Bao

You’re hungry.
You want copious amount of food that will comfort your stomach, ease your mind and soothe your soul.
I hear you’re dealing with a tube strike in London (I’m on a beach in California, not sorry), so now, more than ever, you need an edible hug.

Take yourself to Soho, get your bum on a seat at Bao – thank me later.
(You can do this via twitter, instagram, or carrier pidgeon – should they be able to make the cross-Atlantic, cross-country trip to my beach-lounging bodyBaoThis could be you right now ^
This is also what I looked like a few weeks ago – on a Saturday afternoon, after being at the front of the queue, ready to consume some Taiwanese deliciousness.
Yes, there’s usually a queue. BaoI’ll let you have a perusal, mentally make your order before you view the influx of food porn.
BaoWe started with some 10-year aged, coal baked oolong tea. A very civilised accompaniment for the savagery that was to ensue.
BaoThen it became a free-for-all. Taiwanese fried chicken with hot sauce kicked off the feast with a lovely crunch and welcome spiciness. Bao Trotter nuggets are worthy of a foot fetish – tender fried pork ready to be dunked in a fiery chilli sauce. BaoWhether or not you can take the heat, a sip of iced peanut milk is a palate pleasing refresher.

Prepare to BAO DOWN BITCHES. BaoLamb shoulder bao is incredibly tender, with a citrusy sauce and bites of jalapeño. Bao Confit pork bao was ever the winner with a sweet, sticky sauce and delightful crunch of fried pork scratchings. BaoAnd fried chicken bao, with sichuan mayo and golden kimchi.
Bao This is a threesome you want to be involved with. BaoThis dish is the thing food porn dreams are made of.
Pig blood cake is a Taiwanese take on black pudding, topped with a charming looking orb of egg yolk – ready to be satisfyingly burst, causing an attractive ooze of golden yolk.
Bao Bao *Angels sing*BaoThis, my now starving friend, is 40 day rump cap with aged white soy sauce. Tender beautiful bites of meat that truly melt in your mouth – worthy of ordering twice should your dining partner be skilled with their chopsticks. BaoObligatory order of sweet potato chips with plum pickle salt – as I can never deny my mouth the sweet taste of this confused tuber.
Bao Guinea fowl Chi Shiang rice is a bowl of comfort. Again, hope for the downfall of your dining partner’s chopstick skill.

Should you still have the ability to move, let alone consume something sweet, vacate this daring little joint and head for Crosstown Doughnut’s new Soho spot. Bao Given your travel predicament, order them all, share with stranded Londoners, and maybe moan slightly less about your four hour journey home given your sugar high state.Bao BaoHowever you choose to deal with London’s lovely shut down, be sure to make your way to Bao… and tell me all a-BAO-t it.

Bone Daddies | Shackfuyu

Bone Daddies bad boys have done it again.
You sort of want to tell them to knock it off – we get it, you’re particularly skilled at cooking up Japanese street food, serving it in a rock’n’roll location and flooding our senses with absurd cravings at all hours of the night.
If you’ve been to their latest pop-up, Soho love child Shackfuyu, you already know what I’m talking about. A certain swirled something with vibrant colouring and a wickedly naughty twist: the ‘most instagramed dish’ as of late.
(This is no joke, go search #shackfuyu on instagram – oh, and whilst you’re there, give @alessandra_LDN a follow)
But, no dessert before lunch!

We began with an admirable assortment.
There’s no civilised order to this affair. It all arrived in a flurry of rising steam, sizzling meats and a spicy sweet scent filling the air. A jar of homemade yuzu mayo and angry looking chilli oil decorated the gaps between the onslaught of china and dish ware.

P1020853

Note my dining partner’s commendable attempt at food styling with subtle insertion of logo…

Shackfuyu

Fiery, fried chicken wings were more crispy batter than meat, in a good way, and the sauce is finger-licking delicious.

Shackfuyu

Miniature tostadas were ordered as a reminder of home. Fresh, fleshy chunks of yellowtail placed atop a smooth guacamole, topped with jalapeño and a dash of hot sauce. This gave me a pang of homesickness for the kind of Mexican-Japanese fusion California has so lovingly abused and embraced.

Shackfuyu

A cast-iron skillet of marinated beef arrived angrily hissing, topped with sour snaps of kimchi to accompany each perfectly cooked bite. (medium-rare, obviously)

Shackfuyu

This thing, controversially placed on its decorative dish, is actually prawn toast masquerading as okonomiyaki. Japanese street food at its finest. An indulgent bite served with tobiko, yuzu mayo and chives.

Shackfuyu

A steaming miniature cauldron (okay fine, it was a stone hot pot, but cauldron sounds cooler), announced its arrival with billowing steam and an intoxicating smell. A steaming pot of hot stone rice, continuing to fry at the bottom from the heat of the bowl, was mixed with chargrilled sweetcorn, beef and goma butter. This is the kind of dish you can’t stop picking at, with nibbles being snuck between conversation.
ShackfuyuWho could resist this?

ShackfuyuFinally, there she is. A thing of beauty.
Matcha soft serve with Kinako-style French toast. I won’t go on about it, because you’ve read about and seen its neon green presence flooding your social media channels. But you must admit, it is good looking.

Shackfuyu

I’ve had a stroke of genius. French toast is a breakfast food and matcha is a super food, so technically you should be consuming this for breakfast daily for a super lifestyle.
You’re welcome.

In need of a walk following our casual carb-fest, we strolled London streets away from Soho towards Holborn’s hipster hotspot, Hubbard & Bell.

Hubbard & Bell
Here I attempted to undo the afternoon’s damage with a green juice, packed with kale, cucumber, celery, lemon, spinach, ginger, apple, pineapple and parsley, whilst watching bearded cool kids click away on their MacBooks. Having reached my fill of delicious food and conversation, I left my date and wandered down to China Town.

Guess what I found?
Sriracha

This isn’t any old Sriracha… it’s SUPER HOT CHILLI SRIRACHA. This is no joke, just as delicious drizzled over just about everything… but to be used with a bit more caution than my regular Sriracha smothering, as it is seriously fiery.

Royal Academy of Arts

Before ending an ideal day in lovely London, I spotted Rubens sculptures decorating the courtyard of the Royal Academy of Arts.
Great food, good finds, cool company and attractive art – London truly is the best city in the world.

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.

Polpetto

Uh oh.
I forgot to tell you about Polpetto.

I squirrelled away the photos knowing I’d tell you all about my lovely lunch date, and then one thing led to another and now we’re here. But never mind, a little food porn and you’ll easily forgive me. Won’t you?

I met up with hugely talented, fellow foodie of food blog Rachel Phipps at 5pm. That’s right all you late dining Europeans, we ate dinner at the ungodly hour of 5pm. Not ones for queuing and both having Polpetto secured highly on our FBL’s, we agreed to meet at a time surely no sane Briton would arrive for dinner.
And we were right.

PolpettoWe entered Polpetto to find beautifully designed tiled ceilings, worn wooden floors and deep red banquettes encompassing the bacaro, peaceful and undisturbed, save for a few servers chatting around the measured bar top. I say measured because restaurateur and Polpetto owner, Russell Norman, is famously known to measure bars and barstools for optimum height. This fun fact makes my future restaurateur heart flutter.

Polpetto’s kitchen is run by young and seriously talented Head Chef Florence Knight, who obsesses over good quality food and suppliers. Having outgrown their initial space due to popular demand, they shut down shop and regrouped. After a year of hunting for a new location, researching the market and what I can only imagine to be an incredible amount of eating, they chose Polpetto’s new home nestled behind the food market on Berwick Street.

Polpetto Rachel and I were seated in our own private restaurant and soon greeted with a big glug of beautiful, Italian olive oil to be soaked up with fluffy pieces of focaccia. PolpettoThe good thing about dining with fellow foodies is that no one will dig in before all obligatory food photos have been snapped.
Silent nod to all of you that have indulged my snap happy dining rituals and patiently waited before starting to eat 

One last thing before we get to the food. A little disclaimer, if you will.
Chef Knight’s menu focuses on the simplicity of good quality ingredients. If you don’t bare this in mind, you will be underwhelmed and leave thinking you could have whipped up something more exciting at home. Think of Polpetto as providing a thoughtful, simplistic combination of quality ingredients reminiscent to those you would enjoy stumbling upon a hidden cicchetti bar in the backstreets of Venice.

With this said, we started with a tomato. 
Polpetto
A perfectly ripe, Sicilian tomato with a glug of that beautiful olive oil and sprinkling of sea salt to really bring out the flavour.
PolpettoThis was followed by a bowl of clams with wild garlic. One of my favourite dishes and another perfect representation of the simplicity that is Italian cooking. I could’ve easily ordered five more portions of this, but instead happily slurped the white wine and garlic sauce with my clam shell whilst waiting for our next dish. A dish I feel I need to prepare you for as it is what the term ‘foodporn’ was made for.

Are you ready?

Polpetto

A beautiful, glistening mound of burrata topped with agretti and finely chopped chilli. Burrata, in case you haven’t met, is mozzarella’s cooler, sexier cousin that captures the room’s attention with style and ease, breaks the boys hearts with a single glance and has everyone at the party laughing at her subtly inappropriate jokes. With the italian name of ‘buttered’, burrata has an exterior shell of mozzarella guarding a luscious centre of mozzarella mixed with cream. The addition of agretti, a mediterranean succulent and chilli cut through the richness of the cheese and left me in a genuine state of bliss. Although this doesn’t enlist much culinary talent, to source such fabulous quality burrata is a skill in its own in my book. Polpetto Photo opp pre savagery: trying my best to act civilised in front of Rachel and not lift the whole thing with my fork and take a bite.  Polpetto

The scallops with cauliflower purée and slices of lardo was last and I’m sad to say, least. It was good, but that’s about it. The very small scallops were sweet and well cooked, but I wanted more flavour from the cauliflower. The subtlety of the purée and lardo left me wanting more. It was a great dish texturally and I do admire the delicate flavour combination, but it needed just a bit more oomph.

Rachel and I then had a bit of a debate amongst ourselves, deciding whether or not to order all of the desserts on the menu. Don’t give me that look, there were only five. When our server arrived, we composed ourselves with adult-like restraint and instead ordered two desserts to share between us.
This didn’t stop me from being incredibly naughty immediately after, but I’ll tell you about that later.

PolpettoI initially shied away from the chocolate flan, having had my fair share of it growing up so close to the Mexican border. But my chocolate addiction and some prompting from Rachel drew me in last minute and I couldn’t have been more pleased to succumb to my vice. Polpetto This was nothing like traditional, gelatine-like flan soaked in booze. This was more like a silky chocolate ganache with a deep chocolatey flavouring cut by tart, cold spoonfuls of créme fraîche. PolpettoOur other sweet treat was green apple sorbet served with green apple cubes and sultanas soaked in mead. This is the kind of treat you want served poolside on a hot summer’s day scooped high in a gigantic cone. It was smooth and tart with candy-like sweetness, which was balanced by the tangy mead.
Polpetto

At the end of our meal, I snuck downstairs to the open kitchen and other dining room. Chef Knight was there prepping for the night’s service with the rest of her team. I thanked her and the team for a beautifully prepared meal and told her how much I admired such a simplistic, but meaningful menu.

I wonder if you enjoy dining this way as much as I do? A leisurely meal of dishes, presented one after the other to share with a friend or loved one. It’s as if you’re waiting for a surprise that you get to experience together, both visually and in the edible sense. Commenting on flavours, textures and ingredients intermittently between musings. I’d take this form of entertainment over the theatre or afternoon in the park or a festival any day. Combine all four and maybe we’ll talk.
But maybe this is just me! Maybe you’re more the ‘eat to live’ kinda guy/girl. In which case, you’ve probably left the blog in search of some sustenance.

As soon as Rachel and I parted ways, I wandered down Soho alleyways and ended up having a cheeky snog. Not that kind, weirdo. This kind…
Snog

I know, I know. But it says guilt-free? That makes my post dinner, post dessert frozen yogurt piled high with brownies and berries perfectly excusable, right?

I thoroughly recommend a dinner date at Polpetto. I will definitely be back and have since heard I’ve missed out on the genius that is the bacon chop, whitty pear butter and walnuts. If you get there before me, promise you’ll tell me how it is? Pop your thoughts in the comments or send me a tweet @Alessandra_LDN. I don’t bite, I promise.

Spuntino

Spuntino is one of those great little places that you only know about if you’ve heard about it. There’s no sign or markings on the building except a subtle little menu in the the only part of the window where the glass hasn’t been frosted.

Last week I had a friend from California in town wanting to catch up over lunch. This created the dilemma of having to choose one meal to represent the city’s incredibly diverse food scene. Rather than go for somewhere pulling out all the stops in a formal setting, I decided what better way than to dine in a quirky atmosphere with good, interesting food.

Spuntino, Venetian bácaro restaurant Polpo’s sister, is tucked away in the streets of Soho and does just that. There are no tables, only stools at the bar which are served by the friendly bartender. It’s all very Rock & Roll with exposed brick and industrial fittings, giving a similar feel to Russell Norman’s other places.

Whilst looking over the menu, we were served a mug of popcorn with chili salt to sprinkle over the top. A very different welcome to Spuntino which serves as a great introduction to the menu and venue itself.

It’s recommended to order the cicchetti, or Italian-style tapas, to share. We chose a selection and got chatting about her recent adventures around Europe.

Our dishes eventually arrived and we dug in. All were inventive, delicious and had surprisingly simple flavour.

Eggplant chips with fennel yoghurt Spuntino

Food porn alert:
Truffled egg on toast – yes, this tastes just as good and just as naughty as it looks! Spuntino Beetroot salad with smoked ricotta and walnuts Spuntino Beef & bone marrow slider and a pulled pork & pickled apple slider SpuntinoWe polished off our plates before we said our goodbyes and I had to run back to work.

I highly recommend checking this place out for a quick bite & catch up with a friend. It would also be a great little low key date night before heading out on the town.

Here’s the address, as it’s tricky to find: 61 Rupert Street, Soho, London W1D 7PW
Oh! and promise me you’ll try the truffled egg on toast? It’s seriously worth it.

B-SOHO Pizzeria

I am Italian.
Loud family gatherings, great fashion sense and excessive hand gestures come with the territory.
But, above all else, Italians are best known for their love of food.
And who could blame us? Creamy, cheesy lasagnes, fresh pastas with vibrant pestos, delicious dolci of Tiramasu and gelato, the evidence is endless.
But the most illustrious Italian dish being gobbled up around the world would have to be the pizza.
A disk of heaven bringing pure joy and comfort to its consumer from its crispy, chewy base, tangy tomato sauce, and molten hot mozzarella stringing from pizza to smile.

Outside of Italy, it’s hard to find a decent pie.
Most are too thick, leaving large wads of dough in your stomach which render you wanting a wheel barrow. Some are too thin, with flimsy slices that create funnels for sauce to pour onto your lap.  Some are too cheesy…. no, there’s no such thing as too cheesy.

Londoners, the search is over.
I’ve found delicious pizza right in the heart of the city.

B-SOHO Pizzeria Needing a break from emails and a catch up with a friend, I popped in for lunch with the lovely Nada. We tucked ourselves away in the corner into comfy leather couches and watched as the restaurant became buzzy with business men and women escaping their desks for a tastebud trip to Italy. B-SOHO Pizzeria A good mix of lounge music and cool covers created a relaxed vibe and I could happily see myself curled up on the couch for the rest of the day.
The circus lights on the ceiling gave a fun atmosphere and with the speakers scattered around the restaurant, you know the place gets up to some fun later in the evenings.

Some girls catching up across the restaurant had just received their pizzas. One of them picked up a slice and said, “I love this, I feel like I’m on holiday in Italy,” as she took a massive bite. And it did feel a bit like we had escaped the freezing London streets with the wall-sized mural of Naples and mounted photo of an Italian Mama sipping her Espresso watching over the diners.

B-SOHO Pizzeria Our Antipasti Rustici arrived.
A big board of traditional Italian cheeses and meats.
Simple, rustic and delicious.
B-SOHO Pizzeria Then came the main event.
Nada’s Calzone was a monster.
Chewy, crispy pizza dough folded around fresh tomatoes, ham, tomato sauce, and plenty of melty cheese. It was a thing of beauty.
B-SOHO Pizzeria But I wasn’t here for a calzone.
A pizza the size of a wheel was placed in front of me.
Chewy crust with crispy, rustic burnt patches lay the base for fresh tomatoes, salty prosciutto, creamy Buffalo mozzarella all topped with crunchy rocket.
I doused this in chili oil and dug in.
It truly was delicious, the perfect mid-day treat.

B-SOHO Pizzeria If we had any sense at all, this is where the lunch would’ve ended.
We would have pried ourselves from the cosy couch, gone back to our places of work with full tummies and continued with our day.

But I’m afraid to tell you, this was not the end.
The Don Luca Pizza alla Nutella should come with a warning.

A full sized pizza arrived, but instead of marinara and cheese was a generous slathering of hazelnut chocolate Nutella and a sprinkling of pistachios. There was also a coating of powdered sugar which is quite possibly the last thing this sweet pizza needed. The slice was delicious, but overwhelming having just had a piled high pizza for lunch.

B-SOHO Pizzeria B-SOHO Pizzeria This is the perfect place to subside your taste for Italy.
They have a great lunch menu special for all you busy Soho bees that want to pop out for a quick escape from your emails.

Regarding the Nutella Pizza: You have been warned.

Check out their website here and to make a reservation, book here.

La Bodega Negra

I had some time to kill before a meeting in Soho yesterday, and as usual, was craving Mexican food.
Good Mexican is truly hard to find in London, and unless I scavenge the ingredients to whip up a dish myself, I tend to give it a miss altogether.
Last year, New York’s La Esquina opened a London location under the name of La Bodega Negra. Bloggers and critics buzzed about the restaurant, calling it London’s answer to Mexican food.
Yet, I wasn’t ready to be let down by some sloppy, average dish lacking the true Mexican flavours.
Until yesterday.
I was really craving the tangy, spicy chili packed salsas and smokey, tender meats wrapped in perfect taco packages.
I had forgotten the much talked about restaurant downstairs requires reservations and doesn’t open until 6pm. The incredibly rude manager reminded us by snapping about the reservation policy and fine dining ambience as if we had asked something outrageous.
Ignoring her attitude, we settled for lunch in the Café.

La Bodega Negra

Spanish music posters line the wall and the room has a retro diner feel to it with checkered floors, wooden chairs and exposed lights.
The vibe was great due to a great Hip-Hop mix playing.
Jay-z & Kanye, Kase O, and Common ft. John Legend were just some of the endless chilled tracks being played.

On the menu, there’s a great selection of typical tacos, quesadillas and ceviches. I ordered Pork Belly Carnitas with Salsa Verde Tacos and Camaron (shrimp) Tacos with Chipotle Cream and Pickled Onion with a side of Green Rice and Cowboy Beans.

La Bodega NegraWhilst we waited, we were given an assortment of salsas to top our tacos. Salsa Verde, Salsa Roja and Salsa del Comal each gave different flavours and all packed a punch. On each table are two innocent looking bottles holding salsa created from the habanero pepper. These bad boys are pretty high up on the Scoville scale, but still tolerable with good flavour.
After tasting all three of the salsas, I tried the green habanero hot sauce. Unripe habaneros are green and this sauce packed a serious kick.
But the other, ripe habenero XXXTRA hot sauce packed a mean punch.
I dare you to take a teaspoon of this and send me a photo of your facial expression.
Or better yet, offer a taste to your dining companion.

La Bodega Negra La Bodega Negra La Bodega Negra La Bodega Negra

La Bodega Negra

Our tacos arrived piled high with vibrant toppings.
The Camaron tacos were divine.
Shrimp cooked to perfection with tender meat and a nice snap coated in a chipotle cream for a smokey hint of spice. They were topped with smooth guacamole and acidic pickled onion which really brought all the flavours together.
Add a little lime and sprinkle of sea salt, the perfect combination.

La Bodega Negra

Next to try were the Pork Belly Carnitas with salsa verde.
The pork belly was incredibly tender and had a nice crunch from a sprinkle of crackling. The tacos were piled high with salsa verde and were made even better with the combination of salsas on the table.
To accompany the tacos, we had a side of green rice and cowboy beans.
The green rice is flavoured with cilantro (coriander) and lime and goes well with any Mexican dish.
Cowboy beans are an American creation which uses smokey BBQ sauce to bring out the flavour of the refried beans. These also had bits of bacon as an extra naughty addition.

La Bodega Negra

Our lovely waiter Nelvino was incredibly helpful and very knowledgeable about the menu, even though he hasn’t dared try the habanero salsa.
I absolutely love their shirts and think that they should sell them in the restaurant, don’t you? 

La Bodega NegraIf you’re in Soho looking for a way to spice up your day and are in need of a great lunch spot, I’ve found the place.
If you’re looking for good Mexican food with a sexy atmosphere for dinner and drinks, make sure you call ahead for reservations here.
This, by the way, is located in the bottom of a sex shop.
It is Soho after all.

The Art of Being British

Today was a beautiful day in Londontown. Michelle and I spent the day wandering London’s streets, as we usually do. We began the day at one of my favourite food markets. On a Saturday, the Duke of York Square in King’s Road is transformed by striped tents sheltering different cuisines from around the world.

You really must go see it for yourself, but I will tell you about the Oyster Man. He’s there every Saturday without fail, shucking his crate of oysters to serve on the half shell with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. The amazing thing is that 6 of these fresh, fleshy oysters only cost a fiver. We sampled some of the markets food, and sipped coconut water from a coconut, before heading towards Piccadilly.

Walking down Jermyn Street in Piccadilly, we stumbled upon The Art of Being British Street Party. The road was closed to traffic for the day, and the street was filled with culture, history, and food. Local shops were showcasing their trades, offering free shoe shining and leather care, performing ironing demonstrations, and even instructing how to make the perfect Martini. Musicians from the Royal Academy of Music performed popular British classical and jazz theatre tunes, adding to the buzzing atmosphere.

A collection of Morgans lined the street, and there were little patches of fake grass fenced off with decorative bunting for the Brits to lounge on, as they do so well. British bull dogs guarded shops and a British fashion show complete with catwalk showcased some of Britain’s top designers. We stopped by Fortnum & Mason who were hosting an al fresco tea party, with free tea and scones.

I didn’t get many shots of the street party as I was distracted by everything going on. If you’d like a better look at The Art of Being British, click here.

After we had seen all The Art of Being British had to offer, we walked up through Piccadilly, and into Soho. This is one of my favourite areas to aimlessly wander around as each shop is so different from the last. We saw Cox, Cookies, and Cake had opened and ventured inside to see what was behind the black store front.

Inside is a dark world of fetishes and sweets. The bakers are decked out in leather studded aprons and the floor sparkles under the neon lighting. The cakes are everything opposite to the imagined innocence of a cupcake. Black frosting, skulls, and suggestive lips decorate these hardcore cakes. Best of all, the house special are cakes shaped like boobies.

Outside we ran into renowned shoe designer Patrick Cox, the new owner of Cox, Cookies, and Cakes. He was incredibly relaxed and friendly and we chatted about his new store. The concept and design is incredible, but i’m sad to say the flavour of the cupcakes is not.