Botin: Oldest Restaurant in the World (Great British Chefs)

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Founded in 1725, the age-old tavern sits on the tiny and winding Calle Cuchilleros amid a wealth of bars just a short stroll from the city’s Plaza Mayor. In its almost 290 years of existence, Botin’s offering has changed very little. The wood fired oven that roasted meats for weary travellers nearly three centuries ago are the same ones fired up to delight the throngs of tourists whose numbers suggest the restaurant may well be around and doing a booming trade for at least a few more hundred years.

I had lunch at Botin back in the summer (if anyone ever tells you to avoid Madrid in August, they’re steering you astray). And what an amazing experience it was!

Read my complete post at Great British Chefs.

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London Daily Photo: Roof Terrace (The Schoolyard SW18)

LDP 2014.11.08 - Roof Terrace

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

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

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

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

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A Night Out at The Hippodrome

Boom & Bang Circus image courtesy of The Hippodrome

Boom & Bang Circus image courtesy of The Hippodrome

I’ve walked by The Hippodrome Casino at Leicester Square a zillion times. Not a gambling man, I never thought there was much inside the large scale and lavish venue for me. However, taking up an invitation to give Hippodrome’s food, booze and entertainment a try, I discovered there’s more to this Central London landmark than gambling.

Dinner at Heliot Steakhouse – inside the casino with in-the-round seating above the main gaming floor – was much more of an indulgent treat than I had expected. A starter course of baby gem salad with blue cheese and caramelised pecans (£5) was delish, and I thoroughly loved my 18oz slab of USDA Prime beef rib on the bone (done medium rare, £26). Accompanying steak sauces were just okay in all honesty, as were the sides (£3 each) that I tried, such as fairly yummy fries and a so-so mac and cheese.

My dining compadres (Kemey and I did a Friday night double date with dynamic duo Krista and David from London blog, neon) seemed as pleased or more with their assortment of dishes. Although, if you’re not headed to Heliot in the mood for a steak you might be a little underwhelmed by the menu. But if you ever find yourself hankering a quality cut in Central London, by all means keep this place in mind. Indeed, I reckon its claim to have the “best value USDA Prime steak in town” is probably true.

A bottle of Armenian red wine – Zorah Karasi, Areni Noir, 2012 – (as suggested by our server Theo, £70) was an intriguing and commendable quaff. Service was delightful and prompt throughout our meal. I got a kick out of dining in such a buzzing venue. Keen to catch some live performance and grab a cocktail, we skipped dessert and headed across the casino to its cabaret theatre.

We saw two shows – a “kinkier and naughtier” Vaudeville 8pm act called Sensual Dreams and “exotic night time extravaganza” Boom & Bang Circus at 11pm. Both were immensely enjoyable providing lots of laughs via highly entertaining lowbrow performance. Perhaps taking itself just a tad too seriously, Sensual Dreams had a Twin peaks meets X Factor feel to it, though I don’t think that was actually the intended effect. Boom & Bang, with a cast including burlesque star Kitty Bang Bang and transvestite ringmaster Johnny Woo, presented edgier and more seductive reasons for applause.

The shows proved a perfect lark for the double date I was on. I imagine they would be ideal for bigger occasions such as hen nights as well.

Service was good during performances. Cocktails cost £10; I was pleased with the Old Fashioned enough to order a second one. The Hippodrome has live acts performing most nights of the week and predominately of the burlesque and cabaret variety.

Bottom line? A great steak and some saucy entertainment on a Friday night with close friends was a superb way to kick off my weekend. I’m happy to recommend The Hippodrome as a safe bet for a fun night out.

The Hippodrome is located at Cranbourn Street, Leicester Square, WC2H 7JH (you can’t miss it). Find out more at hippodromecasino.com.

Posted in Drink, Food, London, music, restaurants, Theatre, Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

London Daily Photo: Top Job (The Schoolyard SW18)

LDP 2014.11.07 - Top Job

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

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

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

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

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Recipe: Three Bacon Butty with Lardo and Iceberg Lettuce

Recipe: Three Bacon Butty with Lardo and Iceberg Lettuce - DSC_0446

A request from Bidvest 3663 to join its competition to create the “Ultimate Bacon Butty” resulted in me coming up this tasty number: a three bacon butty with lardo and iceberg lettuce. Having trouble choosing which was the best type of bacon to use, I simple decided to layer this epic sandwich with three of my favourite cures (English style back, American style streaky, and Italian pancetta) along with plenty of crisp iceberg lettuce for good measure and a couple of ultra thin slices of super savoury lardo to up the flavour to the next level of yum. The bread? I reckon it’s gotta be a crusty roll for added crunch with a bit of soft, sop-it-up texture on the inside.

THREE BACON BUTTY WITH LARDO AND ICEBERG LETTUCE

Ingredients (for one sandwich)

• 1 rasher of unsmoked back bacon;
• 2 strips of smoked streaky bacon;
• 2 strips of pancetta (sliced in thin strips);
• 2 thin slices of lardo (try your local Italian deli if you can’t find it in the supermarket);
• Iceberg lettuce to taste;
• 1 crusty roll.

Method

• Place all the pieces of bacon flat on a cold cast iron skillet set to medium-low heat;
• Make sure to flip over all the piece a couple of minutes into frying;
• All the pieces should cook at about the same rate, but if pay attention as you may want to remove or shift some pieces at different times depending on how browned or crispy you like your bacon;
• Once the bacon is nearly finished frying, lower the heat to a minimum setting; Split your roll in two and place each half of the roll interior side down on top of the meat (saving room for the lardo);
• Place the lardo on top of the meat as well;
• As soon as the lardo becomes translucent, remove it and the bread from the skillet placing one piece of lardo on either interior side of the roll (press the lardo into the bread with the back of a spoon as if to spread it on like butter);
• When the bacon is thoroughly cooked, place the pieces of bacon between two kitchen towels to absorb some of the grease before building your butty;
• Stack your sandwich with a layer of streaky bacon on top of the bottom of the roll, and then 4 to 6 leaves of lettuce, the rasher of back bacon, another layer of lettuce, followed by the pancetta before topping it all with the ‘lid’ of the roll.

Serving

Of course you can add whatever condiments, toppings or seasonings to this sarnie that you may wish, but I reckon there’s more loads more depth of flavour and plenty more satisfying crunch to this simple – if indulgent – creation than you might expect. Enjoy!

The Search for the Ultimate Bacon Butty

Think you can do better? The Search for the Ultimate Bacon Butty runs until 30 November. Find out more about the prizes, T&Cs etc at 3663.co.uk/bidvest-3663-search-ultimate-bacon-butty.

Read more tikichris recipes.

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London Daily Photo: Checking Out the View (The Schoolyard SW18)

LDP 2014.11.06 - Checking Out the View

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

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

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

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

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Expo Milano 2015: Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life (OneTravel)

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Expo Milano 2015 will be the largest worldwide event ever to focus on the topic of food. Themed “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,” this major non-commercial international exposition will present a unique opportunity to discover “all the facets of food and what surrounds it: flavor, comparison, sharing, creativity, nutrition, growth and sustainability.”

The exposition will run from the 1st of May through October 31th and will feature …

Read my complete article at the OneTravel blog.

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London Daily Photo: In the Hoist (The Schoolyard SW18)

LDP 2014.11.05 - In the Hoist

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

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

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

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

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The Curiosity Cabaret: Offbeat, Potentially Poignant and Probably Gruesome?

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Science inspires art in The Curiosity Cabaret, a new production coming to London for a limited run this December and the first ever cabaret in the style of a history of medicine lecture. Founded by medical doctor and circus owner Dr Clive Selwyn, the show “will fuse science and the arts together to create an entertaining cabaret experience” and will be held at The Old Operating Theatre in London Bridge, an actual operating theatre dating from 1822.

From the press release:

The fascinating theme of the first show will be The Science and History of Voice in the 19th Century … and … will be showcased in a perfect venue for the purpose; Britain’s oldest surviving operating theatre … [where] audiences will hear about the many weird and wonderfully intriguing medical machines popular at the time … 

Intertwined with fascinating scientific stories, will be bespoke performances from internationally renowned and award winning composer, lyricist, performer and cabaret favourite: The demonising, hypnotising, mesmerising Desmond O’Connor, as well as poet, artist, puppeteer and cabaret delightZoie Kennedy and not forgetting our delightful hosts Dr Clive and Rachel Rose Reid and special guests; the enthralling contortionist Bendy Bendini, puppeteer Henry Maynard (Co-director of Flabbergast Theatre and co creator of Boris & Sergey) And the multi award winning 1927’s mesmerisingactor and storyteller, Eleanor Buchan.

This show sounds very much like something I would love to check out: offbeat, potentially poignant and probably gruesome … and all set in an intriguing setting.

The Curiosity Cabaret will run from the 2nd until the 7th of December at The Old Operating Theatre, 9a St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY. Find out more at thecuriositycabaret.com.

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London Daily Photo: Going Up? (The Schoolyard SW18)

LDP 2014.11.04 - Going Up?

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

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

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

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

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

Win an Assortment of Bonne Maman Treats!

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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!

Keen for a “little taste of France?” Then keep reading because I’ve got an assortment of delectable treats to giveaway from one of France’s most cherished brands – Bonne Maman.

Oui! I am such a fan of Bonne Maman. Just about everything I’ve tasted from the brand is absolutely delicious. Certainly, if you’ve had the pleasure of enjoying the compotes, cakes, world famous Madeleines or anything else this “Good Mother” makes you’re a fan too!

Check out the goodies I’ve going to share for free with one lucky reader:

  • 1 x bag of chocolate Madeleines;
  • 1 x bag of plain Madeleines;
  • 1 x box of lemon tartlets;
  • 1 x bot of chocolate caramel tartlets;
  • 1 x box of chocolate galettes;
  • 1 x box of lemon & poppy seed galettes;
  • 1 x box of caramel & sea salt galettes; and
  • 1 x box of butter galettes!

Gorgeous stuff, non?

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

RT to win an assortment of Bonne Maman treats compliments of @tikichris: http://bit.ly/10AKjU9 #LoveBonneMaman

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 21 November at 11.30am BST. The winner will receive an assortment of Madeleines, tartlets, and galettes from Bonne Maman. 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 Bonne Maman and its complete range of products at lovebonnemaman.co.uk.

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: On Site (The Schoolyard SW18)

LDP 2014.11.03 - On Site

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

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

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

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

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

Carnaby Echoes Celebrating 100 Years of London Music (OneTravel)

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Image of Boy George courtesy of Carnaby Echoes

These days Carnaby Street is probably best known as a Central London hub for designer shopping. But for much of its history, this iconic little Soho lane running between equally iconic Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus has been just as (or more) celebrated for its ties to popular music as its connections to the world of fashion.

Now, a new walking tour with free downloadable app called Carnaby Echoes offers shoppers and anybody else in the area the chance to trace Carnaby’s vibrant music history from the early days of Murray’s Club, a jazz and cabaret club that opened in 1913 on nearby Beak Street, through to the present.

Read my complete post at the OneTravel blog.

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London Daily Photo: King’s Place

LDP 2014.11.02 - King's Place

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Good Stuff

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.

Rhythms of the South Jazz Brunch

Here we go! It’s time for World Travel Market, the “leading global event” for the travel industry, to descend up on London. Kicking off the week for me was a fantastic jazz brunch hosted by Rhythms of the South at The Lockhart with music by Grammy Award Winning artist Irvin Mayfield and NOJO Quintet. This was my first time listening to Mayfield and my first time to visit The Lockhart for more than just drinks and bar bites. The music was smokin’ hot and the food was down home and delicious. If the rest of #WTM2014 is half as fun as today I am in for a treat!

Audio Technica – SonicSport Headphones

I’ve pleased with a new set of headphones I recently got: Audio-Technica’s SonicSport Ath-Sport 2 with “active-fit ear tips to allow ambient noise in to increase awareness and safety when running outdoors without compromising on the audio performance.” The Ath-Sport 2 also features an “IPX5 waterproof rating to withstand exercise in the rain or during an intense workout, while they can be washed under a running tap after a long workout or run” plus a new cord design “to reduce wire tangle and unwanted noise that can adversely affect audio performance.” And after a feast like the aforementioned jazz brunch I reckon an intensive workout is just what I need!

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Stance Socks

I was really impressed with much of what I saw at Coffin on Cake PR’s recent SS15 press preview, especially Stance Socks. I loved the brand’s Suicidal Tendencies socks. I took a pair home with me; they’re comfy and durable.

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London Daily Photo: Ream

LDP 2014.11.01 - Ream

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The Hunt London Features Some of My Favourite Independent Businesses in London

The Hunt London (Hunt Guides)

The HUNT Guides are city guidebooks highlighting “authentic eating, shopping and lifestyle experiences” in a range of popular destinations with listings that are all independently owned. I contributed to The Hunt London, Third Edition which came out earlier this year. It was a delight to write about some of my favourite indie enterprises in London.

I’m not the author. That distinction goes to David Leppan, “a treasure hunter, a collector, and a hunter-gatherer” with a “passion for what’s unique, rare and handmade.” However, a flip through the guide yields a decent sized chunk of recs and wordage by yours truly (loads of foodie faves of course!). Contributing to the book was a lot of fun. I loved having the chance to help spread the word about a range of small businesses with products and services that reflect the dedication and hard work of actual individuals and families.

The content of The Hunt London is organised by neighbourhood and features a smartly curated list of quality venues worth keeping in mind. This handy pocket sized reference would be an ideal gift (ho ho ho!) for anybody planning a visit to London and is a great resource for Londoners keen to hone their knowledge of this wonderful and sometimes unwieldy city while supporting local independent business.

Find out more at thehuntguides.com/guides/london.

Posted in Art, Books, Discounts and Special Offers, Drink, Food, Hotels, London, restaurants, Shopping, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

London Daily Photo: Bloomsbury

LDP 2014.10.31 - Bloomsbury

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Bite Me Pizza, Westbourne Grove

Bite Me Pizza - DSC_9809

An invitation to try out a new Notting Hill pizzeria proved a more than satisfying reason for me to mosey more westerly than usual for one of my all time favourite foods – pizza! Bite Me? With pleasure.

During my Saturday evening visit to Westbourne Grove’s Bite Me Pizza,
I chose to eat-in (there’s a nice, fairly comfy seating area with reclaimed wood furnishings, large flat screen TV, and eco-friendly lighting). However, takeaway was clearly the norm judging from all the orderings coming in and pickups going out while I was there. I don’t think Bite Me delivers. But if they ever do, folks in the catchment area will be in for a treat.

I really liked my pizza: the 12” Meatalica jam packed with tomato sauce, mozzarella di bufala, pepperoni, Napoli sausage, meatballs, and red onions at £13. I had some pancetta added for a couple of quid more (not necessary at all but definitely a yummy touch). This monster of a meal was awesome – super meaty and with onions cooked crisp just how I like on my pie.

All Bite Me pizzas are made with a Khorason wheat dough, an ancient grain rich in protein and minerals that’s a lot easier to digest especially for folks with gluten allergies. So ya won’t feel all bloated like you might after downing a pizza at any number of other pizzerias. From what I could tell, Bite Me founder Chris Manessis goes the extra mile to source quality and (from what I was told) sustainable ingredients. The meatballs on my pie were particularly flavoursome.

If just up for a snack, Bite Me does folded over half pizzas starting at £3. There’s coffee, good selection of wine and beer – I loved my Brooklyn Lager (£3.75 for a bottle) – a decent range of veggie and vegan options, an obligatory Nutella dessert pizza (£4.25), and more to supplement your pizza cravings. And to make sure you remember you’re enjoying our pizza in Notting Hill, there’s a bottle of organic hand sanitizer at every table.

The dudes behind the bar when I went were friendly and speedy. I was really pleased with service.

Bite Me Pizza is located at 95 Westbourne Grove, W2 4UW. Find out more at bitemepizza.co.uk.

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London Daily Photo: Wick(ed)

LDP 2014.10.30 - Wick(ed)

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Ethos Meat-Free Restaurant, Eastcastle Street

Ethos Meat-Free Restaurant - DSC_9791

Looking for healthy and tasty meat-free food in an attractive setting? Next time you’re passing through Oxford Circus and hankering something good to eat, keep newly opened restaurant, Ethos, in mind.

When vegetarian food is done well, it fills ya up without bogging you down and provides lasting sustained energy. That’s how the meal I had at Ethos had me feeling during a recent dinner there.

Ethos is a self-service/pay-by-weight sort of eatery but minus any hippy dippy or down market vibe. In fact with its fireplace, silver birch décor, leather seating, and marble surfaces, Ethos is a rather luxuriant setting.

Ethos Meat-Free Restaurant - DSC_9794

Buffet prices are £27 per kilo, and I reckon most typical meals would run about £15. So not cheap, but I found quality and variety of dishes to be really good. I liked everything I stacked on my plate, especially courgette feta fritters, super fiery kimchi, and a vegan carrot cake (desserts are priced per item). There’s an okay wine list, a more than decent selection of beers as well as a nice mix of cocktails, juices, and coffee.

FYI, the restaurant does an unlimited brunch on the weekends for £17 per person which a hot drink and juice (there’s a Bellini Brunch option for £24 per person as well).

I’d have no qualms doing another dine at Ethos and wouldn’t hesitate to bring non-vegetarians there to eat.

Ethos is located at 48 Eastcastle Street, W1W 8DX. Find out more at ethosfoods.com.

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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

George Foreman Compact Grill - DSC_0224

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)

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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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