Thursday, 28 February 2013

Books in the City...

I have many favourites in New York, but this place stole my heart 15 years ago and still holds it now. It is the New York Library. Beautiful architecture, stunning decor and Books to drool over this has all my favourites in one building sitting in the middle of New York City... It couldn't be more perfect.
On every visit as I climb the steps ( guarded by the iconic marble Lions Patience and Fortitude)my heart beats a little faster as I know what I will see as I enter.... A grand hallway flanked either side by two marble stairways ( now iconically famous for Carrie fleeing her aborted wedding to Big in Sex & the City) and then room after room of books...
As you wander from room to from its hard to believe that this is a working library.... even with the introduction of wifi, PC's and laptops it doesn't distract you from the stunning decor and classic bookshelves.
As you can see from the photos the building was elegantly and aesthetically styled for the holiday season, it bought comfort and cheer to an overcast drizzly morning in New York.
This is a must for any book lover on a visit to New York, you will not be disappointed. Situated just around the corner from Grand Central Station, in front of Bryant Park it's a fashionistas must venue at New York fashion week... VB using it to showcase her collection for the past 2 fashion weeks... A "must visit" for the book reading fashionista sex & the city girl...

Sunday, 24 February 2013

The magic of NY...

I can't describe to you the magic of New York, especially on the build up to Christmas. It's like every Christmas movie rolled into one... Salvation army Bell ringers on the sidewalk, chestnut and pretzels roasting, Ice skating in the park, and stores dressed to their best....
Just round the corner from my hotel was Bloomingdales otherwise affectionately known as Bloomies the home of the little brown bag!.. Their Holiday Lane is always worth a trip... This year didn't disappoint, I loved the Peppermint themed tree along with the New Yorker...

Just along from Bloomies is another of my favourites, the Container store on 3rd avenue ... It's is the mecca for any gift wrapping fan, so many luscious things under one roof, it has been my downfall on many a visit!
Along with the stores you can't help but fall in love with the side streets and the simple but elegant way New Yorkers dress their homes... A wreath and red ribbon really sum up the New York style, often sold on most street corners along with trees of all shapes and sizes...
As night falls in New York the Christmas magic really comes alive, not more so than in the block that houses the Christmas tree at the Rockefeller centre. Standing proud in the shadow of the Rockefeller the tree is lit with 1000's of twinkling primary coloured lights. The tree forms the centrepiece overlooking the ice rink which is full from morning to night with budding skaters.
Opposite the entrance to the Rockefeller centre is the department store Saks... Every year Saks features a music and a light show on the side of its building, this culminating in Happy Holidays being scribed in lights on the side Here is the beautiful sound & light show from Saks 2012
At the other end of the block is Radio City musical hall, home of the Rockettes and the magic that is the Christmas show.. Fun, frills and high kicks from start to finish.. Opposite radio city along avenue 
of Americas (6th) are the huge red baubles, as seen in many Christmas movie...
Magical and exciting... The perfect build up to Christmas... 

February's forays ...

Before February passes us in a flash, though I would share with you some of my forays in London during the month. I've managed to grab a few hours away from my desk and enjoyed a couple of evenings out and a day with friends.
February was filled with fashion, food & catching up with friends and a little bit of Bond.
Spent a great evening at Patty & Bun followed by an evening watching Kiss me Kate, ( found here  Bard & Burgers ) Had a fashionistas evening gazing at the craftsmanship of Valentino ( Visionary masterpiece here ) and a day in Borough Market ... filled with Food, friends, Coffee, at Monmouth and Lunch at Roast.
February was also filled with pancakes, coffee and bagels.... Perfect happy food for long cold winter days!... This along with the release of Skyfall makes perfect Sunday brunch eating and sofa viewing. Also spent a quick hour catching up over coffee with Kelly, it's ages since we caught up and it was great to see her and congratulate her in person on the news that Sophie is to become a big sister, baby Allen due early August... Very happy for them all x
Hope you all have a lovely lazy Sunday
.... Enjoy x

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Food & Friends ... Lunch

When I touted the idea of lunch in London to celebrate her birthday, Roast was one of the top choices. Combined with great food and a trip to the market this was the perfect choice. Roast  sits above the market with panoramic views across to St Paul's on one side and the market below.
Roast specialises in a British menu, showcasing the best of  seasonal British food... Lunch choice for me was Isle of man scallops, Slow roasted pork belly and Apple crumble... The scallops tasted as though they had just been pulled from the sea, the pork belly just melted in the mouth and the apple crumble  was a combination of sharp and sweet with crunchy crisp topping ... Delicious. 
We had a long leisurely lunch, caught up on lots had equally as many laughs as well as great food. It was a long time since I'd seen K&B,  a much overdue catch-up. Roast is a great place for a leisurely lunch, business breakfast or Sunday lunch... Perfect for all occasions...

Food & friends ... Coffee

A trip to Borough Market is not complete without a visit to Monmouth coffee house. Fortunately on my recent the visit the queue was manageable ... On Saturdays it's been known to snake down the street.
The team that work here are sommeliers of the coffee world and regardless of the length of the queue will spend time with each customer advising on what bean is the best to suit their requirements.
The coffee is delicious and worth waiting for ...
I wish I could insert a scratch & snif page to this blog for me to share the amazing smells of this coffee house, my mouth is watering with just the thought.... I am a coffee girl and this place is my idea of heaven!


Food & Friends

Last Friday I arranged to meet friends at Borough Market and then lunch at Roast restaurant, to celebrate my oldest friends birthday. The day was cold with bright blue skies... Perfect for playing around my camera and grabbing some shots of The market, and it's surrounding area... Including the new king of the London skyline The Shard. ( only from ground level!)
The market was busy, but not so bad that you couldn't move down the aisles. I love the mix of old and new around the area and armed with camera went on a foray before meeting up with friends.  Here are a few collages of some pictures snapped.
I really liked the umbrellas which I snapped down an alley which housed a couple of restaurants and bars. As well as capturing the first signs if spring and a little colour I experimented with some black & white shots.



A visionary masterpiece...

Is how I would describe the breathtaking exhibition of the Master that is Valentino. Beautifully showcased at Somerset House, I can understand how and why the tickets have been as sought after as a golden ticket. (More details here )
Grabbing one of the Thursday evening slots I rushed across to the embankment to see this sell out show.
As you enter you are met with a timeline of the rise of the Valentino brand, and showcased in glass cases are Valentino memorabilia from and to famous personal that Valentino has dressed. This leads you to a glass spiral staircase which leads you to the big show. A long catwalkesque carpet flanked each side by sitting and standing mannequins as the audience all dressed in Valentino. Staged by colour palettes with a mixture of eras it is simply breathtaking, including Julia Roberts black & white gown worn at the Oscars.
The detailing and workmanship is exquisite, you truly begin to understand why such gowns demand such a high fee. The exhibition culminates as every haute couture catwalk show does, with the showstopper wedding dress. 
This show is only on until the 3rd March, if you can beg, borrow or steal a ticket for this in the next week, you will not be disappointed... Simply stunning... A true master of his craft. 

Friday, 22 February 2013

Bard & Burgers...

A couple of Fridays ago I had managed to secure a ticket to the critically acclaimed  Kiss me Kate at the 'Old Vic'... With a couple of hours to fill, my other must for the evening was to grab a burger at the recently opened and Time Out featured "Patty & Bun" .Patty & Bun is a tiny restaurant a stones throw from work and after my first visit I am confident this won't be my last.
The ambiance has a real old school feel, with wooden tables & chairs and lots of brown Kraft paper! The burger was delicious, melt in the mouth perfect accompanied with rosemary salted fries.
As I ate the queue outside was building,  but there was no pressure from the servers for you to hurry which I really liked. Fab atmosphere, delicious food, definitely worth queueing for.

After some fab food, I jumped on the jubilee line to Waterloo for an evening on entertainment at the Old Vic. The theatre was beautifully lit in red, which brightened a cold wet evening.
Those that aren't familiar with the story of Kiss me Kate, it centres around a touring theatre cast who are staging Shakespeare 's Taming of the Shrew.  The theatre casts personal lives are complicated with the lead characters in the play a waring divorced couple. The play is full of fun, dance and theatre entwined with the culture of the Bard!... and the eye candy of Adam Garcia... a great night out.


Monday, 18 February 2013

Bond at Bond street

My commute over the past 10 days has been a little brighter than normal.... Why I here you ask?.. Because Bond Street station has become "Bond" street literally ... All entrances and escalators a platform for the DVD release of Skyfall....
Skyfall releases today and it will of course be coming home with me.
I've waxed lyrically here about this movie since its release last year and I can't wait to get a copy for keeps!... 

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Red velvet waffles...

There are a few places that are on my repeat list when in New York... Sweet Revenge is one of them. Situated in Carmine street in the West Village, Sweet Revenge is perfect for breakfast, brunch and beers!... All this and and cupcakes, could it get any better?
My first visit detailed Here was for lunch and cupcakes, which was yummy. This visit would encompass breakfast Sweet Revenge style..... Red Velvet waffles with fruit, salted caramel cream cheese and raspberry coulis... and coffee new york style... When I saw Red velvet waffles being tweeted and on the menu at Sweet revenge I knew that they were definitely going on my "To Eat" list when in New York. They were great, perfect for the holiday season.

On both visits, the service and food have been fantastic. This place has a great vibe and is must for any foodie visiting New York. I left armed with an Egg-nog cupcake for treats later, which was amazing...

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

A pool of memories

15 years ago on a decadent trip to New York, my friend and I dined at the Windows of the World restaurant. Windows was 107 floors above the financial district streets of New York at the top of the North tower of the World Trade centre. 10 months before the towers fell I spent another evening dining in the clouds celebrating Thanksgiving with friends. The two towers hold a special place in my heart. Every year that I have returned since I've always visited the site to pay my respects. 
This time I booked to visit the memorial gardens, which opened last year on the towers 10th anniversary. 
Access to the grounds is timed and ticketed this allows numbers to be controlled and to manage the number of security checks to take place before entry. Construction still surrounds the area, but the peace an tranquility that these gardens bring is really surprising. The two memorial infinity pools are in the shadows of the new One World Trade centre. On completion this will be New Yorks highest tower. 
The 9/11 memorial has been built with empathy and is a beautiful tribute to the two towers and the 3,000 people that perished on that day. The memorial covers just over an acre and the two infinity pools are tranquil and soothing. 
I can't describe the emotion that I felt as I stood by the pools and read the names engraved around each of them.  I hope that the families of those lost find comfort in this space, it will serve as a lifelong memorial, through rain, sun and snow.
The 9/11 memorial ticket office holds several small exhibits from the rescue and recovery mission, including a pair of police officers gloves with the words Thankyou written on them... A small gesture that means so much.... 
Entry to the memorial garden is free with optional donation.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Italy in New York

New York has never been without its Italian influences and I was determined on this visit that I would seek one of them out. That one being the gastronomical delight of  Eataly  i discovered Eataly when I was in Italy a couple of years ago and was looking to visiting the site in New York. Eatalys concept is of an Italian marketplace filled with food delights with restaurants nestled amongst the Italian wares.
Eataly is located on 5th avenue opposite Madison square park and the Flaitron building.
Entering what appears to be a small coffee shop, you are soon met not only by the most amazing smells but a cavernous space filled with the hustle and bustle of a market. I spent ages just wandering around gazing at all the sights, I was transfixed by the two ladies hand rolling the hundreds of pieces of pasta. Eataly really captures the essence and feel of the Italian food markets.
As well as offering food to go, and to eat in, Eataly also offers a cooking school. Alas there was no time for this on this visit but I will definitely seek this out  the next time I go.  I really liked Eataly, it captures two of my favourite areas in one New York & Italy... Yum 



Thursday, 7 February 2013

New York at Night ..

New York certainly lives up to its reputation of the city that never sleeps. As the sun sets the city comes alive with lights and nowhere is more prolific than the bright lights of Broadway. Broadway crosses diagonally through Times Square, which is filled with bill boards and animated lights showcasing the latest movies, adverts and theatrical offerings, you really do feel like you are standing in the middle of a movie.

As you can see whilst I was there,  Homeland, Les Miserables and The Arrow (featuring the delicious Henry Cavill) where highlights in Times Square.
I usually try to book a theatre event prior to any visit to NY and this time I booked for the Wednesday night to see The Heiress . Starring Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens and Zero Dark Thirty's Jessica Chastain . I enjoyed the play, it was a little hard going in places but Showcased the small ensembles talents considerably.

Day or night Times square is always a thronged with tourists which has become easier over the last few years since they pedestrianised half of the area, it has lots of family friendly places to visit, including a 5 story M&M mecca and Hershey store, along with a huge Toys-r-us complete with indoor ferris wheel.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Top of the Rock ..

Another of my favourite tourist sites in New York is the Rockefeller centre and the view from the Top of the Rock. The Top, which is 850ft above street level can be accessed in a super sonic lift in 60 seconds!.... ( not for the feint hearted, but the view out ways any vertigo phobics!)
What I love about this space is the stunning view onto the Empire State Building, which is the icon of New York. This venue opens very early until late so you can enjoy panoramic views of the city from dawn until dusk and beyond.
Across my visits I have sat and watched the sun rise over the city from here, and see the skyline alive with twinkling lights at night.... It is a magical place. With the vintage style view finders you do feel like you could be back in the era of Mad Men!.. At the time is was there you could down onto Times square and the countdown to New Years eve and the iconic silver ball, ready to drop as the clock struck midnight.
During December the Rockefeller comes alive with the sound of bells, dotted around the circumference of the centre are all the salvation army personel who sing and dance in all weathers collecting for their charity. This just adds to the Christmas spirit as people gaze in wonder at the tree twinkling with 1000's of lights and watch the skaters glide round the Rockefeller rink.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

A walk in the park!

During my week in New York it was not without a little drama, some of it involving men in uniform!... ( alas no Navy boys but the NYFD and NYPD!) and a little brush with a news crew!
Early on the Wednesday morning I crossed across the park heading up towards the Upper West side. I was on route to Michaels & TJMaxx home store (great for craft and home bargains) The sun was shinning and it felt like an autumn day instead of a day early in December!
 As I strolled through the park, getting nearer to me exit it was evident that something was happening as there where a large number of police about. Many years ago Central Park had a reputation for
being a dangerous place to be, especially after dark and away from the tourist sites, ( and watching too many CSI New York and Law & Order!) Over the last 15 years it has become one of the most popular and safest places to be and I have never felt unsafe in all the times that I have spent walking through its many avenues and forests.
Due to the volume of yellow Police Do Not Cross tape which was about, I had inadvertently stumbled on a crime scene!

What amazed me was with all the police activity going on, people were still going about their daily habits, walking their dog, chatting in the children's playgroud, and laughing over a latte. As I exited on 103rd street I was approached by a reporter and camera crew from Eyewitness news. I was asked if I was a resident, what had I seen and did I feel safe. Apparently a domestic situation had arisen between a man and a women, the female had been stabbed in front of their son and the man then went on the run in the park!... Alas I didn't make the news, Here's  the clip from the evenings news! the man was captured, the female was transported to hospital with her son with minor injuries. Just a normal walk through the park!

The names Smith!

One of the most common names in the Uk has transcended across the Pond into one of the best eateries that I have dined in, whilst in New York. Sited a short walk from my hotel I discovered this restaurant by chance and so glad that did. From its white tiled front, to its wooden tables and open steel interior it has a great warehouse urban feel to it. The bar was fabulous, like something out of an old 50's movie.
I started with Calamari (brooklyn style) which came with a spicy sauce and delicious, followed by a NY steak salad, which just melted in the mouth. Finished off with a beer it was a perfect supper.
My second visit was for breakfast on my last morning in New York. This time I opted for Eggs benedict, coffee & grapefruit juice which was perfect. There was a real mix of people in for
breakfast from city gents, to nannies that brunch!... With all the white tiles and the light airy windows the space was filled with sunshine on a cold winter morning.
The staff were warm & friendly which is great when you are dining on your own, I was able to sit and people watch and read my kindle, without feeling conscious dining for one. There are three SmithNYC restaurants  in New York, if the other 2 are as good as the one I dined in in the East village then you are in for a treat.... My only regret is that I didn't have room for the S'mores in a jar dessert.... Mmmm maybe next time!

Bouchon Bakery

During my recent trip to NY I had a number of "cake" related things to do and places to go. One of these included a visit to Bouchon Bakery part of the Thomas Keller group... World famous for his French Laundry restaurant in California. Bouchon has two sites in New York, a small take out bakery in Rockefeller Plaza and then a larger eatery on the 3rd floor of the Time Warner Plaza at Columbus Circle. Both sites are great locations and on both visits were a hive of activity.
At The Rockefeller plaza I grabbed a coffee & Danish to go which was melt in the mouth delicious. At the Time Warner I sat and enjoyed the view over Central Park sipping coffee and a nibbling on a couple of festive macarons.
I loved both venues, but think the little busy bakery at the Rockefeller was my favourite. If I worked in New York it would be a struggle not to be in there daily! This is must visit venue for foodie fans.
After my afternoon treat in Time Warner it was time to enjoy a stroll through the holiday market on
the corner of the park... It certainly felt that the holidays were coming!

On my return to London I raved so much about the bakery, Santa must have heard as it fell into my stocking at Christmas!... Now I can have Bouchon at home too.... Mmm

Saturday, 2 February 2013

100 years Grand

One of my favourite buildings in NY is the stunningly beautiful Grand Central Station. This Grand old dame of the city turns 100 today. It's hard to put into words just how stunning this building is, nothing prepares you on your first visit the wonder it brings as you walk into the main concourse. There is nothing in London which comes close to this majestic building.
I arrived just before 7am and sat on the steps with a coffee and watched the city and station come to life. The commuters passed through it as part of their daily hustle and bustle of working life. I would be seriously late for work each day if I had to walk through here! Along with the overground, Amtrak and subway services, it also has a great food concourse and several shops. During the month of December it also houses a holiday craft market sited in the area leading onto 42nd street. 

Sited opposite the Grand Central Station on 42nd street under the avenue is Pershing Square, one of my breakfast diners of choice. Breakfasts here are much sort after and is a favourite diner for breakfast business meetings. It reminds me of a very large old style railway carriage. I never go to New York and not get her at least once for A stack of Pancakes, blueberrys, bacon loaded with maple syrup!.... Absolutely yummy!...you must add both of these places to your New York to do list.

Friday, 1 February 2013

On the East side...

This time when I visited the New York I stayed on the East Side of the city.... It was a great location and allowed me to explore lots on foot. A couple of blocks walk east from the hotel down a beautiful brownstone lined street and I was facing the Hudson river. Across the river to the right, and  sited at the Gantry Entry plaza in Queens is the iconic Pepsi Cola sign. This sign features in one of my favourite movies Julie & Julia.  Behind and into the distance is a much more urban and industrial New York, this area has a real retro feel about it.
The sun was setting as I walked through the park area and showcased the bridges and buildings beautifully against the blue sky and river.
To the left is the majestic Queensboro bridge, a double stacked bridge both with 4 lane traffic each way. This is the bridge that you cross on the way in from JFK airport. The bridge spans the Hudson and above Roosevelt island, which is accessible by cable car. One of the best sights as you walk around this area is the famous red cable cars crossing above you and along the bridge to the island. Movie fans will recognise this from the Spiderman movie, when he rescues Mary Jane from the Green Goblin and more recently from the Batman franchise, Dark knight rises. 

I thoroughly enjoyed my stroll along the river I felt very much the New Yorker!


Shake Shack..

As well as places, I have favourite foodie haunts that feature on my New York must list.... Shake Shack is one of these places. There are several located across New York, but my favourite is the original Shack located in Madison Square park ... featured in many movies and tv shows its popularity means that often the queue can snake around the green.

On a beautiful sunny winter afternoon in December I joined the queue for my Shack treat, complete with Eggnog custard shake!... This may be deemed as a fast food joint, but the burgers are delicious, and cooked to your specification finished off in a soft brioche bun... My order was complete with their signature crinkly cheesy fries... Oh my!... 

 Had to walk several blocks to walk that off but it was so worth it!..... Before embarking on my trip, Shake Shack had tweeted their holiday bauble for the Christmas tree, free with every $25 gift card purchase, So I purchase said gift card which I redeemed some of it on my dinner and got  bauble for my tree!....

I've filed the card to redeem when the Shack opens in Covent Garden this spring... I am a little excited to see the best burgers in New York coming to the UK!... There does seem to be a bit of a burger revolution in London at the moment...

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Books in the City...

I have many favourites in New York, but this place stole my heart 15 years ago and still holds it now. It is the New York Library. Beautiful architecture, stunning decor and Books to drool over this has all my favourites in one building sitting in the middle of New York City... It couldn't be more perfect.
On every visit as I climb the steps ( guarded by the iconic marble Lions Patience and Fortitude)my heart beats a little faster as I know what I will see as I enter.... A grand hallway flanked either side by two marble stairways ( now iconically famous for Carrie fleeing her aborted wedding to Big in Sex & the City) and then room after room of books...
As you wander from room to from its hard to believe that this is a working library.... even with the introduction of wifi, PC's and laptops it doesn't distract you from the stunning decor and classic bookshelves.
As you can see from the photos the building was elegantly and aesthetically styled for the holiday season, it bought comfort and cheer to an overcast drizzly morning in New York.
This is a must for any book lover on a visit to New York, you will not be disappointed. Situated just around the corner from Grand Central Station, in front of Bryant Park it's a fashionistas must venue at New York fashion week... VB using it to showcase her collection for the past 2 fashion weeks... A "must visit" for the book reading fashionista sex & the city girl...

Sunday, 24 February 2013

The magic of NY...

I can't describe to you the magic of New York, especially on the build up to Christmas. It's like every Christmas movie rolled into one... Salvation army Bell ringers on the sidewalk, chestnut and pretzels roasting, Ice skating in the park, and stores dressed to their best....
Just round the corner from my hotel was Bloomingdales otherwise affectionately known as Bloomies the home of the little brown bag!.. Their Holiday Lane is always worth a trip... This year didn't disappoint, I loved the Peppermint themed tree along with the New Yorker...

Just along from Bloomies is another of my favourites, the Container store on 3rd avenue ... It's is the mecca for any gift wrapping fan, so many luscious things under one roof, it has been my downfall on many a visit!
Along with the stores you can't help but fall in love with the side streets and the simple but elegant way New Yorkers dress their homes... A wreath and red ribbon really sum up the New York style, often sold on most street corners along with trees of all shapes and sizes...
As night falls in New York the Christmas magic really comes alive, not more so than in the block that houses the Christmas tree at the Rockefeller centre. Standing proud in the shadow of the Rockefeller the tree is lit with 1000's of twinkling primary coloured lights. The tree forms the centrepiece overlooking the ice rink which is full from morning to night with budding skaters.
Opposite the entrance to the Rockefeller centre is the department store Saks... Every year Saks features a music and a light show on the side of its building, this culminating in Happy Holidays being scribed in lights on the side Here is the beautiful sound & light show from Saks 2012
At the other end of the block is Radio City musical hall, home of the Rockettes and the magic that is the Christmas show.. Fun, frills and high kicks from start to finish.. Opposite radio city along avenue 
of Americas (6th) are the huge red baubles, as seen in many Christmas movie...
Magical and exciting... The perfect build up to Christmas... 

February's forays ...

Before February passes us in a flash, though I would share with you some of my forays in London during the month. I've managed to grab a few hours away from my desk and enjoyed a couple of evenings out and a day with friends.
February was filled with fashion, food & catching up with friends and a little bit of Bond.
Spent a great evening at Patty & Bun followed by an evening watching Kiss me Kate, ( found here  Bard & Burgers ) Had a fashionistas evening gazing at the craftsmanship of Valentino ( Visionary masterpiece here ) and a day in Borough Market ... filled with Food, friends, Coffee, at Monmouth and Lunch at Roast.
February was also filled with pancakes, coffee and bagels.... Perfect happy food for long cold winter days!... This along with the release of Skyfall makes perfect Sunday brunch eating and sofa viewing. Also spent a quick hour catching up over coffee with Kelly, it's ages since we caught up and it was great to see her and congratulate her in person on the news that Sophie is to become a big sister, baby Allen due early August... Very happy for them all x
Hope you all have a lovely lazy Sunday
.... Enjoy x

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Food & Friends ... Lunch

When I touted the idea of lunch in London to celebrate her birthday, Roast was one of the top choices. Combined with great food and a trip to the market this was the perfect choice. Roast  sits above the market with panoramic views across to St Paul's on one side and the market below.
Roast specialises in a British menu, showcasing the best of  seasonal British food... Lunch choice for me was Isle of man scallops, Slow roasted pork belly and Apple crumble... The scallops tasted as though they had just been pulled from the sea, the pork belly just melted in the mouth and the apple crumble  was a combination of sharp and sweet with crunchy crisp topping ... Delicious. 
We had a long leisurely lunch, caught up on lots had equally as many laughs as well as great food. It was a long time since I'd seen K&B,  a much overdue catch-up. Roast is a great place for a leisurely lunch, business breakfast or Sunday lunch... Perfect for all occasions...

Food & friends ... Coffee

A trip to Borough Market is not complete without a visit to Monmouth coffee house. Fortunately on my recent the visit the queue was manageable ... On Saturdays it's been known to snake down the street.
The team that work here are sommeliers of the coffee world and regardless of the length of the queue will spend time with each customer advising on what bean is the best to suit their requirements.
The coffee is delicious and worth waiting for ...
I wish I could insert a scratch & snif page to this blog for me to share the amazing smells of this coffee house, my mouth is watering with just the thought.... I am a coffee girl and this place is my idea of heaven!


Food & Friends

Last Friday I arranged to meet friends at Borough Market and then lunch at Roast restaurant, to celebrate my oldest friends birthday. The day was cold with bright blue skies... Perfect for playing around my camera and grabbing some shots of The market, and it's surrounding area... Including the new king of the London skyline The Shard. ( only from ground level!)
The market was busy, but not so bad that you couldn't move down the aisles. I love the mix of old and new around the area and armed with camera went on a foray before meeting up with friends.  Here are a few collages of some pictures snapped.
I really liked the umbrellas which I snapped down an alley which housed a couple of restaurants and bars. As well as capturing the first signs if spring and a little colour I experimented with some black & white shots.



A visionary masterpiece...

Is how I would describe the breathtaking exhibition of the Master that is Valentino. Beautifully showcased at Somerset House, I can understand how and why the tickets have been as sought after as a golden ticket. (More details here )
Grabbing one of the Thursday evening slots I rushed across to the embankment to see this sell out show.
As you enter you are met with a timeline of the rise of the Valentino brand, and showcased in glass cases are Valentino memorabilia from and to famous personal that Valentino has dressed. This leads you to a glass spiral staircase which leads you to the big show. A long catwalkesque carpet flanked each side by sitting and standing mannequins as the audience all dressed in Valentino. Staged by colour palettes with a mixture of eras it is simply breathtaking, including Julia Roberts black & white gown worn at the Oscars.
The detailing and workmanship is exquisite, you truly begin to understand why such gowns demand such a high fee. The exhibition culminates as every haute couture catwalk show does, with the showstopper wedding dress. 
This show is only on until the 3rd March, if you can beg, borrow or steal a ticket for this in the next week, you will not be disappointed... Simply stunning... A true master of his craft. 

Friday, 22 February 2013

Bard & Burgers...

A couple of Fridays ago I had managed to secure a ticket to the critically acclaimed  Kiss me Kate at the 'Old Vic'... With a couple of hours to fill, my other must for the evening was to grab a burger at the recently opened and Time Out featured "Patty & Bun" .Patty & Bun is a tiny restaurant a stones throw from work and after my first visit I am confident this won't be my last.
The ambiance has a real old school feel, with wooden tables & chairs and lots of brown Kraft paper! The burger was delicious, melt in the mouth perfect accompanied with rosemary salted fries.
As I ate the queue outside was building,  but there was no pressure from the servers for you to hurry which I really liked. Fab atmosphere, delicious food, definitely worth queueing for.

After some fab food, I jumped on the jubilee line to Waterloo for an evening on entertainment at the Old Vic. The theatre was beautifully lit in red, which brightened a cold wet evening.
Those that aren't familiar with the story of Kiss me Kate, it centres around a touring theatre cast who are staging Shakespeare 's Taming of the Shrew.  The theatre casts personal lives are complicated with the lead characters in the play a waring divorced couple. The play is full of fun, dance and theatre entwined with the culture of the Bard!... and the eye candy of Adam Garcia... a great night out.


Monday, 18 February 2013

Bond at Bond street

My commute over the past 10 days has been a little brighter than normal.... Why I here you ask?.. Because Bond Street station has become "Bond" street literally ... All entrances and escalators a platform for the DVD release of Skyfall....
Skyfall releases today and it will of course be coming home with me.
I've waxed lyrically here about this movie since its release last year and I can't wait to get a copy for keeps!... 

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Red velvet waffles...

There are a few places that are on my repeat list when in New York... Sweet Revenge is one of them. Situated in Carmine street in the West Village, Sweet Revenge is perfect for breakfast, brunch and beers!... All this and and cupcakes, could it get any better?
My first visit detailed Here was for lunch and cupcakes, which was yummy. This visit would encompass breakfast Sweet Revenge style..... Red Velvet waffles with fruit, salted caramel cream cheese and raspberry coulis... and coffee new york style... When I saw Red velvet waffles being tweeted and on the menu at Sweet revenge I knew that they were definitely going on my "To Eat" list when in New York. They were great, perfect for the holiday season.

On both visits, the service and food have been fantastic. This place has a great vibe and is must for any foodie visiting New York. I left armed with an Egg-nog cupcake for treats later, which was amazing...

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

A pool of memories

15 years ago on a decadent trip to New York, my friend and I dined at the Windows of the World restaurant. Windows was 107 floors above the financial district streets of New York at the top of the North tower of the World Trade centre. 10 months before the towers fell I spent another evening dining in the clouds celebrating Thanksgiving with friends. The two towers hold a special place in my heart. Every year that I have returned since I've always visited the site to pay my respects. 
This time I booked to visit the memorial gardens, which opened last year on the towers 10th anniversary. 
Access to the grounds is timed and ticketed this allows numbers to be controlled and to manage the number of security checks to take place before entry. Construction still surrounds the area, but the peace an tranquility that these gardens bring is really surprising. The two memorial infinity pools are in the shadows of the new One World Trade centre. On completion this will be New Yorks highest tower. 
The 9/11 memorial has been built with empathy and is a beautiful tribute to the two towers and the 3,000 people that perished on that day. The memorial covers just over an acre and the two infinity pools are tranquil and soothing. 
I can't describe the emotion that I felt as I stood by the pools and read the names engraved around each of them.  I hope that the families of those lost find comfort in this space, it will serve as a lifelong memorial, through rain, sun and snow.
The 9/11 memorial ticket office holds several small exhibits from the rescue and recovery mission, including a pair of police officers gloves with the words Thankyou written on them... A small gesture that means so much.... 
Entry to the memorial garden is free with optional donation.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Italy in New York

New York has never been without its Italian influences and I was determined on this visit that I would seek one of them out. That one being the gastronomical delight of  Eataly  i discovered Eataly when I was in Italy a couple of years ago and was looking to visiting the site in New York. Eatalys concept is of an Italian marketplace filled with food delights with restaurants nestled amongst the Italian wares.
Eataly is located on 5th avenue opposite Madison square park and the Flaitron building.
Entering what appears to be a small coffee shop, you are soon met not only by the most amazing smells but a cavernous space filled with the hustle and bustle of a market. I spent ages just wandering around gazing at all the sights, I was transfixed by the two ladies hand rolling the hundreds of pieces of pasta. Eataly really captures the essence and feel of the Italian food markets.
As well as offering food to go, and to eat in, Eataly also offers a cooking school. Alas there was no time for this on this visit but I will definitely seek this out  the next time I go.  I really liked Eataly, it captures two of my favourite areas in one New York & Italy... Yum 



Thursday, 7 February 2013

New York at Night ..

New York certainly lives up to its reputation of the city that never sleeps. As the sun sets the city comes alive with lights and nowhere is more prolific than the bright lights of Broadway. Broadway crosses diagonally through Times Square, which is filled with bill boards and animated lights showcasing the latest movies, adverts and theatrical offerings, you really do feel like you are standing in the middle of a movie.

As you can see whilst I was there,  Homeland, Les Miserables and The Arrow (featuring the delicious Henry Cavill) where highlights in Times Square.
I usually try to book a theatre event prior to any visit to NY and this time I booked for the Wednesday night to see The Heiress . Starring Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens and Zero Dark Thirty's Jessica Chastain . I enjoyed the play, it was a little hard going in places but Showcased the small ensembles talents considerably.

Day or night Times square is always a thronged with tourists which has become easier over the last few years since they pedestrianised half of the area, it has lots of family friendly places to visit, including a 5 story M&M mecca and Hershey store, along with a huge Toys-r-us complete with indoor ferris wheel.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Top of the Rock ..

Another of my favourite tourist sites in New York is the Rockefeller centre and the view from the Top of the Rock. The Top, which is 850ft above street level can be accessed in a super sonic lift in 60 seconds!.... ( not for the feint hearted, but the view out ways any vertigo phobics!)
What I love about this space is the stunning view onto the Empire State Building, which is the icon of New York. This venue opens very early until late so you can enjoy panoramic views of the city from dawn until dusk and beyond.
Across my visits I have sat and watched the sun rise over the city from here, and see the skyline alive with twinkling lights at night.... It is a magical place. With the vintage style view finders you do feel like you could be back in the era of Mad Men!.. At the time is was there you could down onto Times square and the countdown to New Years eve and the iconic silver ball, ready to drop as the clock struck midnight.
During December the Rockefeller comes alive with the sound of bells, dotted around the circumference of the centre are all the salvation army personel who sing and dance in all weathers collecting for their charity. This just adds to the Christmas spirit as people gaze in wonder at the tree twinkling with 1000's of lights and watch the skaters glide round the Rockefeller rink.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

A walk in the park!

During my week in New York it was not without a little drama, some of it involving men in uniform!... ( alas no Navy boys but the NYFD and NYPD!) and a little brush with a news crew!
Early on the Wednesday morning I crossed across the park heading up towards the Upper West side. I was on route to Michaels & TJMaxx home store (great for craft and home bargains) The sun was shinning and it felt like an autumn day instead of a day early in December!
 As I strolled through the park, getting nearer to me exit it was evident that something was happening as there where a large number of police about. Many years ago Central Park had a reputation for
being a dangerous place to be, especially after dark and away from the tourist sites, ( and watching too many CSI New York and Law & Order!) Over the last 15 years it has become one of the most popular and safest places to be and I have never felt unsafe in all the times that I have spent walking through its many avenues and forests.
Due to the volume of yellow Police Do Not Cross tape which was about, I had inadvertently stumbled on a crime scene!

What amazed me was with all the police activity going on, people were still going about their daily habits, walking their dog, chatting in the children's playgroud, and laughing over a latte. As I exited on 103rd street I was approached by a reporter and camera crew from Eyewitness news. I was asked if I was a resident, what had I seen and did I feel safe. Apparently a domestic situation had arisen between a man and a women, the female had been stabbed in front of their son and the man then went on the run in the park!... Alas I didn't make the news, Here's  the clip from the evenings news! the man was captured, the female was transported to hospital with her son with minor injuries. Just a normal walk through the park!

The names Smith!

One of the most common names in the Uk has transcended across the Pond into one of the best eateries that I have dined in, whilst in New York. Sited a short walk from my hotel I discovered this restaurant by chance and so glad that did. From its white tiled front, to its wooden tables and open steel interior it has a great warehouse urban feel to it. The bar was fabulous, like something out of an old 50's movie.
I started with Calamari (brooklyn style) which came with a spicy sauce and delicious, followed by a NY steak salad, which just melted in the mouth. Finished off with a beer it was a perfect supper.
My second visit was for breakfast on my last morning in New York. This time I opted for Eggs benedict, coffee & grapefruit juice which was perfect. There was a real mix of people in for
breakfast from city gents, to nannies that brunch!... With all the white tiles and the light airy windows the space was filled with sunshine on a cold winter morning.
The staff were warm & friendly which is great when you are dining on your own, I was able to sit and people watch and read my kindle, without feeling conscious dining for one. There are three SmithNYC restaurants  in New York, if the other 2 are as good as the one I dined in in the East village then you are in for a treat.... My only regret is that I didn't have room for the S'mores in a jar dessert.... Mmmm maybe next time!

Bouchon Bakery

During my recent trip to NY I had a number of "cake" related things to do and places to go. One of these included a visit to Bouchon Bakery part of the Thomas Keller group... World famous for his French Laundry restaurant in California. Bouchon has two sites in New York, a small take out bakery in Rockefeller Plaza and then a larger eatery on the 3rd floor of the Time Warner Plaza at Columbus Circle. Both sites are great locations and on both visits were a hive of activity.
At The Rockefeller plaza I grabbed a coffee & Danish to go which was melt in the mouth delicious. At the Time Warner I sat and enjoyed the view over Central Park sipping coffee and a nibbling on a couple of festive macarons.
I loved both venues, but think the little busy bakery at the Rockefeller was my favourite. If I worked in New York it would be a struggle not to be in there daily! This is must visit venue for foodie fans.
After my afternoon treat in Time Warner it was time to enjoy a stroll through the holiday market on
the corner of the park... It certainly felt that the holidays were coming!

On my return to London I raved so much about the bakery, Santa must have heard as it fell into my stocking at Christmas!... Now I can have Bouchon at home too.... Mmm

Saturday, 2 February 2013

100 years Grand

One of my favourite buildings in NY is the stunningly beautiful Grand Central Station. This Grand old dame of the city turns 100 today. It's hard to put into words just how stunning this building is, nothing prepares you on your first visit the wonder it brings as you walk into the main concourse. There is nothing in London which comes close to this majestic building.
I arrived just before 7am and sat on the steps with a coffee and watched the city and station come to life. The commuters passed through it as part of their daily hustle and bustle of working life. I would be seriously late for work each day if I had to walk through here! Along with the overground, Amtrak and subway services, it also has a great food concourse and several shops. During the month of December it also houses a holiday craft market sited in the area leading onto 42nd street. 

Sited opposite the Grand Central Station on 42nd street under the avenue is Pershing Square, one of my breakfast diners of choice. Breakfasts here are much sort after and is a favourite diner for breakfast business meetings. It reminds me of a very large old style railway carriage. I never go to New York and not get her at least once for A stack of Pancakes, blueberrys, bacon loaded with maple syrup!.... Absolutely yummy!...you must add both of these places to your New York to do list.

Friday, 1 February 2013

On the East side...

This time when I visited the New York I stayed on the East Side of the city.... It was a great location and allowed me to explore lots on foot. A couple of blocks walk east from the hotel down a beautiful brownstone lined street and I was facing the Hudson river. Across the river to the right, and  sited at the Gantry Entry plaza in Queens is the iconic Pepsi Cola sign. This sign features in one of my favourite movies Julie & Julia.  Behind and into the distance is a much more urban and industrial New York, this area has a real retro feel about it.
The sun was setting as I walked through the park area and showcased the bridges and buildings beautifully against the blue sky and river.
To the left is the majestic Queensboro bridge, a double stacked bridge both with 4 lane traffic each way. This is the bridge that you cross on the way in from JFK airport. The bridge spans the Hudson and above Roosevelt island, which is accessible by cable car. One of the best sights as you walk around this area is the famous red cable cars crossing above you and along the bridge to the island. Movie fans will recognise this from the Spiderman movie, when he rescues Mary Jane from the Green Goblin and more recently from the Batman franchise, Dark knight rises. 

I thoroughly enjoyed my stroll along the river I felt very much the New Yorker!


Shake Shack..

As well as places, I have favourite foodie haunts that feature on my New York must list.... Shake Shack is one of these places. There are several located across New York, but my favourite is the original Shack located in Madison Square park ... featured in many movies and tv shows its popularity means that often the queue can snake around the green.

On a beautiful sunny winter afternoon in December I joined the queue for my Shack treat, complete with Eggnog custard shake!... This may be deemed as a fast food joint, but the burgers are delicious, and cooked to your specification finished off in a soft brioche bun... My order was complete with their signature crinkly cheesy fries... Oh my!... 

 Had to walk several blocks to walk that off but it was so worth it!..... Before embarking on my trip, Shake Shack had tweeted their holiday bauble for the Christmas tree, free with every $25 gift card purchase, So I purchase said gift card which I redeemed some of it on my dinner and got  bauble for my tree!....

I've filed the card to redeem when the Shack opens in Covent Garden this spring... I am a little excited to see the best burgers in New York coming to the UK!... There does seem to be a bit of a burger revolution in London at the moment...