The summer so far: Saké tasting, burlesque cabaret, strawberry scallops and a pizza or two…

Welcome back folks,

It’s been a helluva’ busy month or two and my food and drink jaunts are multiplying fast, as the 30th birthday celebrations inch closer to my actual birth month – August.

You might think it somewhat over indulgent to be celebrating one birthday for almost half a year but I certainly don’t. 30 only comes once and I fully intend to see it through with much regalia and plenty of fizz. Even if the second half of the year will be spent in penance i.e. At the gym!

So to make this post mostly bearable and perhaps even intriguing, I’ve decided to show you my month (May/June) in pictures. Hopefully you can make it through the photogrid explosion and filter experimentation, to see that it’s been a ruddy good month of food and drink, bar a few exceptions (meringues are so not the new cupcake, no matter who’s says they are!).

So here’s to an inspiring or just plain curious look at what I’ve been scoffing and glugging this last month. You never know, you just might find something you like.

P.s. In case you are wondering where the much promised New York trilogy is, it’s coming soon. Just a little delayed what with full time toddler duty and a bursting social diary. I’ll make it worth the wait, you know I will but till then hope these crumbs keep you going…

 

Love this: This isn’t just any French toast. Caramelised apples stacked on butter rich brioche with a scoop of cinnamon cream at Toms Kitchen, Canary Wharf.

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 I’m a sucker for a bit of French toast since I first tested it in my student kitchen back at university. I still prefer my version with caramelised peaches but this apple take wasn’t half bad. A little steep at £9.50 but friendly service and the fabulous company of fellow mummy – the blonde – made for a pleasant breakfast pit stop.

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Experience this: Sushi making and saké tasting at Inamo St James’.

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I’m always sceptical about foodie experiences in London’s restaurants, because by and large you never get what you pay for. That said, Inamo St James’ proved to be a pleasant exception and a great birthday present for my sushi-loving bestie.

The sommelier of this gaff knows his Saké (or Nihonshu as it’s known as Japan) like the back of his hand, making it surprisingly informative as well as fun. Once you’re suitably tipsy (the sparking one made near Fukushima is particularly strong! And yes I did just say Fukushima!),and armed with an arsenal of tips on Japanese drinking etiquette, you are ushered into the kitchen to prepare fresh sushi and nigiri with Chef Jon. A likeable fellow and highly skilled too. Of course none of our dishes came out looking quite like his picture perfect morsels but we had a laugh along the way. And if you’re a fan of the crazy challenges on that old TV gem – generation game – you’ll love it too.

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Restaurant rave: An English affair at the Orangery, Kensington Palace.

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 I hardly ever venture to this side of what I still call Hyde park but on a day out with a fellow mummy and our thankfully napping-toddlers we paid this charming establishment a lunchtime visit back in May. The sun was out and the terrace was brimming with full tables, so we sat inside but the view of the park is not obstructed through the large windows and the tall ceilings of this beautifully maintained orangery continue the outdoorsy airy feel.

The house rosé was crisp, dry and elegant, just right for a summers day and given the heat, we decided to go with an unconventional combination of starters and desserts to keep things ‘light’. Of these, the beetroot salad and rhubarb Eton Mess were particularly good. Service is a little slow but quickly forgiven in such a majestic venue.

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Love this: Nutella Pizza at Polpo, Soho. Beats Nutella on toast!

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I spotted a pic of this crazy pizza on twitter recently and with my very recent discovery of Nutella (my mother has a lot to answer for!) – I just knew I had to try it. Crispy thin pizza dough and lashings of the chocolate spread, with a generous sprinkling of toasted hazelnuts. Russell Norman and team are on to a winner here. What are you waiting for?!

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Experience this: Burlesque glamour and high jinks at Black Cat Cabaret. Cafe Royal Hotel.

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I can happily tick this off my list of things to do before I turn 30. A fabulous night of decadence and mild debauchery. Not quite the full on naughtiness I was expecting but an entertaining mix of magic, comedy, singing and talent nonetheless. The opulent mirrored surroundings of the grill room (previously the Oscar Wilde bar) added some serious glamour to the event too and given the very reasonable ticket price, it’s a great introduction into the world of burlesque cabaret. I’m now keen to check out Miss Polly Rae of the Soho Burlesque Club for something a little more provocative 😉

Local find: the perfect Earl Grey pit stop at B Street Deli

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 With a shop front of flowers outside you’d be forgiven for thinking this was still a florist but a second glance inside the premises reveals a deli, cafe and gastronomic gift shop of sorts. Stay or take away, there are some delectable dishes and sweet treats to choose from. The Earl Grey even beats that of my preferred vendor – Prét A Manger!

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Restaurant rave: Burger and Lobster, City. Bizarrely good value for money.

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 I’m not a fan of this whole gourmet fast food malarkey as you know but I am a sucker for lobster. So it was only a matter of time before I gave this place a go. It’s pretty simple really. The menu contains less dishes than fingers on one hand. You can go all messy with the beast laid out on your table, or wimp out with a cold lobster roll. Though, with half a succulent and juicy lobster, a bowl of pretty decent chips and salad costing just shy of £20, you’d be a fool to choose anything else.

The only other place I know serving decent lobster and chips with change from a pinky/purple note is Plateau in Canary Wharf.

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Country life: A summer’s evening at the Ramblers Rest, Coulsdon (including strawberry scallops).

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 Given that hubby, toddler and I are moving to the sticks next year, we thought we’d better acquaint ourselves with the nearest watering holes and feeling particularly adventurous decided to eat out too. This is a favourite of ours, having visited a few times for summer evening drinkies owing to its particularly impressive wine list and range of wines by the glass. There’s even a Chateau Du Sours Sparkling Rosé by the glass. The rolling hills in the background aren’t too bad either.

One dish I have to mention because it is a bizarre concept but one that even more bizarrely worked, were the scallops served with strawberry salsa. A picturesque plate if ever there was one but also just damn tasty. You don’t know whether to laugh at the genius of it or praise the bravery of the chef but either way nom nom nom you will, till it’s all gone. The sharing dessert is a winner too. Something tells me our visits here could be more frequent than anticipated…

Bar buzz: Old school glamour and gorgeous crystal ware at Italian inspired Cartizze Bar.

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Cartizze oozes old school glamour to the hilt and seduces you with a luxurious and innovative cocktail menu. The bar itself, laden with ornate crystal ware, exudes panache and style and between the seriously charming FOH/barmen and the therapeutic yesteryear jazz in the background – you know you’ve found a real gem of a bar.

The olive oil gin fizz is a must and if we didn’t have dinner booked elsewhere, I’d have easily stayed on to sample more and grabbed a pizza from the upstairs Mayfair Pizza Co. Instead, I now have more lush cocktails to try on the next visit…

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Pop up: Quaglinos and the Meringue and Bellini pop up bar – that didn’t float my boat 

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There was once a time when the set menu at Quaggies (as I, and probably a dozen ageing 90’s non-celebs like to call it) was a pretty decent steal without any obvious faults. That was unfortunately not the case this time around. Served with severely overcooked, dry pork dish, and a mediocre prawn casserole containing only 4 of the pink blighters, for which I paid a supplement (yes, a supplement for prawns!), the champagne was the only decent item on the table.

Thankfully the manager swooned in and saved the day by offering to mop up the mess with free bellinis and meringues (from the much-lauded Meringue Girls) at their pop up bar. Only the thing we were there for in the first place. Super excited to make up for our meal and now that this experience was about to be free, we curiously wondered up to the very empty bar to try the meringues. However, saccharine sweet bellinis with nearly no fizz whatsoever and bites of mildly flavoured eggy air (honestly, we weren’t even sure what some of the flavours were meant to be) quickly turned that excitement into further disappointment. Rather a flat night, given all the bubbly on offer.

In a sentence – One pop-up you don’t need to visit this summer.

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Restaurant rave: Absolutely riveting food from Scott Hallsworth and team at Kurobuta London (Marble Arch)

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Much raved about, Kurobuta has been on my wish list for some time now. The pop-up in Chelsea is still running but fellow mummy, ‘the blonde’, and I took our lunatic toddlers on a lunch mission to the recently opened marble arch restaurant (following a morning of musical adventures at nearby Wigmore Hall).

Service is swift and endearingly friendly (Basketball-clad guy was a star), even with a floor full of rice cakes and raisins under our mischievous little ones, they seemed happy to have us, and we where happy to not be shoved in a corner for once.

The food though, that’s where it’s really at. The tuna sashimi pizza – crispy tortilla bread layered with tuna and dressed with truffle ponzu and green chillies (though not too spicy) was ‘the dish’ in my eyes. Closely followed by delicious soft shell crab tempura maki. Fried chicken Kushi-Yaki from the Robata BBQ kept the blonde happy and a yummy Yuzu tart and giant chocolate cookie finished things off nicely, along with a few glasses of Sauvignon Blanc.

The only drawback is the slightly out of the way location. Can’t say I’ve ever been down the back of Oxford St/Edgware Road before but definitely one to check out. The weekday lunch service seems a particularly chilled time of day to go.

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*Images for Quaglinos Pop up bar and Cartizze supplied by fellow friend, photo genius and food blogger @MyDailyDose8 – check out her new blog at http://www.dailydoseofhappinessblog.com

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