London Daily Photo: Manual Instruction Centre

LDP 2014.11.25 - Manual Instruction Centre

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Recipe: Lavender Duck Fried Rice (Gressingham)

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Considering how easy it is to cook duck breast, it’s amazing how much robust flavour it can add to even the simplest of recipes, such as this one for a lightly floral and somewhat zingy egg fried rice. Duck breast is such a juicy and tender meat too. One of the things I like best about this dish is how the chunks of meat blend with the tiny grains of rice and bits of onion for a succulent and multi-textured bite.

As presented, this recipe is good to go as a meal on its own. Alternatively, you could cook the rice and breast separate and serve as different dishes or with the duck placed on top of the rice. You could also cook the spinach and even the crackling in the wok as you fry the rice.  It’s really up to you!

Read my complete Lavender Duck Fried Rice recipe at the Gressingham website.

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London Daily Photo: Head Space

LDP 2014.11.24 - Head Space

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5 Chinese Festivals You Have to Experience in 2015 (OneTravel

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Got plans for a trip to China in the new year and looking for some suggestions on when to go to make the most of some of the country’s biggest celebrations?

Check out this list of five of China’s most popular festivals. Have fun!

Read my complete post at the OneTravel blog.

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London Daily Photo: Soho

LDP 2014.11.23 - Soho

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London Daily Photo: West End Kiosk

LDP 2014.11.22 - West End Kiosk

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Jerusalem City Break: The 4,000 Year Old Brand

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It was Israel’s bloodiest day in years – 18 November, the day two Palestinian men armed with a pistol and meat cleavers attacked an orthodox synagogue in an otherwise quiet neighbourhood of West Jerusalem and killed four Jewish men. I was there – well, in Jerusalem that is – but miles from the crime scene and in many ways a world away from the horrors I had read about online.

It seemed so out of whack, so incongruous. There I was – one in a quintet of London-based journos on a “Jerusalem City Break” press trip – sitting in the comfort of a boutique hotel freshly showered after just returning from a tour of Masada and a float in the Dead Sea, while five miles away people probably still were mopping up the blood from the day’s earlier gruesome events, Israeli retaliation was being planned, and the homes of those responsible for the attack were soon to be demolished.

We had convened in our hotel lobby to meet with a Eli Nahmias, Director of Incoming Tourism & International Relations for the Jerusalem Development Authority, who’d brought for us a stack of brochures and promotional DVDs along with a couple of gifts (a Lion of Judah lapel pin and a business card holder). He spoke of the attack as matter of fact. He said he wasn’t there to “sell” his city to us and certainly couldn’t put any spin on what had happened anyway. He wanted to present Jerusalem to us in a wider context – as a “4,000 year old brand” that’s endured conflict for eons while over the same stretch of time has welcomed and been influenced by a diverse panoply of people from across the globe.

I reckon Eli had a point. And to be honest if I had not briefly checked the news on my laptop in my room before heading to the lobby for the meeting, I probably wouldn’t have had a clue that such a terrible thing had occurred. My day out was normal enough and actually a lot of fun, checking out two of Israel’s most popular tourist attractions. Since the attack, things have been quiet. At least nothing has happened that would make a major news story.

Of course, you would be foolish to assume the synagogue murders were a one-off. Similarly though, I’m not sure (at this moment anyway) that fear of reoccurring tragedies should put you off seeing Jerusalem for yourself. Would word of a mugging in East London keep you from going out in the West End? Would the Ebola epidemic in only three small West African countries prevent you from going on safari in South Africa or Kenya? Would shitty blusterous politicians anywhere hold you back from engaging with a real place in real time and encountered the real people who live there?

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If you want to see an epicentre of three world religions, a destination oozing with history, and a city that’s as much a blend of old and new, sanctity and sin, unity and division as anywhere ever was, good luck finding a suitable alternative. Jerusalem is safer than you might realise and more captivating than you can imagine. Flights from London Heathrow via super security minded El Al are only about five hours.

Me, I’m glad to have had a chance to experience Jerusalem for myself. And I would love to go back. It’s a place I’ve known of all my life – where the words and actions of people long ago resonate with the moral decisions and spiritual lives of millions today including those closest to me.

Stick with me over the next few days, as I recount my Jerusalem City Break in a short series of posts.

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London Daily Photo: Recognise

LDP 2014.11.21 - Recognise

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Venice Salute Festival (OneTravel)

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For Venetians, the 21st of November is an important date. It’s the day the city celebrates the Madonna della Salute festival, which commemorates the founding in 1630 of the church of Santa Maria della Salute (“Madonna of Health”). The church is more commonly known as Salute, as is the festival as well. During the festival, the area around the church is beautifully lit by thousands of candles brought by the many people going to pray to the Virgin Mary with vendors lined up along the way to the church selling candles and a variety of sweets.

The Salute’s origins link the modern festival to …

Read my complete post at the OneTravel blog.

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London Daily Photo: Westminster Dusk

LDP 2014.11.20 - Westminster Dusk

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Win a Pasta e Sughi Christmas Gift Box from Carluccio’s

Win a Pasta e Sughi Christmas Gift Box from Carluccio’s

Carluccio’s is a fantastic one stop resource when Christmas shopping for the foodies in your life, whether browsing for authentic Italian foods in-store or going online for the best of Italy brought straight to your door via a new next-day delivery service. Treating friends, family and colleagues to Carluccio’s selection of hampers, gift boxes, cakes, biscuits, sweets and chocolates is an excellent way to ensure the people most important to you have a deliciously buon Natale this year. To find out more about some yummy festivities coming up at Carluccio’s plus the chance to win one especially scrumptious gift box for free, just keep reading!

Anytime is a fine time to shop at any of the many Carluccio’s outlets across the UK. But people who can make it to the Garrick Street restaurant near Covent Garden in London from 6.30pm on Thursday 27 November will have the chance to meet the man himself, Antonio Carluccio. The evening is one of two shopping evening dates taking place at all Carluccio’s food shops across the country, giving customers the chance to receive a 10% discount off the entire Christmas range whilst enjoying complimentary mulled wine and festive canapés. The second shopping evening will take place on Thursday 4 December.

For one lucky Italian food fan though, a visit to your local Carluccio’s will be to pick up your very own free Christmas hamper. The gracious folks at Carluccio’s have offered (for a second year in a row – grazie!) to share a free Pasta e Sughi gift box valued at £29.95 with one of my readers. A Christmas gift to inspire the chef in you, this fantastic prize includes three delicious pasta and sauce pairings plus a recipe book by Antonio Carluccio!

To be in with a chance to win the free Christmas hamper from Carluccio’s, simply tweet the following:

RT to win a Pasta e Sughi Christmas gift box from @Carluccioscaffe, courtesy of @tikichris: http://bit.ly/1vvwRiD #FromNaplesWithLove

Please take a moment to read the terms and conditions before tweeting!

T&C

• I’ll pick one winner at random on Friday 28 November at 10am (British time);
• The winner will receive one Pasta e Sughi hamper valued at £29.95;
• The prize must be collected from a Carluccio’s food shop;
• Winner’s details (email and telephone) will be passed to Roche Communications to contact winner to arrange collection date and time;
Pasta e Sughi prize is available only while stocks last. To ensure disappointment the winner must collect the prize by 21 December 2014.

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London Daily Photo: Light

LDP 2014.11.19 - Light

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Jack Daniel’s Christmas

Jack Daniel's Barrel Tree

Living in London for more than a decade, I’ve yet to develop any lasting Christmastime traditions. I’ve done my best to make it back home to the States to spend Christmas with my family and catch up with as many old friends as possible. Aside from that, I’ve just kind of winged it the few times I’ve stayed in London during the last couple of weeks of the year.

Maybe that will change this year though. Kemey and I just moved into a new house that had we purchased in the summer. We’ve got a garden (a first for me in London) and are thinking of getting a living Christmas tree to plant in the garden. Throughout the seasons whenever we look outside to the garden, we’ll be reminded our first Christmas together in our new home (assuming the tree lives!). And, I suppose, at the end of each year we’ll be able to have a look at the tree and see how it’s grown and changed – and reflect upon how our relationship may have done so as well.

The folks at the Jack Daniel’s Distillery have never been the type to follow the norm. That could be why their “tree” is anything but traditional. Standing over 25 feet tall and made entirely of barrels, it’s a seasonal sign of good times, good friends and damn good whiskey. Despite its unconventional nature it has a way of drawing people closer together, much like the spirit it once housed.

Growing up on the border of Georgia and Tennessee (about an hour and a half drive from the Jack Daniel’s Distillery), a bottle of Tennessee sippin’ whiskey with an iconic black and white Old No. 7 label was a pretty common sight. And on a nippy December night in Appalachia, such a bottle wouldn’t be such a bad item to keep within reach.

Of course, it should be noted that my parents were as teetotal as they come. Christmas was festive nonetheless, with family reunions, Santa Claus, a big Christmas tree (actually my family always had two – one fake and one live), and all the usual traditions. It was a great time of year, yielding plenty of fond memories.

As I’m hanging in London this year for the festive season and working on some renovations in our house, I might just have to a sip or two of Jack for a taste of back home. I might take inspiration from the distillery’s barrel tree idea. We’ve got an awful lot of boxes yet to be unpacked that might look nice stacked like a tree with some fairy lights slung round ‘em.

Are you starting any new traditions this festive season or looking forward to adhering to some well-established favourites? However you plan to enjoy the wind down to the New Year, be sure to celebrate joyfully and drink responsibly. Merry Christmas.

Published in association with Jack Daniel’s.

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London Daily Photo: Ups and Downs

LDP 2014.11.18 - Ups and Downs

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How I’m Working with TripAdvisor

3 Days in Istanbul

Over the past several months, I’ve been helping out TripAdvisor with a handful of cool projects. I’ve been really pleased with the work and have had a lot of fun, but I’ve been way too busy with it and all sorts of other stuff to give it even a brief mention here on my blog or elsewhere across the web. With TripAdvisor’s undeniable influence back in the news, though, I thought now might a good time to say a few words about what I’ve been up to.

Well before the opportunity to work with this brand, I was a regular visitor to the site. Like so many people I know, TripAdvisor is often my first outlet of information I reach for when planning practically any trip out of town as well as most special occasions closer to home. And like everybody else, I take the reviews I read on the site with a grain of salt, sifting through cranky rants and effluent raves for the jewel of collective insight. I’ve come to rely on TripAdvisor as an indispensable resource more often than not pointing me in the right direction and helping me spend my money more wisely than I probably would have otherwise.

Since the summer, I have been contributing guides and itineraries to the site. I got the gig via Tripbod with whom I’ve been a freelance guide for years. When TripAdvisor acquired Tripbod earlier this year I wasn’t sure what would happen with respect to little ole me. I’m pleased to report the result has been more ways for me to share my love of London and travel with a growing number of folks around the world. Moreover, it’s meant a great deal to me having the TripBod gang share some of their fortune (and workload) with me during this transition.

The content I’ve been creating for TripAdvisor has been largely about London, such as how to spend three days there or where to find the best food. But I’ve written things about Istanbul and a few other favourite destinations as well.

Apparently the Istanbul bits have proven something of a hit. My 3 Days in Istanbul guide and other pieces about the city by me and colleague Maddie S are seeing higher average times than all other destinations. There’s a “helpful vote” which allows readers to say whether the guides are helpful or not. Apparently, the Istanbul guides are topping the leader board by a large margin. Last I heard, the 3 Days guide had 100% helpful votes.

As a writer, it can often feel like I’m creating in a vacuum. Even when stats are good and comments, retweets, etc are plentiful, it’s hard to know if I actually am making any impact by throwing my ideas out there for whomever to read. So it’s been especially gratifying to receive such positive feedback about my work for this huge and globally known brand.

I’m involved with a few other items in the TripAdvisor pipeline too. I just can’t talk about them yet but will certainly share what I can with you as soon as possible. Cheers!

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London Daily Photo: Portrait

LDP 2014.11.17 - Portrait

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Switzerland Celebrates 150 Years of Winter Tourism (OneTravel)

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Mention Switzerland and most people immediately dream of skiing in the snowed Alps. And that’s just as many folks from there would like you to think of their beautiful home. Indeed, there’s consensus among the Swiss that their country is the original destination for cold weather fun — and that this coming season marks the 150th anniversary of winter tourism.

As the story goes, in the summer of 1864 …

Read my complete post at the OneTravel blog.

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London Daily Photo: Scratch

LDP 2014.11.16 - Scratch

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You’ll Probably Never Need the FSCS. But What If … ?

What if something beyond your control happened to your savings? The FSCS has enlisted top celebrities such as Marvin Humes to help spread the word about Protecting Your Future.

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) is the compensation fund of last resort for customers of authorised financial services firms. It was founded in 2001 with government backing to provide protection for a wide range of financial services to people across the UK. Since then, the FSCS has helped more than four and a half million people and has paid out over £26bn in compensation to folks who have found themselves in precarious financial situations including savers whose banks – such as Icesave and Bradford & Bingley – failed in 2008.

Through its Protecting Your Future campaign, the FSCS aims to build awareness of what it does: protecting up to £85,000 of your savings in the unlikely event that something happens to your bank, building society or credit union. This £85,000 limit covers 98% of the UK population.

For the campaign, FSCS has enlisted five personalities from the world of music, entertainment and sport to talk about times in their lives when their savings were absolutely crucial. One of these personalities is former JLS member Marvin Humes who shares in a series of videos anecdotes about his rise to fame and continued success.

It’s not a pleasant thought – and may seem abstract and very much a downer – but imagine if something were to happen to your bank and you couldn’t get hold of your money. Scares the hell out of me! But it’s good to know there are some safeguards and

While the FSCS can’t give advice to people about how to save, it is hoped stories such as Marvin’s will inspire people to think smart and plan for the future, safe in the knowledge that the FSCS is there to protect their money.

Published in association with the FSCS.

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London Daily Photo: Bank

LDP 2014.11.15 - Bank

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Cookery School Collaborates with Caprice Holdings Restaurants for New Gourmet Cooking Classes

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Cookery School has teamed up with Caprice Holdings Restaurants to launch a new series of gourmet masterclasses for early 2015.

I sat in on a preview session of the classes earlier this week with Cookery School Principle Rosalind Rathouse, Caprice Holdings Chef Director Tim Hughes, and Caprice Holdings Group Pastry Chef Phil Usher for demo on how to make The Ivy’s famous Christmas Pudding Souffle. Wow! I loved the soufflé and feel pretty confident I could cook up a reasonable replication in my own home. I also learned a few very practical tips from the Cookery School staff (special thanks to Lucy!) that should save me time and money.

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The first of the new classes will run from January to March and celebrate classic dishes from three of Caprice Holdings’ best loved restaurants:

· The Taste of The Ivy: learn to recreate classic dishes from The Ivy (30 January 2015, 10am to 1.30pm);
· Fish with J. Sheekey: master how to fillet and prepare fish to create fresh dishes (27 February 2015, 10am to 1.30pm);
· Pasta making with Daphne’s: perfect the art of pasta making (27 March 2015, 10am to 1.30pm)

Gift vouchers for these classes would make ideal festive season prezzies!

By the way, Cookery School was recently named runner up in the Most Sustainable Cookery School category at the UK Cookery School of the Year Awards 2014 alongside Daylesford and River Cottage in the category, both of which are working farms. Bravo!

Cookery School is located at 15B Little Portland Street, W1W 8BW (literally a two minute walk from Oxford Circus and just off of Regent Street). Find out more at cookeryschool.co.uk.


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London Daily Photo: Royal Mail

LDP 2014.11.14 - Royal Mail

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Celebrate Claude Monet’s Birthday (OneTravel)

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Claude Monet was born November 14, 1840 in Paris and died December 5, 1926 about 75 kilometres from Paris in his home at Giverny, Normandy. During his prolific career as an artist, he painted hundreds of works of art with a passion to capture his impressions of the French countryside and beyond. With works by the beloved artist and founder of French Impressionism on view across the globe (literally there are numerous “Monets” in museums and galleries on every continent except Antarctica) what better way to celebrate the painters 174th birthday than enjoying the many gifts he left to art lovers?

Here’s a list of some the best places to see the biggest collections and more important works by the artist.

Read my complete post at the OneTravel blog.

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London Daily Photo: The Train to Wandsworth Town (The Schoolyard SW18)

LDP 2014.11.13 - The Train to Wandsworth Town

Situated in the heart of Wandsworth, The Schoolyard is a new residential development of high spec one, two, and three bedroom properties.

Project developers, L&Q, invited me to the site for a behind the scenes tour of the work in progress. A minute’s stroll from Wandsworth Town Station with Clapham Junction a bit farther down the road and Fulham and Chelsea just a hop across the Thames, it was a breeze to get there.

All apartments are for sale off plan. Some are available through shared ownership. Build completion is due in 2015.

Keep an eye out for more London Daily Photos featuring shots from my visit to The Schoolyard.

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A Model Citizen in Amsterdam (The Tiny Traveller)

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Remember when my little ‘3D Me’ went to Amsterdam? Well here’s more on that story from my mini travel buddy – business journo, travel writer, city blogger and “model citizen” Josh Ferry Woodard, from his new blog Tiny Traveller:

When I arrived in Amsterdam I was introduced to another little guy. His manager is a professional blogger known as tikichris who also contributes to Urban Travel Blog. We exchanged pleasantries, waxed lyrical about the luxurious flight seating – it turned out little tikichris had the only other private cabin on the plane – and decided to have a look around the city together.

Read Josh’s complete post at the Tiny Traveller blog.

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London Daily Photo: Quiet and Close (The Schoolyard SW18)

LDP 2014.11.12 - Quiet and Close

Situated in the heart of Wandsworth, The Schoolyard is a new residential development of high spec one, two, and three bedroom properties.

Project developers, L&Q, invited me to the site for a behind the scenes tour of the work in progress. A minute’s stroll from Wandsworth Town Station with Clapham Junction a bit farther down the road and Fulham and Chelsea just a hop across the Thames, it was a breeze to get there.

All apartments are for sale off plan. Some are available through shared ownership. Build completion is due in 2015.

Keep an eye out for more London Daily Photos featuring shots from my visit to The Schoolyard.

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The Langham Afternoon Tea with Wedgwood

The Langham Afternoon Tea with Wedgwood - Close-Up

London’s historic home of the afternoon tea – and one of the most stylish venues I’ve yet to encounter in this town – The Langham London has collaborated with leading luxury brand Wedgwood to launch a new afternoon tea featuring a special menu of delectably dainty creations by Executive Pastry Chef Cherish Finden (one of my London foodie heroes!) inspired by and to be served alongside Wedgwood specialty teas in bespoke “Langham Rose” Wedgwood teaware. Launching across all The Langham and Langham Place hotels and ahead of The Langham London’s 150th anniversary in 2015, new tea offering is available now.

The Langham Afternoon Tea with Wedgwood presents yet another in a long list of reasons to visit this deluxe property just a short stroll (and a world away) from the bustle of Oxford Circus.

With moreish memories of my own Langham experiences, I was certainly keen to attend its preview and have a taste for myself. From the “pink pepper brûlée with pine nuts” amuse bouche to my last sip of Langham blend tea, everything about the tea was a delight. Particularly wonderful highlights included an irresistible smoked mountain ham sandwich with Comté and white truffle oil and a “Hathaway Rose Motif – English Rose and lychee log”.

The Wedgwood Afternoon Tea costs £47 per person (£57 with a glass of NV Laurent-Perrier Brut Champagne, or £62 with of a glass of NV Laurent-Perrier Rosé Champagne) and offered in the hotel’s Art Decko, ultra luxe Palm Court.

The Langham London is located at 1C Portland Place, Regent Street, W1B 1JA. Find out more at london.langhamhotels.co.uk.

Posted in Design, Drink, Food, London, Luxury, restaurants | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Remembrance Day in London (OneTravel)

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Image courtesy of OneTravel

Today, Tuesday November 11th, is Remembrance Day, the day to remember the men and women who lost their lives serving in World Wars One and Two and later conflicts. Also known as Armistice Day or Poppy Day, many official commemorations occur on “Remembrance Sunday” (the weekend before the 1th). Remembering those who gave their lives for their country has especially poignant significance this year as 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One.

A number of Remembrance events take place in London every year. Here’s a look at a few special exhibitions marking the sombre occasion in the British capital.

Read my complete post at the OneTravel blog.

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Sunday Brunch at The Jones Family Project, Shoreditch

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The Jones Family Project is an “ever-evolving restaurant, bar and social space in the heart of Shoreditch.” Keen to keep up with all the Joneses and their foodie doings (there’s actually no one behind this venue named Jones funnily enough), I dropped by this past weekend for a taste of the restaurant’s recently added Sunday roast menu and left satisfied and hoping the Sunday offering is one new evolution that will last.

The highlight of my JFP experience was my massive serving of roast chicken with all the trimmings and gravy (£15.50) which total subsided a major craving I’d been having. The meat was juicy and superbly roasted. Trimmings were ample and tasty. I had the pleasure of dining with Kemey. She loved her starter of Cornish crab (with avocado sauce and crostini, £9.50). I had a bite (or two); it was really good. She raved about the vegetarian nut roast with white cheese sauce (£13.50) too. I had a bite of it as well and definitely could ‘taste’ her point.

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I enjoyed my bloody Mary, while Kemey sipped a refreshing Aperol Spritz. Dessert was a pleasure too. I cherished every bite of my Jones Vanilla Bean Cheese ‘cake’ with homemade nut granola, passion fruit (£5) and would be certain to save room for it second time round. Coffees (sourced from Black Sheep) were awesome too.

JFP is one of the more comfortable and attractive dining venues in Shoreditch. It’s also one of the biggest. The multi-storey can seat 200. Indeed, the place feels big – but not vast. Clever design, cheery décor, and smartly situated seating areas, bars and private dining spaces create an inviting ambience. I reckon if you’re planning a Christmas dinner or office do? Keep the Jones’s Shoreditch hub in mind. Or just a quiet meal or catch up with friends … even just a coffee and WiFi? Likewise.

Kemey and I were looked after well (I should mentioned though that they knew I was there to review the menu), but as far as I could tell so were all the other parties of various numbers seated close by. We sat downstairs near the open kitchen – and really got a kick out of being next to such buzzy culinary goings-on. Of course, if we had preferred a more secluded setting that would have been available to us as well.

The Sunday roast and brunch menu is served from 11am to 5pm.

The Jones Family Project is located at 78 Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3JL, opposite The Hoxton Hotel. There’s an entrance from Rivington Street as well. Find out more at jonesfamilyproject.co.uk.

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London Daily Photo: Birdseye View from the Top Floor (The Schoolyard SW18)

LDP 2014.11.11 - Birdseye View from the 8th Floor

Situated in the heart of Wandsworth, The Schoolyard is a new residential development of high spec one, two, and three bedroom properties.

Project developers, L&Q, invited me to the site for a behind the scenes tour of the work in progress. A minute’s stroll from Wandsworth Town Station with Clapham Junction a bit farther down the road and Fulham and Chelsea just a hop across the Thames, it was a breeze to get there.

All apartments are for sale off plan. Some are available through shared ownership. Build completion is due in 2015.

Keep an eye out for more London Daily Photos featuring shots from my visit to The Schoolyard.

Posted in London, London Daily Photo, Photography, The Schoolyard SW18 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Elegant Japanese Dining at Kouzu, Belgravia

Food 3

Japanese fine dining restaurant, Kouzu, opened with a hush of a soft launch (although apparently the Prince of Monaco had already caught wind and paid a visit) last week. Via an invitation extended by the restaurant, Kemey and I dropped by Saturday for what turned out to be a most elegant meal.

Highlights from the kitchen of Chef Kyoichi Kai (ex-Zuma, ex-Kyubi) and his all Japanese staff were many. Kemey and I both especially adored every last bite of our starter course of tuna tartar with spicy sauce (Julienne of tuna, chili sauce, mixed salad with sesame seeds, £15). A bounteous plate of roasted black cod (marinated in miso with a fennel and celery salad, £28) wowed as well. Humbler dishes such as agedashi tofu (which might have been the best I’ve ever tasted, £6.50) and even seasonal pickles (£5.50) impressed with full flavor. Every cooked item we enjoyed from the menu had gorgeous and intriguing texture.

The sushi and sashimi offerings were equally delightful. Fish of the day was turbot and proved a yummy piece of sashimi. A range of nigiri (Kemey went with yellow tail and scallop; I had some eel and octopus) pleased. Prices for individual pieces of sushi and sashimi start at £3.50.

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We sat downstairs in Kouzu’s formal but comfy dining room close to the cocktail bar. Wine and cocktails looked good. Kemey had a virgin mojito and was pleased. I was rather in awe of the whisky menu though. A dram of Ichiro’s Malt MWR on the rocks (£23) was a dreamy drink for me and paired exceptional well with my food.

Kemey’s dessert choice of dark chocolate mouse with apricot brandy sauce and hazelnut ice cream (£10.00) certainly seemed do the trick for her, while an assortment of homemade ice creams (£3 to £4 per scoop) ended this wonderful meal on a happy note for me. Pistachio and black sesame were my two favourite flavours.

Set within Grade-II listed period mansion with a palatial entrance, the restaurant’s interior is stunning (but to be honest I could hardly keep me eyes off the food). Next time (and I sincerely hope I can make it back there soon), I think I would like to sit at the sushi bar upstairs on the floating mezzanine.

Our server for the evening was lovely – friendly, helpful and informative. But I should mention that one fellow working the floor (I was uncertain whether he was a server, maitre d’ or what) came across as frazzled to an almost off-putting extent. Indeed, I couldn’t tell if he was genuinely trying to assist us with directions or shove us out the door when (for about 20 seconds or so) we stopped at the entrance (no one else was coming in or going out) to try and decide the best direction to take upon leaving.

As I said, Kouzu has opened very recently and with a soft launch. So I reckon this dude was simply under a bit of pressure and let his manners slip momentarily. Aside from that everything about our Kouzu experience was splendid.

Kouzu is located “behind” Eaton Square and across from the Goring Hotel at 21 Grosvenor Gardens, SW1W 0JW. Reservations are highly recommended. Find out more at kouzu.co.uk.

Posted in Drink, Food, London, Luxury, restaurants | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

London Daily Photo: Salutes

LDP 2014.11.10 - Salutes

Situated in the heart of Wandsworth, The Schoolyard is a new residential development of high spec one, two, and three bedroom properties.

Project developers, L&Q, invited me to the site for a behind the scenes tour of the work in progress. A minute’s stroll from Wandsworth Town Station with Clapham Junction a bit farther down the road and Fulham and Chelsea just a hop across the Thames, it was a breeze to get there.

All apartments are for sale off plan. Some are available through shared ownership. Build completion is due in 2015.

Keep an eye out for more London Daily Photos featuring shots from my visit to The Schoolyard.

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Addison Lee Updates Its App for an Even Smoother Ride

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Addison Lee has updated its free and popular app (over 850,000 downloads and counting) with live fleet mapping, multi-account bookings and more features. I had been rather content with the app as-is to be honest, but when the opportunity arose to review the updated version I was keen to give it a spin and was not disappointed.

The latest app offers an even more simplified experience with a new interface, better maps and improved address search function. For the first time, the app uses the SmartEngine API to offer the full range of account, destination and payments options, to allow “true multichannel journey management” across Addison Lee’s website, call centre and app portfolio. You can choose to pay using different accounts on one profile, cash, credit cards and now PayPal.

Over the past couple of days, I’ve been relying on Addison Lee for much of my transport. No complaints! The address search function and mapping were awesome. The wait times were reasonable whenever I requested a car to come “ASAP”. When I scheduled pickups, the cars arrived early every time, and the drivers waited patiently for me. Indeed, all the drivers were courteous and drove safely. One driver in particular wowed me with his knowledge of East London streets and got me from Walthamstow to London Bridge in a flash.

Addison Lee rides aren’t cheap. However, I’m sure any Londoner would find the pricing – which is displayed onscreen before you confirm when booking via the app – to be in line with (and I reckon at least a little less expensive than) what you’d expect to pay for a black cab or comparable on-demand app services.

The Addison Lee app is free to download on Android and iOS devices and available from Google Play and iTunes. It’s a handy one to have whether you intend to use it as a luxury, a reliable means of on-the-ground business-related travel, or a just-in-case resource so you’re never stuck in town without a ride.

Find out more at addisonlee.com/apps.

Posted in Apps, Freebies, London, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London #TowerPoppies

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I dropped by the Tower of London late this afternoon to check out the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation comprised of hundreds of thousands of ceramic poppies “planted” to mark the centenary of World War One. There are only a few days left to view the installation by ceramicist Paul Cummins of Derbyshire at the Tower. After Remembrance Day (Wednesday 11 November), all 888,246 poppies will be picked by volunteers and sent to poppy purchasers.

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It really is a spectacular site. Of course, the Tower’s worth a visit anytime – poppies or not but if you can make before the installation ends (and there might be a chance it stays longer or that parts of it go on display elsewhere) by all means do! You can buy tickets here.

Posted in Art, London | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

London Daily Photo: Underfloor Heating Installation (The Schoolyard SW18)

LDP 2014.11.09 - Underfloor Installation

Situated in the heart of Wandsworth, The Schoolyard is a new residential development of high spec one, two, and three bedroom properties.

Project developers, L&Q, invited me to the site for a behind the scenes tour of the work in progress. A minute’s stroll from Wandsworth Town Station with Clapham Junction a bit farther down the road and Fulham and Chelsea just a hop across the Thames, it was a breeze to get there.

All apartments are for sale off plan. Some are available through shared ownership. Build completion is due in 2015.

Keep an eye out for more London Daily Photos featuring shots from my visit to The Schoolyard.

Posted in London, London Daily Photo, Photography, The Schoolyard SW18 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments