Posted on May 23, 2013
We went back for the full experience at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal (click here for our first encounter) and we once again left in a very satisfied, almost hallucinogenic food dream. The menu at this fine restaurant is filled with dishes inspired by British history and feature interesting ingredients such as frogs’ legs (Jinn had these!) veal sweetbreads (hmm…), and who can resist lardo? Sounds so healthy…
Highlights of the night? My roast marrowbone (above) with snails and the nitro ice cream, where your waitperson adds liquid nitrogen to a delicious concoction of custard and vanilla bean to create your dessert right in front of you! I chose the apple pop rocks and dehydrated strawberry as my toppings. The crackle-in-your-mouth sensation of the pop rocks brought back some fond childhood memories!
For a meal that isn’t quite as crazily priced as The Fat Duck but still brings you the dishes that foodmeister Blumenthal is so renowned for, this is the place to go! Friendly and attentive waitstaff, and an atmosphere that remains upmarket yet refreshingly relaxed (not like those places where you daren’t laugh too loud and you can practically hear yourself chew!) add to the overall marvellous experience(s) we had here at Dinner.
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal / Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London / Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner
Posted on May 22, 2013
So whilst Jinn was diligently waiting in a very very long line on a very very cold Saturday morning in London to buy some much coveted limited edition vinyls on Record Store Day, I went for a wee wander around Soho! And I was well rewarded by the discovery of the Hummingbird Bakery. It took all I had not to cry, “I’ll have one of everything!”. Seriously, choosing a cupcake was like choosing a favourite child! Finally, one cupcake stood out from all the rest – it turned out to be their available-Saturdays-only Eton Mess cupcake, and it was gooooood. Fluffy light vanilla sponge injected with fresh cream and strawberries, then topped with an Italian meringue icing, crispy regular meringue bits, then more cream and fruit! What a blissful little mouthful that was…
This bakery actually does an insanely good recipe book. I only dare use this book and the Primrose Bakery cupcake compendium as their recipes are mouthwateringly well presented, as well as pretty foolproof, as I am in no way a particularly adventurous baker. None of this “a little bit of this and a little bit of that”, I’d end up with a bunch of chocolate rocks if I tried that!
To well and truly satisfy that sweet tooth of yours, pay a visit to one of their stores! Check out their website here for locations.
Posted on May 17, 2013
I’d been researching the whereabouts of good flea markets in London and the name “Borough Market” kept popping up here and there as a really popular place to go, but I kept dismissing it as it was a food market rather than a place to rummage for antique gems or vintage duds, which is what I was originally after. After our visit to The Shard we were making our way back to the tube station, down a little lane being buffeted by the bitingly cold wind, when I saw a sign for the Borough Market! (Haaaallelujah!) It’s essentially almost right at the base of the monumental building, and was just what we were after since we were both starving and it had turned out to be a bit of a grey, miserable day. And what better to pick up your spirits than a piping hot brownie fresh from the oven?
The down side to this place? No matter how hungry you are, you will not be able to try every single delicious morsel there is in this market! There are places selling burgers, traditional Cornish pasties, amazing cakes and pastries, cheeses and sausages made and brought fresh from local farms, and also a healthy helping of stalls piled high with delicacies from other lands, such as Turkish delight, kibeh (they were the best), and baklava. Meandering through the aisles of fresh fruit and vegetables was also fascinating. Strangely shaped tomatoes, a thousand different varieties of mushrooms, and just the sheer vibrant freshness of all this produce made me wish I could live here just so I could cook with such amazing ingredients – and of course taste them!
We spent a good two hours here at least, gorging ourselves on the sights and the food. Recommendations? The hot brownies, millefeuille and raspberry tart (pretty much everything) from the bakery that presents itself as soon as you walk through the market’s main entrance off Borough High St (Comptoir Gourmand), the lamb kibeh from the Lebanese stall (we had one, then went back for four), and the chorizo stall. And of course, a cup of mulled wine to wash it all down and warm your chilly bones. The Borough Market is not to be missed!
Check out their website and how to get there here.
Posted on May 15, 2013
Just shortly before going on holiday, we watched a Doctor Who episode that featured this glass-clad skyscraper as the headquarters for an alien organisation that was trapping people in its WiFi and converting them into energy (make sense?). It was quite an exciting episode and I can’t quite seem to translate that into plain words, but that might have something to do with the pyrotechnics and motorcycle ride straight up the side of the Shard that made it more thrilling.
I was half expecting to see Matt Smith aka the Doctor during our visit to this glistening modern day pyramid. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, but we still had a great view over the centre of London city – we were so high up that even large structures such as the Tower Bridge were dwarfed! See if you can spot some landmarks in our photos below! Also, I’m not quite sure what possessed me, perhaps I was having such a good time or it’s quite possible that the cold had cut off all circulation to my brain and I’d become delirious – but I decided that it was perfectly appropriate to have a little dance around the viewing platform. The incriminating evidence is below!
Posted on May 13, 2013
This red dress is one of my favourites. Gorgeous colour, great shape and fabric, and a skirt that falls just so. So why does it often hang neglected and overlooked in my closet? Well, this dress has “history”. I bought it last year for one express purpose – for an exam. And not just any old exam. For the single most scariest exam I’ve ever done in my whole entire life. No joke. Just thinking about the whole process leading up to it and the day itself is giving me the heebie jeebies. Thank God I passed, but even so the entire experience was so traumatic that my hand would try not to linger over its hanger whenever I came across it in my wardrobe, and I’d always find an excuse to wear something else.
Well, it’s been eight months since that-day-which-shall-no-longer-be-mentioned and I decided that it was time that the curse be lifted. And once I slipped this dress back on, I realised what a fool I’d been to let it languish behind lesser dresses. It’s effortlessly elegant, can be dressed up or down, and is so so soooo comfortable.
On another note, this was one of the few days during our holiday that I could venture safely out without a heavy coat in tow. We’d just eaten at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal (for free!) and just hopped across the street into Hyde Park to enjoy the snippet of sunshine and admire the daffodils and giNORmous white swans. They’re twice the size of our black swans! The sunshine, the greenery and the sugar high we were still on made for a lovely, laughter-filled afternoon (probably more like giggles and snorts) and off we trotted on our merry way.
Posted on May 10, 2013
Our highly anticipated visit to Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in Knightsbridge, London, was not quite the experience we expected! We were excitedly catching the tube towards the restaurant when it was announced over the loudspeaker that we could not alight at Knightsbridge due to an unexpected power outage. We turned to each other, aghast that we might be terribly late for our lunch booking and be turned away, left with stomachs that had not yet been united with the much-anticipated much-lauded meat fruit, for which Heston is so famous for.
We were not yet completely defeated so we decided we would get off the train at Hyde Park then hotfoot it to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel (where the restaurant is located) and try not to look too dishevelled when we got to the five-star venue. The train doors opened and off we sped, like we’d just heard the starting gun of some Olympic race (more like heard the sound of my meat fruit and nitro ice cream singing our names) and arrived at the restaurant, of course looking like I’d just stepped out of a very expensive car after some last minute smoothing down of stray strands of hair. I tried my best to channel a “healthy cherubic glow” rather than a “just ran a mile odour”.
A bevy of very polite, very proper staff greeted us at the doorway and informed us very apologetically that the whole of Knightsbridge (which included the restaurant, Harrods, and Harvey Nichols) were completely without electricity, but we were more than welcome to come in for a drink. As we were seated, the slow feeling of realisation then devastation was creeping over me – don’t tell me I’ve travelled all this way by plane, then tube, then fast trot in high heel boots (a tad ouchie) to go home without my MEAT FRUIT! (Obsessed? Me? Noooo…) I was about to lose my mind and tear the beautifully typeset menu into a million pieces when the maitre d’ appeared at the side of our table and once again apologised over and over, tried (quite successfully) to cheer us up and gain our trust by noting that we were all fellow Aussies (he was from Canberra), and revealed to us that although the kitchen could not cook anything today a selection of cold starters and desserts were going to be served…and that everything was ON THE HOUSE. Everything. How about my meat fruit? I piped up. That can be arranged, he says. (Inner Hulk, be still.)
What was to follow was just pure decadence, we ended up being served three starters and four desserts. The meat fruit certainly lived up to my expectations. It arrived, this gorgeous and perfectly formed mandarin perched on its wooden board that revealed a silken, creamily smooth foie gras centre when cut. The combination of the citrus-flavoured jelly that constituted the “skin” of the mandarin with the buttery foie gras heart was just perfect. We then chose to have the charmingly named Taffety Tart and Bohemian Cake, both headily sweet concoctions that left us in a happy stupor, only then to be plied with two more bonus desserts, the winner of which was most definitely the Tipsy Cake. This was brought to our table in a flourish and proud announcement that a sole working oven had been discovered within the hotel and they had managed to prepare a few Tipsy Cakes, one of which was being bestowed upon us. I was really disappointed to be so full by this point because I only managed to eat a tiny portion of the devilishly divine brioche steeped in a delicious sauce infused with brandy and vanilla, accompanied by a perfectly roasted portion of pineapple. Superb indeed. I was either going to ascend into gustatory heaven or fall into a highly contented sugar coma.
Near devastation was replaced by a feeling that Jinn and I call a “food dream” where the food you just consumed fills you with a heady feeling of delight, memories of how the delicious dishes looked and tasted float around your head, and things that are a little bit funny cause you to laugh for a little bit too long.
They eventually ran out of food to appease us with but we really couldn’t have eaten a single bite more. It was a very strange sensation leaving the place without paying the bill, it felt almost a bit criminal if not for the perpetually-lovely staff smiling at us and wishing us “Good day”! Well, let’s just say, this was not your average free lunch. And, not to worry, hungry to see what the full Heston experience had to offer we were back just a few little days later…
Posted on May 8, 2013
Barely had I recovered from the fun whirlwind of cake and conversations that was my birthday party, then we were packing our bags (in a very frantic manner) and flying off to London for the first leg our holiday. It was the perfect way to celebrate entering a “new age of maturity” (haw haw haw, I just lol-led at that, meh!) and also to attend a very good friend’s wedding in France! Double yay!
Jinn booked us in (as a surprise!) to stay at the gorgeous Langham Hotel, which is just around the corner from the string of shops along Oxford St. Great views over London, fluffy feather pillows, and countless shops just a wee hop-step-jump away – ooh yeah!
Posted on April 23, 2013
As you can see we’ve been tearing around London like lunatics trying to soak in all the sights and eat as many pastries as possible, all whilst resisting the urge to curl up into a small but very warm ball, especially when some nights have been just one little degree Celsius! And remember I’ve been basking (sweating) in 35 degree Broome weather up til now! Jinn organised a sneaky birthday surprise for me and reserved us a room at the luxurious Langham Hotel which was just beautiful and also dangerously close to all the shopping on Oxford St. He knows me too well…
There will be many many more posts to come, I promise. But whilst there are that many things to see and numerous cupcakes to eat plus a wedding in France this Saturday (eek! So soon!), I’m afraid the posts will be a little sporadic. That, and I may possibly lose a finger or two if it gets any colder!
Ciao for now 🙂
1, 2, 3. Being spoilt by Jinn at The Langham.
4. Watching Matilda at Covent Garden.
5. At The Victoria & Albert Museum for the David Bowie exhibition – it was phenomenal.
6, 7. Paying Heston a visit…Meat fruit!
8. Strolling through Hyde Park (and attempting to burn off that meat fruit :P)
9, 10. View of the Shard and from the Shard.
11, 12, 13, 14. The Borough food markets which we just happened to stumble across near the base of the Shard.
15, 16, 17, 18. Being a bit touristy.
19. Lichtenstein at Tate Modern.
20. What I did whilst Jinn waited in line at Record Store Day. Ate (and delivered) cupcakes!
21, 22, 23. More wandering.
24. Reliving our past with a quick zip through Edinburgh. (We were last here seven years ago for a month as medical students!)