Monday, 16 May 2016

National Vegetarian Week 2016 – Why I Chose To Become Vegetarian

 
As you may know, today sees the launch of National Vegetarian Week and this is my first time celebrating it as a vegetarian. I decided to go meat-free towards the end of last year and while I’m completely happy with my decision, it’s not something that I have written about – for me, being vegetarian, vegan or a meat-eater is a personal choice. But as National Vegetarian Week is all about celebrating and sharing stories about the food we eat, I wanted to share my story.
I became vegetarian quite abruptly; it’s not something I ummed and ahhed over at all. I just decided. While that may sound like a decision made on a whim and something that I may regret, I couldn’t be happier. For me, being vegetarian just feels right.
 
From a young age, I’ve never really enjoyed eating meat. It was more out of necessity, my mum cooked it and so I ate it. But as I grew up, I actively chose to eat less meat and completely cut out fish and seafood. I only really ate chicken and even then, I wouldn’t cook it I’d just eat it while I was out. Overtime I grew to like burgers and tried to get myself to eat fish but I just didn’t like it. After a while, I questioned why I wanted to go against my natural instincts to just eat veggies.
 
In the last year or so, my interest in spirituality has grown and eating animals just didn’t sit right with me for quite a few reasons related to my beliefs – which are very personal to me. Spiritual or religious beliefs aside, documentaries like Cowspiracy and Forks Over Knives have shown me the environmental impact of animal farming and the negative effects meat has on our health. And of course there is the humane element. We should all be aware that animals are kept in crowded, squalid conditions and injected with growth hormones, antibiotics etc. For me, it’s worrying that I didn’t know what was going into my body. And it goes without saying that the idea of mass animal slaughter, almost in a conveyor belt style, doesn’t sit well with me.
 
After I made my decision, I went cold turkey – excuse the pun. I very rarely cooked meat anyway so going meat-free was pretty smooth. In fact, it a natural and totally seamless transition. Friends have been very accepting but I got asked why quite a lot, which I found funny as it’s just a personal life choice. I haven’t really felt any different after becoming vegetarian, people often ask if I feel fresher but to be honest my diet was about 80% vegetarian anyway so the extra 20% hasn’t made a huge impact to my life or health.
 
It’s sometimes tricky to find something nice to eat in certain restaurants (why it is always mushroom risottos and goat’s cheese tarts?!) but waiters are quite accommodating. While I was staying at Desert Palm Per Aquum in Dubai, I had dinner at the hotel’s fine dining restaurant, which happened to be a steak restaurant. Whoops. The lovely team very sweetly rustled up a delicious beetroot carpaccio with a butternut squash risotto. It’s not hard to eat out as a vegetarian. Having said that, I do miss burgers. And no, Portobello mushroom burgers are not an acceptable veggie alternative!
 
There you have it, a little snapshot about my decision to go vegetarian. I know it’s very brief but there are a lot of very personal spiritual beliefs behind my decision, I’m happy to go into more detail via Twitter or email if you’re interested in hearing more. I didn’t want to go into detail about the conditions animals are kept in or how they are slaughtered because, honestly, I’m not an expert and I don’t feel qualified to quite about it. But I think we all have a responsibility to ourselves to be aware of what we are eating and where that food comes from so please do your research; I’d highly recommend Forks Over Knives and Cowspiracy as a starting point.
 
Happy National Vegetarian Week! 
 
 
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Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Introducing Kusmi's new Tsarevna tea


A couple of days ago, on a particularly rainy autumn day in London, I popped to Marylebone for some tea. There’s something very British about being out in cold, blustery weather and warming up with a nice, warm cuppa. I pride myself on being somewhat of a tea connoisseur, I have a shelf full of various loose leaf tea and teabags and I’ve very particular with how my tea is brewed; so when the lovely team at Kusmi tea invited me to their flagship store to learn more about their tea, not even the rain could keep me away.
 
I’m no stranger to Kusmi tea, their Euphoria tea gets me through the mid-afternoon slump while their BB Detox tea definitely gives me a bit of a glow. Although I’m familiar with the teas, I knew nothing about the brand behind them and I was very surprised to learn that they were Russian. Founded in 1867 by Pavel Michailovitch Kousmichoff, Kusmi relocated to Paris just before the revolution – which explains why I had assumed it was a French company. Learning more about the history of the company gave me a better understanding of their history and their teas, many of which have Russian names.

 
While learning about their fascinating history, I indulged in a cup of Kusmi’s special limited edition Tsarevna tea. Named after the daughters of the Tsars, the tea is a wonderfully festive black tea subtly blended with spices and orange giving it a slight Christmas scent and a refreshing taste. The tea inspired by the Tsarevnas journey to the heart of the Winter Palace in St Petersburg for Christmas celebrations, complete with an gigantic tree bejewelled with pretty decorations. It’s only fitting that the Tsarevna tea is housed in a beautiful limited edition imperial blue tin adorned with silver glitter.
 
In addition to the lovely Tsarevna tea, Kusmi have a wider selection of Russian-inspired teas as well as classic, rooibos, flavoured, herbal and wellness teas. My favourites are the BB Detox, which is made with green tea, maté, rooibos, guarana, dandelion and a hint of grapefruit, and the Euphoria tea, which is made with maté, chocolate and orange for a natural boost. If you fancy trying one of their lovely teas, they’re available everywhere from Harrods to John Lewis but I would recommend popping into their store as the staff are so knowledgeable. 
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Thursday, 9 April 2015

Introducing Green & Blacks THINS




For the last 6 months or so, I’ve been on a real health kick. It actually started about a year ago but I’ve been really into nutrition and exercise over the last few months. I used to have an awful diet, everything that’s bad in spades with a touch of fresh food here and there. That’s all a distant memory now, replaced with a mainly cooked from scratch regime - I’m on first name terms with my butcher, fishmonger and greengrocer as I pop in so frequently. I’m not super strict and still eat burgers and pizzas but they’re a treat rather than being a regular food group!
 
Exercise is all well and good but it’s the food you eat that makes a real difference. I realised that its fuel and what you put in, you get out. Now that I eat healthy, home cooked meals which are protein and vegetable heavy, I have more energy, feel better, sleep better and my skin has a glow. To be honest, one bad meal doesn’t undo all of the good work but I definitely notice if I’ve had a few days of bad meals.
 
Depriving yourself of food isn’t healthy which is why I don’t do diets and never have. But I now see food from a nutritional perspective which has changed everything. For me, it’s all about moderation. In the same way, one salad won’t give you abs, a burger won’t make you put on kilos. You can always make smarter choices to have a slightly healthier meal too, at The Diner I go for sweet potato fries (yay for complex carbs) and I’d rather go to Homeslice for a super thin, authentic pizza than a heavy Dominos.

The one thing I hadn’t cracked was dessert. Sugar cravings can be curbed with fruit (hello, fructose) but sometimes you just need a chocolate or a cake. My friend Dena always opts for Green & Blacks, as they’re not actually that bad for you. Due to their high cocoa content, they have an intense flavour without artificial additives or sugars and they’re also organic which is a huge bonus, she only has a couple of squares rather than indulging in a whole bar as the flavours are so rich.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a chocolate craving so I treated myself to a couple of bars of THINS as well as a cup of green tea and one of my favourite fashion books. To my surprise, I didn't devour the whole bar in one sitting. he bars lasted me a good couple of weeks and a few squares here and there were able to keep me satisfied. I've learnt that everything is fine in moderation and I've got a feeling that Green & Blacks THINS are going to become my favourite little treat.
 
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Tuesday, 17 March 2015

An Ode to Pho


A couple of years ago, I used to work a couple of minutes away from Pho in Clerkenwell and used to pop in once or twice a week for some delicious Vietnamese food at lunchtime. I was only a habitual user. I recently popped in with my friend Dena and since then I’ve developed a full blown addiction. I’ve either popped in or grabbed a Pho-to-go every other day; over the weekend I went for dinner twice. This is definitely an infatuation.  
 
I’m a huge food fan; I think it equals fashion and travel as one of my favourite things to indulge in. But I tend to really indulge in food; crab donuts at Chiltern Firehouse, the Full Elvis at Duck & Waffle and the habanero soft shell crab at La Bodega Negra are some of my favourites. By contrast, Pho is simple, healthy and super fresh but totally moreish. It’s comfort food without the stodge and bad bits.
 
 
My favourite dish is the Chicken Bun – lemongrass and chilli vermicelli rice noodles topped with fresh herbs, beansprouts, a veggie spring roll and peanuts with your choice of meat or veggie. They come with a delicious nuoc cham sauce which you pour over, mix then devour. The lemongrass makes it taste super light and crisp while the chilli and nuoc cham add a little bite. My mouth definitely did not water as I typed that out. I usually go for cha gio (spring rolls) on the side, which I swap for goi cuon (summer rolls) in summer when I fancy something a little lighter.

 
Last weekend I popped into Pho twice; once with a friend who spent a few weeks in Vietnam recently and the second time with a friend who is half Vietnamese. They were the toughest critics as they’re used to the real deal but they are now both as obsessed as I am! Both of them have been texting me about Pho every day and my half Vietnamese friend has already been back for more (yes, I’m jealous).
 
As with everything that I love, I just had to share Pho with you. There are a few Pho restaurants around London and beyond, but be warned it’s a slippery slope to addiction.
 
 
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Wednesday, 4 March 2015

London: Murakami, Covent Garden


 
I have to admit something quite shocking. I didn’t try sushi until I was about 24 - super late to the party I know. I was visiting one of my best friends in London, he was a tennis coach and utterly obsessed with sushi as it was “pretty much the healthiest thing you can eat”. He was one of those health obsessed types and I was definitely more into cake than anything gluten-free. He took me to a little underground place in Soho, very authentic but a little dingy.
 
I didn’t warm to sushi during my first visit but fast forward six years and I’m a bit of a sushi addict, like much of London which explains the volume of Japanese restaurants across the city. On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of visiting one of the newest Japanese restaurants in town – Murakami. Located on St Martin’s Lane in Covent Garden, it’s ideally situated on a quiet street in one of the busiest parts of London.

 
 
The interior has a very cool, contemporary vibe with stacks of natural wood and a 12 foot living plant wall. Coupled with dim lighting from oversized glass bulbs suspended from the ceiling, the look is modern without being cold and clinical; it actually feels quite intimate so great for lunch or a cosy dinner as well as a convenient and lively spot for drinks. The top notch cocktail menu was created by Shrub and Shutter, incorporating plenty of Japanese influences and whiskies.
 
 
 Right so onto the food. The menu is incredibly extensive with a large selection of sushi created freshly at the sushi bar as well as tempura and delicious dishes from the robata grill. I was seated next to the sushi bar and was captivated by the chefs deftly whipping up delicious nigiri and sashimi dishes. I started with the popcorn tempura prawns which were absolutely addictive, the tempura batter was so fluffy and airy and the chilli and lime mayo was refreshing with a little kick, the perfect accompaniment. I’m not a huge fan of wings but the teriyaki and lime chicken wings were sublime, not overly sticky and very moreish. In terms of sushi, the green dragon tastes as good as it looks if not better while the spicy salmon with basil and yellowtail with jalapeno are flavourful with a little bit of sassy spice.


I need to call out the desserts which are sublime. The nutella and chocolate cheesecake was a little bite of heaven with each mouthful. Pro tip: It does very well with the pornstar martini.

 
Overall, the food was delicious, super light with subtle flavour and a dash of spice which delicately enhanced the flavour of the fish rather than being overpowering. I love tempura but a lot of places get it wrong, the tempura at Murakami was absolutely spot on, a testament to the expertise of the Japanese chefs. Despite the masses of Japanese restaurants in town, Murakami manages to carve out its own niche; New York cool with a delicious, varied menu which is affordable – this is my favourite new opening of 2015.
 
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Sunday, 14 December 2014

Christmas Gift Guide: Foodies



My top five picks for the foodie in your life.:

A sweet, retro popcorn maker which air pops corn instead of using oil for a super healthy snack. What more could you want?

 
The perfect gift for a girly hostess with the mostest, this Vom Fass vodka is pink with 22-carat gold flakes and comes in a diamond-shaped bottle.

 
LSA cheese set - £110
I always sway more towards cheese slates but I love the slightly retro oak base and glass dome for adding some gravitas to a cheese board.
Duck & Waffle is undoubtedly one of the best restaurants in London, thanks to the vision of Executive chef Dan Doherty. A personal favourite, I’ve eaten there more times than I can remember. With dishes like spicy ox cheek doughnut and the signature dish duck & waffle, this is a true foodie’s choice. Dan’s cookbook contains 100 mouth-watering recipes for breakfast, brunch, small plates, main courses, desserts and cocktails.

 
This is a foodie’s essential care package, containing the most popular teas, biscuits, jams, marmalades, crackers and relishes from Harrods’ famed food halls as well as two bottles of wine. What more could you want?
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Monday, 14 July 2014

Five rules for detoxing




Following on from my previous post – Diary of a Detox – I’ve put together my 5 tips to surviving a detox, from pre-detox preparation to post-detox diet.

1. Prep for your detox.

Generally speaking, the biggest gripe people have when doing a detox is headaches and mood swings. These are actually more to do with caffeine/sugar/alcohol withdrawl rather than the detox itself. As I don’t drink coffee, drink much alcohol and had cut down on sugar, I didn’t really experience any negative effects of the detox. In fact, my colleagues and I kept waiting for the mood swings to kick in! To make your detox a little easier, I’d recommend cutting out or at least cutting back on coffee, alcohol, sugary and processed food for a couple of days before you begin your detox.

2. Make sure you time it right.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time deciding when to do my detox. Although it was only 3 days, it was a total change in routine and lifestyle. I knew I wanted to do it while I was at work as it would be easier if I’m sitting for most of the day and I don’t have to lug juices around with me. I timed it around my ballet and yoga classes as I didn’t think I’d have the energy to get through the 90 minute classes! I’d also recommend keeping plans fairly relaxed post-work to allow you to have some early nights.


3. Drink lots of water.

As the name suggests, your body will be getting rid of lots of toxins over the duration of your detox. Are you ready for the science bit? If your body can’t effectively eliminate toxins, it absorbs them and surrounds the toxins with fat cells to protect your body from them. As you go through the detox, your body will be breaking these toxins down which is why most people experience a little weight loss…but the key thing is to flush toxins out of your body so you don’t absorb them. Water is one way to help flush toxins out, I was drinking 3 litres a day. Here’s another science nugget for you, your skin is the last organ to reap the benefits of water, ergo the more water you drink the better your organs function. My skin was glowing on my detox so I’m pretty sure my organs were well hydrated too.

4. Plan some light exercise in the morning.

I am not a morning person, by any stretch of the imagination. However, on my detox I was sleeping like a baby and waking up before my alarm. I made the most of this by kick starting my day with yoga, which is normally in my pre-bedtime routine. I figured I should go with how my body felt and it certainly didn’t do me any harm.

5. Take it easy post-detox.

After your detox, your body will be a clean, lean machine. Juices are super easy to digest and all the fruits and veggies you’ve been eating have done you the world of good. You can’t go straight from that to having a greasy Big Mac, as much as you may have been craving one. Your system will basically go nuts if you flood it with processed food that’s hard to digest and you’ll get an awful stomach ache – I speak from experience and all I had was a bit of falafel with a big salad! Do yourself a favour and stick to a vegetarian diet and try to eat raw as much as possible while easing back into ‘normal’ eating.

 
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Saturday, 5 July 2014

Diary of a juice detox



Recently, I've been on somewhat of a health kick. I've been embracing healthy eating and exercise, heading to Florence a couple of months ago for a yoga holiday and a couple of weeks ago I successfully survived my first 3-day juice detox. While I can't recommend the company I used (Nosh Detox, who messed up the delivery AND ended up delivering the wrong detox kit), I highly recommend undertaking a juice detox to give your digestive system a break as well as giving you some food for thought when it comes to, well, food.

During my detox I thought about food a hell of a lot, though I wasn't hungry often. I also realised that I ate due to boredom and habit rather than actually being hungry, which was a bit of a revelation and as a result I've been snacking much less since I came off the detox.

I wanted to share my detox diary with you to give you a glimpse first hand at what it's like to go on a detox.

Day 1
10.45am - No sign of delivery man, no sign of juice. Have emailed Nosh Detox and had some water. Someone at work has bought in Cornish fudge - becoming an increasingly attractive food option as opposed to fresh air and water. 
10.52am - Apparently my detox box is being delivered TONIGHT. Despite emails yesterday saying I will be starting today and letting me know the juices will be delivered in the evening AND another one this morning saying enjoy the programme. 
11.28am - After a not too pleasant phone call (sorry, I get angry when starved), my juice is finally going to be delivered today by the Business Manager. He's going to be an hour but I'm tempted to kiss him when he arrives. 
12.20pm - My juice arrival is imminent. I'm hungry but coping surprisingly well, whizzing through my to do list and even taking part in office banter. This is probably the longest I've gone without eating, ever. 
12.44pm - Ever seen someone down juice like a shot of tequila? My colleagues have. 
2.52pm - Triple fried truffle fries. 
3.58pm - Colleague jogs my memory to drink juice 2, I hadn't even realised. My Eliminator juice tastes really nice and healthy, must be the acai powder. 
5.23pm - Triple fried truffle fries...with ketchup. 
7.21pm - Third juice drank. Still dreaming about chips, which I haven't eaten in forever. I kind of miss chewing. 
7.34pm - Leaving work, skipping a party and going home to snuggle on the sofa with a blanket. I have no energy whatsoever. And I still miss chewing. 
8.52pm - Been lying on the sofa wrapped in a blanket for an hour. Just had my last juice and surprisingly, I don't really feel hungry. Genuinely don't, convinced that 90% of my eating is habit. 
Midnight - Bedtime, zzzz

Day 2
7.30am - Woke up after a very deep sleep feeling pretty good! Not drained or tired but very rested. 
8.52am - Juice time, really enjoy the taste of the Lemon & Ginger Tonic.
10.32am - Two hour meeting. Goes well. Thank goodness for herbal tea. 
12.47pm - Juice one, done. Craving pizza pretty badly but actually not that hungry, just miss food rather than needing it. 
1.44pm - I really want cheese on toast. 
2.34pm - Another juice down. Still want cheese on toast. 
3.29pm - SO TIRED. Just want to sleep. Seriously contemplating crawling under my desk for some shut eye. 
4.56pm - So hungry now. Slight headache. Daydreaming about eating food. Safe to say the detox blues have hit. 
7.18pm - At a picnic surrounded by cheese, crackers, sausage rolls, chicken and fruit. Slightly suicidal, not going to lie. Juice time soon, thank God. 
8.21pm - Juice has curbed any food cravings. Still, turned my back on the picnic! 
10.34pm - Bedtime. Earliest I've gone to bed for a long time. 

Day 3
7.30am - Another blissful deep sleep. Today is supposed to be the worst day as my system will really be detoxing. Cannot wait....
10.53am - Not even hungry. Breezing through with juices and water now. Waiting for the side effects/mood swings to hit. 
2.54pm - Still nada. Honestly, this has been a breeze. Not noticed any drastic changes in my body but I'm finding it easier to concentrate, sleeping much better and I feel a bit more glowy. 
3.07pm - Getting a bit peckish so having water. Daydreaming about Vapiano's pasta. Water tastes the same. Kinda. 
4.32pm - Penultimate juice done. Already planning tomorrow's post-detox meals.
7.04pm - An HOUR to go til my last juice. Already pretty hungry but I haven't experienced any mood swings or, more crucially, regrets. It's been a little tough at times but overall not as terrible as I expected. Roll on the 8pm juice and an early night....and my eggs florentine tomorrow. 
8.23pm - Last juice. A bit emotional. Debating doing another detox in a couple of weeks.

So there you have it. A few wobbles and hungry times but I got through the detox in one piece....and already planning the next! Although I felt tired at times and had a couple of early nights, I actually slept like a baby and woke up with more energy in the mornings. Keep your eyes peeled for my next post where I'll be sharing my top tips for getting through a detox in one piece!
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Thursday, 26 June 2014

Brunch at Balthazar, London


The original Balthazar in New York is somewhat of an institution. Located in the heart of Soho, it was opened in 1997 by Keith McNally offering a French brasserie inspired menu in resplendent surroundings. Still going strong and a firm foodie favourite, I was overjoyed when I heard news that a London outpost was to open in 2013.
 
In a city which enjoys a raft of new restaurant openings each week, you know a new restaurant is going to be a hit when staff at all of the top restaurants are clamouring to work there. Indeed, Balthazar had its pick from chefs to front-of-house and a waiting list before they'd even opened their doors.

In the last year, I've enjoyed plenty of dinners and drinks at Balthazar but I have to say my favourite is brunch. Consistently delicious with great service, it's a staple in my London brunch roster – and I’m a picky bruncher. Last week, I took my cousin for her first Balthazar brunch.

 

I had my usual, which is the Hazelnut Waffles with warm berries, crème fraîche and maple syrup on the side. As delicious as they sound, if not moreso. The waffles are soft enough to slice through with ease (I hate hard overcooked waffles) and the berries are always in season and juicy, yum. I opted for a Balthazar Bloody Mary rather than tea and was rewarded with one of the best I've had in London, packing the perfect amount of spice and punch. My cousin opted for a classic Eggs Benedict and some brunch bubbles which went down very well.
 


Consistent, reliable and a firm favourite for long, lazy brunches, with the added benefit of being an utter sanctuary from the weekend chaos in Covent Garden. I prefer Balthazar for brunch rather than dinner, when it can get a bit hot and rushed as it’s still super popular. Brunch is perfection though; this is the perfect place in London to enjoy an unhurried weekend catch up/gossip session.
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Saturday, 24 May 2014

Brunch at Duck & Waffle, London

 
Anyone who knows me or even vaguely follows me on Twitter or Instagram knows that I am a total Duck & Waffle addict. Well I was. And am again. After an obscenely long, unecessary hiatus, I went back to my favourite brunch spot in London for a leisurely bank holiday brunch. There were lots of new dishes on the menu but aside from that, nothing at all had changed. The views were still the best in London, the service was impeccable and the food, well, absolutely sublime as always.
 
My dining partner and I eased into brunch after a gruelling yoga class with the smoked mozzarella, which was actually a lot more delicious than it initially sounds with granola, safe, honey and amalfi lemon. We moved onto the equally healthy Colombian eggs, a long-term menu dish which I hadn’t gotten around to trying yet. Well worth the wait, although much healthier than I’m used to at brunch.
 
 
 
 
It all swiftly went downhill from there as we indulged in the mind-blowing PBJ – a dish so scrumptious both my partner in crime and I immediately proclaimed it was the best thing either of us have eaten ever (and we eat a lot) and we booked in for a return brunch before we left.
 
So what is this wonder dish? Well, you start with brioche toast; top it with peanut butter, jam and banana brulee. So far, so delicious. We topped for the full far, extra calorie version which also has a fried duck egg and maple-glazed bacon. It doesn’t sound like it should work and it probably shouldn’t but trust me, this is a brunch game changer. Nothing else comes close. Hat’s off to the chef, you’ve done it again Mr Doherty. We finished off our brunch with a the delicious cheese board, well cheese is made from milk which makes it healthy, right?!
 


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Sunday, 30 June 2013

Taste of Hakkasan menu at Hakkasan, Hanway Place


In a city littered with Chinese restaurants, there is one name which still sets the the benchmark - Hakkasan. The Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant has been a staple on London's fine dining roster for more than a decade, a tough feat for a city which has a raft of new restaurant openings each week. Dominating the high end, Asian restaurant scene in London along with the likes of Nobu and Zuma, the Hakkasan Group have steadily expanded from the original restaurant in Hanway Place (a stone's throw from Tottenham Court Road) to a second location on Bruton Street in Mayfair as well as Yauatcha, HKK and Sake No Hana. 

I'm yet to try HKK and Sake No Hana but I'm a big fan of Hakkasan and Yauatcha if I want really good dim sum. I tend to head to Hakkasan Mayfair but recently, I had lunch at the Hanway Place restaurant. Both restaurants are incredibly dark, sleek and stylish; heading down some very dark stairs in the bright daylight was a bit disconcerting but being met with the familiar dark wood lattice screens and moody lighting, 


Foodwise, I opted for the Taste of Hakkasan menu which consists of a taster of the best dishes from the menu. I started with a dimsum platter - Scallop, crab, duck and chicken dumplings. As a former dimsum addict, I'm quite fussy but the dumplings at Hakkasan are absolutely delicious - even the scallop shumai which I'm not normally a fan of. Each piece of dimsum was packed with flavour-full meat or seafood and the pastry was the perfect elasticity and texture. 


For mains, I had a selection of small dishes - beef, sea bass, prawns and duck. The beef was absolutely divine, cooked to perfection with a delicious black pepper sauce. The pipa duck was my second favourite followed closely with the Chilean seabass. I didn't eat the prawns (ex seafood hater) but they looked 


At £35 a head, the Taste of Hakkasan menu is a great introduction to one of the best Chinese restaurants in London. The portions are very generous, so much so that I couldn't possibly finish my meal off with a dessert - a very rare occurrence. If you're going for the a la carte menu, I recommend the duck salad, dimsum platter and wagyu beef. 


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Sunday, 23 June 2013

Brunch in the sky at Duck & Waffle


Hi, my name is Reena and I am a brunch addict. For real, I absolutely love it. Brunch is honestly the best meal of the day because there are no rules: fancy a fry up? Cool. Craving maple syrup drenched pancakes? Alrighty. Fry up followed by something sickly and sweet? Perfect. Plus the whole brunch vibe is extremely lazy and chilled out, with an endless supply of tea and gossip. There’s no 2 hour table booking window and you can really spend time catching up over good food. As well as being a brunch fiend, I’m also a certified Duck & Waffle addict which is why I’m so surprised it took me so long to put two and two together and have brunch in the clouds.



For those of you who’ve been living under a rock, Duck & Waffle is situated on the 40th floor of Heron Tower, making it the highest restaurant in the UK and THE place to eat in London. Head Chef Dan Doherty is a genius in the kitchen, devising dishes such as spicy ox cheek donut, all day foie gras breakfast and the signature dish duck & waffle, D&W is one of the rare restaurants that always lives up to the hype which is probably why I’ve been known to visit three times in a weekend.



A couple of weeks ago, I headed over for a well-deserved, languid and slothful brunch catch up with my friend Ophelia who was visiting from Hong Kong. A fellow foodie, Ophe’s trip pretty much revolved around the best restaurants which have opened over the last year and naturally D&W was at the top of the list. Shooting up 40 floors in the lift outside Heron Tower, we both marvelled at the view and how much more beautiful London is from above street level.



We opted for the smoked Scottish salmon with caper salad and flatbread along with the steak ‘n’ eggs benedict followed the Belgian waffle with banana ‘n’ nutella. I’m not normally a huge fan of smoked salmon but loved it with the flatbread and words cannot describe how delicious the braised ox cheek was on sourdough with a nice healthy dollop of Hollandaise sauce. The piece de resistance was definitely the Belgian waffles though, they were perfectly cooked and the banana and homemade nutella (!) worked together so perfectly. So well in fact I’ve already been back for some more. Well, between the view and the food, can you blame me?!


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Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Girl's night out at Westfield London


There’s nothing like a girly trip to Westfield. With all the favourites including Dune, Oasis, Miss Selfridge and New Look are in close proximity, Westies (as I like to call it) is a little piece of weatherproof shopping heaven. Along with the hundreds of shops, it’s also home to almost 50 restaurants, ideal for a post shopping refuel or a girl’s night out.  Last week, I experienced the latter thanks to lovely guys at Westfield and I’ve got to say, it was the perfect venue for a chilled out girl’s night out.

I grabbed four of my favourite girls, Jenny from The Style PA, stylist Frankie and the gorgeous Maria, and headed to Balans for a night of girly gossip, delicious cocktails and yummy food. Balans is situated on the Southern Terrace and is beautiful and slick inside, the dark wood gives a minimalist feel while the outdoor terrace area is perfect for alfresco dining in summer. Described as “modern European”, the menu had plenty of tempting dishes.

It actually took us so long to pick what we wanted to eat that we got through two bread baskets as we perused the menu! Highly impressed by the super soft, warm bread, we were eagerly anticipating our meals. I went for chicken gyoza to start followed by Thai red curry with rice for my main and it was scrumptious. The gyoza was probably the most delicious I’ve had and the Thai red curry was spicy but super flavourful. The girls were equally impressed, I think the only time we were actually quiet was when we were eating! As I was still suffering from tonsillitis, I was on fresh mint tea which was just what the doctor ordered, while the other girls indulged in some rather impressive cocktails.


 Oh and there were the desserts. Hello, thin apple tart. The name really, really does not do this culinary masterpiece justice. All I will say is that it comes with salted caramel icecream, and yes it really is as good as it sounds! In fact, I had such a great experience I returned less than a week later and had another superb experience.



If you haven’t experienced a girly night out at Westfield yet, you really should, I can’t recommend it highly enough. There are so many restaurants to choose from (go to Balans) and both the tube and overground are super close by. If you’re a driver like me, definitely take advantage of the valet service – by the time I’d finished my meal, my car was sparkly clean and ready for me to collect. Perfect.
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