of flying carpet, a harmony between the outside world glimpsed through the glass roof or through the train windows and the dream ones, allowing you to escape a little while… St Pancras being now part of the London art trail, you can expect more of those in the coming years!
London is so magical, isn’t it? A galaxy of brilliant little extra-ordinary details, of green havens or sparkling cafés. So many addresses and surreal places – how often have you thought “Only in London can you see that!” – that it is impossible to keep track. When comes the time to plan a special day or evening out, the memory is misty, yes, there was this little restaurant in this neighbourhood but the name? Or was it on the other side of town?
London for Lovers is one of these travek books you read by pleasure, not just with a plan in mind. The typo, the graphism is so seducing, white, red, blue, between modern and vintage. The pictures evoque the word dreamscape – so bright, so real, so near. Oh, to sit under this tree in a park, or sit at this romantic table or find this exact detail in a museum, or run down these stairs! You will leaf through it preciously, page after page, with the same care, the same fascination as you would a collection of poems.
And so it will remind you of forgotten places you had promised yourself you would take your loved one too, one day and forgot. Those mysterious places that make you whisper a few lines from a book or an anecdote about the history of the building. Those narrow streets where you just want to get lost and forget everything else, everyone else in the world for a few hours.
One of these books you see, that will make your eyes sparkle, fall (back) in love with London, even fall in love if you are not yet.
So many ideas to enjoy the city together. Whether it is your firt time in London or whether you have walked these streets a thousand time, you will fall under the charm all over again.
Love PanAsian food, mix of influences, plates to share with friends and never can resist a mouthwatering menu, ending up ordering everything? Plan dinner at Oaka and gap glam there. Gap glam, you say? Literally, when translated from Thai: Beer Food. And doesn’t this sound just what you need after work? Exquisite but comforting. Being from Bordeaux and consequently a wine person, matching spicy food with beer is always quite a revelation. It works so, so perfectly.
So forget Guinness and the likes for a while. We are talking microbreweries here, drinks made by passionate people and this makes a whole difference. We focused on the Oakham Ales from Peterborough that evening - a beautiful palette of tastes. You do not need to be an expert, just a happy person but ask the staff: they will advise the best ones with your dish, tell you the story behind, let you know of the seasonale ones too. Even better, these are served as 1/3 or 2/3 of a pint too, ideal to order a selection and compare. My favourite definitely is the Citra - grapefruit, litchee, exotic, so very surprising. If you prefer dark beers, go for the Black Hole Porter, velvety and fruity. For a touch of amber, you will want the JCB, nicely hoppy, citrus, a bitter finish that gives it a lovely suppleness. Your next thought? Mmmh, what would go with dessert, then?
Let’s go back to the idea of exotic tapas. Tatesbuds will be woken up. So many colours, such aromas, too: you will be in position, fork in the air before the tray has reached the table. On the menu? So many gorgeous options it is almost impossible to choose. We decided on the Dragon scallops, a generous size, steamed and tender with a satin-like sauce, slightly sweet, fresh ginger and spring onions. The tempuras are quite something - crisp, not oily at all, very tasty and your 5-a-day in a bite: asparagus, sweet potatoes, suede, carrot. Very spring like. Don’t miss the traditional Mieng kum, edible leaves to be folded over a mix of coconut, dried shrimps, peanuts, ginger, lime, shallot and a dash of palm-sugar-sweet sauce. Imagine the fireworks! Another must-try, the soft shell crab, fried with chilli and fresh herbs, so refined. You could easily dine on gap glams alone. It is so very playful, this mix and match, exchange the sauces, take a spoonful, here a forkful there. It turns a meal into a feast. The menu also offers mains though and the salmon sashimin is brilliant. Such a rich quality of fish, such a beautiful texture, sprinkled with sesame seeds and wrapped in a delicious mix of shoyu and wasabi..
For melt-in-the-mouth meat, ask for the Buta no kakuni braised pork belly, cooked in sake and with just a little fat on the side for this unique tenderness. You barely have to use your knife to cut it, delicious with some jasmine rice.
The Kua Noodles are addictive - ribbons of rice pasta fried with soja sauce with chicken, eggs, chives. It sounds simple but it is perfect comfort food, making you dip your fork again and again.
No way you could say not to the perfect coconut rice pudding with fresh mango on the side… Refreshing and a perfect exotic conclusion. Match it to a porter, for its velvetyfeeling. If only because Oaka, with its natural relaxed atmosphere and friendly team is the perfect reason to cheer!
48 Kennington Park Rd
London SE11 4RS
Just one minute walk form Kennington station
A wonderful exhibition to take your kids to. Through comparative pannels, videos, games, simple questions, it enables quite a deep reflection on extinct or almost extinct animals. With simple words, it develops climate, hunting, disease, pollution issues. Genetic bad luck or human abuse? My 7 year old daughter, discovering that Alice in Wonderland’s dodo actually had existed, was divided between sadness and anger as she realised the poor bird was doomed to be devoured as its weight, short legs and tiny wings meant it could not escape much. Further on, a video games let you try and save species by moving them around to their favourite pastures, away from icy winters, meteorites, active volcanoes. At other stop points, you can vote: should we save endangered animals useful to man? Or are all of them useful? No? Then what about a cat, mmmh? Quite amazing to see the evolution in your child’s thinking, the putting pieces of information together, triggering more interrogation, the understanding that most solutions are on our side, natural reserves, zoo, ADN protection and so much more.
Extinction : not the end of the world ? Until September 08, 2013
Natural History Museum
London SW7 5BD