As Bloody Mary-worthy mornings come, it is a task to power through one feeling anything more than…awake. Let alone glamorous.
Thank Strand Gods for Eneko.
One Aldwych’s subterranean dining quarters not only swallows you into a luxurious underbelly but offers the best Bloody Mary – a “Golden” version that swaps the basic ingredients for spiced vodka, golden tomato juice & celery foam – in London.
That and a brunch to write home about.
Settling into one of their open-air booths, my dining companion instinctively raised her phone to share the room’s lush aesthetic with Instagram.
You can only imagine the digital exploitation of the food itself. Acclaimed chef Eneko Atxa (whose three-Michelin Azurmendi restaurant is #16 in the World’s Top 50 Restaurants) pulls off brunch like very few can; Traditional Talo (with heritage tomatoes & fresh herbs), duck breast (with green Gernika peppers & super-thin fries), Txuleta (prime rib with a spring onion salad), et al.
From start to Cava-clinking (brunch includes a complimentary glass of Mas Macia Cava brut per person) finish, the Basque benefaction tickled every tastebud tenable.
There is little I love more than a staycation and – as a woman who takes very little time for herself – I have felt more than a little overdue one from the second the clock struck 2017.
When an event celebrating International Women’s Day presented an opportunity to stay in a Grade II listed building I have walked past for over ten years, I knew I had to spend a night in its modern interior transformation – Dorsett Shepherds Bush.
(Trigger warning: a super chic hotel lies within.)
To celebrate the launch of Nespresso’s new Creatista machine, the good-as-it-gets coffee brand invited fans old and new to the Creatista Studio – a pop-up café that expertly combined Instagramable interiors with unparalleled caffeine hits – and I was one of a lucky few to visit during its two week run in London and Leeds.
With latte artists and pro baristas on hand to answer my every question regarding the machine and general coffee-making, I genuinely left the Studio feeling closer to my barista dreams than ever before.
Truthfully, the Creatista is so savvy and intuitive that is essentially acts as an in-home barista.
I know this because I have since been spending most of my spare time loving on one of my very own.
With a few button clicks, the machine’s prodigious digital display turns Nespresso pod into café-style coffee – fully automatic steam wand and all. The customisable settings even offer you the choice to blend textured milk into Pinterest-worthy latte art (Not that that happens overnight; Nespresso didn’t perfect coffee in a day and my personally perfect milk pour is following very slow suit.)
Nonetheless, I get to spend every day with a glossy machine that heats up in 10 seconds and makes better flat whites than any of the overpriced cafes around me. It can’t be beat.
As you may remember from staycations past, Victoria is one of my favourite (and most convenient) places to “holiday” As a foodie, a saunter in SW1 provides much more than theatres and access to what feels like every train and bus in London.
It is a mecca for culinary exploration and, currently, home to the best brunch in London: Saturday’s bottomless brunch at Aster.
I have had my fair share of bottomless brunches in my day (some more recent than others) and Aster’s version takes the Almond, Runeberg, blood orange, and lemon meringue cake.
From 12-4pm, the brand new glass-walled restaurant/cafe/deli/bar invites guests to luxuriate over two (£21) or three (£26) perfectly crafted courses, listen to live music, and drain them of bottomless bubbles (£15 extra).
And that we did.
Over three hours, Kate Threlfall and her string quartet crooned sweet, jazzy nothings to us while we indulged in “Eggs Victoria” (lobster, seeded rye & truffle hollandaise), a flat iron steak (with café de paris butter & remoulade, wild reindeer sausages (with caramelised onions & lingonberries), a chocolate tart, and the aforementioned almond cake.
For a newborn (the restaurant opened January 2017), Aster’s brunch implies a very successful future.
You’re a bit lost as to where to eat in Copenhagen, right? No worries, babe. I was, too. In a city famed almost entirely on food, the “best” food can prove harder to find than the money to visit it in the first place.
I mean, sure, mainstays like Noma (renowned as one of the entire world’s best restaurants) present the,selves as obvious options but many of the city’s culinary diamonds can only truly be found in the rough.
The rough I’ve rustled my way through, below…