lanzarote day two 3
There are work trips and there are werk trips. The following three day adventure in Lanzarote with Thomas Cook Airlines – a blogger trip alongside a pack of fellow talented digital types – proved to be the latter in no time at all.

Within three days, strangers became friends, standing on top of an active volcano became a reality, and my misconceptions of Lanzarote (as a ‘party destination’) became a distant thought.

But you’ll have to keep reading to find out why…

A photo posted by Lela London (@lelalondon) on

lanzarote day one 3-1

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light and free
I’ve had a bit of a fitness epiphany.

After rediscovering my love for yoga in Puerto Vallarta, I returning to London with a real ‘do or die’ muscular yearning that resulted in me spending the last month sweating myself silly at Fierce Grace.

The “FG” brand has a well-deserved reputation for itself as the home of London’s sassiest hot yoga studios. From my very first session, I felt an equal, endorphin-heavy rush of self-importance and selflessness. Fierce Grace is not a ‘get fit’ programme. It’s a ‘get fierce’ programme. Every session leaves you stronger, more flexible, and – perhaps most importantly – more self-aware with a variety of classes lasting between 50 and 90 minutes (The Deep Core, 75 minutes of floor-based alignment and body-opening, takes my personal cake) for all skill levels: beginners to seasoned yogis.

It all came to a significant realisation when I was invited to celebrate the launch of Danone’s new Light & Free range last week. Though I was excited to try the brand’s new 0% added sugar and 0% fat Greek-style yogurts, spending a morning rebounding and trampolining had me feeling entirely fierce – even surrounded by beautiful fitness models and HD camera lenses.

My whole approach to my body has changed. Rather than being fitness-crazed and comparison-friendly, I found myself fueling up on high-protein, low-calorie Light & Free’s and rebound myself into a sweat with complete confidence, lightness, and – dare I say it – freedom.

That is an epiphany worth having.

light and free
light and free

hadskis belfast
As my previous travel blog on Belfast would suggest, Hadskis is a definitive diamond in the rough.

Though the restaurant is hidden between Hill Street & Donegall Street (in fairy light-covered Commercial Court) and only a few years old, Hadskis has developed something of an unblemished reputation. If I had time for one fine dining experience during my time in Northern Ireland, this was destined to be it.

As the space is modest and uncramped, reservations are recommended; we only managed to book in for a 9pm slot but were thrilled to receive impeccable service from the get-go. Service typical of waiters and chefs that haven’t already been on their feet for hours.

This isn’t, however, a love letter to the service alone: the food is locally-sourced and Michelin quality.

We started with perfectly cooked N’duja-dusted Kilkeel scallops on a bed of cannellini beans and a small serving of jerusalem artichoke risotto with crispy garlic & creme fraiche (also available as a main).

You know that feeling you get when you kiss someone for the first time and you find yourself unexpectedly euphoric? That is the Hadskis feeling.

Continuing their courtship, we moved on to a “Hannan’s Spiced Meatballs” (with orecchiette, harissa & oarmesan – a small serving, per our filling starters’ dictation) and Chicken Cotoletta with grilled gem, topped with Cafe de Paris Butter.

I could pretend the truffle chips with parmesan and honey-roasted root vegetables simply came with the dishes, but no. We ordered those. And they were worth every extra undone button.

By this point we had hit the finish line and decided to run back a proverbial mile to explore the culinary talents of the sweets section. A meringue-scattered Bannoffee Mess for the gentleman and a Creme Brulee-inspired cocktail for myself.

A benefical illustration of gluttony and perfection, indeed.

hadskis belfast
hadskis belfast
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cafe rouge
The last time I visited a Cafe Rouge I was rather hungover. Two of my very wonderful amigos had tied the knot the night before and decided it would be the best place to invite the wedding party to refuel post-open bar.

I remember a lot of carbs and little more.

When people started buzzing about the new menu at Cafe Rouge I was intrigued, so made a significantly more sober effort to put it through its paces at their flagship restaurant outside St Paul’s Cathedral.

Get a table by the window if you can. The view is spectacular.

Underneath the chain bistro’s hand-foiled ceilings, The Boy and I put our critic faces on and nibbled some moreish saucisson bon-bins (Roquefort-threaded pork charcuterie balls) before ordering up a storm.

To start, he opted for the classic Crevettes (king prawns in garlic & smoked chilli butter with a sliced baguette) while I went for the twice-baked Brie soufflé – a lighter yet undeniably delicous option served with a watercress, apple and chive salad.

This was in preparation for a less-than-light main course. Don’t worry, I haven’t changed.

Having put a lot of effort into their steaks for their updated menu (all of which are premium grass and grain-fed British Charolais), I couldn’t pass up a 7oz fillet and frites. I ordered mine medium-rare with two sauces (Bèarnaise and a specialty snails & garlic butter) and had to stop myself from licking the plate clean.

With perfectly cream-crunchy dauphinoise potatoes, spinach and a tomato & red onion salad between us, The Boy decided to treat himself to a childhood favourite – Boeuf Bourguignon – slow-cooked in red wine, smoked bacon and mushrooms with green beans and carrots on the side.

As we are both dedicated fans of Argentinian Malbec, we decided to trial a bottle of Pays d’Oc from the wine’s home in the Languedoc region (South-West France) and found it to be a surprisingly silky, full-bodied and plum-heavy alternative.

Powering on, we ordered a fondant aux chocolats (a tad dissapointing, as the overcooked centre had no melt) and frozen salted caramel cream parfait with malted pecan crumb and fresh raspberries (as good as it sounds).

Bar the small dessert faux pas, it was a truly commendable French cuisine craving-beater.

red wine pour gif
cafe rouge
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min jiang london 1
In celebration of last month’s National Tea Day, I set off on my first visit to a restaurant that has been on my Asian-obsessed hitlist for quite some time. Situated at the top of the Royal Garden Hotel, Min Jiang is a stylish space renowned for haute Chinese dishes as breathtaking as its birds-eye view of Kensington Palace.

To put Min Jiang to the test, our discerning table set off on a food and tea pairing of belt-breaking proportions.

Kicking things off with an Ooling Tea-Tail (Havana Club 7 Year Old Rum, Malibu & Spring King Oolong Tea with a slice of orange – the cocktail of my rum-loving British dreams), we quickly segued into a small steamed dim sum platter paired with Dragon Well Lung Ching Organic.

Slightly underwhelmed by the dim sum (I am a prudent judge of all things dim sum), I was very pleased to find the next dish – their ‘legendary’ wood-fired Beijing duck – the best I have had of its kind. As our paired cup of Formoda Oolong was poured, we were bestowed with a number of their most popular dishes (pan-fried Dover Sole fillets in XO sauce, diced rib-eye of beef with black pepper sauce
& seasonal vegetables stir-fried with oyster sauce) before wrapping our shareable savouries up with leftover duck-dusted fried noodles and a cup of Yunnan imperial FOP.

Weighed down with the most caffeinated bellies of Chinese food you could imagine, our bravest table companions picked at a beautiful seasonal fruit platter while the rest of us settled in with a farewell cupful of China Lychee Lizi Hongcha.

A meal at Min Jiang may not come cheap, but with unbeatable views, intimate luxury, and a perfect Beijing duck on the cards, it comes at great value.

min jiang london 2-1
min jiang london 2
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