A Visit to McDonald’s


I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of McDonald’s or that going to one of its outlets is the usual sort of subject matter for me write about. But when the invitation was extended to take part in a “fun local event, where you’ll find out about the exciting changes happening in the restaurants,” I accepted.

As with my visit to KFC HQ a couple of years ago, I saw the invitation as a chance for me to try to add some nuance to the discussion about what it means to eat fast food and the role McDonald’s plays in a community. Continue reading

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Win the Summer Collection from Hotel Chocolat

Win the Summer Collection from Hotel Chocolat


Craving something chocolaty? Hotel Chocolat has got you covered with a range of summery chocolate treats. I’m looking out for you too, by teaming up with this luxury chocolate maker to offer a chance for two readers to win Hotel Chocolat’s Summer Collection.

Valued at £35, the Hotel Chocolat Summer Collection features a Chocs-to-Chill H-box with 15 refreshing summer chocolates best served straight from the fridge, Mini Champagne Truffles, Creamed Caramel Puddles, Raspberry & Caramel Lick, and two Summer Selectors. Continue reading

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Get Arty, History and Coffee in Austria’s Capital (City AM)


The commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the death of Franz Joseph I of Austria – head honcho of the Austro-Hungarian Empire for nearly 70 years – presents a grand opportunity to delve into Vienna’s imperial past while catching up on some of its more contemporary delights as well.

… The noble pursuit of viewing compelling art and sipping the perfect cup of coffee can make for a meaningful Viennese excursion – but can also work up a mean appetite.

Read my complete article at City AM.

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Improve Your Mood at El Camion, Brewer Street, Soho


Tequila enlivens your mood. And if you’re drinking the quality stuff it won’t leave you feeling hung over with a headache the next day. Does this sound like a shot of just-what-the-doctor-ordered? Then ándale your way over to Soho for taste of Old Mexico at El Camion.

There’s an excellent range of top shelf tequilas, complemented by competently assembled and executed list of margaritas plus a tasty assemblage of Mexican dishes at El Camion. It’s a late hours/wee hours of the morning venue too! Ole? Oh yes. Continue reading

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A Foodie’s Guide to Yacht Chartering in the Caribbean

Caribbean food

One of the many great reasons to charter in the Caribbean is the unique flavours of the region. Food can shape our experience in the most profound way and should be a large part in any vacation worth its salt.

The Caribbean islands each offer dishes that are distinct to their region, and when chartering a yacht through the area, you have the perfect opportunity to try them out. With yacht ownership comes the freedom to decide where and when to go to each location, you’ll have an entirely different experience from anyone that stays in an all-inclusive hotel; so seize the opportunity to sample as many of these delicious dishes as possible! Continue reading

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Good Food and Excellent Cocktails at Malmaison London


Chez Mal, the restaurant at the Malmaison London hotel is a smart choice for a good meal and fine cocktail.

Sitting pretty in quiet and historic Charterhouse Square, Malmaison is something of an oasis of calm amid the bluster that surrounds. Between Barbican and Farringdon, the hotel is ideally situated for romps around London, particularly for guests most interested in discovering London’s more gourmet delights. But guests – and indeed locals too – would be wise to spend at least a bit of time staying in and enjoying what’s offered from the kitchen and behind the bar at Mal. Continue reading

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Liberty Cheesesteak Company: Real Deal Philly Cheesesteak


Londoners, d’yever have the pleasure of tucking into an authentic Philly cheesesteak? If you were told you were having one here in London (or anywhere not actually in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) you may have been duped – DUPED! – into eating an inferior sandwich with a bogus Philly moniker slapped on it. But I am pleased to report that no caveat emptor is required when caving in to your carnal cravings and grabbing a cheesesteak from the folks at Liberty Cheesesteak Company. It’s the real deal.

Don’t get Liberty founder and South Philly native cum Londoner, JP Teti, started on faux cheesesteaks. It sets him off. Or maybe do get him started on the subject, as it’s a great way to see a man on a mission come alive with passion and pride. Continue reading

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Summer with Morrisons

Summer with Morrisons - DSC_4589

Morrisons kindly sent me a selection of its summertime and BBQ items to devour … erm I mean review. I obliged.

Assuming we’ll see a summer this year in Britain, Morrisons will have you covered for all your BBQ and picnic needs. I enjoyed having a taste what’s on offer. Here are some highlights. Continue reading

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Cook Like a Chef With Correct Tools – Knife, Board and Towel

cook like a chef

Recipe – check! Ingredients – check! Dinner guests invited – check! Towel – Che … Wait … What?

Yes, a towel? A must for any chef worth his/her name, one of the top three most important ingredients for a successful meal. If you are going to cook anything you need three essential tools to effortlessly complete your dishes: a very sharp (chef’s) knife, a solid cutting board and one to three kitchen tea towels. Continue reading

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A Trip to Monte Carlo is Always a Good Idea


There is no doubt, Monte Carlo is one of the best destinations in Europe. The glamorous city on the French Riviera is a great place to go if you want organise a short trip or long relaxing stay.

Monte Carlo has some of the best weather year round in Europe, making a walk around the city and your vacation amazing no matter what season you go. The city waterfront has incredible boutiques where you can stroll around with the backdrop of the Mediterranean. If you get the chance to see the city more inland you will find charming medieval streets and beautiful churches. Continue reading

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Polpo Does Brunch

Brunch at Polpo - DSC_4457

Everybody’s favourite British bácaro presents newfound reason to get up and out on the weekend with a just launched brunch menu available on Saturdays and Sundays at all Polpo locations. If you already love Polpo, you’ll love it all the more for introducing a range of cicchetti and sharing dishes designed for convivial and relaxed daytime dining. And if Polpo’s not yet made it to the top of your preferred eats list, keep reading and see what you think.

It had been awhile since my last visit to Polpo. But an invitation to try the brunch menu was one met with agreement. As I remembered the restaurant (the original one on Beak Street – which as I recall played a transformative role in London’s casual dining scene when it opened almost a decade ago) it had the right atmosphere for striking up quality conversations while working your way through a menu of northern Italian foodie favourites. Continue reading

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Top 3 Summer Recipes


If you are looking to beat the heat this summer during meal time then you may want something that is light and doesn’t weigh you down. You may consider some of these easy to make dishes that can be prepared inside or outdoors. Also cooking outside on a grill is a fun way to get your family outside and keep the extra heat from the kitchen out of your house.

Below are the top 3 summer recipes that you and your family will enjoy not only during summer but year round as well. Continue reading

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8 Places to See Before You Die (Going Places)

leopard shutterstock_321699878 (1)Eric Isselee / Shutterstock

You may be asking yourself “Why stop at eight? Certainly, there are way more amazing places out there for you to visit.

So let this worldly little octet serve as your starting point for getting out there and experiencing the wonders of the world we live in!

Read my complete post at Going Places.

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Olia Hercules & Marley Spoon Collaboration

Olia Hercules & Marley Spoon _

Recipe kit delivery service, Marley Spoon, has teamed up with Olia Hercules, The Observer’s Rising Star of 2015 and author of Mamushka cookbook, for the month of June.

Combining her Ukrainian heritage with Cypriot, Italian, Moldovan, Laos and Caucasian influences, to name a few, Olia has created a selection of exciting dishes for Marley Spoon that will be featured on both the Two-Person and Family menus. As is the case with all Marley Spoon recipes, these are delivered in boxes with the seasonal ingredients, in exact quantities, to cook at home. Continue reading

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Best Sandwich in Spitalfields? Barraka on Artillery Lane

Chicken Schnitzel Baguette at Barraka, Spitalfields - DSC_4533

Man oh man! The chicken schnitzel baguette at Barraka was one the most welcome lunches I’ve devoured in a very long while.

From Uri Dinay, the same fella who brought Pilpel (probably the best I’ve had in London) and Badolina to the ever hankering streets of Spitalfields, this latest offering of Mediterranean morsels serves a succinct if succulent menu of baguettes, wraps and salad bowls. Continue reading

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Creatures of the Chesapeake

Loggerhead Sea Turtle

The Chesapeake Bay is home to an incredible array of species in the water and above it.

Many of these creatures have been endangered but, thanks to the efforts of scientists and environmentalists, are coming back. Some have found a way to thrive alongside the human populations. The best way to explore and understand this massive estuary is on the water. Start with an Annapolis yacht charter and as you sail, stop around the bay to rent kayaks or canoes and see the flora and fauna up close. Here are a just a fraction of the animals you might encounter in different areas. Continue reading

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Win a Bottle of Red Stag by Jim Beam

Win Red Stag by Jim Beam


Just in time for the 4th of July, my buddy Jim Beam and I want to share a free bottle of black cherry infused Bourbon with one lucky reader.

Imagine: the world’s most popular Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey – Jim Beam – infused with natural cherry flavour. It’s a tasty libation whether served neat, chilled on the rocks (my preference) or as the prime ingredient in any number of cocktails. Continue reading

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Recipe: Kimchi Pimento Cheese

Recipe: Kimchi Pimento Cheese - DSC_4582

America’s so called “caviar of the South” gets some Korean kick with my version of the pimento cheese incorporating spicy kimchi.

For all its piquant flavour, this poor man’s pleasure is super easy and inexpensive to make. And check this out: using kimchi as one of only three ingredients gives it an even bigger boost. Rather than bringing together typical ingredients such as pimentos (sweet red peppers), onions, and whatever else (every grandma in the American South probably has her own recipe) separately just add kimchi for a minimal ingredient/minimal fuss recipe.

With fermented cabbage (which accounts for about 75% of its contents), radish, garlic, onion, chilli powder, salt, carrot and ginger), kimchi work wonders with this classic Southern recipe. Continue reading

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Rustiko Bar & Restaurant, Old Compton Street

Rustiko Bar & Restaurant - DSC_4473

Upon invitation to give its new Craft Beer of the Month a go, I paid Rustiko Bar & Restaurant a friendly visit last week. Great beer! And great place to keep in mind whatever Italianate libations you seek in Soho.

Teaming up with Italian micro-brewery, Birrifico del Ducato, Rustiko is running a Craft Beer of the Month special. The beer of this month – Violent Femme – is a real winner. Continue reading

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Great British Cheese Awards


Got a favourite British cheese? Yeah, me too. In fact, a couple of my all-time favourite cheeses are produced here in Britain. Now cheese lovers across the UK can nominate our choices for best British cheese in the new British Cheese Awards.

The awards aim to celebrate the best of British cheese produced and distributed by independent cheesemakers and retailers and to bring together a community of fine food lovers to nominate and vote for their favourite British cheeses and discover the best cheese shops in the UK. Continue reading

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100-Layer Lasagna at The Cavendish

100-Layer Lasagna at The Cavendish - DSC_4438

It had been about a year and a half since my last visit to The Cavendish. But I remember my dinner there fondly. So when an invitation to come back to try newly appointed Head Chef Douglas Santi’s “100-layer” lasagna, I was all for it.

I’m pleased to report the restaurant is as lovely as ever with brasserie/pub downstairs and a more formal and rather elegant dining room upstairs. Service is polite and swift. As for that lasagna … Continue reading

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London Clown Festival

Ben Target at London Clown Festival - DSC_4567

Life is absurd, and everyone’s a f*cking clown. This is something to celebrate – with top rate physical comedy. Enter the London Clown Festival.

I had a hoot and a half at last night’s press preview London Clown Festival. Cranky, naughty (and occasionally utterly filthy) puppet duo Boris & Sergey hosted the show featuring a range of always wacky and sometimes absolutely brilliant acts. Continue reading

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#DeepSouthFarEast Supper Club | 10X10 with tikichris


Next on the roster of 10 events to mark my decade in blogging, is another tasty team up. This time round, I’m collaborating with one of my favourite supper club chefs, Malaysian Home Cooking superstar Vi Vian Woo! Together, Ms Woo and I have created a menu combining American Deep South indulgence with flavoursome Far East flair. For one night only in sultry July, we’ll proudly present our #DeepSouthFarEast pop-up at one of Clerkenwell’s coolest bars, Ninth Ward.

The exclusive event will be limited to only around 25 guests. Vi Vian and me alongside the staff at the bar will receive each guest with a complimentary Bourbon cocktail before presenting our sumptuous feast, served family style at long communal tables in Ninth Ward’s atmospheric dining room featuring reclaimed wood, repurposed industrial fittings, and an eclectic collection of voodoo accoutrements. Continue reading

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Recipe: SunGold Smoothie


Have you ever tried SunGold kiwifruit? I recently discovered them at a #BreakfastBling event hosted by New Zealand kiwi brand Zespri and so loved what I was eating that I’ve been adding them to most of my morning meals since.

As the name implies, these SunGold kiwis are golden, not green. Also unlike typical green kiwis the skin isn’t all that fuzzy. So, you actually don’t have to peel the fruits and you can eat the skin quite easily (and get all that extra dietary fibre and nutrition when you do). They’re one of the most nutrient dense fruits. One SunGold has more vitamin C than an orange, contains high levels of potassium, folate and actinidin (a “protease enzyme unique to kiwifruit that helps us to digest several food proteins”). Continue reading

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7 Haunting and Abandoned Places to See Now (Going Places)

Alberto Loyo : ShutterstockAlberto Loyo / Shutterstock

Some people’s idea of a holiday is to fly to a vibrant big city, while others prefer a bit of seclusion on a deserted island or a 5-star beach resort. However, there’s still some of you who swing toward the spooky and out of the ordinary, and would gladly make a holiday out of experiencing an interestingly eerie destination.

Check out these seven haunting and abandoned places on earth that you can actually see for yourself now.

Read my complete post at Going Places.

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Yard Sale Pizza, Finsbury Park

Yard Sale Pizza, Finsbury Park - DSC_4502

Pizza party in Finsbury Park? Who wants a slice of that action? Me, and I reckon all sorts of other folks when they find out about the newly opened Yard Sale Pizza sliding onto Blackstock Road.

Yep, every Claptonian’s preferred pizza parlour has set up a second wood-fired oven near Finsbury Park Station. Continue reading

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10 Years of Musée Quai Branly

Le Best-of

Musée Quai Branly – one of Paris’ coolest museums, and one of my favourites (in Paris and the world) – will celebrate its 10th anniversary with two special exhibitions and an anniversary weekend of free festivities 25-26 June.

Musée Quai Branly is home to one of world’s most impressive collections of the indigenous art and cultural artefacts from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas.The collection has 450,000 objects, of which 3,500 are on display at any given time, in both permanent and temporary thematic exhibits. Continue reading

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Preparing for a Summer Road Trip


When making plans for a summertime road trip, it is usually best to be prepared for all weathers and – at busy times – some delays. Therefore, always have snacks, drinks and waterproofs available, especially if you have children in the car with you.

But what else should you consider? Continue reading

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Weird and Wacky Laws of Florida City Destin-ed to Surprise You (Going Places)

digidreamgrafix : Shutterflydigidreamgrafix / Shutterfly

In our series taking a look at some of the quirky laws and customs of cities across America, we focus on the idyllic beach destination of Destin. Located on the Florida Panhandle and famed for its white sand beaches, this charming little Emerald Coast town is within easy reach of Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport and offers a relaxing retreat for anyone seeking a seaside break.

But before you visit, make sure you’re in the know about some of the more unusual laws that Destin has laid down over the years. Here’s a look at this municipality’s oddest ordinances and wackiest laws (as may be viewed in the City of Destin’s Code of Ordinances).

Read my complete post at Going Places.

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Sunset at the Villa Thalia at Dorfman Theatre, National Theatre

The Cast of Sunset at the Villa Thalia c Manuel HarlanPhoto/Manuel Harlan

To put it plainly, there’s a lot going on – yet none of it is presented in any sort of convoluted way and all of it superbly portrayed – in Alexi Kaye Campbell’s play Sunset at the Villa Thalia.

Arty, middle class Charlotte (Pippa Nixon) from London and charismatic American – and CIA operative – Harvey (Ben Miles) are frenemies to the highest degree. There’s instant affinity and sometimes even smouldering attraction between them but also deep-seated belief on both sides that one completely misunderstands the other and that the other is absolutely wrong about how the world spins on its geopolitical axis. Continue reading

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Send in the London Clown Festival

ShrimshanksShrimshanks, one of many acts performing at the inagural London Clown Festival

Checking my phone while coming out of Old Street Station the other day, I received an email inviting me to the press night of the inaugural London Clown Festival. Taking a quick look around, I thought the event was already in full swing and I was amidst its most ardent performers. Nope, that’s just how people bandy about in Shoreditch these days.

But seriously folks, an actual London Clown Festival is coming soon (like this weekend). And yep I’m headed to the press night. But that preview is right on top of other related events. So, I thought I’d go ahead and publish a quick heads up for you all as the festival looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun. Continue reading

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Cane to Cocktail: Blue Mountain Bliss


From Screechies (and a pit stop shower break back at the hotel), the Cane to Cocktail tour continued onwards and upwards into the mighty Blue Mountains for a taste of some of the world’s best coffee and sundowner with dinner at a cozy little boutique hideaway.

If your idea of a dream vacation in Jamaica involves little more than frying in the sun on the beach while downing all inclusive cocktail after all inclusive cocktail then spending time in the rugged and lush Blue Mountains might not be the thing for you. However if you’re keen to experience what truly makes this island so special and to introduce a bit of mountain air luxury in with your sea breeze break, you may discover that no stay in the Blue Mountains is long enough. I certainly didn’t get my fill. Continue reading

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Recipe: Cointreau Wings with Honey Dijon | #WingingIt

Recipe: Cointreau Wings with Honey Dijon - DSC_4452

Orange you glad to come across this Cointreau-versial recipes for chicken wings?

Cointreau’s rich citrus flavour makes it an ace ingredient for food as well as cocktails. I cook wings all the time, playing around with all sorts of ingredients. Usually my experiments turn out to pretty decent but fall well short of yummy greatness. But my Cointreau wings with honey Dijon taste awesome, if I do say so myself. Continue reading

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Sideways: The Play at St James Theatre


Sideways: The Play. If you loved the movie, to be sure you’ll love the play adapted for the stage by original Sideways novelist, Rex Pickett, and deftly directed by David Grindely.

Clearly the play is nowhere near as scenic as the film set in the lilting landscape of California’s wine country (and I must admit I haven’t read the book … yet). Still, a spare and smartly crafted set works wonders (or perhaps just doesn’t get in the way of) bringing focus to Pickett’s characters, their relationships and the sharp and deep plunging dialogue between them. I laughed – and cringed – a lot more while watching the play than I remember doing when I first saw the movie (and I really loved the movie). Continue reading

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Madam Butterfly at ENO

Anthony Minghell's Madam Butterfly Returns to the English National Opera. London 14th May 2016

A tearjerker of a show, thanks in large part to a profoundly sympathetic performance of soprano Rena Harms, English National Opera’s staging of Madam Butterfly delights the eyes as much as it moves the hearts of its audience.

Puccini’s sad tale of forlorn love and the consequences of strident and oblivious narcissism (imparted brilliantly by tenor David Butt Philip as young American Navy Lieutenant F. B. Pinkerton) is vividly presented with a display of dazzling costumers (Han Feng, Costume Designer) and dynamically coloured lighting and use of colour (Michael Levine, Set Designer; Peter Mumford, Lighting Designer). Continue reading

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