As far as London’s prosecco postcodes are concerned, Hyde Park is at the top of chain. It would have been the last place I expected to find a beer afternoon tea.
Truth be told, the idea filled me with dread. Afternoon tea has always held a place in my heart as an opportunity to sip bubbles and feast on crustless finger sandwiches. An afternoon on beer, on the other hand, has always become a meal in itself. The combination hardly seemed a peanut butter and jelly kind of match
Nonetheless, I put faith in the inclinations of the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park and headed for some weekend indulgence in their Rosebery Lounge. Can an afternoon tea ever be had?
No. Not really. But it can be unexpectedly wonderful. As it was here.
The hotel restau’s new offering pairs unique beers from the UK, US and Belgium with their prestigious afternoon tea treats.
We’re talking sushi-style sandwiches (slow-roasted turkey with cranberries & sage butter, Cotswold egg & black truffle, confit tuna with sweet piquillo peppers, black olives & oregano, et al) with Thornbridge Chiron (a spicy and balanced Pale Ale with a deliciously juicy malt). We’re talking hand-made maple snow balls and Mandarin mont blancs with Kriek Boon (a Lambic almond-tinged beer fermented with 400g of whole cherries per litre of beer). We’re talking infallible freshly-baked scones (plain & cranberry with Devonshire clotted cream, strawberry jam and rose petal jam) with Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar (a moreish Brown Ale made with Rogue Farms hazelnuts).
Struggling to find a last-minute Christmas gift for a beer enthusiast? It doesn’t get much better.
Nothing beats Christmas on Oxford Street. It is beautifully chaotic. The hundreds – maybe thousands – of shoppers dashing throughout the 200+ shops, the glistening lights, the tourists carefully choosing presents for their loved ones from the greatest city in the world – it is all so wonderfully London.
It also happens to be the only place in the city guaranteed to meet holiday party dressing needs so, for all intensive festive purposes, I decided to treat myself to a personal shopping excursion with the wonderful Style Doctors team in the one spare hour I had this month.
With nothing but a few sparkle-loving pointers, the ‘Power Hour’ session (an Oxford Street exclusive service that employs a Style Doctors’ stylist to a perfect outfit in one hour) left me with a new ensemble of dreams for less than £100. In under 45 minutes.
If only that saved time and money could be spared come the January sales…
(Outfit details: Long Sleeve Pearl Embellished Body, Eyelet Detail Mini Skirt, and Julian Hakes Mojito heels)
The first ‘non-essential’ I bought myself when I moved back to London as an adult was a ticket to La Soiree. Trading a week of caffeine-dependent sanity for nose-bleed seats to a modern circus no-one had ever heard of felt like a risk at the time.
Eight years later, it has become an essential annual ritual.
Be it from laughter that has you clutching the seat in front of you or the physical reaction required when seeing act after act defy death, La Soiree simply takes your breath away. Each act – be it this year’s raucously inappropriate Daredevil Chicken Club or blindfolded cradle act from The Chilly Brothers – is mischievous and magical by equal measure and only heightened by their well-deserved arrival at the West End’s Aldwych Theatre.
The Olivier Award-winning phenomenon is neither circus nor variety show nor dive bar nor burlesque act. Yet all of them, all the same. Though their cast changes annual, the show always feel like home. A home where people fly through the air, strip, and sing the most politically incorrect songs you’ll enjoy all year.
So, you know, normal Christmas vibes.
Do not miss out this year. But do watch out for the bananas.
Most December evenings riding the tube feels like something of a Christmas party on tracks. The women line seats in glitzed-up garms while men stand overhead in shiny shoes they forgot hurt until a few hooches in.
I bloody love it.
As part of Boohoo’s Christmas campaign, I’ve made an effort to be as sparkly as possible for the 24 days people will raise their eyebrows less. And their party dresses have been the catalyst of dreams.
What I Wore:
This glitter-threaded v-neck skater number (but honestly, all their party dresses are next level)
My trusty Sargossa nude heels
After four hours of OCD disquietude, my naive ‘how to make sushi’ Google sinkhole resulted in force-feeding my frustrated and starving eighteen-year-old self a bowl of hard rice, unripe avocado and inconceivably expensive Ahi.
It foreshadowed a decade of failed sushi attempts.
I took sushi for granted from my very first mouthful of maki; the demanding rice recipe process, the art of the roll, the balance of flavours. Sushi is, unequivocally, an art. Then Hashi Cooking changed everything.
Owner and teacher Reiko Hashimoto is not only the first Japanese chef to teach sushi in the UK but has been doing so for 17 years in London. If anyone could turn my incompetence around, it would be her.
With desperately low expectations for myself, I headed to The Club at The Ivy for one final attempt at successful wok and rolling.
For the afternoon, Reiko was joined by Oliver Hilton Johnson (sake educator and director of Tengu sake) and 19 other sushi chefs in the making.
To make a long story short, I can genuinely make sushi now. I know the tips. I know the tricks. I know the tactics and I understand them in a way my previously fruitless Googles couldn’t teach me. I can inside out roll, create beautiful omelette nigiri and sake pair my creations to perfection.
I even left with enough sushi to gift a friend for his birthday.
If you have ever considered a crack at the fine art, Hashi may be just what you’ve been looking for.