Villagers in Brixton…

Brixton is a part of London I am going to be really sad to say goodbye to. After working here for the year and having many lovely coffees, lunches and wanders around the village it feels lie an extension of home. I simply love the colour and vibrancy that is a permanent fixture in these market rows.

So….tonight Nick and I took the train over to the village and prepared ourselves for an evening of indulgence and tasting - we made a very concerted effort to get around as many little restaurants as possible…

Nick couldn’t say no to a fresh taco to start. Especially for a pound…

The taco and the taco man :)

Oh wow. I think I found a piece of furniture I simply MUST purchase….Let there be light in my home :)

The very famous and ever popular Honest Burgers

…and the tempting Mama Lan

We then wandered across to Market Row…

An obligatory photo outside my favourite little lunch spot…Rosie’s Cafe…

And we kept up the Mexican theme stopping in at Casa Morita

Salt for the salt girl :)

Traditional UK-style guacamole…

After our Mexican fix we wandered straight across the row and dived right into Bukowski…time for ribs and American fun :)

You know you’re in America when you see bottomless filter coffee on the menu…

Margaritas and sauce :)

This coleslaw was delicious!

And you can’t fault proper ribs…

..or crayfish and prawn popcorn…

We got messy…

…and got silly :)

For our dinner proper we had a booking at Cornercopia

Delicious pea mint and lemon bruschetta…

…and a terrine of pork, prune and pistachio…

Woops. Double dipping…

And as if there was any room left (which there wasn’t)….we squeezed in gelato from Lab G…

…I mean, it would have been rude not to :)

Deliciously buried at the Ledbury…

Aren’t birthdays fabulous? 

In opinion if you have to age you might as well age well and ….well, that’s what we did this week when Nick treated us to dinner at the magnificent Ledbury

Warm bread…the perfect pre-dinner treat. Especially when there is a lot of it…

They even had cheese, bacon and onion mini pinwheels…

And a splash of champagne to start us off :)

Ceviche of hand dived scallops with Kabu turnips and frozen English wasabi…

Check out this fabulous spoon…

Flame grilled mackerel with avocado, celtic mustard and shiso…

Hampshire buffalo milk curd with Saint-Nectaire truffle toast and a broth of grilled onions…

This bread was sitting on a bed of rosemary and is apparently straight from Poilane

Salmon with fennel and elderflower…

What on earth is this table decoration??

Jowl and cheek of pork with scorched pear, celeriac, fresh and dried dandellon…

Fillet of roe deer with red leaves and vegetables, cherries and bone marrow…

I love this - one giant potato gratin chip!

For a pre-dessert we had a deconstructed meringue…

What a gorgeous little treat :)

Parfait of dried flowers with gariguette and wild strawberries, white chocolate and warm tapioca with vanilla…

And this is what the bill at the Ledbury comes out on a tray of…

And yes…I made every effort to eat the chocolate bark :)

Birthday love…

Well it’s the second week of July which means one main thing…it’s my birthday week! 

We kicked off celebrations with a cute Monday night dinner at Pho in Soho…

Followed by yummy dessert at Princi. I opted for finally trying their signature passionfruit cheesecake - justified as my first (of hopefully many) birthday “cakes” :)

I got the most beautiful Fortnum & Mason chocolate truffles from Emily…

…and a bunch of sugar-sweet smelling peones :)

I couldn’t resist getting started…

I love my friends. Feeling so spoilt with stunning cards…

…and an incredible Columbia Road flower markets print!!

So…first of all I gave into temptation and opened my presents from home…


And then along came a rather luscious looking yellow bag. I’m liking this…

After opening my card…

…I peered inside…

But was only allowed a couple as it wasn’t really my birthday yet…

I’m loving this!!

And the perfect follow on from my cooking class!

Macaroons for Kimberly…

…and macaroons for Nicholas…

On my actual birthday I was spoilt with a birthday lunch at Tapped and Packed in my lunch break from the Tavistock…

Glass jar junkies :)

And in the evening as part of my summer school we were off to the theatre! We were treated to a magical performance of “Long Day’s Journey into Night” at the Apollo Theatre at the West End…

All aboard on the Stockholm waters…

Top three from today:

  • Cinnamon buns for breakfast from Cafe Saturnus. One word? Delicious :)

  • Doing the city boat cruise all around Stockholm’s magnificent waters. I love boat cruises - they really do give you such an excellent perspective and in a city like Stockholm where the water is everything, this is a must :)

  • Exploring the beautiful department store “named after us”. Ok, well not quite - but NK certainly has the most delicious Swedish cakes, an excellent Swedish lolly section and some stunning homeware. I love it.
We started the morning late and leisurely - with a bus ride direct to the heart of bratpack territory…

Cafe Saturnus was a must - it has a reputation for having the best cinnamon buns in Stockholm…

Well…they are looking pretty good!

Cinnamon bun modeling :)

I had an incredible granola parfait…

Nick had a delicious omelette…

Coffees were a must - such cute little cups :)

And across from us lay temptation in the bacon french toast…

…and the classic Swedish hot sandwich…

Alas. It all went :)

After breakfast we took a wander around the gorgeous shops in this part of Stockholm…

We found a very stylish mall…

…and my favourite was the Urban Outfitters (Philadelphian proud!)…which is actually housed in an old cinema!!

Next up was the majestic department store - NK

N and K - the perfect match :)

We went straight to the in-house supermarket. Wow!

I had to buy one of these classic caviar tubes to take back to London and goggle up with my toast :)

I found a pineapple! Great in-joke from the weekend :)

Gurly and Andrew bought us such beautiful glassware for our wedding - and this is where it is from!

Yes, that is a big dog inside the store :)

A fika set!

Before leaving we made sure we had a trip to the cake counter…

We tried two Swedish treats…A Punsch-roll (green one) and a biskvi (the chocolate one)…

I love this! The other name for it is a vaccum cleaner, which not only refers to its appearance but also supposedly because the practice of the pastry baker was that they would collect the crumbs from the day’s cookies for the filling! 

Princely cutlery…

A Swedish sidewalk cafe bar :)

So while the girls went to Zara the boys went to Audi…

And after our shopping it was time for a river cruise…

Our last touristing of the afternoon was spent at the Vasa Museum…an iconic museum for Stockholm…

Wow - what an incredible museum!!

I even fell in love with something in the giftshop…

After the Vasa museum we made our way back to the apartment…via the Central Station..

And just before we left we took a few snaps of the beautiful apartment we had been staying in. Gurly and Andrew have it looking so pretty - seriously like something out of a magazine. And an excellent advert for Ikea…

Great Ikea modeling guys :)

Off to home of the cinnamon bun…

For the entire past year Nick and I have been looking forward to our trip to Sweden to visit Andrew and Gurly. As much as the Swedish winter sounded like an incredible experience…we hung on until summertime to maximise our Stockholm exposure and seek out those long midsummer nights …

Top three from today:

  • Cycling around the beautiful Djurgarden in the mid afternoon hot hot sun

  • Sipping champagne on the rooftop of Sodra Theatre looking out over the most spectacular view of Stockholm

  • Sampling all the delicious Swedish treats and sweet delights at the bakery in Bla Porten  - In other words, having our first “fika” experience :)
But first things first….imagine getting out of bed to be greeted by this! Fresh, dripping, bursting watermelon!! Hello summer :)

Fresh Swedish bread for breakfast…

..with Swedish yoghurt for our cereal…

After breakfast we wandered along the water’s edge…

This is the site of a newly-opened burger restaurant where a restauranteur has recreated all of his favourite burgers from America….awesome!

These are the old Abba studios…Polar Music Studios…now sadly a gym…

…but calling for some Abba dancing nonetheless…

Yep, I had already made a purchase and it wasn’t even morning tea time. I couldn’t resist adding to my kitchen collection courtesy of a very stylish Swedish design shop!

We caught the train to Kristineberg…

…where I started spotting cinnamon buns…

…and summer sales! I love that the Swedish word for sale is Rea….

We decided to make the most of the sunshine and our two feet and walk over to Djurgarden…

…and we picked up freshly roasted chestnuts along the way…

We wandered past the Royal Palace

Looking across to the National Museum

This Swedish bookshop near the Palace looked fantastic!

This is the famous and very beautiful Grand Hotel…where the Nobel prize winners stay each year…

This is looking across to the gardens in Stockholm where the herbs and food for the King and Queen were traditionally grown - the King’s garden :)

I’m loving Swedish food already…

I honestly can’t for the life of me imagine a French person eating this….

I love the look of the little cafes and bars along the water here…

Looking across to Djurgarden…

…and being sneaky snooping around the boats here. Doesn’t it look like the most relaxing place in the world?

Water art :)

Almost at Djurgarden - this is where we hire our bikes later on…

This is the Nordic Museum

But our direction was clear. Straight to Bla Porten for our first experience of fika!

This was such a pretty courtyard. The perfect destination for drinks and sweet treats…

One of Sweden’s specialties - apple pie!

So…needless to say we bought a whole mixture :)

After our indulging it was time to hop on bikes and take a trip around this magnificent island…

I love my TV towers. Always reliably distasteful. You have to love consistency :)

Nick did an amazing job as a photographer on two wheels!

We stopped at our very first hill :) But it was necessary - we were being shown such an idyllic hideaway spot…

…it’s a cute little greenhouse/garden concept where you can come and see the gardening but also buy coffees or bring a picnic. This reminds me of NZ vineyards - it was so pretty!

Post-cycling it was time to treat ourselves to the tram :)

…although I was rather tempted by this poster. Stockholm would be the prettiest place for a half marathon! I would love to run around all of these islands and be so close to the water :)

We were off to wander through Gamla Stan….Stockholm’s “old town”…

On the way however, we spotted a beautiful Swedish wedding :)

Gamla Stan dates back to the 13th century and is so pretty with its classic cobbled streets and alleyways…

Looking across to Sweden’s parliament…

…and looking back to the town hall - where the Nobel Prize Ceremony takes place

This little pub was so tiny - I was far too scared to risk it…

Looking back across the square to the Nobel Museum

I love how the Royals seem to pop up everywhere :)

I am developing quite an appetite for some Toast Skagen!

After we arrived back home we went down to the water for a quick swim to freshen up before dinner.

We also entertained ourselves with my favourite photo competition - one shot each and who can capture the best one…

Nicholas went first…a pretty awesome attempt (I think it’s unfair as he has a longer arm)

Andrew was pretty awesome too!

Andrew was also an awesome sport - helping me out with my poorly aimed effort!

But I think Gurly was the winner as she did a high angle!!

For our pre-dinner drink we were completely spoilt. Andrew and Gurly took us to their secret Stockholm destination - on the rooftop of Sodra Theatre!

Shhh…don’t tell anyone. Not many people know about this spot and we like to keep it that way. This view is breathtaking!

And what is more incredible than that? A bucket of champagne? Ok…why not :)

Oooh and just when I thought things couldn’t get better…then there was the sweet and sour mixed nuts….!

After our rooftop delight we were off to dinner - at Sjogras!

Butter on a stone :)

Candles on garlic :)

Red wine in pregnant glasses :)

Bread in a box :)

Bread in my hands :)

Butter on bread :)

(And salt on the butter)

For dessert we continued to indulge. Gurly went for the rum and chocolate platter…

…while we went for the creme caramel in a jar. I think I simply love anything that comes in a glass jar…

Swedish coffees too…

…and see - cute cute cute little milk jars!

After dinner we ended up at yet another bar in the sky! I love this…

We even had a view out towards the famous Swedish golf ball Globen stadium :)

And what better way to end a wonderful day in Stockholm? With salted licorice from the vending machine at the train station… 

It’s like Swedish pie time :)

Poetry takeaways and eggs and soldiers…

Top three from today:

  • Discovering eggs and marmite soldiers for breakfast

  • Indulging in poetry takeaways on the South Bank - ie having a talented UK poet whip me up a poem about my day in half an hour while I lounged around in the sun next to the water. Fabulous :)

  • Making London small by bumping into Kerryanne and Brody while enjoying a drink at our favourite Soho bar. Gotta love that village feel :) 

We started our day with a bike ride up to Hampstead Heath to hunt out a cafe we had been meaning to try….Ginger and White. Well, it seems with white in the name it was only fair to start with a flat white…

For our breakfast we indulged in a childhood romance of eggs and soldiers…

Too cute with its bobbly hat!

The English have marmite and Gentlemen’s Relish on their soldiers. Never one to say no to something new, I gave both a try!

…and the marmite was a clear winner! And this is English marmite too - I will definitely be splurging on a jar of this to bring back home…

A hop skip and a jump up the hill brought us to Hampstead Heath with its cute lanes, shops and ice cream shops. We bought a cute brass antique doorknocker and a nutcracker and…

…a tiny little cone of espresso gelato. Perfect :)

I wanted to whisk this boy away and bring him home with me :)

I found an ideal job for dad - check out this work-life balance!

On our walk from Hampstead Heath to Belsize Park and on to Camden and Primrose Hill…we also stumbled across a summer wedding…

…we couldn’t resist stopping for a peek :)

We also found the Royal Free!

And when we got to Camden Lock we listened to some fabulous buskers on the bridge before popping down below…

…straight into Primrose Bakery :)

The rose cupcakes were absolutely beautiful! And how fabulous to discover afghans!

Across the road there was a whole lot more temptation…with Melrose & Morgan….a Primrose Hill delicatessen…with battenberg cake!

We also found a cute supply of (London’s most expensive??) scotch eggs - just for you dad!

…and how about a 17 pound cottage pie?

So…we settled for a sugar brioche and sat on the perch in the sunshine to enjoy it :)

After our sugar hits we wandered back to the high street in Primrose Hill to window shop. My favourite little shop was Mary’s Living & Giving - a charity shop with a fabulous edge of style and creativity!

After wandering around the “hill” we then made our way back to Regent’s Park…ready for some park photos in the sun…

…including Nick’s favourite chinese restaurant (on a boat in the canal!)

…and then we cycled right across town and down Regent Street and through Soho to get to the Southbank…

We made it just in time to place our order at the Poetry Takeaway pop up store!!

It is fair to say that I have been excited about this ever since reading about it last summer!

So…I placed my “order” with the chef and was told to come back in half an hour…

The Southbank was the perfect spot for a sunny Saturday afternoon stroll…

…and after half an hour we returned to be given our takeaways - complete with a performance by the poet himself!

And in a gorgeous little keepsake envelope to keep forever :)

I love poetry :) A very happy chappy :)

I also love this playground we discovered next! A coloured rainbow sandpit that gets mixed up by all the children playing and having fun!

Next up was the South Bank Book Market - right underneath Waterloo Bridge…

And after all of that riding, poetry gobbling and book oggling…it was time for a sit down and a cold drink at the Propstore!

The Propstore is the National Theatre’s unique pop-up riverfront bar…

…it has excellent boxes of hot chips :)

…and it’s not just for the stylish and the hip…apparently very large dogs also enjoy this bar! 

So after a lovely relaxing rest we were then off on our bikes again - this time cycling back to Soho to stop in for a drink before dinner at the French House!

And how fantastic is this…we spotted Kerryanne and Brody wandering past and were able to enjoy a sneaky glass of champagne and a catch up - just to end the perfect day

Ok…actually that’s a lie as the actual ending consisted of yummy burritos (from Benito’s Hat) in bed while watching Rocky on DVD :)

A little bit more of a rather good thing…

As usual I’ve been quite snap-happy these past few weeks. It’s a hard thing approaching yet another ending and transition and it’s safe to say we are certainly going to miss our London home. So as the weeks draw nearer to a close, here are a few pictures of what we have been up to…

First up - we got down to business in the kitchen! 

To kick off July Emily and I treated ourselves to some culinary up-skilling courtesy of the L’atelier des Chefs cookery school! We took the plunge and dived straight into the art of perfecting macaroons…which was a fabulous afternoon class taught in Marylebone by a wonderful chef - who is actually a kiwi!

We got creative with colours and flavours and made literally hundreds…

…which thankfully meant plenty to take home as well :)

My favourite was definitely the salted caramel macaroon. In fact, I seem to recall Emily and I spent most of the last part of our class just standing around piping salted caramel filling into our mouths….mmm!

Another lunch date with Nicholas - this time at Foxcroft & Ginger on Berwick Street in Soho…

It was 4th July so I guess it was only fair for Nick to have a burger for lunch :)

And during my summer school at the Tavistock we managed to venture down to Store Street to check out the pretty shops and street….We squeezed in enough time for a sidewalk sandwich from Store Street Espresso. This place is fabulous … AND the sandwich literally tastes like a cheeseburger. What could be better?

And to end a long week the other day we met for a quick reboot at Tapa Room on the High Street. Time for a gossip, a chat, a relax and…a long black and fresh mint tea…

Tiffany blue tea cups almost make up for the rainy drizzle outside. Almost.

Oh and I did a little shoe shopping!!

Some pretty pink patents from Kurt Geiger

…and how could I leave these mauve suedes behind?

And just this week we also ventured out to Dalston to support a wonderful cause…The inaugural pub quiz for Sarah and Bevan’s charity - “A Little"…

The quiz masters in action!

…and our team…doing surprisingly ok!

…We were a fair bit behind the winners though…

After the quiz I couldn’t resist jumping off the bus a little early and treating Nick to the Ottolenghi dessert experience in Angel. I just simply love this place. I have been here two weeks in a row now - thanks to Amber for introducing me. Thank you especially for not having done this earlier….it could have been dangerous knowing just how amazing this restaurant is!

This time we tried their signature passionfruit meringue pie…

…and the chocolate caramel tart…

Pollen Street Social…

Tonight Nicholas and I went on a little adventure to the fabulous Pollen Street Social. For those of you in the know, you know what I mean :) For those of you who have never heard of this establishment…I hope you’re hungry…read on :)

Pollen Street Social is famous for having one of the most hyped launches in 2011…

Head chef Jason Atherton was at Maze before PSS and is also renowned as the first British chef to work at El Bulli, the high temple of molecular gastronomy. This is his latest venture in London and his first restaurant without his former partner-in-crime Gordon Ramsay. It turns out that Pollen Street Social is also famous for housing London’s first dessert bar, seating just six. This becomes important later on…just you watch :)

Me, my hundred and one dalmatians and my boy started the evening with a delicious glass of champagne. I love Fridays :)

Salted Sicilian olives. Do I need to say any more?

Oh woops! I forgot to take a picture of the salted butter…

…because it all ended up far too quickly on here…

Life is all about the accessories…like beautiful steak knives…

…and hugely oversized red wine glasses :)

For my dinner I opted for the fish. It was a beautiful fat roasted red mullet with Spanish prawn rice, cockles and samphire…

While Nick opted for the rack of salt marsh lamb, braised shoulder and creamed spiced aubergine with a savory and black olive reduction…

I especially loved how my saucepan of prawn price was presented as a little something extra…

So so so delicious :)

When it came time for dessert we were invited to sit at the Dessert Bar! Not really knowing what this meant we said “Sure, why not!”…

I mean, that PBJ dessert sounds pretty incredible…

Turns out however…the dessert bar is the best seat in the house! Where you get to watch the chefs in the kitchen…while also sitting at the very bar where all of the desserts are prepared. We became rather good friends with the two lovely pastry chefs!

Turns out becoming friends had excellent benefits. They kept slipping us irresistable, delectable desserts….mmm!

I kid you not -this passionfruit sorbet tasted exactly like passionfruit but without the seeds. It was mouth-watering…

Here comes our PBJ dessert…we watched it get put together…

…and then we watched it disappear :)

Espressos at Pollen Street Social come with the perfect condiments…

Namely - macaroons from the macaroon “cupboard”..

…and tiny little Financiers :)

We watched as every single dish prepared for the restaurant was taken into the kitchen and checked by the Head Chef…

And then at midnight when the last dish went out we watched the lightning speed with which the chefs suddenly switched into cleaners and scrubbed every single wall, bench, table and floor!

Oh Pollen Street Social - you are simply marvelous :)

Sunny shores in Shoreditch…

We started off with a quick stop in at the Tavistock Centre on Warren Street…to pick up some pre-reading materials for my summer school next week. Exciting!

We then headed straight to Liverpool Street…such a beautiful station and spot :)

We wandered across the streets towards Shoreditch High Street…

Past the Tea Building

The Tea Building is a signature landmark for Shoreditch. It was originally built as a bacon factory for Allied Foods’ Lipton brand in the early 1930’s and is full of original features…

It is owned by Derwent London and home to a busy community of marketing agencies, media companies, fashion brands, retailers and artists…as well as the Pizza East restaurant right on the corner entrance!

We also checked out Hackney House - the hub for Tech City

…and some obligatory Banksy on Rivington…

For lunch we passed by Franco’s which was looking rather popular…

…but opted instead for Fix 126

…some great lunchtime reading materials :)

I fell in love with the Paper Dress Vintage store! They are open in the evenings for TV screenings and you can eat cake and sip coffee and tip (and cocktails!) while enjoying your vintage shopping!

It seems we hit Shoreditch on a hot fashion day - there were a lot of fashion shoots happening in the alleyways…

We popped into one of our favourites - Boxpark

…the East London pop up shopping mall made out of old railway bridges and containers!

..more fashion shoots…

Don’t mind if I do…free frozen yoghurt samples from Frae Frozen Yoghurt...

I love this store! Everyone needs a OnePiece

I also rather love Phaidon as this shelf display was pretty much made just for me :)

We wandered on from Boxpark past Shoreditch Junk - which is a cute little junk store where you can eat lunch and sweet treats (and buy fabulous furniture through pure temptation)…

…and then on to Brick Lane for more window shopping and checking out the Old Truman Brewery…I love this building on Brick Lane…

Finally we reached Old Spitalfields Market and I just love peering into this store of pampering…it’s such a fabulous idea :)

I couldn’t resist a bit of Poole pottery…

Yankee Doodle came to Marylebone…

Well today is 4th July - and that makes it Independence Day!

I guess it’s fairly accurate to say that any excuse for Nick and I to reminisce over America, pretend we are in New York, eat burgers and drink cocktails…is one we want to take up! So today was a special day as we decided to stick true to our love of 4th July and dine in American bliss at Meat Liquor. So it was all about the denim, the sneakers, the queuing, the drinking in the queue and then…oh wow…the burgers and fries. My oh my…

So first up - there is that infamous Meat Liquor queue. But the way around this is to remind yourself - “If you’ve done it once before, you can do it again”. That and to also bring your work to do in the queue while you wait the 1-2 hours…

So basically to begin with there was one in the queue…

…and then a little while later there were two…

This was a nice addition as it also brought along a few drinks to spice up the wait!

It wouldn’t be American if we didn’t have refreshments in the queue. Everyone was having a great time outside bonding over their wait and reminiscing over America :)

This was made even better when the wait staff brought out food for us to enjoy while we were waiting! I love it!

Deep fried pickles - Meat Liquor’s signature :)

Once inside we settled in at the bar while waiting for our table…You have to remember this place is fabulous largely because it’s an old underground carpark. The interior is classic!

My favourite is the no ballet pumps. Good thing I opted for my American sneakers :)

So as I have mentioned before, it’s all rather simple in here. First you have the meat…

…and then you have the liquor. Preferably together :)

And the liquor comes in jam jars. Brilliant :)

I wouldn’t be American without my dash of Tiffany :)

Any burger joint that comes with compulsory paper towels is my kind of place…

So to start we always get the same thing. Chili cheese fries…and wings. American size :)

I seem to recall it being healthy to eat meals with lots of bright colours on your plate? :)

Ready for the sticky fingers…Bring it on :)

And then we got down to business with the green chili cheeseburger. The waiter was amazed we ordered more after our first round. I guess they learned their lesson…never underestimate Nicholas and Kimberly in a burger joint :)

That’s some serious insides :)

Always equipped with my paper towel…

And just like that - it was done! Happy Independence Day :)