London Daily Photo: Bloomsbury

LDP 2014.10.31 - Bloomsbury

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London Daily Photo: Wick(ed)

LDP 2014.10.30 - Wick(ed)

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London Daily Photo: St Pancras Pianist

LDP 2014.10.29 - St Pancras Pianist

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Copas Turkeys and the Art of Christmas

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I’ve been a fan of Copas Turkeys for a few years. So when an invitation from the family run farm landed in my inbox to attend “The Art of Christmas” masterclass on preparing and presenting their delicious free range, plucked by hand and game hung turkeys, I RSVPed ASAP.

Yes, Christmas is coming. And contrary to most years of my adulthood there hasn’t seemed to be nearly as much Yuletide jive and in-your-face jingle bell retailing in the run up to December. You’d hardly know it’s the end of October if it wasn’t for the occasionally Jack o’ lantern. Maybe it’s the mild (and rather sunny autumn) we’re having here in London? Maybe I’m just too busy (slammed!) with other things to notice. Maybe everybody’s too broke to even start contemplating shopping for Christmas?

Whatever the case, Christmas is on its way, and that means time turkey time (which will be here a month sooner for American expats like me who are keen to keep with Thanksgiving tradition). And if you were going to do turkey at your feast, Copas would be a smart choice of bird.

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Cooked right – and I’ve never had an issue roasting a Copas – you’ll be delighted with the results. And as ace as the masterclass was, doing the stuffing and gravy and carving the turkey properly are all a breeze. And with each Copas turkey comes easy to read instruction for preparation and presentation. Copas even sells its own traditional stuffing and gravy if you can’t be bothered. As for carving, a few useful tips include using a sharp knife and cutting against the grain.

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On hand for the event was a rep from Champagne Charles Heidsieck house demonstrating how well sparkling wine pairs with so many aspects of festive season dining – even when the pressure’s off. Indeed Charles Heidsieck Brut is an especially tasty quaff to cosy up to a plate of Boxing Day nibbles. So, before you go cold turkey in the new year, you can enjoy the last of your cold turkey leftovers with a glass of bubbly.

Find out more at copasturkeys.co.uk.

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London Daily Photo: Greenwich Market

LDP 2014.10.28 - Greenwich Market

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Celebrating 128 Years with Lady Liberty (OneTravel)

Statue of Liberty and Close-up of Head

Photo/David Saddler

The famous Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886 and since then has been a beacon of hope for millions of American citizens, immigrants seeking a better life and lovers of freedom across the globe.

To celebrate 128 years of Lady Liberty’s presence on Liberty Island in middle of New York Harbor, here are a few fun facts about this colossal neoclassical sculpture.

Read my complete post at the OneTravel blog.

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London Daily Photo: Long Lane

LDP 2014.10.27 - West Smithfield

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George Foreman Grill to the Rescue

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While we rough in our new home until we’re done with some kitchen renovations, our George Foreman Grill really is coming in handy!

Kemey and I just moved. We sold our Hackney one bed flat and bought a house in Walthamstow – and in doing so took a huge leap of faith and (hopefully) a step in the right direction on the proverbial property ladder. It’s been a week now since the move. So far so good.

We’re still getting to know the neighbourhood, but we like it around here and feel there are lots of cool things to discover – and that we’re not too far away from bits of London we already know and love. The house itself is great. It’s way bigger than where we were living and has a nice little garden (our last place had no outdoor space).

On the down side though is the fact that we are without a kitchen and aren’t sure when we’ll be have one completed. At the moment, we’ve got a working sink, a mini hob, our beloved coffee maker and some cupboards to put it all in, but not much else – no fridge, no oven … no nothing!

There is one more notable piece of kit with our makeshift kitchen: a George Foreman grill, the “Family 4 Portion Easy Clean Grill & Melt” to be exact. I got hold of this baby right before our move, and it’s making mealtime so much less of a hassle and considerably more enjoyable than our situation might allow otherwise. The grill retails at under £90 and is a good size for us. Of course you’ve heard all the “fat reducing” claims of cooking with a George Foreman, and that’s super. But I’m finding it’s just a really convenient appliance.

This isn’t my first Foreman. I had another a few years back. I always liked grilling with it, but cleaning that clunky metal clam wasn’t much fun. That problem seems to be solved with newer models which come with removable plates that can be popped out (and back on) very easily, making clean up a snap. My new grill seems less cumbersome than my last one too. It’s got a secure lock and handles to carry it around. It’s not too heavy either – very portable.

Right now, the grill is our cookery centerpiece. I suspect that once we finally get the kitchen of our dreams built (or the closest version to it which we actually can afford), we won’t go to George quite as often but I more than certain we’ll find use for it.

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London Daily Photo: Kensington Church Street

LDP 2014.10.26 - Kensington Church Street

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Commune at Goodhood: Open-Faced Situationist Sandwiches?

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Originally a small indie label fashion and lifestyle boutique on Coronet Street just off Hoxton Square, Goodhood recently crossed Old Street to reopen in a considerable bigger retail space on Curtain Road. Downstairs at Goodhood and just a few weeks old is Commune, a partnership between Chef Brett Redman (Elliot’s Café Borough Market) and Goodhood co-founders Jo Sindle and Kyle Stewart with an aim to serve “clean, healthy and really tasty food, juice and coffee with a focus on good quality and good value.”

I tagged along to a blogger’s lunch preview there about a week or so ago and was impressed – especially with the coffee (supplied by Square Mile Coffee Roasters), which I’d rate among the tastiest I’ve had this year (and possibly my new London favourite). Yep, this is the second time this week I’ve written about a place to eat on Curtain Road in Shoreditch (see the other review – of Far Rockaway – here). It’s a happening little street.

Of course there’s hardly anything revolutionary about a new coffee bar being launched inside a shop just off Old Street. But with an ethos inspired by “Paris ‘68” and a reasonably priced range of particularly tasty items presented in an attractive setting, I was won over by Commune and am sure to keep the café in mind as a preferred Shoreditch go-to.

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For eats, Commune offers a variety of open-faced sandwiches on rye for around £3 or £3.50. I liked the organic egg, anchovy and cress option, as well as cold roast beef with beetroot and horseradish. I enjoyed a fantastic beetroot, fennel and burrata salad (£3) too. Portions are small. Best to order two or three dishes or go with friends and share. To wash it down? My thirst was quenched by a glass a watermelon juice (£3).

As for the Frenchy Situationist shtick, it’s a fine aesthetic – and one I’m rather partial to – but I wonder how applicable it can be to any commercial endeavour no matter how well intentioned. Still, I reckon if the Goodhood/Commune folks can turn a few Shoreditch kids on to Society of the Spectacle etc then that’s got to be a good thing.

Young people everywhere have been allowed to choose between love and a garbage disposal unit. Everywhere they have chosen the garbage disposal unit.
― Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle

Commune is located in the lower ground floor of Goodhood, 151 Curtain Road, EC2A 3QE. Find out more at goodhoodstore.com/commune.

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London Daily Photo: Wick

LDP 2014.10.25 - Wick

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Coram Marks 275 Years of Creating Better Chances for Children

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I write a lot about how to spend your money on yourself to have a good time in London. However, on the 275th anniversary of Coram – one of the Britain’s first children’s charities and the world’s first incorporated charity – I would like to share with you how Thomas Coram helped to improve the lives of some of Britain’s most vulnerable children and young people and the lasting legacy of his kindness.

Coram has been “creating better chances for children” since 1739 when The Foundling Hospital opened in Bloomsbury (very much Central London today but at the time the area was mostly farmyard). The hospital was the 17 year ambition of philanthropic sea caption Thomas Coram, to provide “for the maintenance and education of exposed and deserted young children.”

Today, the aims of Coram and The Foundling Hospital are furthered by the Thomas Coram Foundation for Children (or just Coram for short) which works with children separated from their parents, supports vulnerable families, and lobbies on policy and practice issues in childcare through its various services, such as adoption.

I found out a lot of this information during a special history walk through “Thomas Coram’s London” (with appearances by Mr Coram himself!) as a celebration of the 275th anniversary of the signing of the royal charter subsequently leading to the creation of the hospital.
The walk took place October 17 and was a one off. But there might be plans for more in the near future. If more happen, I’ll let you know. I had a delightful time and reckon the walks could be a fantastic way to raise funds and awareness for Coram.

For folks keen to learn more about Coram and its history, there’s the Foundling Museum (in Bloomsbury next to Coram HQ) which tells the story of “London’s first home for abandoned children” and of three major figures in British history …

… its campaigning founder the philanthropist Thomas Coram, the artist William Hogarth and the composer George Frideric Handel. The Museum’s nationally important collections are housed in a restored and refurbished building adjacent to the original site of the Hospital, which is now Coram Fields children’s playground near Russell Square.

The Foundling Museum is located at 40 Brunswick Square, WC1N 1AZ. Find out more at foundlingmuseum.org.uk and coram.org.uk.

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London Daily Photo: Going Gone

LDP 2014.10.24 - Going Gone

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Far Rockaway Bar and Restaurant in Shoreditch

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A couple of weeks back, a buddy and I hit Curtain Street’s Far Rockaway for a gab session over couple of beers and a pizza. The offers broad appeal if in a rather ‘dude-ly’ fashion.

The “American style bar and restaurant inspired by urban street art and culture, serving New York style food in the heart of London’s creative district” is huge (as in department store size). The vibe here is something like a 12-year-old boy’s dream basement den with skateboards and related ephemera as décor along with all sorts of band stickers, skulls, sports memorabilia, neon and more. There’s lots of ‘more’ actually, though the venue is so cavernous it still seems less than filled. Such a teenage motif ain’t necessarily a bad idea. I was an adolescent boy once (some say I still behave like one), and that sort of setting (loads of cushy sofas, gaming on big screens) does it for me in a memory lane sort of way and can be fun for catching up  with friends.

I remember Joan Jett’s I Love Rock ‘n Roll played while we dined. It seemed like an apt soundtrack.

Pizzas were good and decidedly un-artisan. We went with a16” Rockaway Hot (chilli beef, pepperoni, peppers, jalapenos and black olives, £17), got stuff and enjoyed the heat. Commendably the kitchen does pizza by the slice – something that seems bizarrely alien to so many London pizzerias. Get a slice and a soft drink for lunch from noon to 3pm. Also, Wednesday nights are now AYCE pizza nights (from 5pm to 8pm).

Far Rockaway has an ace beer selection. I loved washing down my pizza with a Brooklyn East IPA (£6). I followed it was a right tasty root beer (which at £3.75 seemed a bit rich). There’s an assortment of cheeky cocktails. Milkshakes too.

All in all, Far Rockaway is the sort of joint I’d be happy to go to again but I doubt I’d go out of my way to make such a visit happen. A good spot of low key catch-ups on “school nights” and (I imagine) a great boozer for weekend action.

Far Rockaway is located at 97-113 Curtain Road, EC2A 3BS. Find out more at farrockaway.com.

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London Daily Photo: Here We Go Walthamstow

LDP 2014.10.23 - Here We Go Walthamstow

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Celebrate iPod’s Birthday with the Ultimate Travel Playlist (OneTravel)

iPod Giga

Photo/Timothy Allen

Are you among the millions of music loving travelers who can’t hit the road without your favorite tunes? What songs do you listen to when you’re on the go? Ever ‘built’ a perfect playlist for a vacation or road trip?

Here’s a quick list of classic songs with epic ‘road lyrics’ to add to the mix and help you get in the mood for your next big adventure.

Read my complete post at the OneTravel blog.

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London Daily Photo: Laters

LDP 2014.10.22 - Laters

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Good Stuff

Google Glass Self Portrait

Good Stuff and lots of it! Here’s the (mostly travel related) low down on some fine things I’ve recently come across and thought were worth sharing with you. I hope you enjoy this particularly travel oriented post in my Good Stuff series. Have fun.

Aquis Adventure Towel

Kind of a silly name but a easy item to pack – my compact and quick-drying Aquis Adventure Towel has proved an asset on recent trips. The towel is so lightweight that even when I haven’t used it, it wasn’t any issue packing it in my bag with all my other stuff. Indeed at the very least it was useful packing material.

Eriis for Sun

A great new sunscreen on the market is Eriis for Sun features triple action UVA, UVB and Infrared-A protection, in “a real juice formula, to refresh the skin before, during and after sun exposure.” I get burned quick and have found this product does the job of avoiding sunburn a lot better than other brands. Find Eriis for Sun at Superdrug.com.

Holidays Please + Google Glass

I recently got the chance to give a pair of Google Glass a spin, compliments of Holidays Please travel agents, who reckon they’re the “first company in the world to give Google Glass glasses to their customers (well apart from Google!)” with the aim of allowing folks to “enhance their holiday experience with all the functionality that Google Glass provides.” I had fun running around with high tech kit on my head. Would you? Well, I guess you might want to ask yourself whether gadgets add or take away from your travel and leisure time and decide from that.

Free WiFi with Norwegian Air

Flying from Gothenburg last month on my return to London after my awesome Lobster Safari visit to West Sweden, I was delighted to find my Norwegian Air Shuttle flight had free WiFi. According to the budget airline’s website, Norwegian is “the first airline to offer high-speed broadband on flights within Europe” with the vast majority (if not all) flights featuring free WiFi.

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London Daily Photo: Fading

LDP 2014.10.21 - Fading

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Heathrow Airport: Some Facts and Figures (OneTravel)

Heathrow Terminal 5

Photo/Curt Smith

Heathrow – it’s the airport I’m most apt to fly in and out of. Considering how much time I spend there, I thought it might be worthwhile to learn a bit more about the place. So, I took a moment to dig around online for some Heathrow facts and figures.

Here’s a list of some of the more interesting bits of trivia I discovered.

Read my complete post at the OneTravel blog.

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London Daily Photo: View from Gabriel’s Wharf

LDP 2014.10.20 - View from Gabriel's Wharf

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Recipe: Duck Mai Tai (Gressingham)

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Here’s a recipe incorporating the elements of one of my favourite cocktails – the Mai Tai – and what’s fast becoming my favourite meat to cook with – duck! This ‘ducktail’ recipe calls for rum, but the alcohol cooks off leaving just its robust and sweet tropical flavour to meddle with the fruit juices and roasted almond yumminess.

Mai Tai duck is an attractive centrepiece as a main course. Consider serving with a side of sweet potatoes (chipped, mashed, or baked) and a seasonal green salad. I reckon duck breast cooked this way could make an awesome burger too. Alternatively, you could slice the breast and serve as a canapé, which might be a particularly nifty idea if offered alongside some tropical cocktails.

Read my complete Duck Mai Tai recipe at the Gressingham website.

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London Daily Photo: Sclater Street

LDP 2014.10.19 - Sclater Street

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Follow Scotland’s Historic Malt Whisky Trail (OneTravel)

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The world famous and one of a kind Malt Whisky Trail in Scotland passes through seven Speyside working distilleries, as well as a historic distillery and Britain’s only cooperage.

Though hardly inclusive of the numerous distilleries in the Speyside area, the trail serves as an excellent spine through the region. Indeed, any visit to all of the venues along this stretch of green Scottish countryside would result in plenty of knowledge about a Scottish and a wealth of memories. Best times to visit are the “WhiskyMonth” of May, the height of summer with its especially long hours of daylight, and September when many of the distilleries and towns host festivals and special events.

Read my complete post at the OneTravel blog.

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London Daily Photo: No Exit

LDP 2014.10.18 - No Exit

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Chocolate Show 2014 Highlights

Willy Wonka at the Chocolate Show 2014
The one and only Willy Wonka makes a grand appearance at this year’s Chocolate Show.

Ooh yeah, it’s Chocolate Week, one of the UK’s yummiest stretch of days. I’ve had a great time tasting my way through a few especially tasty events and at last night’s sneak peak of the 2014 Chocolate Show at Olympia London exhibition centre. Heading to the show? Here’s a list of some of my favourite treats from the event.

Venchi

I loved just about everything I tasted at the Chocolate Show stall ofTurin-based chocolate makers Venchi, especially its Cuor di Cacao Creamy Spread. By the way, Venchi has a shop at Covent Garden.

Carlo Rotta

Speaking of Turin-based chocolate makers, Carlo Rotta’s stall is well worth stopping by as well. Be sure to have a taste of his pistachio gianduiotto. Beyond the show, you can find Rott’as creations in London at his Selfridges concession.

La Diamant du Terroir

French brand La Diamant du Terroir’s truffle (as in the fungus) and chocolate products were definitely the most delicious items I sampled at the Chocolate Show.

Duffy’s Chocolate

One of Britain’s best chocolatiers did not disappoint with its range of artisan chocolate bars. The cocoa nibs and oak smoked salt is incredibly crave-able as is the single origin, 72% Venezuelan Ocumbre bar made with fine Criollo beans.

Pacari

The premium organic Ecuadorian chocolate from Pacari is among the best I’ve ever had. Be sure to have a taste of its 70% Piura Quemazon bar to taste what I mean!

The Chocolate Show runs through 19 October at Olympia West, Hammersmith Road, W14 8UX. Find tour more at salonduchocolat.co.uk.

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Quiz: Which Type of Holidaymaker are You?

Apparently, I’m Culture Vulture. Which kind of holidaymaker are you? Take this fun little quiz created by Holiday Hypermarket to find out :-)

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London Daily Photo: Stratford

LDP 2014.10.17 - Stratford

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Frieze Art Fair 2014 Highlights

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Jonathan Monk, Taro Nasu

Planning a visit to Frieze this weekend? Here’s some pieces I reckon you should be on the lookout for.

Frieze is on! And whether you’re a lover of contemporary art or not, it’s one of the hottest tickets in town for rich folk gawking and zeitgeist gauging. In all honestly was actually at the fair to view the art (although I have to admit I got loads of satisfaction from the people watching) and thought I’d share some of the better bits of art I saw with you.

Compared to my past Frieze experiences (and please note I didn’t attend last year), 2014’s offerings weren’t quite up to what I remembered. Maybe I’m more of a dullard than I used to be, or I’ve become too inured to give as much of a damn as I once did?

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Mark Flood, Peres Projects

Then, I happened upon the Mark Flood ‘Spidey’ pieces on show at the Peres Projects stall. Salvation! Hallelujah! Some provocative and cleverly placed art to set my eyes upon! With my brow lowered and my smirk raised, I carried on and – of course – encountered a more than decent number of works that caught my eye, including these gems:

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Klara Kristalova, Lehmann Maupin

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Farhad Moshiri, Galerie Perrotin

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Cildo Meireles, Galeria Luisa Strina

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George Condo, Sprüth Magers

Faith in 21st century art restored? Maybe. I will say it’s been impressive – if a bit blockbuster-y – seeing all the big name arty doings sprouting up just in time for the fair (Steve McQueen at Thomas Dane Gallery, Gerhard Ritcher at the newly opened Marian Goodman Gallery, Yoshitomo Nara at Dairy Art Centre, etc).

Frieze Art Fair runs through 18 October 14 in the south of The Regent’s Park with the entrance off Park Square West. The postcode is NW1 4NR. Find out more at friezelondon.com.

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London Daily Photo: Greenwich

LDP 2014.10.16 - Greenwich

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Win a Selection of New Hotel Chocolat Supermilk Chocolate

Win a Selection of New Hotel Chocolat Supermilk Chocolate

Hotel Chocolat has recently launched Supermilk, its very own new genre of chocolate! With a “decadently” high 65% cocoa content, a splash of milk and less sugar than a dark chocolate bar” the chocolatiers behind Supermilk reckon its one of the “most comforting, creamy milk chocolate” creations you’ll ever taste.

Want to try it? Of course you do! And, because I’m such a swell guy, I’ve got some to give away for free. To be sure, I got hold of a batch of Supermilk samples to nibble and definitely can recommend trying some for yourself. I especially enjoyed the Supermilk 65 Popcorn bar featuring popcorn and a pinch of sea salt. Yum!

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

RT to win a taste of #Supermilk chocolates from @HotelChocolat compliments of @tikichris: http://bit.ly/1qEuHWq

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 7 November at 11.30am BST. The winner will receive an assortment of Hotel Chocolat Supermilk treats. To be eligible to win, you need to have an address in the UK where the prize can be posted. Good luck.

Find out more about Hotel Chocolat’s Supermilk at hotelchocolat.com/uk/about/supermilk.

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London Daily Photo: On or Off?

LDP 2014.10.15 - Blindfolds on or off?

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Hotel Cafe Royal and Valrhona Team Up for Exclusive Profile 66 Chocolate

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French chocolatier Valrhona has co-branded with London’s Hotel Cafe Royal to develop an exclusive new chocolate: Profile 66. Only available at the hotel, Profile 66 is the creation of Andrew Blas and a team of Valrhona tasters.

The 66% dark chocolate is made from “the finest cocoa beans in South American and African plantations” and was launched tonight (Tuesday 14 October) at a lavish party at the hotel’s elegant Siena marble walled cafe during the height of Chocolate Week. From tonight onwards, Profile 66 will be used in all chocolate pastries, petis fours, and drinks throughout the hotel’s food and beverage outlets including the Ten Room restaurant and Green Bar. And from Easter 2015, Profile 66 will be available to purchase as a 100g bar priced at £5

On hand for the launch, I got a taste of the new chocolate. Fantastic! And smooth … with a complex and lasting flavour that’s sure to delight chocolate lovers.

The launch also provided an excellent opportunity to have a taste of Cafe Royal’s trio of Chocolate Week “choc tails” being served until the 19th which include Madame D (Amarula, Kahlua, peanuts and cinnamon), Pearfect (Pampero Especial, Amaretto, chocolate liquer and pear puree), and Gold Whisper (Imperial Golden Snow and Cacao) – each priced at £13.

Hotel Café Royal is located at 68 Regent Street, W1B 4DY. Find out more at hotelcaferoyal.com. For more about Valrhona, go to valrhona.com.


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Posted in Chocolate, Drink, Food, Hotels, London, restaurants | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

London Daily Photo: Woe/Whoa

LDP 2014.10.14 - Woe:Whoa

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5 Big Exhibitions in London Now (OneTravel)

Yoshitomo Nara at Dairy Art Centre - DSC_6639

This week sees the annual Frieze Art Fair descend upon London. With it comes a scope of art related activities and satellite events across town with some of London’s best known galleries taking advantage of this time of heightened buzz to put on their biggest shows of the year.

Here’s a list of five of the biggest exhibitions around town that are on now and well worth checking out.

Read my complete post at the OneTravel blog.

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