All posts filed under: Out & About

Late Lunch: POLPO Duke of York Square

Polpo is a lovely place in London. I have long been a fan of the Covent Garden outpost (delicious meatballs), and have even been known to frequent the Smithfield spot. Recently the restaurant has been rolling out new spots as quick as it takes for me to enjoy a gin and tonic on a summer evening- and I wasn’t convinced that was a good thing. The two newest outposts- Cambridge Circus and Duke of York Square- seemed too big and too flashy  to make for great restaurants. What I love about Polpo, originally, is that the food is great and simple- without losing the Venetian flavours it purports to represent. The small menus are appealing and diverse too- and it’s reasonably priced for what it is. I was worried that the new openings might not be able to carry this simple formula well, and buckle under the pressure to turn outrageous profits and cover the expensive rents. So I was sceptical when the Pal and I turned up without a reservation to the Duke of …

Sonia Delaunay at Tate Modern

Sonia Delaunay was an amazing artist, and fantastically creative human. But because she was a a woman, we don’t learn about her in school. The Tate Modern in London though, is working hard to challenge visitors to expand their horizons and explore some of the most amazing female artists that we may never have heard about. This summer the Tate has a female double headliner- and since I have been moaning about how white and male the mainstream art scene in London is- I am delighted. Sonia Delaunay and Agnes Martin will be the main attractions at London’s most popular museum all summer long.

This Weekend: PICNIC in Green Park

London is one of the greenest big cities in the world. It is hard to walk more than a few minutes and not reach a park or leafy garden- particularly in the centre of the city. And the summer is the best time to enjoy those parks. Last weekend, the Pal and I were itching to get outside. The thermometer was edging towards 30, and the sun was shining. We picked Green Park simply because of it’s convenient proximity to Fortnum & Mason, purveyors of the finest picnics goods in all the land since 1707. All you really need for a picnic is a hamper and a big blanket. Our hamper was my favourite Matt & Nat backback, because of it’s square shape it kept all the foods upright, and it looks great too. We filled it with: champagne, cherries, smoked trout pate (with grissini), and a typical English pork pie. There have been more sophisticated picnics out there- the recent surge of the #OttolenghiPicnic hashtag on instagram certainly proves that- but it was delicious. …

Surprise Weekend in Oxford

Some Like it Rita took a little break in Oxford last week. Summer in the UK is the perfect time to explore- there are many magical places just a train ride away. I had never been to Oxford before, but I completely LOVED it. It was exactly like I imagined Hogwarts would be: old, winding and beautiful. The Pal took me there on a surprise getaway, so I had no idea where we were going until he pulled me off the train at the right stop! It was tres romantic. He had booked a great room at the Old Bank Hotel, definitely a winner. The hotel is simply charming and the service was impeccable. We borrowed some guest bikes to explore the city and felt like real locals. The view from our suite at The Old Bank Hotel was totally incredible- that’s Bodlean Library you can peak there. I imagined this would have been my view from my circular dormitory in Gryffindor Tower. Some Like it Rita punting on the river Cherwell, like a boss. Just …

Columbia Road Flower Market

Colombia Road Flower Market is one of the best things about Hackney. It’s beautiful, you can get wonderful flowers, the shops around there are great and there is loads of nice food around there too. Everyone knows it’s one of the nicest ways to spend a Sunday morning in Hackney- especially if you then get a chicken-centric brunch at Clutch or a delicious coffee from any of the little windows along the side of the market. It is definitely worth a trip, but it can get really busy so make sure you go early in the morning- or later in the day to snag some bargains on some beautiful flowers. And becausethe weather is finally nice and it looks lovely outside, why not pick up an assortment of nice flowers to bring spring into your house: To get to Columbia Road Flower Market, grab an overground to Hoxton or Shoreditch High Street- but if they are down for ‘Planned Engineering Works’ (or ‘Planned General Inconvenience’ as I call it, jump on the Central Line to Bethnal Green- …

Dinner at St John, London

St John is a London institution. Founded 20 years ago, these guys pioneered the whole Nose-to-Tail cooking, a philosophy I thoroughly agree with (though don’t practice as often as I’d like). Here you can get heart, tongue, steak- whatever- all cooked in incredibly simple and delicious ways. It is all about worshipping the animal at St John- and as it was the Pal’s birthday this week, it somehow seemed fitting. I had never been to St John before, and I will admit the menu can be a little intimidating. It changes daily, so I really had no idea what to expect. Would it be nothing but pig brains? Turns out there was nothing to worry about. Not a brain in site on the menu- though there were tongues, hearts, and cheeks. And it was all rather good. The pal and I shared some marrow on toast with a parsley salad- the only regret there being that there is very little of the delicious fatty goodness inside those big bones. For mains I had a delicious …

Dinner at Tonkotsu Mare Street

The best thing about living in Hackney is the seemingly endless supply of hot new restaurants and bars available to your average hipster-about-town. My latest gastronomic adventure was a rather impromptu trip to the recently opened Tonkotsu on Mare Street. The third branch of the chain is by far the sleekest- and the first one to feature a cocktail bar. And a good thing that is because on a Friday night you can expect to wait over 40 minutes for a table for two, and potentially longer for bigger groups. But it is worth the wait- especially in the cold winter months when a steaming bowl of rich broth and fresh ramen is the only food IN THE WORLD that would drag me from under my cashmere blanket. The menu is simple stuff- six or seven options of ramen, including the brand-new seafood option- available only at the Mare Street outpost. There are also some appetisers, most of which are fried, and some very delicate gyoza. Everything is delicious and warming, even if I think …