HOTBOX

I’ve already told you, I’m not cool enough for East London.

It feels a bit like visiting that edgy exhibition that pushes boundaries, makes you question the uncomfortable, and leaves you feeling a bit twitchy behind the rope to either touch, photograph or stare what is inexplicably defined as art.
This is how I feel as soon as I cross central, emerging into the depths of the über trendy, often strange realm of what is East.

The thing is, these cool kids are knocking out some damn good food – and to my delight, they tend to be cooking up something wickedly naughty. Cue HOTBOX.

This isn’t new. In fact, if you’re a clever cookie, you’ve already been tempted by the foodporn and made your way to Spitalfields for a feast of epic proportion. This is what I did, and forgot to tell you about it. I’m sorry, I’ve been busy! Don’t give me that look, you’ve had your fair share of foodporn via my Instagram & Twitter @Alessandra_LDN… so no complaining.

HOTBOXHere’s your menu, have a little browse and try to control yourself for the cravings to come. Maybe you can even guess what I’ve ordered… although, unfortunately, it wasn’t one of everything. After serious debate, reasoning and compromise, we made our choice. HOTBOXThis particular brunch managed to tick all my brunch boxes: savoury, sweet, filthy, indulgent, and naughty, with a side of comfort.
HOTBOX

We started with a special that sounded too tempting to pass up: slow-cooked beef brisket sandwiched between sweet brioche buns, topped with homemade coleslaw and pickles. HOTBOX

Accompanied by a skillet of creamy mac & cheese, with a perfectly crispy, crunchy top. HOTBOX Beef rib tacos with crispy shallot, rocket, chipotle mayo and chimichurri – good enough for me to admit they satisfied my Mexican food standards. Ay yi yi, I could’ve eaten this all over again. HOTBOXHOTBOX HOTBOX

Last to compete for foodporn glory, the chicken and Belgian waffle. A fried chicken thigh with truffle salt atop a fluffy Belgian waffle, begging to be drizzled with maple syrup. HOTBOXThe action shot of your foodporn fantasies.
HOTBOXThat’s a pretty attractive lineup, if you ask me.

The servers are lovely, and the atmosphere lively, with the extreme comfort food even influencing a few diners to break out in song. Crawl there hungry on a Sunday morning, and I promise your every indulgent desire will be met.

Afterwards, wander around the streets to walk off your aching stomach and admire the aforementioned art: perplexing fashion, captivating street art and stylish shops selling something hip in a vast amount of space, mocking the extortionate rent prices elsewhere.
HOTBOX If you’re in the area, be sure to check out Mast Brothers.
These Brooklyn brothers are artisan chocolate makers, with a factory flagship located in Shoreditch. HOTBOXHOTBOX Tour their chocolate factory, sip special hot chocolate and make sure to pick up some pretty-papered bars as a gift for a friend or sweet treat when you finally come down off your brunch high. The goat milk chocolate bar was a personal favourite, and I’ve been a particularly good friend lately…

Basil & Persian Lime

I have a new obsession. Basil & Persian Lime Dark Chocolate. “What an absurd combination!” you’re thinking. Trust me when I say, this is the most interesting, inspiring flavour combination i’ve ever experienced. I found the Rococo Chocolate bar on display, innocently wrapped in it’s french, pastel packaging and paused to question what may lie inside. One guilty purchase later, euphoria. Everything about the bar is beautiful and it has become my new go-to gift.

What do you think? Am I right, or am I right?

Bruges

Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m not a huge promoter of this day, but as long as you celebrate with some chocolate, it’s all good.

This day of love, I was whisked off to Bruges. It wasn’t exactly the smoothest of whisking away, as the whisker realized at the Dover port he had forgotten his passport! After a quick 2 hour drive back to the house, then 2 hours back to the port – we were finally on the ferry. We arrived in Calais and drove straight to Bruges.

It felt as if I had been taken back in time as we wandered the cobble stone streets. There’s quite a lot to see considering the town is so tiny. Its small size made it perfect for our day trip and we spent a majority of the day wandering down alleyways and in and out of chocolate shops. In the main square was a delicious food market with the smell of mulled wine heavy in the air. After sampling some Belgian treats, we took an obviously fascinating tour of the chocolate museum, complete with chocolate demonstration and samples.

After hours of exploring and tripping on cobblestone streets in freezing weather, I needed food. We asked locals where we could get our hands on the best Belgian food, but no one seemed to give the best recommendation. My Belgian hunger and the whipping wind was starting to get the best of me, until we stumbled upon the most perfect place ever to be stumbled upon: De Vlaamsche Pot. We stepped through the old, wooden door and my face lit up. The cosy dining room was dripping with tacky Valentine’s decorations that you’d find in your grandmother’s attic, creating a strangely comforting atmosphere. The room seats no more than 25 and is warmed by an intimate fireplace. I barely glanced over the menu before deciding I must have Moules in White Wine with Parsley and Garlic and a large plate of Frites. I couldn’t have made a better choice. A steaming pot of mussels and pile of frites satisfied my belgian hunger – almost. After dinner, although completely full, we had to order a Belgian waffle. It was definitely worth it as it was the best waffle I have ever had, topped in vanilla bean ice cream and drowned in chocolate sauce.

Make sure you select some chocolates to savor on the ferry ride back.

What did you do for Valentine’s Day?