The Parlour Brooklyn

· Dining in NY


Getting my hair cut has always been something I dread.  It’s not the hairdresser – it is entirely my problem.  Having said that, you could argue that the ‘issue’ arose from a dodgy hair do and ever since that fateful day I’ve been scarred.  So it was most out of character when I decided to not only try a new hairdresser, but to visit one in a totally different country.  Have you ever had your hair cut in a different country?  It’s an odd thought… as if having your hair cut in your own county somehow provides some sort of comfort blanket.  I think we’ve established that that isn’t true!  So with that in mind, I was fairly fearless when it came to deciding to lay my precious locks in the hands of a stylist across the Atlantic.  My salon of choice: The Parlour Brooklyn.  I must have read about them somewhere because when they came up in my Google search I made a beeline for them.

Their website showcases all their stylists and gives great bios on each of them.  I decided that Heather sounded like my kinda gal and chose a day that she was available.  My appointment fell on a particularly sludgy and bitterly cold day in early January.  Thankfully the snow had subsided so we left the suburbs safe in the knowledge that we wouldn’t wind up stranded.  We caught the East River Ferry over to Greenpoint (not the nicest of stops – and it looks particularly dull on a bleak day!).  Mike’s expert navigational skills found The Parlour, so as I dived in from the cold, Mike went in search of lunch.

The Parlour was every bit as cool in person as it appeared online.  Exposed brick walls, the soft glow from the stylists stations, and the gorgeous smell of the amazing lotions and potions they stock.  Heather greeted me with the warm smile of an old friend.  I was shown to my seat and felt immediately at ease – I didn’t give a second thought to the fact that I was asking Heather to cut 4 inches off my hair!  She asked me to pick out a gown of my choice from an array of beautiful colours before being shown to the wash station where the pampering began.

Back at my seat, Heather confirmed the style we’d discussed and set to work.  We chatted, swapping stories of our travels – it was all over too quickly!  But I just loved what she’d done – which was kinda obvious from my beaming smile!

As I waited for Mike to come and meet me I knew that I’d be booking my next haircut with Heather.  It may sound extravagant to have your hair stylist in a different country – but hey, since I’m travelling back and forth anyway it makes sense!

Predictably, it was raining when I left The Parlour.  But I was in such a good mood – I felt so proud of myself!  Mike took me and my new hair off to Williamsburg to this bar restaurant he used to go to when he lived in Brooklyn called Five Leaves.  We sipped wine and nibbled on charcuterie.  It was just the day we needed.

Pictures 1-3 via The Parlour Brooklyn


Colbert, Sloane Square

· Dining in LON


On Sunday morning Mikey and I popped to Colbert for a spot of brunch to ease our hangovers from the night before (and the night before that….).   We’d initially planned on going to Cote across the road, but poor brunch planning meant that they’d run out of everything and had to stop serving early.  Tut tut!  Not to be messed with when our heads are throbbing, we mustered our best “oh, that’s ok” faces and turned toward Colbert.

Colbert is beautifully designed and the finishing touches are of the finest detail.  1920s/30s pictures confirm you have stepped back in time, and the LFW crowd decorated the tables with their stylish air.  Everyone was obviously someone, but no-one to me…  I don’t run in those circles but it’s very nice to pretend sometimes.

Brunch was a delicious croque madame – perfect and washed down with a virgin mary and cappuccino chaser.  Sadly Mikey’s brunch of scrambled eggs with chopped smoked salmon resembled baby food and made him feel less well than before.  A poor choice from the usually smug holder of the food envy card.  Better luck next time, Mikey ;-)


Aqua Shard

· Dining in LON


Birthday parties, weddings, suede shoe days, pump days, “oops I’ve forgotten my brolly” days… it always rains when you wish it wouldn’t!  So my first trip up the Shard was no exception!  Regardless of the blurred vision from the 32nd floor, London still looked spectacular…

We were surprised to find that Aqua Shard was so busy at 6:30pm on a Wednesday evening – the crowd looked comfortable like regulars.  We circled the room but couldn’t find seats so Mikey suggested we see if the restaurant has any space for dinner – a no-show meant we got lucky!  And lucked out on prime viewing window seats!

 

Now, my one criticism is the menu…. To me it seemed a little too… well, sophisticated I suppose.  It was too fancy and we both really struggled to find something that appealed to us.  We both opted for the risotto with a side of cucumber and yoghurt.  It was delicious and the perfect sized portion for me – although Mike polished his off in a nanosecond and could easily have gone for seconds…!

Like I said, the view was blurry from all the rain but we were still able to pick out the landmarks as the sun set and the lights of London shone brightly.

I’m a bit of a bathroom snob – not surprising (aren’t we all, ladies?!).  If you’re anything like me, you will love the bathroom at Aqua Shard!  If it’s not too weird to say so, it’s beautiful!  Apparently the little boys room has a rather directional viewpoint…


MEATOPIA!

· Dining in LON


MEATOPIA FAQ
Q. Will there be vegetarian DISHES?
A. UM…. no.

As the granddaughter of butchering stock I was delighted to hear that Meatopia was coming to London… and even more chuffed to be an invited guest of this wonderfully meatalicious event!

It was held at Tobacco Dock in south east London, where the event space was filled with plumes of BBQ smoke which we sniffed out from the tube station!

Meatopia is an annual event held in New York – like with most American imports, this was another I could totally get onboard with…  Meatbucks were used to purchase mini bespoke tasting dishes prepared by 20 carefully selected chefs including the likes of Duck and Waffle, Gizzi, Shake Shack, and Chop Shop to name a few.  There was beer tasting where I tried a very delicious honey beer and was reliably informed that not only are hops antibacterial but the honey would also help with my cold – I was sold.  The event ran for 9 hours, and although the food ran out (everyone was forewarned!) the drinks kept flowing and everyone got down to some amazing live music!

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves….

After 5 hours of meating and drinking we made our way up to Angel to help our friend celebrate his 30th!  The evening started in their garden with cocktail-pong, followed by lots of cheesy dancing in Wenlock and Essex in Angel.

PS. The next Meatopia event will be held on 2nd-3rd November in Texas and boy do I wish I could go!



Pizza Pilgrims Open First Pizzeria

· Bon Appetit


As I write this I am drinking my second juice of the day (carrot, apple and ginger – rather yummy), which is a tell tale sign of a weekend of over-indulgence!  So this week I’m trying to be good, but don’t get me wrong, I’m no saint – I’m a juicing tart.  I can only go so long without having to chew on a solid!  Besides, Mike’s sallow eyes give me the guilts for depriving him of manly nourishment.  He says he likes the smoothies I make him in the mornings and the juices I prepare when I get home – but I wasn’t surprised when the American in him popped out this weekend…  Pizza, burgers and sour cream pancakes were requested and honestly, I was totally on board!

First up, Pizza Pilgrims.  It was Friday night – their second day of trading from their first restaurant – and as we quickly bagged some prime viewing seats in the window a queue was rapidly forming out the door…

The brothers, James and Thom, behind Pizza Pilgrims are Escape the City heroes (read their story here), so we felt particularly excited for them.  After the success of their street food van (check out the van here – so cute!), the next natural progression was of course a pizzeria, and what an amazing location – on Dean Street in the heart of Soho.

Pizza Pilgrims have kept their menu short and sweet – a carefully created selection of the best pizzas in class each prepared in front of you by brothers James and Thom, and their pizzaioli Pilgrims.  I’m a firm believer that the service you receive when dining out is underrated and essential for creating a lasting impression – whether you’re picking something up from a street food truck or sitting down in a restaurant.  Top marks to our server whose genuine enthusiasm was dangerous – I could easily have gone for round two with another delicious pizza but instead succumbed to the salt & olive oil over vanilla ice-cream and another glass of prosecco… being a good girl for 5 days is quite enough!


Sunday Suppers

· Bon Appetit


In just under 3 weeks we’ll be heading back over to the States for a break and I’m so excited!  First stop with be New York, then we’ll pop down to Austin for a few days and then back over to New York where I’ll be turning 30!  We’ve had a really long, cold and overcast winter here in the UK, and I’ve been hiding in my unflattering puffer jacket since… I can’t even remember.  But I figured the weather will improve and with a holiday on the horizon the layers of clothing will inevitably become fewer, so I decided to join the gym.  On freezing cold nights after work I’ve felt it so hard to motivate myself to go… But 9 times out of 10 I’d drag myself there and have been dating the treadmill for 2 months now.  It was going well until Friday night (yes, I was one of the losers at the gym on a Friday night whilst everyone else was out!).  On Friday night I was happily jogging along, when out of nowhere my ankle gave way.  There was no styling it out, the belt was still running below me and I was scrambling to find the ‘STOP’ button, trying hard not to roll right off the back of the darn machine.  Stupidly I thought I could just shake it off (so dumb) and get right back on.  Such a mistake.  I’m now lame, our romantic walk in Richmond Park was aborted yesterday, and Mike will have to piggy back me out today if we want to make the most of the sun!

In light of the fact I cannot go to the gym today, my mind immediately wanders to food and what yumminess we can cook up on this lovely Sunday.  Below is some feel-good food inspiration to get your tummy rumbling.

Have a super Sunday and make the most of this gorgeous sunshine!

(Images)


March – in pictures

· Dining in LON


Me again.  I did just say I’d post the pictures up from last weekend next week, but the last month has been so exciting that I thought I’d give you a little run down now before we get too far into April.  Here goes!

St Pancras Clock Tower on Airb&b

There you go!  Welcome to April – this month we’re travelling back over to New York and we’re also swinging by Austin – so exciting!  This is the last month of my 20′s – better make it a good’en!


Sour Cream Pancakes

· Bon Appetit


The ‘inspired chef’ gene seems to have been recessive in my family, but with one anomaly…

My Grandparents on both sides were very gifted in the kitchen (Grandad T was Head Chef of an Oxford College!  Brag much?!).  These genes produced pretty fab cooks in both my parents, and my brother can turn even the blandest looking leftovers into a feast. Sadly a flair for cooking has not appeared in me just yet…  I’ve always been kitchen-shy – afraid of raw meat, unimaginative and lacking in any interest in cooking for one – meals were pretty dull when I lived alone.  However since living with Mike meals have gotten a lot more interesting!  The thing is, Mike won’t let me in the kitchen – apparently I’m distracting and get in the way.  Charming!  So I’m not learning anything but my taste buds are very happy with the arrangement!

Having said that, I do get moments of inspiration.  I want to feed my man and I want him to enjoy it!  I’m not talking about toasting some bread or heating up some ready-made soup, and I’m also not talking about rolling my own Beef Wellington.  I have a comfort zone and stretch those boundaries gradually, little by little.  Last weekend was one such moment.  I’d spotted a recipe for sour cream pancakes and remembered how amazing they were in Bubby’s in NY.  So, for not entirely selfless reasons I decided that I would make these for Mike.  Now, I don’t mean to blow my own trumpet but these were absolutely outstanding pancakes!  Come Pancake Day, forget the crepe, don’t worry about presentation, just follow the recipe below and thank me later…!

Ingredients

  • 225g flour
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 120ml sour cream
  • 180ml milk, plus 1 tbsp
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla essence
  • *1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • Unsalted butter
  • *2 ripe bananas, diced, plus extra for serving/a hand full of blueberries
  • Pure maple syrup

Method

1) Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, vanilla and *lemon zest. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, mixing only until combined (don’t over-mix!).

2) Melt 1 tbsp of butter in a large skillet over a medium-low heat until it bubbles. Ladle the pancake batter into the pan to make 3 or 4 pancakes. *Distribute a rounded tbsp of diced banana on each pancake/press blueberries into the pancake.

3) Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until bubbles appear on top and the underside is nicely browned. Flip the pancakes and then cook for another minute until browned. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.

4) Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, add more butter to the pan, and continue cooking the pancakes until all of the batter is used. *Serve the pancakes warm with sliced bananas/a scattering of blueberries, butter and maple syrup.

*Optional – I added some Lurpak, banana and honey on top of the warm pancakes – delicious!

 

Recipe adapted from The Food Network

(Picture credit - I would’ve included my own but there was no time!)


Le Weekend

· Dining in LON


Have you noticed how many great films are out in the cinema at the moment?!  Mikey loves his movies and can hardly contain his excitement!  So this weekend we’re not just seeing one movie, but two!  And he’s treating me to The Everyman on both occasions - I love it there!

We’re having a highly social week – it really does seem to come fortnightly.  This week we’ve been out to dinner every night but one – and to some great places.  On Thursday evening a friend and I popped into The Charlotte Street Hotel for a lovely glass of wine before heading over to Bubbledogs for dinner.  We were very fortunate to jump the queue because our friend is one of the Managers there (that never happens to me and I felt quite guilty squeezing past the queue).  Bubbledogs is a brilliant ‘fancy-simple’ concept – basically it’s hot dogs and champagne.  What more could you want?!  After a few sips of champagne any queue jumping guilt I was feeling soon vanished…

Last night we took my dear Mama out for a birthday dinner to Pizza East in Kentish Town.  I hadn’t seen her since Christmas, which isn’t like us, so it was great to catch up and give her a big cuddle.  Pizza East is always very cool, like the whole of the Soho House group (including Chicken Shop found in the basement, and Dirty Burger hidden in a shed behind Pizza East).  Sometimes I feel overwhelmed and quite exhausted by how cool places are.  We’re very spoilt by the interior aesthetics of eateries at the moment – and they continue to pop up all around us.  I find myself constantly trying to remember what I’ve seen and take it all in – all the design features I’d love to replicate one day.  There’s always somewhere new and cool that you feel like you need to see – I really don’t think I could be in PR, it’s too much!  After a while I find myself craving a bit of relaxed home comfort away from all the hyper-cool stimuli.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the age and style we’re living in right now.  I really like that we can choose The Everyman cinema over Odeon, and Pizza East over Strada.  The boundaries of design are being pushed right back to home comforts and it feels good.

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