Brasserie Chavot: Epic Flavour and Subtle Finesse in Mayfair

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Contemporary French cuisine made with quality ingredients sourced from the British Isles and France? It’s a gorgeous idea – especially when executed by a capable chef such as Eric Chavot. A recent opportunity to taste my way through much of the menu at Brasserie Chavot proved a veritable feast of epic flavour and subtle finesse.

Were those the tastiest and tenderest lamb cutlets I’ve ever had? Maybe! They were certainly the yummiest I’ve had in recent memory (not to mention the most tender) and reason enough for me to crave any chance to return to Brasserie. I could pretty much rave to the same degree about the peas and octopus salad, the soft shell crab, the cassoulet (that gorgeous pork and duck cassoulet!) … all that I had the pleasure to taste actually, as each dish wowed my eager palate, insisting I have at least one more bite.

Two star Michelin chef Eric Chavot has designed the menu to please with gourmand aplomb for his Mayfair brasserie. But there’s plenty of subtle charm involved as well, and a hearty appetite here is to be rewarded with finely prepared dishes suitable for the most finicky of gourmet tastes. To be embarrassingly honest, I’m not quite certain what it was about Eric’s cooking that elevated his food to such a level of haute delectability, but whatever it was it resulted in one of the best meals I’ve had this year. Everything had a detectable but not quite discernible something about it to make just a tad bit more moreish than expected. To be sure, I’m keen to get to the bottom of what this man is doing right!

Of course, Eric and his kitchen can’t take all the credit for the wonderful experience I had. Head sommelier, Andreas Rosendal worked Chavot’s menu like a breeze incorporating a fantastic list of wines to accompany each item. I especially loved kicking the tasting off with a 2012 ”Mica” vinho verde from Quinta Da Palmirinha – and reckoned Andreas’ decision to commence on a perk and Portuguese note was a confident assertion.

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Then again, maybe it was the space? The upscale brasserie setting with its tiled mosaic floors, chandeliers, and plush seating more removed from the street than typical for a lot of Central London eateries, was the sort of place to linger as long as possible with more ‘grounded’ elements like the colourful and haphazardly arranged (as in actually used) shelf of cookbooks in plain sight ‘kept it real’ and suggested however fancy the restaurant was the focus was squarely on presenting amazing food.

On a down note (which I hate to bring it up but it would be a disingenuous oversight if I didn’t), service was at times a teensy bit wonkier than I would have expected at such a lovely venue - uncertainty over when/who to serve what/where … stuff like that. This was unfortunate as virtually everything else about my experience was utterly splendid. I assume it was an anomaly. By no means would it prevent me from returning to the brasserie, and I sincerely hope it doesn’t distract you from taking my recommendation to enjoy what I found to be one of the best bets for a fantastic meal in London.

Brasserie Chavot is located right next to The Westbury Hotel (indeed you can access the hotel and its Polo Bar from the restaurant) at 41 Conduit Street, W1S 2YF. Find out more at brasseriechavot.com.


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London Daily Photo: Walthamstow Woodford/Hackney & City

LDP 2014.09.01 - Walthamstow Woodford Hackney & City

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Nachos of the Month: Manchego with Anchovies, Almonds, and Olives

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Nachos! They’re an easy assemblage and an awesome snack. I’ve teamed up with tortillas with spirit brand Manomasa to create some recipes to help you best enjoy your next crunch time. Here’s my latest creation: tortilla chips with Manchego, anchovies, almonds, and olives.

TORTILLA CHIPS WITH MANCHEGO, ANCHOVIES, ALMONDS, AND OLIVES Yum

Ingredients (served as a canapé, there should be enough for 6-8 people)

  • 100g of thinly sliced Manchego;
  • 4-6 finely chopped anchovy fillets (that have been tinned in olive oil);
  • 50g flaked almonds;
  • 15-20 pitted and chopped green olives;
  • About half a bag of Manomasa Manchego & Green Olive tortilla chips.

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 150ºC;
  • Place your chips in a baking tray;
  • Add a thin strip of Manchego to each chip;
  • Put the tray in the oven and cook until the cheese starts to melt;
  • These chips can burn easily; so pay attention and reduce or turn off the heat once the cheese has melted;
  • While the tray is in the oven, thoroughly mix the anchovies, almonds, and olives in a bowl;
  • Remove the chips and dab a small spoonful of the mix across the top of each chip;

Serve

These treats are great whether eaten when hot and melty straight from the oven or served cool. They’re a perfect accompaniment to an aperitifs such as a dry sherry or Martini and work really well as a crunchy side item paired with a green salad.

Tortillas with Spirit

Manomasa was born on the back streets of Mexico and pays tribute to the original tortilla chip – the totopo - whilst branching out into new tastes, sensations and textures inspired by the diversity and creativity of street food culture. Each variety of Manomasa tortillas has a distinctive shape, allowing you to snack, scoop or dip with them. Along with a variety of exciting textures (owing to the super-seeds used, such as sunflower, linseed and caraway for extra depth and bite), delicious flavour combinations have been used, leaving you with a unique snacking experience. Find out more at manomasa.co.uk.

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London Daily Photo: At the Bend

LDP 2014.08.31 - At the Bend

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Want to Win Free Tickets to the Invictus Games? Get #Ready!

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This month for the first time, more than 400 servicemen and women – both serving and veteran – from 14 nations will meet at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for the inaugural Invictus Games. The spotlight will be on them to champion their indefatigable drive to overcome, along with their tenacious attitude to achieve post-injury.

The brainchild of Prince Harry, the Invictus Games is an international sports event for wounded, injured and sick service personnel taking place from 10-14 September 2014. Most of the tickets for these games have been long sold out. But I’ve teamed up with Invictus sponsor Jaguar to offer a few lucky readers free pairs of tickets to some of the key competitions. Are you #ready? Keep reading!

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Compliments of Jaguar – proud supporter of ex-serviceman and women and presenting partner of the 2014 Invictus Games – I’ve got a couple of pairs of tickets to the following events to give away:

  • 2 tickets to Wheelchair Rugby
  • 2 tickets to Swimming (Sold Out)

Interested? To be in with a chance to win, simply leave a comment here on this post explaining why you deserve to win the tix. Alternatively, you can tweet me with the hashtag #ready telling me why I should give the tickets to you.

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I’ll pick winners at random on Wednesday 3 September at 16.00 BST. Yes, that’s this Wednesday! So get #ready and get cracking ASAP! Good luck.

For full schedule and more information, go to invictusgames.org.


Invictus Games competitor Corporal Daniel “Baz” Whittingham is #Ready.

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London Daily Photo: You Too Buddy

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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.

De Beauvoir Deli Co

I paid a delicious midweek visit to De Beauvoir Town’s lovely De Beauvoir Deli on Southgate Road for a browse (and sample) of its fine food and drink products all locally from small independent suppliers to offer the finest in-season and artisan produce. Folks living in the area should count their blessings to have such an excellent gourmet resource (without any uppity airs) in their ‘hood. Folks just passing through the area would do well to keep the place in mind for especially pleasant shopping for hard to find treats and delectable gift ideas.

Alassala Organic Argan Oil

Alassala imports high quality organic argan oil from Morocco for cosmetic and culinary use. I had a taste of the edible version and was really impressed. The extra virgin cold pressed oil is especially tasty and does wonders with a range of North African and Mediterranean dishes.

Mello

Wow! It was love at first sip when I recently had a bottle of Mello, the “UK’s first and only” raw fresh melon juice. Available in two super tasty varieties, Watermelon (95% fresh watermelon, 5% fresh pomegranate) and Cantaloupe (80% fresh cantaloupe juice, 20% fresh pineapple juice), Mello’s juices are refreshing and replenishing. Look for the brand at Whole Foods Market, Planet Organic, Harvey Nichols, and online at Ocado.

Sea Island Coffee

Sea Island Coffee imports and sells award winning gourmet coffees from some of the best – and most unusal – coffee growing regions in the world. I had a recent taste of its “Geisha” coffee. from the Coffea Diversa plantation, this Great Taste Awards 2011 winning coffee has a “delicate profile with quietly complex aromatics that reward patient attention with notes of lavender, cocoa and hints of molasses” that makes it well worth seeking out. Find it at Caviar House & Prunier, Harrods, and online at the Sea Island website.

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London Daily Photo: Exploring the Unknown

LDP 2014.08.29 - Exploring the Unknown

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Win a £50 Voucher for Circus Cocktail Bar and Cabaret, Covent Garden

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A cocktail bar, restaurant and cabaret, Circus offers a Pan Asian dinner menu alongside an enticing cocktail menu.  Designed by British Tom Dixon, the surrealist interior is the perfect setting for wild cabarets, with actors performing on tables and vanishing in between courses. Following dinner and the performance, the West End venue turns into a dance space. Fun place, right? Thanks to a team up with online restaurant discovery guide, Zomato, I’m offering one lucky reader a free voucher worth £50 to spend at Circus.

One unusually rowdy night not too terribly long ago, I had a blast dancing on the tables at Circus (where such shenanigans are actually encouraged once the venue is opened up as a dancefloor). Here’s your chance to have a great night out at Circus!

To be in with a chance win the £50 voucher for Circus Cocktail Bar and Cabaret , simply tweet the following:

RT to win £50 voucher for @circus_london cocktails and cabaret, compliments of @Zomato and @tikichris! #YouSayZomato http://bit.ly/1qaL3cz

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 5 September at 11.30am BST. The winner will receive one voucher worth £50 to spend on drinks and snacks redeemable at Circus. This voucher is valid Tuesdays to Thursdays until November 20th 2014 for the bar only. To use the voucher, the winner will need to book ahead, mentioning the voucher when doing so. To be eligible to win, you need to have an address in the UK where the voucher can be posted. If produced for a total less than the voucher value, the balance amount will not be refunded. No two vouchers can be clubbed together at the same time.

Circus is located at 27-29 Endell Street, WC2H 9BA.


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London Daily Photo: Untitled

LDP 2014.08.28 - Untitled

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Forge & Co … and It’s Fabulous Speyside Beef and Ox Heart Burger

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A friend (hey Peter!) and I dropped by the Forge & Co canteen in Shoreditch last night to give its new Speyside Beef and Ox Heart Burger a try … and were pleased to have done so. Cooked in a Josper Grill and served on a demi brioche, it proved a mightily meaty meal well worth recommending. Plenty of topping and condiment options were available, but I reckon it needed none such was it so full of flavour.

A pre-burger charcuterie board (£13) and a somewhat gratuitous (but undeniably yummy) chocolate fondant (£6.50) dessert, and an excellently pulled after dinner espresso all helped set the right tone for heading home in satisfaction. Service was friendly, the dining area was relaxed, spacious and comfy.

A great time for you to go for this majorly delicious and super tender burger might be on Tuesday night, like Peter and I did. That’s Burger Night for the Forge & Co folk when from 6pm the burger with chips and pint of Meantime beer can be had for £10. Bargain! The chips are more than decent and Meantime’s London Pale Ale as fine as any drink to have alongside any burger and chips combo.

Forge ain’t just about the food and drink though. Indeed, it’s worth pointing out that there’s a members club element to the venue. Anybody can visit the attractive mid century modernist lounge and canteen during most of the day (seven days a week), but from 8pm it’s members only. As we found out last night though, membership is free, and it’s painless to sign up and comes with a range of benefits.

There’s a basement gallery there too as well as (and perhaps most notably) flexible work spaces on the upper floors with fully serviced coworking offices plus individual desks, hotdesking, studios, galleries, meeting rooms, and event spaces. Peter and I took a prowl around after we ate. The facilities seemed better than similar I’ve seen in the recent past and in an especially convenient spot too.

Forge & Co is located at 154-158 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6HU. Find out more at forgeandco.co.uk.


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London Daily Photo: Knot Know II

LDP 2014.08.27 - Knot Now II

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Blogger Interview: Mostly About Chocolate (OneTravel)

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Mostly About Chocolate is a blog that is (yep you guessed it) mostly about one of the world’s most favorite treats. The long running blog is a project of devoted passion for Judith Lewis. If you’re planning any trips (just about anywhere) and would like to include a few chocolate escapades, her blog is an excellent resource to keep in mind. And if you’re a chocolate lover coming soon to London, Judith has some especially delicious news for you!

I sat down with Judith recently to chat about her blog and see if I could get some chocolaty tips. Here’s that interview …

Read the complete post at the OneTravel blog.

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London Daily Photo: Yellow

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Fresh Pasta Masterclass with Giovanni Rana – 17 September at Giovanni Rana Restaurant, NW1

Giovanni Rana

Maker of Italy’s most popular pasta brand, Giovanni Rana will be visiting his Regent’s Place restaurant on the 17th of September to host an exclusive pasta making masterclass and teach a small audience how to make fresh filled pasta from scratch.

Artisan pasta maker for more than 50 years, Giovanni Rana’s pastas are made “the Italian way” with a few quality ingredients combined to create a high quality product. Interested in learning how to make pasta from the best? This rare hands-on opportunity to learn from Giovanni will give you with the skills to wow friends and family at your next dinner party.

Tickets  limited, cost £25 each, and include a two course meal and glass of prosecco. Doors open at 3pm for a 3.30 start.

Giovanni Rana Restaurant is located at 17/19 Triton Street, Regent’s Place, NW1 3BF. Find out more at giovannirana.co.uk.


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London Daily Photo: Faded and Overgrown

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Recipe: Babybel Inside Out Cheeseburger

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So I was craving a cheeseburger the other day, had some Mini Babybel Originals in the fridge, and wondered what if … ? And the answer was yummy! So, I thought I’d share this fun and easy recipe for making oozy introverted cheeseburgers with you.

BABYBEL INSIDE OUT CHEESEBURGER Yum

Ingredients (makes one burger)

  • 150g of mince beef;
  • 1 Mini Babybel Original;
  • Drop of cooking oil;
  • Pinch of sea salt;
  • 1 hamburger bun;
  • Condiments and toppings to taste.

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Method

  • Place a frying pan on medium heat, pour in the oil and add the salt;
  • Pat out a meatball;
  • Flatten the ball into a patty by firmly patting it them in the palms of your hands;
  • Scoop out the centre top of the patty so that it’s big enough to place a Mini Babybel inside while leaving the patty whole at its bottom;
  • Remove the wax from the Babybel and put in the centre of the patty;
  • Cover the cheese with the scooped out meat;
  • Firmly pat down the meat again making sure the cheese is completely covered;
  • Place the patty in the pan;
  • Cook evenly on each side until thoroughly browned;
  • Remove the patty from the heat.

Serve

You know how you like your burgers and what to put on ‘em, right? Go for it!

Read more tikichris recipes.

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London Daily Photo: Packed

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Good Stuff … from the World of Zing

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Good Stuff and lots of it! Here’s my latest list of top things to see, sip or savour. This time round I’d like to share with you some especially spicy recs that I came across at the recent launch of World of Zing, the UK’s first “Contemporary Food & Drink Emporium, bringing together produce from some of the UK’s most exciting flavour experts!” More info at worldofzing.com.

African Volcano

South African chef Grant Hawthorne’s Mozambican style peri peri sauces and rubs impressed my palate, particularly the stuff on the fierier end of Grant flavoursome spectrum. I loved the delayed heat effect of his hottest sauce.

Horn OK Please

Purveyor of South Asian street food, Horn OK Please, does a mean bhel puri made with tomato, potato, green and tamarind chutney, fresh coriander, red onions and a pomegranate garnish. It’s worth seeking out. Find HOP vending at Borough Market Monday to Wednesday (Monday to Saturday every alternate week) and the Real Food Fest at Southbank every Friday to Sunday.

Number One Sauce

Number One Sauce won my vote for some of the tastiest hot sauces I’ve come across in a long time. That this habanero pepper sauce is farmer friendly (peppers are sourced direct from and made onsite by a collective of Mayan farmers in the Yucatan organised by a local nun to help the community “live off the land more effectively”) just adds to the feel good factor of enjoying this “no-nonsense hot sauce that hits hard in all the right places.”

Sambal Shiok

Shiok-ingly good Malaysian “with a twist” treats! I went back for seconds of Sambal Shiok’s spicy peanut sauce (and I’m now wishing I’d taken a jar of it home with me).

Yogiyo

Fire! Look for this mobile Korean Kitchen at Leather Lane Market Monday to Thursday for lunch and at Street Food Union on Rupert Street in Soho on Fridays.

Products from all these brands are available online at worldofzing.com.

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London Daily Photo: Look

LDP 2014.08.23 - Look

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Win a 600g 50 Flavour Jelly Belly Gift Box

Win a 600g 50 Flavour Jelly Belly Gift Box

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!

Love Jelly Belly gourmet jelly beans? Here’s your chance to win a 600g 50 Flavour Jelly Belly Gift Box.

Fans of flavour, do you have a favourite Jelly Belly? Is it Berry Blue, Cherry Cola, Island Punch, Juicy Pear, Toasted Marshmallow, Watermelon or … or … or …? Well, with my latest competition, one lucky reader will get to taste them all! Yep, I’ve teamed up with gourmet jelly bean confectioners – Jelly Belly – for an especially flavoursome opportunity to win a classic 50 flavour gift box. The gelatine free, dairy free, fat free, certified OU Kosher, vegetarian treats come in a stylishly attractive square box with a flavour map inside highlighting each of the 50 flavours, with each flavour presented in its own individual compartment.

To be in with a chance to win a 600g 50 Flavour Jelly Belly Gift Box valued at more than £22 simply tweet the following:

RT to win a #50Flavour gourmet jelly bean gift box from @JellyBellyUK, compliments of @tikichris. Enjoy! http://bit.ly/1pPWdTE

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 29 August at 11.30am BST. The winner will receive one 50 Flavour Jelly Belly Gift Box valued at £22.98. To be eligible to win, you need to have an address in the UK.

Find out more about Jelly Belly Candy Company at jellybelly-uk.com.

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.

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London Daily Photo: Centrepoint

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Jacob’s #SnackHappy Savoury Ice Cream Parlour

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Jacob’s #SnackHappy Savoury Ice Cream Parlour, the UK’s first savoury ice cream parlour, opened tonight in Soho as short run pop-up offering free ice cream in exchange for folks sharing the #SnackHappy hashtag on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

The range of savoury flavours include A Pint of Ale & a Packet of Twiglets; Blue Cheese & Jacob’s Cream Cracker; Mini Cheddar Chutney; Tangy Tomato Sorbet; Avocado Crunch; and Smokin’ Salmon & Chive. I swung by the launch this evening and found all the flavours worth trying. I especially liked the smoked salmon ice cream. If you’re planning to be in Soho tomorrow or Saturday drop in for a taste.

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Jacob’s #SnackHappy Savoury Ice Cream Parlour is located at 15 Bateman Street, W1D 3AQ and runs tomorrow and Saturday (22 and 23 August) from noon to 8pm.


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New Distillery Tours in Louisiana (OneTravel)

Rum Gimlet

Photo/Bart Everson

Thirsty for a taste of something local in Louisiana? Two new distilleries in south Louisiana have recently started to offer tours of their facilities along with onsite tastings of their products made with Louisiana ingredients, and a third distillery is under construction with the promise of plenty more tours and tastings to come.

Here’s a look at this newbie trio of Lousiana distilleries bringing traditional spirit production back to the Deep South.

Read my complete post at the OneTravel blog.

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London Daily Photo: Splat

LDP 2014.08.21 - Splat

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Have You Heard about New Jobs Board City Calling?

View from the 29th floor of Millbank Tower

Job bored or job boards? City Calling offers an new way to connect employers and jobseekers online. I reckon it’s at least worth checking out whatever your job situation is at the moment.

This innovative new online jobs board provides employers and jobseekers alike with a “perfect platform to meet their recruitment needs.” A multi-sector recruitment site, City Calling actually embraces social media to help folks looking for work to fully personalise their searches and to get in touch with relevant employers in their chosen field. The site has an international presence as well. So, companies can recruit from across the globe. For people thinking about relocating to another country, City Calling offers support information to ensure such a major transition goes off without a hitch.

City Calling’s aim is to “take care of your career.” If indeed you care for yours it couldn’t hurt to have a peek at the site and see if might get you moving in the right direction. Find out more at citycalling.com.

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Faroes and Away: My New Happy Place

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Sometime between my trip to the Faroe Islands and writing up this series about the experience, I paid a visit to the dentist for a routine check up and cleaning. To say I’m not a fan of going to the dentist would be putting it mildly. Usually during a check up, I’ve got my eyes clinched tight and my hands clutching the arms of the chair with my lower legs and feet squirming around. In my mind, I’m concentrating as hard as I can on pleasant thoughts and such. This last time in the dentist’s chair, my mind went straight back to the Faroes, my new ‘happy place’ and as scenic a mind’s eye destination as I could ever image. I was, for perhaps the first time during a dental appointment, completely unfazed and all but unaware of the activity going on in my mouth.

But enough about me and my big mouth! Why are you still reading this blather and not looking into booking your own trip to the Faroes?

In case you need a bit more nudging to get yourself over there, here’s a list with links to all the posts I’ve published in my short series about the amazing time I had in the gorgeous and remote corner of the world:

Faroes and Away

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Relevant Links

Atlantic Airways

I flew to the Faroes with Atlantic Airways, the national airline of the Faroe Islands “operating domestic helicopter services and international passenger services as well as search and rescue responsibilities” from its base at Vágar Airport, on the Faroese island of Vágar. At the moment, Atlantic services Stansted only the summer months, but there are year round flights to/from Copenhagen. Other airports where the airline currently operates include Billund, Aalborg, Reykjavik, and Bergan. Find out more at atlantic.fo.

Hotel Foroyar

About an hour’s drive from the airport is the captial city Torshavn (yep, that means “Thor’s Haven”) where 20,000 or of the nation’s 49,000 folks live. There I stayed at the four star and ultra chilled out Hotel Foroyar, and I’d happily do so again … particularly if it meant another meal at the hotel’s fine dining Koks restaurant! Visit the hotel online at hotelforoyar.com.

62ºN

Hired car is the best way of getting around while visiting the Faroes. Mine was booked through 62ºN tour company. I can’t recommend them enough – especially after the speedy and friendly service I experienced when I got a flat tire! Find out more at 62n.fo/en.

Swarovski Optik

As breathtaking as so many views were around the islands I was glad have had a pair of Swarovski Optik CL Pocket binoculars in my bag (although for much of the trip they were glued to my face). The lightweight and foldable compact binoculars with individually adjustable twist-in eyecups offered my eager eyes a large field of view (357ft/119m) of exceptional optical quality – which proved just the thing for birdwatching (puffins galore!). Read more about these fine binoculars at uk.swarovskioptik.com/travel.

Visit Faroe Islands

For loads more info to help plan your own Faroese adventure, go to visitfaroeislands.com.

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The 4 Apps I Use Most for Getting around London (OneTravel)

LDP 2012.11.15 - Enter the Dragon

When visiting a new city, do you ever wonder what apps the locals use to get around?

Here’s a look at four apps that I use most often when moving around London. All are available to download for free.

Read my complete post at the OneTravel blog.

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Faroes and Away: Shhh …

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It may seem mundane and not terribly exciting, but one of the main reasons I loved my time in the Faroes was the peace and quiet found there. Folks say that silence is golden. But during one particularly placid morning at my hotel, it was mostly deep green and soft brown with tiny dots of wild flower yellow and a soothing blue ocean view.

I had to spend one morning of my visit to the Faroe Islands doing some work in my hotel room. Boring I know, but that’s how life on the road plays out sometimes. In retrospect, I’m so pleased to have had to stay up for awhile as my morning in turned out to be one of the most memorable moments of the trip.

As much as I was hankering to hit the road and see more sights, I couldn’t complain about where I was; ‘If I’ve got to work, this ain’t such a bad place to do it,’ I thought. My room, with its Danish design accoutrements, was a minimalist’s dream and a pleasant space for doing just about anything. Indeed Hotel Foroyar – a long grass roofed modernist structure somewhat inconspicuously built into the side of a mountain just above the city of Torshavn – proved an excellent base for all my endeavours. And being there with its modern architecture and eased into such a natural and rustic setting felt oh-so incredibly Scandi too.

So there I was in my room tapping away on my laptop to keep ahead of a few deadlines and tame a rather unruly inbox. I had my window open, taking in the fresh air and admiring the lush scenery. And for whatever reason I stopped typing for a second and was by the nothingness. No winds, no birds, no cars, no sirens, no murmuring neighbours, no babies crying, no building site beeps and bangs, no planes … no-thing at all. Not a sound. It lasted a long stretch and set my mind as such ease. Even now recounting it, I can almost feel my blood pressure drop, my stress drift away like an inconsequential leaf, and my attitude shift toward a more relaxed position.

Keep an eye out for more posts in my Faroes and Away miniseries.

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Four star Hotel Foroyar is situated on a hill above the captial city Torshavn and about an hour’s drive from the airport. In addition to the Nordic comforts and utter traquility, the hotel is home to one of the finest restaurants I’ve ever come across. Find out more at hotelforoyar.com.


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London Daily Photo: Untitled

LDP 2014.08.20 - Untitled

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Faroes and Away: It’s Best by Boat!

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With 18 islands, innumerable islets and rock formations, and more than 1,000k of craggy coast, the best way to experience the Faroe Islands is definitely by boat. Luckily during my brief stay, I managed to climb aboard a few different Faroese vessels. As I said in my first piece about the Faroes, you should just go! When you do you be sure to make every effort to spend as much time at sea as possible island hopping and taking in the views of this rugged and beautiful island nation. Here’s a look at some of the boats I hit the water with and can happily recommend.

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Traditional Wooden Boat

About 15 minutes’ drive from the airport is the ancient village of Bøur. With views of an extraordinarily unimaginable and dramatic seascape, it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Within minutes fo arriving in the Faroes, local guide Sigurd Nordendal had me in his traditional Faroese (motorised) wooden boat dipping in and out of sea caves, skirting along waterfalls, pointing at puffins and taking a gazillion photos. My jaw dropped and stayed in that position until we were back on land. I have no idea if regular excursions from or around Bøur are offered to the public, but it’s definitely worth looking into. Get in touch with the folks at visitfaroeislands.com about possibilities.

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RIB62

Offering “a rush with a bite of culture” RIB62 does “unforgettable maritime experiences and breathtaking land adventures” which usually include dashing across a stretch of open water in a RIB boat. I enjoyed an adrenaline pumping high speed scenic tour punctuated with idyllic island stops with these guys. They took every precaution to ensure passenger safety and seemed to know the Faroese coastline and its waterways extremely well. Check ‘em out online at rib62.com.

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Westward Ho

Westward Ho is a British tall ship built in 1884. Docked at the Torshavn marina, the sloop has been Faroese owned since the 1890s. She’s a beauty to be sure and available for a range of private hire events. You best bet for finding out more about this ship is to visit its Facebook page at facebook.com/westwardhotn54. You can try westwardho.fo too, but at the time of this post’s publication the website was a blank page.

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Vestmanna Sightseeing

My last day in the Faroes, I tagged along with the islands’ most popular tourist attraction, a ferry ride to the bird cliffs of Vestmanna. More utterly epic scenery and birdwatching galore – this time at a leisurely pace and from the picturesque little village of Vestmanna. Find out more at puffin.fo/en.

Keep an eye out for more posts in my Faroes and Away miniseries.

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Consider Epson for All Your Printing Needs

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Hankering for a more affordable way to print quality images? Epson might have the answer.

I published my first “tikichris” blog post waaay back in the summer of 2006. Yep, I’ve been at this blog thing along with all sorts of other online activities for quite a while now. Indeed, I took to blogging like a duck to water. And still to this day, I’m mostly digital in my dabbles. If you are reading this post and familiar with my blogging, you know it’s largely comprised of my photography. I love photo-blogging, especially the immediacy of it and being able to share my shots quickly and easily with pretty much anyone in the world with an internet connection. Still, I sometimes want to go beyond the blog with my work and actually print something out and be able to hold it in my hands or display it in some way that doesn’t involve staring at a screen. In particular, my exhibitions and other photography projects over the past few years have proved fun opportunities to show off my pics on walls and even get them in the pages of a few books. Of course, printing and such can be expensive endeavours. So, I’m forever on the lookout for ways to cut costs.

Do you take a lot of photos and wish you were able to print more of them? Here’s some info about a cost effective approach to printing.

Individual ink cartridges versus combined colour cartridges

With individual ink cartridges, you can save money. Here’s why. For example, if your pictures have vivid red background, naturally the ‘magenta’ ink would need replacing sooner than the other colours. So if you’ve got combined colour cartridges, you may end up throwing away an entire cartridge when really there’s only a single colour that’s run out. This can be wasteful and costly.

Epson printers run on individual ink cartridges. Using them, you only need to replace the colour used, thus saving money and ink. The folks at Epson reckon that using individual ink cartridges can offer up to 30% savings compared to competitors’ tri-colour cartridges. Click here to learn more about individual ink cartridges.

Genuine Inks

Let’s be honest, I have put in time and effort to plan my shots and in the production work – cropping, resizing, even some burning and dodging. Naturally, I expect a high quality end result, a vibrant photo print that can capture anyone’s attention instantly. Quality is the key reason why I invest in genuine printer inks that produce vivid and accurate colours every single time. Epson is known for the quality of its ink – all the result of ongoing research and development which has led to a level of output quality and user confidence that other brands can’t match. Epson produces two different types of ink for home and home office printers: pigment ink and dye ink.

Pigment ink or dye ink?

According to the site, and I quote, “Pigment ink is a resin coated particle. The resin coating encapsulates the ink, making it waterproof. The resin remains on the surface of the paper while the pigments are fixed on the paper. This element gives pigment ink its durable nature, ensuring it is water, smudge, highlighter and fade resistant, even on plain paper.”

“Dye ink is made up of dye molecules which are dissolved in an aqueous solution, instead of resin coated particles. When placed on the paper/media, the ink droplets settle and are absorbed without running. The aqueous fluids in the solution diffuse, leaving the colour molecules visible on the surface.”

Of course, the type of ink used in a printer varies dependent on its purpose. Understanding the different types of ink can provide you key information on which ink is suitable for your needs. For most home and office needs, consider pigment inks to produce sharp, clear text documents. Dye-based inks are better suited for producing high-gloss photos with rich, vibrant colours and a pristine finish.

I’ve relied on Epson in the past. And I certainly will again. When you want your colours to ‘pop’ and to be sure what other viewers see is as close you want you aim to show them, Epson is a safe bet.

Find out more at epson.co.uk.

Published in association with Epson.

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Faroes and Away: The Ultimate Burger?

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To be honest I didn’t intend to write about it – and in all sincerity (and a bit of naiveté?) I really didn’t think the topic actually would come up – but I was wrong. The issue of the long standing Faroese tradition of hunting pilot whales was something a number of Faroe Islanders wanted to discuss with me. Now back home and thinking about my time there, any account of my trip without mention of this part of Faroes Islands life would be remiss. Please note that in this post I’m only going to tell you what I witnessed and experienced for myself and what people told me while I was there. If this issue is an important one for you, there are much better sources of information about the Faroese tradition of hunting pilot whales.

There was the kind and elderly woman whom I asked for directions and ended up giving a lift into Torshavn. When I told her I was a writer she asked if I was there to write about whale hunting. To my negative response she said, “Oh good. Welcome!” There was the two-person North American crew on the islands to film a documentary about hunting and eating whale for Vice Magazine. Another out-of-towner, Pamela Anderson (yes, the Pamela Anderson of Baywatch fame) was also there, with her animal rights activist hat on. An interesting and unexpected celebrity siting, I saw her in the lobby of my hotel one morning.

There were others – all eager to talk about this contentious issue. And with respect to the locals who mentioned it to me, they were keen to let me know how proud they were of this significant aspect of Faroese heritage … that it’s the most democratic distribution of food ever to exist … that they don’t actually round up the animals as much as take advantage of situations when the whales happen into particular coves … that they only kill until they reach a certain limit …

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Personally, I am deeply ambivalent about the subject. Indeed, images of the cull are bloody and horrific. Whales are beautiful, wild, intelligent creatures. It’s the 21st century, and there are all sorts of other things the Faroese could eat and different ways they could feed themselves. But as I understand it, the cull is as humane as, say, a deer hunt or slaughter of a domestic animal. And I wonder how unhealthy Faroese eating habits would be – and how big of a carbon footprint would be made – if the nation’s 50,000 some odd citizens were denied access to this traditional source of protein.

Perhaps shared with the most enthusiasm by local proponents of the hunt was the assertion that whale meat is extremely nutritious and especially tasty … and that it’s a key ingredient to what a few people described as the “ultimate burger”. I was presented with the chance to try an ultimate burger while in the Faroes – and I did. It was given to me at a privately hosted party – not sold in a restaurant, shop or any sort of commercial enterprise.

A so called ultimate burger consists of a slice of dried whale meat (with a flavour like a very iron-tasting salami), a slice of blubber (like a somewhat briny lardo), a piece of dried fish, and a chunk of boiled potato stacked together and to be eaten in one or two big mouthfuls. My own concept of an ultimate burger would have vastly different to be sure, but I could understand with my first bite how someone could love the taste of whale. Everybody around me was having a blast at this party and eating ultimate burgers seemed a key component of the celebration. I can’t say I’m necessarily proud of my choice to eat it or that it was particularly enjoyable for me, but given the unexpected opportunity I’m glad to have given it a try.

The burger analogy got to me though. Was this an admission of human gluttony and the epitome of carnal indulgence? Or was it a wry comment about consumerism and how Faroe Islanders are (however imperfectly) removed to a large extent from globalised, profits-driven corporate supply chains?

I’d like to end this post saying that if you’re against hunting pilot whales, I don’t think you should let that keep you away from the Faroes. First of all, you can go there without encountering anything to do with the hunt – you definitely won’t see whale products in any restaurants and shops. The occurrence itself is rare and usually in remote locations. But if you’re a wide eyed traveller like me and end up scratching just below the surface you will be made aware of it. In my opinion, the best way to affect change is to engage with those who see things different from you. Right or wrong, the locals I spoke to were open to discourse and extremely civil about the topic. Most of all they were keen to hear my take on the issue and learn about the world’s perception of life in this far flung North Atlantic archipelago.

Keep an eye out for more posts in my Faroes and Away miniseries.

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London Daily Photo: Make the Call

LDP 2014.08.19 - Make the Call

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Faroes and Away: A Bad Day Fishing …

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My first full day in the Faroe Islands had me tagging along with local television personality and ace cook, Gutti Winther, on a fishing trip at what seemed to be the very edge of the world. The salmon weren’t biting, but the setting was breathtaking – and the clean sea air, majestic scenery, and Gutti’s ‘plan b’ lunch more than made up for any lack of catch. As the saying goes, “a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work,” and my scenic Faroese fishin’ expedition certainly proved that point.

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We drove out to the village of Saksun on the northwest coast of Streymoy island. The 45 minute drive from my hotel was worth the trip alone. Have I ever uttered “oh wow” so many times in my life? The panoramas and vistas were among the most beautiful I’ve seen. But as ravishing as the route had been, the destination was all the more enticing: huge inexplicably green mountains forming a narrow valley which when followed to its end opened up to open sea with a vast nothingness extending for hundreds upon hundreds of miles. Here is where we fished.

It was my first time fishing in ages and my first attempt at fly fishing. Despite not catching anything, I think I got the hang of it. I would jump at any chance to have another go. I was feeling a little less than manly about reeling nothing in, but Gutti’s luck was just as mine. A couple of other local guys who’d been fishing nearby left without any catch as well.

We had been fishing for our lunch, and I can only imagine how gorgeous our fresh salmon lunch in the great outdoors would have been. Gutti had a backup plan though and it proved just as resourceful and tasty.

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Back near to where he’d parked his car, Gutti waded out into the fjord with a bucket. A few minutes later he came back with the biggest frickin’ mussels I’d ever seen. A gas stove, bottle of wine, some onions and garlic revealed from his car boot along with water from a nearby stream and some foraged angelica archangelica (the taste of the Faroes according to Gutti) and we were back in business preparing a most satisfying lunch. As ginormous as those mussels (horse mussels to be exact) had been, they were also incredibly delicious. Upon leaving, Gutti left the rest of his yield at the front door of the farmer’s house up the hill from the gated entrance to the path along the fjord.

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If my dinner at Koks the night before had been an intriguing introduction to Faroese haute cuisine, my Saksun lunch with Gutti the next day was a delectable demonstration of what makes the food there so distinctive.

Keep an eye out for more posts in my Faroes and Away miniseries.


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During my visit to the Faroe Islands, I spent a good bit of my Faroese trip touring around with Gutti Winther. He was a brilliant guide who seemed to know the islands’ many nooks, crannies, sea caves, cliffs, fjords et al like the back of his hand and to have a warm friendship with just about everybody from there. My tour with him was arranged through Visit Faroe Islands. I would love to pass some more details about him your way, but when I asked for his contact details he said, “I don’t have an email address; it’s not my style.” However, if you Google his name you’ll get a few results (mostly in Faroese) which might lead you his way.

For loads more info to help plan your own Faroese adventure, go to visitfaroeislands.com.

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