Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Grosvenor House ChocolateTea

Juggling lots of project work during May at work has meant that downtime has been limited. With this in mind I pre-planned a couple of things away from my desk to ease the stress and aid relaxation. One of the treats booked was a late Friday afternoon tea at the Grosvenor House hotel. Famed for its ballroom, this was my first visit to this legendary location along Park Lane.
As blogged many times, afternoon tea is a luxurious treat that I try to do often.
Tea is served in the Park Room overlooking Park Lane and Hyde Park. With a choice of tables I opted to sit adjacent to the windows where I could enjoy views both inside and out. The Park room is a relaxed space, with tables set against sofa & armchair like seating, styled in a way that you don't feel on top of each other.
At the time of my visit Grosvenor |House had collaborated with artisan chocolatier Paul A Young to host a chocolate afternoon tea.

Comprising of:
MENU
Selection of Delicate Finger Sandwiches;
Cucumber and Venezuelan Chocolate Sandwich
 Loch Fyne Smoked Scottish Salmon with Cream Cheese
and Dill Chopped Ham with Somerset Cheddar Mustard Mayonnaise,
 Clarence Court Free Range Eggs with Mayonnaise and Cress
Coldwater Prawns with Marie Rose Sauce
Roast Scottish Beef with Creamed Horseradish
Smoked Chicken with Tarragon 
Home Made Scones with Devonshire Clotted Cream
& Paul A Young’s Award Winning Sea Salted Caramel 
Assortment of Tantalising Afternoon Tea Pastries
 Cocoa Shortcake Biscuit with Madagascan Chocolate Ganache Scented with English Rose and Raspberries
 Earl Grey Tea Chocolate Tart with Salted Lemon Truffle Orange,
English Honey and Geranium Ganache Battenburg
Pistachio and Raspberry Slice 
Speciality Tea Blend  Madagascan Cocoa Nib Tea 
Paul A. Young’s Chocolate Truffles Sea Salted Caramel
 Passion Fruit Curd
85% Classic Ecuadorian Truffle 
The tea was lovely, the pistachio and raspberry slice was gorgeous. The sea salted caramel sauce and scones were melt in the mouth delicious.

 As with all afternoon teas, service is incredibly important part of the experience. Unfortunately GH service let me down on this day. It was an amalgamation of lots of things which culminated in me having to find someone to take my payment. I am usually someone who never complains, chalking up poor experiences as one of life's lessons. I have only ever complained once about poor service and that was in writing to Fortnum's & Mason after a poor tea experience during the jubilee. As I was leaving GH I bumped into the manager, who could see I was a little unhappy. He was fantastic, refunding my bill immediately whilst listening to my experience of tea. He has also invited me back to experience a tea at another time, which I will do later this year, as I would like to believe that this was a one off for a hotel as prestigious as Grosvenor House.
TCakes Afternoon Tea stars:
Tea ****
Ambience ****
Service **

Monday, 26 May 2014

5 London Loves - Coffee

Last week I shared my coffee loves from New York, this week its time to share from London. Coffee arrived in London in 1652 and became on overnight success. Coffee houses became the places to conduct business and were influential in changing the landscape of the City of London during this time.  In 1688 Edward Lloyds coffee house in Tower street was the place to go for marine insurance, this coffee shop eventually became Lloyds of London insurance brokers. Jonathan's coffee house in Exchange Alley, eventually became London Stock Exchange. Sotherby's & Christie's both have origins in coffee houses.
With nearly 2,000 coffee shops in London you are never far from a caffeine fix. A London Underground map was produced last year with a coffee stop at each station. Here are 5 of my favourite coffee fixes across the city.
Monmouth Coffee - opened its doors in Covent garden in 1978, roasting & grinding its own beans. This legendary coffee shop opened a 2nd location in Borough market, which has become its flagship, with queues snaking around the corner for a cup of its java. Monmouths distribution moved to a larger premises in Maltby street after outgrowing its Covent garden store. Monmouths signature style is to only serve one size coffee. They only use full fat milk, which compliments their coffee perfectly. I love this coffee shop, and is always a must on a visit to Borough Market. My bag always goes home a little heavier with a bag of Monmouth beans.
Kaffeine - located in Great Titchfield Street, just behind Oxford Street.This cool little coffee shop is influenced by the coffee shops of Australia & New Zealand. As well as serving great coffee in a very urban relaxing atmosphere this cool shop also offers coffee classes.... Loving the look of the Latte classes here.
Notes - this fab little coffee shop is so much more than a coffee shop, it hosts jazz evenings and offers a great selection of wines. Later this year Notes will launch its own signature beer. I love this little caffeine haven, and is a must visit whenever I am in the Covent Garden location. Styled minimally with old school tables and chairs it offers a relaxing environment perfect for sipping a latte away
from the hustle and bustle of London life.
Tap - Tap have 3 locations in London and my favourite is in Soho on 193 Wardour street. With a bicycle hanging above the entrance its hard to miss when walking along the street. This coffee shop is deceptively simple. With a rustic coffee its offers great coffee and gorgeous homemade cakes. The shop is narrow and long, with great windows and skylights offering up fantastic light on the dullest of London days. Another great place to seek out a stones throw from Oxford street.
Charlie's cafe - a quaint cafe tucked down a little alley nestled in the heart of Portabello road Notting hill. This little cafe really does offer great coffee, and a great breakfast/brunch menu, sourcing artisan foods and British produce. It really is a little haven in one of London's busiest streets.
As with all London loves posts, here is a map of my coffee favourites in London.
If this post has wetted your taste buds for exploring London's caffeine fixes, then check out this cool app - London coffee guide. With a coffee chain on most corners in London, this app will help you locate your nearest independent coffee shop,  and explore parts of London that started over 300 years ago and is still as popular now as when the first coffee shop opened in the city all those years ago.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Totes Amaze Tuesday - May

Its that time of the month when I share my handbag love for the month. With sporadic sunshine and showers sprinkling through the days I injected a little colour into my workday wardrobe by wearing the gorgeous Mulberry Mitzy as arm candy.

I picked this bag up in the sale a couple of years ago because I just loved the colour. At the time I thought that it would only really be a summer bag, but now use it lots in the winter to brighten the dull grey days. I wear a lot of Navy and this is a fantastic accessory to complement. I am searching for the perfect Navy bag as its one colour palette that so far eludes my handbag collection.  I have a gorgeous Navy & pink Mcq graffiti scarf which is a great accompaniment to this bag.
The mitzy tote is a versatile little number, it can transform from a tote to a slouchy crossbody. The zip isn't just a design feature, you can turn the top of the bag inside and then use its functionality.
As with many mulberry bags, it is fully lined with its signature design, silver stamped hardware and multi storage facilities.
As with all Totes Tuesday posts I have styled my look for this month, opting for the casual look with jeans & pink birkenstocks. This has been one of my favourite looks this month and is my usual style of a weekend. My kate spade notebook, iPhone & laptop have been key staples in my mitzy, switching the jeans & shirt to a navy suit an easy transformation from casual to workwear.
New season collections for Autumn/Winter have started to arrive in work this week, I will be sharing some of my favourites and wishes in the next few weeks.
What arm candy have you been loving this month?.....

Monday, 19 May 2014

5 New York loves - Coffee

As I shared my New York Tea loves earlier this month, I thought I would share my coffee loves this week. Coffee is the much favoured hot drink of choice in America. 20 years ago a TV series hit the airways which would launch the coffee shop into a different stratosphere. Now it was cool to meet up with friends in a coffee shop, instead of a bar!... Yes, Friends launched 20 years ago and lived on our screens for 10 years, with some of its most memorable scenes in Central Perk itself. Although a fictional coffee shop in New York, the friends apartment block on the corner of Grove & Bedford street in Greenwich Village is still one of the most photographed movie location buildings.
 In New York itself you cannot move more than a block without seeing the iconic Starbucks sign and its coffee shops nestled among the sites of New York. There are over 50 sites in Manhattan, so you are never far from a cup of the hot brown liquid gold. However it wasn't Starbucks that gave me my New York coffee love when I visited nearly 2 decades ago, but the fabulous deli of Dean & Deluca. This store on Broadway in the heart of SOHO was everything that I imagined a NY coffee and deli venue would be. With smaller coffee shops nestled across the city, this brand now worldwide epitomises everything great about food in New York.
Coffee is so popular in NY that last year the subway map was released with a coffee stop at every subway location. This is a fun way to explore the city, although not sure how much sleep you would get if you grabbed an espresso from each stop... caffeine consumption would be astronomical!
Today I am sharing some of those stops of coffee loves from across the city;
Gasoline Alley; a cool urban coffee shop, with minimal decor other than a statement bicycle hanging above the counter in the heart of NOHO (north of Houston street) on Lafayette street. Where once the streets were filled with car mechanics and gasoline stations it is now filled with coffee shops and boutiques. Gasoline is an homage to an era gone buy, serving  Intelligentsia coffee, and Dough donuts.... 2 great brands making a name for themselves in the food news of New York.
Bluebird Coffee Shop; is a very small cute neighbourhood coffee shop in the heart of the East Village on East 1st street. With limited seating it really is a treat of a find, and the coffee served in cute blue cups is delightful.
The Bowery Coffee shop is located on the corner of East Houston and The Bowery, it has an eclectic feel. The old-world-style storefront features ice cream parlour tables and a zinc-topped counter. Along with dark & delicious coffee, Doughnut Plant fritters and Balthazar croissants are also available.
Birch Coffee has three locations across the city with its own coffee blend and iced blend available. All venues are aesthetically designed to fit its area. I recently featured this coffee shop in my Social media sunday post and I am looking forward to visiting in December. Anywhere that features books & coffee is a winner for me!.
D'espresso coffee shop in Madison avenue just around the corner of Grand Central Station. This coffee shop is the most stylishly designed and features an amazing library book installation which is just gorgeous. Another must visit for me this year...
As with all 5 loves posts, here is a map of my New York locations for you to try..... enjoy.
If my post has wetted your appetite for a coffee adventure in New York, ITunes has 2 great New York Coffee apps which you can download. One is free and the other is a nominal fee.... I really love the coffee cup map!....
 
I hope that you have enjoyed my NY loves post this week.... Here are my previous posts, pop back next week for London's equivalent coffee loves.
(please note that all views are my own and I have not received any payment for this post)

 
 

Sunday, 18 May 2014

London Life - Borough Market

Borough market is one of my favourite haunts in London. Not only is it filled with fabulous food stuff, but it is a great place to people watch, spend some down time and see a real eclectic mix of London life.
Springtime is one of my favoured times to visit. A few weeks ago I popped along as I had compiled a list of treats on my food wish list. The market was bustling with the general mix of foodies, tourists and city workers grabbing a lunchtime treat.
There are so many fab food places with now over a 100 stalls under the railway arches and market eves, here are a few of mine;
  • Bread Ahead - amazing artisan bread and home to Justin Gellatly's legendary doughnuts.
  • Turnips - the legendary greengrocers, displaying every imaginable fruit & vegetable possible.
  • The Ginger Pig - fabulous butchers with produce from their three Yorkshire farms, home to many rare breeds all slowly reared outside.
  • Monmouth Coffee Company - coffee sold by the bean & by the cup, queues are legendary and people travel far for a cup of the brown liquid bean.
On my recent trip I fell in love with this gorgeous beagle who had found the only spot of early morning sunshine and was making the most of it whilst waiting patiently for its masters coffee outside Monmouth.
The market was awash with colour and glorious produce.
The market is steeped in history and has been trading along the river by London Bridge since the 13th century, always taking pride in understanding the provenance of its wares. It now proudly supports a blue plaque on one of its walls and being recognised as the oldest fruit & veg market in London.
Southwark Cathedral presides over Borough market, William Shakespeare's brother Edmund is buried in the grounds and a number of William's classics are depicted in the stained glass windows. The Globe is a short walk from the market along Clink street. A favourite for the Elizabethan theatre it still remains a favourite for film producers now. Recently the narrow streets of the market were used in the Harry Potter & the prisoner of Azkaban, where the flower shop is the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron, and the bus which sped across London was filmed around here.
 The most famous of recent years has got to be Bridget Jones. Bridget's flat was above the Globe pub in the heart of the market, and the legendary fight scene between Daniel & Mark was outside Bedales restaurant nearby. The dastardly Daniel's apartment was a short walk around the corner in Clink street, with numerous scenes being filmed in and around the market.
Borough is a must for any food fan when visiting London, but also a great place to explore if a film or history fan. The food on offer is amazing .... a short walk from London Bridge... its delicious.

 

Best Department Store in the World

Every 2 years all the heads of the retail industry meet for a week somewhere in the world, which culminates in an event which I would describe as the retail Baftas. The awards are nominated and voted by peers within the industry, the most prestigious being awarded being voted "The Best Department Store in the World".
Selfridges first won the accolade in 2010 when the event was held in New York. They went on to win again in 2012 in Paris, being the first store to win the award twice and consecutively. Earlier this month the event was held in Singapore, where Selfridges yet again took the award again. More details can be found here.
The news was soon sent back to the stores... this is a huge accolade for a brand and I'm very proud to type this knowing I work for the Best Department Store in the World. It may be tough some days, but recognition like this is worth it, because it means we are all doing something right.
As we all left the store on Friday we were handed a small Thank you card and cupcake, these were being handed out by the directors which was a great little touch.
The vision that Mr Selfridge had 105 years ago was to be the best and that everyone is welcome, its great to know we are still living those values all these years later.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Words Wednesday - May reads

This month I have managed to squeeze six books into my daily commute, which gives you an idea of how long some of my travels have been!... A book is a fundamental part of my commuting life, this is what has been keeping me entertained underground and overground across the city of London in May.
An Eligible Bachelor - Veronica Henry ~ VH is one of my favourite authors, her books are always a romp of a read filled with fun, family, friendship, love & laughter, with a leading guy you want to run away with and a location that I'm usually googling for a dream holiday!...this book doesn't disappoint. Guy is the Lord of the Manor in a Cotswold countryside,  Honor is a single mum in the village who runs a small catering /cake business. Guys mother launches a luxury B&B business for weekend retreats at the manor and enlists Honor's help. Throw in an adorable best friend, a soapstar fiancé and an errant ex and you have a fabulous romp of a read. Loved it, luxurious escapism, perfect if curled up on sofa a chilly Sunday afternoon or lounging on a sunbed in the tropics.
A Gift to Remember - Melissa Hill ~ Darcy works in a small independent bookstore in the heart of New York, whilst cycling to work one morning she knocks down a gentleman crossing the road walking his dog. Darcy wracked with guilt ends up looking after the dog whilst the man (Aiden) is taken to hospital. Aiden wakes from his accident with no memory of who he is, other than he has a dog. Darcy embarks on an adventure across New York trying to identify her patient and reunite him with his dog & family in time for Christmas.  I really enjoyed this book, Melissa Hill writes a great novel with New York as one of its characters. It has mystery, fun, romance and a very cute dog, all set to the backdrop of a fabulous city. Even with Christmas as its season, this can be read at anytime, another great read.
The One Plus One - JoJo Moyes ~ Ed's life is in chaos, under investigation from everyone he escapes to his weekend home to hide, here he meets Jess, a single mum to Nicky & Tanzie and Norman the dog.  Jess is holding down 2 jobs and struggling to make ends meet, along with looking after a bullied stepson and a maths prodigy daughter. Tanzie is offered a partial scholarship to a school for gifted children. To win the remains of the school fees, Tanzie is entered into a maths Olympiad in Scotland.
Jess's next challenge is get her there to compete, after some calamities, Ed finds himself offering to chauffeur the family there.... here embarks a journey that will change all of their lives for ever. A fabulous read filled with love, laughter, tears and family...
Revenge - Martina Cole ~ Michael Flynn is at the top of his game as crime lord of the british underworld. Family & Loyalty are his underlying principles in a world filled with crime, violence, power and money. Michael's world comes crashing down when his principles are compromised and his family comes under threat. Martina Cole was always one of my favourite authors, writing hard gritty family crime dramas in the East end of London. Although still not as good as her early novels, this book puts her back in the game of great reads, something which has been lacking in the last few books.
A Place to Call Home - Carole Matthews ~ Ayesha flees her home in the dead of night with her small daughter, escaping a violent husband. Finding herself  in London far away from what she knows, she seeks out a refuge for help. With no room at the refuge, Ayesha finds herself in the care of Crystal, Crystal boards at a reclusive popstar Ayden's house in Hampstead. This novel is about so much, its filled with love, laughter, family,it tackles domestic violence, crossing cultures and generations. It will tug at the heart strings from so many levels... I loved this book. NB if reading on the tube, a handy tissue is advisable! Another fantastic read from Carole Matthews, she knows how to tackle difficult subject matters in an uplifting and real way.
The Cuckoo Calling - Robert Galbraith ~ This book had me gripped from the start (thanks Ali Mc for the recommendation!) I loved it. Robert Galbraith has created a detective that will stand alongside some of the fictional classics and favourites and creep into your heart. Cormoran Strike is a war veteran down on his luck both personally and professionally. He is approached to investigate the death of a high profile model, who's brother refuses to believe that she threw herself off her luxury apartments balcony. Assisted by Robin his temporary assistant  Cormoran embarks on the biggest investigation of his career. From the glamour of Mayfair to the seedy streets of Soho this is a fabulous thriller from start to finish. I loved this book so much I have the next instalment on pre-order already. Robert Galbraith is the pseudonym of JK Rowling, and any editor that passed up this book must be kicking themselves now. Her narrative is as descriptive as any HP novel and she has created a character that will make the adult population rooting and willing him to succeed in the same way that every child did with Harry.... Bravo JK.
As you can see, my reads have been varied and eclectic this month, and I have enjoyed each one in its own right. Thankyou authors for 6 great reads....
What's been grabbing your attention this month and what reads would you recommend.



Monday, 12 May 2014

Afternoon Tea ~ London Style

This weeks London loves follow my New York loves last week. Afternoon Tea is synonymous with London and its hotels. Its one of my favourite ways to escape from the hustle and bustle of London life and the stresses of work. There is nothing as lovely than sitting down for tea, cakes & sandwiches in a relaxing environment, chatting with friends or chilling with a good book.

I have since I worked in London sipped Afternoon tea in many sumptuous locations. Here are 5 of my favourites.
Claridges
Claridges Afternoon tea is utterly divine, from the moment the doorman sweeps you into the grand foyer you are transported into a world where your every whim is catered for. The tea served on Claridges iconic teal stripe china is gorgeous. Here is a post from my visit, when I was taken for a birthday treat and had a fabulous time.
One Aldwych
This very modern & funky hotel was a new venue for me last year and a pleasant surprise. I visited for their Charlie & Chocolate factory inspired tea. The service, ambience and tea were delightful. The tea is clever, inspirational and so much fun, thoroughly recommend for anyone who is either a Roald Dahl fan or a chocolate fan.
The Berkeley
This is an old established hotel in Kensington which serves the perfect tea for any fashionista The Berkeley launched its Pret-a-Portea  a few years ago and its a huge hit with the ladies. Sited in the Caramel rooms in the Berkeley and served on bright funky china. This seasons tea features miu miu, Victoria Beckham & Christian Louboutin. I have visited this hotel twice for tea and loved both times.
Peggy Porschen Parlour
This parlour in a Belgravia side street is a treat and perfect for a spot of tea & cake. Peggy's doesn't serve the full afternoon tea, but it does serve fabulous tea & cake, perfect for a detour when shopping in the city. Here is a post from a previous visit.
The Savoy
One of my favourites, I have been many times and never been disappointed. One of the most iconic and established hotels in London, as you sweep through the revolving doors you are transported into a time and world filled with glamour, decadence and luxury. Had a fabulous time and tea here in November celebrating a 70th birthday.
As with previous posts I have plotted a little map of where these are in London... I hope that you sip, savour and enjoy. x

My tea list is always growing, on my wish list for this year are The Goring, The Connaught Hotel, The Shard, Balthazar and The Wolseley..............What are your favourites or recommendations.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Big Easy Brunch

Over the past couple of years the Americans, predominately New Yorkers have slowly been taking over Covent Garden. ( all in a good way of course) The eateries that have crossed the pond in the past year and settled in the market area have bought a great food feel back to the market area.
A couple of weeks ago I decided to try out the recently opened Big Easy for lunch. The Big Easy's menu is built around the BBq's and  Crabshack's of the south. The restaurant is sited on Maiden Lane just behind the Market towards Charing Cross. It was once an old electrical power station which suits its dark entrance and fabulous funky lighting. The venue is all wood and metal with some fabulous big urban windows. The daily menu offers and lunch menu is fabulous value for money.
I opted for the calamari for appetiser's and the jumbo shrimp for main. I declined the included beer or cocktail options and opted for sparkling water... something I was grateful later.
The servings are big, the calamari came in a huge basket accompanied by a spicy dip. The calamari was gorgeous, really tasty and tender. The jumbo shrimps arrived on a bed of chips, this is where it went a little array. The shrimp again was gorgeous, however the chips were not edible. They looked fantastic but were so heavily salted that they were not edible at all. I am a salt girl and often get told off for too much salting, however these surpassed even my palate, which was a huge disappointment.
Thankfully a large bottle of water was at hand!.
Has this put me off going again.... No, I really enjoyed the venue, the food that I ate was good, however when going again I will ask for my food to be un-seasoned and also to understand what the sauces are which accompany the dishes as the menu isn't very clear.
This is a cool dinery for after work eats, family days out and easy lunches.... hopefully my experience was just an off day in the kitchen!..
Here are some of the American take-overs in the Covent Garden area... more blog posts to come



007's ABC....

A couple of weeks ago on a much needed day off, I spent an hour wandering a new exhibition that has opened in the London Film museum in Covent Garden. I am referring to the new Bond in Motion exhibition ... featuring my favourite 007 treats; Aston martins, Bond, Cars & DB5's, S's and vantages!
The exhibition is very cleverly displayed and is a must for any Bond enthusiast and fan.  A couple of years ago I visited a great exhibition at the Barbican, this is a great follow on from that.
The Bond movies were a huge part of me growing up, always a family outing when one was released. I didn't really get hooked until Pierce Brosnan pulled on the legendary Tuxedo. He was my ideal Bond until Daniel Craig was handed the legendary suit & gun and then I was completely suckered!.
My 2nd love in the Bond movies has always been the cars... Sean Connery's DB5 being my favourite, when this featured in Skyfall, it made my day. Aston Martins are my car love and their partnership with the Bond brand is legendary.... this exhibition features many from several movies... including some battered DBS vehicles from Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Each car is displayed with both graphics and a movie playing of its legendary scene.

The show stealer is the legendary DB5 from Goldeneye  & Skyfall, sitting alongside is a replica model which was used to film scenes in the films.

Along with the Aston Martins, there is a water section, which features the amphibious Lotus and a bike section complete with Pierce Brosnans BMW bike and Daniel Craig's army bike which crosses the rooftops of the Turkish market in Istanbul.
This a great exhibition, and would make a great gift for Dads, Brothers and Bond fans like myself!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Afternoon Tea - New York Style

Today's New York loves features Tea. It's not the first thing that you think of doing on a visit to New York, as coffee is much more favoured. There are some great places and its becoming a much sort after way to stop & relax for an hour in the city that doesn't sleep. I have picked a mix of venues as it would be easy to list 5 hotels, however on my travels I have stumbles across some fun & quirky venues.
Most of the big hotels offer Afternoon tea, or High tea as it is often called in the city. My favourites of these is of course The Plaza. Twenty years ago on my first visit to NY I stayed in this fabulous hotel prior to it becoming private apartments and suites. The Palm Court where tea is served is sumptuous, decadent and very 'old school' New York and was completely wasted on a girl in her early 20's!... I am looking forward to returning this year for tea when I visit in December.
There are a few Tea shops which have popped up over the city in the last few years. Tea & Sympathy is a cute little tea shop and store in the heart of Greenwich Village. It sells everything British, which I am sure the ex-pats living in New York must love, and serves a great cup of tea, cake & cucumber sandwich. Its straight out of a 40's style tuck shop and a huge hit with new Yorkers who love a slice of Britain.
My next Tea stop is Sanctuary T Restaurant which is located in Soho on the corner of Grand and Broadway. This restaurants menu is styled around Tea and offers a huge range of Teas from across the world. With is minimal styling, it really is a Tea sanctuary. Perfect place to stop, sit and savour a relaxing cup of tea whilst pounding the streets of the city. With great brunch & dinner menu's is not just an afternoon tea stop.
Alice's Tea Cup has a 3 venues across the city. If Alice in Wonderland could have created a tea shop then this would have been it. Its like a curiosity shop filled with gorgeous scones & fabulous tea.
Here are my thoughts from a previous visit. Perfect little curiosity shop for afternoon tea, for big and little girls.

Finally my tea room of choice, is the gorgeous 7th floor restaurant in Bergdorf & Goodman, also known as BG's. Situated on 5th avenue and with fabulous views across Central Park, its a perfect place to stop and refresh if you are a lady that lunches or shops!
I have mapped my tea venues in New York, some of these may need to be booked in advance. Pop back in a fortnight and I will share my coffee loves of the city.


Sunday, 4 May 2014

Social Media Sunday ~ April

Its Social Media Sunday time gain on the blog, and this is becoming one of my favourite posts of the month. The link will take you to previous months posts.
I  have a lot to share of what I've been loving during April.... Its predominately been an Instagram month.
Instagram
  • Stephanie Howell - I have followed Stephanie's blog for many years, she lives in the states and shares her home with her soldier husband and 4 beautiful girls. She is super talented and I love her scrapbooking Currently they are living in Italy and making the most of their European adventure. My favourite snap this month was of Monet's beautiful garden in France, complete with spring tulips.
  • Mrs Button - Mrs B's snaps are just delightful, these iced cookies for Easter look gorgeous and this colour palette features lots in her snaps. She has the most perfect kitchen. yum x
  • Emily Quinton - completely fallen in love with Emily's photographic style and this country cottage quilt and flowers is gorgeous.
  • DanTVusa - I have been following Dan's Instagram for a while now since my friend Ali McNamara spent some time in New York with him taking photos for one of her books. Dan's photos of the city are amazing. This storm clouds over the  skyline is stunning, and evocative.
  • Butchers Daughter NYC - having recently discovered this fab little deli, its now on my "places to visit" list for my trip to NY later this year. It looks like this years trip will be filled with food treats, cant wait to visit.
  • A Guy Named Patrick - is another NYC photographer that I've been following lots. His photo's feature everyday NY in an effortlessly stylish style.
Two Instagram sites that got lots of likes this month feature my favourite city New York. One is the coffee shop Birch, their coffee cups have been snapped alongside some of the most iconic and popular sites in NY. Definitely will be seeking this gorgeous little coffee shop out when I visit, it has its own little Library in its store... perfect, great Coffee, Books & New York.. ticks a lot of my loves.
My 2nd Instagram site features Eggs. Over 200 eggs were placed around the streets and sites of New York on the run up to Easter... creating a huge Egg Hunt for all to seek and enjoy. Easter weekend culminated in all the Eggs being sited at the Rockefeller Plaza before a giant auction of the artists works for charity. Several million pounds was raised for a number of worthy causes. Here are some of my favourites across the city.

Blogland
Sharing the love on bloglovin this month, these are the blogs I've been reading  is what I've been liking.
  • NY through the lens ~ a blog recently discovered filled with glorious NY photo's, filled with lots of hint & tips for photographing NY at its finest.
  • Heart Handmade Uk  ~ this gorgeous blog is filled with the most delicious things to buy, make & eat for your home. This food baking & styling for Easter is yum, adding to things to make for next years Easter. I love the piñata cake, so much fun!
  •  Nouvelle Daily - another blog I keep coming back to. This post on photographing food and styling is filled with great hints & tips. Bookmarked for printing & filling in my Love my Camera more folder.
  • Essex Eating - I discovered Dan's blog a couple of years ago and still follow avidly. From great recipes, to cool restaurant reviews, Dan's posts are always filled with honesty. With a trip to Bath planned this month I dug out Dan's Bath foodie post for recommendations. 
  • Mrs M's Meanderings ~ I've followed Caroline's blog for many years and now regard her as one of my friends, catching up for drinks when she is in London. I love her Frock it posts and Friday 5's. Recently she has been sharing her beauty loves/loathes on Vlog which is very entertaining!. This post from her this month was a lovely surprise.
Thankyou to all that have posted me comments, messages or 'likes' on twitter, Instagram or my blog. They mean a lot and always put a smile on my face...
so this month what have you been tweeting, 'liking' following lately? would love to know ... happy Sunday x



Saturday, 3 May 2014

May Makeover

Welcome to May and a new look blog. I hope that you like it.... Its been some time since the blog had any work and I had grown tired of the previous template. This one is more basic, but allows me to personalise it. I plan to change the look dependant on season!. This colour palette reminds me of the Blossom on the trees, Spring and Candy!...
With a new look blog I have been planning this months blog posts. Along with the regular monthly posts I also will be sharing with you some recent activities, which feature Bond, Beauty and Borough Market.
 
May's planned days out feature a trip to Cardiff, a night at the Albert Hall, Chocolate Tea and a night with an Eastender and a Ballet boy in an east end music theatre.
Along with a new look blog I have compiled a planner so that I can keep track on blog posts. Its an easy way for me to drop down ideas and draft posts. I am an old fashioned girl and love a pen & paper, as much as I try to use iPad/iPhone for drafts etc, it doesn't really work for me.
I hope that May brings you all lots of fun.... pop back and see what May brings for me over the next 4 weeks.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Grosvenor House ChocolateTea

Juggling lots of project work during May at work has meant that downtime has been limited. With this in mind I pre-planned a couple of things away from my desk to ease the stress and aid relaxation. One of the treats booked was a late Friday afternoon tea at the Grosvenor House hotel. Famed for its ballroom, this was my first visit to this legendary location along Park Lane.
As blogged many times, afternoon tea is a luxurious treat that I try to do often.
Tea is served in the Park Room overlooking Park Lane and Hyde Park. With a choice of tables I opted to sit adjacent to the windows where I could enjoy views both inside and out. The Park room is a relaxed space, with tables set against sofa & armchair like seating, styled in a way that you don't feel on top of each other.
At the time of my visit Grosvenor |House had collaborated with artisan chocolatier Paul A Young to host a chocolate afternoon tea.

Comprising of:
MENU
Selection of Delicate Finger Sandwiches;
Cucumber and Venezuelan Chocolate Sandwich
 Loch Fyne Smoked Scottish Salmon with Cream Cheese
and Dill Chopped Ham with Somerset Cheddar Mustard Mayonnaise,
 Clarence Court Free Range Eggs with Mayonnaise and Cress
Coldwater Prawns with Marie Rose Sauce
Roast Scottish Beef with Creamed Horseradish
Smoked Chicken with Tarragon 
Home Made Scones with Devonshire Clotted Cream
& Paul A Young’s Award Winning Sea Salted Caramel 
Assortment of Tantalising Afternoon Tea Pastries
 Cocoa Shortcake Biscuit with Madagascan Chocolate Ganache Scented with English Rose and Raspberries
 Earl Grey Tea Chocolate Tart with Salted Lemon Truffle Orange,
English Honey and Geranium Ganache Battenburg
Pistachio and Raspberry Slice 
Speciality Tea Blend  Madagascan Cocoa Nib Tea 
Paul A. Young’s Chocolate Truffles Sea Salted Caramel
 Passion Fruit Curd
85% Classic Ecuadorian Truffle 
The tea was lovely, the pistachio and raspberry slice was gorgeous. The sea salted caramel sauce and scones were melt in the mouth delicious.

 As with all afternoon teas, service is incredibly important part of the experience. Unfortunately GH service let me down on this day. It was an amalgamation of lots of things which culminated in me having to find someone to take my payment. I am usually someone who never complains, chalking up poor experiences as one of life's lessons. I have only ever complained once about poor service and that was in writing to Fortnum's & Mason after a poor tea experience during the jubilee. As I was leaving GH I bumped into the manager, who could see I was a little unhappy. He was fantastic, refunding my bill immediately whilst listening to my experience of tea. He has also invited me back to experience a tea at another time, which I will do later this year, as I would like to believe that this was a one off for a hotel as prestigious as Grosvenor House.
TCakes Afternoon Tea stars:
Tea ****
Ambience ****
Service **

Monday, 26 May 2014

5 London Loves - Coffee

Last week I shared my coffee loves from New York, this week its time to share from London. Coffee arrived in London in 1652 and became on overnight success. Coffee houses became the places to conduct business and were influential in changing the landscape of the City of London during this time.  In 1688 Edward Lloyds coffee house in Tower street was the place to go for marine insurance, this coffee shop eventually became Lloyds of London insurance brokers. Jonathan's coffee house in Exchange Alley, eventually became London Stock Exchange. Sotherby's & Christie's both have origins in coffee houses.
With nearly 2,000 coffee shops in London you are never far from a caffeine fix. A London Underground map was produced last year with a coffee stop at each station. Here are 5 of my favourite coffee fixes across the city.
Monmouth Coffee - opened its doors in Covent garden in 1978, roasting & grinding its own beans. This legendary coffee shop opened a 2nd location in Borough market, which has become its flagship, with queues snaking around the corner for a cup of its java. Monmouths distribution moved to a larger premises in Maltby street after outgrowing its Covent garden store. Monmouths signature style is to only serve one size coffee. They only use full fat milk, which compliments their coffee perfectly. I love this coffee shop, and is always a must on a visit to Borough Market. My bag always goes home a little heavier with a bag of Monmouth beans.
Kaffeine - located in Great Titchfield Street, just behind Oxford Street.This cool little coffee shop is influenced by the coffee shops of Australia & New Zealand. As well as serving great coffee in a very urban relaxing atmosphere this cool shop also offers coffee classes.... Loving the look of the Latte classes here.
Notes - this fab little coffee shop is so much more than a coffee shop, it hosts jazz evenings and offers a great selection of wines. Later this year Notes will launch its own signature beer. I love this little caffeine haven, and is a must visit whenever I am in the Covent Garden location. Styled minimally with old school tables and chairs it offers a relaxing environment perfect for sipping a latte away
from the hustle and bustle of London life.
Tap - Tap have 3 locations in London and my favourite is in Soho on 193 Wardour street. With a bicycle hanging above the entrance its hard to miss when walking along the street. This coffee shop is deceptively simple. With a rustic coffee its offers great coffee and gorgeous homemade cakes. The shop is narrow and long, with great windows and skylights offering up fantastic light on the dullest of London days. Another great place to seek out a stones throw from Oxford street.
Charlie's cafe - a quaint cafe tucked down a little alley nestled in the heart of Portabello road Notting hill. This little cafe really does offer great coffee, and a great breakfast/brunch menu, sourcing artisan foods and British produce. It really is a little haven in one of London's busiest streets.
As with all London loves posts, here is a map of my coffee favourites in London.
If this post has wetted your taste buds for exploring London's caffeine fixes, then check out this cool app - London coffee guide. With a coffee chain on most corners in London, this app will help you locate your nearest independent coffee shop,  and explore parts of London that started over 300 years ago and is still as popular now as when the first coffee shop opened in the city all those years ago.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Totes Amaze Tuesday - May

Its that time of the month when I share my handbag love for the month. With sporadic sunshine and showers sprinkling through the days I injected a little colour into my workday wardrobe by wearing the gorgeous Mulberry Mitzy as arm candy.

I picked this bag up in the sale a couple of years ago because I just loved the colour. At the time I thought that it would only really be a summer bag, but now use it lots in the winter to brighten the dull grey days. I wear a lot of Navy and this is a fantastic accessory to complement. I am searching for the perfect Navy bag as its one colour palette that so far eludes my handbag collection.  I have a gorgeous Navy & pink Mcq graffiti scarf which is a great accompaniment to this bag.
The mitzy tote is a versatile little number, it can transform from a tote to a slouchy crossbody. The zip isn't just a design feature, you can turn the top of the bag inside and then use its functionality.
As with many mulberry bags, it is fully lined with its signature design, silver stamped hardware and multi storage facilities.
As with all Totes Tuesday posts I have styled my look for this month, opting for the casual look with jeans & pink birkenstocks. This has been one of my favourite looks this month and is my usual style of a weekend. My kate spade notebook, iPhone & laptop have been key staples in my mitzy, switching the jeans & shirt to a navy suit an easy transformation from casual to workwear.
New season collections for Autumn/Winter have started to arrive in work this week, I will be sharing some of my favourites and wishes in the next few weeks.
What arm candy have you been loving this month?.....

Monday, 19 May 2014

5 New York loves - Coffee

As I shared my New York Tea loves earlier this month, I thought I would share my coffee loves this week. Coffee is the much favoured hot drink of choice in America. 20 years ago a TV series hit the airways which would launch the coffee shop into a different stratosphere. Now it was cool to meet up with friends in a coffee shop, instead of a bar!... Yes, Friends launched 20 years ago and lived on our screens for 10 years, with some of its most memorable scenes in Central Perk itself. Although a fictional coffee shop in New York, the friends apartment block on the corner of Grove & Bedford street in Greenwich Village is still one of the most photographed movie location buildings.
 In New York itself you cannot move more than a block without seeing the iconic Starbucks sign and its coffee shops nestled among the sites of New York. There are over 50 sites in Manhattan, so you are never far from a cup of the hot brown liquid gold. However it wasn't Starbucks that gave me my New York coffee love when I visited nearly 2 decades ago, but the fabulous deli of Dean & Deluca. This store on Broadway in the heart of SOHO was everything that I imagined a NY coffee and deli venue would be. With smaller coffee shops nestled across the city, this brand now worldwide epitomises everything great about food in New York.
Coffee is so popular in NY that last year the subway map was released with a coffee stop at every subway location. This is a fun way to explore the city, although not sure how much sleep you would get if you grabbed an espresso from each stop... caffeine consumption would be astronomical!
Today I am sharing some of those stops of coffee loves from across the city;
Gasoline Alley; a cool urban coffee shop, with minimal decor other than a statement bicycle hanging above the counter in the heart of NOHO (north of Houston street) on Lafayette street. Where once the streets were filled with car mechanics and gasoline stations it is now filled with coffee shops and boutiques. Gasoline is an homage to an era gone buy, serving  Intelligentsia coffee, and Dough donuts.... 2 great brands making a name for themselves in the food news of New York.
Bluebird Coffee Shop; is a very small cute neighbourhood coffee shop in the heart of the East Village on East 1st street. With limited seating it really is a treat of a find, and the coffee served in cute blue cups is delightful.
The Bowery Coffee shop is located on the corner of East Houston and The Bowery, it has an eclectic feel. The old-world-style storefront features ice cream parlour tables and a zinc-topped counter. Along with dark & delicious coffee, Doughnut Plant fritters and Balthazar croissants are also available.
Birch Coffee has three locations across the city with its own coffee blend and iced blend available. All venues are aesthetically designed to fit its area. I recently featured this coffee shop in my Social media sunday post and I am looking forward to visiting in December. Anywhere that features books & coffee is a winner for me!.
D'espresso coffee shop in Madison avenue just around the corner of Grand Central Station. This coffee shop is the most stylishly designed and features an amazing library book installation which is just gorgeous. Another must visit for me this year...
As with all 5 loves posts, here is a map of my New York locations for you to try..... enjoy.
If my post has wetted your appetite for a coffee adventure in New York, ITunes has 2 great New York Coffee apps which you can download. One is free and the other is a nominal fee.... I really love the coffee cup map!....
 
I hope that you have enjoyed my NY loves post this week.... Here are my previous posts, pop back next week for London's equivalent coffee loves.
(please note that all views are my own and I have not received any payment for this post)

 
 

Sunday, 18 May 2014

London Life - Borough Market

Borough market is one of my favourite haunts in London. Not only is it filled with fabulous food stuff, but it is a great place to people watch, spend some down time and see a real eclectic mix of London life.
Springtime is one of my favoured times to visit. A few weeks ago I popped along as I had compiled a list of treats on my food wish list. The market was bustling with the general mix of foodies, tourists and city workers grabbing a lunchtime treat.
There are so many fab food places with now over a 100 stalls under the railway arches and market eves, here are a few of mine;
  • Bread Ahead - amazing artisan bread and home to Justin Gellatly's legendary doughnuts.
  • Turnips - the legendary greengrocers, displaying every imaginable fruit & vegetable possible.
  • The Ginger Pig - fabulous butchers with produce from their three Yorkshire farms, home to many rare breeds all slowly reared outside.
  • Monmouth Coffee Company - coffee sold by the bean & by the cup, queues are legendary and people travel far for a cup of the brown liquid bean.
On my recent trip I fell in love with this gorgeous beagle who had found the only spot of early morning sunshine and was making the most of it whilst waiting patiently for its masters coffee outside Monmouth.
The market was awash with colour and glorious produce.
The market is steeped in history and has been trading along the river by London Bridge since the 13th century, always taking pride in understanding the provenance of its wares. It now proudly supports a blue plaque on one of its walls and being recognised as the oldest fruit & veg market in London.
Southwark Cathedral presides over Borough market, William Shakespeare's brother Edmund is buried in the grounds and a number of William's classics are depicted in the stained glass windows. The Globe is a short walk from the market along Clink street. A favourite for the Elizabethan theatre it still remains a favourite for film producers now. Recently the narrow streets of the market were used in the Harry Potter & the prisoner of Azkaban, where the flower shop is the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron, and the bus which sped across London was filmed around here.
 The most famous of recent years has got to be Bridget Jones. Bridget's flat was above the Globe pub in the heart of the market, and the legendary fight scene between Daniel & Mark was outside Bedales restaurant nearby. The dastardly Daniel's apartment was a short walk around the corner in Clink street, with numerous scenes being filmed in and around the market.
Borough is a must for any food fan when visiting London, but also a great place to explore if a film or history fan. The food on offer is amazing .... a short walk from London Bridge... its delicious.

 

Best Department Store in the World

Every 2 years all the heads of the retail industry meet for a week somewhere in the world, which culminates in an event which I would describe as the retail Baftas. The awards are nominated and voted by peers within the industry, the most prestigious being awarded being voted "The Best Department Store in the World".
Selfridges first won the accolade in 2010 when the event was held in New York. They went on to win again in 2012 in Paris, being the first store to win the award twice and consecutively. Earlier this month the event was held in Singapore, where Selfridges yet again took the award again. More details can be found here.
The news was soon sent back to the stores... this is a huge accolade for a brand and I'm very proud to type this knowing I work for the Best Department Store in the World. It may be tough some days, but recognition like this is worth it, because it means we are all doing something right.
As we all left the store on Friday we were handed a small Thank you card and cupcake, these were being handed out by the directors which was a great little touch.
The vision that Mr Selfridge had 105 years ago was to be the best and that everyone is welcome, its great to know we are still living those values all these years later.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Words Wednesday - May reads

This month I have managed to squeeze six books into my daily commute, which gives you an idea of how long some of my travels have been!... A book is a fundamental part of my commuting life, this is what has been keeping me entertained underground and overground across the city of London in May.
An Eligible Bachelor - Veronica Henry ~ VH is one of my favourite authors, her books are always a romp of a read filled with fun, family, friendship, love & laughter, with a leading guy you want to run away with and a location that I'm usually googling for a dream holiday!...this book doesn't disappoint. Guy is the Lord of the Manor in a Cotswold countryside,  Honor is a single mum in the village who runs a small catering /cake business. Guys mother launches a luxury B&B business for weekend retreats at the manor and enlists Honor's help. Throw in an adorable best friend, a soapstar fiancé and an errant ex and you have a fabulous romp of a read. Loved it, luxurious escapism, perfect if curled up on sofa a chilly Sunday afternoon or lounging on a sunbed in the tropics.
A Gift to Remember - Melissa Hill ~ Darcy works in a small independent bookstore in the heart of New York, whilst cycling to work one morning she knocks down a gentleman crossing the road walking his dog. Darcy wracked with guilt ends up looking after the dog whilst the man (Aiden) is taken to hospital. Aiden wakes from his accident with no memory of who he is, other than he has a dog. Darcy embarks on an adventure across New York trying to identify her patient and reunite him with his dog & family in time for Christmas.  I really enjoyed this book, Melissa Hill writes a great novel with New York as one of its characters. It has mystery, fun, romance and a very cute dog, all set to the backdrop of a fabulous city. Even with Christmas as its season, this can be read at anytime, another great read.
The One Plus One - JoJo Moyes ~ Ed's life is in chaos, under investigation from everyone he escapes to his weekend home to hide, here he meets Jess, a single mum to Nicky & Tanzie and Norman the dog.  Jess is holding down 2 jobs and struggling to make ends meet, along with looking after a bullied stepson and a maths prodigy daughter. Tanzie is offered a partial scholarship to a school for gifted children. To win the remains of the school fees, Tanzie is entered into a maths Olympiad in Scotland.
Jess's next challenge is get her there to compete, after some calamities, Ed finds himself offering to chauffeur the family there.... here embarks a journey that will change all of their lives for ever. A fabulous read filled with love, laughter, tears and family...
Revenge - Martina Cole ~ Michael Flynn is at the top of his game as crime lord of the british underworld. Family & Loyalty are his underlying principles in a world filled with crime, violence, power and money. Michael's world comes crashing down when his principles are compromised and his family comes under threat. Martina Cole was always one of my favourite authors, writing hard gritty family crime dramas in the East end of London. Although still not as good as her early novels, this book puts her back in the game of great reads, something which has been lacking in the last few books.
A Place to Call Home - Carole Matthews ~ Ayesha flees her home in the dead of night with her small daughter, escaping a violent husband. Finding herself  in London far away from what she knows, she seeks out a refuge for help. With no room at the refuge, Ayesha finds herself in the care of Crystal, Crystal boards at a reclusive popstar Ayden's house in Hampstead. This novel is about so much, its filled with love, laughter, family,it tackles domestic violence, crossing cultures and generations. It will tug at the heart strings from so many levels... I loved this book. NB if reading on the tube, a handy tissue is advisable! Another fantastic read from Carole Matthews, she knows how to tackle difficult subject matters in an uplifting and real way.
The Cuckoo Calling - Robert Galbraith ~ This book had me gripped from the start (thanks Ali Mc for the recommendation!) I loved it. Robert Galbraith has created a detective that will stand alongside some of the fictional classics and favourites and creep into your heart. Cormoran Strike is a war veteran down on his luck both personally and professionally. He is approached to investigate the death of a high profile model, who's brother refuses to believe that she threw herself off her luxury apartments balcony. Assisted by Robin his temporary assistant  Cormoran embarks on the biggest investigation of his career. From the glamour of Mayfair to the seedy streets of Soho this is a fabulous thriller from start to finish. I loved this book so much I have the next instalment on pre-order already. Robert Galbraith is the pseudonym of JK Rowling, and any editor that passed up this book must be kicking themselves now. Her narrative is as descriptive as any HP novel and she has created a character that will make the adult population rooting and willing him to succeed in the same way that every child did with Harry.... Bravo JK.
As you can see, my reads have been varied and eclectic this month, and I have enjoyed each one in its own right. Thankyou authors for 6 great reads....
What's been grabbing your attention this month and what reads would you recommend.



Monday, 12 May 2014

Afternoon Tea ~ London Style

This weeks London loves follow my New York loves last week. Afternoon Tea is synonymous with London and its hotels. Its one of my favourite ways to escape from the hustle and bustle of London life and the stresses of work. There is nothing as lovely than sitting down for tea, cakes & sandwiches in a relaxing environment, chatting with friends or chilling with a good book.

I have since I worked in London sipped Afternoon tea in many sumptuous locations. Here are 5 of my favourites.
Claridges
Claridges Afternoon tea is utterly divine, from the moment the doorman sweeps you into the grand foyer you are transported into a world where your every whim is catered for. The tea served on Claridges iconic teal stripe china is gorgeous. Here is a post from my visit, when I was taken for a birthday treat and had a fabulous time.
One Aldwych
This very modern & funky hotel was a new venue for me last year and a pleasant surprise. I visited for their Charlie & Chocolate factory inspired tea. The service, ambience and tea were delightful. The tea is clever, inspirational and so much fun, thoroughly recommend for anyone who is either a Roald Dahl fan or a chocolate fan.
The Berkeley
This is an old established hotel in Kensington which serves the perfect tea for any fashionista The Berkeley launched its Pret-a-Portea  a few years ago and its a huge hit with the ladies. Sited in the Caramel rooms in the Berkeley and served on bright funky china. This seasons tea features miu miu, Victoria Beckham & Christian Louboutin. I have visited this hotel twice for tea and loved both times.
Peggy Porschen Parlour
This parlour in a Belgravia side street is a treat and perfect for a spot of tea & cake. Peggy's doesn't serve the full afternoon tea, but it does serve fabulous tea & cake, perfect for a detour when shopping in the city. Here is a post from a previous visit.
The Savoy
One of my favourites, I have been many times and never been disappointed. One of the most iconic and established hotels in London, as you sweep through the revolving doors you are transported into a time and world filled with glamour, decadence and luxury. Had a fabulous time and tea here in November celebrating a 70th birthday.
As with previous posts I have plotted a little map of where these are in London... I hope that you sip, savour and enjoy. x

My tea list is always growing, on my wish list for this year are The Goring, The Connaught Hotel, The Shard, Balthazar and The Wolseley..............What are your favourites or recommendations.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Big Easy Brunch

Over the past couple of years the Americans, predominately New Yorkers have slowly been taking over Covent Garden. ( all in a good way of course) The eateries that have crossed the pond in the past year and settled in the market area have bought a great food feel back to the market area.
A couple of weeks ago I decided to try out the recently opened Big Easy for lunch. The Big Easy's menu is built around the BBq's and  Crabshack's of the south. The restaurant is sited on Maiden Lane just behind the Market towards Charing Cross. It was once an old electrical power station which suits its dark entrance and fabulous funky lighting. The venue is all wood and metal with some fabulous big urban windows. The daily menu offers and lunch menu is fabulous value for money.
I opted for the calamari for appetiser's and the jumbo shrimp for main. I declined the included beer or cocktail options and opted for sparkling water... something I was grateful later.
The servings are big, the calamari came in a huge basket accompanied by a spicy dip. The calamari was gorgeous, really tasty and tender. The jumbo shrimps arrived on a bed of chips, this is where it went a little array. The shrimp again was gorgeous, however the chips were not edible. They looked fantastic but were so heavily salted that they were not edible at all. I am a salt girl and often get told off for too much salting, however these surpassed even my palate, which was a huge disappointment.
Thankfully a large bottle of water was at hand!.
Has this put me off going again.... No, I really enjoyed the venue, the food that I ate was good, however when going again I will ask for my food to be un-seasoned and also to understand what the sauces are which accompany the dishes as the menu isn't very clear.
This is a cool dinery for after work eats, family days out and easy lunches.... hopefully my experience was just an off day in the kitchen!..
Here are some of the American take-overs in the Covent Garden area... more blog posts to come



007's ABC....

A couple of weeks ago on a much needed day off, I spent an hour wandering a new exhibition that has opened in the London Film museum in Covent Garden. I am referring to the new Bond in Motion exhibition ... featuring my favourite 007 treats; Aston martins, Bond, Cars & DB5's, S's and vantages!
The exhibition is very cleverly displayed and is a must for any Bond enthusiast and fan.  A couple of years ago I visited a great exhibition at the Barbican, this is a great follow on from that.
The Bond movies were a huge part of me growing up, always a family outing when one was released. I didn't really get hooked until Pierce Brosnan pulled on the legendary Tuxedo. He was my ideal Bond until Daniel Craig was handed the legendary suit & gun and then I was completely suckered!.
My 2nd love in the Bond movies has always been the cars... Sean Connery's DB5 being my favourite, when this featured in Skyfall, it made my day. Aston Martins are my car love and their partnership with the Bond brand is legendary.... this exhibition features many from several movies... including some battered DBS vehicles from Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Each car is displayed with both graphics and a movie playing of its legendary scene.

The show stealer is the legendary DB5 from Goldeneye  & Skyfall, sitting alongside is a replica model which was used to film scenes in the films.

Along with the Aston Martins, there is a water section, which features the amphibious Lotus and a bike section complete with Pierce Brosnans BMW bike and Daniel Craig's army bike which crosses the rooftops of the Turkish market in Istanbul.
This a great exhibition, and would make a great gift for Dads, Brothers and Bond fans like myself!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Afternoon Tea - New York Style

Today's New York loves features Tea. It's not the first thing that you think of doing on a visit to New York, as coffee is much more favoured. There are some great places and its becoming a much sort after way to stop & relax for an hour in the city that doesn't sleep. I have picked a mix of venues as it would be easy to list 5 hotels, however on my travels I have stumbles across some fun & quirky venues.
Most of the big hotels offer Afternoon tea, or High tea as it is often called in the city. My favourites of these is of course The Plaza. Twenty years ago on my first visit to NY I stayed in this fabulous hotel prior to it becoming private apartments and suites. The Palm Court where tea is served is sumptuous, decadent and very 'old school' New York and was completely wasted on a girl in her early 20's!... I am looking forward to returning this year for tea when I visit in December.
There are a few Tea shops which have popped up over the city in the last few years. Tea & Sympathy is a cute little tea shop and store in the heart of Greenwich Village. It sells everything British, which I am sure the ex-pats living in New York must love, and serves a great cup of tea, cake & cucumber sandwich. Its straight out of a 40's style tuck shop and a huge hit with new Yorkers who love a slice of Britain.
My next Tea stop is Sanctuary T Restaurant which is located in Soho on the corner of Grand and Broadway. This restaurants menu is styled around Tea and offers a huge range of Teas from across the world. With is minimal styling, it really is a Tea sanctuary. Perfect place to stop, sit and savour a relaxing cup of tea whilst pounding the streets of the city. With great brunch & dinner menu's is not just an afternoon tea stop.
Alice's Tea Cup has a 3 venues across the city. If Alice in Wonderland could have created a tea shop then this would have been it. Its like a curiosity shop filled with gorgeous scones & fabulous tea.
Here are my thoughts from a previous visit. Perfect little curiosity shop for afternoon tea, for big and little girls.

Finally my tea room of choice, is the gorgeous 7th floor restaurant in Bergdorf & Goodman, also known as BG's. Situated on 5th avenue and with fabulous views across Central Park, its a perfect place to stop and refresh if you are a lady that lunches or shops!
I have mapped my tea venues in New York, some of these may need to be booked in advance. Pop back in a fortnight and I will share my coffee loves of the city.


Sunday, 4 May 2014

Social Media Sunday ~ April

Its Social Media Sunday time gain on the blog, and this is becoming one of my favourite posts of the month. The link will take you to previous months posts.
I  have a lot to share of what I've been loving during April.... Its predominately been an Instagram month.
Instagram
  • Stephanie Howell - I have followed Stephanie's blog for many years, she lives in the states and shares her home with her soldier husband and 4 beautiful girls. She is super talented and I love her scrapbooking Currently they are living in Italy and making the most of their European adventure. My favourite snap this month was of Monet's beautiful garden in France, complete with spring tulips.
  • Mrs Button - Mrs B's snaps are just delightful, these iced cookies for Easter look gorgeous and this colour palette features lots in her snaps. She has the most perfect kitchen. yum x
  • Emily Quinton - completely fallen in love with Emily's photographic style and this country cottage quilt and flowers is gorgeous.
  • DanTVusa - I have been following Dan's Instagram for a while now since my friend Ali McNamara spent some time in New York with him taking photos for one of her books. Dan's photos of the city are amazing. This storm clouds over the  skyline is stunning, and evocative.
  • Butchers Daughter NYC - having recently discovered this fab little deli, its now on my "places to visit" list for my trip to NY later this year. It looks like this years trip will be filled with food treats, cant wait to visit.
  • A Guy Named Patrick - is another NYC photographer that I've been following lots. His photo's feature everyday NY in an effortlessly stylish style.
Two Instagram sites that got lots of likes this month feature my favourite city New York. One is the coffee shop Birch, their coffee cups have been snapped alongside some of the most iconic and popular sites in NY. Definitely will be seeking this gorgeous little coffee shop out when I visit, it has its own little Library in its store... perfect, great Coffee, Books & New York.. ticks a lot of my loves.
My 2nd Instagram site features Eggs. Over 200 eggs were placed around the streets and sites of New York on the run up to Easter... creating a huge Egg Hunt for all to seek and enjoy. Easter weekend culminated in all the Eggs being sited at the Rockefeller Plaza before a giant auction of the artists works for charity. Several million pounds was raised for a number of worthy causes. Here are some of my favourites across the city.

Blogland
Sharing the love on bloglovin this month, these are the blogs I've been reading  is what I've been liking.
  • NY through the lens ~ a blog recently discovered filled with glorious NY photo's, filled with lots of hint & tips for photographing NY at its finest.
  • Heart Handmade Uk  ~ this gorgeous blog is filled with the most delicious things to buy, make & eat for your home. This food baking & styling for Easter is yum, adding to things to make for next years Easter. I love the piñata cake, so much fun!
  •  Nouvelle Daily - another blog I keep coming back to. This post on photographing food and styling is filled with great hints & tips. Bookmarked for printing & filling in my Love my Camera more folder.
  • Essex Eating - I discovered Dan's blog a couple of years ago and still follow avidly. From great recipes, to cool restaurant reviews, Dan's posts are always filled with honesty. With a trip to Bath planned this month I dug out Dan's Bath foodie post for recommendations. 
  • Mrs M's Meanderings ~ I've followed Caroline's blog for many years and now regard her as one of my friends, catching up for drinks when she is in London. I love her Frock it posts and Friday 5's. Recently she has been sharing her beauty loves/loathes on Vlog which is very entertaining!. This post from her this month was a lovely surprise.
Thankyou to all that have posted me comments, messages or 'likes' on twitter, Instagram or my blog. They mean a lot and always put a smile on my face...
so this month what have you been tweeting, 'liking' following lately? would love to know ... happy Sunday x



Saturday, 3 May 2014

May Makeover

Welcome to May and a new look blog. I hope that you like it.... Its been some time since the blog had any work and I had grown tired of the previous template. This one is more basic, but allows me to personalise it. I plan to change the look dependant on season!. This colour palette reminds me of the Blossom on the trees, Spring and Candy!...
With a new look blog I have been planning this months blog posts. Along with the regular monthly posts I also will be sharing with you some recent activities, which feature Bond, Beauty and Borough Market.
 
May's planned days out feature a trip to Cardiff, a night at the Albert Hall, Chocolate Tea and a night with an Eastender and a Ballet boy in an east end music theatre.
Along with a new look blog I have compiled a planner so that I can keep track on blog posts. Its an easy way for me to drop down ideas and draft posts. I am an old fashioned girl and love a pen & paper, as much as I try to use iPad/iPhone for drafts etc, it doesn't really work for me.
I hope that May brings you all lots of fun.... pop back and see what May brings for me over the next 4 weeks.