SLIDER

Opium's dim sum & cocktails 9th birthday masterclass

Monday, 29 November 2021

This week on my quest for quirky restaurants and unique experiences in London, I came across Opium and their birthday celebrations in Chinatown.
From the street, all you see of Opium is an inconspicuous entrance leading up to an extremely dark stairwell but at the top, the noise and heavy atmosphere hit me as soon as opened the door. Lit up with lanterns and packed with people, it was dark, hidden, busy; a tiny little place that felt kind of exclusive, like a secret.
Having arrived early, we had time for a quick drink before being ushered down some stairs into a secret bar which was where the event took place. Having flicked through the menu, I knew this place was going to be good. Each cocktail was totally unique and the ones we ordered with delicious. 

There were about 20 people in total, in the secret little bar. Designed to feel like an old school Chinese drinking den it was the perfect venue to host what really was, an awesome evening.

The time flew by as we made our way through three classic cocktails and then their take on each one; paired with some dim sum.

Starting simple with a G&T; their take came mixed with pineapple & cucumber wine. It took away all the usual bitterness of gin and was the first time I've enjoyed it. This light and fruity drink came with a basket of king prawn dumplings which we made our way though whilst listening to an explanation on how gin and tonics got paired. That sort of stuff is always interesting. 

Next was a Mai Tai. We tried the classic and then watched Chef Jeremy make their version whilst he told us about its origin. With the addition of toasted cumin, this drink was absolutely something else, the smell alone took you to somewhere else. Mango cordial gave it an added fruity zing added so much to the original cocktail. We drank those with spicy duck dumplings.

Last was an old fashioned which I didn't like. Whiskey is, just not for me, although, this heavy drink came alongside some Cantonese BBQ pork buns and those were delicious. We actually stayed and ordered some more after the event came to an end - along with some more food and drinks - and would have continued to do so for a few hours had the kitchen not shut.

So yes, a very good evening. Sadly, the event was a one time thing, but if what we ate and drank was anything to go by, then I'll be very keen to head back as soon as I get the chance.

It was mid November so acceptable time to get my first sparkly top of the season out which was very exciting. I paired it with black jeans, leather boots and some new jewellery which I've been gifted via Estee Lalonde at Daisy London. I haven't worn a necklace, or a bracelet for that matter, for years but I did like the way these pieces looked - a simple chain can add so much to an outfit. 


5 unique places to drink cocktails in Mykonos

Monday, 22 November 2021

Cocktails are an important part of any proper holiday - they are for me at least.

I started writing this post laid up by the pool with two frozen cocktails next to me (not quite sure how that happened - my boyfriend has a habit of over ordering) and although pre-lunch drinking isn't a normal occurrence for me, late afternoon and evening holiday cocktails are.

Mykonos is extremely expensive and getting anything apart from beer or wine, sub €15 seems to be a rarity. Don't worry, I did find some - getting through as many cocktails as we did we were sure to find a couple - and whilst I have mentioned them, this list is more about getting the best experience for your money.

180 Degrees Bar

Best for: Sunset views

Having tried multiple times to book a table beforehand; we just turned up a couple of minutes before the sunset started and honestly, it was carnage but we got in in the end. It was just the two of us and I was determined to find a seat - so I did but if there's a big group of you, I would suggest getting something booked before you arrive because it was no easy feat!

There was a €20 entree fee but this included a free drink so when you factor in that we were spending €15 for cocktails everywhere else, the entree fee was hardly nothing. 

Be warned, it was very busy and also a little bit pretentious but I wouldn't let that put you off, the sunset views are worth it.

Yialo Yialo

Best for: Romantic evenings

The restaurants that line Platis Gialos beach vary quite a bit but this one was the busiest so we took a chance and it paid off; plus I liked the candle lit tables on the beach here, all very romantic.

We initially stopped for dessert (which was very good) and were shocked to see the cheapest cocktails we'd come across - €13 each!

A lot of places in Mykonos serve their own unique cocktails; ones they had created had themselves which more often than not, were not very good but this menu was full of classics so we went straight ahead and ordered a pina colada and a frozen daiquiri. 

SantAnna

Best for: Beach club vibes

I'm not usually one to sit at the beach all day but Mykonos is full of beach clubs so we wanted to experience it.

I decided on SantAnna on Paraga beach and I was more than happy with my choice. Some of the prices at the other places were completely outrageous but SantAnna gave us what we wanted for a slightly more reasonable price. We booked a little beach cabana for €80 each, half of which was redeemable against food and drinks and the vibe was super relaxed and laid back.

I spent the whole trip drinking caprioskas and the ones at SantAnna were some of my favourite - each enjoyed in a different part of the club. We spent the day by the beach, had lunch under the huge bamboo pergola and finished the late afternoon drinking by the pool.


Veranda 

Best for: Old town experience

Having made it out of the maze of streets in the old town center, we stumbled across a little cluster of bars hidden around the back. They were right on the water with the windmills in the distance, it was an awesome place to sit - as long as you didn't mind the occasional splash from a big wave. 

There was a different vibe from the main part of the old town; more relaxed, kind of less bothered about what was going on around them - having spoken to a waitress later that day, we realised its because that's where to locals go.

I was impressed with the cocktail menu and the high quality of these drinks compared to some of the places we went to.

Beef Bar

Best for: Beachside luxury

The Beef Bar is located in the Bill&Coo hotel and was a bit of a hidden gem in my opinion. Our hotel recommended it so we hopped on the quad bike and went for a late afternoon drive. 

It looked over the hotel's small private beach and out to the sea meaning there were hardly any people around. The view was flawless plus it was just calm and very relaxing.

The whole place felt very exclusive but the price of the drinks obviously factored that in, because my cocktail was €24. That being said, it was also the best cocktail I had whilst in Mykonos and the location was pretty perfect.


Which one will you visit first?

Italian Gourmet Ready Meals By Delita

Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Last month, I popped down to a very fancy house in Notting hill for a night in with Delita.

Technically pre-made and microwavable, Delita don't quite resonate with the term 'ready meal' because they are more than just that. 

It's a premium product; a ready meal like no other.

Having struggled to find any authentic and ready to go Italian food, Ava and Daniel - the co-founders, decided to do it themselves and they've done a great job.

The result? Restaurant standard food; ready to eat in minutes. 

Each dish is created with high quality ingredients and comes in a vacuum sealed glass jar which removes the need for preservatives. The packaging also details how to plate up with style so you can really make a statement when you serve it.

Over the course of the evening, we ate a lot and had I not been sat at the island, watching Daniel make the food; I wouldn't have believed it came out of a microwave. It was rather fancy. 

Georgia loved the tagliatelle; and I can agree - for a veggie dish, the pasta had an awesome, almost meaty bite but my favourite was the octopus. Served with roasted cherry tomatoes in saffron potato cream, it wasn't chewy at all. I just love how boujie it is to be eating octopus at home.


What a lovely event, really. I brought Georgia along and it just felt like we'd been invited to a dinner party with friends. Good company, amazing venue and delicious, high quality food!

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Coppa Club's new Putney Location

Monday, 8 November 2021

Having dinner in an igloo is a new idea that seems to have made itself quite at home in London, I mean it's definitely cold enough.

Not only are they very instagrammable - they are - but these cosy little domes are great because they provide a private space away from other diners and they allow you to enjoy eating outside without freezing the death in the temperatures of the British winter. With the Thames running through the city, there is more than enough reason to want to enjoy a riverside meal outside, it's very pretty in the winter.

Whilst these plastic structures are popping up in all of London's scenic spots it doesn't seen to be any easier to get a booking. Luckily for me, I was in the right place at the right time and managed to secure an igloo at Coppa clubs new location in Putney, on their opening night.



There are three igloos in Putney each of which seat up to 8; they really are set up for a cosy winters evening.

Inside, they're adorned with foliage, paper lanterns, and blankets on each seat. And outside; the riverside view which was really beautiful with the bridge lit up against the dark nights sky.



The menu at Coppa club wasnt a specific cuisine, it pretty much has something for everyone with options from pizzas and pasta, through to steaks, chicken, fish and the odd exotic dish - which is what I ordered!

Booking an igloo also gives you access to the 'igloo menu' which David took full advantage of. He ordered the truffle wagyu burger whilst I enjoyed the Thai green prawns. Both very good in terms of both taste and quality.
 


The igloos were great but very intimate and romantic with just the two of us so we decided to take dessert inside to soak up some atmosphere. 

The main resturant was very busy. I think it was fully booked so we found a cosy booth in the bar area and got stuck in to some sweet treats there.

Mixed in among starters, desserts and cocktails, it was surprisingly one of the cheapest meals we've had out in a very long time.




Good job, Coppa club. We will definitely be back.

Shout out to Charlie who was an awesome waiter and made our evening with free champagne and great service. He is a font of coppa club knowledge.

The Swallows Nest at Chelidonia Luxury Suites, Oia, Santorini

Monday, 25 October 2021

I'm not sure why or how but the pandemic seems to have made European travel alot more attractive to me. Whereas I would never have considered it before, my short haul bucket list is now growing rather quickly. 

The Greek islands were the first one I managed to tick off and having not had any travel to write about for two years, there are a whole list of posts I want to write about my trip. I've decided to start with the thing I was most excited about, the hotel we stayed at in Santorini.

Our two nights in the Swallows Nest room at Chelidonia Luxury Suites were something I'll never forget. 

As we arrived and walked alot the main street in Oia, which is along the top of the mountain - the excitement set in. I spotted our room in amongst a sea of white buildings that covered the side of the cliff opposite

It looked exactly like the photos and stood out from all the others.

This photo is not doing it justice but it is the only one that has the beautiful blue of the plunge pool and the intense pink of the local bougainvillea flowers; by far the most beautiful room on the cliff. 

The location of Chelidonia Luxury Suites 

The location was perfect. Reception was on the main strip whilst the rooms were a little way down, past a private entry gate and then spread out across the cliff face. 

The most popular Instagram spot in the town - the best view of the blue domes was just before the gate so it was rather busy although past the gate it was very serene and you didn't really see anyone else as you walked along the cobbled paths.

The staff at Chelidonia Luxury Suites 

I can't say enough about the staff at the hotel, particularly Ned who took care of absolutely everything.

When we arrived, he explained every detail we might have needed, dropped us to our room and disappeared. We hopped in the pool as soon as he left and 30 minutes later, he arrived with a bottle of sparkling wine which was a really lovely touch. 

He served our breakfast, checked in on us every now and then and offered to take photos every time he came around which I really appreciated.

Another thing that was really helpful was the virtual concierge; a whatsapp number. Anytime we needed anything we just sent them a message and our problem was solved. This was how we put our breakfast orders in, how they let us know our reservations had been made, how we asked them to book our airport transfers, everything!

Our room at Chelidonia Luxury Suites 

The room was the most exciting place I've ever stayed. We had quite specific requirements when booking, we wanted a cave style room and we wanted a private plunge pool and this room ticked both of those boxes. The inside was white and airy with curved ceilings and door ways and the outside was extra special. 

Not only did we have a pool that went deep into the cave and snaked around corners, with a bench at each end, but it could be accessed from a secret hatch in the room.

It had crazy views across the cliff face and was the perfect temperature so we made the most of it, day and night.

As well as the pool and sunbed area, there was also a secret terrace...

Breakfast at Chelidonia Luxury Suites 

The room had so many different parts to it, each one more magical than the last and whilst the pool was pretty incredible, it was the terrace that took me by surprise.

Just up a few steps up and around the back of the room was our private terrace. With seats carved into the the stone and a table and umbrella set up for dining, it looked out in the other direction over the caldera and the Agean sea. 

It was the most incredible place I've ever eaten breakfast. 

Ned set up our feast and left us to enjoy our first course which usually consisted of breads, coffee, juices, fruit and yoghurt.

And then he was back twenty minutes later with the rest!

It was an absolutely magical way to spend the morning. We ate our food and spent a further hour sat there looking out over the ocean with not another person in sight which was one of my favourite parts of the day. 

It's not often I'd prefer to stay in the room than get out and explore but our stay was one of the best things I've ever experienced. I have always wanted to stay on one of Santorini's cave rooms so I can happily tick that one off my list! 

Sourdough masterclass with Good in Bread

Monday, 11 October 2021

I love baking. Fairy cakes, banana bread, Tuesday nights watching bake off, although the more I bake, the more apparent it becomes that I'm not particularly good at it. 

Keep it simple and I'm fine but move on to more intricate recipes like sourdough and I wouldn't know where to start.

Sourdough became the 'it' thing to eat a few years ago; avotoast has never looked back and once people realised that they were going to have alot of time on their hands last year, it became one of the 'it' things to bake.

I know it takes a very long time because I have just successfully baked (and immediately eaten) my first two loaves.

I definitely cannot take all the credit. The guys at Good in Bread sent me all the stuff I needed, a simple recipe and they even set up a Zoom call with Emily (who founded the brand) who talked me through the process step by step and let me tell you, sourdough is no easy feat.

With one step unsupervised, I did manage to burn the first loaf (it was a little extra crusty) but the 2nd was perfect and a very proud moment. I try to avoid bread at home where I can but there was no resisting a loaf that I had baked fresh myself. We had bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner for two days last week. 

Good in Bread is an artisan sourdough subscription service which means it's now possible to have a freshly baked loaf delivered to my London door step on a bi-weekly basis.

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Pizza Making at Bunga Bunga Battersea

Monday, 4 October 2021

If like me, you're not one to wait for the weekend, then Bunga Bunga is the place for a little midweek fun.

They've got party pizza venues in both southwest London and Covent garden but my local, in Battersea closes on a Wednesday night in favour of educating the locals on the art of pizza making.

We were the first ones in and quickly made ourselves comfortable. I'd never been to Bunga Bunga before but I already knew I'd like to come back within ten minutes of arriving. Even empty, I loved the vibe; and the quirky and cool Italian decor. I just knew it was going to be a fun place to spend a Friday.

I decided that it was not going to be a quiet Wednesday night so after our welcome drinks, we ordered a bottle of prosecco which arrived just in time to be enjoyed with a plate of antipasti - the perfect accompaniment!

The classes are £35pp and they have a bottomless option for £55 but for the amount I drink, bottomless is hardly ever worth it so a bottle between the two of us was great! 

Nathan was our awesome host for the evening and he and Chef John made everyone feel very comfortable. They did a great job in getting everyone involved whilst bouncing off each other all evening - they were a huge part of why we had such a great time.

After watching how it was done, we donned our aprons and had a go at making the dough ourselves. Quite a simple task but alot of fun to get stuck in to plus the simplicity meant I had one hand spare to drink with whilst I mixed the pre-measured ingredients with the other, an impressive skill I know. 

Whilst our dough was bagged up ready to take home, we were given a pre-proved ball to stretch into shape and smother with toppings.


I swapped David his veg for my pepperoni and off they went to the oven - only to be demolished within seconds of coming out.

Somehow our table won 'best dough' (must have been my one handed dough rolling) which meant a round of shots to finish the an already super evening!

The pizza making was not particularly skillful or insightful but this was one of the most entertaining and enjoyable cookery classes I've ever done. We were first to arrive and last to leave so that should tell you something.

Swingers Crazy Golf, West End

Thursday, 30 September 2021

I was one of Swingers very first customers when they opened back in 2014. 

Apparently, that 'pop-up in a leaky warehouse in Shoreditch' was their first venture.  I remember heading there for an event and leaky warehouse does it justice; it was kinda dark and a little cramped.

Fast forward to 2021 and Swingers crazy golf has come a long way.

Last week, I was invited down to their newest London venue, which is just behind Oxford Circus.

I love central London, there's always something fun going on and this is no different!

These sort of activity bars are a very welcome new addition to London's nightlife scene. They mean that you can do something substantial with your evening but still enjoy all the fun of meeting up for a drink at a bar. 

The fun atmosphere and banging music made Swingers, almost a bar in its own right.

We dumped our stuff in the cloakroom and found a comfy spot with great people watching views. There were all sorts - we saw groups of friends, date nights and even a stag do.

Having cycled there, I was starving so we had a quick look at the menus from the four foodie pop ups and I went straight with a 'Smokey Robinson' from Patty&Bun and we got a couple of cocktails.

David ordered a 14" slice of pizza, which was inhaled and swiftly followed by also a 'Smokey Robinson.' 

Clearly they were very good. 

The hour beforehand disappeared; that in itself was a load of fun so I would recommend getting there with enough time before or after your booking to take advantage of it.

When 7.30 finally rolled around, we grabbed what was left of our cocktails and made our way over to the course.

There are two bespoke crazy golf courses at this Swingers; and two in the city. We did the Helter Skelter one and after the night we had, I'm excited to go back and try the other. 

The course was super fun, each hole had its own quirk. My favourite was hole 3 because it moved and I very much enjoyed watching the less co-ordinated of people give it a go; and also number 4 which had a loop de loop.

Crazy golf wasn't my idea of a big night out but Swingers is definitely worthy of your Friday night. I'm sure we'll be back very soon.

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Honest Burgers Limited edition Special: The BUFFALO BLUE burger

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

I try to keep my Mondays quiet but with only a few days left to try Honest burger's limited-edition BUFFALO BLUE burger, I made an exception.

The Buffalo Blue is their 2nd second collaboration with Wingmans after the Thai fried chicken one went down so well.

Served in a shiny bun, a classic Honest beef patty (cooked perfectly pink) and smoked bacon build the foundations - nothing too extravagant about that, although it was delicious.

The main event however, is very exciting.

Blacksticks Blue cheese, which comes from a family-run farmhouse and a generous helping of Wingman's award-winning buffalo sauce smothered on top elevate the flavour of this burger to something completely new.

I understand I may be a little late on this discovery, but adding blue cheese to a burger is genius. 

It takes the taste to a whole other level. 

Plus, it was oozing out in every direction which is only ever a good thing.


As for the buffalo sauce, all I'm saying is I can see why it's won awards. It was very flavourful and pulled it all together. It tasted great, not only in the burger but also all over the rosemary chips it had dripped on.

Get down to your local Honest Burger before October 4th to try it for yourself!

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How to prevent sore eyes on holiday | #MeMyselfAndEye

Monday, 20 September 2021

After 21 months in the UK (have I mentioned that already) I finally went abroad last month - what a time to be alive. 

Travel is one of the most important parts of my life and I forgot the joy that it brings me. I also forgot alot of other things about traveling. I forgot to barter before I jumped in a taxi, I almost forgot to buy travel insurance before I left and I forgot how it affects my eyes. 

As an infrequent contact lens wearer, a holiday is usually a bit of a shock for my eyes because all of a sudden, I am putting them in for hours on end, every day. Having toughed through a few days, I soon started making a bit more effort to give my eyes a rest.

It is so important to take our eye health seriously and with National Eye Health Week this week, I have put together some tips for how to look after your eyes when you travel. 


Eye drops for the plane

We all know the airflow on planes is not good for our body and with low humidity levels on board, dry eyes are a given.

Eye drops help with moisture levels and hydration plus they come in tiny aeroplane safe bottles so they're easy to travel with. Keep one in your bag and use it when needed to give your eyes a refresh.

I suffer with dry eyes quite a bit; in the air and otherwise. It's a real pain when I have a long day with my lenses, but I have started to use Thealoz Duo eye drops and find them great for giving my sore eyes some instant re-hydration.

Don't forget to drink water 

If you're like me, then when you go on holiday, you choose somewhere hot. In the heat, you're much more likely to get dehydrated (alcohol consumption doesn't help) and eyes don't take well to that so it's important to drink an adequate amount of water each day.

Obviously, this is also important for your overall health, but dehydrated eyes could end up red and sore or blurring your vision. It will also cause contact lenses to dry up and become very uncomfortable; I talk from experience.

Take your make up off

Yes, it does seem that I come rolling in at 3am a little more often when I'm on holiday but that is no excuse to not wash my face before I get into bed.

I'm great at remembering to take my lenses out but anything after that seems to be forgotten until I wake up the next morning with black smudges all over my face and more often than not, clumps of mascara stuck to my lashes.

This is not smart and can be really irritating for both the eye and my lashes.

Don’t forget your glasses

This is one of my biggest holiday checks; phone, passport, glasses.

At best, you'll be straining your eyes and at worst, you'll be almost blind, like me. I literally cannot see a thing without them so my glasses are not something I can afford to forget.

Take opportunities like lazy breakfasts or the hours getting ready before going for dinner to wear your glasses and give your eyes a rest.

Keep your eyes clean

Not only were the roads much dustier where we were in Mykonos but getting around by quad bike meant that I'd often have all sorts of bits flying in my eyes. The same sort of thing can happen at the beach so it's important to take the time to rinse your face and wash your eyes when you can. 
These Blephaclean daily eyelid cleanisng wipes are perfect as they're ready to use and small enough to stick in my bra if I went out without a bag.

 

Wear Sunglasses

Clearly sunglasses make everyone look better but that is not their sole purpose. Obviously, we should be wearing sunglasses to protect our eyes from harmful rays from the sun.

I have a funny relationship with sunglasses. I don't enjoy wearing them because it meant putting my lenses in first although I put up with it on most days. 

Finally, having had enough of the problem, I came home to a new pair of prescription sunglasses. 

Problem solved, forever.

I got them from Glassesshop.com which is where my everyday glasses came from and I am very pleased with them. We have had some particularly hot days back in London so at least they're getting their use!

National Eye Health Week runs from 20-27th September. Take the opportunity to do some research and make sure you are looking after your eyes as best you can.

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My £2 visit to The Pilgrm Hotel, Paddington

Sunday, 12 September 2021

When The Pilgrm started appearing on my feed, I initially thought it was a brunch cafe, all anyone ever posted were photos of pancakes and avocado toast but that was enough for me to have a click around and find out that actually, it's a hotel - quite possibly the most instsgrammable new hotel in London at that. Just look at this lobby:

This is what they would call the reception; if this were a normal hotel but this was by no means a traditional lobby. From the street, similarly to as online, you could quite easily mistake the place for a coffee shop although like any good lobby, (pr coffee shop) the madness of the street outside disappears as soon as you step in. You feel the serenity hit you as you're greeted by a grand wooden staircase, a wall of hanging plants and a coffee bar come check in desk.

Check in can all be done prior to arrival so all you really need to do is pick up your key. It was all very quick and informal which was nice considering I was a bit of a sweaty mess having just cycled there from SW London. It was a really nice day so I did enjoy the ride but with Paddington station just across the road, I needn't have bothered - the transport links are pretty awesome.

The dark wood of the staircase and the theme of hanging plants is continued through to the bar and restaurant upstairs; it's full of character. With two separate indoor dining areas plus an outside terrace, the public spaces in the hotel were really well done and actually very peaceful considering the hustle and bustle outside. The sort of place made for ordering a coffee and getting some work done; which was exactly my plan for the afternoon.

Less relaxing is the maze of corridors which had me feeling like I was lost deep somewhere in the hotel for a few minutes although I was initially given very good directions to my room so I only got lost when I went for a wander to see what else was around. 

The rooms aren't quite as pretty as the public space although absolutely nothing to complain about. Very simplistic with lots of natural light and a puffy white bed. There was a full length mirror which is always appreciated, a small rail for a couple of hangers, a TV, a fan and a little armchair in the corner. My favourite thing however was the Marshall speaker which I promptly connected my phone to whilst I got ready to head out for the evening.

The bathroom was awesome in black and white. There was a big rainfall shower and ample space to move, although the sink area was lacking, in terms of size and space for much more than a toothbrush.

I saw it being described somewhere as a hotel for locals and I can get behind this. It was the perfect base for us since we were heading to regents park that evening.

Oh, and I forgot the mention the most amazing thing about this stay - it only cost me £2 (that's if you disregard the bottle of prosecco we drank.)

Sometime way back in lockdown (the days all blend into one don't they?) I saw their pay the date promotion in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support and managed to nab a room on the 2nd day - obviously a great cause and I was pleased to be a part of it.

Normal room rates start as low as £69 and in my opinion, it blows any other budget friendly hotel out of the water- a great new spot if you ask me!

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