rossopomodoro london 1
Sunshine is to London what I am to sitting still.

Even rarer? Having my camera in tow on a sun-soaked day where my schedule allows me to sit still for once.

With Rossopomodoro right around the corner as the stars aligned, a spontaneous lunch feast seemed too timely to pass up.

I had never been to any of the Italian chain’s British outposts, but my discerning Turin-raised confidante had sung their praises enough to promise much more than wannabe pizzas.

Clinking a duo of Aperol Spritz-filled glasses over menus far larger than expected, we settled on a selection of dishes to make up my perfect Italian meal. To start, my undying love (Burrata) served on a whole-wheat focaccia with sliced tomatoes & grilled vegetables alongside a selection of Napolitan street food; Calamari e Zucchine (fried calamari & fried courgettes zeppole with a lemon dressing) and Arancini (rice balls with tomato, mozzarella, beef, peas and basil).

I was impressed, to say the least. Making the choice for all their ingredients to come from Campania-based
producers may up the costs for them, but the consumer prices are as affordable as food of this quality gets.

As each restaurant’s expert Neapolitan pizzaiuoli prepare their dough daily (slow-matured to make the pizzas light, full of flavour and easy to digest), we couldn’t leave without trying one so paired a gargantuan salad with The “Massese” – plum tomato sauce, mozzarella, spicy spianata salami and basil atop the aforementioned dough.

For a woman that only learned to like pizza in the last few years, it is endorsement and a half to say I’m already looking forward to the next…

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dirty bones london
Get ready for a super sexy weekend feast, London friends; I am about to introduce you to the Queen of All-American brunches.

The weekend before returning to the US I had managed to whip myself into full-force stars and stripes mode, thus deciding the best way to cure Saturday’s hangover was to take my similarly fragile brunch date to Shoreditch for Dirty Bones‘ New York-style comfort food.

Dirty Bones – all heigh ceilings, casual elegance and cool kid vibes – is brunch goals epitomised. Starting with spiked iced coffees (triple espresso, Courvoisier VSOP cognac, Mozart Dry Chocolate spirit
& cream), we decided to split an order of Avocado “Shoreditch” Crumpets (toasted with umami butter, poached eggs, hollandaise, avocado & garlic guacamole, and Sriracha hot sauce) while we made the intensely difficult choices between brunch mains.

While my date opted for the short rib hash (14 hour slow-cooked pulled short rib finished with caramelised shallots, mustard seeds, potatoes & two sunny side-up eggs) I couldn’t refuse my pervasive Stateside fave: chicken & waffle.

As I no longer eat meat at home, I was hesitant to select chicken – in all its basic glory – as the heart of my meal out but could not have been more pleased with the waffle-topped result. Their free range chicken is 6 hour brined and 6 hour sous-vide cooked for extra tenderness and flavour. So much so I took a under-crust photo for proof, below, between maple syrup-dipped mouthgasms. (Not that our shared just-in-case crispy candied bacon was left behind…)

Stupidly, we planned to share Dirty Bones’ matcha custard french toast for dessert but were convinced otherwise by very full and happy bellies. Bookmarking the dis for my return trip, I settled for a dirty Chai (just the way it should be) while my companion swooned his way through a Butter Baby milkshake – creamy butterscotch, vanilla ice cream, milk, and a shot of Ketel One.

That’s what you call recovery food.

A post shared by Lela London (@lelalondon) on

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dirty bones london
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grey hair root smudge
For lack of a better explanation, my hair got roasted last year. Though I’m fortunate to be friends with some of the best hairdressers in the world, a root touch-up at an unfamiliar yet expensive hairdresser before my best friend’s wedding basically boiled my hairline to pieces.

It wasn’t the end of the world (TGF Elasticizer) but I certainly didn’t want to damage or bleach the broken hairs further so headed to Vinokurov Studio London for a little bit of tress taming.

Dmitry Vinokurov, you see, is one of the industry’s most creative talents (a renowned hair stylist, Wella trendsetter, multiple award winner, et al) and his his first UK salon – newly opened in Chelsea – boasts a team of care-focused stylists that have all been individually trained by him.

My favourite of which, Mauricio Dorneles, created the healthy root-smudged beauty on show, above.

The studio is luxe yet cosy and flooded with natural light, meaning you feel at home almost instantly. Over coffee, Mauricio and I discussed my woes (breakage), goals (keeping as much blonde as possible), and options before finally deciding to smudge my roots with nutritious semi-permanent colour (healing, rather than contributing to, the breakage) and toning the existing bleach to keep my locks as bright as possible.

As far as hair rehab is concerned, I could not have been more ecstatic with the results (seen above and below) so decided to return to Vinokurov a week later and kick breakage’s ass with a keratin treatment.

This, despite all Mauricio’s talents, I was a little dubious about. Keratin treatments are often PR-ed under miracle status; they promise smooth, sleek, shiny, “wash and go” hair of dreams and my natural hair (quasi-curly and erratic waves) has never been any of those things.

Two hours of treatment followed by 24 hours of unwashed “downtime” later, however, I’m sold. I was on planes for most of the time you’re supposed to keep your hair stick-straight and unwashed (this lets the keratin work its magic) and when I finally got to a shower, finally transported to Florida’s heavy humidity, my hair dried naturally like never before.

With the trade-offs for glossy keratin hair flicks amassing to 1) a trip to the hairdressers and 2) strict use of sulphate-free shampoo, I can’t believe I didn’t do it earlier.

Long live root smudges, keratiin, Mauricio Dorneles, and Vinokurov Studio London.

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vinokurov london
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cheese festival london 1
Attention fellow cheese lovers: Stratfords’s East Village is hosting a free Cheese and Wine Festival this weekend. Think samples, demonstrations, wines and cheese-spiration to the max.

The East Village Cheese and Wine Festival will not only play host to over 25 cheese-making/utilising stallholders but welcome wine expert Tim Atkin, chef Valentina Harris, chocolatier Paul Wayne Gregory, and Great British Bake Off contestant Tom Gilliford to host exclusive demos and tastings over the 1st and 2nd.

The former Athletes’ Village of the London 2012 Games could not have whipped up a better programme; cheese sculpting competitions, sparkling wine & cheese pairings, rarebit demonstrations, endless tastings, cheesy Churros Garcia, street food (from Arancini Brothers, Jacob’s Ladder & French Comte), a cheesy pop quiz, and more – all culminating in an exclusive three course “Cheese Feest: on Sunday at Tina We Salute You (a preview of which I was lucky to experience, as you can see here – don’t miss out)

Ahem, the diet starts Monday

cheese festival london
cheese festival london
cheese festival london rarebit

chi kitchen london
Once upon a time I went for a casual lunch at Chi Kitchen and had my Pan-Asian loving socks knocked off. For an unassuming corner inside Debenhams’ Oxford Street flagship, Chi Kitchen really exceeds expectations.

Rather than ‘Chi’ monikering Chinese, the Kitchen’s verbal antecedent represents Asia’s philosophical energy; the feel of their restaurant is as intentional as the menu. And it really shows. Chi boasts endless light, smiles, and a perfect assortment of well-presented Asian dishes curated by their Executive Chef, MasterChef 2014 winner Ping Coombes.

They’ve even got a champagne bar.

Forgoing midday bubbles for a sit-still culinary tour, we made our way through roasted Wagyu beef puffs (honey-glazed with sesame seeds), kimchi, unbelievably seasoned Sambal chilli prawns, tender Szechuan Sirloin beef, and two bowls of Laksa (essentially Peranakan ramen). The Tom Yum version of which – available with either chicken or prawns – was delicious but completely beasted by the Malaysian; Laksa’s traditional spicy broth with tofu, prawn, fish balls, boiled eggs and vermicelli noodles.

Each aspect of the meal was so impressive I refused to leave without trying dessert. Respectively, the chocolate sphere impressed everyone – even those on tables around us – as a decadent show of melting chocolate while the baked green tea alaska stole my heart. As flavourful, light desserts go, Ping’s creation is as good as it gets.

chi kitchen london
chi kitchen london
chocolate melt gif
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