Best of 2013

After days of rain and cold weather the sun finally showed its face again today, a good omen for the new year I hope.  But before I throw myself with all my energy into the new year which is already looking like it will be busy with work and travel, I wanted to take a moment to look back over the last year. 2013 was certainly not an easy year for me and provided plenty of challenges, but it was also a year full of precious time spent with loved ones so I can’t really complain.  Alessandro and I spent a week on the slopes in Northern Italy in January with a group of friends – the first time I spent an entire day skiing non-stop, covering ca. 80km in the process and only stopping for food and drink every so often.  In June there was a wonderful weekend in Venice with three people incredibly close to my heart, my

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Burger and Lobster

After I kept on hearing about Burger and Lobster, the good reviews, but more worryingly, the insane queues and long waiting times again and again over the summer, Alessandro, two friends and myself went to their Soho restaurant one Wednesday after work (foolishly thinking it would be easier to get a table on a midweek day during the summer months).   Despite it being a Wednesday, the place was heaving and we were told we would have to wait 45-60mins for a table. Fortunately at the back of our minds we had expected this, none of us was starving yet and we were able to kill time over some cocktails and duck rillettes at Cafe Boheme while people-watching (one of my favourite activities in London). After about 40 minutes, we got a call from the restaurant that our table was ready and we made the short walk back to Dean Street from Cafe Boheme. Burger and Lobster.  Although the name of the restaurant might imply some surf ‘n’ turf action

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Upstairs @ the Ten Bells

I had been looking forward to a dinner at “Upstairs” for a while – I had read good reviews and liked the menu I saw online (which changes frequently). While waiting for my friend (who was stuck in Olympic-induced traffic, oh the joys of being a Londoner at the moment), I ordered myself a Strawberry Fizz at the recommendation of the waitress. Now, you cannot really go wrong with a drink that mixes something sparkly with a fruit that is in season, like strawberries in July. Yet, the drink managed to taste rather strongly of something more reminiscent of strawberry jam diluted with sparkling wine. If that was the intention behind the Strawberry Fizz, so be it, we will just have to agree to disagree. But even then, it would strike me as odd to not use fresh strawberries for a drink like this when they are in season even in this country. In any event, I had expected something

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If I had to sum up our lunch at Shrimpy’s the other day in one word, I would say it was ‘filling’.  I had been warned by my friend Millen and Philippe that the dishes at Shrimpy’s were filling (no wonder given that their signature dish is a burger filled with deep-fried soft-shell crab and guacamole) but in all honesty I had underestimated just how filling the food would be.  And the portions are by no means humanguous so I am still puzzled as to why we were all so full after what, at least on paper, seemed far from a generous lunch. The last time Millen and Philippe had been at Shrimpy’s, they got to sit at the bar and observe all the dishes being churned out by the largely Spanish-speaking kitchen staff.  As such, we knew to order the calamari with olive tapenade, the soft-shell crab burger as well as the pistachio sundae.  And so we did. To

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Black gold – London’s best coffee shops and some black sesame madeleines

(Amended to update the little blurb on Prufrock). So, I was browsing the Stylist’s website the other day and came across a brief article on London’s best coffee shops. As an avid coffee drinker (coming from a family that managed to kill an espresso machine by drinking more cups of coffee per day than any espresso machine developer could have ever imagined (we now have a commercial espresso machine)), I keep a list of favourite coffee shops (key attractions are: (i) decent coffee (look out for the crema on your espresso and the use of fresh milk – noone wants to drink a cappuccino made with UHT milk), (ii) free wi-fi (because I am a cheapskate and treat my ipad as though it’s a limb I never knew I had by carrying it around with me wherever I go), and (iii) outstanding pastries and cakes (which reminds me I need to tell you about Gail’s almond croissants)). However, once in

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Barbecoa. A stone’s throw from St Paul’s and conveniently located on the first floor of the New Change shopping centre. A collaboration between Jamie Oliver and NYC restaurant Adam Perry Lang, the restaurant promises meat, more meat, and then a little bit more meat. It is meant to be a meat-lovers’ restaurant and comes with its own high quality butcher on site. I have always been a big fan of Jamie Oliver – the way he has inspired so many people to cook by showing just how simple and fun it is to throw together a quick and tasty meal, his apprenticeship programs through Fifteen, the way he has taken on the government on school meals etc etc (though I do wonder whether good old Jamie has sold out a bit by now selling his own range of ready-made pasta sauces and pesto … I guess he has a mortgage to pay somehow as well). Anyway … Just a few

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A night of Svennish food at the bottle apostle

My friend Millen spontaneously invited me to join her and her boyfriend Philippe for a food and wine pairing at the bottle apostle just off Victoria Park. Work was hectic so I almost said no but in the end I could not pass up the opportunity. The concept One bottle shop. One sous-chef from viajante (Sven Wassmer). Six keen foodies and wine-aficionados. Six courses. The dishes 1. Amuse-bouche of flammkuchen / rice chip, sea trout / shallots No picture of the Flammkuchen or the shallots – my greedy self got the better of me. Overall the amuses-bouche were nice, though not spectacular in my mind. The Flammkuchen came with pickled carrot, a nice and yummy touch, but clearly not part of the traditional Flammkuchen recipes from Alsace, a piece of smoky and salty bacon just the way it should be, a sour-cream like topping for the crispy dough and shredded crispy chicken skin, again, not true to the original recipe but

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