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Top 3 Things of the Week (August 26th – September 1st)

1 Sep

With my recent bout of ill health continuing for much of the week, I was unable to partake in as many events or food trips. Compiling a Top 5 was unrealistic but I’ve managed to up my game from last week – when I was so ill I could only list one measly item! It is with great pleasure that I write: behold this week’s Top 3 Things of the Week!

#1 Proud Cabaret in the City

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The 1920s themed Speakeasy proved to be one of the most entertaining nights in London! With waitresses clad in basques, exquisite martinis and an awesome burlesque murder-mystery, called The Silencing of Miss Scarlett it was a fun-filled night of glamour and naughtiness. Read my full review for The Upcoming here.

#2 Palmers Green Festival

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Held within the lush beauty of Broomfield Park in North London’s cultural and culinary capital, Palmers Green, this annual festival was the perfect Sunday escapade.

The community event was a celebration of all the borough has to offer, from food and entertainment to shopping and education.

It was difficult to resist the delicious international cuisine – delicacies hailed from a global trail spanning the Caribbean to Asia! Added to mouth-watering cakes from local tearooms such as Baskervilles, the sights and smells were beyond intoxicating.

Arts and craft stalls offered everything from ceramics to jewellery and, if not content to buy, both parents and kids were encouraged to try their hand at making their own from porcelain, under the instruction of Doodle Designs.

A children’s fun fair and separate activity and games stalls proved highly popular, while a local dance studio took eager volunteers through their paces, creating Palmers Green’s very own Strictly Come Dancing masterclass.

The park’s pavilion area, hosted by Tropical FM, was used to introduce a range of performances from local school children. Singing and dancing with equal passion and nerves, the kids excelled themselves. The entire afternoon was an endearing hybrid of The X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent – amazing!

Festivals like this are what community is all about: congregating, celebrating and appreciating. Witnessing the multicultural residents of Palmers Green coming together to interweave their many cultures into a gigantic tapestry of fun and colour for all to enjoy was truly magical. Roll on next year so we can do it all again!

#3 McDonalds

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Left thirsty and famished after attending the launch party for new Soho restaurant and bar, Coal Vaults, there was little choice but to seek sustenance elsewhere.

Luckily, McDonalds on Oxford Street was still open for business. Never before has a “Mickey-Ds” hit the spot to this extent. Delicious, filling and a huge relief.

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Top Thing of the Week (August 19th – 25th)

25 Aug

Due to ill health, I was stuck at home for most of this week and can’t produce a Top 5 selection of weekly highlights.

That said, I was forced to venture out on Saturday to attend a one day course that had been pre-paid months earlier. It was a Hand Reflexology class at The Central London College of Reflexology on Drury Lane.

A full review of my experience will follow soon but, in the meantime, I confirm that aside from learning a fantastic new skill, I came home feeling a lot better than when I left. All hail alternative therapy!

Top 5 Things of the Week (August 12th – 18th)

18 Aug

#1 Restaurant Reviews course at City Lit
Food writing is a delicate art, requiring balance and creativity – just like good cooking. Hidden in a discreet side street in London’s Covent Garden, City Lit adult education college offers a range of food-related courses, from cupcake decorating to food writing.

Under the supervision of expert tutor Nikki Spencer, a vivacious food critic and journalist, I spent a week honing my Restaurant Reviewing skills.

Gaining useful tips, advice, feedback and skills, the course included two visits to local restaurants – which, of course, we had to review. It was an inspiring week and my classmates were awesome: an amazingly talented bunch of food writers and truly lovely people.

#2 Chocolate Frozen Custard Shake at Shake Shack

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Rich, smooth and exceptionally delicious, the Frozen Custard Shakes at Shake Shake burger bar in Covent Garden actually taste better than their burgers!

I discovered the delights of their chocolate flavoured creation during a field trip in the Restaurant Reviews course mentioned above. Sitting within the bustle of Covent Garden, draining my carton of chocolate goodness in the name of education, I felt a pang of sorrow for all my classmates who had ordered a different drink – my shake was unbeatable!

#3 Music Paper Bread
Crunching out a pattern of addictive beats with every bite, I’m addicted to these wafer-thin bread discs from Sardinia.

Salty, crisp and as addictive as Pringles, these have become a storecupboard staple. Available from M&S stores for £2.49, they won’t break the bank and come in a handbag friendly box – result!

#4 Tiramisu at Polpo in Covent Garden

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It was a toss-up between Venetian-inspired Polpo’s cheese and onion Pizza Bianca or their creamy Tiramisu: the dessert only just clinched it! Creamy, light and served in a glass, every mouthful was superb – from the flavorsome cofffee-soaked sponge to what looked like a chocolate ganache lining the bottom. Heavenly!

#5 Gelati from Venchi

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Covent Garden certainly kept me well fed this week! A cone topped with two Chocolate and Chocolate and Hazelnut gelati from Italian chocolatier Venchi was rich, tasty and the perfect antidote to the scorchingly hot summer sun!

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Top 5 Things of the Week (August 5th – 11th)

12 Aug

#1 Espresso Beer by Dark Star

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A friend recently introduced me to the delightfully bitter and heady flavour of Dark Star’s Espresso Beer. Brewed in Sussex, it’s made with Arabica beans and has a mild yet rich flavour.

Available from Waitrose, it’s the perfect after dinner tipple – especially with a decadent chocolate dessert!

#2 Tommi’s Burger Joint in Marylebone

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Burgers bars are opening across London quicker than Usain Bolt can reach a finish line, with many from the good ole U. S. of A.

Challenging them pickle for pickle is Scandinavian entrepreneur Tomas ‘Tommi’ Tommason, whose pop-up burger joint in Marylebone Lane proved so popular last year, he had to bag a permanent spot in nearby Thayer Lane.

The doors to this new home opened this week and hungry punters weren’t disappointed. The meaty patties topped with tomato, onion, mayo, ketchup and mustard are served in a shiny brioche bun with a generous portion of fries – bliss!

#3 Haagen Daz Chocolate Fondant Secret Sensations

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I’ve taken a liking to this new ice-cream flavour, largely due to its pockets of oozing, chocolate sauce. It looks appetising and the flavour is well balanced – not too rich and sickly for summer. That said, the pairing of chocolate with more chocolate is always a winner and if you sprinkle some chopped, roasted nuts on to add some crunch, you can’t go wrong!

#4 Fig, Green Beans, Mozarella and Hazelnut Salad
A cousin introduced me to this delicious Mediterranean Fig & Mozarella Salad at a family barbecue and I was instantly enamoured by its pretty colours, diverse textures and summery flavours!

#5 Pineapple & Raspberry Upside Down Tart at 1776
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Old fashioned desserts are the best: apple pie, profiteroles, baked alaska – and upside down cakes. In particular, the Pineapple & Raspberry Upside Down Tart at 1776, the fine dining restaurant at 1 Lombard Street, was exceedingly good.

Selected from their daily dessert trolley as opposed to the regular dessert menu, there is no way of knowing when they will serve this delectable creation again. As with any rare treasure, its worth seeking out.

Top 5 Things of The Week (July 29th – August 4th)

4 Aug

#1 Dessert at Spice Market

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A rather underwhelming meal at the Leicester Square eatery was uplifted by a magnificent dessert comprised of a coconut cream granita, mixed fruits and Asian syrups. The bubblegum-flavoured concoction was refreshing and light – perfect for summer.

#2 Jermyn Street Theatre

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I finally got to visit this compact theatre, housed in a basement in Jermyn Street, to see Rory Fellowes’ play A Victorian Eye. Intimate yet comfortable, I loved it’s layout and casual grace.

#3 Lemon Meringue Krispy Kreme Donut
Why did no-one tell me to break my habit of always buying the same two varieties of Krispy Kreme so that I could try this tangy, lemon curd-filled option? Topped with a generous swirl of toasted meringue, each donut looks like a little pillow – the perfect cushion for my stomach lining 😉

#4 Mature Halloumi Cheese
Most people are aware of the rubbery cheese sold in supermarkets but mature halloumi, allowed to age in brine, is far more brittle and dry in texture.

Salty and accented with a hint of mint, the best varieties are those made with 100% goat’s milk – but a small tub will set you back at least €50. Yes, Euros, not pounds sterling; you’ll be hard pushed to find a Greek retailer in the United Kingdom who sells them and the only option is a shipment from Cyprus. You see, most mature halloumi is saved to eat in the home as the flavour is often too strong or alien for European palettes.

It’s not for grilling or frying like the cow’s and sheep’s milk blends from across British supermarkets – these are purely for cheese lovers and are best served sliced with fresh bread and juicy ripe tomatoes.

#5 Mourning Bread
Made to mark the anniversary of losing a loved one, these bread loaves are made by Greek Cypriots to include cinnamon, sugar and ‘mastika’.

Cooked until almost molasses-brown yet springy on the inside, the bread is sliced and eaten with ‘Koliva’ – a sweet and savoury mix of wheat berries, blanched almonds, pomegranate, dried fruits and icing sugar (optional).

Top Things of The Week (July 22nd – 28th)

28 Jul

#1 London Anniversary Games

Getting to see Usain Bolt run 100m, after missing out on the Olympic final, was nothing short of exhilarating! I loved his victory lap afterwards; he threw his shoes into the cheering crowd and sent his fans into a frenzy, which I managed to catch on video.

I’ve been supporting Athletics since childhood and was a fan of Mr. Bolt long before he became a household name so this was a great night that I’ll always remember.

#2 Myddleton House Gardens in Enfield, North London

I cannot believe I was born and bred in North London yet never knew of this amazing oasis hidden in the borough of Enfield, created by owner E.A. Bowles, a self-taught botanist and philanthropist who lived in the house during the late 1800s until his death in the 1950s.

The gardens span eight acres and are breathtakingly beautiful. Walking through its different areas was genuinely awe-inspiring: the range of plants, vegetables and mix of sculpted and wild areas are a marvel.

There’s also a carp lake and the stables have been converted into a lovely cafe where you can enjoy, among other things, locally-sourced ice-cream and Afternoon Tea. What’s more, a visit to the gardens is FREE, as is on site parking.

A must-visit experience!

#3 Baked Alaska at Plum + Spilt Milk
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Baked Alaska is one of my favourite desserts of all time – so much so, I used to think that if I ever found love and got married, this would be the dessert on my big day.

Well, I haven’t found love and probably never will, but at least I know where to go to enjoy a perfect Baked Alaska in London: Plum + Spilt Milk in the Great Northern Hotel in the heart of King’s Cross.

#4 Fried Courgette at Tinello

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Chef Federico Sali provided an Italian feast at his restaurant Tinello. All the food was delicious, particularly a rich Chicken Liver Parfait on Toast but his simple dish of julienned courgette, deep fried in a light, perfectly seasoned, gloriously crispy batter was so moreish, I was in danger of becoming addicted.

I started eating them non-stop like popcorn and just couldn’t stop! In the end, I had to ask for the bowl to be removed from my line of sight lest I fill up too much before a main course!

#5 A Halloumi Brand Sharing My Name
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It’s not often I get to see my surname written anywhere beyond my own personal identification documents or mail, so discovering I share my name with a Cypriot Halloumi brand was such a pleasant surprise – and the cheese tastes great! 🙂

Top 5 Things of the Week (July 15th – 21st)

21 Jul

#1 Afternoon Tea at The Park Lane Hotel for The Cake Awards

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The inaugural Cake Awards were a wonderful celebration of what has to be one of the greatest sweet treats ever invented, and they even served up a wonderful Afternoon Tea as part of the occasion – delicious and fitting! The cake tier was superb but it’s fair to say that the entire selection of sweet and savoury treats was delectable.

#2 Lemon Collins at Bumpkin Notting Hill
This foam topped cocktail was stunning, refreshing and delicious! It’s my new favourite tipple for the summer.

#3 Moroccan Afternoon Tea at Momo

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For an entire afternoon, I felt as though I was in the heart of Morocco, enjoying a mouthwatering array of aromatic and intricate flavours, in a luxurious Afternoon Tea at Momo in London. I was half expecting a stamp in my passport – but then I remembered that I hadn’t actually left London!

#4 Alexandra Palace 150th Birthday Celebration

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Ally Pally is one of my favourite places in the UK and I was so excited to celebrate the venue’s 150th anniversary with family at their glorious fun day. The atmosphere, weather, live entertainment and Farmer’s Market were all fantastic!

#5 Strawberry Picking at Parkway Farm
It’s an annual tradition in my house to go to Parkway Farm near Hadley Wood to pick strawberries. Although we visit at other times of year for other fresh produce, my childhood memories of strawberry picking will always keep the farm dear in my heart. Its sweet, juicy strawberries are the best!