Kimchee – Korean speciality

I’m always one to try new food especially if it’s a little spicy, tasty and authentic. I had walked past Kimchee in Holborn several times but didn’t know how amazing it would be.

Korean food is largely undiscovered compared to its Thai and Japanese counterparts, but it is fast gaining popularity in London. The name ‘Kimchee’, one of Korea’s national dishes, is the most popular accompaniment to any meal.  It’s a traditional fermented Korean dish made of vegetables with a variety of seasonings and there are hundreds of varieties of kimchi made with a main vegetable ingredient such as napa cabbageradishscallion or cucumber. Korean’s also love BBQ which can be seen cooking in the open plan kitchen.
I ordered: The “Tofu Dolsot Bibimbap” – a delicious dish of Korean rice cooked in an earthenware pot with vegetables and tofu cooked in an earthenware pot. This came with a red chilli paste to add. It tasted amazing and would definitely recommend. I’d come back here for dinner with a group where you can order more dishes and try different things – the tofu udon dish and kimchee vegetables looked delish. It’s a great place for veggies.
For the meat eaters out there – there’s noodles, rice, Bibimbap and charcoal barbeque to choose from alongside a selection of cocktails.
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Wine time at Vinopolis

The perfect day out for budding or existing wine enthusiasts is a trip to Vinopolis near London Bridge. Here you will get a tour of the venue, a ‘How to Taste Wine’ session, six regular wine tastings, a Bombay Sapphire cocktail and a Vinopolis tasting notebook.

We went last week to discover and taste new types of wines from Europe, Americas or The New World. It’s a fun day out and worth doing as a date or with a group of friends. It was rather packed on the Saturday so I would suggest a weekday afternoon if possible and make sure you combine it with a trip to Borough Market. There is food available – tapas style and there’s a cool bar to relax in afterwards.

Borough Market for vegetarians

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Borough Market is foodie heaven and I love going there – I used to work nearby so it was a perfect Friday lunch treat but a great place to visit on a Sunday. The atmosphere – hustle and bustle, variety of stalls and the number of tasters available at Borough Market is fantastic! Some of my must-see/must-taste stalls:

  • Veggie table – tasty vegan and vegetarian burgers
  • The raclette stall  – the smell is divine from this French speciality
  • If you’re a coffee lover, don’t miss Monmouth or Flat Cap stand
  • Paella place
  • Flour Power City Bakery for bread and delish brownies
  • Fresh juices from Turnips
  • Neil’s Yard for cheese
  • Utobeer for every possible type of beer including chocolate and banana
  • Mini Magoos for tasty museli
  • Olives and pesto from The Fresh Olive Company
  • Baklava and falafel from Arabica Food and Spice Company
  • Bedales wine bar
It’s a great day out and you’ll never leave hungry or empty-handed!

Borough Market8 Southwark Street, London, United Kingdom

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Weekend in Copenhagen

Last weekend I was in Copenhagen – the city of The Little Mermaid, Danish pastries, modern buildings and castles. Copenhagen is environmentally proactive, sustainable and gastronomically diverse with the world’s best restaurant Noma. It’s boasts a mix of immigrant influenced boroughs and neighbourhoods that surround the historical medieval centre, home to the world’s oldest monarchy. It’s home to huge brands like Bodum, Lego, George Jenson, Bang & Olufsen, Carlsberg Beer and Arla, and the Danes are the most satisfied citizens in the world. The city sits on the Danish island of Sealand, on the cusp of the Baltic Sea.

Copenhagen is sprinkled in stardust – Hans Christian Andersen,  the master of fairytales: The Princess And The Pea, The Ugly Duckling and The Emperor’s New Clothes who loved it so much. Copenhagen’s main attraction is The Little Mermaid.  In 1909 Carl Jacobsen, founder of Carlsberg Breweries, attended Royal Theatre to see The Little Mermaid. Moved by the performance, he commissioned Edvard Eriksen to create a statue of the mermaid – The Little Mermaid was presented at Langelinie waterfront in 1913.

 

 

 

 

Nyhavn meaning New Haven, was originally a busy commercial port where ships from all over the world dock. It’s the picture postcard of Copenhagen with long-standing colourful houses and lively restaurants stacked together in front of canal pathways.

Palaces and castles: Christiansborg/Slotsholmen is an artificial island and the site of the first fortification. It’s home to Christiansborg, the Danish Parliament building built using neo-baroque architecture. Denmark’s monarch, King Christian IV, had Rosenborg Castle built as a summer home closer to Copenhagen for the royals in the early 1600s. Amalienborg Palace is the winter home of the Danish royal family.  The roundtower features amazing 360 degree views of Copenhagen, including the Malmö bridge connecting Denmark with Sweden.

Christianshavn is Copenhagen’s enchanting canal quarter on the eastern side of Copenhagen. It was established as a commercial centre and also a military buffer for the expanding city. It’s a copy of Amsterdam famous as home of the ‘free state’ of Christiania.

Tivoli Gardens is an enchanted world of beautiful tree-lined pathways, theatres, open air stages, restaurants, café, monstrous rides and children’s rides. The gardens display a wealth of flowers and at night thousands of lights sparkle from the trees.

There’s a vibrant coffee culture throughout to ensure caffeine levels never falter with bread and pastry being a top accompaniment. Lagkagehuset, the best bakery in Copenhagen is famous for serving one of the most popular types of Danish pastry: snegl, spiral cake packed full of cinnamon and butter topped with icing sugar.  It’s not the easiest place to find food for vegetarians but there was an plethora of falafel places and sandwich shops. Sourdough Pizza was a must-try at Mother in the meat-packing area.

 

 

 

 

All in all a great city to see and walk around, not sure I’d go back but was amazing but the clean cut design of the buildings and home-ware goods. I came back with several Bodum style accessories for my kitchen from Strøget, the longest shopping strip at 3.2 km in Europe.

Malmö in a day

As we were already in Copenhagen, we thought it be a pity not to make a day trip to Malmö, the third largest city in Sweden. This was also in part to appease my obsession with the various Scandi crime dramas that are the rage on TV with the latest “The Bridge” being based on this infamous bridge in Europe linking Denmark and Sweden. The train takes 35 minutes across one of the longest bridges in Europe. Malmö is a small town and you can walk around leisurely in a couple of hours taking in the main sights:

Stortorget, Malmo’s oldest square, with the city hall to the left is 2 minutes from the Central Station. As you walk across the square, the street on the right will lead you to Lilla Torg, an animated little square full of typical Swedish restaurants, cafes and shops and where the locals and tourists gather. Several interesting buildings are around the square, including Hedmanska Gården – an enclosed courtyard where the oldest half-timbered house dates from the 16th century. The Design Museum was housed here however closed on Monday so we were unable to venture in.  The street from the main square to the left leads to Sodergatan, which is the gateway to the principal pedestrian shopping area of the city.

Afterwards we headed towards Slottsträdgården, or “The Castle Garden” which features many small walking paths, canals, a windmill and a café. In the middle sits a castle in question: “Malmöhus” a fortress dates from the 1400s, which is a museum in which visitors can see dungeons, cannon towers and a large aquarium.

Malmö’s Western Harbour has become an exclusive neighbourhood, with high class restaurants and expensive apartments. This is the location of Sweden’s tallest building, “Turning Torso”, made up of nine cubes with a 90-degree twist from the base to the top.

You can also experience a healthy and relaxing experience by visiting Ribersborgs Kallbadhus, one of the oldest established bathhouses in Malmö where you can brave a bath in the sea and use the Swedish sauna. It was far too cold for this!

Fika is a social ritual in Sweden, and is similar to our version of afternoon tea where you take a break and enjoy a snack and a coffee. Our fika was in Hollandia, a classic café and patisserie with elegant salon-style ambience and great pastries.

What is great about Malmö is that the main places of interest are all not too far from the central station so a day’s visit will give you ample time for a leisurely stroll of the city.

Romantic Italian for two at The Alpine

Surprise number: infinity (there were so many!) was a romantic dinner at The Alpine. The Alpine is a posh romantic Italian in Bushey, Hertfordshire. It’s a family owned restaurant that serves home-made Italian cuisine and has been there for many years (1969 to be exact!).

The restaurant is set over two floors in a neo-Tudor building that dates back to the 19th century. The restaurant is filled with original artwork and the smell of Italy. I can’t wait for that holiday in June! There’s a different menu every month incorporating fresh produce (peas and asparagus is the vegetable of this monthy!)

On our table was:

  • Galette di cipolle bianche con formaggio di capra: A red onion and goats cheese feuilliette with caponata, pesto, pine nuts & rocket
  • Gnocchi al pomodoro e melenzane: Homemade gnocchi with a sauce of tomato & basil
  • Arrosto di maiale con verdure: Roast pork with apple puree, Rostii potato, braised red cabbage, baby carrots & confit button onion
  • Of course the wine: Chiaretto bardolino Rose

A really lovely and home restaurant that uses simple ingredients, modern techniques to result in good old Italian style – just how mama in the Dolmio adverts cooks! Perfect for a celebration.

Wir fahren nach Berlin, Berlin!

I remember this time last year – hubbie had just got a new job and had a few days off in between so we booked a very last minute break to Berlin. This is the second time I went and loved it – the first time was during my year abroad in Regensburg and we did a group uni trip.

First time around it was really cold with snow everywhere, this time it was boiling hot – perfect time to sit along the river having Radler, Weissen or Apfelschorle! We landed early  in the morning and got told the hotel we had booked: The Mandala Hotel – and unfortunately our room had been double booked. Guests from the night before had extend their stay and they then didn’t seem to care about new guests – the hotel tried to get us to stay in their apartment hotel at a much lower rate. Luckily hotels.com who we had booked through called alerting us of this issue and went out of their way to book us a room at the amazing Crowne Plaza. We got an even better deal here with inclusive brunch and a late check-out!

Sights: Now on to Berlin itself, well as it was so hot we took a hop on hop off bus to see the main sights including: Reichstag, Brandenburg Tor, Gendarmenmarkt, the Holocaust Memorial, Potsdamer Platz, Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall. The one mile long wall is a fascinating, symbolic example of what once split the city into East and West, and today is covered in colourful – and meaningful – art with over 100 paintings (many of which are covered in graffiti), including Dimitrji Vrubel’s picture of Brezhnev and Honecker kissing and the colourful, abstract heads by Theirry Noir. This is a must see for all visitors, not just those interested in art.

Beach  bars: Berlin has jumped on board the urban beach bandwagon with gusto with the original Strandbar Mitte in Monbijou Park, Hackischer Markt, or the Bundespressestrand facing the Reichstag in Mitte, which has palm trees, deckchairs, two pools and cold beers on its 100 tons of Baltic sand. Summerworld at Potsdamer Platz has hip music, cocktails and live music from 7-10 pm. In the arty Prenzlauer Berg district, there’s a city beach at Platze-Beachgelande with bars and beach volleyball during the summer. This is an area where there are loads of cool bars. Oh and if it’s a warm day a must-do is the swimming pool built in a river.

Bier time: We spent our evenings on Marlene Dietrich Platz off Potsdamer Platz as our hotel was there and there were some nice bars to chill at watching the sun go down. We also went to a few bars by Hackischer Markt and along the river opposite Berliner Dom. Watching the river over beer and iced tea was very relaxing!  Make sure you have a radler or alster – beer with either fanta or lemonade at one of the Bier Hause.

Food wise: we ate at good old Vapianos, found an interesting Thai/Indian place called Amrit on Oranienburger Strasse (lots of restaurants here) and falafel from the kebab places on every street plus the token Wurst!

A lovely city with so much history – one of my fave cities to see!