London Daily Photo: Clerkenwell Road

LDP 2014.08.01 - Clerkenwell Road

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London Daily Photo: July with the Promise Foundation #Yimby

LDP 2014.07.00 - Off the Shelf

I hope you’ve enjoyed viewing this past month’s batch of images for my London Daily Photo series. Each day in July, I turned my camera toward the good work of the Promise Foundation, a charity with the aim of providing support through mentoring to young people at a time in their lives when their decisions can have long-term effects on their future.

The foundation was inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations. The Promise Foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.

Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good. Launched this year by Just Giving, Yimby – which stands for “Yes In My Back Yard” in positive contrast to the NIMBY phenomenon – empowers individuals to raise money needed for community-based projects. To date there have been more than 500 project submissions and £550,000 pledged.

Where the JustGiving site focuses on individuals fundraising for charities, Yimby uses the same technology to crowdfund a diverse range of projects that benefit society. There are vast numbers of philanthropic causes out there which aren’t registered as charities. Yimby provides these projects with a new way to raise money that previously wasn’t available to them.

It was a pleasure and a privledge to be able to highlight this Yimby enabled social enterprise through my London Daily Photo series.

For more about the Promise Foundation, go to thepromisefoundation.org.uk.
To learn about Yimby visit yimby.com.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

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London Daily Photo: Promise Found

LDP 2014.07.31 - Promise Found

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

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London Daily Photo: Could You Make a Difference in a Young Person’s Life?

LDP 2014.07.30 - Could You Make a Difference in a Young Person's Life?

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

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London Daily Photo: Promise and Camilla, Friends for Life

LDP 2014.07.29 - Promise and Camilla, Friends for Life

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

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Royal Childhood Exhibition at Buckingham Palace (OneTravel)

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Buckingham Palace has now opened its State Rooms to visitors for the 2014 summer season. An annual occurrence, the opening presents an excellent opportunity to tour one of the world’s few royal palaces that’s still in use as a royal residence while taking in the grandeur and living history of Britain’s most famous home.

This summer, the opening of the State Rooms is coupled with Royal Childhood, a special exhibition giving “an unprecedented glimpse into life as a young member of the royal family growing up at Buckingham Palace.”

Read my complete post at the OneTravel blog.

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London Daily Photo: A Former Mentee Becomes a Foundation Employee

LDP 2014.07.28 - A Former Mentee Becomes a Foundation Employee

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

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Stacks Poutine at Birthdays, Stoke Newington Road, Dalston

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In a Canuck-ibly delicious kitchen collaboration with Birthdays bar in Dalston, Stacks Poutine presents a gourmand’s salute to one of Canada’s most satisfying creations along with a line up of other equally nosh-worthy bites. Poutine, in case you haven’t had the pleasure, is a dish of Quebecois origin consisting of fries, gravy and cheese curd. It’s mega yum and the Stacks version yields a damn fine example. Here are some notes from a recent foray through its menu.

So yeah, the classic poutine (fries, cheese curd, chicken or vegetarian gravy, £5) is a winner … as is the pulled pork poutine (with pulled pork and slaw £7). A tip of the hat to London’s current Korean food craze, Stacks offers a mean mound of kimchi fries (kimchi, spring onion, coriander, fries, cheese curd, £7) as well. For an even more mound-ilicious meal, consider the bulgogi option (with marinated beef, £8). It’s yummy stuff … and I’m pretty certain that’d be the item I would most likely request upon any subsequent visit (which I can imagine myself hankering some time soon).

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Beyond its namesake, Stacks does a more than decent cheeseburger (listed as a side for £5) too. North Americans: it tasted a lot like a burger from Wendy’s to my American palate. There a few house drinks specifi to the Stacks menu (along with whatever else is available at the bar obviously). On the hot and sticky afternoon when I visited, I could have downed a gazillion refreshing and easy drinkin’ lageritas (lager, tequila, lime, £5).

Good grub for pre-drinks belly lining, excellent nosh to scarf down during any session of laid back imbibing, and presumably ideal to help cope with any hangover, the food at Stacks Poutine is ace Canadian comfort at a reasonable price.

Taking my Stacks orders while working the Birthdays bar during my visit was Hayley – a chilled out, super nice and very accommodating barkeep at that. I reckon she deserves a brava. Thanks for such friendly service!

Stacks Poutine is located at Birthdays, 33-35 Stoke Newington Road, N16 8BJ. To find out more about Birthdays go to birthdaysdalston.com. Visit Stacks online at stackspoutine.com.


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London Daily Photo: Sisters Working Together for Change

LDP 2014.07.27 - Sisters Working Together for Change

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

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Christmas in July? Good Stuff!

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Ho ho huh? Here’s a bagful of seasonally premature Good Stuff to stuff keep in mind as 2014 rolls onwards to a hopefully very festive end. With many major brands (and those wishing to be so) hosting sneak preview shows every July to highlight what’s on their nice lists for Christmas, it’s a fun if odd time to be on the consumer end of media. Anyway, I’m never one to turn down an invite to a party – even if I’m not sure if it’s half a month early or late. So, deck the hall and all that jazz as I share some of the more notable Yuletide prospects I came across this past month. Enjoy.

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Carluccio’s

Everybody’s favourite local Italian has all sorts of yum lined up for your December delights including an age old Christmas tradition in Napoli new to the Carluccio’s Christmas range: struffoli, pieces of deep fried dough tossed in honey and dusted with hundreds and thousands and candied peel. Also, while at the Carluccio’s preview I had a really delicious pear and ricotta ice cream that did wonders for taking the edge off the summer heat and suggesting winter treats to come.

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Dunelm

Affordable homewares brand Dunelm is to feature plenty of winter wonders this year. I like its sleeping fox throw pillow as a gift idea – especially with its sly recommended retail price of £5.

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La Maison du Chocolate

Come December, be sure to drop by La Maison du Chocolate (there’s a shop on Piccadilly and concessions at Harrods and Selfridges) to have a look at its Tree of Wonder – a limited edition Christmas tree comprised of 25 finely crafted dark chocolate disks, 130 dark chocolate “pine cones”, ten drop-shaped ornaments in dark or blonde chocolate with mendiant nuts (almonds from Valencia, enrobed almonds, Peidmont hazelnuts, pecans, Sicilian pistachios, and pine nuts), dark chocolate beads, gold leaf and gold threads. Priced at £700 such choco-tecture might be a bit rich for many shoppers to contemplate actually purchasing. However, the tree’s handmade Christmas ornaments sold separately for about £25 might prove more accessible indulgences.

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Valrhona

For the first time ever, Valrhona has worked with 12 of London’s best pastry chefs to launch a dozen limited edition Buches de Noel for Christmas. Chefs include Luke Frost (Coworth Park), Denis Drame (Pennyhill Park), Joseph Wagenaar (The Andaz), John Grantham (Restaurant 61), Loic Carbonnet (The Four Seasons), Lewis Wilson (The Ritz), Cherish Finden (The Langham), Eric Rousseau (Patisserie Belle Epoque), Sarah Barber (ME London), Regis Negrier (The Delauney), Mourad Khiat (The Berkeley), Ryan Thompson (The Shangi La), and Andrew Blas (Café Royal). Guess who got to have a taste of these fanciful creations? Oh yeah! More about these beautiful buches to come but let me say now that I especially loved Cherish Finden’s somewhat unorthodox take on this traditional French dessert as well as Eric Rousseau’s decidedly festive version. All buches will be available for consumers to pre-order from the respective outlets for Christmas.

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Waitrose

Wow. Waitrose is doing up Christmas in style in 2014. I loved sampling its Turkey Cracker, a turkey breast that’s been rolled and wrapped in butter muslin – a traditional method of keeping the meat moist – with a Christmas stuffing middle and packaged in its very own Christmas cracker-shaped box (£30). I also enjoyed trying the Pork Noix, a pork shoulder joint with a veal stuffing, inspired by a traditional Elizabethan recipe (£11.99 per kg).I got a kick out of the shop’s lobster sundaes and snowman cheesecake too … and could not get enough of its pork crackling straws.

Santa, I promise I’ve been a good boy this year!!!

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London Daily Photo: Promise and Tulip Catch up

LDP 2014.07.26 - Promise and Tulip Catch up

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

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Sickboy: Make It Last Forever at The Outsiders London, Greek Street

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Maybe it had just been awhile since I had enjoyed the pleasure of viewing much work by street artist Sickboy, but his latest offering, Make It Last Forever on view now at The Outsiders London in Soho, seemed to pop with vibrancy while providing plenty of personal symbolism to ponder.

Something about this Sickboy’s art conjures up the thought of a 21st century Hieronymus Bosch doing an episode of Spongebob Squarepants. I reckon that’s a good thing too as I’ve been keen to check out his work every time I’ve heard tell of it – and I’ve always found pleasure in what he’d produced.

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His new Outsiders show is no exception. A “comprehensive showcase,” Make It Last Forever features several “surreal abstract canvases alongside an elaborate installation” designed specifically for gallery’s basement. And – believe it or not – although the artist has done tons of installations and painted plenty of street art around town, this show is his first time his stuff’s landed in an actual London gallery. It’s fun. It’s thoughtful. It’s vintage Sickboy and well worth checking out.

A memorable exhibition that’s as contemplative as it is cartoonish, Sickboy: Make It Last Forever is on now until Saturday 30 August 2014 at The Outsiders London, 8 Greek Street, W1D 4DG. Find out more at theoutsiders.net.


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Hyper Japan 2014, 25-27 July at Earls Court Exhibition Centre

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Returning to London today through Sunday 27 July is Hyper Japan, the UK’s “biggest celebration of Japanese culture, cuisine and cool.” I popped round for a quickie investigation earlier this afternoon. Here are some highlights from my visit to this annual bonanza of banzai.

Like so many of these large scale expos that come to London, Hyper Japan attendees have to pay to get in (£12 online for general admission tickets) and then again for most stuff inside. The majority of vendors I encountered were pretty tight about samples even when I flashed my press pass, and queues were pretty long for a lot of the more interesting things. Still if you’re into cosplay, manga, Kawaii, J-Pop, or gaming (Nintendo’s an official sponsor), then this is the place for you. I has a blast roaming around checking the amazing makeup and homemade costumes of so many of the attendees.

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One of the yummier treats among the few items I managed to nibble was the matcha milk chocolate from Basel based chocolatiers, Beschle (whom I wished I’d known about when I was in Basel a few weeks back!).

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I was impressed by the queue to try Nice Ice’s shaved ice (looked like they were using proper machines for super fluffy texture!) but strapped for time I wasn’t able to wait for a taste. I got their contact details though and am keen to investigate!

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Hyper Japan runs from Friday 25 to Sunday 27 July at Earls Court Exhibition Centre. Find out more at hyperjapan.co.uk.


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Lovely Sunday Lunch at The Latchmere, SW11

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Following a major reno, The Latchmere pub on Battersea Park Road has recently reopened under the guiding hand of the Renaissance Pubs group to offer a comfortable and attractive venue (think: Victorian with light contemporary accoutrements and minus any twee fittings) for all those pubby things we like to do as Londoners. Kemey and I paid visit a couple of weekends ago for one of our most favourite of pubby activities – Sunday lunch! – and were more than pleased with our experience. Here are some of the highlights.

Kudos to the Latchmere staff for immediately bringing a jug of tap water to our table soon after being seated! It’s a little thing, but such a gesture goes a long way to helping ensure a decent dining experience. Service remained friendly and consistent during our lunch. And what a lunch it was!

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A starter course of aubergine and mozzarella ravioli with aged Parmesan butter (£6.75 as a starter, £11.75 as a main) was a nice way to commence the meal (although completely unnecessary given how massive my main course was). My roast – grain fed beef topside, with “all the trimmings” (£14.50) – was a mound of yum dwarfed only by the mega Yorkshire pudding perched atop the meaty mass. A tip of the hat to the importance of provenance and an apparent commitment to supporting nearby producers, the beef came from Renaissance Pub’s “own farm” – an appreciated touch!

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Kemey was pleased with her choices as well: cauliflower and Stilton soup (served with excellent grilled bread, £5) to begin followed by the veggie Sunday roast (pumpkin and trimmings, £10). I think for our tastes, the kitchen could have gone a little easier on the butter and been a tad more generous with the gravy with each dish involved. But I reckon I’d just mention such next time I visit and they’d accommodate.

Puds were pleasant. I liked the salted sticky toffee pudding, vanilla ice cream (£5.50) while Kemey had no qualms with the “strawberry and passion fruit mess” presented to her (£5.50).

A pint of locally brewed Sambrooks Wandle went down well with the meal (and cheers to my waitress for the rec).

The Latchmere is located at 503 Battersea Park Road, SW11 3BW. Find out more at thelatchmere.co.uk.

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London Daily Photo: Tulip Siddiq, Parliamentary Candidate and Promise Foundation Mentor

LDP 2014.07.25 - Tulip Siddiq, Parliamentary Candidate and Mentor

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

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Win the Summer Collection from Hotel Chocolat

Win the Summer Collection from Hotel Chocolat

Ah summer! Just another excuse for enjoying chocolate, right? Well, with Hotel Chocolat’s 2014 range of summertime treats, it’s certainly a delicious option. Fusing together the heady colours and flavours of summer, this delectably seasonal assortment of fine chocolates is just right for sultry afternoons and long summer nights. Keep reading for your chance to win a Hotel Chocolat Summer Collection.

To help you make the most of these warm weather months, Hotel Chocolate has teamed up with my blog to kindly offer one lucky reader a free Summer Collection. Valued at £39, this keepsake box full of summer specials is ideal for adding a little sunshine to birthdays, anniversaries, or lazy days in the park. The Summer Collection includes a Summer H-Box, Strawberries & Cream Puddles, Mojito Cocktails Selector, Raspberry Riot Selector, and a 20cl bottle of Sparkling Pink Rosé.

To be in with a chance to win one simply tweet the following:

RT to win a Summer Collection of chocolates from @HotelChocolat compliments of @tikichris: http://bit.ly/1mHWIJA #summerchoc

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

T&C

I’ll pick one winner at random on Friday 8 August at 11.30am BST. The winner will receive one “Summer Collection” from Hotel Chocolat. To be eligible to win, you need to have an address in the UK where the prize can be posted. As the prize contains an alcoholic beverage, you also need to be of legal drinking age to be eligible to win and must be able to show ID that proves your age. Good luck.

Check out all of Hotel Chocolat’s Summer Chocolates at hotelchocolat.com/uk/shop/gift-ideas/summer.

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London Daily Photo: Mentors Mingle and Share Ideas

LDP 2014.07.24 - Mentors Mingle and Share Ideas

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

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The Pear Tree Pub in Hammersmith, W6

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Today (Thursday 24 July), The Pear Tree pub in Hammersmith is offering free BBQ pulled pork finger rolls at two locations. From 12.45 folks from the pub will be outside the main entrance to Charing Cross Hospital, and then from 17.45 they’ll be outside Barons Court Tube. Yum!

I reckon from either of those freebie spots, you should continue on for a complete Pear Tree experience. The Victorian era gastropub is just a short stroll from both those locations (it’s an easy walk from Hammersmith Station and West Kensington as well), has a lovely beer garden and a friendly easy going vibe. I actually dined at The Pear Tree earlier this week and had a really nice meal there. I especially liked my plate of properly prepared pork belly I loved the awesomely massive onion rings too. There’s a smart selection of beer and a decent wine list.

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It’s a fun and laid pub serving great food. Even when not being plied with free pulled pork you’d do well to pop round to enjoy your time at The Pear Tree.

The Pear Tree is located at 14 Margravine Road, W6 8HJ. Find out more at thepeartreefulham.com.

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London Daily Photo: A Mentee Explains What She’s Gained from Having a Mentor

LDP 2014.07.23 - A Mentee Explains What She's Gained from Having a Mentor

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

Posted in Good Cause, London, London Daily Photo, Photography, Yimby | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BOGOF Bubble Tea at Yao Yao Cha, Earlham Street WC2

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There’s a new bubble tea place in town: Yao Yao Cha. I paid a very refreshing visit to this vibrant little Seven Dials shop when it first opened and – in addition to slurping up a variety of yummy treats – managed to wrangle a generous buy-one-get-one-free offer especially for my readers to enjoy Yao Yao Cha’s delicious Taiwanese treats.

Yep! From now until the end of August, when you purchase any regular drink at Yao Yao Cha simply mention “tikichris” to get another one of equal or lesser value for FREE.

What a delicious way to beat the summer heat!

“Yao Yao Cha” is Chinese for “shake shake tea” and this latest bubble tea venue aims to do just that – shake up the London boba scene with a fusion of authentic Taiwanese drinks and methods, adapted for the London palate. For example, the Taiwnese owned Yao Yao Cha’s tapioca pearls are made deliberately smaller and less chewy, to better suit local tastes.

But it’s not just about the fusion bubble tea at Yao Yao Cha. The shop’s core menu consists of 24 drinks divided into four sections: frappés, Jasmine green teas, Matcha green teas and black teas. The two drinks I love most here are the especially moreish crème brûlée bubble tea and a super quenching cherry tomato frappe. And get this: Yao Yao Cha has just (as I’m typing this post up) introduced shave ice. Ooh I gotta get back there ASAP to give this a try! If any of y’all make it over before I do please let me know what you think of the shaved ice … and of course be sure to mention “tikichris” when you do!

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T&C

  • This 2for1/BOGOF offer is valid on regular drinks only from 23 July through to 31 August 2014;
  • All bubble teas come with tapioca as standard;
  • All frappés come with fruit pops/jelly as standard depending on flavour.

Yao Yao Cha is located at 24 Earlham Street, WC2H 9LN. Visit the shop online at yaoyaocha.com.


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London Daily Photo: A Mentor and Mentee Recap a Great Year

LDP 2014.07.22 - A Mentor and Mentee Share Recap a Great Year

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

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7 Sound Suggestions for Listening to Live Music in Louisiana (OneTravel)

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The state of Louisiana is home to a rich musical tradition. Blues, funk, jazz, zydeco, rock ‘n’ roll, country – it’s all-American music and every style has its roots in this corner of the world. Headed down to Dixie for a taste of live music but in a jam as to where you should go?

Here’s a quick list of great venues across the state to help you play it by ear like a pro.

Read my complete post at the OneTravel blog.

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London Daily Photo: Josephine Shares the Year’s Results

LDP 2014.07.21 - Josephine Shares this Year's Results

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

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Get it Fast and Fresh at Vapiano Soho

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Not the first (and probably not the last) Vapiano outlet to open in London, but the new Wardour Street location of this global restaurant group with its fast casual take on serving freshly made Italian cuisine was worthy of a visit and my recommendation.

A recent weeknight dinner at the newly opened and vast two storey Vapiano Soho proved a pleasant pit stop during any otherwise busy week. I liked the concept at this place:

Pasta, pizza, antipasti and salads are ordered by customers directly from the Vapiano Chefs at individual stations within the restaurant and prepared to order in front of guests (a Vapiano chef can make two different pasta dishes simultaneously and in just three minutes). This gives guests the opportunity to order their dishes bespoke with extra garlic, chili, herbs etc. The dishes are ordered using a smart card system, which is tapped onto the till every time a guest orders. The herb gardens within the restaurant are also there for flavour, not just decoration and guests are encouraged to tear off a few basil leaves to add to their meal. 

Easy peasy and all that – with your meal made fast and fresh and right in front of you.

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And I liked the food too. I had a rather filling and tasty calzone (ham, spicy Italian sausage, mushrooms, mixed herbs, onions, tomato sauce, mozzarella, £8.95). I found it and the other items I had to be reasonably priced (especially for Wardour Street). I appreciated the wine selection too. A bottle of Big Top Zinfandel went well with everything tomato-y.

I don’t think Vapiano’s menu will blow you away, but I reckon the vast majority of folks grabbing a bite here will be pleased and impressed with the offering, service and setting. I was. For the most part anyway. Considering all the focus on efficiency and self servicing, access to a simple jug of tap water during my meal would have been nice. That’s hardly a big issue though, and everything else about the experience was fine.

A smart spot to keep in mind for family dining, casual catch ups and solo outings – Vapiano Soho is located at 84 Wardour Street, W1F 0TQ with outlets at Great Portland Street and Southwark Street and more across Europe, the Middle East and the US. Go to uk.vapiano.com for details.


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London Daily Photo: Building Meaningful Relationships Through Mentoring

LDP 2014.07.20 - Building Meaningful Relationships Through Mentoring

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

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Recipe: Spaghetti Puttanesca

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An opportunity to sample a selection of especially delicious olives led to an opportunity to cook one of my favourite dishes: spaghetti puttanesca. As the name suggests, this dish is quick, easy and cheap … and oh so satisfying.

SPAGHETTI PUTTANESCA Yum

Ingredients (4-6 servings)

  • 2-4 tablespoons of olive oil (extra virgin is probably best but not necessary for this recipe);
  • ½ of a peeled white onion;
  • 1 crushed garlic clove;
  • 2 anchovy fillets (preferably ones tinned in olive oil);
  • 690g passata;
  • 200g pitted black olives;
  • Capers to taste (or not – it’s your call);
  • Pinch of rock salt;
  • 500g of spaghetti;
  • Black pepper to taste;
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano to taste.

Method

  • Pour a glug of olive oil into a large pot set to medium heat;
  • Place the onion (broad side down), garlic, and anchovies in the pot;
  • Pour in the passata;
  • Bring the sauce to a boil and let simmer on low heat;
  • Add the olives and capers and put the lid on the pot, occasionally stirring the ingredients;
  • In another large pot, add enough water for cooking 500g of pasta, throw in a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil;
  • Add your pasta along with a tablespoon or so of the sauce;
  • Cook the pasta until ready (I prefer mine to be slightly al dente);
  • When the pasta is cooked, drain it;
  • Add freshly mixed black pepper to your sauce and give it a good stir;
  • Discard the onion before serving.

Serving

Serve either with the pasta and sauce mixed together or separate. I’m not too bothered either way about this, but some folks can be especially fussy as to how the dish should be served. Might be best to ask your dining companions before deciding. I definitely recommend added ample amounts of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano on top of your plated puttanesca. Maybe add a fresh basil leaf atop the mound as well. The dish goes down well with a glass of red wine too. Keep in mind there’s no rule that says this sauce can only be eaten with spaghetti, but I reckon it is the best and most pleasing pasta for it.

Read more tikichris recipes.

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London Daily Photo: Mentor and Mentee Embrace

LDP 2014.07.19 - Mentor and Mentee Embrace

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

Posted in Good Cause, London, London Daily Photo, Photography, Yimby | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Good Stuff

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Good Stuff and lots of it! Here’s the low down on some fine things to see, sip or savour – all of which I’ve recently come across and thought were worth sharing with you. Enjoy.

The Hawkhurst Vault

Have you been to The Hawkhurst Vault yet? If you’re a tea aficionado or partial to supporting indie East End businesses, then you definitely should! This months old tearoom offers “17 beautiful varieties of tea and the highest quality coffee, all sourced from local suppliers, with a range of locally crafted pastries and cakes to compliment them.” The spacious, two story shop is situated on the more relaxed (and relaxing) side of Brick Lane just north of Bethnal Green road and is a lovely place for a cup of tea (more than decent coffee too) … and a smart spot to keep in mind for your morning beverage needs and for catching up with folks in a comfy setting.

Cocoa Runners

A new monthly subscription delivery scheme called Cocoa Runners aims to “run around the world discovering” fine chocolate and then send you the best of what they found. The Cocoa Runners monthly boxes are designed to be “letterbox friendly” and to fit through nearly all UK letterboxes, and you don’t need to be in to sign for deliveries. I got a taste of one of the Runners’ boxes a month or so back. I liked (!!!), particularly an included bar of Pacari 70%. The packaging was attractive and with the chocolates and thorough info about them well presented. I reckon this service would be good to keep in mind as a gift for any chocolate lover or person-who-has-everything you might know. Give it a try at £16.65 for a one off or £14.95 per month for a three months (as long as the introductory offer is still on).

The Collective’s Limited Edition Crème Brûlée Yoghurt + New Yoghurt Drinks

Gourmet dairy brand, The Collective, has brought to market a limited edition Crème Brûlée Yoghurt created by two-time Olympic gold medallist Geraint Thomas. I got a taste of some recently. It’s delicious. Be on the look out for it while it lasts.

The Collective also has launched a range of four yoghurt drinks produced with British milk, and containing no refined sugars, artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. I got a taste of the new drinks and was glad to have done so. I especially liked the Coconut, Vanilla & Honey drink, a “moreish, indulgent and perfectly balanced blend” of live yoghurt, Madagascan vanilla, coconut cream, coconut milk and honey; and the Bloody Mango, a mix of live yoghurt, crushed Alphonso mangoes and blood oranges. Deeeelish. There’ll be more to share about these treat to come! So stay tuned.

Natural Wine: An Introduction to Organic and Biodynamic Wines Made Naturally

Isabel Legeron, France’s only female Master of Wine and the one and only mastermind behind the fantastic RAW artisan wine fairs has published a book, Natural Wine: An Introduction to Organic and Biodynamic Wines Made Naturally. I gave it a flip at the recent London launch (held at super yummy Borough Market restaurant, Elliot’s) and reckon it’s well worth any wine lovers or would-be connoisseurs doing so as well.

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Posted in Books, Chocolate, coffee, Drink, Food, Good Stuff, London, restaurants, Shopping, Travel, Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

London Daily Photo: A Mentee Welcomes Guests to an End of the Year Celebration

LDP 2014.07.18 - A Mentee Welcomes Guests to an End of the Year Celebration

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

Posted in Good Cause, London, London Daily Photo, Photography, Yimby | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

dCS: Me, Bob Dylan, and the £67,000 Sound

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Question: what would Bob Dylan’s classic Like a Rolling Stone sound like played at you from a £67,000 piece of luxury audio kit from dCS? Answer: fucking awesome.

Yesterday, world leading luxury audio technology company, dCS, took over the Billiard Room at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel to showcase its flagship system, the Vivaldi. And yep, lucky duck me received an invite to pop round and check it out. Like most folks reading this, I’d never heard of dCS before, but man oh man it was fantastic finding out about its revved gear and getting to listen to a few tunes played through it.

This year, the Cambridge based company marks its 25th anniversary. With roots in R&D of advanced radar systems for defense aerospace applications, today dCS’s focus is on creating domestic sound systems that “deliver the best sounding music reproduction that money can buy.” Built on technology originally designed by dCS for use in military defense systems, the small team of audiophiles behind dCS have endeavored to reinvent music playback, making on-demand systems which carry a correspondingly high price tag with a new Vivaldi system retailing at £67,000 (about $115,000) … sigh.

From what I could tell, they very much seem to have succeeded. I loved sitting there enjoying one of the richest music experiences of my life … if only for about 15 minutes or so.

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I gotta tell ya though, with the invitation to bring my “favourite piece of music so we can treat you to a listening experience which will blow you away” the pressure was on! The track I chose to go with was Like a Rolling Stone – a song I have never tired of listening to and that I’ve heard via all sort of crappy and snappy playbacks and even performed live by Dylan himself. I was not disappointed and my session with the Vivaldi certainly proved to be the best that song had ever sounded to my ears.

Just in case, though, I brought some back up. In addition to the thrill of the luxury high tech experience, I got of kick out of wracking my brain thinking about which songs I’d love to hear played back in such ideal conditions … and came up with the following playlist. In the end, I only got to hear one other preferred song: Harborcoat by REM which sounded so crisp and clean and ‘right there’ – like the first time I heard the song when I was kid (I still couldn’t make out more than a word or two of Michael Stipe’s lyrics though). Beyond the 12 tracks in my list, if I’d had the chance I probably would have relished a chance to just sit there all day letting Slayer rock my face off for a few hours.

You can find out more about dCS at dcsltd.co.uk.

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London Daily Photo: QPCS Steel Drum Band Member

LDP 2014.07.17 - QPCS Steel Drum Band Member

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

Posted in Good Cause, London, London Daily Photo, Photography, Yimby | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Win a G&T Experience for Two at The Polo Bar at The Westbury Hotel

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COMPETITION IS NOW OVER AND THE WINNER HAS BEEN CONTACTED. THANKS SO MUCH FOR READING TIKICHRIS. PLEASE STAY TUNED FOR LOTS MORE FUN AND FREEBIES TO COME!

A month or so ago I had the pleasure of sampling the new gin and tonic menu at The Polo Bar at The Westbury Hotel. Created by Tanqueray mixologist Tim Homewood and Polo Bar manager Elias Yiallouris, the new G&Ts are part of a “Botanical Brew Experience” collaboration between Tangueray No. TEN gin and Fever-Tree tonic water. All feature the quadruple distilled gin and the premium tonic along with an intriguing array of fresh ingredients. And – just in time for the height of summer – here’s a chance for one lucky reader and a guest to do what I got to do and sample a couple of these fantastic drinks for free.

Here’s a look at that refreshing G&T menu:

·         Blue Lady Tea and Grapefruit Peel served with Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic – the exotic floral and citrus notes of Blue Lady Tea are lifted with zesty Grapefruit Peel, a refreshing thirst-quencher;

·         Fennel and star anise seed served with Fever-Tree Classic – native to China, the liquorice aromas of Star Anise combine with the sweet, warm flavours of Fennel Seed for an oriental twist;

·         Blackberry and hibiscus tea and lemon peel served with Fever-Tree Lemon Tonic – Cleopatra’s drink of choice, ruby red Hibiscus tea is paired with fruity blackberries for a divine blend of sweet and sour;

·         Cinnamon, clove and vanilla served with Fever-Tree Classic – warming and uplifting, the soft, creamy flavours of vanilla are spiced up with aromatic cloves and cinnamon;

·         Rosebuds served with Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic – reminiscent of an English garden on a summer’s day, the delicate notes of rose are given a rich, dry edge with the addition of elderflower essence;

·         Pink pepper and orange peel served with Fever-Tree Classic – the kick of spiced pink pepper is sweetened with a citrus orange peel, and garnished with an orange twist.

Thirsty? Yeah me too! And I reckon you’d be hard pressed to find a more comfortable and place in Central London to enjoy such a fine cocktails.

To be in with a chance win a G&T Experience at The Polo Bar at The Westbury Hotel simply tweet the following:

RT to win a Polo Bar G&T Experience: http://bit.ly/1mjF1Qi compliments of @tikichris and @WestburyMayfair #GandT #PoloBar #Mayfair

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

T&C

I’ll pick one winner at random on Thursday 24 July 2014 at 16.30 BST. The prize will be two drinks each from The Polo Bar’s G&T menu for the winner and a guest. Obviously you need to be of legal drinking age to drink this alcoholic beverages and must be able to show ID that proves your age.

For the facts about alcohol visit Drinkaware.co.uk.

About The Polo Bar

Upscale and low key, The Polo Bar at The Westbury Hotel is conveniently centred between Bond Street, Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus stations yet removed just enough from the fray to allow for decompression. With Art Deco inspired designer interiors with Swarovski and Fendi details, it’s a swish spot to keep in mind whether you’re mingling to impress or simply hoping to unwind in high style.

The Polo Bar is located at The Westbury Hotel at the entrance at 37 Conduit Street, W1S 2YF. Find out more at westburymayfair.com/restaurant_5-en.html.


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COMPETITION IS NOW OVER AND THE WINNER HAS BEEN CONTACTED. THANKS SO MUCH FOR READING TIKICHRIS. PLEASE STAY TUNED FOR LOTS MORE FUN AND FREEBIES TO COME! 

Check out more tikichris competitions.

Posted in Competition, Drink, Freebies, Hotels, London, Luxury, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

London Daily Photo: Here Comes the Band

LDP 2014.07.16 - Here Comes the Band

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

Posted in Good Cause, London, London Daily Photo, Photography, Yimby | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Sensational Blogs about Los Angeles (OneTravel)

Los Angeles at night

Photo/Ask Bjørn Hansen

Los Angeles is a fantastic city but unless you know it well can prove a heck of a tough one to explore. Why just stick to the beach and major attractions when there’s so much more to see and do? Here are five blogs about LA and by Angelinos to help you make the most of your visit to La La Land! For this list I tried to look past the many big media blogs and all the gossipy celebrity obsessed sites and really try to focus on blogs that offer the best insider perspective for folks visiting from out of town.

I hope you find these blogs to be fun and useful …

Read my complete post at the OneTravel blog.

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New Restaurant Review: INK, Bethnal Green

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Definitely one of the most inventive and satisfying meals of the year, my dinner at newly opened INK was a sheer delight.

Set beside the Regent’s Canal with plenty of outdoor seating, INK is as ideal a place as any in East London for grabbing a bite – and a helluva lot more pleasant than most. Before tucking in to my review of the food though, I’d just like to say that I was simply glad to be at INK sitting on its deck having a glass of wine, enjoying Kemey’s good company and watching the East End world roll by.

And even if the setting had sucked, I’d have loved the experience for the wonderful dishes served. Just about everything presented from young Lithuanian chef Martyn Meid’s kitchen was exquisitely presented and utterly delicious. Even the bread brought out before we’d ordered and served with home made butter as well as rendered pork fat with fresh herbs and leek ash was something of a thrill for the taste buds. My starter course of “Gravlax” with lightly pickled carrots, cucumbers, dill, rye and squid ink (£7.50) did the trick too as did Kemey’s subtly flavoured starter of pea (served as a panna cotta – wow!), mint and crab (£9.50).

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On to the mains, braised beef with garden peas, broad beans, pine nuts and stringed potato (£15.50) wowed my palate like few dishes have this year. Across the table, Kemey was equalling nomming it up with her choice of sea bream with ginger and passion fruit sauce, smoked cucumber, pearl barley, shrimp and langoustine foam (£17).

INK’s short wine list proved big enough. I very much liked my sips of Picpoul de Pinet, Villemarin (£6 for a glass, £22 for a bottle) and Fernlands Sauvignon Blanc (£7 for a glass, £28 for a bottle). A glass of Vistamar Late Harvest Moscatel (£6 for a glass, £16 for a bottle). Aside from the glass of sticky, dessert failed to please or even measure up to the sumptuous savouries which preceded it. Service was warm and intuitiv.

INK may see a bit tricky to get to, but it really isn’t. Just head to the end of Palmers Road and look for the restaurant situated over the water at the base of the apartment complex. Besides, the fantastic food and canal side seating make it well worth the minimal effort. Given the quality of the food, I reckon the prices were rather generous and that to find this sort of cuisine elsewhere in London, you’d probably need to head to considerably more upscale parts of town (essentially Mayfair) where you’d certainly pay loads more.

INK is located at 44 Palmers Road, Suttons Wharf South, E2 0TA. Find out more at facebook.com/inkrestaurant.


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