Archive for the ‘ United Kingdom ’ Category

London Eats: Quartier at Eight Members Club

A few months back, I met some amazing ladies who share the same love for food! This love for food led to several dining out sessions, a few cook ins, and even a wine tasting trip to France! In an amazing stroke of coincidence, a multi course dinner that I organised for us happened to fall on International Women’s Day! I thought it perfect that I’m celebrating this one with women from different countries and with various background – it felt truly international! Plus I think they’re pretty kick ass to boot! :D

I’ve booked a table for 6 in Eight Members Club’s Quartier Restaurant, with 2 being vegetarians. The place was tucked in an inconspicuous street off the bustling Liverpool Street. It’s a quick 15minute walk from the station. However, a friend had a really hard time looking for it that she had to get an uber eventhough she wasn’t that far off. I wasn’t even certain I got to the right place but I guess the big 8 sign you see once you go in is a sign that you’re in the right place! You won’t see any concierge here… you’ll have to get on the lift which only has 2 button, the other being “8.” hehe

First course was seared scallop with with cauliflower velouté. Veloute is considered one of France’s five “mother sauces.” It is made from a light stock such as chicken or fish and subsequently thickened with butter. I thoroughly enjoyed this dish and wished there was more of it! Seconds please! :D

Second course was goat cheese, roasted beetroot, and topped with caraway tuile.

Third course salmon gravadlax – a Scandinavian dish where dry cured salmon is marinated in herbs; quail egg, avruga caviar, and créme fraiche.

Fourth course roast quail, celeriac gratin, port jus. This was another dish that tasted really good!

The vegetarian option was risotto with truffle oil. I can’t remember the whole name as it wasn’t mine but my friend was saying that it felt uncooked still. I gave it a bite and I gotta agree -a few more minutes on the fire and it would have been perfect!

Fifth course seared tuna, prawn wonton, wakame, tokiko, wasabi, and soy dressing. Another friend declared this as her favourite dish in the lot so far.

Sixth course wild mushroom linguini, truffle oil. Sweets aside, this was our hands down favourite for the night!

There was an average wait of 10 minutes per course it seemed. Since we started a bit late, 20 past seven, and it was getting to be quite late… we asked for our deserts to be served one after the other (since we were waiting for 15minutes already). And suddenly, 3 plates were in front of us!

Seventh course was fondant choco choux. I thoroughly enjoyed this one! Outside is this crunchy, chewy biscuit with chocolate on the inside. Yum!

Eight course was passion fruit loli tart. This, for us, was their most creative dish. Plus the contrast of flavours felt like a refreshing burst and play of flavours in your tongue.

Ninth course, petit fours. We were served small, bite sized confectioneries. 2 kinds of chocolate and third was something akin to a Turkish delight but wayyy sweeter.

The food was good but it didn’t really make me go “wow!” The pace of the meal could have used some picking up. I would recommend going there if you get a good deal like us (via Groupon)! Overall, it was a nice night out spent with good friends.  :D

London Eats: L’Autre Pied

I saw this deal on Groupon – a 7 course tasting menu at L’Autre Pied – and thought it to be such a steal! I got one that’s good for 4 coz it would be a nice experience for my housemates and I to have together. I tend to see them only in house clothes while we all hang out in the kitchen. So it’d be a pretty cool change! After booking and confirming online, I we chose to go there for a weekend lunch. I We decided to dress up a bit. Basically, from how we hang out in the kitchen, everything else is dressing up! :D

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Arriving there after a few minutes walk off Baker Street station, we were ushered to our table after a quick check on their list. Once we got settled in – and ordered some drinks – the food basically started arriving. What I enjoy most about multi course meals is that the table won’t be cleared until after everyone is done. Because we were eating at different speed, I think we had a good pace and didn’t feel stuffed but a good kind of full. We ended up staying there for 3hours!

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Here’s a recap of our meal. I thought it started just alright. But as we progressed, it’d always be better than the last and we all agreed that it ended on high notes! <3

First course
Butternut, parsley, espelette and grated chestnuts. All the while, they kept offering us baskets of freshly baked bread and it was oh so good! Housemates got themselves a glass of wine while I, uhmm.. had hot choco! :D

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Second course was baked heritage beetroots, with radish, creme fraische and rose

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Next up was charred Cornish cod, St. Austell mussels, buttermilk and lovage.

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Fallow deer, coco, stout, onion, and blackberry was our fourth plate.

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Heading towards the end of the meal, we were given a selection of cheese: blue cheese, hard cheese, soft cheese

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Pre dessert was banana mousse. Really really good!

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Clementine cheesecake, bitter lemon, and clementine sorbet for our seventh plate!

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Blueberry gin and amaretti biscuits to end it with a bang! These two were in such contrast from the flavour to even temperature! The blueberry was chewy and reminded me of Turkish delights – sweet with a hint of tang in it. The amaretti, I totally love! I wasn’t expecting it to be warm too and it had a nutty flavour. Mmmm! <3

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I would definitely recommend this to friends and would be happy to go back! :D

 

Deers of Richmond Park

The one thing that I love in this city – I mean Greater London – that I now call home is that it’s huge! You can be in the middle of a bustling city then be in the middle of a huge sprawling park the next. With that in mind, I’ve seen pictures and blog posts that recommended a trip to Richmond Park to see its deers up close so off we go to do exactly just that!

Richmond is this picturesque town in London’s southwest. It’s beside the River Thames which definitely adds to its charm. Also, it’s blessed with green and wide open spaces one of which is Richmond Park. Richmond Park is considered as London’s largest royal park. 3x the size of New York City’s Central Park, it is all at once a national nature reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and a Special Area of Conservation. It has hundreds of red and fallow deer and they were what I wanted to see in this visit!

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The River Thames meanders along the town

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Fallow stags

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They weren’t wary of people

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They do not even mind posing for the camera. :D

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They seem to enjoy fruits from visitors

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How to get here:
Nearest tube stop: Richmond (Overground/ District line)
Then catch buses 371 or 65 to the pedestrian gate at Petersham
*we decided to walk there taking the path that was beside the River Thames

London Eats: Romulo Café

Last week, a friend suggested we try the newest Filipino restaurant on the block – Romulo Cafe. So we did!

On my google map, it showed that I was at the area but when I looked up, I first thought it mus not be right as it looked like a bar complete with neon lights. But upon reading the sign outside, it indeed say Romulo Cafe – and if you’ll peek inside, you’ll notice that it’s much bigger than you’d initially think of.  In I went and was immediately greeted by the friendly barman. I said I was quite early for our reservation but they led me to our table anyways. Also, my phone chose that time to go completely empty of battery and they kindly offered to recharge it for me by the bar.

Not really fond of alcoholic drinks , I ordered mango juice -a drink that never fails to remind me of home -Philippines!  After browsing through the 3 page menu – all full of delicious tasting  favourite dishes, we ordered a starter, 2 mains, a vegetable dish, 2 kind of rice, and a dessert! Whew!

Starter for us was pork sisig. It’s chopped sizzling pork belly with pickled apples and caramelized shallots. Being so familiar with the sizzling plate version, we were slightly confused when it came to our table. Anyway, this dish tasted so good! We were so tempted to ask for one more. We had to stop ourselves though coz we’ll have 2 mains coming up – can’t be too greedy.

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Pork Sisig

Mains came after quite some minutes of waiting. The owner, Chris, was chatting with us while we were waiting. He was very nice and was excitedly telling us about the place. He even gave us a quick tour after. Our food arrived. I enjoyed the chicken relleno  which is roasted chicken stuffed with ground pork, raisins, chorizo, and peas (kinda like embutido)  a lot. My friend thought the kare-kare – a stew in a peanut based sauce served with steamed vegetables and flavoured shrimp paste with beef and oxtail- was really nice. To ease my guilt from eating a lot of meat, we ordered laing as well. It’s sauteed taro leaves in coconut milk topped with adobo flakes.

There was a Caucasian guy at the table beside us and it was pretty noticeable that he kept asking his companion about the chicken relleno on our table.  Also, another couple on our left side were eating in a Filipino restaurant for the first time and was asking us about the food we had on our table. Chris noticed them having a hard time choosing and eventually made recommendation to them on what to order.

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Lola Virginia’s Chicken Relleno

Tito Greg's Kare-kare

Tito Greg’s Kare-kare

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Taro Leaves Laing

We barely managed to eat half of our mains as well as rice – too much! I was so full! But… but… we just couldn’t let any dessert pass us by. Not when they have a favourite of mine, sans rival, in their menu! We decided to share one between the two of us. Sans rival is a Filipino dessert made with dulce de leche buttercream, cashews, chewy and sweet meringue with vanilla ice cream. Easily our favourite! :D

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Since we had lots of leftovers, we asked them to pack it so we can enjoy the rest at home. :)

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This is by far the nicest Filipino restaurant I’ve eaten at here in London! I’ve been to quite a few already (but I’m not saying I’ve been to all Pinoy restos). We’d both love to come back here so we can try the other dishes! :D

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Opening hours:
Monday-Sunday
12pm-12am (til 11:30pm on Sundays)

Address:
343 Kensington High St
London W8 6NW

Phone:
(+44)
020 3141 6390

Daytrip to Hitchin Lavender Farm

There’s a few things I’ve learned in life: always throw salt over your left shoulder, keep rosemary by your garden gate, plant lavender for good luck, and fall in love whenever you can. – Practical Magic

I love flowers. They are a surefire way to make me smile.

P1250525For the longest time, my laptop’s wallpaper is a field of lavender. I was so keen to visit one since I first set my eyes on it. Originally planning to go there with girl friends, Mike was more than happy to leave me with them for that specific trip. He thinks it’s too girly a trip. But between our work schedules and travels, it was difficult to sync. My bf being the dearest guy that he is – and since he knows it’d make me so happy – brought me to one himself instead! <3

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First sighting of the lavender field – heart’s beating fast! :D

We went to Hitchin. Located just outside of London, it’s the closest lavender farm to us. It’s a 40 minute drive away. After paying for the entrance fee to the farm (4.5oGBP pp), we were given a brown bag and a pair of scissors each. We can take as many lavender with us – but we weren’t really there to cut flowers . I did cut a few stalk to keep as souvenir. If the rows of lavender there were connected from one end to the other, according to their website it’d reach 25 miles! Also, the farm has a cafe where you can recharge after spending time in the lavender field!  They sell lavender based products of course. I was looking for any lavender-based food to try. Alas, they only have (lavender) tea! Still, it was a day wonderfully spent with my dear Michael. ^_^

PS: Bees find lavender very attractive so there were lots of them. LOTS. They don’t sting and won’t bother you though so all was good. :D

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Entrance fee is collected by that tiny hut

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The Lavender Shop

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Lavender-based products included lotions and hand wash amongst others

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The shop has such a warm and cozy atmosphere

Some pictures we took on the field :)

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Have you been to a lavender field?
Hmmm.. where to next? :D

seeking felicity

 

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Birmingham: The Gateway to the West Midlands

Staying in Birmingham certainly has its perks – centrally located in the heart of England, there’s many places in its vicinity that are easily accessible when using this Midlands metropolis as a base. Click here for some fabulous hotel deals in the city and plan your itinerary to include central Birmingham activities as well as venturing further afield to see what else the West Midlands has on offer.

An exterior view of the new Library of Birmingham and its outdoor roof terrace garden at Centenary Square

Picture courtesy of telegraph.co.uk

When the sun is shining, it’s all the more reason to explore as much as possible and the sheer volume of attractions and things to do in and around Birmingham is quite impressive. Whether you’re visiting with family or it’s a strictly grown up affair, the possibilities are endless.

Castles are a great addition to any West Midlands break, with Warwick and Kenilworth Castles being within easy access of the city. Throughout the summer, there’s a full programme of events to keep youngsters busy while the heritage and history of these majestic fortifications is enough to enthral adults for an afternoon. With a season full of jousts and tournaments, a trip to Kenilworth Castle is well worth it for your fill of medieval thrills.

The Black Country Living Museum is less than half an hour away from the city, in the heart of Dudley town, and takes visitors back to the Industrial Revolution, in which the West Midlands were exceedingly important. Set over 26 acres, the museum will engross you in years of urban heritage that has been flawlessly rebuilt in this dedicated space.

Black Country Living Museum. pic courtesy of visitbirmingham.com

Museums are rife in and around Birmingham, perfect if you’re up for a day of culture and history. While young children may resent you a little for traipsing them around museums, if you’re travelling without kids, visiting museums can be a great way to while away the hours – particularly if the weather outside is a little drab. From the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, the Pen Museum and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in the city centre, to the fab Midland Air Museum and Coventry Transport Museum in, you guessed it, Coventry, there’s plenty to keep the inquisitive minds occupied.

If thrills are more your thing, Birmingham is just a short distance away from the awesome Alton Towers which will keep even the most mature of people screaming with delight. A brief hour on the road and you will arrive at this fantastic theme park, set in the middle of lush countryside. While Thorpe Park competes with the park to be the UK’s number one theme park for thrills, Alton Towers has it all. From fast-paced adrenaline rides including Rita, 13, Oblivion, Nemesis and Air to gentle strolls around the beautiful gardens, there’s something for everyone. Plus, grab an online deal or special offer and you can save plenty on entrance fees.

Alton Tower’s The Smiler. pic courtesy of dailymail.co.uk

If you choose to stay in the city of Birmingham, spend an evening at the Electric Cinema – the oldest working cinema in the UK and now showing an eclectic mix of art-house and mainstream films. Located on Station Street, in the heart of the city and just around the corner from the Bull Ring Shopping Centre, upcoming movie delights include Scarface, Blackfish and Otway the Movie.

Start planning your Birmingham trip, today. ;)

 

*sponsored post*

8 Foods To Try When In London

London isn’t really popular for being a foodie’s paradise. My friends were aghast that I’m moving here – one of the most common reactions I got then was “food there is terrible!” – not! Although it’s true that it’s not as popular as Italy nor France for it’s food, UK (and specifically, London) is one not to be left behind. It is a melting pot of different culture and as such has a rich variety of food to choose from. One not to be left behind is the local British cuisine which I’m happy to say I got to taste (again) in my (first English) food tour with Eating London all the way to the East side (I’m from the other end. hehe)

Colourful and vibrant East London!

Colourful and vibrant East London!

**Doing a blog post about food is one of the few times wherein I wish I could be more poetic and flowery with my words in hopes that I might at least  be able to convey to you what it felt like for me. But alas! It’s not meant to be. So here I am trying in my simple words to share my beautiful experience. ;) **

We had around 8 stops and to prepare for it, breakfast was a foregone conclusion. hehe

1st stop: St. John Bread and Wine

Try their bacon sandwich with special ketchup. A very flavourful and hearty start of our day. I did think to myself that if this is any indicator, then it’s gonna be one awesome day!

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2nd stop: The English Restaurant

I’ve had pudding just a few times but every experience had definitely been good and the last always seem to top the one before it. The banana bread pudding here was no exception! I have a sweet tooth and the pudding per se already looked oh so tempting! Then they added that cream – with rhum in it!- and it was just delish! Typical English, drinking even in the morning. haha

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3rd stop: Androuet

Cheese! Lots and lots of them! Need I say more?

I’ve been to Spitalfields Old Market just once and this shop definitely caught my attention then. It looked so cozy and inviting! And the fact that their sign says that got well over 80 types of cheese, you just had to go in and check the place out!

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4th stop: Poppies

Fish and Chips. Some would argue that this is the country’s national dish and I kinda thought so too but that is not the case. It is one very English experience though. Munching on your white fish which is usually cod that is coated in batter and then deep fried, with chips (that’s fries for you non English speaking people) and mushy peas on the sides. Condiments may include malt vinegar, tartar sauce and some pepper.

There are TONS of fish’n’chips stores in London alone. One of the most popular has got to be Poppies, They’ve been around for quite a while. The restaurant’s ambiance is that of an old American diner which is pretty cool. I like that they even have their own newspaper to wrap those take aways in! :D
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5th stop: Pride of Spitalfields

Before (or do I say in the olden days? hehehe), people would gather in a “public” house after work to socialize and consume alcohol and/or spirits while having a meal hence the evolution of the word, pub. If I may say so myself, I’ve been to several pubs that serve good and affordable food so you may want to try it the next time you come to UK. In this part of the city, the unassuming exterior of this pub doesn’t do justice its interior. It was just so cozy in there!  It’s a bit off the beaten track which makes it one of the locale’s open secret. :D

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6th stop: Aladin

The country’s national dish is none other than…. chicken tikka masala! *gasp* Yes! Curry is THE dish to try in this part of the globe. With the huge Indian (and South Asian in general) population in the UK, their influence could be definitely felt in the food scene. I am not one to complain coz I love this dish! Yummy!

Where to go in a country that’s popular for curry? Why not follow the lead of HRH Prince Charles and head down to Brick Lane’s Aladin! We tried several dishes of curry ranging from mild to hot and the hot I found really hot – but that’s just me, you gotta try it yourself ;)

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7th stop: Beigel Bake

Walking around, you won’t miss Beigel Bake and their open 24 hours signage. Made me wonder why there was a need for the lock in the door when it’s never closed? hehehe Aside from their signage (it’s rare to see something open 24/7 here!), what you won’t fail to miss is the long queue that’s almost always here. So of course you’ll check out what the fuss is all about because all of those people can’t be lining up, waiting for just an okay food. I love the fact that the they’re selling really affordable, freshly baked food. Their best seller is the salt beef beigel with mustard. I am not a fun of mustard (although I love honey dijon mustard!) but the rest was so tasty! Mmm!

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8th (and last) stop: Pizza East

Around this time, I was already thinking to myself that I am soooo full and that it’s gonna be impossible to take another bit of food. But then I was told we’re gonna have dessert and I’m one to never (ever) say no to sweets! lol It’s unfortunate that you can’t really take pictures of the interior in this building. It had an industrial turned rustic-that-makes-it-look-homey kind of look. We has salted caramel chocolate tart. Those bits of salt brought out the flavours more because of the contrast. Mmmmm!!!! Perfect with a hot cup of tea!

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The map of goodies!

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Our ever bubbly guide, Nicole, and the silent Carlos. What a team! :D

Now that I’ve finished writing about that amazing morning experience, I can’t wait for my day off to go to Shoreditch and try them all out again! Mica!!! Thanks for inviting me to join you. You’re the best! *hugs* Thank you Nicole for being a fantastic guide! Your stories made it all the more memorable. Two thumbs up!!!

Tempting? Do check out their site for more info! :D

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Londres! Londra! London!
Not Your Typical Romantic City: London