In Review: Busaba Eathai Shoreditch, London

busaba eathai
Since coming back from Thailand, I feel like I have lost my left arm. Or left stomach. Or my right stomach.

No food cuts it like Thai food. Thankfully, Busaba Eathai exists. And so does their new Kinnaree Bar.

Pushing through a painful two weeks since our last Thai meal, The Manfriend and I hightailed our empty stomachs to Busaba’s flagship restaurant in Shoreditch for an evening of spicy indulgence.

Sitting down at one of their traditionally communal tables, we ended up ordering so much food that the seats either side of us were sacrificed as plate space.

After taking a few sips of our respective martinis (mine – the Lychee and kaffir lime martini, jasmine and kaffir lime infused vodka with lychee and lemon – was a sour yet floral delight), our dishes arrive like a hurricane.

Forgoing solo dishes for a spread to share, we kicked things off with fish cakes (with cucumber and peanut relish) and chicken satay with peanut sauce before meandering over to the larger plates: Sen Chan Pad Thai (rice noodle, king prawn, peanut, egg, green mango, and crabmeat), chilli prawn fried rice ( with shiitake mushroom, lime, and pickled morning glory), and Songkhla red curry

The latter – a dish which I had never tried before – was actually the surprise highlight; an aromatic concoction of slow-cooked beef, cherry tomato, banana pepper, and a perfect blend of sweet/salty/sour. My ultimate recommendation.

We did go down the spicy rote – especially with the addition of my beloved som tam (green papaya salad with dried shrimp, peanut, cherry tomato, and lime) – but I am pleased to report a plethora of happy faces from the sea of ‘no spice!’ customers seated around us.

In Thailand, they wouldn’t be so lucky.

Amazingly, we managed to eat ourselves silly and drink ourselves to almost believe we could clear our plates for less than £100, all in. It may not match up to home country pricing, but Busaba is the cheapest, freshest, and tastiest feast you’re going to find West of Thailand.

busaba eathai
busaba eathai
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The SHOW Beauty SHOW Dry Salon Experience

show beauty show dry
Having made it all the way through breakfast with tresses unfit for the Chelsea set, we continued our Princess Day Off with a very necessary trip to SHOW Dry in Westbourne Grove.

The whole day was about unapologetic luxury. What says unapologetic luxury like a salon owned by Tamara Ecclestone?

Handed off to our individual stylists, we were taken downstairs to sink into their fully-fledged massage chairs while being shampooed, conditioned, and altogether coerced into an indulgent silence.

Once pulled out from said chairs, we were taken upstairs to choose our desired blow dries (for me, it’s always voluminous ‘Red Carpet’ curls), order a few nibbles, and flip through their iPadded collection of magazines.

Sipping my popcorn and green juice (a novelty duo that could never wear off) between the digital pages of Red, I was in heaven.

Of course, the hair played a big part. Looking like high-end fragrance bottles, the SHOW Beauty haircare products were presented to me – gilded in gold – and personalised for my hair type and style:
– To keep everything shiny, hydrated and healthy? The Pure Treatment Oil (as silky strong as they come),
– To create volume and bounce? The Divine Thickening Lotion (not only thickens, but it packed with proteins and antioxidants to plump and protect every strand),
– To act like heat styling never happened? The Sheer Thermal Protect (a specialised complex of hydrolysed wheat protein which is activated my heat and smells like a holiday).

Less than one hour later, we left with two brilliantly bouncy blow-dries. The proof is in the hair whip (as you can see, below).

show beauty show dry
show beauty show dry
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An interview with Bear Grylls: The Island, gender stereotypes, and his response to accusations of fakery

the island bear grylls
Last year, Bear Grylls rocked the nation’s TV sets by throwing thirteen men on a deserted island for a month as a survival experiment, in his words, testing “modern masculinity”.

For season two of The Island, he’s cranked it up a notch: fourteen men and fourteen women on two separate Pacific islands for six weeks in tropical storm season. No family, friends, shelter, heat, resources, crew (it is filmed by the contestants themselves), assistance, or food and water as we know it. Just each tribe of strangers and their best intentions to keep everyone alive.

When asked to interview the man behind the series (and preview what will definitely become the talking point of every household in the country; it was gripping), I couldn’t say no…

Going into the series – especially with women added to the mix – what did you expect would happen?
Bear Grylls: “I had various different theories beforehand about what was going to happen, but the truth is none of those were right.”

Did either sex fall into their stereotype?
Bear: “It was a bit gender stereotypical at the start – the men were like Rambo, desperate to get on there and flex some muscle. I feed them before I go and say, ‘Eat the crisps, eat the nuts, trust me you’re going to need them in the next hours,’ and they’re gorging. The women were going, ‘Oh, no, I might just have one’. I dropped them off and thought, ‘This is going to get messy’. There was lots of oohing and aahing.

What happened, though, was that by the time they realised the game of survival is hard and they had to get on with it, they were beaten up, dehydrated and starving. I look at this experience they went through and I think in many ways the women had a tougher time. But they proved themselves by the end. Those that remained – and they weren’t all there – earned that respect the hard way through endeavour, sweat, courage, graft, community, kindness, humility… All of these things that we think, ‘Does that matter in survival?’ And the answer is, ‘Yes’. They showed it in spades.”

And the men?
Bear: “The men had to tone it down and realise that ego doesn’t help.”

Does that mean a mixed sex island might happen in the future?
Bear: “I think that would be a season eight discussion. We’ve got a lot to explore before we get to that.”

Do you think the public might interpret the show as ‘men versus women’ – which gender beats the other?
Bear: “Survival…it’s not about gender; it’s about attitude. Some people crumble when the pressure goes on, when it’s been raining for four days: you’re tired, beat up, missing home. Some people get a glint in their eye. The hardship brings something primal out in them. You can’t call that. That’s not about being a man or a woman. That’s always inspiring.”

Do you feel like the two-day training the Islanders receive might be insufficient to tackle the breadth of challenges ahead?
Bear: “You could totally argue that. It is absolutely bare bones minimum. It’s enough to teach them how not to hack their fingers off. We don’t want to give people all of the knowledge. Then it becomes a survival programme and it’s not. It’s about what happens to humanity if everything’s stripped of you. We do purposely keep the training minimal. We want it to be experiential. You learn by mistakes. One of the key principles in survival is failure; you have got to fail. I said this to the guys in their training – get out there and fail. Don’t be scared of it. Don’t be scared of looking silly. Just keep trying. Then for me it’s interesting, then it’s an experiment, rather than show me some bush craft.”

At least everyone made it back alive?
Bear: “Just.”

Is it hard to sit on your hands while you watch the contestants struggle?
Bear: “I get nervous on this show because normally – if it’s Running Wild or Mission Survive – I have some control, I’m guiding. The difficult thing for me is watching. I’ve got 28 people who are total rookies. I’ve given them two days training, they’re dehydrated and beaten up and tired. You know what we’re all like when we’re tired; we make mistakes. And they’re waving machetes around. They’re exploring, climbing, wrestling snakes and crocs and stuff is going to happen.”

Did ‘stuff’ happen?
Bear: “Stuff did happen and there were a few occasions where we had to get the medical team involved. On the whole it was remarkable what they achieved with so little injury.”

So, what about the accusations of fakery? On both islands you’ve ensured there is a secure water source and enough animals to eat. Is that still survival?
Bear: “I have a duty of care. I can’t drop people on an island where there’s no water source and there’s no rain and expect them to survive. You’ve got to provide some sort of sustenance. We sort of build the ultimate island. So yes, there’s water, there’s food, but they’ve got to have the strength, the determination, the resourcefulness, hiking however many hours to hunt and find this water every day. It was hell on earth.”

The second series of The Island With Bear Grylls starts on Channel 4 and Channel 4 HD at 9pm on April 8 and 9 with two episodes per week; one following the men, one following the women.

In Review: L’eto Caffe, London

leto review
L’eto has become one of my favourite meeting spots in London. Thanks to their super fresh food and easy-access locations, the ‘Caffe’ ends up on my calendar at least once a week.

When I saw they had launched a new health-conscious breakfast menu, I was shocked to realise I had yet to visit their Brompton Road location (as opposed to their King’s Road and Belgravia caffes).

That’s as good an excuse for brunch as this woman needs…

Having a bit of a ‘Princess Day off’ (if you haven’t done one yet this year, call HR immediately), my lady love Jen and I took a leisurely walk from South Kensington and poured ourselves into the gorgeous caffe on a quiet Monday morning.

With an endless menu of healthy indulgences to order, we kicked things off with a green tea smoothie and trio of juice shooters; 1) carrot and blood orange, 2) green apple, kiwi, and kale, and 3) beetroot and red grape.

Naturally, we then ordered the naughtiest of the healthy options. For me, ricotta hotcakes, banana, and honeycomb butter. For she, blueberry pancakes with fresh berries and vanilla cream. To share, a freshly sliced avocado.

Sipping and chomping and singing along with their infectiously nostalgic background music, we had an absolute ball. Forcing our little breakfast feast to last as long as possible, we ordered a mosaic-foamed latte and heart-topped flat white as a morningcap.

The Princess Day had to roll on (but don’t worry, L’eto, I’ll roll on back…)

leto review
leto review
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An Afternoon at Ascot with Appletiser

ascot
That’s a lot of A’s, eh?

Last weekend, I was invited as a guest of Ascot and their official drink sponsor, Appletiser, to experience a day at the royally-beloved racecourse. Having never experienced horse racing before, I brought one of my favourite ladies along and packed our pockets full of cheap bets.

Before the races, we kicked things off with a taste-pairing and mocktail-making masterclass alongside the lovely Kathrine Larsen (UK sommelier of the year).

After an abundance of chocolate, cheese, and Appletiser-soaked mojitos, we made our way to the brand’s private box to win some money, lose some money, and get altogether a bit too excited about the races below.

All in all, a splendid day at the races.

ascot
ascot
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