As I said in my last post, we’ve been coming to Florida my whole life and whilst it’s beautiful and the perfect place to relax, you couldn’t exactly describe it as buzzing where we are. My brother was pretty darn relaxed after a few months here and quite keen for a change of scenery which led to me suggesting we do a little road trip. Neither of us had ever been to New Orleans and mum hadn’t been since she was 11 so we decided to head there, with a couple of little stops along the way.
Our first port of call was the quaintest, most adorable little town called Apalachicola. Tucked away on Florida’s northwest coast it’s full of lovely little shops, cafés and restaurants. We arrived early evening and checked into our hotel.
Dinner was to be found at the Owl Café Tap Room
Starting off with pomegranate cocktails
I think this had to be one of my favourite parts of the whole place, everytime an order is ready, this little chap pops out to alert the waitress. How great is that?
On the way home we popped into Tamara’s Café for a last cocktail before bed where I had one of the most potent drinks I’ve ever had (only beaten by the Flaming Ferrari from Nam Long). Let me introduce the blueberry lemon drop martini. She packs one hell of a punch.
Next stop Alabama!
How’s the weather with you? Are you miserable because it’s raining and it’s June or are you needing some respite from the heat? Well, either way, I have something that can help. Last week my mum and I flew over to Florida to visit my brother who’s living out here for 6 months (alright for some, huh?) at the house my grandparents bought when I was one and has been a home from home ever since. Upon our arrival my aunt swiftly handed me a bag of mangoes from her tree and asked for some cocktail ideas to use some of them up. This is the first thing that sprang to my mind, we made these for my friend Hayley’s hen do a couple of years ago and I’d totally forgotten about them, not something I intend to do again I assure you.
I woke up early Tuesday morning and sat in the garden having breakfast and making a quick shopping list before whizzing off to grab the bits we needed. After a very stressful morning lying in the sun I decided I’d waited long enough (I am on holiday after all) and set to work whipping up a batch.
This little baby is delicious, fruity and refreshing, everything you want from a summer drink. It’s also great if you’re having people over for brunch as you can make up a batch of the mango/lime mix the night before and then all you have to do in the morning is top it up with prosecco and you’re good to go.
So, here’s what you need:
2 and a half cups of fresh mango, peeled and chopped
3 fresh limes
2 bottles of chilled prosecco
Pop your mangoes in a blender with the juice from your limes and whizz up until you have a nice smooth purée, this is not the place for lumps.
Fill your glasses halfway with the mango mixture and then top up with ice cold prosecco. I find its easiest to pour in a little prosecco at first and give it a good stir (a chopstick works well for this) before pouring the rest in or it doesn’t mix properly.
There, that was pretty painless wasn’t it?
Now all that’s left to do is sit and enjoy, preferably with a view like this as your backdrop but if not, pop on this classic and dance around your kitchen. It reminds me of being 16 and carefree in Barbados and it makes me smile every time I hear it.
Yesterday was my birthday, the big 2-6 and so this weekend was a whirlwind of celebration
We started by treating ourselves to blow dries and bubbles and the lovely Richard Ward in Chelsea
Before swinging by The Good Life Eatery for some health in a bottle (we figured we were going to need it).
And then heading back to my friend Sara’s (our base for the weekend) to relax and get ready for the evening ahead. I had no idea what was to come, having been told only that i needed to dress up and be ready to leave at 6.30pm, my friend Sophie having planned the evening as a surprise.
And oh, what a surprise it was. We pulled up outside Chiltern Firehouse amid squeals of excitement – it being somewhere I was desperate to try but impossible to get a table at.
We kicked things off with a bottle of Bolly and some perfectly crafted snacks from the kitchen.
Raw cauliflower florets with a thick truffle dip
Perfectly crisp morsels of fried chicken with a bacon-ranch dip
And pillowy crab doughnuts. These were the snacks we were most excited about and ended up being our least favourite. Whilst delicious, the need to up the ante with the crab as there was a little too much doughnut in comparison to filling.
Next up came the starters, which we all agreed were our favourite parts of the meal.
Sara and I went for steak tartare, which was both delicious and cute – just look at those little bottles! I genuinely could eat this every day.
Sophie had the sea-trout carpaccio and Sarah the cod, both of which were full of flavour, light and fresh and were similarly inhaled.
Next up came the mains, which were equally spectacular.
Iberico pork with roasted garlic purée
Pan roasted chicken with mustard greens and what we think were little chunks of bread soaked in chickeny juices *drool* And roast Turbot which wasn’t very photogenic but made up for it with the taste.
Everyone’s plates got passed around and we chatted and laughed our way through the evening before we decided to get some shots of each other, rather than just the food!
Look how gorgeous my girls are!
Sadly we decided we were probably a little full for pudding given that we were off dancing but we couldn’t resist an espresso martini and a quick peek at the hidden garden.
You go downstairs and through the ladies loos where one of the mirrors is actually a secret doorway, far too exciting.
We eventually conceded we had to tear ourselves away from the grotto and go and meet some other friends for drinks and dancing at Bodos Schloss (by which point we had abandoned the cameras, too focused on our boogie-ing). Thanks to everyone who made my weekend such fun and a huge thanks to Sophie for organising such an incredible dinner and evening. Love you all xx
If you’re looking for your next favourite restaurant then definitely go and check out Chiltern Firehouse, between the genius of Nuno Mendes in the kitchen and the lovely service and atmosphere it has shot straight to the top of my favourites list (I’m already looking for an excuse to return).
I must confess, my trip to Florence was not the most cultural of excursions.
I was the only one who hadn’t been before and as a result, there was less time spent exploring and marvelling at the sights, and more time catching up, eating great food and drinking wine. I can’t say there were any complaints.
Friday lunch took us back to Osteria Santo Spirito as the late arrivals hadn’t had their fill yet. This is the remains of the four cheese gnocchi, so scrumptious but incredibly rich. Thank goodness I listened to the advice and ordered the small portion.
The afternoon saw us ambling around the streets of florence, enjoying the weather and the odd gelato. We definitely didn’t get starter portions of these as you can probably tell, beware the cups, they hold more than you can possibly imagine.
After a few hours exploring the vintage shops and one of our number getting a tattoo we began to amble home. Just in time to see the sun begin to set over the Arno.
Friday night’s feast took place at the famous 4 Leoni which was happily located a mere 10 second saunter from our apartment. Order of the day was something that everyone must have at least once in Florence (vegetarians aside). A Florentine steak.
We started off with the most delicious little artichoke fritti.
Before moving on to the main event, queue lots of jokes about everyone enjoying their giant slabs of meat…
Even my phone ended up getting some
Unsurprisingly no one could manage dessert but we all agreed we could probably handle a cocktail or two.
And, apparently a bit more twister.
The next morning everyone was unexpectedly perky and the decision was made to go for a picnic by Piazzale Michelangelo as the weather was amazing and the views spectacular.
And the girls just lazed in the sun, no photo of this I’m afraid, we were too busy laaazing.
Early evening consisted of the girls piling in mine and Annabel’s bed and gossiping for a few hours before taking ourselves off for a cocktail at Colle Bereto, home of the best Aperol Spritz we tried.
We arrived at dinner only to be told our table wasn’t quite ready, luckily we were easily placated with some prosecco.
And I must say, the food was most definitely worth the wait.
These little fritters with soft cheese and prosciutto were to die for.
And the Steak Tartare was some of the best I’ve ever tried, done the Florentine way with a shaved fennel salad on the top.
Yup, that is vending machine lasagne, totally unbelievable.
Sadly that was our last night and so the next day all that was left was to gather our things and head to the airport.
Although we did manage to squeeze this little beauty in before we left. Well, it’d be rude not to wouldn’t it?
Huge thank you to the lovely Polly who was amazing with her camera (unlike me) and to whom I owe most of these photos xx
There’s nothing better than a weekend away with your friends is there? Rather handily, my old friend Alex and his lovely girlfriend Mia live in Florence and agreed to put up with a bunch of us invading for a few days. My friends Harry, Olly and I arrived on Wednesday afternoon at Pisa airport and swiftly jumped on the bus to Florence. We barely had time to drop off our bags before we were whisked off to Piazza Santo Spirito for a drink, my first (of many) Aperol spritz’s of the trip.
We happily whiled away the afternoon in the Piazza before popping home to change, drink some wine from a flagon and, for reasons still unknown, play some twister.
We headed for dinner at the incredible Osteria Santo Spirito for our first taste of Italy. Mountains of amazing homemade pasta for an absolute steal. Followed by a little digestif.
We headed home after dinner for a spot of wine and reminiscing, not wanting to go too crazy as the rest of the hoard arrived the following evening.
The next morning we went for a little stroll around to see some of the sights although I must confess to being a very bad blogger and taking far too few photos, also, my camera died so I only had my phone, ooops.
Obviously this is all part of my plan, I’m just giving you a few taster snaps so you’ll want to go and see it for yourself.
After our walk we went home to wait for the others to arrive, only to be told that a truck had driven into their parked plane and so they were now delayed by about 8 hours. What could we do? We felt awful. Naturally the only thing for it was to take ourselves off for another delicious dinner. Sigh, poor us.
Don’t you just love this table for one? What a decadent way to have dinner on your own.
Apologies again for the photo quality, trying to get a snap before the gannets dove in proved rather tricky.
Luckily the others did eventually make it so after everyone had ditched their bags we strapped on our dancing shoes and headed out into the night.
My mum and I found ourselves in Bath the other day and, having both had a fairly hectic and stressful few days, felt we were in need of a relaxing lunch. There are few things better than a long lunch with your mummy and this one ticked all the boxes, good food, good company and beautiful surroundings. We went to the Hare and Hounds in Bath, perched atop a hill on Lansdowne Road it has amazing views of the valley below and in the summer the terrace is the perfect place to relax with a cold glass of rose. It wasn’t quite warm enough to do that yet though so we settled inside instead.To kick things off we shared a crab toast which was just as it should be, light, fresh and totally delicious.We couldn’t make a decision between the burger and the pulled pork burger so decided to get both and share them. Sadly the burger was pretty average but the pulled pork burger was yummy and the mini ribs were a scrumptious surprise addition – we both agreed they should be their own dish. We couldn’t quite resist pudding, especially once I’d glimpsed this little beauty: rhubarb and madeira doughnuts with white chocolate. Really really good, although i could have done with a touch more rhubarb sauce.Whilst mum kept it simple with some ice cream.
After a little pootle around Bath we headed back towards Salisbury and on our way, went into the most incredible farm shop. We’ve driven past it more times than I can count but it’s either been closed or we’ve been in too much of a hurry to stop before now. I’m so glad we finally did, I had found my nirvana.
It’s called White Row farm shop and as well as having fruit and veg galore they have an in-house butcher and fish monger as well as some lovely meats, cheeses and pastries.As well as some bottle your own oilMake sure you pop in and say hi if you’re in the area.
Last week Alex, my friend Sara and I checked out the new Roka in Mayfair. Our friend Will was supposed to join us but unfortunately got stuck in Nassau on business so we went as a three. After a massive blonde moment from me, causing us to go to the wrong restaurant, we arrived and settled ourselves at the bar with some cocktails whilst we waited for our table.
Whilst Sara and I tried some Shochu, a type of Japanese distilled alcohol. Jasmine for her and raspberry for me. They came served with chunks of hand carved ice, chiselled off a giant block behind the bar. We started with some sushi and the most perfect little bites of rock shrimp tempura. Before moving on to dumplings. The triangle ones were amazing, I think they were prawn and black cod but I can’t remember exactly. The beef ones weren’t bad but not a patch on the others. Some aubergine with bonito flakes was both yummy and entertaining as the bonito flakes fluttered like leaves in the breeze.Whilst the black cod with white miso was just sublime, the broccoli provided some freshness. Then there was some teryaki salmon which was good, despite me not particularly loving salmon and some truly scrummy ribs.Oh look, a wall full of whiskey, right behind little old me. And of course, we thought it was only fair we give the desserts a fair shot as well. First up was the molten chocolate cake that looked vaguely like something out of ghostbusters but tasted infinitely better. As well as some green tea ice cream that Sara couldn’t live withoutA feather light sponge cake with cherry compote, which was my favourite. And a crème brûlée that was the one bum note of the meal. Roka is by no means a cheap dinner but it is some of the best food I’ve had in London in ages. Everything was light and expertly seasoned and if you have a special occasion coming up (or you just fancy a splurge) then get your bums over there pronto, you won’t be sorry.
That sounds like a civilised way to spend a Saturday afternoon surely? The other weekend my oldest friend Sarah and I headed for Holborn to enter the world of the Vikings, or at least an exhibition on them at the British Museum. I have to confess to not having the most extensive knowledge of this ancient race past the stereotypical rape, pillage and plunder but the British Museum is one of my favourite places in London so we thought we’d give it a whirl. It was a Saturday so it was pretty heaving but, armed with our multimedia guides we headed in. I think the thing that stuck me most was the jewellery, most likely because I’m a bit of a magpie but also because the intricacy was stunning. I think it would be a fun date place actually as it has a little something for everyone, from swords to jewellery and even a full size Viking longboat. Also, if conversation runs dry you can always just pop your headphones on and listen to Sandi Toksvig narrate. My particular favourite was the big gold necklace at the top, it’s absolutely huge and must weigh a ton but it’s just beautiful.
I’m pretty sure Alex would love one of these, it’s an ornate cover for a drinking horn. Something tells me you’d definitely be able to remember which glass was yours at a party with one of these.
It probably took us a couple of hours to cover the whole thing and apparently we’d slightly lost the plot by the time we emerged into the gift shop.
It’s a really fun and interesting exhibition (not least because of the excellent gift shop offerings) and if you can go during the week then you probably won’t have quite so many people to contend with. It’s on until June 22nd and you can get tickets below:
I don’t know about you, but one of my favourite things to do on a Sunday is go for brunch. Long lazy meals, usually followed by a stroll somewhere if the weather’s nice. What could be better than that? With this in mind we headed to Tauro, an enormous restaurant spanning 3 floors in the site of a former brewery on Schönhauser Allee. The choice is ridiculous, a slightly daunting prospect for someone as indecisive as me but luckily I soon found my feet. There is everything to choose from, eggs to pancakes to paella and tapas, surely something to keep everyone happy. Apart from anything else, this is a ham lovers dream.
We kicked off with a jug of sangria, totally acceptable at brunch.
Before heading off in different directions to fill our plates, which I must confess, went largely un-photographed. But look at this adorable little creme brulee. I need some of these little dishes in my life.Suitably full, it was time for that stroll so we headed to the beautiful Museum Island and marveled at the incredible architecture. We popped up to the top of the Humboldt-Box for a drink and to take in the view. And then wandered up through a little market and over the river on our way home.Except before we made it back to the hotel we decided to detour via Mogg & Melzer, a New York style Jewish deli for a quick pre-flight bite. Lets be honest, these sandwiches are way better than anything you’ll find at an airport. Sorry the photos are so dreadful, it was dark and we were in a rush. I went for a classic Rueben and mum opted for pulled pork and avocado, both were totally scrumptious. We were cutting it pretty close by this point so rushed back to the hotel to grab our bags and hot-footed it to the airport, only to find our plane was an hour delayed. Obviously. Oh well, we were thankful to have been granted our 2 bonus days.
So, remember how I said we had that crack of dawn flight? Well that didn’t quite go according to plan. Having dragged ourselves out of bed at 4am, checked out and gotten to the airport hiccough free we then boarded the plane and just sat there. And then sat for a bit more, before being told there was an electrical problem with the plane and we wouldn’t, in fact, be going anywhere. After queuing for a couple of hours, we finally got to the re-booking desk only to be told that all the direct flights for the day had gone and we’d have to fly via brussels and into gatwick not heathrow. This seemed like a wholly unappealing prospect so we asked if there was any way we could fly out the following day instead and luckily they had space on the sunday evening flight. In all honesty I think they were so thankful we weren’t yelling at them they would have put us on any flight we wanted!
Seeing as we had a couple of bonus days we decided to take the pace a little slower. We still wanted to stay in the Mitte district but decided to move a little further north from where we had been so we moved to the charming Monbijoux Hotel.After faffing around a little and deciding we definitely couldn’t be bothered to unpack again we headed out for a stroll around our new neighbourhood where we discovered a local market and I just had to purchase something to keep my head warm. We then figured we were pretty hungry so headed to a restaurant I have since forgotten the name of, which turned out to be closed. We had a look at the place next door which seemed ok so popped in. It was fine but distinctly average and pretty touristy, not somewhere I’d be rushing back to.
Before walking down to the Topographie of Terrors, past some beautiful buildings and a part of the Berlin wall that’s still standing. I can’t imagine how bizarre it must have been to be a city so divided.
After ambling around for a while we jumped in a taxi to the Johann Konig gallery to see the Andreas Fischer exhibiton which was totally off the wall, lots of moving mops and drills, it was like being in a bizarre 1970’s cinderella with everything coming to life.
Having gotten up so early we were pretty pooped so took oursleves back to the hotel for a well deserved cocktail and some planning for the evening ahead.
There was an exhibition on at the KW Instiute for Contemporary Art on Augustrasse that mum wanted to go to and we discovered it was only a 10 minute walk from our hotel. This turned out to be my favourite exhibtion of the trip (with the possible exception of the Christian Tagliavani). An exhibtion of film installations called “Real Emotions: Thinking in Film”, it was spread over 4 floors and was so much fun. I particularly loved the lowever ground floor which was separted into emotions with film clips illustrating them. To be fair, the first one I saw was the bow scene from Titanic illustrating love so they had me from there on in!
After we’d ambled around for a few hours it was pretty late so we just grabbed a (surprisingly delicious) pizza at Aposto, the restaurant opposite our hotel and call it a night, ready for our actual last day.