London Daze

As the harsh a’s, slipped like’s and occasional misuse of the term fanny are detected laced throughout my conversation, I’m often asked, “Where are you from?”
America is assumed. They probe deeper, faces lighting as California rolls off my tongue. The story of that time they visited LA during their gap year quivers at the ready, before furrowed eyebrows and sinking corners of the mouth interject. “Then, what are you doing here?!” is almost bellowed at me as their eyes bulge a little in their bewildered sockets.
I tend to insert a nervous giggle here, to diffuse the tension and prepare my defence. But, I shouldn’t bloody have to! Yes, California is full of beautiful beaches, gleaming rays of sunshine and people with sparkling, white smiles – and London, is full of crowded streets, grey, cloud littered skies and questionable grimaces on the pale faces of commuters… but there’s so much more to it!
It’s a European metropolis of diverse culture, epicurean delights and endless activity. It’s truly one of my favourite cities in the world and I’m reminded all the time of how lucky I am to live in such a cool place. For those of you that do not live in London and even for those that do, I love getting to share my adventures around this sweet city with you. So snuggle up, grab a cup of tea and maybe even a snack. It’s time I catch you up on my latest escapades.

London Daze

This particular Sunday started as most should: with brunch. There are few things as perfect and decadent as baked eggs to start your day. These from Eelbrook are served with yoghurt, harissa and grilled flatbread for a deliciously Middle Eastern touch.
London DazeWhen the weather is nice, or at least when the skies aren’t threatening imminent rain, the best way to get around is to walk. This way you always encounter things you may never have expected to find.
London DazeChristopher was rather taken with this model in the window. Quite a striking resemblance, don’t you think?  London Daze Speaking of models in the window, no stroll through Knightsbridge is complete without a little window shopping at Ferrari Atelier.London Daze And the predictable Rolls spotting, complimented by a casually purple Bentley.
London Daze If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll have hopefully already laughed along with me at this. Scroll up again and tell me you don’t at least let out a giggle. Someone took the time to ensure that ended up on a card. Brilliant. London Daze Somerset House is always stunningly decorated this time of year, complete with an ice skating rink and Fortnum & Mason Christmas tree. London Daze Do you think there are treats inside the hampers? I definitely should’ve checked.
I didn’t get a chance to ice skate this year, but you should try and go. Whether or not you’re a seasoned pro, it’s so much fun in such a Christmassy atmosphere. Hopefully there will be no one like me around, overcome with uncontrollable giggles at anyone that hits the ice.

London Daze

King’s Road had a visiting reindeer to help get everyone in the Christmas spirit. Although he was fuzzy and adorable, I wanted nothing more but to send him back where he came from so he could frolic freely with his friends, rather than being flashed at by a bunch of posh cameras and grabby kids’ hands.

London DazeOn Saturdays, Duke of York Square turns into a mélange of marquees. The piazza is transformed into an international melting pot of stands selling delicious smelling dishes from all over the world. With an insatiable craving for Mexican food, I scurried over to the grill where Tamales UK were cooking up pork pibil tacos and ordered tres con todos, por favor! London Daze A browse of Saatchi & Saatchi gallery is always amusing. You never quite know what you’re going to find. From golden prints of nature.. London Daze To walls of flower shaped profanity… London Daze To caviar covered rooms.. London DazeTo pornographic pop art. It truly is an eclectic, but entertaining mix. London DazeI popped into Bentley for a sneak peak of Vertu’s latest creation. They’ve teamed up with Bentley to create a customisable phone, with diamond knurled titanium side rails and a quilted calf leather back to match your Bentley’s interior. All I know is for $17,000 it better come with someone that dials the phone for me. London DazeTo my fellow American expats, do you still make the attempt the celebrate Thanksgiving abroad? I decided to go for it again this year, making the sweet potato casserole, chilli garlic brussels sprouts, pomegranate salad and stuffing. Although I usually manage all the sides, I even attempted my first turkey! A 5kg whopper which soon became equivalent to what I can only imagine it must be like having a toddler. I spent my day having to lift, adjust and baste the monster every 20 minutes. It was all worth it in the end as the bird came out beautifully and was completely devoured.  London DazeI absolutely love when people come to visit. Showing a tourist around London is one of my favourite things to do. I just love seeing the city through someone else’s eyes and getting to share some of my favourite bits with them. So, when Tyler came to visit from San Diego, we hit the town walking. London DazeWe visited the Queen. London DazeMet some residents with fowl manners. London DazeStrolled through the park. London DazeLondon DazeAnd visited the ever handsome, Benjamin. Tyler is an amazing photographer, by the way, and you can see more of his shots here.  London DazeHe’s even mastered the selfie. London DazeWe changed course and wandered up past Trafalgar where I showed him our big, blue cock.
London DazeAnd into Soho for an obligatory purchase of my favourite macarons in London. If you are ever in Soho or even dining at Yauatcha, promise me you’ll try one (or all) of their incredible macarons. London DazeWe popped into Polpetto for a snack. I told you about this place before, when I met up with lovely blogger Rachel. It’s the perfect place to share simple dishes with stunning ingredients.  London DazeWe started with an attack on a mound of luscious burrata topped with tender pumpkin and marjoram. London DazeFollowed by grilled octopus with chickpeas and tomato. London DazeAnd a show stopping finale of pink duck breast paired with blueberries and pickled walnuts. London DazeWe ended up dancing the night away at Home House, who had an awesome DJ mixing 90s with current charts. This ended in an equally cool manner, curled up in the early hours of the morning in hotel sheets watching Ratatouille. (It was the first time I’d seen it! I know, I know.)

London Daze I recently enjoyed a rather delicious breakfast meeting at the Dorchester’s CUT at 45 Park Lane. The setting is beautiful and beyond perfect for a meeting, but I couldn’t take my eyes off Damien Hirst’s butterfly pieces on the wall. London Daze M Restaurant hosted an appropriately massive launch party for their massive new space located in Bank, complete with concert provided by Tinie Tempah. London DazeBeing so close to one of my 24-hour favourites resulted in a midnight snack in the sky. London Daze Complete, of course, with some duck & waffle! London Daze No London post would be complete without a nod to Britain’s resident badass. How hot is this Aston? I’m not normally a fan of matte paint jobs, but there’s something fitting for Bond’s perfect getaway ride spotted in Notting Hill. London DazeSee? There is literally something for everyone in London, don’t you think? Where’s your favourite place to go, thing to see, or food to eat? Is there somewhere particularly amazing I ought to try? I always love a suggestion. Tweet me or leave a comment below.

Granger & Co Brunch in Notting Hill

Hiya!
Just a quick one to kick off your weekend.

Last week, some friends and I skipped over to Notting Hill for some brunch.
Australian restaurateur and food writer Bill Granger has a casual, all day dining spot cosily tucked into Westbourne Grove. At Granger & Co, the menu features simple, seasonal dishes with heavy Australian influence.

To those of you not from America, brunch is a meal very close to my heart.
Brunch, in the simplest terms, is a combination of breakfast and lunch. But really, it is so much more. Because the two are meals are combined, this means you are legally allowed to eat two meals in one sitting. Brunch means you can pretend to have something healthy for the first part of the meal, and happily have dessert for the second. Brunch means those extra few hours in bed, which you probably should feel guilty for, but you don’t because you’re up just in time for brunch. Speaking of time, brunch means you can spend hours relaxing, catching up and most importantly, eating. Brunch is just amazing, alright? And I’m glad this city is slowly catching on to such a glorious event.

To start off our brunch, we nourished ourselves with an order of the healthiest mixture of ingredients ever.

Granger & Co

Bill’s greens juice is a ludicrously health conscious combination of green apple, cucumber, silver beet, chia seed & young coconut. The juice was refreshing and delicious, but my heart sank a little when brunch sized expectation did not size up. There were literally a few sips of the stuff for the price of what I would expect a normal glass of juice would cost.

For some reason, I continued along the path of health with my order of coconut chicken salad with nashi pear, watercress & avocado. This was simple and incredibly fresh, but lacked a bit of sweetness. Overall, it was still a delicious dish, but may have been interrupted by the most serious case of food envy.

Granger & Co

Food porn alert. You have been warned.Granger & Co

Just look at that.
Look at that, now look at mine.
Now back at that, then back at mine.
Ricotta hotcakes with banana & honeycomb butter. Ya that’s right, honeycomb butter!
Granger & Co Fluffy pancakes with warm, sweet banana and luscious, melted butter.
Granger & Co
One last look… I’ll give you a close up.  
Granger & Co
Needless to say, my food envy got the best of me and my fork may have wandered its way across the table a few times. And because its brunch, I didn’t even have to feel guilty about it.
That juice countered anything bad I ate for the rest of the day, right?

After brunch, we waddled our way around Notting Hill to work off the damage, popped down Portobello Road to check out all the goodies at the market and eventually found the cutest shop filled to the brim with cookbooks. 
Granger & Co
Granger & CoA day well spent, don’t ya think?

What are you getting up to this weekend? Do you have a favourite brunch spot I haven’t tried yet?
Don’t be shy, leave me a comment or send me a tweet @Alessandra_LDN

Kensington Place

Yesterday was my Nonno’s birthday. My very Italian grandfather doesn’t often stray far from his own kitchen anymore. “Why would I pay for someone to cook for me when I could cook the same thing, but better?” he exclaims while making a particularly Italian hand gesture. Seeing as they’ve been to and tried most of the restaurants worth trying in London, only a few have been allowed to remain an option when said straying from the kitchen occurs.

Kensington Place in Notting Hill has been a birthday tradition for many years. I remember going countless times when I was visiting London as a child for birthdays or celebrations. As the owner is a family friend, the staff always ensure we have an excellent dining experience, and this birthday was no different.

The staff were warm and welcoming, and we were seated in the middle of the dining room with the restaurant’s beautiful mural in sight. Kensington Place is always buzzing and I would definitely recommend making reservations in advance. The food was exquisite as always, and service was impeccable.

After our meal, I gave Nonno my gift. I found I had exhausted all the golf and cooking related gifts and had to come up with something more inventive. I popped into Lina Delicatessen the day before with an Italian gift basket in mind. The staff were incredibly helpful, and after mentioning my Italian roots, went above and beyond to help with ideas for my gift basket. Before leaving, the owner insisted I took some baci (little Italian chocolates filled with hazelnuts) on the house. Lina Delicatessen is located in Soho and I think you should go check it out.

Pan Seared Scallops with Broad Beans, Pomelo, Mint, and Chardonnay Vinegar

Carpaccio of Mackerel Daikon, Lime, and Watermelon

Ballotine of Loch Duart Salmon with Oyster Vinaigrette and Pickled Vanilla Cucumber

Pea Soup with a Crouton and Chives

Jerusalem Artichoke Risotto with Spring Onions and Pecorino

Roasted Pollock with Ricotta Gnocchi, Homemade Raisins, Cauliflower, and Parsley

Fish & Chips

Vanilla Bavarois Poached Pear, with Honeycomb and Amaretto

Poached Strawberries with Strawberry Parfait, Vanilla Mousse, and Caramelised Pastry

Happy Birthday Nonno xx

Ottolenghi

I needed a break from studying and the continuous downpour we’ve had this week in London, so my Nonna and I decided to meet at Ottolenghi in Notting Hill for some lunch. I love everything about this place, the freshness of the ingredients, the inventiveness of the flavor combinations, and the way the food and pastries are spread out, reminiscent of a candy shop display.

I chose Saffron couscous with roasted cauliflower, pomegranate seeds, flaked almonds, and dill, coriander sweet potato wedges with poppy seeds, coriander, chilli, lemon grass and sour cream, and delicious seared tuna with soy sauce, sesame oil, chili, ginger and spring onion sauce. Every bite was packed with contrasting flavors that combined to create a surprising, but delectable taste. We sat at the back of the restaurant where one table that seats about ten stands with a stunning, massive flower arrangement. The atmosphere is intimate and customers happily chat to each other as a result of the close proximity. After our chat, I had a beautiful passionfruit meringue cupcake – the perfect end to a beautiful lunch.